March 12, 1993                 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 6


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I'd like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery today the heads of churches of the Province and their officials.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, last year the Royal Commission on Education filed its report. The Province made it public very quickly and provided an opportunity for the public to be informed and have an opportunity to express their views on that report.

We also took another step. We realized that the changes proposed in that report were major changes so that the sensible approach for the government to take was to seek the advice and participation, and in this case consensus, of all of the churches that are involved in the administration of education in Newfoundland. So with the willing cooperation of the churches we put in place two committees, one called a Committee of Principals. They're made up of the leaders of all of the churches or their designates, plus the members of the Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet. They're the Committee of Principals that was intended to make decisions on policy matters.

Then there was the Committee of Officials, which would be officials representing the church interest in education, and officials on the government side of education. They were to do the primary, detailed work in carrying out the effort at trying to achieve a consensus between the government and amongst the church leaders as to how changes ought to be made in our education system so that we could improve the system to achieve the common objective of providing the best quality education we possibly can to the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we had a little bit of uncertain waters, as there are uncertain waters when things are new. The night before last the church leaders met with the planning and priority members, the Committee of Principals, and I believe we made terrific progress. It was agreed, Mr. Speaker, that the way to tell the public, inform the public generally of this process, would be by way of a statement in the House. While I am delivering the statement personally this is really a statement that reflects the position of all the leaders of the churches and the government on this issue. While the words are coming from me they are in effect the words of the Committee of Principals and to ensure that that is made abundantly clear and is unquestioned all of the church leaders, as the Speaker noted, are present in the gallery today. So the statement I am about to deliver, Mr. Speaker, while it is titled a Ministerial Statement, is in fact a statement that is made with the full consent, and the full approval, in terms of every word, of the leaders of the churches.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to tell the House that at a meeting between church leaders and the Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet on March 10, significant progress was made towards achieving a consensus which will lead to major improvements of the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador. This has been the objective of both churches and government from the beginning. Government and church leaders have agreed to work co-operatively in developing new approaches which will: enhance the quality of education, achieve greater efficiency in the delivery of services, and make substantial changes in administration that will lead to a major re-organization of school districts.

Mr. Speaker, in response to the church leader's concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the Royal Commission Report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally-protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It was recognized by all at the meeting, however, that if after the conclusion of these discussions there is consensus amongst the leaders and the government that some adjustment or changes to the Constitution are necessary or desirable then they could be pursued. Government re-emphasized its desire to see major reforms to education and is confident that these reforms can be achieved within a denominationally based education system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me also say that there was discussion as to the meaning of the phrase "denominationally based education system", and there was recognition that the phrase might not mean precisely the same thing to all principals at the table. Government and church leaders have agreed to work within that framework, recognizing the traditional partnership that has existed over the years while at the same time bringing about much needed reforms to the education system.

To this end, Mr. Speaker, the church leaders and government have agreed to immediately begin discussions on a proposed model developed collectively by the churches. We are confident that through this process we will be able to address the need for major reforms to the administration and delivery of educational services in Newfoundland and Labrador. The ultimate goal of both government and churches is to enhance the quality of educational opportunities for our children and achieve greater efficiency in the educational system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I want to say at the outset that I am very pleased to hear that there is progress being made between government and the church leaders that will hopefully lead to major improvements in the education system of our Province. Now this issue of the Williams Report and the denominational education system, has certainly been, I guess steaming, in this Province for the last number of months, and I guess what we see here this morning is the result of the church leaders and their congregations and their parishioners, school boards and educators throughout this Province sort of churning up the momentum, I say to the Premier. The Premier knows now just where they are coming from and how serious they are about this issue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you have to listen very carefully to what the Premier says and to what he writes, and in this very statement he says that the government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking changes. It is not that it will not seek changes if it goes to the electorate in the next three or four weeks and comes back with a new mandate, Mr. Speaker, that is not what the Premier is saying, and it is probably true I say to the Premier, that he is not seeking change to the Constitution at this very moment, but he is not making a guarantee that if he forms the government in three or four months time that he will not do it. So I say to the Premier, and I say it very sincerely, I think what we see here is a smooth the waters ploy by this Premier. We have a Minister of Education who has said publicly, and I remind him and hon. members, that he wants to be remembered as the Minister of Education to do away with the denominational education system. Mr. Speaker, that is what that Minister of Education said.

MR. TOBIN: That is what he said

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. DECKER: I am sure the hon. member would not wish the record to show something which is inaccurate. He is either ill-advised or misinformed, Mr. Speaker, I did not make that statement.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The minister rose to make a point of clarification.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier's statement, he says he wanted to go on and place recognition to the phrase, he said that it may not mean precisely the same thing to all principals at the table, talking about denominationally based education system. I would suggest to him that the only principal at the table who does not understand very clearly what that means, is the Premier and his government, the church leaders and the churches do. So, Mr. Speaker, having said all this, I am pleased that they are continuing to discuss this very important situation. No one is against educational reforms in this Province, Mr. Speaker, no one can oppose the opportunities to enhance the quality of education, to share, where possibilities of sharing exist, to cut out duplication, there is no one against this. So, Mr. Speaker, having said this, there has been a lot of time, I say to the Premier, that could have been put into enhancing and reforming education in this Province but his government and his minister have procrastinated and what do we see again now just a few weeks before the magic date?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, asking consent of the House.

By leave, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I did not have the advantage of an advanced copy of the Premier's statement but I do wish to comment on the statement made this morning on education and the sensitive issue of denominational education in this Province. Let me say, to reiterate what I said when the Premier announced the consensus approach being taken by the government, I believe it was either the Premier or the Minister of Education. I was concerned that in the process the consensus approach may lead in fact to a giving up of the governments position and the support for the recommendations in the Williams Report. I say that because I believe that the Williams Report in education reflects the desire of the people of this Province to have a system of education which is not the one that we have had before. Also, I believe that we must continue the constitutional guarantee that churches be able to provide religious education in our schools.

The question, Mr. Speaker, is how that may be achieved. I think the ongoing process of discussion and consultation is important and important to continue. I am happy to see that some progress is being made but I would not wish to see the government use words that are here that, it seems that no one really understands what they mean and I think that the Premier is right, they may mean different things to different people. They have to be defined very clearly, when they are then I think people of this Province and this party will certainly be in a position to comment on what the result of those discussions have been but I am pleased to see that there is some progress and I look forward to continuing progress in these matters.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Are there more statements?

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, while this issue that I will address is not of the same import as the one just addressed by the Premier and the other responders, it certainly is significant in its own right.

As my colleagues and all members of the hon. House will recall, the Statutory Review Committee set up to review the Province's workers' compensation system made recommendations which were tabled in this House of Assembly on November 6, 1992. After careful consideration and with input from various organizations, government announced several initiatives would be undertaken as a result of the review.

At a news conference in July, I announced that provision would be made for a position of employer advisor and a position of worker advisor. Today I wish to advise that final arrangements have been made for these two positions and I am also pleased with the manner in which these services are going to be offered to the workers and employers of our Province.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative demonstrates the co-operation between government, employers and employees that is referenced in this Province's Strategic Economic Plan. The Department of Employment and Labour Relations will provide a grant in the amount of $100,000 to both the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council to provide the services of a worker/employer advisor respectively, on matters pertaining to workers' compensation.

The intent of this one-year pilot project is to provide advisory services which will assist workers and employers as they deal with the Workers' Compensation Commission and the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. In addition, both organizations have agreed to contribute some of their own financial and human resources to the pilot project.

In creating these positions, we hope to have fostered a sense of flexibility and adaptability in meeting the needs of the workers and employers in the Province. The department has contracted with the Federation of Labour and the Employers' Council to each hire and employ a person to carry out these services. By doing this, employers and workers can be assured of the credibility of the advisors and their representative organizations will have the ability to provide direction and establish priorities for the advisory service.

The employers' advisor will assist employers by providing services including Province-wide education and training programs to familiarize employers with policies and practices of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal; advising employers on both the internal and external appeals process; encouraging employers to increase their involvement in effective claims processing and development of policy briefs; researching workers' compensation issues and retaining a file on national and other workers' compensation programs; and also assisting with the implementation of the experience rating system.

The workers' advisor will provide necessary information to workers on workers' compensation issues including establishing advocate policy briefs on behalf of workers; acting as a liaison with workers, the Commission, the Appeals Tribunal, and government; and preparing an extensive education program including publications, workshops, and producing and distributing self-help information for injured workers.

Mr. Speaker, this advisory service will be available to all workers and employers in the Province, regardless of their affiliation with the organizations. Each of these umbrella organizations has committed to providing information to raise awareness of the service.

This pilot project of worker/employer advisors is a positive move towards providing timely access to services for the employers and workers of the Province. Government looks forward to working in cooperation with these groups as they begin this exciting and unique pilot project.

The Federation of Labour and the Employers' Council will join with me in the Government Member's Boardroom to sign the contracts at 10:00 a.m. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. After two weeks of doom and gloom in this House it's finally good to see some good news coming out, that the government's at least created two jobs and two valuable jobs to assist workers and employers in this Province.

It doesn't solve the problems with the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board though or the Board itself. Just yesterday, I had an injured worker in my office who had an appeal done last year. A decision reached on January 10. The Workers' Commission has not yet addressed the recommendations that came out of this appeal procedure. Two months later. It had the appeal for two months and hasn't done anything to address the recommendations. The minister says the intent of the one year pilot project is to provide advisory services which will assist workers and employers as they deal with the Workers' Compensation Commission. Most of the problem is not with the workers or the employer, it's with the Commission itself. This does nothing to address the problems that are there. Mr. Speaker, if you called down to Workers' and tried to get an answer in a week, you're very lucky.

An employee who's been injured, it's still taking them several weeks to get any compensation for injuries to which they are entitled. This doesn't do anything to help them. It might help them to get the claim to Workers'. That's not where the problem is. The Problem rests with the office down on Forest Road which has too many enquiries coming in for the staff to handle. That's where the minister should be putting some people, to handle the cases of the injured workers who are out and about this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member for St. John's East have leave of the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: Agreed.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I haven't had the advantage of an advance copy of the minister's statement but I wish to say that the establishment of workers and employer advisors is a positive move. I caution the members of the House from expecting too much from two individuals who are there for one year for a pilot project who have very many tasks.

All hon. members know that the pressure on the workers' compensation system, and in particular the pressure on individuals having claims adjudicated, being satisfied that their claims have been properly addressed and adjudicated, this is the most serious problem that people have.

What I would suggest is that the minister consider asking these worker advisors to try a pilot project of advocating on behalf of individual worker claims, or perhaps employers in cases where they think they are being unfairly treated. The necessity really is to have the individual worker know that his claim is being properly adjudicated, that all of the information that's necessary to have a proper adjudication is before the tribunal. I would advocate a system which is used for example in veteran's affairs, of an advocate for workers, paid for by the system, to ensure that people are being treated fairly or that they have the feeling that they are.

Right now throughout this Province people who have claims before Workers' Compensation have a very strong feeling that their claims are not being properly dealt with by Workers' Compensation. That must change, Mr. Speaker, and I think that can only change if people are going to have confidence with the system, if they know that they have proper representation before boards and tribunals, and perhaps these workers' advisors should be turned into workers' advocates.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to draw to the attention of the House the considerable potential of the Newfoundland aquaculture industry, as well as related opportunities for prospective developers and investors.

Aquaculture is playing an increasingly significant role in the Province's economy as a whole, and in the fisheries sector in particular. It represents a growing source of employment, and there are good development prospects for salmon, mussels, scallops, Arctic charr, cod and rainbow trout.

From 1984 to the present, the number of aquaculture enterprises has increased from three in 1984, to 102 enterprises now. During that same period, the export value of aquaculture products has risen to twenty times what it was, and direct employment in aquaculture is now fifteen times what it was nine years ago. That, Mr. Speaker, is progress, thanks at least in part to the planning and developmental initiatives undertaken by the Department of Fisheries, not to mention the ongoing financial and human resources committed to nurturing the continued growth of this maturing industry.

As I have indicated, Mr. Speaker, there is untapped potential in the aquaculture industry, and there are encouraging signs that the industry has an exciting future. Newfoundland and Labrador is indeed fortunate in having over 17,000 kilometres of coastline in the midst of fishing grounds, as well as several multi-million dollar research facilities that play a key role in aquaculture development. In addition, the Canada - US Free Trade Agreement will open up new opportunities for value-added aquaculture products in the United States market.

Mr. Speaker, I must point out that while the growth of the aquaculture industry in this Province has indeed been tremendous, we must not lose sight of the fact that from a global perspective our aquaculture industry is overshadowed by world competition. While our aquaculture industry was still in its infancy, some world competitors had already developed flourishing aquaculture industries. Their aquaculture products are competing with ours in the world marketplace.

It is for this reason, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Fisheries is committed to supporting the Newfoundland aquaculture industry develop. That includes initiatives to attract investment to the Province's aquaculture industry and to promote it both nationally and internationally. It therefore gives me great pleasure today, Mr. Speaker, to provide honourable members of the House with copies of our most recent promotional and information brochure that was produced, along with a ten-minute video, under the Canada-Newfoundland Inshore Fisheries Development Agreement. As members will see, this attractive package showcases what the Newfoundland aquaculture industry has to offer the world. I am happy to report that both the literature and the video will have their world premiere at the Boston Seafood Show next week, when potential investors from all over the world will have an opportunity to see what we have to offer, as well as meet with seven Newfoundland aquaculture producers who will be attending the show.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the minister for a copy of his Statement and the brochures attached, prior to the House commencing this morning. I want to say to him that there is no doubt there is a great potential in aquaculture in the Province. We have come a long way in a few years, but there is far more potential there.

It is quite interesting, of course, to hear the minister's statistics where he has seen the export value of products risen to twenty times what it was. Direct employment is now fifteen times what it was nine years ago and so on, but what really interested me was the minister's statement or allusion to an addition to the Canada - US Free Trade Agreement will open up new opportunities for value-added products in the US market.

I want to just remind hon. members of the resolution I put on the floor of this Legislature on Wednesday, which called upon this provincial government to support and develop value-added secondary processing in our Province so that we would not be shipping raw fish products out of this Province to be put into secondary products in the US and other places. Every person on the other side of this Legislature, including the Minister of Fisheries, voted against it, i say to members opposite. Now, what a shame, Mr. Speaker. And I say, yes, the aquacultural industry has tremendous potential. It has improved. We are developing more raw materials in aquaculture. We are developing jobs but why are we not developing more jobs in aquaculture in this Province?... because we are sending out those products in raw form.

I want to remind the minister and the Premier, and the ministers in government, what a golden opportunity we are missing in this Province, with the limited resources, our limited fish resources that are being landed in our communities, that are being primary processed in our plants, filleted, trimmed, packaged and frozen, and shipped to the US and other places in raw form. Look at the jobs we could sustain in those communities if only this government were to implement and support valued-added secondary processing. Look at how many jobs we could sustain in those communities that are being literally wiped out because of the declining fish resources all around our Province. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have made great progress in aquaculture but how much progress could we make if this government had some real commitment to the Newfoundland fishery?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for pointing out to the House some of the advances in aquaculture in this Province. I do know from my own experience, having sat on a federal committee as a member of Parliament dealing with a study on aquaculture, that this is an exciting and forward looking industry for this country and one that has much potential, particularly for the rural areas of Newfoundland, but also as a high technology industry which involves a great amount of scientific input, technology development and other technologies that require a very high degree of research facilities. We have some in this Province that can be utilized to ensure that not only do we play a role in the aquaculture products itself but also the development of the technology.

I do see it as a very positive thing but I will say that it is also an industry that requires a very high degree of planning and co-ordination, and assistance on the part of government in a co-ordinated way to ensure that the development in the aquaculture field, in fact, does involve jobs and development here in this Province. I urge the minister to not just get involved in what appears to be a public relations exercise for aquaculture as an industry but also get behind plans and programs and put forth a comprehensive development plan to ensure that we in this Province can participate fully in this growing and developing industry.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to Question Period on behalf of hon. members we would like to welcome to the public galleries today a group of Grade V111 students from Beaconsfield Junior High School here in St. John's. They are accompanied by their teachers Mr. Ken Roach and Ms Shirley Crowley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier continuing on the line of questioning on Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and particularly their management practices. Questions on Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador have come about as a result of the tabling of the report of the Auditor General which has not only raised serious concern about Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador but as well about government's accountability. I want to say to the Premier that Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador is suppose to be a source of sound business advice and guidance for businesses that need expert help in getting established in our Province. Now, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador expects its clients to prepare a strategic business plan but according to the Auditor General in a report here ENL does not really have a strategic business plan itself. I want to ask the Premier how can Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador function without a plan? Why does it not have one? Is it because it has taken so much political interference that it does not have any clear role?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador engaged two years ago, I believe, Dr. Robert Sexty to help it develop it's own strategic business plan. I know they were doing some work and I believe it was as long ago as two years ago -

MR. ROBERTS: That is what they say in the report, if the hon. gentleman were to read it.

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, let me read the corporation's response to that criticism: At the present time a corporate strategic planning process is underway and is intended to have this latest phase of corporate planning completed by 31st of March, 1993. I guess that is in a couple of weeks or so from now. Once this current phase of planning is complete it is intended to incorporate the results in the corporate instruction manual. Well I guess that is consistent.

MR. ROBERTS: That is exactly what was asked.

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

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

A very weak response, Mr. Speaker, by the Premier. There is no doubt that the Premier is really smarting under the allegations of the Auditor General's report now.

Let me say to the Premier, what credibility would he give to an organization that has no schedule for the preparation and review of its budget, which the Auditor General once again states in her report, no guidelines for monitoring and controlling budget variances, and no requirement that the budget be approved by the board of directors, which in this case is the Economic Recovery Commission? What kind of a management group is that, I ask the Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I will go the Auditor General's report again which contains the response to the criticism.

For 1993-1994, and completely independent of the recommendation in the report, it seems like the Auditor General went out in front of the parade - detailed procedures and structures were developed and used -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, I am commenting on a fact. She says: for 1993-94, and completely independent of the recommendation of the report, detailed procedures and instructions were developed and used. These procedures are documented and will be utilized for subsequent budget presentations. That is the response.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a supplementary.

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

I think the Premier has really got a bee in his bonnet about the Auditor General with statements he made yesterday and today, and I would like to remind the Premier that the auditor general, is answerable to the House of Assembly, is a servant of the House of Assembly not to the Premier and his administration, I remind him once again.

MR. R. AYLWARD: That is the way he would like it.

MR. TOBIN: Or Fraser Lush, or Fraser Lush.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: You are part of the House but you are not -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to proceed with his question.

MR. MATTHEWS: - but you are not the House, you are part of it.

Now I want to say to the Premier that the Auditor General says that the board, which I remind him again is the Economic Recovery Commission, does not require Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador divisions and regions to explain budget variances and differences, and does not receive reports from the regions on loan accounts or equity investments. How can the board make decisions if it lacks that kind of basic financial information, I ask the Premier? What is really going on with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and that infamous, no good, useless Economic Recovery Commission?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Again, Mr. Speaker, the answer is written in the Auditor General's report. The Auditor General is sufficiently fair-minded to state her position and then give the corporate response. She does not want to mislead the House or mislead the public of this Province. The answer is very clear, the corporation concurs with the recommendations as noted, they acknowledge the Auditor General's comment was a fair comment, they concur with the recommendations as noted. A sub-committee of the board has been established to review and recommend the necessary actions to effect these recommendations. There is no problem, it is very straightforward.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I thank the Premier very much for recognizing that it is one big mess, I say to him. Now, it is clear from the Auditor General's report that there is no overall plan, direction or decision-making at Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. Each division does it's own thing, it is not accountable to anyone. The board is incompetent so I will ask the Premier, will he undertake immediately to remove the economic recovery chairman and commissioners from the board and from any influences over the operation of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, and will you immediately appoint a board of competent people who can get rid of the political hacks who have control of this organization and straighten out the real mess, political hacks who have been put there by the Premier and his ministers, who have really done a very poor job as the Auditor General has very clearly outlined, not only for the Premier I say to members opposite, but for every member of this Legislature, because this is a report to all of us, not just to the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would be interested to hear the response of Dr. Doug House, Adele Poynter, Susan Sherk and David French to the allegation that they are political hacks. It would be an interesting response indeed to the allegation that they are political hacks.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition House Leader appears to be jumping out in front of the parade now. Last August, I believe, we asked the Advisory Council on the Economy to take a look at the structure of ENL and the role of the ERC. One of the proposals that was recommended, was that their role as the board of directors of the ENL be reduced and phased out over a period of time. So, the government is presently considering, there is a paper in the system now presently before Cabinet for review, that would put just such a proposal into effect. We did not want to do it precipitously without having the views of the Economic Recovery Commission and the senior management of ENL first.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, I met with all the vice-presidents of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. I also met with the chairman of the Economic Recovery Commission and this matter has been discussed. I met just yesterday, with the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Economy and discussed the matter further with him and the clear advice is that the time has now come to phase out the involvement of the members of the Economic Recovery Commission in Enterprise Newfoundland Labrador and that is presently in process, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Premier about Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador as well. I remind members that Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador is the agency the Premier created by combining divisions of government, three or four divisions. It is the agency which the Premier exempted from the Public Service Commission and then which the Premier loaded with prominent Liberals. My question for the Premier is: did you drop into the ear of Fraser Lush, your former 1989 provincial campaign chair, now your $80,000 a year ENL vice-president for Central Newfoundland, your approval of ENL giving a $75,000 a year consulting contract to Bill MacKenzie, the former political aid of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, such politically motivated venomous statements, unsubstantiated, without merit, are really not deserving of any attention or answer. The source of it and the nature of it speaks clearly for itself. But let me address the one matter that may be of significance, that I exempted ENL from the Public Service Commission, I did no such thing. Members will remember that the fundamental structure of ENL was NLDC, Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation, which the former government created. We did not put it in place. It was there, the structure, the process and the procedure, was there. We added to it, the rural development division of the Department of Development and a couple of other things, the Co-operatives Division, all of that was added to it and it was restructured to work efficiently and Mr. Speaker, ENL has been a success story because of the competence of the people involved. ENL has been a real success story in this Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I addressed yesterday the position of the Opposition with these allegations of political appointments. I say again, there have been people appointed who have had in the past connections with the Liberal Party, that is true. In other areas too there have been people appointed who have had connections with the Conservative Party, that is true. I will provide the list and names, if you wish them, all kinds of them. Somebody who did campaigning for the hon. member works at ENL, I will get the name and table it, I will. The hon. member knows who it is. The hon. member knows exactly who I am talking about. Mr. Speaker, I presume that the board made those appointments because they were competent people and I respect that. Mr. Speaker, I am not going to allow the hon. member or the Opposition generally, to maintain the proposition that only Tories can be appointed when the Tories are in power and the Liberals can only appoint Tories in order not to show favouritism, that will never be the case, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before recognizing the hon. member, the Chair wants to remind hon. members again about some of our basic rules with respect to questions and answers. I'm sure hon. members know them, but in the last couple of days some of these rules have been, if not broken, stretched considerably. So I just want to remind hon. members of two important rules about questions.

It must be a question, not an expression of an opinion, representation, argumentation nor debate. The second point the Chair wants to make: the question ought to seek information and therefore cannot be based upon a hypothesis, cannot seek an opinion either legal or otherwise, and must not suggest its own answer, be argumentative or make representations.

What happens when a question is loaded, this prompts the minister to get into debate and evade the question. Then when he eventually gets to the question the opposition starts complaining about the answer being too long. It puts the Chair in a very difficult position. So I'd ask hon. members please to follow the rules.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It's interesting to note that the Premier claims to know the political affiliation of employees of his government agency, ENL.

A supplementary for the Premier. Doesn't the ENL - MacKenzie contract violate the conflict of interest act? The act, I remind the Premier, says that: while employed as a public servant and for one year thereafter, a public employee is not eligible to receive a contract for the supply of goods or services from his former department without the permission of the Premier and the Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I can say two things. Now there've been one or two Cabinet meetings when I was away on holidays, so I can't say what happened. But I can say this: there was no approval by the Cabinet while I was present. Now I'll check and see

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The President of the Council tells me there was none while I was absent. So I can say this: there was no approval by Cabinet. Now I've asked the Attorney General to check for me to determine whether or not any contract that was awarded contravenes the conflict of interest guidelines. If it does, the contract will be terminated. There's no problem. We cannot operate in defiance of the law.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is very clever with words and I'm sure the Premier appreciates the distinction between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Is the Premier's sophistry capable of explaining how it is acceptable - morally acceptable, as well as legally acceptable - to award a $75,000 a year government consulting contract to an individual who was a political aide to the responsible minister a few short months previous, and an individual with no previous consulting experience? Can the Premier explain how that is acceptable?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there are two things I would say. I don't even know that it's been done but I'll check and if it is I'll determine the propriety of it. If there was any impropriety it will be terminated or corrected.

As for the hon. member's comments about morality, I suggest she examine the record of the previous government, and some contracts that were awarded to certain consultants when she sat in the chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If the Premier has to take his head out of the sand and admit that there has been an impropriety, will he not only terminate the offensive contract but fire the offending minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that the minister awarded any contract to anybody or had anything to do with it. I will however examine all of the allegations that the hon. member has made and if there's any merit in any of it the matter will be dealt with appropriately. If there isn't any merit, the matter will also be dealt with appropriately.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Why does the Premier have a double standard? One standard for the former Minister of Social Services, now the Member for Port de Grave, and a different, lower standard for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who is now a very wealthy man?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the standards are the same for everybody. What I cannot understand is how the hon. member can stand in this House and talk about awarding contracts to consultants with influence, and then talk about double standards. Of that hon. member I cannot accept it.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Premier: Is it not unconscionable and reprehensible to squander $75,000 of public funds this year on a patronage contract to an unqualified individual, when the government has slashed spending on vital services and so many people in this Province are hurting?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I told the hon. member that I will examine the record and see whether or not there is any merit or truth in the allegations she has stated. I will not pretend to provide answers to the House on the basis of what, so far as I know, are unfounded allegations. So I have no intention of trying to answer the question she now proposes until I determine the truth of the matter.

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 social agencies that are being deprived of government space and being deprived of support.

The documents tabled in the House by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in answer to my questions to the Premier, reveal that the government in fact intends to remove all support to the social agencies involved, and in fact Epilepsy Newfoundland and Labrador were advised on February 13th by the Minister of Health that they will receive $10,000 worth of support in 1993-'94; $5,000 in 1994-'95; and nil in 1995-'96.

Will the Premier not be forthright and admit that his new program and new policy for these social agencies is, in fact, to remove the support and down load any government support for these social activities on to the private, volunteer sector? Will he not admit that now, after these documents have been filed in the House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am glad to see that at least one hon. member opposite is prepared to consider real issues and deal responsibly with issues.

Mr. Speaker, while I believe he is dealing responsibly with issues, I believe he is badly informed and he is making an argument on behalf of the people who are claiming that this space should be made available that does not take into account all of the facts.

I have to tell him that I received a request just two days ago, I think, to meet with a committee representing some ten or twelve agencies, and the meeting is scheduled for when? I have forgotten.

AN HON. MEMBER: The next couple of days.

PREMIER WELLS: It is some time in the next couple of days - early next week - that meeting will take place. I will then be in a better position to inform the hon. member as to all of the issues that are involved, and the government's position, and the reason for the government's position on it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All of these fourteen agencies have been advised by various government departments that they will be removed of any government support for rent for the coming years - two-thirds this year, one-third next year, and nil the year after.

Now, Mr. Speaker, why is the government prepared to try and pretend, and the Premier pretend, that the government is not taking away the support when they have already advised - individual members have advised these agencies, such as the Minister of Health - in this document tabled in the House yesterday, that they will not be providing support? How can the Premier stand here and expect people to believe that he is telling the truth when the facts speak for themselves, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of agencies in this Province, a lot of volunteer agencies in this Province, who are providing their own space, all of them equally meritorious as every one of those about which the hon. member is speaking - all of them.

The Red Cross is a meritorious institution. It is providing its own space. The St. John Ambulance is providing its own space. A variety of others are providing their own space. The Cancer Society - all of them are providing their own space. Now why is that all of a sudden the government has the responsibility to provide space?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West wants to answer the question, then I would ask the member for St. John's East to ask the Member for Burin - Placentia West; but as the Member for St. John's East has asked me, I would ask the Member for Burin - Placentia West to recognize that this House requires a certain level of civility, and if he can't practice it while he is here, then he should have the decency to remove himself from the House.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

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

I ask the Member for Burin - Placentia West to restrain himself. He is familiar with the rules and knows that people can't answer if they are being interfered with.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I have told the hon. member that the meeting is scheduled and the issue will be fully discussed. I will be quite prepared to report directly to the hon. member or to the House, even to the Member for Burin - Placentia West, for that matter, when I have had the meeting. But I am not going to attempt to deal with all of the issues until I have first had the meeting.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would the Premier confirm that the government stands to receive up to $2 million or perhaps $3 million in insurance payments from the Harvey Road fire? And will the Premier acknowledge that while receiving that money from insurance premiums, it is refusing to provide the accommodation that was going to be provided to these fourteen agencies in the Harvey Road building, that they're refusing to provide any accommodation? - they plan to take this money and put it back into the government coffers and at the same time take away financial support for these organizations for accommodation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the demands and expectations of some of the organizations, I am advised - I don't know, because I haven't yet spoken to them - are inordinate. Some of them want 2,000, 2,500 square feet, to maintain an office. The government can't do that and shouldn't be doing that, unless it is prepared to do it for every volunteer organization in existence. Now, the government can't make chalk of one and cheese of another. I am told that the meeting is set for Friday, March 19, at 10:30 a.m. After that meeting I will be in a better position to advise the House as to the full state of affairs.

As to the insurance proceeds that the government is entitled to receive, I presume some buildings that government owns are insured. In others, government is a self-insurer. I believe that one building was, in fact, insured, but it was a government building. If it was insured, the taxpayers of this Province paid the premiums. So the taxpayers are entitled to the proceeds. That is simple logic and fairness, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINSOR: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Last week, in responding to the Throne Speech, the Premier said the capital works budget would be cut from an average of $220 million, I think he said, to $175 million. Since the minister's department has about one-quarter of that budget, can the minister now confirm that we will still have the approximately $50 million that was announced in last year's Budget in capital works, in municipal affairs this year?

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

MR. HOGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am delighted that the Member for Fogo can tell us all that we are getting a quarter of the capital works money that is available. It is news to me. I would imagine we are going to have to wait for Mr. Baker's speech, next Thursday, to find out how much, in fact, the capital works will be.

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

MR. WINSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I wasn't telling the minister, I was asking him, because that was what occurred in the previous year. Since December the minister has been announcing that the capital works for municipal affairs would be announced shortly. Could the minister tell us what has caused this delay, and when does he intend to announce his capital works program?

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, I don't have all day to tell all the reasons why it is delayed, but I guess fiscal -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: Yes, it probably is. I am the biggest reason in the House, anyway,. The fiscal position of the Province, I guess, would be the major item which has delayed this announcement. But my 'shortly' is getting shorter, and I would suspect it would be next Thursday.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister is obviously aware that the Budget is only going to have an announcement of the amount of the expenditure, it is not going to get into the details of the program. When, then, is the minister going to inform municipalities of the amounts that each municipality receives, or is he waiting until the call of the election to do it?

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

MR. HOGAN: That's a good idea - the first original idea I heard you have since you came in here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) over there.

MR. HOGAN: Please protect me, Mr. Speaker. A vicious attack from the Member for Humber - where?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: East.

MR. HOGAN: Humber East. Is that where she is from?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask the Premier, he knows.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to continue with his answer.

MR. HOGAN: I have forgotten the question.

MR. R. AYLWARD: You don't know the answer.

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

MR. TOBIN: I have a question for the Minister of Social Services. It is my understanding that there are twelve workers employed at the regional Social Services office in Harbour Grace. On Tuesday of this week, in The Evening Telegram, there was a story that said the regional headquarters of the provincial Social Services Department will be moved from Harbour Grace to Clarenville. The announcement of the relocation of that office was made by Trinity North MHA, Doug Oldford. Can I ask the minister if that is the truth, or is it a lie?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, we shouldn't always take what is printed in the press as verbatim and as the truth.

The truth of the matter is that the member's statements were not properly reported in the sense that in his speech he talked about the fact that we were restructuring the department, restructuring the district and regional offices, making sure that the services contained in the regional offices were moved down to the district offices, and that, in fact, we would end up with a system throughout the Province where we would have, instead of five regional offices, nine regional offices. This is a public fact because I have made this clear in the House before and, in fact, one of those regional offices would be located in Clarenville.

These regional offices will not be the same size as we presently see them because all of the specialty services presently being provided in these regional offices would be moved into the district offices.

So that is what the member was attempting to explain, and did explain in fact, in his speech in Clarenville. It was not reported in the press the way he said it.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was there.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, (inaudible) picked it up.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I was there when he said it.

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

MR. TOBIN: I say to the minister, he was not there and he doesn't know what was said, but those who were there know exactly that was what was said by the Member for Trinity North.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this: Who authorized the member to make the announcement? Because what is happening in Clarenville is one social worker, or assistant district regional director who is now in Harbour Grace, will be moving to Clarenville, for Clarenville, Bonavista, and the Burin Peninsula, together with a secretary. That is who will be moving into the district office - not the regional office. And who authorized that member to go out and make an announcement that was not true - was not government policy? Who authorized it? Did this minister authorize him to make that lie?

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

MR. GULLAGE: This minister didn't authorize that particular member or any other member to make any statements, but it is a fact, and everybody knows, that we are restructuring the department to create nine regional offices of a different structure from what we have now, with fewer people in those offices. That is a well-known fact throughout the Province.

The misinterpretation of the member's remarks were such that it was reported that we would be removing the regional office from Harbour Grace and moving it to Clarenville. That is not the truth, Mr. Speaker. We intend to maintain a regional office in Harbour Grace, and a new regional office will be created in Clarenville. Both of those offices, as I have just said, will not be structured as they presently are. They will have fewer people, will be administrative in nature, and all of the specialty services presently contained in the five regional offices we have will be moved into the district offices throughout the Province.

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to other routine business, the Chair would like to welcome, on behalf of hon. members this morning, students from St. James Junior High School in Port aux Basques, approximately twenty-five students, and they are accompanies by their Vice-Principal, Mr. Bailey and also, Mrs Osmond.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to present the following resolution:

WHEREAS most provinces of Canada have management control of their principal natural resources; and

WHEREAS the fishing industry is of critical importance to the economic and social wellbeing of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada since 1949 has had full management control over the fish stocks of principal importance to our fishery; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada's mismanagement of those resources has resulted in near collapse of key stocks and a most uncertain future for hundreds of coastal communities; and

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador must achieve a meaningful voice in the future management of its fish resources; and

WHEREAS the Prime Minister of Canada, in June of 1990, agreed in writing with the principle of joint fisheries management for Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the Canada/Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board provides a model for successful shared management of a natural resource; and

WHEREAS the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is proposing reforms that would give all Atlantic Canada provinces an equal say in the management of fish resources that are critical to Newfoundland and Labrador;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House hereby endorse the Province's proposal for a Canada/Newfoundland fisheries management board as an effective mechanism to achieve rebuilding of our fish stocks and long-term stability in the best interest of the people and fishing industry of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Realizing that the member's resolution is so critical and so important to the Province, and particularly to our most important industry, we on this side would agree, by unanimous consent, to pass the resolution immediately, to get on with it, and let the feelings of this Legislature be known to the authorities in Ottawa.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I take it, that is not the consent of the House.

Petitions

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with great pride, and I believe, personal responsibility, that I present to this hon. House this morning a petition of 1,371 names - 1,372 because your's truly is at the bottom, as well.

Before I comment on the petition I will read the prayer of the petition: 'We, the undersigned, are committed to the highest quality education for the children of our Province. We support Roman Catholic schools and want to keep them. In the same way, we support the rights of others to have the schools they desire. We also support co-operation between the churches in education, especially shared services, schools where they are needed. We do not want our rights and the rights of other people in our Province taken away and we ask you, as our representatives, not to tamper with the rights we now have under the Constitution of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the Premier's statement this morning but I also have some reservations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: I remember, some time back, I was present when the Premier, as guest speaker, addressed a graduation ceremony. And if the Premier had come out with any other statement this morning, I believe I would have had to get to my feet, because what the Premier said that night - I certainly cannot quote him verbatim, but what he gave me and, I think, everyone else there, was certainly an assurance that he agreed with the system - well, I would not say absolutely, but almost absolutely, that he agreed with what was happening in our educational system and he praised, undoubtedly, the people who made that possible. If he had come out with any other statement this morning, I would certainly feel badly about it.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about achievements. We are all here for the one reason, to make it better for our children and, as in my case, our grandchildren.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I am here as a Roman Catholic, but it is not alone, Roman Catholics, who play a major role in education in Newfoundland. We are a minority group and minorities' rights are protected. Mr. Speaker, let me read one little sentence from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26; it says: Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that will be given to our children. What I am saying this morning is, when the Williams Report was made public, that was not the case. I am a firm believer that the Williams Report had an hidden agenda. The hidden agenda was, in that Williams' Report, to tamper with and take away the rights of the people to the education that they desire. I want to remind the hon. House that that dedication is there from the people - that dedication is there. Mr. Speaker, we hear so much - which is a red herring, it is a myth - about the duplication that goes on within the educational system. Let me say to hon. members, community -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are wrong there.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is some.

MR. PARSONS: I am wrong? Oh, no, I am not wrong. There are 88 per cent of the schools that have no duplication. Most of the duplication we talk about is here in St. John's and in Corner Brook, in the larger centres, and there is certainly no duplication here - will someone, who attended the meeting with the integrated school board, tell me where the duplication is? It is a myth. Then, we have to remember, as well, that of all the presentations made to the Williams Commission, there were 75 per cent pro to denominational educational standards and systems, 75 per cent. But the powers that be were not satisfied. They said: 'Let's do a poll.' And I am like John Diefenbaker: 'Poles' are alright where there are no hydrants. But they did a poll and they said 62 per cent of people were in favour of a secular school system. A school without God, that is what it is. I saw on television last night, as did many others, that 50 per cent of Canadians disagree with the public school system. They want it abolished. And do you know the one they would bring back if they could, if they had it enshrined, as we have, in our Terms of Union? They would bring back an education having God in it, a good education system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. PARSONS: I would like to finish up, Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, all I am saying, to the Premier and to the government, is that this is a constitutional matter - it is enshrined in the Constitution and I, with the 1,371 others, and many more which I will bring to the floor of this House, are prepared to fight for it. If that means fighting in the streets, that is what we will do, every one of us. We are going to retain the system that we have. There are certainly going to be changes made, but for the better. Our right is never going to be challenged as far as our Constitution is concerned.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in support of the petition so ably presented by the Member for St. John's East Extern, and certainly endorse every word that the hon. gentleman said. When a member like the Member for St. John's East Extern stands to present such a petition and defends the stand, he is not doing a flip-flop. The Member for St. John's East -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that comment from the Member for Placentia was not called for and I will ask him to repeat it, to have recorded in Hansard the comment that he just made.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for Burin Placentia - West again, to please restrain himself.

MR. HEARN: I thank my colleague. I didn't hear what the member said, but if it is like any other comments made by the member whether formally or informally, it is not worth having in Hansard, anyway.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East Extern, has been a long-time defender of the denominational education system in this Province, unlike the gentlemen opposite, or a large amount of them, or the Member for St. John's East, who is not here.

We saw some great flip-flops this morning when we had the church dignitaries in the galleries. We saw, just a short time ago, the government and government members working towards whittling down the powers of the denominational education committees, just because some university professors or CBC reporters, doctored polls supported by statements made by the Newfoundland Teachers' Association about the cost of the denominational education system, to scare people out there into thinking we had a system that was costing millions and millions of dollars more than a public school system. That would scare anybody, but the truth of the matter is, as gentlemen well know now, since they have had to research it when the pressure came on them, that our system of education is no more costly than the public school system and the values are very much greater. And if they look at the input over the years of the churches in education, and the amount of funding and energies put in there and you put a dollar value on, you will find that we are getting true value for the few extra dollars it might cost to have the churches involved, and the dollars are minimal as the Premier well knows.

I am glad to see the Premier make a statement this morning giving some assurance to the churches; however, I am not sure whether, if I were the churches, I could sit back and say halleluia, we are safe, nothing is going to happen to our system of education. Because, for anybody who scrutinizes the wording of the Premier's statement, there are a number of phrases there that can be taken in a number of ways. 'The phrase might not mean precisely the same thing to all principals at the table,' the Premier says, when he talks about denominationally-based education. 'Government and church leaders have agreed to work within that framework' - what framework are we talking about? The framework of really not knowing what the other understands and, of course, at the end of the day the Premier can always say, Well, what I meant was - and I presume that is what they all accepted. I hope the Premier is sincere when he says that he is in support of keeping the system that we have, with the changes that will be necessary to refine, to get the best out of the system. And I have no problems with that, we have always done that, and I can take the Premier back to a few years ago when that attempt was first made.

The churches have a very important role to play in education and many of us here in this House are only here because of church involvement in our communities that led to a sound, solid education in remote and rural areas, where it would be impossible to achieve the levels of education that many people achieved during the years. So we have a lot to be thankful for, and when we listen to people running off half cocked, spouting figures that they don't know anything about at all in relation to true costs - and, of course, that is what the press picks up, especially the CBC types, and they run around the Province telling about the cost of our system and why we have the worst system of education in Canada because we have a denominational education system.

History and geography have dictated our education levels and in relation to grade levels, it means absolutely nothing when it comes down to true, basic, solid, christian education. When we talk about preparing for life, I would stack the people of Newfoundland against anybody, anywhere else in Canada, whether it is a Grade III or a Grade XIII that we have.

Mr. Speaker, we have been privileged with the system of education we have, when we look at the circumstances that have led to our livelihoods here in this great Province of ours. Certainly, the churches have played an important part and we should continue to work with them as partners. As I said, I hope we can take the government at their word that this will continue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, ordinarily I wouldn't have stood to address this, but some comments that have been made, make it appropriate that I do so.

I understand and appreciate the sincerity and strength of the conviction expressed by the Member for St. John's East Extern. I do not in any way criticize it or denigrate it. I just wish he wouldn't talk about fighting in the streets. That is a little extreme, I think he was probably carried away by the emotion of the moment - but I greatly respect the sincerity and strength of his conviction.

I am a little bothered by the suggestion about flip-flop by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It is not. It is totally inaccurate. Members can go back to Hansard and find every statement I have made in this House on this matter, and they will see my statements very clearly from the beginning - no government can ride roughshod over the constitutional rights of people.

Mr. Speaker, we also have people in this Province with great personal integrity, and the people collectively will not tolerate the majority using its power and influence by majority votes to diminish or destroy the rights of minorities. This will not happen. I am confident that if a government wanted to do it, they would be stopped dead by the people of this Province because they will not see that happen. It is intolerable.

MR. MATTHEWS: You know that now - you didn't believe it until the last two weeks.

PREMIER WELLS: I have said it from the beginning, and all the member has to do is admit what was said by me or go back and read Hansard and he will see that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is another side to that coin. While a majority can tyrannize a minority, a minority can also sometimes terrorize a majority, and we must not allow that to happen. It was in recognition of that that the church leaders agreed with the statement that I read this morning that if, after the discussions, there is a consensus that there should be some adjustment to the existing constitutional structure, then it would be appropriate that it could be pursued at that time. That is something that is in the statement, because you cannot have - you should never tolerate - either terrorism by a majority of the people over the minority, or effective terrorism of the majority by the minority. Both are equally wrong.

The sensible thing to so is to do what we have been trying to do for the last six months with the church leaders of this Province - work to find, by consensus, acceptable changes that are necessary to correct some of the flaws that are in the system. At the same time, do as I did in that speech that the hon. member was talking about, give full credit to the churches of this Province who originally brought education to our people. Don't ever forget that. They took the role when there was no government to do it, or when government wasn't interested enough to do it. They took the lead and they did it. Don't throw that aside as being worthless. Recognize the contribution that has made to our society in this Province over the centuries. But, Mr. Speaker, recognize also that we are going forward, not backward, and be prepared to make the kinds of changes that may be necessary to properly prepare our young people to compete in the increasingly competitive world.

For those of us who sit in this House and, as well, for the church leaders, remember that we have a responsibility to the overwhelming majority of the people of this Province to ensure that we provide the kind of educational system, both in terms of quality and character, that they want, always recognising the limits of our financial resources to do so, and the more severe consequences with which we have to deal.

But let's not try to provoke difficulty. Let's do this by means of developing a consensus. But let's never put ourselves in a position where either a government or anybody else will use the majority that they have in this House to take away important and fundamental rights of a minority group. Always and forever let us remember that we cannot tolerate either a situation where a small but vociferous and perhaps obstinate, even, minority may want to prevent reasonable change that is generally agreed upon by the people who are interested, the church leaders, and by the overwhelming majority of the people of this Province. So let's not try to focus on confrontation in dealing with this issue, let's focus on trying to find a reasonable, fair and balanced consensus on which to go forward.

Again I emphasize, I greatly respect the sincerity and conviction of the hon. member, and I will always remember his comments and the way he expressed them. But all of us in this House have a responsibility to the 570,000 people who have put us here to put in place a proper education system that will ensure our people are the best trained that we can do it as they go forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding with calling Orders of the Day, the Chair would like to make a reference. The Chair would like for more people to be here - it is unfortunate. I waited until now to give things a little opportunity to cool down.

It has happened invariably in the past few days, in Question Period, in particular, that when the Chair has recognized a certain member, there have been some unfavourable comments made. The Chair has pretended not to hear them, but the Chair can't do that. Hon. members must recognize, one of the most serious things that can be done is to make an unfavourable comment towards the Chair. There is a procedure for that.

With respect to Question Period, the Chair doesn't have to say this, but the Chair, for the benefit of hon. members - sometimes it is very difficult in terms of who to recognize with Question Period. The rules don't always apply in terms of tradition, because the composition of the Opposition is different. It is the reason why the Speaker's rulings related to Oral Questions are not debatable or subject to appeal, because of these difficulties. I just want to explain to hon. members that many times the Chair looks at the number of people who are speaking. But there are times the Chair looks at the number of questions. Because, quite obviously, if one or two members take up the whole of Question Period, then the Chair can't look at the number of people, otherwise, other minorities here would never get a chance to speak, if you looked at the number of people.

So sometimes the Chair has to look at the number of questions. For example, in the last three days -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

In the last three days, forty-seven questions have been asked in the House. Forty-one have been asked by the Official Opposition. The Chair feels that is not a bad ratio. The Member for St. John's East got a chance to ask six questions out of the forty-seven. So, as I said, if two or three members are asking all the questions, then the Chair has to - I don't need to - just a matter of pointing out a difficulty.

The Chair can't say to a member very often in this House - that we were never allowed to get off more than three or four questions. The Chair, again, is cognizant of the strategy of the Opposition. If nobody stands, then the Chair can't say: Sit down. Very often in the past, if a member went beyond four questions, the Speaker would say: I can't recognize the hon. member anymore, I will go on to another one. If there is no one else standing, if the Chair wants -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. If the Chair wants to come back - and the Chair hasn't done that, but maybe it is a procedure the Chair will do -

and go on to another member, and if that member wants to come back - because one member or two members are not permitted in a sense to monopolize the whole House, particulary when we have fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen members. As I said that is why we cannot look at traditions because there have been times when we have only had eight or nine members in the Opposition and then things change. You cannot do with eight or nine what you can with fifteen or sixteen, or when you have two or three different parties involved. The Chair would like to explain that to members and point out the difficulty that we have in that regard. The Chair attempts it's utmost to give fair play to every member in terms of getting on Question Period.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we carry on with the debate on the Packaging Bill. It is Order No. 9.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I adjourned the debate yesterday but the Member for LaPoile has asked me to relinquish my time because, I believe, he has students in the galleries.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are gone.

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, they were my students.

Are those your students going now?

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well I will continue and you can get up after. I was going to relinquish my time but if the students are going it does not make any difference. I did not really mind doing it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few words on this Bill presented yesterday by the Minister of Environment and Lands: An Act Respecting The Reduction Of The Impact Of Packaging On The Environment. I do not intend to go on too long with this but for the first major piece of environmental legislation to be presented by this minister since she became minister all I can say is that it is a complete and utter disaster to have this piece of legislation presented to this House of Assembly. When governments want to do nothing there is sometimes a deliberate strategy by governments to do nothing. If there is an issue around that is causing some controversy and governments want to do nothing they do one of two things. They will put it out to a committee and bury it in a committee every now and then, bury it for six or eight months in a committee, or have a study, which is the same thing as a committee, or the other way which is to bring in useless legislation, and this minister has decided to bring in useless legislation.

This will have absolutely nothing - I will not say even very little, this will have nothing to do to improve the environment of our Province. This will not improve one bit the environment of our Province. It will not allow the minister to prosecute people for over-packaging. It will not demand that the minister set up regulations about packaging. If this is part of a national strategy, as the minister told us, somebody else will be setting the rules and our minister will be following them along, maybe. Maybe our minister will. If we find we need stronger rules in this Province for certain reasons, and we do, we need a stronger rule on returnable bottles in this Province than PEI does because PEI has good rules on that now.

MS. COWAN: Why did you not do it?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Actually, we did do it. We did make an improvement on the returnable bottles. We were the government who kept the brewery industry alive in this Province by saying no more than 4 per cent of the product can come in aluminum cans. We were the government who did that, Mr. Speaker. We were the government who brought in all the environmental rules in this Province and when we brought them in we were hailed across Canada by environmentalists as their being the strongest, toughest, best environmental rules anywhere in Canada. That is what we did. We do not hide away from it. We do not stay out of this House of Assembly when touchy issues become important. When the issue of Long Harbour was being discussed in this House of Assembly the minister was not in here to defend what they were doing.

MS. COWAN: There was a good reason.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know there was a good reason for it.

MS. COWAN: A point of order.

I find that extremely objectionable, that the gentleman would raise the point of my absence, particularly since the Premier had risen in this House to say that I was suffering from diabetes and was not able to be in the House until I had the matter under control. I find it most objectionable that I would even have to rise this morning to say such a thing.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I find it equally as objectionable to have to rise in my place to say that the Minister of Environment and Lands is not in this House of Assembly when important environment issues are being discussed in this Province, Mr. Speaker. Now, I am sorry that the minister was sick. I do not criticise her for being out of the House when she was sick, Mr. Speaker. There are many, many other instances when the minister is sitting in her chair during question period and she is out the door in a minute, Mr. Speaker, as soon as an environmental issue is being discussed in this Province, many, many times, Mr. Speaker. Do not be putting up your hand, you are not in school now, you do not want to go to the bathroom.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands, on a point of order.

MS. COWAN: Again, I am very puzzled by this personal attack. My son has said to me on many occasions: mom, when they take a personal attack at you, it must be because they fear that you are going to do something that makes the government look good. I think that my son is quite correct when he says that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. COWAN: I think that I need an apology, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair cannot stop a person from, I suppose, making what is determined to be a personal attack, unless it is against parliamentary procedure or it is unparliamentary. The Chair would wish that members would keep their comments to the issues but again that is up to the hon. members. It is only when it is breaking the rules or unparliamentary that the Chair can intervene.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Mr. Speaker, I just want to inform the hon. minister, you do not have to put your hand up to be recognized in the House of Assembly, you just stand up and say a point of order. That is all you have to do and this is not a personal attack. As a person, Mr. Speaker, I do not know her very well, so I could not attack her personally. I am attacking the job she is doing as Minister of Environment and Lands for this Province and she is not doing a good job. Now, I think she is not doing a good job, maybe some other people in the Province think she is. I would not attack anyone in this House personally, Mr. Speaker, I have no reason to. I do not know most of the people on that side, personally. I met them since they came in here in the House of Assembly. Most of them are pretty good people personally, but Mr. Speaker, they are doing a lousy job in this Province of governing. The Minister of Environment and Lands is a prime example of the person who is doing a lousy job for the environment of this Province. Does the minister know, Mr. Speaker, this is a prime example of the lousy job that she is doing, a bill to do nothing. A bill that was brought to this House of Assembly to try to sweep a very important issue under the carpet, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture, on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure in what parliament the word, lousy, would be permitted and I ask the Chair to ask the member to refrain or at least retract the word. I do not believe that we in the Chamber need to hear that, nor do I believe the people in the galleries need to hear that kind of language. What will we hear next?

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I think that is probably the 500th time since he was elected, that he stood up on a point of order and there was never a point of order yet, Mr. Speaker, never a correct point of order. Mr. Speaker, the emissions level on that side of the House is rising and I suggest the Minister of Environment and Lands do something about it, pollution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair wants to ensure that debate is carried on in a rational and intelligent level. The Chair did not hear the extent or the content in which the hon. member used 'lousy.' It is not one of my favourite words but that does not mean that it is not a favourite word with some other people. But I do not know in what context it was used, if the hon. member could explain, if he was calling a person that it would probably be a little bit different but if he has been referring to different comments than it would not be unparliamentary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would not say that to a person, Mr. Speaker, I would refer that word to the job that the people on that side are doing. That the job is a lousy job, that is an easily understood word. I could look up the dictionary and give you words that are three or four inches long, Mr. Speaker, but most of the people in the Province would not know about them. That is what the Minister of Justice does when he is trying to insult people in this House of Assembly. So nobody knows if they are being insulted if they do not understand what he is saying. He did it to me a couple of times but I do not know if he is insulting me or complimenting me. My vocabulary is not great, I do not mind admitting that, my vocabulary is not great. So I will say that you are doing a lousy job because I know everyone in the Province who hears this will understand what I mean. They have no doubt what I mean when I say this government is doing a lousy job and the Minister of Environment and Lands is doing the worst. The most lousiest, if that is a word, is doing the worst of all jobs on the environment in this Province, Mr. Speaker, because the most important piece of legislation she brings in is a piece of legislation to do nothing. This requires the minister to do exactly what she has been doing since becoming Minister of Environment -

MR. MATTHEWS: Nothing.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Zero, nothing. Now, Mr. Speaker, if this is a part of a national strategy, well, maybe we will get some action from it from other provinces and we will tag along behind them. If this legislation was brought in here to support the 'ban the can' issue that I supported when it was brought up some years ago now, I forget what the date was, Mr. Speaker, but there were groups in this Province who had started a campaign on 'ban the can', and part of that campaign was the reasoning for this, no more than 4 per cent of aluminum cans in the beer industry; I do not know if that regulation still stands now. I am not sure if this government did not throw that out with their free trade and their trade with Atlantic Canada, but if this legislation would support that type of initiative for the government, I would be delighted to support it, but this will do nothing, zero, for our environment in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, if this legislation was put here to bring in rules such as they have in Prince Edward Island on returnable soft drink bottles, I would support it wholeheartedly, but this legislation will not have one ounce of impact on the garbage that is being created around our Province with these disposable soft drink containers. This will do nothing for it, this will not clean it up. I do not know who it was yesterday but someone mentioned here about the bags and bags and helicopter loads of garbage that was coming out from the wilderness area, the Avalon wilderness area, and this will not do one -

MR. DOYLE: Benefit, no benefit.

MS. COWAN: Try levying fines (inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: No, but you see Patt, you cannot levy fines.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well maybe you did, maybe you increased the fines - Did you increase the fines?

MR. DOYLE: Yes, she did, yes.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well good for you. You did something. I have to apologize -

MR. MATTHEWS: But she has not caught anybody.

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, no, that is right, they have no enforcement -

MR. MATTHEWS: Nobody paid their fines.

MR. R. AYLWARD: There was no enforcement of the regulations. You can put the fines to a million dollars each if you like, but if you cannot enforce the regulations and catch people who are dumping - I will tell you now if you want to take a drive between Kilbride and Shea Heights on that gravel road, you take a drive up there, right in the middle of St. John's, is a dumping area.

MS. COWAN: Did you report it?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, I reported it, yes I reported it. I did not see people dumping it, if I had seen them dumping it I would have shoved it down their throats. If I caught anyone damaging our environment I would report it. But if you do not have enforcement people in your system to carry out your regulations it is not good having them, you can have all the regulations you want in the world. People are dumping garbage right under your nose, obviously that says what type of legislation you have, it is no good, it is useless, unless you enforce it.

Now, how can we take environmental legislation seriously in this Province when we have a government and a minister who are inviting people to come and dump their toxic waste and cause incinerators to be built in Long Harbour? We have a government here who wants people to bring American garbage into our Province and burn it to create energy, I believe is what it said. This legislation would allow that; this legislation would not do a thing to stop it. Actually, it will allow the burning of garbage to create energy, it is in the legislation, Mr.Speaker. It is right in the legislation that they will allow the destruction of the garbage to create energy.

They have done pretty well everything in their power to allow that garbage dump to be created in Long Harbour, they have done pretty well everything in their power. The only thing that is holding them up now is the company that is coming in here to burn garbage, do not trust this Newfoundland Reduction Company to clean up the site, that is the only thing that is stopping it. Nothing this government did is stopping that Long Harbour garbage dump from being created. The only thing that is stopping it is that the company who wants to move in here, does not trust the company who was out in Long Harbour, I have forgotten their name now, Newfoundland, what was that name again?

MR. DOYLE: What the garbage company?

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Newfoundland reduction company or something - the ones that were operating in Long Harbour before -

AN HON. MEMBER: Reduction and recycling...

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, not that crowd.

Mr. Speaker, that is the only thing that is stopping the dump. Nothing this government did is stopping it. Not only is nothing this government is doing stopping it, this government is going to have another dump now in Labrador, up near Schefferville - and the Member for Eagle River never opened his mouth on this yet. That is what gets me. Mr. Speaker, he is standing up every day in the media. He has been reported in the media as supporting this wildlife -

AN HON. MEMBER: IFAW.

MR. R. AYLWARD: IFAW, Mr. Speaker. He is up supporting them. He has been reported as supporting them, yet there is a dump going up in his region, and these guys are even admitting that they are going to put toxic things in there. They are going to bury toxic garbage in there, and he never opened his mouth about it.

If the fund for international welfare hears that you are allowing that dump to go up there, they are going to throw you off their board. They are not going to allow you to stand up and be spokesman for them in this Province. They are going to get rid of you. So stand up and say that you disagree with the dump going to Labrador, and have some real legislation brought into this House of Assembly.

If the minister wanted to bring environmental legislation into this House of Assembly today that I would support, it would be legislation that would say definitely there will be no dumps brought into this Province. We do not want garbage from anywhere else in North America, or the world, brought to our Province - period - no questions asked. If the minister was bringing in that type of legislation, I would be here congratulating the minister and supporting her and her department for doing a good job for our Province. Yet we have absolutely nothing in this legislation. Not only that, we cannot trust an administration who would attempt, or who would do everything in their power to allow these garbage dumps.

I think there are only two backbenchers on that side who actually came out and said that there should not be garbage imported from America. I believe the Member for Humber West and the Member for St. John's South were the only two who spoke up. They are the only two I remember - and one of them has been thrown out of Cabinet and the other one does not have a chance of getting in so they have nothing to lose, I guess, but all the rest of them are very quiet about it over there.

Mr. Speaker, if this legislation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well the Member for Carbonear tells me he is against it, but he will not tell anyone else. You have to be public. You have to come out and tell people flat out. It is no good sitting behind your desk, frightened to death that the Premier might hear you are against something he is trying to do. You are not going to get in Cabinet anyway.

Mr. Speaker, if this legislation -

MR. TOBIN: Who is not getting in Cabinet?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Art - and it is too bad, too, because he would probably be a good minister.

MR. TOBIN: There is not time enough left for a Cabinet shuffle before an election, and he will not be back.

MR. R. AYLWARD: That is right. He will be gone anyway. No matter who wins, he is gone.

Mr. Speaker, if this legislation was doing something about the major environmental problem in our Province - I know the soft drink containers are a problem. The Long Harbour dump will probably never come to fruition because both companies do not trust each other, so we do not really have to worry about that. The major environmental problem in our Province today is the use of ATV's - particularly wheeled trikes and quads. That is the major environmental issue in our Province. That is the problem that is creating the most damage to our environment right now.

Mr. Speaker, if anyone - and I do quite often - travels anywhere in our Province, they will see the damage that is being done by these all terrain vehicles. Skidoos are not so bad because usually the ground is -

MS. COWAN: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Is this an environmental act? Are we talking about environmental issues? Are you the one who is responsible for our environment in this Province?

MS. COWAN: Proudly.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, proudly is right, and you are doing nothing about it.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder why this government is doing nothing about the ATV problem in this Province? I have a letter here from the Canadian All Terrain Vehicle Distributor's Council, who are willing to work with governments throughout Canada in solving this problem. They are offering their help. These are the ones who are offering their help, and you will not listen to them. You will not meet with them. You will not talk to them.

The former Minister of Transportation would not even look at them - Gilbert there - he would not go near them. They were begging for meetings with him. Here is the letter. I attended a meeting up at First City Motel one night. No one from the Liberal caucus showed up there. Not a soul there from the Liberal caucus. There were dealers and users.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The invitation was a public, on the radio, invitation. Anyone could come.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Users, dealers, people interested in the environment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, because you've been burying your head in the sand for too long. Mr. Speaker, by the way, this Province is the highest per capita user of ATVs anywhere in North America. Not Canada, anywhere in North America. I would say probably the world. One hundred and twenty-five thousand people, or one-fifth of our population in Newfoundland and Labrador, used off-road vehicles in 1991. That's a lot of people.

Now some of the reasons why they're not doing anything about this is probably because of the money that's being created by the off-road ATV business. Estimated wages and salaries in 1991, $7.8 million. Very significant. Hard job to do it in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: In Newfoundland, yes. Just Newfoundland alone. Total revenues to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador from sales and use of off-road vehicles, is estimated at over $6.5 million. Very significant. It's getting worse.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: That's everything. The helmets and the bikes - everything. Six point five million dollars in revenue that the government gets out of this. It's a $100 million business, Mr. Speaker.

These people are willing to work with the government. They want to solve it because they know what's going to happen. When non-users eventually have enough they're going to revolt and they're going to stop the use of ATVs, period. Like the use of trikes, the building of trikes, was stopped. You're not allowed to build a trike any more. You have to build quads. Because of the danger. That happened nationally. It was agreed to voluntarily, by the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, there were a couple of suits. The medical society of Canada and North America generally complained so much about injuries that the companies themselves had to voluntarily stop building trikes, because they were too dangerous. That is going to happen with all ATVs eventually. When the people who are not users eventually have enough problems.

I have personal knowledge of the destruction, Mr. Speaker, because I'm fortunate enough to own a piece of farm land in Kilbride that I can't keep a fence on, and that I can't keep the mud from being up to your knees on with these things passing back and forth through private property. This is not outside. I tried to protect that little corner of the world from this destruction. You can't even do that because when you're not around in the nighttime the destruction will occur. The fences will be beaten down. This is in the City of St. John's where it's illegal to drive them.

So again it's an enforcement problem. We have some regulations in the City of St. John's to control these things but nobody's enforcing them. How are you going to enforce them? Unless you have a quad or a trike to chase them, find them. There's no good going around in a police car saying you're going to do it because you're not going to catch them.

That is a problem. This ATV industry has seventy-five dealerships located throughout the Province. That's hard to deal with. I understand it's hard to deal with. But it's going to be dealt with worse. Four hundred people employed in the business; $58 million in wages again, as I said. This is a statistic that surprised me. Where did I see that one now? The majority of off-road vehicle use is commercial use. I saw that in one of.... I can't find it there now. The majority, over 75 per cent of the ATV use, is commercial use.

So there are commercial businesses -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know the minister is bored with this, because this affects our environment. The minister will run out of the House again now because we're talking about environment. She's going to walk out the door, Mr. Speaker, and hide her head in the sand again. I didn't know this before I saw this letter. Seventy-five per cent of this damage is being caused by commercial -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The two of them, both of them have diabetes, haven't they? Both of them have diabetes. I guess that's the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, they're not getting to me. There's nobody who'll ever get to me now. If I came through fourteen years of this stuff the next month is not going to get to me.

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about this damage, and this I consider to be the most important environmental issue. The dumps and all of that stuff is great political rhetoric and you can make good news out of it, and you can catch the media every now and then on that stuff, but this is the important one, and I would like to poll this House of Assembly to know how many of our members own these vehicles. How many of our own members are damaging the environment? I have never owned one and I never will own one. I am not saying I never damaged our environment because I did my share of that, the same as most of us, but I would say there is a significant number of people in this House of Assembly who either themselves or someone in their families have these trikes and quads and skidoos and J-5's and the like that are doing damage to our society. That is why we are getting nothing done with it, because the majority in here are probably doing the same thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, I would not be surprised. I remember I was very supportive and very strong on some ATV regulations that we brought in, and when we made them public the you know what hit the fan, Mr. Speaker, and we chickened out. Our members - our Cabinet - chickened out. Now I cannot say what happened inside the Cabinet rooms, but it was not this fellow. It was not me.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have to do it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It has to be done, Mr. Speaker, and if it is not done - it will be done eventually, but it is going to be done when it is too late. It is like the agricultural zone in Kilbride. We brought in agricultural protection in 1972 or 1973. The farmers in that area were looking for that since 1962. When we brought it in, it was too late - pretty well too late. It will survive another ten years or so and then it will be all gone - and we are going to do that with this ATV issue too. It is going to be too late when somebody decides to make a move on it.

Mr. Speaker, I know for a fact that the Member for Eagle River does damage because he owns two. He owns a skidoo and a trike, and the fund for animal welfare crowd are going to throw him off the board for that too if he does not come around, because they do not put up with too much of that stuff. They are pretty strict. The member might like to get the publicity any way he can, something like the Member for Port de Grave. Any publicity is good publicity.

Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Eagle River is not careful, the fund for animal welfare will throw him off their board. He is not going to be able to serve. He cannot sit on both sides of the fence. He has to take a stand one way or the other.

I just say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, this act could have been a good act to put out to a legislative review committee, because you would get - it might not be totally relevant what you would hear about this act, period, but you would get a wide view. You would hear from people who are interested in the environment and have suggestions for the government to act upon.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I doubt it.

You might collect it - no, I do not say you will have it. There will be a few more collect their severance within a month or so after I collect mine too - a few on both sides, probably.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) until Thursday?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, I will be here on Thursday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, I thought he was saying if the election is called. Yes, well that is it. Yes, I will be here no matter what. I do not quit in the middle of a job. I never have. No matter what happens, I will be here. It is out of my control whatever happens so ... I was hired on by the people of the district of Kilbride from the last election until the next one, and that is what I will do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, I am sure.

Mr. Speaker, I will just make a recommendation in this Bill that it would have been a good Bill to refer to a legislative review committee so we could get some public input again on what we should be doing for our environment. If we heard only from people who are interested in packaging, as this Bill suggests is supposed to help out, that would be good, but I would expect we would hear more issues - a broader issue on the environment throughout our Province if we had put this Bill to a legislative review committee and tried to get some public input.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. member, the Chair would like to just bring to the attention of all the members of the Honourable House -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair would like to bring to the attention of all hon. members of the House, Standing Order 11, particularly Sections (c) and (d). These orders are here to help the Speaker preserve order and decorum in the House. Sections (c) and (d) of that Standing Order have not been observed by hon. members in the recent days, the Chair has noticed. I'll just read them to hon. members.

Here in (c) it says: "When a member is speaking, no member shall pass between him and the Chair, nor interrupt him, except to raise a point of order." In (d) it says: "No member may pass between the Chair and the table, nor between the Chair and the Mace when the Mace has been taken off the table by the Sergeant-at-Arms."

So I ask hon. members to bear these two standing orders in mind, please.

The hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, I don't have very much on this Bill, just pointing out certain aspects of it that I feel are very important.

I understand the type of criticism offered by the opposition is but for the sake of the way that they see the efforts that are being made. They think it should all be done in legislation. This government has taken the legislation, An Act Respecting The Reduction Of The Impact Of Packaging On The Environment, as a first step. As part of the process. As part of the overall manner in which we are going to go about this.

The changes to the way that we perceive the environment are changes that have come with a lot of forethought and a lot of understanding that's been developed over the last number of years. We have to consider that to make very harsh changes immediately can have some adverse impact, not only on our environment, but also adverse impact on the commercial side of environmental law.

If we look at this legislation, the purpose as stated in Section 3, is to: "(a) reduce or mitigate the adverse environmental effects associated with the manufacture, use, reuse and recycling of packaging; and (b) encourage a hierarchy of source reduction, reuse and recycling with respect to packaging."

As people will know, in past years it's been put out to the public that to preserve your environment will cost more. To purchase environmentally friendly products will cost more. To see to it that sewage is treated. We note a noteworthy example in British Columbia where the United States, the Washington area, is at odds with British Columbia communities over the sewage outfall situation, as far as what will be acceptable in the overall context of trade between Canada and the US as far as what we should do in the way of our environmental protection.

So we have to look at all of these different things. It's not the kind of piece of legislation which could be brought in to deal with it specifically. I feel the way that we've approached this, with enabling legislation which will enable the proper establishment of regulations, is certainly the right way to go. Because regulations are much more apt to be able to be changed easily given new, arising circumstances. As well, to consider the different things that come up.

If we get into the side of the environmental question as far as whether people are willing to pay for it, well initially I think as environment is seen as one of these things in an affluent society, sure, the affluent society can afford to look after the environment as far as paying extra for environmentally friendly goods and services. If you look at society where money is a problem, where there are financial problems associated with the affordability of environmental concerns, then society itself will possibly reject the more expensive environmentally friendly products and services for less expensive ones. The marketplace will essentially decide.

This is where government comes in, in requiring a certain level of environmentally friendly activity on the part of the business community, and also on the part of packaging, the detail of which we are discussing in this particular Bill.

There are some noteworthy aspects to the Bill. The encouragement of reducing the source of the problem. I often am amused by people speaking for one thing of electric vehicles as being environmentally friendly, because they don't pollute the environment as much, when the effort used and the energy undertaken to produce, say, an electric vehicle may in fact pollute the air more.

MS. COWAN: Global warming (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Then you have the problems associated, as the minister suggested, with global warming, through the emissions from power plants where industry requires power plants to have certain levels of emission reduction. That is something that you have to take into consideration when you're producing environmentally friendly packaging.

Then, getting into the detail of the wording of this Bill, where it says in Section 3(b) to "encourage a hierarchy of source reduction...," if you take that right back to the original source of the product - if in fact the mill where the steel is produced is not environmentally friendly, then to have steel as opposed to - used in a certain vehicle, would probably not necessarily be more environmentally friendly. Probably that's a poor example.

A better example might be the example of aluminium. If you use aluminium in products it's lighter. Generally, a lighter-weight material is going to cause less problems to the environment. Because if you're shipping it you're not using as much fuel in the trucks that are shipping the product to market. So therefore a lighter product, or an aluminium-type product, might very well be cheaper. Sorry, not cheaper, but of less damage to the environment, because aluminium is lighter.

Then if you go to the pollution that an aluminium smelter can cause to the environment then you see the difference that one product over another may cause. The advantage of light weight versus the disadvantage of the increased pollution by virtue of its production. So if you go to the source of the product you get into the detail of the "hierarchy of source reduction" which is quite a bit different from saying that it's a given package on a shelf.

We could use the example of MacDonald's restaurants, Mr. Speaker. MacDonald's restaurants, in order to accommodate the environmental concerns of the general public, chose to go from their styrofoam containers to a paper wrapping on their burgers. So you can imagine, even here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the amount that this contributes to our landfill sites as far as actual waste material. Now if you look at the assessments that were done by the people involved with environment, the paper wrapping actually is more difficult to deal with from a waste disposal standpoint than styrofoam, but the impression was that the styrofoam itself was in fact more damaging to the environment. So what often is done as a result of public pressure doesn't often mean the best thing of all for the environment. These are the kinds of things that we have to take into account and get to the source and to understand the detail.

It's not the kind of thing that legislation itself can do. Legislation with the assistance of the regulations that may be made by the government in future is certainly a key point.

The other situation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Is there a suggestion there that I've been cooking with aluminium? Anyway, Mr. Speaker, on another matter as far as the details. Initially when I was elected four years ago I brought to the attention of the then Minister of Environment and Lands, the hon. Mr. Kelland, about the reusable bottles. This is part and parcel of the way that the Opposition often addresses the issue of saying the government has done nothing. The reusable bottle issue.

They will know that under their administration an agreement was sought by the industry to make sure that refillable bottles would not be required over a given period of time to allow the recycling industry to establish itself in the Province, as I understand it. So a certain period of time was allowed to see if the recycling of the non-refillable and the non-returnable bottles, as an example, was going to be a useful way of dealing with our waste problem. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have not heard the minister mention as to the results of the pilot project, I suppose it was called at the time, and I think that that jury will be out and the minister can comment on that further at her closing of the Bill.

I would congratulate the minister on bringing this forward. It is a very, very broad based piece of legislation. We have to look at packaging that surrounds the clothes we buy, right down to the drink container that we drink from, all the way through, Mr. Speaker, and with the considerable pressure that I am under, by hon. members on both sides of the House, I think I probably said as much as could be said about the environment here this morning in a useful way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now she will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am going to rise above the temptation to respond because I feel that the official Opposition has had a lot to bear this week and they have had to deal with that by sort of attacking me and that is all right. I think our government has made some fairly important steps this week and if I had to be the brunt of a little bit of nonsense from the Opposition as a result of that, well I am only too glad to take it.

I would however like to respond to, who I feel is the true Opposition in this particular case, that is the hon. Member for St. John's East. He expressed several concerns which he had about the environment but again he chose to take, not the high road as his friend, the hon. Ruth Grier who is the Minister of Environment from Ontario, did when she acknowledged along with the other ministers of environment that this type of legislation was the type of legislation that we needed across Canada, as did the hon. Minister of Environment from the Province of British Columbia and from the Province of Saskatchewan, which we know all have governments of his persuasion.

So he chose to use the occasion to bring to our attention a number of half-truths, which showed that he had not really listened to me any time I was interviewed because I said this is exactly what I was going to do, that regulations were being developed but I had to bring this legislation to the House first and that is indeed what is happening. I know he felt guilty because every five minutes he kept saying: but she is so sincere. So he must have felt guilty about what he was saying and knew he was only doing it for political affect.

I am pleased than, Mr. Speaker, to move second reading of this Act, respecting packaging in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Reduction Of The Impact Of Packaging On The Environment," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 2).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough please, to call Order No. 2, which is Bill No. 10.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Government-Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited Agreements Act". (Bill No. 10).

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, very briefly, an introduction to this Bill. I would like to say that essentially this asks for an amendment to the Put agreement previously entered into, in essence what that did was to indicate to financial people that were helping finance the Kruger operation in Corner Brook, that in the event that something untoward happened the government of the Province would buy from the operation the power plant in Deer Lake, and the current amount is $50 million. That asset's replacement value is probably in the vicinity of $400 - $500 million.

It is a very valuable facility, it is valuable on its own but right now it's value is that it keeps the mill in Corner Brook operating, so in essence what this is, it is a financial arrangement or an agreement that some time in the future if something happens we would indeed purchase that particular asset for a sum of $50 million.

The existing agreement, Mr. Speaker, is that we would agree to the $50 million until 1995, and then it would decrease to $20 million; from 1995 to the year 2000, it would decrease by any accumulative earnings beyond the $20 million -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I am having difficulty hearing the Minister of Finance and he is dealing with technical aspects of the agreements between the government and Kruger - Corner Brook Pulp and Paper - so I would appreciate his repeating what he said in the last couple of minutes, perhaps at a higher volume?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the member's intervention. Those of us who wear hearing aids sometimes do not realize the level of our own voice and it gets low at times, so thank you very much for your intervention.

I was indicating that the Put Agreement essentially is an agreement to purchase the power supply at Deer Lake. It is an agreement that if anything untoward happens to the operation to Kruger, to the mill in Corner Brook and so on, that the government would stand behind or would buy that operation for, and the amount in place now is $50 million. That facility, its replacement value would probably be over $400 million at the present day because it is an extremely valuable facility, but it is extremely valuable right now where it is, because it keeps the Corner Brook operation viable and that is its value. If something were to happen to the mill in Corner Brook, then we have indicated to the financial community that we would buy that particular segment of the operation for $50 million, so in essence that was the Put Agreement.

Currently, the Put Agreement has an amount of $50 million up to 1995, at which point it drops back to $20 million and from 1995 to the year 2000, that $20 million would decrease by cumulative earnings during that period, therefore coming to an end by the year 2000, that essentially is the financing arrangement or the agreement. That agreement was based on certain financial conditions that existed at the time, alright? Certain arrangements between Kruger and their bankers and so on. These arrangements over time have a way of changing and the purpose of this amendment is to provide flexibility, it is not to increase the amount that we would agree to pay for the power plant but to provide government with flexibility and in essence that is what this amendment does. It does not give us flexibility to agree to pay more than the $50 million but it gives us flexibility to adjust the end of that particular agreement.

Kruger has indicated that their financing between 1995 and 2000 has changed, therefore they need some agreement from government to be a little flexible in that period from 1995 to the year 2000. We have agreed to do that and therefore we need this amendment which gives us the flexibility to continue that $50 million or portions of it for a year or two or three beyond 1995 not to exceed the $50 million but to have the possibility of being more flexible in those last five years of the agreement, so that is in essence, Mr. Speaker, what this amendment does and I would ask this hon. House to approve the amendment.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the Member for the district of Humber East, in which the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Mill is operated, I want to speak briefly to this Bill; I will say off the top that I support the principle of the Bill and I thank the minister for his explanation.

The Put Agreement to which the minister referred was a creative arrangement made by the Peckford administration in 1984, when the Peckford government was successful in attracting Kruger to this Province to take over the former Bowater newsprint operations. The Peckford government was aggressive and interventionist and was very effective in securing the long-term future of the Corner Brook mill and the related woods operations. The Put Agreement essentially involves government guaranteeing Kruger or Corner Book Pulp and Paper borrowing. Kruger - Corner Brook Pulp and Paper has invested a very large amount of money in modernizing the mill at Corner Brook, well in excess of the amount originally pledged. As I recall back in 1984 there was a commitment of $200 million worth of modernization. In fact the company has spent more like $300 million.

Newsprint markets have been problematic over the past few years. The newsprint industry has always been cyclical but there may be more than the usual cyclical factors at work now. We are having to face major adjustments and shifts in most aspects of the worldwide economy and Kruger is to be congratulated for having weathered the recent downturn as well as it has. Kruger, the owner of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, has been successful in the past and continues to do well competing in adverse conditions. Because of the recent difficulties in worldwide newsprint markets Kruger has had to restructure its debt arrangements with it's lenders and has had to lessen the repayment terms. That is my understanding, so as the minister indicated it is necessary for the government to have the flexibility to, in a parallel way, extend the Put Agreement, to extend the level of backing through the Put Agreement. I believe that this is a sensible and a necessary government measure to continue to secure the operation of the Corner Brook newsprint mill, which is the most important industry in the western part of the Province.

On behalf of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, again I underline our support for this measure.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: I just want to make a couple of comments on this, on this change in legislation for the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited Agreements Act. The Government House Leader explained to me generally what the purpose of the Act is and I have no question that we are trying to help Kruger through a tough time. That would be my simple explanation of it. They are hoping to get some refinancing to try to get through last year's losses I would imagine and we are going to give them a hand at it. There are a couple of questions I would like the minister to address. Maybe he did when he introduced it but I was reading something else and I missed it. We have agreed that if the operation in Corner Brook does get financially in trouble we would buy the Deer Lake operation, the powerplant for $50 million. I would expect that would be worth a lot more than $50 million. It was when we made the original agreement. It was a good deal at $50 million I would expect. Maybe the minister could let us know what the value of that might be, that is if anyone knows it now. I guess it has been updated from when I was there. A $50 million deal is a pretty good deal. There was also a part of that deal that suggested whatever excess hydro was produced in Deer Lake it would go into the Newfoundland grid at a certain price. Now are we changing that price or is that price flexible or are we giving them an increase?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. Mr. Speaker, I didn't know if there was another deal made on that, but maybe the minister will explain to us what that arrangement is. When they produce more hydro power than they need, we will buy it in our grid and we pay them a certain price for it.

If I can remember, at the time we got that it was a pretty good deal, too. We didn't give them any excessive amount of money. It was a price set, I believe, on more or less what hydro would pay ordinarily for the power, and they would sell it to Newfoundland Light and Power or whoever else.

Mr. Speaker, maybe you could give us some facts and figures on what we are paying Kruger for excess electricity; what the appraised value of the operation, itself, might be. Whether you could get that in the marketplace or not, I guess, would make a difference, but it seems to me, an electrical plant would be a good buy for pretty well anyone. If you are producing electricity and it is fairly modern, you should be able to - anyone who had enough money to buy it, I guess, it would probably be a good investment.

Maybe the minister could answer those couple of questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Minister of Finance. If he speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to concur with statements made by the Member for Humber East. Indeed, Kruger has put much more than was agreed to in terms of modernization and capital input into the mill in Corner Brook. They have gone well over $300 million. The agreement was, I believe, $200 million. So they have done a superb job. They have done more than they had agreed to do. They have been more than good corporate citizens in that regard and have done more than their share in terms of the original agreement. I would also like to commend them for what they have done.

The member mentions that this is a good operation and so on. I believe it is the second most efficient operation in Canada, as a mill, which I was astounded to find out because that is a really good, fine-tuned operation if it is the second most efficient in Canada. I don't know who the first one is. I would love to know.

With regard to the questions raised by the Member for Kilbride, value is a word that can be used in many ways. The replacement value is probably $400 million. What would it cost now to get that many megawatts at another location? A lot of money - probably more than $400 million - so the replacement cost is very high.

The actual cost of the structure, itself, and what its value is in another sense is probably a lot lower. Probably the value has been depreciated over the years and so on, so I don't know what the real value is in terms of the physical structure.

MR. ROBERTS: The real value to us would be the energy (inaudible).

MR. BAKER: That is right. The real value to us would be the energy that we would get from it, in the event that something happened to the mill in Corner Brook, which we hope never happens. We hope that we will never, ever, ever, have to use that power. We hope that the only thing we will ever get out of it is the excess power that the member mentions. That excess power, I did know a few days ago - I did hear the numbers a few days ago in terms of what we pay for the excess power, and how that compares to our other cost of production and so on. I suspect it is a half decent deal for us, and it provides them with a bit of money for their excess power. I will find out exactly what it is and hopefully have it ready for the Committee stage for the hon. member.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Government-Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited Agreements Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 10).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I had hoped that we would be able to follow the bills in the order of their numeration as opposed to the order of the motions, but my friend, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, is away, so that major bill that stands in his name about the railway should stand. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, could we then go on to Order No. 3, Bill No. 4, which stands in the name of my friend, the Minister of Fisheries?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fisheries Loan Act." (Bill No. 4).

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment to The Fisheries Loan Act is to substitute the words 'financial institution' for the word 'bank'. This change would expand the Fisheries Loan Board Loan Guarantee Program to include financial institutions other than banks. As it now stands, that program, Mr. Speaker, is available only through the recognized chartered banks. Financial institutions would include trust companies, and credit unions, as well as other institutions acceptable to the Fisheries Loan Board, the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice.

Mr. Speaker, we feel that this amendment is necessary in these times when credit unions and other lending institutions are finding their way into a great many Newfoundland outports, becoming more accessible to the fishermen, and we see no reason now why loans to fishermen should be restricted to that of chartered banks. So that, as I said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, is the intent of this amendment.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment to the Fisheries Loan Act is quite a simple one, indeed, as the minister indicated and is perhaps a good measure now because in many rural Newfoundland communities - in the one in which I live, we have just got a credit union that has moved into the area and I am sure that the services they can provide to fishermen who are attempting to acquire loans is a welcome one. But since we are talking about the fisheries loan and the Fisheries Loan Board and so on which guarantee it, perhaps it is an interesting or a good time to bring up some of the problems that we have discovered recently.

For example, the minister might be aware that - I think it was last October, the minister announced that there was going to be an interest forgiveness for those who qualified. Now, Mr. Speaker, unless it has happened within this week, here it is five months later and not one fisherman in this Province has been notified as to the extent of their forgiveness of that interest.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have worn out the phone calling the individual responsible at the Fisheries Loan Board and he keeps telling me: It is in the system, we have it done, it has gone to Treasury Board, but, Mr. Speaker, the minister should be aware, that there are fishermen out there, and I have no reason to believe that he doesn't have fishermen in his own district, who are being plagued by collection agencies, by banks, by collectors from the Fisheries Loan Board, collection officers, trying to recover money.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long time now, six months, and that program doesn't seem to have gotten off the ground. Another problem that has come up recently - and the minister is well aware of this one because I have had some conversation with his office - is that the collections people at the Fisheries Loan Board, for some reason or other, this winter, seem to have become overzealous in their efforts to collect money from fishermen. They are calling, they want to know everything that is going on, because the 20 per cent assignment of catch that normally applied with the Fisheries Loan Board clientele, wasn't very applicable this summer because there was no catch from which to get 20 per cent. So what has happened now, Mr. Speaker, is that the collection people are going after any benefits that have come from the fisheries moratorium.

The minister knows that these benefits are directly tied to the UI benefits that were given in the year previous, so if the Fisheries Loan Board couldn't collect from them the previous year because they didn't have - in fact, most of them don't have as much money as they had the previous year. Yet, officials at the loan board are almost on a daily basis calling, harassing, Mr. Speaker, in fact, it was to the extent that I had to call the chairman of the board to lay a complaint about an officer who was too aggressive; he was making too many demands on fishermen who were having a difficult time as it was. They had committed their 20 per cent, they had paid the 20 per cent and, as the old expression goes, he was trying to get blood from a turnip and, Mr. Speaker, and it is not there.

This has been going on for a number of months. The minister has recognized it. And it is a good time, I intended, in fact, to ask a question about it in the House - but perhaps we can have a more wide-ranging debate as to what is going on with the Fisheries Loan Board - Why do we have so many problems? What is taking so long for the larger boat interest relief assistance to come out, and why are the collection agents being so zealous? Is it a direction of Treasury Board that they have to collect so much money? What is going on at the Fisheries Loan Board that is putting these pressures on the fishermen out and about this Province?

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could address this when he speaks a little later on. Even though it is not in this bill, it is a good time for the minister to let us know what is happening with the Fisheries Loan Board, particularly with the interest relief and the collection effort being made by officials at the Fisheries Loan Board.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill 4, "An Act To Amend The Fisheries Loan Act", in second reading. I wish to say that we support the amendments to the Act because they do give recognition to the role played by credit unions in the Province and in providing financial assistance to people who desire to have loans and who are operating in this Province. We have seen, in the last number of years in this Province, a great proliferation and rebuilding, to some extent, of the credit union movement in the Province. We have seen credit unions, both on the Island portion and in Labrador, play a much more significant role in the financial affairs of the people of this Province, and it is only right that they participate, to the same extent as other financial institutions, in the important work of the Fisheries Loan Board. I say that, Mr. Speaker, because it does support the principle of including the credit unions and the credit union movement in this process, but I do have some difficulty with the ongoing situation of the Fisheries Loan Board in not playing a proper role in support for the fishermen.

It is, Mr. Speaker, perhaps time, that the Fisheries Loan Board started to be revitalized, and its mandate be revitalized, to act more like an ongoing bank for fishermen instead of what it appears to be, an arm of haphazard government policy in the area of support for the fisheries. The policies of the loan board seem to respond to the whim of government, in terms of whether they will lay the heat on or take the heat off. The Member for Fogo has just indicated a lot of problems that individuals are having now. The loan board has been very assiduous in collections. I have had complaints myself from individuals who are asking assistance to attempt to deal with the loan board on matters that this individual thought and had been advised by officials of the loan board, several years ago, that this loan had been written down or written off. Now, Mr. Speaker, some five years later, the individual is being harassed by the loan board threatening him with legal action because someone discovered that the individual had some part-time employment and it was now decided that this was a chance to collect the entire loan that he had been advised was written off, plus accruing interest going back a number of years.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of haphazard activity that we have seen in the loan board. It is the kind of unfortunate situation where the Fisheries Loan Board has not been following a proper situation of guidelines. If a loan is going to be written off because the asset on which a loan is based has disappeared, then we should see the Fisheries Loan Board following a policy similar to banks. When they realize that the assets for which the loan has been granted, have disappeared, the value of those assets have disappeared because the vessel is no longer fit to be operated - it has deteriorated to the point that there is no value in the boat or in the equipment for which the loan was made - and a person is not in the position to pay off anything on that loan, there should be a decision taken in these instances to write off these things, just as the banks do when they come to a point, there are bad loans that must be written off. Then, close the books on them, and not lurk, not wait in the weeds, Mr. Speaker, until that individual, perhaps some five, or six, or seven years later is in a better financial situation because they may have some part-time job, they may have some income from UI, they may be able to take advantage of some other program, and then pounce on them, Mr. Speaker, with threats of legal action, with threats of court, with threats to take away their property and their homes. This is what I would like to see, Mr. Speaker, a Fisheries Loan Board with a renewed mandate to play a more significant role in the support for the fishermen on an ongoing basis, and not have very murky policies which do not let individuals know where they stand and do not provide for adequate support for the continuation of the fisheries in this Province.

We do have an ongoing problem, obviously, in the fisheries. We are going to have to have fishermen and fishing people back in the boats when the moratorium is over and we're going to have to have some financial stability on the part of individual fishermen to be able to continue in the fishery and not have the unrealistic level of debt attached to this fishing enterprise, Mr. Speaker.

It is unrealistic to keep building up this debt and not have a program of actually writing down these loans, writing off some of these loans, getting rid of this debt, and recognizing just as the banks do - every year we hear the annual reports of the Bank of Commerce, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia, writing off substantial -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I say, Mr. Speaker, it's a good thing the Member for Eagle River is not on his feet. Because there'd be more than bawling in the galleries. There'd be screams of terror if the Member for Eagle River were on his feet. There'd be a great deal of problems having to cope with the level and volume of noise being made.

AN HON. MEMBER: The bogeyman.

MR. HARRIS: The bogeyman from Eagle River. The Member for Eagle River should know that the Member for St. John's South thinks that he's a bogeyman, the bogeyman from Eagle River.

Back to the point, Mr. Speaker. The chartered banks of this country on an annual basis see fit to write down major loans when the asset base has disappeared. Whether they be loans to the third world or loans to big rich real estate investors. These loans are written down, they're written off, and the banks go on from there.

I think that the Fisheries Loan Board should adopt such a policy. When they see that the asset base and the ability of people who owe money to the Fisheries Loan Board has deteriorated to the extent that it's impossible for that person to pay off, they shouldn't wait for the individual to declare bankruptcy to be able to get out from under these loans. They shouldn't wait for that but should in fact have a policy of where it's clearly a case of a loan gone bad, a bad loan perhaps made in the first place.

Some of these loans go back ten, twelve and fifteen years. They are clearly bad loans. If they are written off they should be written off once and that should be the end of the matter. Instead of waiting in the wings and in five, six or seven years time coming back at an individual and trying to take money out of their pockets when they're just barely able to get by themselves.

I think that there is a problem in the Fisheries Loan Board. I recognize that the government has made some minor attempts to give some interest relief in the current period. The real problem is the ongoing long-term debt that's there on individual fishermen that seems to be preventing any future optimism for these individuals to either be involved in the fishery in the future, or to be involved in anything else without having this major debt and the collection activities of the Board hanging over their heads.

Those are my remarks, Mr. Speaker. I support the principle of this Bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to take a few minutes to say a few words on this Bill. First of all, to congratulate the minister on taking this initiative. It's very important to the people and all the fishermen along the coast of Labrador, because we do not have any chartered banks along the coast of Labrador. The only banking service that we have, and of course we're quite proud of, is the Eagle River Credit Union. They are now into Mary's Harbour, Cartwright, and L'Anse-au-Loup, serving the Labrador straits, and they are providing an excellent service.

So to see the minister make this move today is very welcome news for all the fishermen of Labrador. I would congratulate him on this initiative because I am sure that they will find the benefit of being able to access government programs, to be able to get an opportunity to get access to federal and provincial programs by virtue of dealing with the credit unions in their own communities. Mr. Speaker, this is where they have established their credit and this is where they have established their reputation so it will enable them to access the credit union and also to be able to repay whatever loans they will get, or whatever programs they will access right in their own communities. I would think it is an indication of the kind of response that this government is taking to an issue that has only come up in the past six months or year, Mr. Speaker. I want to take this opportunity because I know the fishermen of Labrador would want me to say this about the hon. minister and the department for taking such expeditious and fast action on this very important issue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I see the Minister of Tourism and Culture is saying, surprise, surprise. I do not know what the minister is surprised about. Is he surprised that the Member for Eagle River only spoke for a few minutes, or is he surprised that I am going to speak to this Bill 4? I think most of what needs to be said about it has already been said. I think it is a good piece of legislation. We have no problems with it. I think it is a good amendment.

MR. TOBIN: Oliver you will need it. It will pay for your (Inaudible)

MR. LANGDON: (Inaudible)

MR. TOBIN: What were you phoning her for? Trying to get her to run against me.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, there is a great debate going on now between the Member for Burin - Placentia West and the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, a great political debate. I do not know who is going to win that but I guess there will be a lot of surprises in another couple of months I would say.

Mr. Speaker, we have no problem with amending the act to substitute the words 'financial institution' for the word 'banks.' We all know that really what this does is give fishermen and so on greater flexibility. We can identify with the growth of credit unions and so on around the Province, and trust companies. We have no real problem with that. I think if anything it would give fishermen a little more flexibility. The word 'financial institution' spelled out, 'means an institution considered acceptable to the Fisheries Loan Board, the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Justice and includes but is not restricted to banks' and so on, so we have no real problem with this. I think that it is a decent piece of legislation.

I want to say to the fisheries minister, just the same, that it was mentioned - the Fisheries Loan Board. My colleague from Fogo has mentioned some concerns that he has that the Fisheries Loan Board really has been out and about, leaning a little bit too hard, I think, on some fishermen. I am not saying they are leaning too hard on all fishermen - but on some fishermen.

I know in my own area of the Province where the catch rates have been very, very low, fishermen have not made enough money, in some cases, not to put butter on the bread, but they have not been able to buy the butter. That is a pretty sorry situation when you cannot afford the butter for the bread.

The minister knows that all over the Province there has been really a failure. It has not only been 2J+3KL. We have a big problem in 3Ps. We have a big problem all along the south coast and up in the gulf fishery - a real problem - and a lot of fishermen found themselves unable to even qualify for unemployment insurance benefits until the Fisheries Emergency Response Program was announced by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

I have had fishermen in my own district who have had as low as two weeks of insurable earnings from the fishery, and it was not because they did not try. The fish just was not there. So what happened? We had the Fisheries Emergency Response Program that was announced way too late - way too late. It always happens he can never get it off the ground until November or December, whatever it wrong with it, when we know by June or July that we have the problem. Having said that, that is how a lot of fishermen in this Province qualified for unemployment insurance this year. As a consequence, the level of benefits, the amount, is very, very low.

Here we have the Fisheries Loan Board now flexing their muscles, I say to the minister, and have made a number of public statements on it, press releases, asking the minister to ask the Fisheries Loan Board to ease off a bit - to ease off. Fishermen have called me and said: My God, how do they expect me to pay anything on my loan when here is my situation. They tell me that they probably made a couple of thousand dollars this year from the fishery, and are now on unemployment insurance benefits, not making very much money per week, and with a wife and kids and so on, they just cannot stand it.

I say to the minister, it gives me an opportunity, even though I know that I am straying a little bit from this Bill, but since the Fisheries Loan Board is mentioned, that I once again would like to ask the minister to ask the Fisheries Loan Board to ease off. Stop harassing fishermen who just cannot pay.

Now if there are fishermen there whose earnings can be verified - you can verify the earnings - if they can afford to pay they should pay. No one argues that. If you can afford to pay, pay. But there are a lot of people around this Province, fishermen or fisherpersons, who really can't afford to pay back to the Fisheries Loan Board what they're being demanded. So I ask the minister when he rises in his place to speak and to probably close debate if he would respond to that.

Because the minister must be aware - I'm sure he must have calls from his own area. I'm sure there are members in his caucus. I know there are, because I see some members nodding, that have brought this to the attention of the minister and the Fisheries Loan Board. I'm sure the Member for Eagle River has brought it to his attention. I'm sure the Member for Port de Grave has brought it to his attention. On and on. Other members. Lewisporte, Trinity North, Fortune - Hermitage, Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. I'm sure all of those have brought this to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I can understand the Member for Pleasantville hasn't. I know that. He sits there and smiles.

MR. NOEL: I brought something else to his attention.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, you brought something else to his attention. You probably did. But -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) prairie provinces.

MR. MATTHEWS: Put him where?

AN HON. MEMBER: Prairie provinces.

MR. MATTHEWS: Prairie provinces, yes. Give him a shoe factory boy. Give him a shoe factory and he feels very comfortable.

AN HON. MEMBER: Subsidized.

MR. MATTHEWS: Subsidized shoe factory. It's a very serious problem, I say to the minister. I know the minister has had representation directly from fishermen and from members on both sides to look at this. But from my information, I say to the minister, I'm still getting calls and letters saying that this pressure is still being applied.

Having said that, I have no problem with the legislation. I just would like for the minister to react to that point when he now stands to close debate.

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

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I should maybe point out that the Fisheries Loan Board was first established back in 1949. It's mandate was to provide financial assistance to fishermen, fishermen who in most cases could not obtain financial help from other recognized lending institutions. I think it's fair to say that the Board has played a very critical role in the evolution of the inshore fleet and I can tell you now that it will continue to play a major role, in the inshore fishery especially.

I should point out too that the Board at the present time has 6,000 clients, administering a loans portfolio in excess of $100 million. Six thousand clients owing over $100 million.

The programs that were announced by me last September, in response to the northern cod moratorium plan and the government's part in addressing some of the problems that were caused by virtue of the moratorium, was to provide certain forgiveness - forgiveness of interest - in cases where it could be demonstrated by the borrower that he or she did not have the necessary financial wherewithal to meet their commitments. Mr. Speaker, that is precisely what we are doing. I repeat, people in the fishing industry who can demonstrate to the Fisheries Loan Board that they are unable to meet their commitments, then there is provision within our program to provide some forgiveness - and we are doing that.

Forgiveness, I should point out, is provided on the basis of an individual assessment of each borrower, and requires a recommendation by the Fisheries Loan Board and Treasury Board in order to effect a write-off.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think the Member for Fogo made reference to some of the problems he is having to get the kind of action that he would like to get from the board in terms of these write-offs. Well I can only tell him that if he can visualize for a moment a board with a very limited staff, dealing with many thousands of clients under extremely difficult circumstances all over Newfoundland, trying to determine if, in fact, the people who apply are eligible for any assistance.

I can give the House a report that to date there are 101 accounts totalling approximately $2.6 million that have been processed - 101 accounts totalling $2.6 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: They are not approved, but they are in the process of being approved. It is expected that forgiveness will total $3.6 million in each of the years of 1992 and 1993, so it is going to be a relatively costly program for the government to administer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: The program is also available to people who acquired loans under the Loan Guarantee Program through the chartered banks, and again if the borrower can demonstrate to the board that he or she is unable to make their payments, there is a process to be followed. Once that process is followed and if, in fact, it is found that the borrower is unable, then there is provision to accommodate that person.

All in all, Mr. Speaker, it is a good program, but it is not without flaws. The fact of the matter is that there are so many people involved that the Fisheries Loan Board is finding it difficult maybe to keep on top of things but they are getting there. Now somebody made reference to some of the tactics being used by the collectors of the Fisheries Loan Board, in terms of trying to recover some of the loans. Mr. Speaker, these monies are owned by the taxpayers of this Province. We have a very serious responsibility to ensure that every effort is made, every reasonable effort is made, to collect them. Not only for the benefit of the taxpayers but for the benefit of those who meet their commitments on a monthly and yearly basis. Surely we owe it to them to ensure that a reasonable effort is made to make sure that everybody else meets their commitments. Again, if it is found that a person cannot meet his or her commitment without imposing undue hardship on themselves and their families, then there is forgiveness.

I met a group the other day, Mr. Speaker, most of whom came from Bonavista North and I believe maybe some from Fogo, with their union and I asked each person there to identify his or her problem and tell me all about it. Most of the complaints that were addressed at that meeting, there was another side to the story, when I got the other side to the story I think even the borrower was quite happy with the outcome. So every complaint we get there is always another side to it. I am not suggesting that fishermen are always wrong but I must say they are not always right in their representations but I can only tell you again, Mr. Speaker, that I told those people that if they have any serious problems, if they are not getting the kind of satisfaction that they think they should get from the loan board, they should contact me. I would only be quite happy to receive their call and to give it my personal attention and that offer still stands.

I move second reading of this Bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fisheries Loan Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 4).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in moving the adjournment may I remind members, in case any have forgotten that Monday will be observed by the House as a holiday. No wonder my friend for Grand Bank puts his earphone in, Monday is a holiday. So if he's here he'll be here alone. In which case he'll have the undivided attention of the House for at least once in his career.

Mr. Speaker, when we return on Tuesday the government will be asking the House to consider the interim supply bill and we'll carry on from there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

MR. PARSONS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We're coming back Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but I have said there are no guarantees beyond Thursday. We'll see what happens on Thursday.

Mr. Speaker, I move 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.