March 4, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLII  No. 5


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House of Assembly today that Cabinet has now made an appointment to the vacant position of President of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation.

Hon. members may be aware that this vacancy arose after the former incumbent, Mr. Jim Janes, retired on medical grounds several months ago. Following Mr. Janes' retirement, a selection team was put in place and advertisements were run publicly to attract candidates to this position. A wide response to this advertisement was received, and a selection team chaired by the new Chairman of Enterprise, Mr. A. A. Brait, screened the applications and set up interviews with appropriately qualified candidates.

On the basis of the recommendations of this process, Cabinet has now decided to appoint Mr. Philip J. Wall to the position of President of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, effective Monday, March 7, 1994. Mr. Wall is currently Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance with responsibility for the Province's Debt Management and Pension Programs. He is a career civil servant with twenty-five years of experience with government. During that time he has held progressively responsible positions, and served on the board of directors of a number of public sector corporations.

I believe that Mr. Wall's experience is well suited to the demands of the position of President and CEO of the Enterprise Corporation. I look forward to working with him in his new role as a strong player in economic development for this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the minister for informing me beforehand about this appointment and about this decision. It is a good example of co-operation that the Premier referred to in the Throne Speech debate on Monday.

Mr. Speaker, I know of Mr. Wall, and so do many members on this side of the House, of course, because he has been in the public service, as the statement says, for twenty-five years. I have always found him to be very accommodating. He is certainly a non-partisan individual, as far as I know, and very helpful and co-operative with any member of the House of Assembly on any occasion that arises. He has experience right now in finance for the Province's debt management, That will help him deal with the Jean Payne situation, I suspect.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: By leave?

MR. SIMMS: Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SIMMS: We want to congratulate Mr. Wall on his appointment and commend the group that did the screening. The fact that he went through - I think the minister told me this morning - one hundred and some-odd applicants and ended up on top, I think is a tribute to him. I think he is just the man to clean up the Liberal patronage trough down there, starting with firing some of the vice-presidents at ENL.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: That won't happen unless the minister leaves him alone and lets him do his job, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join in congratulating Mr. Wall on his appointment. It appears that Mr. Wall's wide experience in the public service qualifies him well for this job, and I look forward to seeing the actions of Mr. Wall in his new position.

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public galleries twelve students from the Parade Street Campus of Cabot Institute, accompanied by their teachers, Susan Kergoat and Daisy Williams.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier - first of all I understand, from his comments yesterday, and I think since then a public press release has gone out, that he is going to Toronto for three or four days. On Sunday, I believe, he is leaving. The release yesterday suggested he was going to follow up on some business contacts, I think, that might have been initiated by the Minister of ITT. My own view is that is possibly a diversion, but that is only because I am sceptical quite frequently, because I think it is too much of a coincidence that he is making this particular pilgrimage to the financial capital of Canada just when the government has tabled its privatization legislation. So I want to ask him: While he is in Toronto will he be meeting with potential investors, investment brokers, or any financial agents who may be involved in buying Hydro shares or in promoting the sale of Hydro shares to their clients?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would say that every major investment dealer in Canada will be involved in the sale of Hydro shares. That's my guess. I don't know, but I would guess that virtually all of the major dealers in Canada would be involved in that sale.

If I am meeting with investment dealers, then I would say the answer to the question is yes, but I would also tell the House, in case the hon. member wants to draw some connection, that these meetings were set up a long time ago. Had I known that we would be debating the Hydro bill today I would not have scheduled them. I would prefer to be here to deal with it.

I even contemplated, and I asked my staff to look at, rescheduling but so many people had made so many commitments on it, and I wanted to speak to the Mining and Metallurgical Conference, Prospecting and Developers Association, which is important to the Province, so I didn't change the scheduling, but I would have because I consider this electrical restructuring and privatization so important that I should be here for it.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the Premier's answer was yes, he will be meeting with some potential investors, investment brokers and financial agents (inaudible) - I believe that is what he said - while he is in Toronto.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't say it but he didn't say he wouldn't.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary question: Since the government is moving fairly quickly, quite quickly in fact, on the sale of Hydro. It is clear that Newfoundlanders are not going to have a lot of time to think about this particular issue. Will a preliminary prospectus for the Hydro sale be issued to major buyers or major potential buyers and investment brokers within the next few days before there is a vote in the House? When he responds perhaps he can tell us whether or not a prospectus may have already been issued, at least to selected clients.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't know how much more vivid an imagination can become than that, Mr. Speaker. He now tries to set up a proposition that I am going to Toronto to meet with brokers in connection with the sale of Hydro. It is utter trash. It has no merit whatsoever. So the answer is no, I am not going to Toronto to meet with any brokers in connection with Hydro - no.

MR. SIMMS: Why didn't you say that?

PREMIER WELLS: Well, that is what I said, no, but the question was, was I going to meet with brokers who would be involved. If I meet with any brokers at all in Canada I am likely to meet with brokers who are going to be involved in Hydro and that's what I explained. Now, Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine that any steps will be taken by anybody and let say publicly now so that anybody responding to these will know, there is no authority whatsoever to offer or file a prospectus for the sale of Hydro shares or do anything in respect of the privatization of Hydro unless and until this House approves it. So no, the answer is no. Nothing will be done publicly to further privatization unless and until this House approves it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So there won't be a preliminary prospectus. I am glad the Premier answered that question because yesterday in the House I tried to get the answer from the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Minister of Finance and neither one of them would admit to it or didn't know, as a matter of fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not true.

MR. SIMMS: It is true, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, supplementary to the Premier. Concerning the remaining debt, the debt that will remain that will be taken over by the new Hydro, that debt will continue to be guaranteed by the government. The government will remain liable for it. I want to ask him because again, the Minister of Mines and Energy couldn't answer the question or wouldn't answer it for me yesterday: Will the government be charging new Hydro the 1 per cent guarantee fee as it does to other companies and has it did to new Hydro or will new Hydro be let off the hook for that particular thing?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The phrase the financial advisers and financial people use to describe the process is called defeasance, it is a word that only came into use as far I know in the last few years, but here is what it means. Just take a sum, Hydro owes $100 million, assume it did a bond issue of $100 million, and it requires a certain amount of interest and a certain amount to meet the interest and principal repayments periodically. Now that debt is guaranteed by the Province so the Province is ultimately liable for it and it goes against our credit.

What the new company will do, is buy, say $100 million worth of matching Government of Canada bonds, or Newfoundland Government bonds or Government of Nova Scotia bonds or Government of Ontario bonds of the same kind in value with a similar cash flow, will buy that outright and deposit it with a custodian as security for the repayment of the debt. The bond holders of Hydro's bonds say: well, I have Government of Canada bonds to back it up; it is now effectively guaranteed by the Government of Canada because there is their bonds; I don't care about the Province anymore, you can write it off your balance sheet. They call it defeasance. It is a new concept that I had never heard about until this proposal came up until I heard what they were doing with Nova Scotia Power.

Now, technically, yes, the Province is still guaranteeing, technically, but not in reality because the financial community takes it off the balance sheet and says effectively: don't bother with it, it is the same as if your guarantee was withdrawn. But in fact, you can't withdraw the guarantee once given, you can't do that, you don't want to ruin your reputation, so in many instances the bond holders of Hydro could well be better off if they had a Government of Canada AAA credit rating or Government of Ontario AA credit rating to back up the bond. It is called defeasance, so the rating agencies and others effectively take it off the balance sheet of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary. I asked about the 1 per cent fee, he didn't say yes or no, I presume the answer is no?

PREMIER WELLS: No.

MR. SIMMS: Okay, I appreciate that. A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

There have been rumours over the last few days of a plan, either by the government or Hydro or the government and Hydro to put on a major advertising campaign, which word is, they will call some kind of an education program or an education plan, others call it propaganda I guess, to try and sell this deal or to force-feed it down the throats of the people of Newfoundland. I want to ask the Premier, can he confirm such a program is planned and will he tell the House what is the estimated cost or the budget for such a plan, if it exists?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. To the best of my knowledge, none is planned. None is planned by the government; whether or not Hydro is doing anything in terms of promoting the sale of its bonds, I assume it would be. I am sure Hydro is doing something to promote the sale of its bonds but the government, so far as I know is not carrying on one, but maybe we ought to, maybe it would be money well-spent to correct the fraudulent misrepresentations that have being presented in this House. Maybe we owe it to the people of the Province to do just that. It is not a bad idea, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: While I am on my feet I just got a note. I agreed to address the awards dinner of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada on November 18, 1993.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. The minister announced on February 22 that he has appointed a fact-finding team to investigate the operations of the Grenfell Regional Health Services. Now, will the minister inform the House if this committee of physicians is empowered to investigate matters and problems other than those of a medical nature?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the medical team that we sent to the Grenfell area had a charge of looking at the relationships between Grenfell and the physicians. They were to talk to the physicians that are in the employ of the Grenfell Regional Health Services and in particular to examine the question of physician turnover, which had been raised publicly, and also the question having to do with the extra billings that some physicians sometimes make in the Province, and which in the Grenfell Regional Health Services reverts to Grenfell who in turn have another plan by which physicians are subsidized in doing various things. We are going to look at all that. That is their mandate, to look at that. Their mandate is not to look at the structure, organization, or anything of that nature of the Grenfell Regional Health Services because that is underway in a different situation. That is the mandate of that physician team.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I have in my possession statements from physicians regarding the opening of their mail and the cashing of their cheques. Is the committee empowered to investigate and report on the opening of physician's mail and the cashing of cheques that are made out to the physicians?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Certain allegations were made, not to me, because I have had no contact with the physician that the hon. member is talking about. Contact was made with the news media for some strange reason, and then for another strange reason with the critic over there in the Opposition. I want to thank the Opposition critic for what he did. Because he sent me a complete file, and he also sent me some update. I immediately contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions and asked him to do what he had to do and let it go at that.

I've since had a very preliminary report that everything looked to be alright. It may be of a civil nature, but that the police wanted an audit carried out in the usual way. That is why we sent the team of auditors there. We sent up the department's auditors to look into the procedures that are in place with respect to these billings. I have not yet got a final report back from either the physicians or the Director of Public Prosecutions or the auditors. I am expecting all that before too long.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to inform the minister that on February 3 I wrote him a letter and included twenty-seven pages of statements from doctors. I did not speak or do any media release. I left it in the minister's hands and when he didn't respond - and I haven't received a response to this day from the minister, since February 3. I went to the media because the minister wouldn't act.

I also have in my possession statements by physicians that they have never received cheques for work that they have done for third parties. The Newfoundland Medicare Commission will not forward payments to Grenfell for salaried physicians unless that doctor signs a waiver and files it with the MCP. I ask the minister, will this committee have the power to investigate why La Regie - that is the Quebec medicare commission - and the Workers' Compensation Commission are able to forward cheques to Grenfell without a doctor's written consent by means of waiver?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is out there digging in the pile again. We have set up the appropriate procedures. I can't imagine - immediately I received all these letters that that individual wrote, I immediately turned it over to the proper authorities. I did it immediately, within a day or so. That is the proper procedure. Also, I set up a committee of physicians to look at the relationships between the doctors and the association - and that is appropriate too. I'm expecting it back. We also sent up the auditors. If he thinks he can conduct a witch hunt on this matter he is wrong, you can't do that. The proper procedures have been put in place and in due time, before long, all will be revealed.

MR. SPEAKER: Further supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I've requested on several occasions a public inquiry. This is a fact-finding mission of physicians who I'm sure are very capable within the means of their medical abilities. If the minister has no fears, why doesn't he appoint a public inquiry to get into all these matters, legalities and otherwise, that the fact-finding commission he appointed is not equipped to deal with?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is being silly. We've turned it over to the Director of Public Prosecutions who can call in the police if he wishes. We've turned it over to the physicians and we've put the auditors in. What more does he want? Does he want to get me to appoint him to have a few personal cracks at people he doesn't like?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier admitted that Jim Chalker, now the Hydro board chairperson, controlled the purse strings of his $50,000 a year salary supplement. Will the Premier confirm that Jim Chalker's law firm has been doing work on the Hydro privatization, explain the nature of the work, and tell the House how much the law firm has billed to date and will be billing in the future?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me simply say to the hon. lady that in this case, as is unfortunately too often the case with her, her premises are completely wrong. Mr. Chalker's law firm, which is Chalker, Green & Rowe here in St. John's, a very fine law firm indeed, I may add, has not been retained by anybody, to my knowledge, certainly by neither the government nor Hydro, in connection with this transaction.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In that case CBC Television News was wrong in their recent report. Okay, I will ask then the Minister of Mines and Energy, why did he say recently that Jim Chalker's law firm was doing work on the Hydro privatization? Who's right, the Minister of Mines and Energy or the Minister of Justice?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I tell the hon. member that I have never, ever said that Jim Chalker's law firm was involved. I have said that Jim Chalker has been on our negotiating team. He's the best person we could have for it and I am pleased to have him there.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A question for the Premier. Yesterday the Premier said - Hansard shows this - to the best of his knowledge Jim Chalker had no part in raising his $50,000 a year salary supplement. If the Premier knows Jim Chalker was not one of the fund raisers he must know who was. Who did collect your $50,000 a year salary supplement, Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have detailed this to the House, ad nauseam. Now I know the hon. member and some other hon. members opposite just like to throw these things out knowing that people have to stand up, or normally have to stand up and respond to it, in the hope that it will cause some embarrassment or cause some difficulty. I explained this to the House seven years ago, or to the public seven years ago when it occurred, everybody knew what it was all along. I didn't do like the hon. members opposite did and see their Premier paid, while he was Premier, a supplementary income from the Party that he represented and see that paid with no comment, that's all okay and now the fact that I was paid a supplementary salary as Leader of the Opposition is somehow being thrown up and misrepresentations made about it. I have no intention of participating in such discussion, Mr. Speaker. I will deal effectively with the issues that are of concern to the public and for which the public pay me to be here but I won't waste their time and money fiddling around with this darn nonsense.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, it's the minister responsible for wildlife. I wonder if the minister can tell me if the Mealy Mountain caribou herd is a protected herd?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, having only been appointed Minister of 'Wild Life' for a very short time I will have to take that as notice and check it out and I'll give an answer to that.

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

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

Can the minister confirm that the wildlife patrol in the last few weeks found an encampment in the Mealy Mountain area with evidence that approximately fifty-six animals have been slaughtered in the area? Can he confirm that? Can he also confirm that wildlife officials believe that at least 100 animals have been taken from this herd, this year? They suspect that they were taken by people from the St. Augustine area, can he confirm this, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I'll have to get the information. I can't confirm it because I have no knowledge of it. I have been acting minister for about a week and I've only had an opportunity to deal with that department in the last two days but I will undertake to find out the information and table it in the House as soon as it's possible.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I have a few questions for the Minister of Finance, we are getting closer to Budget Day, I don't know yet exactly when it will be but sometime within the next month I'm sure. Would the minster like to tell us, has he completed the borrowing program for 1993-94, his borrowing program in various markets? Would he tell us how much he borrowed in the Canadian market, how much in the US market, Europe, Japan and more particularly how much was in Canadian or US dollars? How much was in foreign currency?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As to what our borrowing program is going to be, that will be all revealed in due course. Last year I believe we did two issues, one in New York and the other on the Euro-Canadian market through London.

The total amounts, again, will be revealed in the Budget, and they were announced at the time. At this point in time I don't know exactly what they were. I will check very quickly and get the amounts for the hon. gentleman.

As to what the borrowing program is going to be, that will be revealed in the Budget.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had some difficulty hearing the minister. I assume that our borrowing program is complete. Did you borrow all that you had indicated in the Budget?

MR. BAKER: Yes.

MR. WINDSOR: Okay, thank you.

Mr. Speaker, would the minister tell us what his projected deficit problem is now for next year. We've been hearing various numbers over the last number of months. The most recent one, I think, that I recall at least, was around $70 million - a problem that the minister said he was facing and had to try to deal with.

Could he tell us, Mr. Speaker, first of all: What is his target? What would he consider to be an acceptable deficit for this year, if indeed he is faced with a deficit, and what impact has the federal government had on that problem? If he had a $70 million problem before, what is his problem now, and how close is he getting to his target?

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

MR. BAKER: We have been facing a fairly serious problem. The information given out in November, in the meeting with the union leaders in December, gave one part of the answer to the hon. gentleman's question, that we would find it acceptable to have a current account deficit next year in the vicinity of about $25 million, and that's what we are aiming at. That could vary $2 million or $3 million one way or the other, but we are aiming at around $25 million deficit on current account.

In terms of the other borrowings, we probably would need about another $175 million in terms of capital, so we are aiming at the new borrowing of approaching $200 million, so that's the general aim.

As to the problems this year in terms of bringing in a Budget, we had indicated to the unions and to the public, back in December, that over and above what we could acceptably borrow we had about a $96 million, $97 million or $98 million problem that we had to solve. Since then there have been variations up and down. There has been a further deterioration since last November in our own source revenues to the extent of probably about $28 million. There has been a deterioration due to the federal Budget to the extent of about $15 million, so there has been further deterioration. There have been some other positives as well, small amounts that would affect these numbers a little, but our problem then is a fairly considerable one.

We started out by indicating to the public sector unions that there was a certain segment of that that we wanted to get from our total compensation costs, which account for 70 per cent of our controllable costs, so we are sticking to that number. We've gone through the system and are in the process of preparing a Budget, and I will tell the hon. gentleman that I suspect we will come in very close to our projected $25 million deficit on current account.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for that information.

The minister is telling us, then, that he had about a $70 million problem, and he said about $43 million in variances in own source revenues and so forth. He hasn't mentioned whether or not he has any revised figures from the Government of Canada on transfers. They always tend to go up and down, and we normally get a figure just before, so the minister might have another figure on that.

Even without that, he's talking $113 million problem. If the compensation package is 75 per cent of our expenditures, one would assume he is looking for 70 per cent of $113 million in concessions from the union. Would the minister like to confirm that's the magnitude of the problem that we're facing in the negotiations with the public sector unions?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman's mathematics is accurate, and one would normally expect that we would try to find 70 per cent of that $115 - or around there, whatever it happens to be - that we need to find from the compensation package, which accounts for 70 per cent of our controllable expenses; however, Mr. Speaker, we have not gone to that extent, and we have said to the public sector unions that a much smaller percentage than 70 per cent would have to come from the total compensation package. It probably is down around 40 per cent right now, and that we wanted to avoid, in this process, lay-offs as a method of solving our problem. We wanted to avoid reductions in take-home pay of public servants. We want to avoid that as a way of finding our solution, and we've suggested other alternatives to the unions, but the percentage is far less than 70 per cent.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Can he confirm to the people of the Province today that he and his department officials are looking seriously at cutting further, student employment programs and graduate employment programs that are geared towards getting graduates and students jobs for the upcoming year?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me ask the minister this. I receive hundreds of letters but I would just like to bring out one from a gentleman in Barachois Brook, a young man by the name of Darren Webb. He said that in the summer of 1993 there were only approximately four out of twenty or thirty students who were employed during the summer months. I personally feel saddened by this because students need jobs in order to save money so that they may further their education, especially today when the cost of education is so great. Let me ask the minister this, is he or his officials planning to launch a greater campaign to employ students, or to project further money into student employment programs so that more students during the summer months can access more jobs that will help them to further their education?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In response to the question I think it has been made clear in public statements that the federal government has announced its intention to try to enhance opportunities for young people and we will be announcing our initiatives in the Budget shortly.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. My question concerns the St. John's Regional Fire Department and the setting up of a cost-sharing formula to determine the amounts payable by member municipalities. The minister has received representations from all municipalities in the region so can the minister inform the House if the Province has confirmed a formula that is acceptable to the member municipalities?

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

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I cannot firm that to the hon. member. I can only say to you that I should be ready within a two week period to make a presentation to my Cabinet colleagues on that whole question and at that time I am sure I will be in a position to make an announcement to enable all the communities concerned to know what we are going to do with this problem we have in the Northeast Avalon.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford-Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows from his meetings with Mayor John Murphy and Mayor Judy Bettney there is a current account deficit of more than $1.5 million that is now being managed by the City of St. John's. Would the minister assure the citizens of St. John's that his considerations would include a transition grant payable to the City of St. John's to offset the $1.5 million deficit on current account that has already accumulated over the past two years?

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

MR. REID: I am sure my hon. friend and colleague for Waterford - Kenmount knew the answer to that question before he asked it. I am not in a position to make a commitment with regards to providing funding to any municipality in the Province right now at this particular point in time as it relates to a particular problem that involves the Northeast Avalon area. No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot make that commitment to you right now. I reiterate what I said earlier, that when the committee report is ready, and the committee report should be ready in the next couple of weeks - that committee is made up of a number of Cabinet ministers - we will then take our proposal the normal route and at that particular point in time I will be only too glad to get up in this House and tell you exactly what that report will contain.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. Member for Waterford-Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister. Will his considerations also involve a fair formula so that all member municipalities will have a clear role, and a defined role, in decision making? In other words will he look at the way in which decisions are made on the Regional Council Board?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, let me assure the hon. member that this Liberal government since 1989 has been fair, and I am certainly sure we will continue to be fair for at least the next four years, and hopefully into the 21st Century.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Regional Service Board Act." (Bill No.6).

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Continue The Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Association."

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Fisheries Loan Act."

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

DR. HULAN: I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the Agri-Foods sector has the potential to play a greater role in the economic future of the Province; and

WHEREAS all the elements necessary for a much expanded Agri-Foods industry are present; and

WHEREAS opportunities for the food processing value added sectors are largely on top;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorses the continuation of efforts of the present Administration and the development of an Agri-Food public policy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act."

MS. VERGE: Where is the Public Libraries Report?

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I ask you to call the Order we will be debating, let me make a motion that the House do not adjourn at noon and let me say so there is no misunderstanding, that we intend to call the second reading of the privatization act. The Premier will conclude his remarks on the bill and then we assume the Leader of the Opposition or one of his colleagues will speak, and we will ask the House to continue sitting until the Leader of the Opposition has concluded his remarks including, for the sake of clarity, lest there be any doubts, if he chooses to move an amendment, which he has every right to do, of course, we wish to sit here, we wish to give him every opportunity to be heard, we shall sit here, Sir, until he has concluded and another member has adjourned the debate. Thank you very much, Sir. I ask the motion to be put.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at noon.

All those in favour of the motion, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, `nay'.

Motion carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, would you please call, Order No. 3, the privatization bill.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Privatization Of The Newfoundland And Labrador Hydro-Electric Corporation", (Bill No. 1).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I don't intend today to cover the bill in the kind of detail that I did yesterday because most of it is pretty detailed and accountants and lawyers clauses that accommodate a fairly complex transaction, rather, I intend to spend some time describing the purpose and the process that will be followed, but I have arranged, Mr. Speaker, I told the House last week or earlier this week, that I intended to table at the time that I was speaking as much detail as I had available to me and could table on the proposal in order that members would fully understand it, and I have asked them to prepare a detailed explanation of every clause of the bill and I intend to table a package that will include all of that so that hon. members will have the government's position on this quite fully.

Let me first, Mr. Speaker, sort of set the stage for this. In a sense, it was done yesterday, and I restate again and I refer now to the Strategic Economic Plan solely to correct the misrepresentations of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, this question of privatization and restructuring of the public utilities laws and the privatization of Hydro didn't come out of the blue. It is part of the overall efforts of the government. It is really identified in the Strategic Economic Plan, but there is nothing in the Strategic Economic Plan that says specifically we will privatize Hydro. There was nothing that said we would privatize NLCS. There is nothing that said we would privatize Farm Products. There is nothing that said we would privatize Newfoundland Hardwoods. There is nothing that said we would privatize any of them.

But there was this, and here it is. It is one of the eight principles on which the Strategic Economic Plan is founded and it is number 4. It appears on page 14 and reads as follows: "The private sector must be the engine of growth. While it is the role of government to create an economic and social environment that promotes competitiveness, it is the enterprising spirit of the private sector that will stimulate lasting economic growth."

The second item is action item 31, and it appears on page 35, and here is the general statement under which all of these privatizations come. The government will "[a]void providing services where they can be provided by the private sector."

Now, we didn't say that includes NLCS, that includes Hardwoods, that includes Hydro, or it includes anything. It is a blanket policy of the government, that where it can be provided by the private sector the private sector will do it.

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

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Premier why when Dave LeDrew, the CFCB open line host, asked him during last spring's election campaign if he wanted to privatize Hydro -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member is not raising -

MS. VERGE: - did he fail to answer the question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member is not raising a point of order. A point of order relates to procedure in the House.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would sincerely hope that members have greater respect for the taxpayers of this Province than to interrupt this public debate that is of such importance, that they think is so important that they are going to frustrate the fair hearing of the issue in this way. I sincerely hope that hon. members have more concern for the taxpayers than to follow that kind of (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, If the Premier has such concern for the citizens of the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - why isn't he giving them a chance to participate -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - in this critically important debate -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - by holding public hearings -

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the hon. member to sit down.

MS. VERGE: - around the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: Why is he ramming through -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - the House of Assembly -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - with unseemly haste -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member -

MS. VERGE: - this complex -

MR. SPEAKER: Sergeant-at-Arms.

MS. VERGE: - and extremely important legislation -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

The hon. member -

MS. VERGE: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Will the hon. member please sit down?

Just a moment, please. I might take a moment to caution the hon. member. Points of order relate to procedures in the House. It is not an excuse for an hon. member to get up and give a speech out of turn on a matter of public debate. I won't recognize the hon. member on a point of order on this matter again because it seems to me that she is not raising legitimate points of order.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, having set the basis in which the government is proceeding with both the restructuring of the public utility industry generally, and privatization, I want now to turn to the reasons for privatizing Hydro.

Would you get that package of documents for me? It should be ready by now.

MR. MURPHY: I was just talking to (inaudible), Premier, it will be down in a second.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I've had prepared for hon. members not only a summary of the provisions of the act, I've had prepared a summary of the reasons. I will table these in the House too now, so that hon. members can follow it along, but I don't want to delay any longer, I want to proceed now.

There are several compelling reasons why this step should be taken at this time. The first of these is that the reason why Hydro came into existence in the first place has ceased to exist. It came into existence to build the Bay d'Espoir project because circumstances were such that the private sector could not do so at the time. That reason is gone. We've maintained the private sector utility, Newfoundland Light and Power, ever since.

Secondly, as is proposed in the Strategic Economic Plan, this will greatly strengthen the economy of this Province. It will greatly strengthen the private sector which must be the engine of growth. We can't be strangling the private sector if we expect that they are to give the leadership in the development and expansion of our economy.

Thirdly it will greatly reduce the debt for which this Province is responsible and if hon. members want to know what is a good clear idea of the magnitude of it, look at Exhibit (5) in the Budget that was tabled in the House last year; it spells out the public sector debt. In four years Hydro alone was responsible for increasing that by $250 million. It is now over $6 billion. It was over $6 billion in total net in March of 1993. It is even more than that right now. I think it is up to about $6.2 or $6.3 billion, nearly $6.5 billion. Mr. Speaker, the credit of this Province has a limit beyond which it cannot be stretched. We have to put our financial house in order and this will be a giant step towards helping put our financial house in order.

Hydro has outstanding, at this moment, a total of $1,263,000,000-worth of debt for which this Province has guaranteed the amount. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is about $230 million of sinking funds on deposit against that so it leaves a net debt of about $1,030,000,000. Well, Mr. Speaker, it will do the credit of this Province a great deal of good to have that removed from our balance sheet and this is one of the primary reasons for taking the step that we are taking today.

When I listen to all of those people proclaiming about this valuable asset that has earned us so much money, let me remind hon. members that it never paid one cent of dividend to this Province in all of its existence, despite our investment, despite our credit, not one cent of dividend in all of its existence until 1989 when, for the first time, we charged Hydro the guarantee fee the same as we charged other commercial-type companies for whom we were issuing guarantees - nothing to the taxpayers of this Province, our credit tied up and no benefit. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is bad financial management if the private sector is prepared to carry on that business.

Fourthly, Mr. Speaker, it will provide a substantial amount of badly needed money from this sale. It will provide substantial revenue to the Province; it will provide, Mr. Speaker, a substantial amount of money, not only to take that $1.2 billion off its books, but the revenue that the Province will get from this transaction should, Mr. Speaker, enable us not to have to borrow a single dollar in the coming fiscal year. Not a dollar will we have to borrow in the coming fiscal year if this goes as we expect it would go. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, we think it would make a very substantial contribution toward reducing the amount we would have to borrow in the next fiscal year. Now just think, Mr. Speaker, what those two things in combination are going to do for this Province. Just think, Mr. Speaker, how much. I can't even speculate, there are certain improprieties in - if you say certain things in taking a proposal of this nature to the market for the sale of public shares, there are certain representations and so on that people shouldn't be making, certain speculations that they shouldn't be making. They must let the facts and figures, as presented in the prospectus, speak for themselves. I have an idea of what I think we should get out of it but there are two things; I don't want to fall afoul of the Ontario Securities Commissions and have them say, Well, we are not prepared to list it because of these statements.' Secondly, I don't want to put in a figure and cause people to say, `Oh, well, if that's what the Premier thinks, we think it should only be that much and we get less.' There are certain things that you shouldn't do. So I'm concerned about acting properly and avoiding that. But I am prepared to say, Mr. Speaker, that in my judgement, it will enable us to avoid any borrowing at all this year and, as well, make a substantial contribution towards the amount we would otherwise have to borrow next year. Now, I think that is a massive boon to the government and people of this Province at this particular time in our history - a massive boon to us - quite apart from all the other good reasons for what we are doing.

Mr. Speaker, the result of that, and here I have used a figure, I think we could save at least - at the very least, and probably a great deal more - at the very least, $25 million a year in interest every year hereafter by this transaction - interest we would otherwise have to pay on increased public sector debt. Now, if that isn't in the interest of the taxpayers of this Province, then I don't know what is; and if that's bad, and if the taxpayers want to blame me for doing that, okay. I will take the responsibility, and if they want to turf me out of office next time around, because I have taken this step, then I have no hesitation in doing so.

MS. VERGE: You won't be running again.

PREMIER WELLS: Make no mistake, I will be running again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let me serve fair warning to all in this Province that I intend to take this party into the next election. Let nobody have any doubts about it -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - unless the party turfs me out, and I don't see any evidence of that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that's a major benefit for the people of this Province. Local investors will benefit. They will have a preferred opportunity to invest. It is proposed that for about a two-week period, local Newfoundland investors, and I understand, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people who want to invest in this new expression of confidence in the Newfoundland economy and in the private sector in Newfoundland - there will be an opportunity for Newfoundlanders to invest.

Major industries will benefit as a result of this restructuring that we are carrying out, not from privatization itself as such, but this entire restructuring that we are doing, will result in any increase to industrial power rates being less over the next five years than it otherwise would have been. Now, that's a benefit to our industry. We want to do that. We need to do that, to strengthen our economy, to protect the jobs.

Municipalities will benefit. There will be about, we estimate roughly, a million dollars in additional - additional - not, as the Opposition Leader had said, that the 2.5 per cent is going to be cut out; this is additional tax to those municipalities where there are buildings and properties of Hydro.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: All of those will benefit. We intend that it be phased in over a three-year period, but those municipalities will benefit tremendously, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the popular misrepresentations, government will continue to hold and control the water rights of this Province. A privatized Hydro will be granted the right to use only the water it requires to produce electrical power, and all rights to water use will revert to the Province if they cease to be used by Hydro to generate power to meet the needs of the people of this Province. Nothing has changed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The electrical power rates, Mr. Speaker, will continue to be regulated totally by the Public Utilities Board - no interference by government or anybody else - totally by the Public Utilities Board.

Now, Mr. Speaker, conservative assumptions have been made in making this estimate, and I have asked them not to factor in any fancy things that they won't be confident will occur, but to make sure that we advise the people fully before we go forward with this, of what the additional increase might be due solely to privatization -increase over and above the normal increase that might be expected to take place. What could be expected to be the result of privatization, assuming no improvement in running the company at all, no additional improvement as a result of privatization.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a big assumption to make, but I didn't want anyone to say: Well, what does it cost now? Why are you assuming it is going to cost different? I think it will cost less, I think they will be able to run more efficiently. When they come under the full purview of the Public Utilities Board and they have to run on a matched and co-operative basis with the other public utility, I think it will result in significantly improved savings. It could well be that there will be no additional increase at all due to privatization. That could well be the fact, but for purposes of this representation to the House I have asked them to assume that there would be no change.

If there is no improvement at all here is what the situation will be. For most households it could mean about $1.25 per month additional, and about $3.000 per month additional for all electric heat beyond what would otherwise occur in 1995. Now, that is what it would be if there is no improvement at all. That is what it would cost the people of this Province to get rid of a billion dollars worth of debt, to be able to avoid borrowing next year and greatly reduce the borrowing in the year following. To be able to reduce interest costs in every year hereafter by a very substantial sum. That is what it would cost.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Not as much as the inflation rate.

PREMIER WELLS: Not as much as the inflation rate. The estimate, Mr. Speaker - I have asked them to try to estimate. Nobody can project with absolute certainty, but give me fair estimates on the same assumptions over the next five years of what it might be due solely to privatization. They say, on average it would be less than 1 per cent per year, considerably less than 1 per cent per year. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a very small price to pay to avoid the inevitable tax increases that would be necessary if we didn't do this, and give our economy a boost at the same time.

There are other benefits, too, those are just the primary ones. For example, included in this is the elimination of $25 million-worth of unfunded pension liability. That will be paid for up front out of the cash proceeds of this - put in place. I'm sorry, that is not quite correct, to say it will be paid for up front. We eliminate out of the public sector $25 million immediately. The government would continue to take what should be its fair share of responsibility for the monies that were not contributed to a fund and government in the past took into revenue. That government still must take responsibility for and they would still have it. But it would reduce the government liability directly by about $25 million.

We would also eliminate another liability, $90 million. Because when we borrowed in Swiss francs and Japanese yen we got the benefit of low interest rates by doing so, that is true, but we risked great fluctuations in exchange rates. The result is, we have added $90 million to the debt simply in fluctuations in exchange rates. That is all going to be cleaned up in this effort at privatization of Hydro. There are other benefits that I haven't specifically mentioned that will result from the privatization of Hydro.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me deal with the act itself, and deal more with the method of privatization. The bill that is before the House spells it out in detail but I would like to provide a fairly simple explanation of it, and also draw members' attention to the summary sheet, the outline of the privatization act. I have asked the Department of Justice officials to elaborate and explain on the purpose of each individual section because it is hard to follow unless you look at a whole lot of documents, since there are words that are needed to adjust circumstances, rights, situations and obligations. I have asked them to prepare an explanation and that is tabled, and I won't go into that in any detail.

The basic approach that is being taken here is to restructure the company. Old Hydro is being restructured still as a Crown corporation. We are creating an entirely new company, to which the assets that are necessary for the operation of Hydro will be transferred, but only those that are necessary - those that aren't will remain with government. And that's why the clauses in the bill give the minister the right to approve of everything that is to be transferred to the new Hydro, because we don't want to transfer anything that is not absolutely necessary for the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Pardon? What might something be?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, there may be a block of land somewhere that is totally unrelated to the operation of Hydro. They might have had the right to use transmission lines or titles that are now abandoned. We don't want to transfer all of that. There are certain things that are no longer in use or necessary. So we will only transfer those assets that are essential for Hydro to continue to operate as a utility generating (inaudible).

Now, when that is done, then the government will own all of the shares of that company, and what we intend to do then, the technical process then, is for the government to sell those shares into the marketplace. That's when the money is raised, when the government and its agents that it will appoint sell those shares in the marketplace. That's when the equity is raised.

Now here's what is going to be done with respect to the debt. The debt will be dealt with in three blocks. First, a gross amount of $349 million - some of it is the older debt; its gross face value is $349 million, but the net amount is about $260 million - will be paid immediately. Out of the proceeds of the sale, $260 million will be provided to pay off that debt immediately.

Now, I want hon. members to remember that government can't just decide it is going to pay off all that debt, because people are holding debentures and they have a right to hold the debentures and a right to get the interest and plan their affairs and continue to hold them. The debentures are there, their property, so we can't just simply call in those debentures. There's no right of recall on them. If we had the means and we were prepared to do it, we couldn't just pay it all off absolutely as a matter of right on the part of the government, but we are paying off everything that we can pay off immediately, which is a net amount of about $260 million, but has a face value of $349 million because, for the most part, it is the older debt that will be coming due in this year, or can now be called.

The second block of the debt, Mr. Speaker, is a block that will be - I am sorry, I reverse that. The numbers that I gave you are the amounts that Hydro, itself - new Hydro repays approximately $260 million; that's what the new company repays over a five-year period. I'm sorry, I gave you the wrong one. That is the one that will remain, and that the new company will pay off over a five-year period.

The block, some $283 million net, $370 million gross, will be paid out immediately. Then, Mr. Speaker, the remaining block will be - `defeased', is the way in which it is described, as I described it in the House just now, and the process is - and that amount is $485 million net, and $495 million gross. It will be defeased by the end of this year. That will come out of our obligations by the end of this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The new Hydro will be buying the securities to match against it. They will be buying Government of Canada bonds - well, I don't know what they will be. They will be buying bonds of one of the Provincial Governments or the Federal Government. It must governments in Canada. Any Provincial Government or the Federal Government bonds are acceptable. So they will be buying an equivalent amount to generate the cash flow necessary to service that debt over the life of it. So the financial community and the investment industry generally, says, Newfoundland really has no longer any obligation - they have put up the equivalent of cash security to pay it. So that will be defeased, and it will be done by the end of this calendar year, by December 31. The remaining amount of $260 million net, $349 million, Hydro will repay over a five-year period. The provincial obligation is effectively, totally eliminated within five years.

Mr. Speaker, let me talk a little about the impact of privatization. Hon. members will find three or four sheets of tables, and I emphasize again two things: these are estimates only and they are estimates that took into account an assumption that there would be no improvement in productivity, no improvement in method of operation, that the costs would go on exactly as they are now. That is the basis. Now, I don't believe that will be the situation. I think they will be able to work synergies as they go forward over the next five years, and I am hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that, in effect, we will be able to wipe out any increase at all over and above, but I have provided a table that shows generally the estimated amounts that it could be in the current industry structure and in a privatized hydro structure. You will see that the differential over, say, the five-year period between what would be the rates under the current industry structure, and under the privatized structure, for the end consumers for Newfoundland Power is seven tenths of 1 per cent. That is assuming that there is not one single dollar worth of improvement in management cost and operating cost. You will see also that for the industrial customers it would drop by three-tenths of 1 per cent.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if we have the kinds of improvements that I think could well materialize, that could drop even more, so it could be even better for the industrial customer. Those numbers are sometimes difficult to judge, so I asked them to prepare it on a bar chart and they have done just that, and that shows exactly what the situation would be on a standard monthly domestic bill of 700 kilowatt hours. That is the level up to which we subsidize in the rural areas of the Province, and you can see demonstrated graphically there just how little impact there is as a results of the great benefits we are going to derive from this, none of the horrendous increases that the fearmongers were talking about in recent weeks. It is $1.25 a month at most. If it happens at all, it would be $1.25 a month in 1995. Look at it for the all-electric customers, customers who heat their houses with electricity. If it happens at all, it is a maximum, we estimate, of $3.00 per month in 1995. That is assuming no improvement at all, no savings as a result of this.

Now, Mr. Speaker, on the next page I asked them also to look at it on the basis of the differential over a five-year period and they have done those increases as well, and you can see that stands out graphically, what the differential is. They show what the increase would have been estimated if privatization had not taken place and what it will be solely as a result of privatization. You can see what the differential is, what the increases would be in both of them. It is also shown in the same table, and in the table on the next page, what the situation would be for domestic all-electric heat.

Mr. Speaker, when you go back and bear in mind the value that the people of this Province will derive from privatization, the benefits we will get from privatization, then, I think that the risk of an increase up to that amount is a very small risk to take indeed, because if we don't take that risk we are going to have to find at least $25 million a year, every year hereafter to pay increased interest rates that we wouldn't otherwise have to pay, and that is going to take increase in taxes or cuts in other expenditures by government, and we have cut expenditures pretty severely, we don't have much cutting room left. This, Mr. Speaker, gives the people, as taxpayers of this Province, a real break without any significant harm as rate payers because it is the same people; that's what privatization does and people have attempted to distort it and misrepresent it for their own reasons and have caused great concern, quite improperly and quite unfairly.

Mr. Speaker, the government also wants to achieve something else by privatization. We want to achieve the improvement of our private sector economy; we want to be able to give the private sector the biggest boost we can give it. This will make a significant contribution. There are other efforts that are going forward to improve and expand the private sector but we think that this will make a major contribution and it is completely consistent with the other activities of government.

Now, let me say a couple of other words, and I have already mentioned it briefly. Government and ministers speaking on behalf of government in relation to this matter, have to be concerned about the representations that they make, that is why I ask people to make the assumptions on the basis of no expectation of airy-fairy gains, be realistic and conservative - small c, conservative - as you can in those estimates, in order to make sure that we are not making any claims that will not materialize.

Government must also be circumspect in any statements that it makes about its expectations or its hopes in terms of quantifying amounts because while we are government, we still must bear in mind that there is a responsibility to ensure that we act totally properly in relation to the Ontario Securities Commission that will be regulating much of the sale of these shares. It is important that we not do anything that causes any difficulty or creates unfounded expectations or misrepresentations so government has to be fairly circumspect in statements that it makes and I hope people of the Province will understand that.

We also want to make sure that we don't say or do anything that would cause us to receive less than the maximum we could possibly get because the objective of government is to receive. There are two objectives in this respect - and I should tell the House what they are - to receive the maximum amount we possibly can for the taxpayers of this Province as a result of the privatization. We want to receive the maximum, reasonable return that we possibly can, but, Mr. Speaker, we also want those who invest in those shares to have a good experience from supporting the private sector in Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to make sure that they get good value for their investment, too, because next year and the next year and the next year, companies from Newfoundland, whether they are Crown corporations being privatized or other private sector companies, will be going to the financial markets with proposals for investments, so we want the investment community to have a good experience from expressing faith and confidence in the private sector of this Province in investing in it. We want it to have a reasonable return in the future and a fair and reasonable rate of growth, consistent with the normal events that are taking place in the economy of this Province. We don't want there to be any bad experience solely by reason of it being Newfoundland. We can't say what will happen to the economy of Canada generally if there are ups and downs in the stock market because of that. We can't provide hedges against that nor do we intend to seek to, but we do want, from a purely Newfoundland perspective, to ensure that those who participate have a good experience from their effort to invest in this private sector venture in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There is one other thing that I should say. The Leader of the Opposition was asking yesterday, why not wait? Why not give this a - he moved a six-month hoist on it yesterday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, let me tell the hon. member why - the minister's comment is probably quite accurate. When you privatize, timing is all-important, particularly if you're privatizing in the case of a utility company. Interest rates is a significant factor in the value and marketability of shares of a public utility company and if you wait two months, one month, certainly six months, you don't know what you're going to be doing. So you can't just do that. You have to move at a time when its opportune, when you can get the best benefit for the people of the Province and we want to do that, too, Mr. Speaker.

So this motion to delay for six months or even delay for a month could result in a disastrous impact. I can't say that it would certainly, I have to confess that. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I have to confess that if other circumstances changed in the other direction it might even be better to delay for a month. It might even be better, but at the very least, if we have gone forward and are ready, we can market the shares at any time, so we couldn't lose.

It might be better to go to the market a month or two, or three months later but we need to be in a position to make that decision and if we haven't prepared, filed, presented the prospectus and created the shares for sale, we are not in a position to take advantage of it in a timely way. But until they do go to the market, it remains a Crown corporation in the sense that the Crown will own every single one of those shares until we make the decision that we are going to sell and we offer the shares to the public. Even though this legislation is passed, if circumstances turn around and it becomes disadvantageous to sell, we don't have to sell, we continue to keep the shares and it remains a Crown corporation.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are proceeding in a manner that protects the interest of the people of this Province both in their capacities as taxpayers and in their capacities as ratepayers. We think, Mr. Speaker, it is a responsible way to act.

I want to emphasis again, before I sit down, the primary motivations for proceeding with privatization now. and why, in moving second reading of this bill, I ask all members of the House to support the bill, members on both sides of the House because it's clear, from everything that we've seen, that it is in the public interest of the people of this Province to do so. I have emphasised in addressing the issue, Mr. Speaker, the value in expanding and improving our private sector economy - that is of great value to us but I won't say more about it. Think of these values: we eliminate immediately $1.2 billion of the total debt in respect of which this Province has obligation. We eliminate immediately $1.2 billion of the $5.4 billion. That is a tremendous achievement. We avoid the necessity of borrowing this year, in a year that will be difficult for any province to go to the market - we avoid the necessity of borrowing a dollar this year. I can't think of much else that this government could do to benefit the people of this Province right now. I can't think of much else we could do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The people of the Province now know the quality of the judgement applied to this issue.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, we could greatly reduce the necessity for borrowing next year. Another great benefit for the people of this Province. Those two things together could result in more than $25 million a year future benefit every year hereafter for the people of this Province. Quite apart from what it does for our credit rating in not increasing our debt and in reducing our debt, look at what it does directly for the taxpayers. We could afford to increase our rates a great deal to pay for that kind of total benefit for the people of this Province. That is not to mention the other benefits that I've already spelled out.

Mr. Speaker, I say to all hon. members with complete sincerity and conviction, concern for the present circumstances of the people of this Province, concern for the future financial stability of the Province, concern for the future economy of the Province, requires, compels, support of this legislation.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: We have a smaller number over here. It doesn't sound as loud but it is still as encouraging.

Mr. Speaker, today is indeed an historic day in this Legislature. We are debating a piece of legislation that in our view, and in my own personal view, will be one of the most horrific mistakes ever made in the Newfoundland Legislature. I think in the end when members hear my arguments they will feel compelled to support our position before this is all over. I just want to touch on a few of the Premier's comments at the end before I detail my arguments on each of the points that he raised.

The last point that he made in concluding his speech, he talked about his own convictions. I have absolutely no doubt of the Premier's personal conviction on this particular issue, but I hasten to add it isn't a new found conviction. It isn't because of the economic circumstances we face today. This is a conviction that the Premier has held for years, and years and years. It is his pet project, so let's not forget that.

A number of points that he made in the debate dealing with - trying to say to the people of the Province that: We are going to pass this legislation but we may not proceed with the sale of shares. We may not proceed with privatization. Who is he trying to con? Does he think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are that stunned, that green? They've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, over the last year in particular. Studies have been done, a couple of studies that he hasn't provided to the people of the Province through the House of Assembly. There has been meeting after meeting. Anybody who believes for a moment that this is not going to proceed is living in another world. That kind of nonsense is not becoming of the Premier as far as I'm concerned.

Then he talked about the amendment that I put yesterday on the other piece of legislation, the six-month hoist argument. He said we couldn't wait for six months. He explained all the reasons why in his view we had to move, if we were going to move we would have to move quickly, and all that sort of thing. In my view that is a very silly defence. Surely everybody knows any time something is going to be given away it is a good investment. The investment is a good investment. There is nobody really arguing that. That isn't the issue here at all. It is a very weak excuse to say we must move quickly if we decide to move and that's why we can't have public hearings and all that. We could have had public hearings for the last four months if he wanted to. So don't anybody ever buy into that argument. Is there any reason why there are people who are suspicious and cynical about the governments answers to questions raised on the privatization of Hydro?

This morning, Mr. Speaker, in Question Period, only an hour or so ago, I asked the government, the Premier, if there were any plans to put together any advertising brochures, radio ads and all that kind of thing: no, but he thought it might be a good idea. Well what a terrific idea I have, Mr. Speaker, here is the brochure right off the bat but you misled the House. You misled the House by leaving the impression that you weren't up to some kind of advertising or promotional program.

PREMIER WELLS: We're not.

MR. SIMMS: You are. Mr. Speaker, here is the evidence. Is the Premier blind? Here is the evidence right here. I was talking about brochures as well and I said it. You knew darn well what I was talking about but it is typical, use words, slick responses, walk around the answers, that's what he does all the time on every issue that is raised in this House, Mr. Speaker, it's deception. I think at one time he was accused of being a master of deception by the former Leader of the Opposition. We'll have more, Mr. Speaker, to say about these kinds of actions on the part of the government - we'll have more to say, Mr. Speaker, on the approach and the actions of the Premier and the government on this particular issue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to bring members of the House back to when the move towards privatization became known to the people of the Province and how it developed, because its important to remember the background on this issue. You'll recall back last spring in the House of Assembly there were questions asked and again there was more deception because the answers that were given were always: no, no there is nothing to worry about, there is nothing on the go with respect to Hydro privatization. That was the impression given by the government every time they answered questions. During the election when the issue was raised: no, no, no there is nothing to this. There shouldn't be any fear of this. We were totally deceived. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador were totally deceived, Mr. Speaker, until on October 1, we heard the statement by the Premier on behalf of the government that they were pursuing the idea of privatization, at that time through a proposed merger with Fortis Incorporated. Now this was certainly a surprising change, Mr. Speaker, in the eyes of the people of the Province, having been led to believe by the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Premier, on numerous occasions over the previous several months, that no there was nothing going on. So it was absolute deception here in this House last spring and then again during the election campaign, Mr. Speaker.

Let's not forget yesterday when I raised the point about this being a pet project of the Premier's, let there be no doubt about it, this is being driven by the Premier of this Province and the Premier of this Province alone. Ministers over there have no idea of what's been going on, none whatsoever, and yesterday I raised the point which the Premier admitted to. He turned a little red when I raised it, I guess he didn't know we'd remember it. Back in the mid to late 1980s, I think it was sometime around 1986, the Premier, when he was Chairman of the Board of Newfoundland Light and Power, actually presented to the previous administration draft plans and ideas that incorporated most of the ideas, almost word for word contained in that piece of legislation that we dealt with yesterday, all part of an overall plot and plan to pursue this crazy idea of eventually privatizing, Mr. Speaker.

So don't forget that kind of background. Mr. Speaker, despite what is contained in this brochure, which I dare say will eventually be sent to all the householders in the Province at taxpayers expense, no doubt that is the plan, but despite what it says there, don't believe for a moment everything that is in there because I can tell you this, and I can defend it with great gusto and enthusiasm, this privatization deal will not provide for more jobs in this Province. This deal will not offer lower electricity rates for the consumers in this Province. There will be no new investment. There are no new high tech opportunities associated with the privatization of Hydro. There will be no local ownership and control, as we have now with Hydro; the taxpayers own it and control it through their government. There will not be a fair profit on this sale - not a fair profit. Remember the word `profit'. There will not be a fair profit at all for the lost water rights, despite the argument the Premier tries to put forward.

There have been no studies, no evidence made public in this Legislature, to substantiate the arguments that have been put forth, or to show what the net benefits will be. So, Mr. Speaker, that alone is enough reason to oppose this particular plan and this particular scheme.

Now let's also go back to when this debate started to heat up last November, early in November, a month after the Premier announced the government's intention and when he said: There will be no public debate on this matter. There won't be any public comments on this issue until we have a decision on what we are going to do, and then we will bring it to the House. That's what he said.

A month later, after we had done some research as a party, a month later, not immediately jumping on this issue, and all that stuff, as some have implied, we held a press conference and we articulated our views and our opposition in this instance. Then the debate started to heat up. You had Cyril Abery, a highly respected public servant in this Province, a former Chairman of Hydro; you had Steve Neary, a former leader of that party on that side of the House, publicly taking a position opposing it, and you had people of other political parties, the Leader of the NDP Party, the Power of the People, a force to be reckoned with, I can tell Members of this House, and they can smile and grin and smirk all they want. They have done an extremely effective job, in my view, of bringing forth concerns of people of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: And I know they are going to continue that; but almost immediately, as soon as we started to kick off that opposition in early November, the Premier started accusing his critics of promoting confusion among people. He accused all of his critics of promoting confusion among people. Well, let me ask the Members of this House to take a good, honest look at what is at the root of the people's confusion, things that the Premier himself has been arguing, and I ask you to consider these following points:

First of all, the impression has been given by the Premier, time and time again, and his minister, that this privatization was recommended by Newfoundland's financial advisors, ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities. I would be interested in knowing, too, if they are going to be involved in the sale of shares eventually. That would be an interesting question to have answered, maybe the minister can answer it. But if you read the Premier's speech to the Board of Trade, you will see in that speech, clearly, that they did not recommend privatization on a standalone basis. As a matter of fact, if you read it thoroughly you will see that it was the least preferred option. They recommended the status quo. That's what they recommended as the first and most viable option, but if you want to proceed to privatize, if you must, and if you insist - and, by golly, he insists, I tell you, the Premier insists - well if you want to do it and you must do it and you wish to do it, then you go two ways. You merge, which is the best way, because you eliminate duplication, are more efficient, and all of that - that was the argument we got two months ago - but the worst and least preferred option is to do it on a standalone basis, which is precisely what he is doing here in this House today - the least preferred option, the least one recommended by the financial advisors of the Province.

That was why he brought in his five friends. Remember the five business people who he gathered together, and there were no minutes of the meeting that he held or anything like that when we asked for a report in the House, could you give us the transcript of the report of their meeting with the Premier and what they had to say? We finally dragged out of him, pulled out him, who said what and how many said what. It ended up I think it was three who said: Yes, I think privatization as a merger would be the best way to go. Two others said no. So it wasn't even on the strength of those people, but he wanted somebody to recommend outright merger, privatization, at that stage, and it was those five people unfortunately who were left in that position. Because his financial advisors had said no. He wasn't satisfied with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The Premier will not release - it is true, because they've already admitted it, as a matter of fact, I say to the minister - the Premier will not release the two Hydro studies, even though we've asked for them time and time again in this House, Mr. Speaker. The argument about the sale being recommended is an absolutely false argument and very misleading.

One of the areas on the second point that I want to make that the Premier often alluded to in the past but I noticed he didn't mention it very much during this debate - although I didn't hear everything he had to say because I had to step out on one or two occasions - but he used to always talk about the Nova Scotia privatization. What a wonderful thing that has been for the people of Nova Scotia. They are up there in their glee, they are so happy, they are excited, they are thrilled - the privatization in Nova Scotia.

What happened in Nova Scotia? First of all, it wasn't quite the same situation, because both of their entities were already merged and was a larger operation, as a matter of fact. Second, they do not generate their power, for the most part at least, by the use of a hydro resource. Ninety per cent of their power is generated through coal and imported oil. It is not quite the same at all in any event.

Up there, very interestingly, in that Province the government at the time it announced privatization said there would be no job losses, which is precisely what the Premier says here in his brochure. All of the privatization costs have been developed on the assumption - assumption! - that the existing workforce will be maintained. That is precisely what they said in Nova Scotia, and do you know what? Within a year there were 400 jobs eliminated.

Up there the government promised it would improve the credit rating of the Province. Here in Newfoundland the Premier said to the Board of Trade words to the effect, without being able to find them exactly, that it would improve our credit worthiness. Those were his words and I can find them if I have to. That was the same thing said in Nova Scotia, and do you know what happened in Nova Scotia? Two of the credit rating agencies in Nova Scotia downgraded Nova Scotia's credit rating after the privatization occurred.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SIMMS: Downgraded! Two, Mr. Speaker. Moody's and Dominion Bond Rating Services, both of them downgraded the credit rating of the province. That is a misleading argument again that the Premier likes to use or he did like to use. I notice he didn't use it here today at all.

In addition to that in Nova Scotia, the new Liberal government, within six months of an election, having promised not to raise taxes, six months later increased the health services tax, replaced the monthly levy on electricity, and increased gas and diesel taxes. Increased all the taxes. Broke their election promises. The privatization deal was of no benefit to the people of Nova Scotia, they had to pay increased taxes.

This idea that the Premier has been using that somehow the Nova Scotia deal was excellent and therefore we should move here in Newfoundland and Labrador I hope has had enough holes placed through it that he will never refer to it again. Let me assure him, I will refer to it because he has used it in the past.

I just had a note passed to me, Mr. Speaker. I'm disappointed the Premier is not here at the moment. I talked about the Power of the People and the effective job they have done in keeping this issue in the forefront of the public. Do you know what has just come to my attention, Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you are aware of this yet, but the news media, the press, the parliamentary press gallery, who are here every day, who hold scrums out in this scrum area, outside the Legislative front doors, who frequently, have interviewed people, members of the public representing different organizations to respond to issues that have been raised and so on -

MR. REID: Not out there.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, out there I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, they certainly have on many occasions. Lots of groups, lots of organizers heads of groups have been interviewed out in that scrum area, there has never been a problem; but do you know what happened today, a half-an-hour ago, Mr. Speaker, the representative of the Power of the People, Bill Vetter, was just kicked out of that area and driven out of that area. Now that, Mr. Speaker -

DR. KITCHEN: Proper thing.

MR. SIMMS: The Minister of Health says it's the proper thing, I say it is Gestapo tactics, typical of those used by members opposite, and you know why they did it, Mr. Speaker - he wasn't allowed to complete his interview - you know why they did it? Because it was somebody opposing with an opposition view on Hydro privatization, and that is scandalous, Mr. Speaker, absolutely scandalous.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on some of the other arguments that the Premier has used and referred to. The debt argument is one that the Premier used this morning again and has used - Mr. Speaker, the Premier has used the debt argument and the credit rating which I just talked about a moment ago, but the reality, Mr. Speaker, is this: The credit rating agencies who deal with the credit rating of this Province have already said publicly, quite frequently, that the Hydro debt is fully self-supporting, that the Hydro debt is in no way a burden on this Province, that the Hydro asset has been and is a very positive element in the overall credit rating of this Province. One of the very few positives, Mr. Speaker, while the replacement value, I say to the Minister of Health, who never makes an intelligent interjection, is valued at least between $2 billion and $3 billion and only has a debt in the area of $1 billion and that is why the credit rating agencies make those comments and the beauty of it all, Mr. Speaker, is that we, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, own that asset lock, stock and barrel.

I look forward to the Minister of Health participating in this debate. If he does it would be a miracle because he usually does not open his mouth except to interject, and I would appreciate Your Honour's protection from that individual, and if he cannot hold his tongue then perhaps he could go out in the common room and have a cup of coffee, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, here is what Standard and Poor's says, one of our agencies that I am talking about. Standard and Poor's says: As of this time we don't foresee ourselves changing the rating as a result of divestiture. That is what Standard and Poor's have said, contrary to the impression the Premier is trying to leave out there. Here is what the Dominion Bond Rating Service said, one of the other agency and I quote: `We have always considered Newfoundland Hydro to be self-sustaining, so we have excluded its debt from our debt calculation. This agency does not even include the debt of Hydro in calculating the Province's debt so, Mr. Speaker, it is false and misleading for the Premier to be touting this as a major, major improvement to our credit rating, because it is nonsense, absolute nonsense, and as I said earlier, remember Nova Scotia which went through a privatization and had their credit rating down-graded; and in fact, we made money for the last four or five years as the Premier pointed out, we make money from Hydro's debt.

They pay us a 1 per cent guarantee fee which equates to $10 million to $12 million a year, I think it is. The question has to be asked, based on that, based on what the credit rating agencies say, why would the Province or the government ever want to get rid of such a sound investment? It doesn't make any sense. Unless there is a personal agenda behind this whole process, and that is what we have, Mr. Speaker, in fact going on.

Then he talks about giving Newfoundlanders the opportunity to buy shares in this new company. If ever there was a joke in this debate that is it. Because I don't know where the 90,000 people on unemployment insurance or the 80,000 who are on social assistance, or the 25,000 or 30,000 on fisheries compensation, or the thousands who are living on low income, or the thousands who are living on fixed income, are ever going to find the money to buy shares in Newfoundland Hydro. I can just see them all now gathered around the table after the news is over at 6:30, and they see the Premier's face on television talking about what a wonderful thing this Hydro is. My God, they will pick up the phone and they will call all their friends. Come over to the house immediately, we have to have a meeting. We sit down. How much did we get today? We got our cheque today for $200, $225. Now let's cut aside a bit for clothing, let's cut aside a bit for food, we need a bit for this and we need a bit for that, and oh yes! Don't forget now, be sure and put aside $25 or $30 for Hydro shares.

How silly, how foolish does the Premier think the people of Newfoundland are? He must think they are green, too green to burn. It isn't going to happen. However, there will be investors, but the people who will buy the shares will be people like the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology who can afford them. That is who will be buying the shares. It will be a good investment. If it was such a good investment they would be buying the Fortis shares. Anybody can buy Fortis shares in Newfoundland and Labrador. But 80 to 90 per cent of the shareholders of Fortis live outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. The same thing is going to happen when this occurs. Everybody in the investment community will tell you, anybody who is going to be objective about it.

Newfoundlanders don't have the spare change to buy shares in this new Hydro. To suggest Newfoundlanders will be offered the opportunity to buy shares - and they will probably do it on some kind of a basis. I don't know when they are going to announce this. Probably at their big press conference in an hour or so. They will do it on some kind of a basis where you will be able to buy a minimum number of shares, twenty-five, up to a maximum number of 5,000, or whatever it works out to, and you will be able to buy it by paying 60 per cent down, or whatever it might be. I see the minister smiling. You will be able to buy it by paying 60 per cent down, and guess what, you will be able to pay the rest, the other 40 per cent, over the next twelve months. Something like that. Or the other way around.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SIMMS: The other way around. We were getting close. That is a big deal now, isn't it? For those tens of thousands of people out there in Newfoundland who no longer can afford to buy food, let alone buy shares in Hydro. What difference does it make to them if they are going to be able to do it with 40 per cent down and pay off 60 per cent over a year? It will be great to those who can afford it like the minister, like myself. Most people in this Province will not be able to. It is a false argument and it is one that the Premier likes to try using. I hope people of the Province won't buy into that silly argument, Mr. Speaker.

Let's talk about rates. The Premier alluded to the rate increases, and he tried to down play the rate increases, really tried to down play them. He referred to his little chart that he put out in his brochure and he talked about the monthly increase being, as a result of privatization, the difference being from $1.25 on a bill - $62.50, I think it was, I was outside at the time, and looking at this chart - up to maybe $3 a month if your bill is $153. So, God, $1.25 up to $3, sure that is hardly worth crowing about, why would you complain about that?

First of all, why should Newfoundlanders have to pay any increase in their rates for privatization? That is question number one. Question number two: How many in this Province are paying in excess of $153 a month for their electricity rates - a darn good many I would say, but what is most interesting, Mr. Speaker

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the average.

MR. SIMMS: I realize it is the average, but what is most interesting is that the Premier didn't make any reference after that to the other sheets. He didn't mention the next page or two.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, he did.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, no, he did not. Well, if he did he brushed by it awfully quickly, because, Mr. Speaker, what you see on the last page of the chart is an increase over five years up to 11 per cent as a result of privatization. Now, that is a sizeable and significant increase in electricity rates for the consumers of the Province, an 11 per cent increase.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is if there is no efficiency.

MR. SIMMS: Well, I say to the member from Port aux Basques, who is not even in his seat and he should not be interjecting, that the government's own argument with respect to the merger was that there wouldn't be any efficiency for privatization on a stand-alone basis, so there won't be any efficiencies, using the government's own argument. Don't be so stunned! Here is what you are going to have, an 11 per cent increase because of privatization; now, that is on top of -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, yes, oh, yes, we will see, because in your own words these are only guesstimates, you don't know what it is going to be. But I tell you one thing, they are going to be sizable increases and are going to be big enough that the people of this Province are going to be affected by it negatively, whether you want to admit it or not, and it is another one of those arguments. They play it down, but they don't know, in reality.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, because you have admitted it, there is going to be a rate increase as a result of privatization. Why should there be? Why should Newfoundlanders have to pay more in their electricity rates?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Why should they have lay-offs?

MR. SIMMS: Why should they I am asking you? Because you are not doing a good job, that is why.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't have a clue.

MR. SIMMS: Well, that is a great defence: `You don't have a clue!'

Excellent - a wonderful defence!

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite might not like what I am saying but what I am saying is what the views of the people of Newfoundland are, I can tell him, Mr. Speaker. And the more he interjects, the more he trys to cut me down, the more I like it. He can keep it up, if he wants to, it doesn't bother me one bit, but it doesn't do anything to help the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are going to be forced to pay higher electricity rates, and it doesn't do anything in their eyes for the asset they now own. You want them to go out and buy shares. Well, why would you go out and buy shares in something you already own? The people of Newfoundland already own it. That sounds like a real gem to try to put over on the people of this Province. They own Hydro. The people of the Province own Hydro, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't be so foolish!

MR. SIMMS: Don't be so foolish, yourself! Who owns Hydro? I ask the minister. Who owns Hydro?

AN HON. MEMBER: I will speak in the debate.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, yes, you will speak in the debate, but you don't mind interjecting now when you have some silly comments to make across the floor. The reality, Mr. Speaker, is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador own Hydro. I suppose now they will get up and try to argue that the people in Newfoundland don't own Hydro. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that kind of argument coming forth from that side, that the people of Newfoundland don't own Hydro. That is what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is trying to suggest. Make no wonder we have such a high unemployment rate, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, that is the argument on the ownership of Hydro, the sales shares, and all those issues which are valid arguments in our view and supported by the majority of people in this Province, I can tell members opposite as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: They will change.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, they will change, we will see. Then they will play down again the water rights issue. `Oh, we are not giving away any water rights.' Don't be so silly! The only water rights that will be given away are those water rights that will be used to generate power.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, what difference does that make? You are giving away the water rights in this deal to private industry, private companies, the water rights owned again by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and you are getting nothing for it because there won't be a profit for the sale of the lands and the waters. And it is extended to Labrador, not just on the Island, in the Province, Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, I say to members opposite, look through that legislation and ask somebody you might know in the law profession to give you some advice because it is trickery - more trickery. It is slick the way it is put together. I'm going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, there is potential for things much bigger than we are talking about right now. We will get to that in future days through Question Periods and so on.

So, Mr. Speaker, the water rights argument is also a false and misleading argument. I suppose, when you have no defence you have to try to make them up, and that is what the government seems to be doing. Jobs. They give us the impression - if you read the brochure, as I mentioned earlier, `Privatization costs have been developed on the assumption that the work force at Hydro will be maintained. That is precisely what was said in Nova Scotia, and within a year there were 400 jobs eliminated as a result of privatization in Nova Scotia.

Don't lay that kind of guff on us. Even last fall when we were talking about merger, Hydro itself said there were going to be 150 jobs in their estimation, and they said that was a figure arrived at without consultation with Newfoundland Power. When we asked how many more jobs would be included in Light and Power as a result of the merger, we didn't know that number. There are going to be job losses. When a new owner gets in there, a new company takes over that operation, everybody knows what is coming.

So, I say to workers at Hydro, don't be too comfortable, don't relax, don't let your guard down and think everything is going to be hunky-dory. Because I assure you, the potential is there for job losses. In a province that has now, even at the minister's word - the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations - an unemployment rate that is in the area of 40-odd per cent, he said in an interview to The Evening Telegram, we can ill-afford more job losses.

Then, of course, I want to get back to the Premier's famous argument, and the best way he could defend this deal last fall, when all the critics were opposing his position. He said that Cyril Abery wasn't credible, a major tactical error, if not the worst thing he could have said anyway, because that individual, anybody who knows him would know that he is a fine individual. He accused me of being irresponsible. Well, that's fine, I don't mind that, I expect to hear that from the Premier. There are a lot of things I could accuse the Premier of and I try to bite my tongue all the time but I can't always do that. But if I'm irresponsible, well, I won't say what the Premier is.

He said other MHAs have a concrete mind-set. Anyone who opposes him, they are irresponsible, they don't know what they are talking about, they have a concrete mind-set, they are not credible. Everybody in the world who opposed him on this issue, which includes everybody in the Province except for those who sit around the Cabinet table who won't open their mouths, that's for sure. Because number one, they probably know very little about it. Don't forget, this is a plan that the Premier has had since 1986. For sure, those in the back benches, some of whom I know, have a lot of concerns about this, but are in the precarious position, I suppose, of sitting on the government side and feel they have to be loyal to the government. But I know some of them feel very concerned about the issue.

You won't see them standing up either, out of loyalty, I suppose, number one. But number two, as long as there is a vacancy in that Cabinet over there they will always be careful about what they say publicly. That is why he hasn't filled the position vacated by the former Minister of Tourism, I dare say. When he gets through privatization and all the other stuff, when he gets through with all of that process, I dare say - I hope somebody over there might have the guts, might have the intestinal fortitude, might have the gumption, to stand up and tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador what you really believe about this issue.

I know members over there are getting pressure from constituents. The Member for Terra Nova would like to say it now but - that is because she is getting heat in the last few days. She wants to get her position out right quick so they will stop calling her, I suppose, or something along those lines. She will have a chance to participate in the debate. After all, her friend behind her will have a chance in the limelight on Wednesday and I know she has to quickly get up and speak to get some coverage.

Mr. Speaker, the kinds of comments that the Premier were making, those comments were irresponsible on his part, to tear apart everybody who had an opposing view to him on this issue, including some of the most credible people in the Province, in my view.

Don't forget, as I said earlier, the arguments and the opposition cross party lines. Steve Neary, who is a former Leader of the Liberal Party -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I would say he knows as much as 75 per cent of the members on that side of the House about it, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, he was a Member of the House, he told me, back in the 1960s when the Premier was there, when the Premier was a Member of the House in those days, when the infamous Upper Churchill deal was on the go, and at that time he argued with Mr. Smallwood that the government should take over Newfoundland Power. That was what Steve was proposing and, by the way, there are a lot of people who think that might be a very interesting option to consider. It would be expensive, and you would have to look at all of that, but - as a matter of fact, I think Prince Edward Island -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I dare say there was a discussion in Cabinet about it; I have no doubt. Prince Edward Island, in fact, I think just a couple of days ago, nationalized their power industry and are now -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes they did. They nationalized it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, but they're going to nationalize their own power industry, and then they're going to merge with New Brunswick.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, saying they're going to consider it is something like the Premier of this Province is saying: Just because we pass this legislation, and force it through and everything, we may not sell the shares. We might not proceed with the sale of shares.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: They will never do it, so you will never do it? Huh! We will see, Mr. Speaker.

It's too bad the Premier took that approach. I think it cost him dearly in this debate by attacking private individuals like the Power of the People, like Steve Neary, the former Leader of the Liberal Party, this particular party, who has been a vocal opponent on this particular issue, other Liberals - many, many Liberals around this Province. Members opposite must know, because they're calling us. Surely they've called their own members. I hope they have.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. SIMMS: Well, the member would be surprised who.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name them.

MR. SIMMS: No, because they're not in public life, they are private individuals, and I can tell you, they oppose

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, could I have the protection of the Chair, please?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I try to be kind and nice to the individual concerned.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to make those few arguments at this point in the debate. I want to make those few opening points in the debate, Mr. Speaker, because we will have a lot of opportunities yet. This debate is going to go on, unless the government start to try to wear us down, start to force night sittings - and I mean all night sittings. When they start forcing us into that mode over the next few days and coming weeks, we will be here and we will stick by our guns, and we will fight to the bitter end on this particular issue and defend our position and our opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say, just to conclude, on the issue of public hearings, we have a Premier, I guess it wasn't too long ago, three or four years ago, a politician in this Province, the Premier, himself, in particular, who once believed that deals of this magnitude were too great and far too important to be worked out by a few men in a back room - 1990, June: Meech. That was his position then, and the people of Canada flocked to that position. Oh, what a great man this person was when it came to the Constitution; but when it comes to something significant for the people of this Province, his own Province, here in Newfoundland, I ask him about public hearings, input, consultation, no - flat no - even though this government has seen fit, and rightly so, to hold public hearings and have committees of the House study issues like the smoking legislation, which is important; even though they are having a public meeting now, and a committee of the House having public hearings around the Province on the issue of public accounting, which is important; even though they've sent a commission around this Province not once, but now twice, to look at the boundaries of the various electoral ridings that we represent, which is important and which will probably cost the taxpayers of this Province $250,000,000.

Yet, on an issue as significant to the future of the people of this Province, on an issue that will affect future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he says a flat no. Now, Mr. Speaker, there has to be a reason. There must be some reason for being so dogmatic in his approach on this issue, not only this issue, of course he's dogmatic in his approach on most issues that he deals with but that's an aside. So, Mr. Speaker, it's too bad that they are taking that approach. Because I think they owe it to the people of the Province to have public hearings around this Province and to explain their position. There is no rush. I was told yesterday when I asked the questions on the other piece of legislation to the Minister of Mines and Energy and to the Minister of Finance, there is no rush, there is no deadline - that's what I was told, no deadline. The Premier said today, `We won't be proceeding with a prospectus until the legislation is passed.' And we can't, the Minister of Finance says.

So, if you put the two together, the answers that the Minister of Finance gave me yesterday and the Minister of Mines and Energy in saying there was no deadline, we're not trying to force this or rush it through by March 31, then you have to assume that there isn't a reason not to have public hearings. Why couldn't you have public hearings over the next three or four weeks? Because the debate will go on for that length of time unless you bring in closure or something of that nature? Of course, I know this government would never ever bring in closure.

I told the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture this: when the Member for Gander was the Government House Leader he rarely did it only about fifteen or twenty times in a year, but under the new Government House Leader -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, I'm sure the Government House Leader has thought about that just as they thought quickly after I asked about the brochures and everything this morning in Question Period, you said there were none. You brought them down within the hour; by god, I tell you, that's action, Mr. Speaker!

Mr. Speaker, again, in the House on Throne Speech Day, just Monday of this week, the Premier talked about how he had consultations and discussions with the Federal Government about the need to sit down, work things out, to consult on the fishing restructuring issue, because no government should go out to the people and say: This is it, this is the way it is going to be done, it's wrong. Well, how come it isn't wrong on this issue? This is an issue that impacts on the people of this Province very significantly, now and into the future, so there's something going on. The wheels are turning in our minds, for sure, and in the minds of the people of the Province. We can't understand why he's so open to public meetings on smoking, public accounting and the electoral boundaries but not on this significant issue. I suspect the reason is, he figures he would be creamed, burned. I suspect that's the real reason why the government is not prepared to hold public hearings. They don't want to go around the Province and try to have to defend this because, Mr. Speaker, it is not defensible, and that's the bottom line.

Mr. Speaker, to conclude, here's what the Premier said in answer to my question on March 1, just three days ago, when I asked for public hearings. He said, and I quote, "The government proposes to bring the proposal to the House of Assembly for full disclosure of all of the details and for full debate on all of the aspects of it and when that is done I am confident that Members of the House of Assembly who look at it fairly and objectively will come unreservedly to the conclusion that there are compelling reasons to proceed with privatization." In other words, Mr. Speaker, the decision has already been made. Who is he trying to fool? The decision has already been made, Mr. Speaker. They aren't interested in the public's view, they don't care what people's concerns are about this. And certainly, the Premier doesn't care about it. Members opposite, I would say, in Cabinet, if they had their way, would have been advising the Premier to take a little different tactic, a little different approach, but I doubt if anybody over there would dare open their mouth.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I can see the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, the Member for Windsor - Buchans walking up to the Premier and saying: Now, Mr. Premier, I am going to tell you that you are doing this wrong. This is a totally wrong approach. Our members are getting calls from Liberals and people all over the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you say that to Mr. Peckford?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, I said it to Mr. Peckford. I can see the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture walking up now, the man with the backbone, what a man. I can see him now walking into the office on the eight floor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SIMMS: Is there any chance of quietening the House down, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think we showed a little more courtesy to the Premier when he was speaking. He was able to get through his remarks without the kind of fuss and racket we are hearing from that side now.

As I said I can see the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture walking up to the Premier on the eight floor, walking into his office and saying: I am here to tell you, Clyde, that you are wrong. I can just see it now.

Mr. Speaker, I doubt if anyone over there would even dare say that to the Premier. I am sure the Minister of Mines and Energy did not say it to him. I am absolutely positive. I am not sure if the Minister of Mines and Energy ever gets into his office. If you listen to the public statements that the Minister of Mines and Energy has made from time to time they have certainly been flip-flops, I think, to put it mildly. He does not seem to know what is going on. One day there is nothing going on and the next day there is something going on, so on, so on, and so on.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Minister of Mines and Energy. I like the fellow. I like the individual, the Minister of Mines and Energy. He is a fine individual, a nice man, a wonderful person, but I really sympathize with him, because you know where he gets his briefing on the privatization issue? From the media, out in the scrums with the media. That is where he gets his briefing because until they ask him a question he does not know what is going on, and that is regrettable. I am sure he is not a staunch advocate of this privatization. I am sure it is being shoved down his throat just as it is being shoved down the throats of the other people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude with those few preliminary remarks. I have a lot more remarks here but I will save them for another day. I still have six or seven minutes left. I suppose there is some suggestion I could move another amendment, a reasoned amendment. There are lots of reasons to be opposed to this. An amendment to refer it to committee, or another six month hoist like I did on the other piece of legislation yesterday. Mr. Speaker, I think we are going to sit back and wait for a moment or two, a couple of days, to see if the government comes to its senses. We will see if the government comes to its senses because we can move the six month hoist at any stage, and what that means, for the benefit of those who might be interested, is that it would give the members on this side of the House, in particular, because those members over there will not even speak to it, I do not suppose, they might get up and have a few words to say, but it would give those on this side of the House, the Opposition, a chance to speak again for a second time, and when that amendment is dealt with we can move another amendment to give us a chance to speak again a third time.

I suspect when we reach that stage, I suspect, the government will get miffed, they will be testy, and they will bring in closure or something along those lines. That is the way the old chief over there, old Brezhnev from Russia used to do it when he was House Leader. That is the way he used to handle it, Mr. Speaker, so I would not be at all surprised if that occurs.

Mr. Speaker, one final thing in conclusion that I would say to the people of the Province, if the media reports this particular comment, I would say to them, if they feel as strongly as I believe they feel in their opposition to the pursuance of a matter that I think is in the worst interest of the people of the Province, if they feel as strongly as all of us do, and all the other people out there tell us they feel, then I urge them, I plead with them, to not only flood the offices of members opposite but to flood the phones of Open Line programs because all over this Province people do listen to them, to write letters to the editor, to get involved with the Power of the People group, to do whatever you can; it is only a matter of lifting up the telephone, you can call us if you like but you don't need to call us because we are on your side, it's the people on that side of the House who are not on the side of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome this opportunity very early in the debate to put on the record my views and the views of my party on this particular piece of legislation. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, it has been well-known for some time that the opposition to this privatization deal has existed since it first was floated by the government, the opposition by the Progressive Conservative Party, by the New Democratic Party and by the vast majority of people of this Province. Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of the people of this Province oppose the privatization of Hydro and that is the result of surveys that were done and published in the paper, Mr. Speaker.

Now they might say that they were only against the giveaway to Fortis, they might say that really the survey was only about giving it away to Fortis, but I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that the people of Newfoundland are against the giveaway of our resources, the resource of all the people, to give it away to very few. Some in this Province, some with big wallets, the big investors, some people who have lots of money, perhaps even the corporate welfare bums, perhaps even the corporate welfare bum sitting over there; perhaps the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture will be one of these investors lining up to make money, guaranteed rate of return at the expense of the people of Newfoundland, and let us get that out on the table right away because this is what we are talking about.

We are talking about taking a valuable resource and asset of this Province, now owned by all the people and in the stewardship of this crowd over here, in stewardship of the government and what are they doing with it? They are talking that asset, that is now owned by all of the people of this Province and they are giving it away to a group, a small group of well-heeled investors who are then going to have a guaranteed rate of return, guaranteed by the Public Utilities Board. Terrific investment, no question about it and it is a terrific investment for two reasons.

Number one, the government is going to make it a terrific investment; they are going to set the parameters up so that people will be sure to buy it, snap it up, so they are going to set the price so low that people will snap it up and then, by this legislation, will put before the Public Utilities Board legislation which guarantees that those investors are going to get a rate of return which is substantial, higher than they can get on the money markets, higher than they can get on bonds, higher than they can get on other forms of interest investments because it is going to be guaranteed to come out of the pockets of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are rate payers and who buy electricity to run their homes, heat their homes, run their stoves and who need electricity in order to be able to live a lifestyle and to warm their homes and cook their meals and be able to see what they are doing, watch tv and all the other things that people do.

Those people, the people of this Province will be paying the investors this guaranteed rate and the government will set it up so that it is a very good deal for these investors, and who are they? Some Newfoundlanders, just as some of the investors in Newfoundland Light and Power are Newfoundlanders, but the majority of the investors in Newfoundland Light and Power, the majority of money invested in Newfoundland Light and Power, is outside the Province, it's private investors in the eastern townships, of Quebec. Montreal Engineering controlled Newfoundland Light for many years; pension funds, the Ontario teachers, all sorts of private investors, well-heeled individuals across the country who invest their money in Newfoundland Light, and similar types of investors will see that this new company, this new opportunity for a guaranteed return on their investment, guaranteed by a public utilities regime, is going to be a new way for them to make money on their capital or on their investments.

So we are taking an asset that now belongs to all of us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and we are going to let it be taken over by investors for a private return for them, and they are holding out a little carrot to Newfoundlanders, too. We are trying to turn our own people in this Province against each other.

We are going to have a press conference, the Premier is, at 12:15, and at that press conference the Premier is going to say to the media that we have a special deal for you Newfoundlanders who have money. For some of you Newfoundlanders who have money, for some of you Newfoundlanders who can afford to get involved in this type of savings -

AN HON. MEMBER: You will buy shares in it.

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs says that I will run out and buy shares in it. Well, they are going to make this a very attractive investment. They are trying to tempt people to look out for their own interests above that of the Province, and of the rest of the people. They're trying to say: We will make available to you, as an individual, if you can afford to buy it, we are going to make it very attractive for you, at the expense of the rest of the people of this Province, and that's what is wrong with it. Some people are going to be advantaged by this deal at the expense of the rest of us. Some of those people will be in this Province, but most of them, and most of the investment, and most of the money, is going to go outside this Province - and for what?

Last fall the Premier, as part of a long-standing plan, a plan that existed even before he became involved in the leadership of the Liberal Party, and in the Premiership of this Province, a plan to involve the takeover by Fortis of the assets of Newfoundland Light and Power, and that failed. There were various reasons given for why it failed. One of them was that in the court of public opinion it was not considered acceptable for the Premier to put through this deal, to make a merger with Fortis and Newfoundland Hydro which would have the effect of passing over this valuable public asset to a private interest. That wasn't acceptable to the people of this Province, and it wasn't done.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have part of a two-step here. We have a two-step. A two-step is, number one, we privatize Hydro as a standalone operation, and we facilitate - and the Premier said so yesterday in response to the Leader of the Opposition - we facilitate, through the legislation. There is nothing in the legislation, nothing in the scheme, that would prevent a merger between this new Hydro corporation and Fortis.

So perhaps if this goes through against the wishes of the people of this Province, the Premier will get his way, in any event, in that we will see, in one, or two, or three, or four years time, the merger between Fortis and this new Hydro corporation that is being established by this legislation. Perhaps we'll see it, perhaps the Premier will win by this devious two-step that's now being foisted on the Newfoundland people.

The Premier today said: what kind of an asset was this anyway? It never returned one red cent to the people of Newfoundland, so we'll get rid of it, we won't change it, we won't improve it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs says they are losing $30 million a year. He must be being briefed by the Premier as well. The Premier said today that not one red cent did it ever return to the people of Newfoundland. He didn't say that exactly, he said by way of dividend, not one red cent by way of dividend. Well, why was that? No government ever required Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to return dividends to the Government of Newfoundland. Not the government of Frank Moores, not the government of Brian Peckford and not the government of Clyde Wells. No government required Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to return dividends to the people. So how can you say the asset was useless because they didn't return any dividends to the government? The government never asked for any dividends.

There are only two things that happen to dividends, Mr. Speaker, either you retain them, you retain your profits in your industry, in your enterprise and have it grow in value or you give those dividends to the shareholders or to the owners. There are only two things that can happen to those kinds of profits or retained earnings. They are either retained in the enterprise or they are paid out to the shareholders or the owners and the government never asked Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to pay money by way of dividends.

The people of this Province, through their government, were satisfied to have Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro operate as an enterprise with one purpose in mind and one purpose only, to provide reliable electrical energy to the people of this Province at the lowest possible cost. It is written into the mission statement of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. That was the only goal that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro had as its outstanding mission for this Province. If the government wanted to change that, wanted to make Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro a cash cow, turn over dividends to the government each and every year, it could do so. The Minister of Mines and Energy is nodding. All he'd have to do is change the legislation, propose a change in the legislation to require Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to make a return to the Province annually on its hydro sales.

The Premier bragged this morning of how his government, since 1989, has taken a 1 per cent fee for loan guarantees and obtained a benefit - $20 million a year is it? - $20 million a year for the dividend, the 1 per cent fee, $10 million a year. So it's not simple, Mr. Speaker, but it can be done. If the government wanted money out of Hydro they could do it. They took $10 million a year out through this fee. There are other ways that the government can devise of receiving money from Hydro if that's the governments wish from a revenue point of view.

Now we see that each and every consumer, by the government's own estimates, are going to have to pay $15 to $30 per year more, at least, on account of this privatization. That is not going to go into the public coffers. That is going to go into the coffers of the new Hydro corporation to be part of the payout to the shareholders of the new Hydro corporation, to make sure that it forms part of their guaranteed return on investment. If the government wanted more revenue out of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and they wanted to insist that money come out of Newfoundland Hydro to the government, then that $15 to $30 per year per consumer of electricity could form part of the revenues of the government.

If that is the real reason there are ways that the government can pursue that real reason through relatively simple measures. Perhaps some restructuring of the mandate of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Perhaps by designating a certain rate of return to the people of the Province that is tied in to their rate setting mechanism that is governed by the Public Utilities Board. Very straightforward amendments to the existing Hydro act would have accomplished that object if that is what the government wanted.

But no, Mr. Speaker, the government and the Premier are on some other track. They have another agenda item in mind. They say that this is a part of boosting the private sector. How is it going to boost the private sector? I suppose it is going to fatten a few pockets of a few investors and maybe they will invest their money here instead of the Japan fund or the New York Stock exchange. Maybe. Maybe they will. I don't know. Perhaps the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has other places where he can tell us that investments might be placed. Perhaps some of these people with the fatter wallets as a result of their new investments, their guaranteed investment in the new Hydro bill, they will put their money in some other vehicle in this Province. Perhaps they will, perhaps they won't.

My suspicion is that people who invest in this kind of stock and stock markets don't invest money in job generating enterprises. They put their money in safe investments, they put their money in guaranteed stocks, in utilities in other provinces, in the Japan fund, as the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is very fond of, or perhaps other types of international investment vehicles. They don't put them into jobs in this Province. That is the kind of appeal that this Hydro privatization is going to have. I don't know how that boosts the private sector.

The Premier was very excited yesterday about the idea that this new company will be so big that it will be on the Toronto Stock Exchange 300, it will form part of the TSE 300. I don't know if that is true or not. I guess the TSE 300 is already named and picked. It might be one of the 300 largest corporations in the country, that may well be, but it is already one of the largest corporations in the country, it is already a substantial economic unit that we all should be proud of and can be proud of as part of the people's enterprise. It doesn't have to be a private company for us to be proud of it as Newfoundlanders, I say to the Premier. We are now proud of it, we are now proud of this asset and the talent of the people who run it, all of whom, or the vast majority of whom, are Newfoundlanders residing here and acting in the best interest of this Province, as well as the corporation.

PREMIER WELLS: I agree, we have (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: We are, Mr. Speaker, just as proud of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as a Newfoundland company, corporation, owned by the people, operating with talented, experienced and dedicated Newfoundlanders acting in the interest of the Newfoundland people, in the whole of the Newfoundland and Labrador hydro enterprise, including the Labrador portions. CF(L)Co, the Lower Churchill Development Corporation, all of the subsidiary corporations, and all of the planning and the forward-looking thinking that is needed in this Province if we are going to develop the existing hydro resources; if we are going to develop the industrial potential; if we are going to develop without making the gargantuan mistakes like those that were made in the Churchill Falls negotiations.

We need, as part of our own team, these talented and experienced people to be able to participate in those enterprises; not somebody who was brought in as a consultant for a one-shot deal, who has no loyalty or ongoing commitment to the Province or to the enterprise, not somebody who was brought in for six months or two years on a high paid consultant contract to advise the government, that is not what we need. We need our own people with a long-term dedication and commitment to develop it in this Province; and, Mr. Speaker, this asset that we are talking about here, is, potentially for this Province, what Hydro-Quebec has been for the province of Quebec and the people of Quebec.

The Premier has talked in the Throne Speech, in his own speech, he quoted the Strategic Economic Plan and talks about the private sector as being the engine of the economy but, Mr. Speaker, there are other engines for our economy and engines that have more viability in a province like Newfoundland and Labrador I say to the Premier and to his government. Hydro-Quebec has been described by knowledgeable writers, thinkers, analysts, even those writing for the Globe and Mail have suggested that Hydro-Quebec, for the past thirty years has been the engine of the Quebec economy, creating industrial development, nurturing a whole phalanx of engineers, engineering development, ideas, putting Quebec in the forefront of industrial development in many spheres. It has been done through Hydro-Quebec as the engine of the Quebec economy, as in fact, a tool of their nationalistic goals and their nationalistic pride.

Now the Premier says you can't eat pride.

AN HON. MEMBER: Can't eat what?

MR. HARRIS: You can't eat pride. The Premier says you can't eat pride. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is only by having pride can the people of this Province solve the problems that we have. It is only by having the pride in our own abilities and the confidence that we can do what needs to be done to look after our own needs. It is only by having that pride that we will be able to carry on and meet the challenges and the struggles with which we are confronted. Without pride, we will be following the long road away from this Province which I suspect is what the government is really resigning itself to; we will sell off everything we have, we will sell off Hydro; we will privatize wherever we can, we will bring government down to the bare bones, the government will be responsible for down to the bare bones and let the chips fall where they may.

Let the wealthy pick the bones; let those who have money and are prepared to invest, pick the bones of the people's resources, and let them make do, and if you can't make do here, pick up your bags and go somewhere else. That's the deep down hidden message of the government's plan to let the private sector be the engine of the economy. That's the result of the government's plan here to move away from its responsibilities, to take measures to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a reasonable expectation of productive work and productive employment.

We don't see any plans by this government to use our Hydro resources, to use the energy of Newfoundland Hydro for economic development purposes. We don't see that.

We see them saying: Here's a chance to unload this valuable resource for a quick dollar return, and we will justify it. We will say: We won't borrow as much this year. Well, that's all very well for this year, but what about next year, and next year, and next year? They could make something look good now, but in five years time this resource will be gone, and the money that will be pouring out of this Province year after year after year to pay those investors their 12 per cent return, or their 13 per cent return, every year, year after year after year, in perpetuity, will be going out of this Province. Those dollars, whatever the PUB says, if they go there - and I have been there - like the Newfoundland Light - we must have a rate of return of 13.5 per cent and we will call our experts at $300 or $400 an hour down from the states to say what those rates have to be. We must have 13.5 per cent.

I see the Minister of Mines and Energy writing these figures down. Maybe he should go down to the Public Utilities Board and read some of the expert evidence that is given at Newfoundland Light rate hearings, and talking about how they must have a rate of return of 13.5 per cent or 13.2 per cent in order to be able to sell their stocks and keep the people interested in their stocks. We must have that.

That money, year after year, will be flowing out of our pockets. Every time I pay my electrical bill, some of that will be going to Ontario to pension funds or the wealthy investors in the eastern townships of Quebec. Every time I pay my bill some more of that money will be going out, draining out of this Province. That, Mr. Speaker, is going to go on forever in perpetuity because this government has given up this valuable asset owned by the people of this Province. If they weren't satisfied, as I said, with the rate of return on Newfoundland Hydro, it's a simple matter of changing the legislation to guarantee that money goes back to the government. It is very easy to do. They are not prepared to do that because they have another agenda at work, an agenda that's heading us down the road to ruin, Mr. Speaker, and not down the road to building up our resources, building up our peoples ability to be masters of their own affairs, to have an influence on the future and to ensure that our children and our children's children will have a place here in this Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will continue by leave, Mr. Speaker, if I have leave to finish -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the hon. members for giving me leave to continue until 12:00.

As I say, Mr. Speaker, the Hydro bill is a bad deal. It's a bad deal for the Province, it's a good deal for the people who are going to buy it. We are going to see how many people buy it up and how fast - they are already lined up now, Mr. Speaker, the stockbrokers in this Province are drooling and the Minister of Mines and Energy is pleased with that. They're going to make a few bucks. That's why they're drooling, they know they are. They figure they can unload a couple of hundred million just like that and they know why. The member says they're like Hulan, they're droolin'. Perhaps they have more reason to drool, Mr. Speaker, than Mr. Hulan does. Perhaps they have more reason to drool than the Member for St. George's because they know they're going to get money, they know they're going to make a killing.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's not sure.

MR. HARRIS: He is not so sure. He may be drooling in vain but the stockbrokers, Mr. Speaker, are ready to make a killing. They can't wait because they know that it's such a good deal for the investors that they are going to have no trouble selling it because they know that the government has to price it in such a way that it is a good deal for the investors. So as the money flows through their hands they make their commissions and they do very well. That is what's going to happen in the next month or two months, Mr. Speaker, and you can't blame them. You can't blame the stockbroker for selling stock. You cannot blame him for drooling, from wanting to do this.

Of course they want to do it, Mr. Speaker, that is at the expense of the people of this Province who are going to lose this valuable asset and it is going to benefit a very small few. I have nothing against stockbrokers, they have to make a living. In fact I was heartened by the stockbrokers. The one thing that really impressed me about stockbrokers was back in the early days of the Ontario government. Very shortly after the NDP government got elected in Ontario there was a demonstration at Queen's Park and I was delighted to see that those demonstrating at Queen's Park, on the lawns of Queen's Park, demonstrating against the NDP government in Ontario were guess who?.... the stockbrokers and the Bay Street fellows in the shirts and ties, and the suits. All of a sudden they were demonstrating out on the lawns of Queen's Park and our crowd who had been out there for ten, twenty, and thirty years were inside running the government.

I do not know how long it is going to last, Mr. Speaker, but, god love them, the stockbrokers were out there demonstrating against the government. This government is looking after the stockbrokers. They are going to take care of them. They are all going to make a lot of money over the next few weeks and the private investors are going to make a lot of money. I would say if you bought some stock one day and sold it three days later you would probably make money because they are going to sell it at such a low price it is going to go up, it is going to jump. If they sold at $9.00 it is going to be selling at $12.00 in about three days and you could get in and out and make a killing if you had enough money to buy enough stock. That is what is going to happen, Mr. Speaker. They are going to keep the price down low and make sure that anybody who buys it can make money on it because they want to get rid of it and they want to get rid of it fast.

Mr. Speaker, that is part of the evidence that this government is taking an asset that is valuable, a long-term substantial asset, and now this government is getting rid of it. What is their reason? The Premier was awfully quick some time ago to talk about how this was going to have a magnificent effect on the credit rating of the Province, but he was stopped short by the credit rating agencies, themselves. The credit rating agencies themselves said: No, he is wrong, it is not going to have a great effect on the credit rating of the Province. Standard and Poors disagreed with him right away. The Dominion Bond Rating Service said: No, we never took that into account in the first place. So the debt of Hydro does not make any difference.

That is what Cyril Abery said. He said, based on his experience as Chairman of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and his discussions and meeting with the bond rating agencies year after year, that the bond rating agencies don't consider it to be part of the Newfoundland debt, they consider it to be self-servicing. It is self-servicing, debt serviced by Hydro, and it is not a burden on the Province, so therefore, it is not a problem. That is what Cyril Abery said. The Premier said he doesn't know what he is talking about. He was only chairman for seven or eight years and had had annual discussions with the bond rating agencies, but, no, no, he doesn't know what he is talking about. Mr. Speaker, I think it is pretty clear who knows what they are talking about in this issue. The bond rating agencies, themselves, haven't supported what the Premier has said. The Premier was wrong and is wrong.

The Premier is being very coy here this morning and saying that he hasn't got - he can't say very much. We don't want the Ontario Securities Commission to fail to carry our stock because the Province has interfered with the market by making statements that might be misinterpreted. There may be some truth in that, but what happens here is that we now have to rely on the Premier's judgement about this, the Premier who has told us that this is somehow going to advantage the debt rating of the Province when the people who rate the debt don't agree with him. We now are forced to rely on the Premier's judgement as to the value of this to the Province. Is it going to be $295 million, is it going to be $350 million, is it going to be $250 million? What is it going to be? The Premier is asking the people of this Province to buy a pig in a poke.

The investors are going to know what they are getting. They know they are going to get a guaranteed rate of return. The people of this Province aren't going to know what they are getting because the Premier is not going to tell us. We are asked to follow the judgement of a Premier on this who has already been shown to be unable to assess the effects on the bond rating agencies in a manner that they are prepared to agree with. So if they cannot do that, if the Premier and the government can't do that, why should we accept his judgement on this issue?

It all goes back to an ideological choice. The Premier and this government have chosen to say that we don't want, as a people, to have our own hydroelectric corporation. We want to get rid of it, and sell it to the private sector. That's the choice that this government is making. It is a choice that I disagree with, Mr. Speaker, and our party opposes, because we believe that the hydro resources of this Province can most effectively be used in the public interest when the public owns them directly. That's what we believe, and if I had my druthers, instead of privatizing Hydro, we would be nationalizing Newfoundland Light. If I had my druthers, we would be nationalizing Newfoundland Light, and not privatizing Hydro. We would be doing what the other provinces have done, what the Province of Quebec did, what the Liberal Government of Quebec did in 1964 in creating Hydro-Quebec, putting together all of the separate little enterprises and creating that great organization, Hydro-Quebec. We would be doing what Ontario did, and Manitoba. We would be making sure that the hydro resources, which are important enough for the people to be contained in one large corporation are controlled and owned by the people directly, through their government. That is my preference, and that is why I oppose this legislation and oppose the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

On that, Mr. Speaker, I would adjourn debate and move that the House close.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) adjourn the debate or concluding your remarks?

MR. HARRIS: I am concluding my remarks.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised, I say to the Government House Leader. I thought at least there would be somebody on his side who would get up and participate in this debate. We have had two speakers back-to-back from here, and it seems the members opposite are muzzled and so on. They don't want to speak, are not allowed to speak, on such an important issue.

I don't know what the Government House Leader is trying to prove again, but I guess he wants me to adjourn the debate. I therefore adjourn the debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday, but let me advise members so they can plan their affairs, that in the interest of ensuring that every member of the House has an opportunity to speak on this, if he or she wishes, including on the amendments, we will be asking the House to sit later on Monday than would normally be the case under Standing Orders, but we shall not go beyond 10:00 p.m. on Monday night or on Tuesday night. So members can plan accordingly on that. With that said -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. members opposite don't want a debate, they want to obstruct. There is a very neat difference. The House has a right to decide. We will give hon. members opposite every opportunity to debate this measure at whatever length they wish, Mr. Speaker. With that said, I move the House do now adjourn.

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