April 21, 1994                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 27


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries four groups of individuals. The first is, eighteen participants of the Improving Our Odds group in the Bonavista Campus Eastern Community College accompanied by the facilitators: Mrs. Linda Fraser, Mr. Jeff Green; the second is a group of sixteen people involved with Improving Our Odds group from the District of Trinity - Bay de Verde with instructors Donald Blundon and Kay Lane. The third is a group of thirty-one students from Point Leamington Central High School in the District of Exploits, accompanied by their teachers, Tom Stockley and Murray Loveless, and finally, a group from The Keyin All Centre in Cape Broyle accompanied by their teachers Helen Broders, Michelle Fizzard and Wanda Gilbert.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on Monday I questioned the Minister of Mines and Energy; specifically, I asked if the $1.7 million in the Budget put in last year, after the estimates had come forward and the Budget had come forward, was spent on Hydro privatization, and he said, it was very much less than anything like that and he also said: 'It is such a tiny amount of money we are talking about that it is almost trivial and irrelevant', and, Mr. Speaker, we now know that was a complete falsehood, because yesterday the Minister of Finance tabled a document which showed that government had in fact spent nearly $1.5 million last year under that subhead on Hydro privatization.

Mr. Speaker, this is just one example of many, in the months that we have debated this issue the last five or six months, the minister has shown an abysmal ignorance of the facts related to privatization of Hydro. He is either attempting to cover up information or he is completely out of touch, or he has been left out of the picture completely by the Premier, so I ask the Premier today: will he demand the minister's resignation and put someone in that portfolio who has command of the information, who can answer questions truthfully and who can explain government's policy properly to the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. member honestly believes what he just said. Maybe he does. I was not in the House on Monday, but I will get the Hansard now and check, as soon as I get a copy of Monday's Hansard, that the question was about promotional expenses. We will see what the question was.

This is what the minister now tells me he was answering, and his answer in that respect is totally correct, but we will get the Hansard and see exactly what the question was.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the question was very specific, $1.7 million in the subhead called Purchased Services under Treasury Board, Executive Council, Mr. Speaker, and I asked how much of that $1.7 had been spent on Hydro privatization? That is what I asked, and he said - well, I do not need to go through it all again. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I hope the Premier will take my question as a serious question because I meant it in all sincerity.

We now know, in any event, that the government spent, last year, the last fiscal year, 1993-94, at least $1.5 million on Hydro privatization. The government has also admitted, Mr. Speaker, that Hydro itself has hired a galaxy of lawyers, Tory and Tory in Toronto, O'Reilly, Noseworthy here in St. John's to deal exclusively with this issue, that is Hydro. In addition we know that Hydro engaged ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities as financial advisors on privatization. All of these companies have been on Hydro's payroll for months and they do not come cheap.

Now, I have asked this question time and time again, Mr. Speaker, but no answers have been forthcoming. I would like to ask the Premier today: will he tell us how much Hydro has spent in the last fiscal year, 1993-94, for these lawyers, financial advisors, on advertising or on any other matters related to the privatization of Hydro? Would the Premier provide that information to the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me deal first with the comments about the question the Leader just asked me, the former question. Here I am reading from Monday's Hansard, 18 April. Here is the Leader's question: "How much has government and Hydro budgeted to promote the sale of Hydro and how much has been spent to date?" Now, the minister answered honestly. Now, I ask the Leader of the Opposition if he is willing to apply the same standard to himself as he asked me to apply to the minister and tender his resignation because of his misleading statements?

Now, Mr. Speaker, on the other question, I believe the Minister of Finance has tabled the expenditures of government and that's done. I will get the answer to the question that he asked about the expenditures by Hydro and provide that as soon as I have it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we've seen another example of how the Premier selectively plays with words. The first question I asked was the one he just quoted. I did ask that question but why didn't he go on to read the next question that I asked, Mr. Speaker, where I said the $1.7 million in their budget under Executive Council - the amount wasn't there when the budget was passed - it's on page 846 if you'd like to look, it's on page 19 of the estimates. Will the minister now confirm to this House that the $1.7 million was the amount spent last year by government on the privatization of Hydro? `No, Mr. Speaker, I won't confirm it. It's very much less then anything like that, if I know the figures that were spent last year.' Now, Mr. Speaker, will the Premier stop playing games with the people -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: - will he answer the questions?

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You're not recognized yet (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I'm still recognized as far as I can see. I'm still recognized.

Mr. Speaker, the document that the Minister of Finance tabled yesterday - I ask the Premier, the document that the Minister of Finance tabled yesterday shows that government made substantial payments to five companies for legal and financial advice. I ask the Premier: What were the specific dates that these companies were engaged by government to work on the privatization of Hydro? When did they start? Will the Premier table the invoices submitted by each of those companies?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will get the information. I'll lay full information before the House. I don't have it with me in the House at the moment.

With respect to the question that the hon. member just asked, the minister didn't say $82,000. Here's what the minister's answer was to that question. He said: `no, Mr. Speaker, I will not confirm any such thing. It was very much less than anything like that if I know the figures that were spent last year.' The Minister of Finance then got the figures and he's tabled the information in the House. Now the minister was speaking off the top of his head, expressing his view that it was very much less then the $1.7 million. If he was in error, it was in error on a judgement - he gave the House his honest view of it at the time. I don't know what else the House can ask of any minister.

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

MR. SIMMS: At the very least, why didn't the minister get up and apologise to the House for misleading the people of the Province? He could have done that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well you just apologised for him. You said he was speaking off the top of his head and didn't know what he was talking about. Why don't you make up your minds over there? Now the Premier avoided answering the question that I asked him.

PREMIER WELLS: No, I answered him first.

MR. SIMMS: What did you say?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I answered him explicitly, that I would get the full information and lay it before the House.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, also, the tabled document by the Minister of Finance yesterday relates to work done in the 1993-'94 fiscal year, from April to March. I want to ask the minister, or the Premier, were any of these companies, or any others, engaged by the government in the 1992-'93 fiscal year for advice on work related to the privatization of Hydro?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I will check and see, but my best recollection is no, I don't think any of those were involved in that year.

It is possible that - I don't know about Mercer, actually, I don't think so; no, I don't think anybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not related to privatization.

PREMIER WELLS: No. William A. Mercer does work as an actuary for the government on terms of advice with respect to the operation and management of the pension plans, but in relation to privatization, my best judgement at this time is no, they were not, but I will check specifically to find out.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Premier. I look forward to getting the information. I would like to ask him one final question. We were talking about government's expenditures. Now I want to ask him about Hydro's expenditures once again. I have already asked about information related to all expenses by Hydro itself. Can I ask him specifically: When were ScotiaMcLeod, RBC Dominion Securities, the law firm of Tory & Tory in Toronto, the St. John's law firm that we have been told about, O'Reilly, Noseworthy, engaged by Hydro to begin work on the privatization project? Could we have those specific dates, and were payments made by Hydro to those companies or any others in the 1992-'93 fiscal year? - the same question I asked for the government expenditures.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Here I am only guessing, so I will have to check and find out for sure, but my guess is that ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities may have been engaged as early as November or December of 1992, I would think, which would take it into that fiscal year to which the hon. member referred. I believe they may have been doing some work, or they were engaged by Hydro in connection with the initial proposal that came from Newfoundland Power with respect to purchasing a part of the assets, and this is how this whole discussion about privatization arose - where the recommendation with respect to privatization came from in the first instance as far as Hydro is concerned - and I think they may have been engaged as early as late fall of 1992, or around about that time, but I will check it and find out.

MR. SIMMS: And will you provide the House with the answer?

PREMIER WELLS: I will provide the House with the answer as to the time.

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

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

Now, it has become perfectly clear that the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans did not have the guts to inform the people of the Province, and those attending his press conference, of the criteria that have been established for the new TAGS program. Because the federal minister, of course, attempted to let everyone believe that there would be consultation over the next several months on the criteria that would be used to qualify people for benefits under TAGS.

What the federal minister did was come in, and then, once he flew off to Ottawa, the criteria became - is starting to become known. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that officials from the Department of Human Resources in this Province have had a twenty-page document specifying the criteria in detail since Monday. They were called in from all the regional offices around the Province and briefed on the criteria. The criteria for plant workers and fishermen will exclude thousand of people from benefits as of the end of this year, December, and thousands more will be dropped off from the end of December through until 1998.

I want to ask the Premier, would he undertake to table a copy of the criteria that were developed by federal and provincial working groups? And I ask him: Why have you participated in this cover-up and this charade with the federal minister in trying to deceive Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that the criteria were not yet developed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, those excessive and totally false additional commentaries add nothing to the debate. They are without merit. Nobody is participating in any cover-up or avoiding anything. The hon. members yesterday suggested that the criteria was 75 per cent and $20,000. That is something that is totally related to a proposal on another matter, as far as I understand it. I asked the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to get the answer for me today and he will table it at the appropriate time on the Order Paper to those questions that were raised yesterday.

In terms of the criteria, I wasn't present at the press release that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans had so I don't know precisely what he said. As far as I know, he provided the full information that was available. Individuals - officials and, on occasion, ministers, have been involved in discussions relating to this, but the details of those discussions, no, I won't table in the House. The results of the discussions, yes, I will table in the House.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I believe the Minister of Fisheries gave the Premier a copy the day that I questioned him - it was on Tuesday, I believe. I saw the Minister of Fisheries bring you over the particular article on the renewal boards. I saw him bring it over to you and you read it.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the federal-provincial working groups that designed and fine-tuned the tags program has set targets for the reduction of the numbers of people who will receive benefits under the program. As we know there are approximately 23,000 people who will draw benefits for the fist eight months ending December 31 1994. Three thousand people will be dropped off at the end of December. The Premier the other day confirmed that figure, between 2,800 and 3,000.

I would like to ask the Premier, can he now confirm that an additional 7,100 people will be let go in the first four and a half months, from January 1, 1995 to May 15, 1995? In other words, Premier, isn't it a fact that both the federal and provincial governments - because there were federal and provincial working groups, and I'm sure you and your ministers were informed - that both the federal and provincial governments have agreed to reduce the number of people on the TAGS program from 23,000 people to 12,900 people in the first year? That is from May 15 this year to May 15 next year. Ten thousand one hundred people will be gone after the first year. Can you confirm that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member's figures are out to lunch but let me set something else straight first. Neither government - certainly not this government; I will have to let Mr. Tobin or the Prime Minister speak for the federal government, but I can certainly speak for this government - neither government to the best of my knowledge, and certainly not this one, has targeted any specific number to be taken off. That is not the approach. The approach in developing this was to deal with a circumstance. Our objective is to try and deal with it by way of providing compensation for so long as is reasonably necessary to provide that compensation, but also to deal with it from two other points of view: fishery renewal and economic diversification.

The planning has been done on a go forward basis in the expectation that we would be able to find alternative employment opportunities and that numbers will come down. This government has clearly stated to the federal government that if those numbers are not realized, if those objectives are not realized, then we have to revisit the proposal in the future in order to deal with the consequences that exist at this time. So to suggest that there is a targeted number to come off is wrong. No, that isn't so. I will confirm that this isn't so.

As to the suggestion that another 7,100 comes off between January and May of 1995, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has a good deal more detail on this, so I will ask him to deal with that aspect of the question.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the opportunity as well, because I think that kind of information should be put straight from the very beginning so that people aren't unnecessarily alarmed.

The reality is, as stated by the federal minister, that 2,800 to 3,000 will not meet the new eligibility criteria. The new eligibility criteria for either fish harvesters or plant workers and processors will be made public either before the end of this week, meaning tomorrow, or very early next week by the federal minister for everybody to see. Still about three weeks or so in advance in terms of anybody being impacted on May 15.

The input from the provincial government - also from the industry, by the way, and the fishermen's union - was clearly along the lines of establishing that there would be principles agreed to to see that the maximum number of people would qualify for the maximum period of time up to five years. Then the eligibility exercise would be gone through some time after May 15 in that first six months. Everybody is going to be extended to the end of this particular calendar year and then the criteria will see everyone that is then deemed eligible through the exercise - 2,800 to 3,000 admittedly will not meet the new criteria - everybody who is deemed eligible will be entitled to two full years of compensation at an absolute minimum. There is nobody else going to be kicked out of the program.

What the projections are all based on is the fact that the other components of the program may be voluntarily exercised by some of the people rather than just continuing to accept compensation. If these people exercise the other options that we laid out in the public statement - a number of them, the retirement ones, the wage subsidy ones and so on - then some people may decide of their own volition and voluntarily may decide to leave the program to exercise the other options.

That is why there are some numbers that are in some of the documentation that has been exchanged with all the officials, with the two governments, with the fishermen's union, and with the industry, with FANL and others, so that everybody understands and has a good knowledge of what to expect over the next couple of years while the other two components of the program, the fishing industry renewal and the whole economic diversification question, is worked at to the greatest extent that the governments can do it.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say to the minister that he should tell the full story, because there are a lot of people in this Province - I would say most, because they haven't been told like they haven't been told the rest of the criteria, is that the two year period commences May 15. It doesn't commence January 1, 1995, I say to the minister, and that, of course, ties into the equation and the numbers that I am bringing out here.

I want to ask the Premier or the minister - whoever is going to answer for the government - if they can confirm that both governments have agreed to reduce the number of people getting benefits from TAGS to 9,960 by May 15, 1996, which is two years from now, and to 8,080 by May 15, 1997, which is three years from now? Can the minister confirm this, because those figures are coming from the federal/provincial working groups, I say to the minister.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, while those figures may very well be in some documentation that has been exchanged, there is no predetermined agreement by the governments or anybody else to remove people from the program. There have been some estimates made as to how many people might possibly exercise the other options under the program, as I spelled out in the previous answer, and that doesn't change, so there are some estimates and some assumptions made for planning purposes, but there is no agreement by anybody to predetermine a date on which a specified number of people must exit this continuing compensation program. That is not the plan; it has not been agreed to. There are a number of options that people may exercise, and the rate at which people exercise those options, which the individuals will chose over the next few months, will determine how many people stay in the compensation program and how many people go on to other different enterprises and activities.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Premier.

Given the apparently intentional vagueness and the uncertainty of the consequences of the announcement by the federal Minister of Fisheries, and the Premier's endorsement of that approach in the House yesterday, I want to ask the Premier why he supports giving less money to fewer people? Why does he support the gradual unloading of federal responsibility for destruction of the fishing industry in this Province, and the gradual dumping of people off the program? Why does he accept that we are to be treated as a charity case by the federal government, as people who need to be weaned from federal dependency? Why does he accept those positions?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: All his leading again is without merit. `Given the intentional vagueness'; I don't know of any intentional vagueness, other than what was created in the member's mind, or what he is trying to create in the minds of others.

I thought the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was pretty explicit in all of the circumstances and, as the minister just explained, he will be even more explicit within a week or so. If he hadn't been making the statement then, had waited, the hon. member would be rising and complaining about why he hadn't stated what information he had available at this time, so let's be reasonable and fair to the federal government in this matter.

Then the question as to why we accept a reduction, why the government of the Province has supported a proposal that would see some reduction, and a proposal that forecast that in the future there would be a reduction in the numbers of people relying on it. There are several good reasons for that.

Yes, it is true that the Government of Canada has a financial responsibility for the consequences of their mismanagement of the fishery. That is true, but we also have to act reasonably, and be seen to be reasonable people with our fellow Canadian taxpayers.

The Canadian taxpayers are in a position where they have a $46 billion deficit in this current year, and we want our people, as fellow Canadians, to be demanding that they pay even more and greater increases to citizens of Newfoundland... that we don't take any share of the responsibility of helping to deal with this massive financial problem? I am not prepared to lead the Newfoundland people in taking that kind of a position with their fellow Canadians. They are more sensitive, and the fishermen who are getting these benefits are more sensitive than the hon. member. They have responded with far more understanding and generosity and appreciation for what the Canadian people are doing to ensure that the obligations of the Government of Canada are met in this regard.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure the editorial writers of the Globe and Mail will be pleased with the answer of the Premier, but the fishermen and people of Newfoundland will not.

Mr. Speaker, one of the statements released by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on Tuesday, was that the capacity of harvesting and processing would be reduced by 50 per cent, but he said on the one hand that it may not mean the reduction of 50 per cent in the number of people involved in the processing and harvesting.

In the Industry Renewal Boards being proposed, no criteria is set forth for choices being made about the renewed or revised fishery and I want to ask the Premier whether he is prepared and his government is prepared to insist that the fundamental principle of a sustainable rebuilt fishery would be the re-employment of the maximum number of our fishermen and plant workers? Is the Premier prepared to insist upon that as a fundamental criteria of a rebuilt sustainable fishery?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why the government of the Province took the position that it did with respect to participation in the Industry Renewal Board, namely, that we would not participate in a board that simply had as its mandate or its objective the downsizing of the fishery. Our interest is in renewal of the fishery and continuation of the fishery as a successful economic activity in this Province, the objective being in part to make sure that as the fish stocks recover, it's the fishermen and the fish plant workers of this Province who have priority access to those fish stocks. That's why we have maintained the position that we have done with respect to having an effective role for the government of the Province in the future management of the fishery.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The question I have today is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Minister, with the latest foray by Marine Atlantic into their possible laying off of shore-based workers in Port aux Basques, stevedores that is, which could possibly affect Lewisporte later on and definitely Argentia when the season opens, about lashing automobiles aboard the vessels, have you been in contact with that company of late to try to rectify the situation that they have started?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, no, I have not been in personal contact with the company. I think it was early as yesterday morning I was first made aware of the proposal, and at this point in time it is proposing changes to the stevedoring in North Sydney, Port aux Basques and Argentia. I received a copy of a letter that was sent from the union. I have instructed my office to arrange a meeting between myself and the officials of Marine Atlantic and I would suspect that that meeting would convene early next week; either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, for your information, I am going to share this with you. Back nearly two years ago, Marine Atlantic - Mr. Ryder, who is now vice-president of the company - wrote the union regarding the unlashing of vehicles; that they were advising their commitment that there will be no reductions to members in that union related to the unlashing by seamen which may occur from time to time in the event that good customer service so dictates. They were not going to do it and now they are toying with people, they are toying with Newfoundlanders because in Port aux Basques as well as Argentia, people are down on their knees looking for work and I am asking you sir, as an honourable man, to evaluate what Marine Atlantic is doing to the services of this Province and what they are doing to the people of this Province as well, sir.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is not only the people of Newfoundland who are affected here, it is the people of North Sydney also, but the point that you are making that the people are going to be affected, yes, that's true. I had to make a decision in my department recently, where I had to lay off thirty-five people in my department because of the financial restraints placed on government as a whole and my department.

From the conversations I have had with Marine Atlantic over the last week, these are the reasons why they are looking at them; no final decision has been made. I am aware, at least of the union's side of the story. I haven't personally talked to Mr. Ryder out of New Brunswick yet. I will be doing that new week. The union says it was made there but I will be checking into that and yes, you are quite right, any person who loses a job, it is devastating, not only to the individual and the families themselves but to the community and to the area as a whole. We do not want to see anybody lose work but with the financial times that the Province is under and the country as a whole, these decisions are being made. It's our job to try to curb it, if it's possible, and I will be doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Social Services. The minister stated some time ago that his department was moving away from the policy of placing young offenders in group homes and the Department of Social Services was availing of the services offered by open custody community homes. I ask the minister, if past character references is sought by his department before these community home owners are allowed to take those young offenders?

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, in determining the appropriateness and the credibility of people involved in dealing with youth in this Province, the department undertakes to try to find out, in as efficient and adequate a way as possible, how well these people are equipped to be able to look after all of the people that we deal with in social services, be they in the foster situation - but there is no question; I don't mind admitting here that there are some inadequacies in the system but it's something that the department is working towards, to ensure that all of the youth of this Province are assured maximum protection - protection with care and understanding.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: From my understanding, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Social Services policy on being considered as an acceptable open custody home is that at least one parent must work outside that home. I would like to ask the minister to confirm this requirement and advise the House if those regulations are being enforced.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the department works very diligently to ensure that all of the youth in this Province, when they are assigned to foster care, are given the best protection possible. Again, Mr. Speaker, I hasten to point out that there are occasions when there are cracks in the system but we are making every effort to ensure that all rules and regulations are followed with respect to maximum care for the people we serve.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order arising from Question Period. I didn't want to bring it up at the time. I would like a ruling from Your Honour, not necessarily right now, but I wonder whether the practice of having more than one minister speak in answer to a question is, in fact, in order? During Question Period, the Premier was answering a question and gave a fairly lengthy answer, and then it was passed on to another minister for him to answer the question and to carry on. There are a number of commentaries in Beauchesne which would suggest that this is not an appropriate practice. The requirement of brevity in the response to questions is to avoid taking up extra time, of course. It is my understanding that certainly it is up to government to choose who will answer a question, and it may not be the person of whom it is asked, but once a minister is answering a question on behalf of government, then it is that minister who must answer the question and not pass it around from one to another and take up the time of Question Period. I would like to have a ruling on that, Mr. Speaker, because it seems it unduly takes up the time Question Period and gives an advantage to government in the use of that time if that becomes a constant practice.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, government has to deal with questions as it finds them. If members opposite ask questions with two or three different parts and one minister knows the answer to one part and another minister knows the answer to the other part, the sensible thing to do is for the first minister not to waffle around and pretend that he knows but to answer what he knows and then let the minister who has the more extensive knowledge provide the answer. Now, if the House is really interested in information, they would do that, otherwise, if we want to go through the charade, I could have simply said, well, here is my answer to the comment about targeting. It is false for this reason. Then I would just sit down and say, I am not going to answer another question because another minister has the answer. Now, ask it of another minister. Surely, it is more efficient in the interest of time during Question Period to treat it the way we did, but if members opposite don't want it that way, well, that's alright, we will take up more time and go the other route.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I just want to make a short comment, Mr. Speaker. I don't feel strongly one way or the other about it. I realize at times that the Premier has to pass off questions to other ministers, particularly over the last few days, because he doesn't have the answers. I can understand that. We can't expect the Premier to know everything, but we do expect him to know something, I say to him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: In this case, of course, this minister was no more forthcoming than the Premier, so I don't know if there was any advantage today. Most times the Premier does refer to another minister and we do get an answer. I have no great difficulty with that.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I may say a word as well? I won't take objection to the fact that my friend, the Member for St. John's East didn't raise a point of order immediately, although the rules are quite specific, that a point of order must be raised immediately.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, there is no rule to that effect. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, he might wish to refer to some authority if, in fact, there is some authority. I will say simply that in looking through the Beauchesne commentaries, I have not seen anything directly in point. I did, however, find a reference which is 418 on Page 123 of the current issue of Beauchesne. This is a quotation from the debates of the House of Commons, March 4, 1986: The Speaker has stated, "Members may not realize it but questions are actually put to the Government. The Government decides who will answer." Now, it would seem to me, Mr. Speaker, that would be broad enough - although it is not specific, that would be broad enough to say that where one minister has specific knowledge of one part of the question, he or she shall answer, and where another minister has specific knowledge with respect to a second part of the question, then that second minister shall answer. Now, I may add that questions are so broadly phrased that it is sometimes difficult for any one minister to speak with knowledge on all of them. Secondly, the practice has grown up in this House - and I don't object to it but it is there and we must acknowledge it and must accept the consequences, of asking a multiplicity of questions.

PREMIER WELLS: In the one question.

MR. ROBERTS: In the one question. It is not a matter of standing up and saying: Mr. Speaker, I have a question, here it is. Which would be the proper parliamentary procedure. What we've grow up with is a speech, usually with assertions in it of cover up and this sort of garbage, and then a shotgun of questions written out with great care by Mr. Wheeler or one of the researchers in the Opposition office.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) for you, Ed.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition, if he asked questions as well as I did when I was in the shoes he was in, he will be there even longer than I was, and I've been there longer than he was, and will have been there when he is gone in a few months, I will have been there longer than he was.

The point is, with respect to the point of order, that our rules as I understand them permit the practice. Should Your Honour wish to make a ruling to the contrary of course we will honour it. It would help if the Opposition could ask questions a little more specifically and we will do our level best to try to answer them as quickly and as precisely as we can.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to make a brief contribution to the point of order raised by the Member for St. John's East, and not to get into the trivial childish matters that the Member for Naskaupi, the Government House Leader, raised about his years back in opposition, about 500 years ago or whenever it was he was here. On the specific point raised by the Member for St. John's East and on the counterpoint raised by the Government House Leader with respect to a point of order, that is the only point I want to touch on.

Beauchesne's... what is this?

AN HON. MEMBER: Four fifteen.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, 415. It says that it "... ought to be taken up after the Question Period...," which is contrary to what you tried to argue a moment ago to the Speaker. So it has certainly been the practice in this Legislature - lectured by Speaker after Speaker after Speaker, beginning back before I was Speaker, continued when I was Speaker, and subsequent to that by former Speakers in this House today - that if anybody has a point of order to raise during Question Period, raise it after Question Period. You might raise it during Question Period but it wouldn't be dealt with till after Question Period, because we only have thirty minutes in which to ask questions.

In terms of how the questions are phrased and all that nonsense, I won't add anything to what the Government House Leader said, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I will consider the points and make a ruling that is appropriate.

Notices of Motion

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

WHEREAS social and lifestyle factors are having and will have a tremendous impact on food production and purchasing practices of consumers; and

WHEREAS an increased flow of food of food and nutrition information and a greater emphasis on dietary advice and more awareness of environmental issues are making significant dietary behaviourial changes among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; and

WHEREAS food selection and lifestyle of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are having a detrimental impact on their nutritional and physical well-being; and

WHEREAS the eating habits of our young people are nutritionally poor for the nation as a whole; and

WHEREAS it has been established that a high incidence of health problems of individuals attended by family practitioners in this Province are diet, nutrition, and lifestyle related; and

WHEREAS furthering preventative health care through proper dietary eating habits and nutrition while practising a healthier lifestyle will significantly reduce many diet related chronic health problems and obesity at minimal cost to the treasury; and

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. HULAN: WHEREAS governments need to set guidelines and encourage the food industry to make nutrition a primary consideration in the development and marketing of foods;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorses the continuation of efforts of the present Administration and the development of a public policy on food and nutrition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very sorry it is too complicated for my friends on the other side, but I'm very pleased to present this resolution to the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a follow-up again to the question asked yesterday by the hon. the Opposition House Leader, and the undertaking given by the Premier to provide the information about eligibility criteria, just to state once again, so that everyone is clear, the federal minister has indicated that the details will be provided to every person currently receiving compensation under any of the programs, because we are merging in this instance three different programs into one.

The eligibility criteria will be made public either tomorrow or very early next week, as I indicated in the answer earlier. The criteria that the hon. member was speaking about yesterday are a different set of criteria altogether for defining a core fisherman for future consideration. It has nothing to do with eligibility. All of those matters will be made clear in a structured, fashioned way by the federal minister, and in advance of that, so that you can save yourself, probably, the trouble of a question, did the Province have input? Yes. Does the Province agree that the criteria that will be announced in a day or so are fair under the circumstances? The answer is yes.

Petitions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present a petition on behalf of some twenty-eight residents of my district, as a product of a public meeting that I held in my district back some time ago, and parts of the petition have been continuing to come in over the last several weeks. This is part of the original petition that I did present. It contained some 1,500 to 1,600 names, I believe, and this one here is one part of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is just part of a petition.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, it is continuing to arrive at my office because there are still more and more people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, what is happening is that a committee was struck from a public meeting that I held in my district, where over 200 people attended, and that committee went out about the community and collected petitions, and they are now arriving at my office. I have already presented petitions totalling over 1,500 names on the petition. The prayer of that petition is:

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop immediately the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro and hold a referendum to ask the people of the Province their views as to whether Newfoundland Hydro should be privatized or remain a Crown corporation.

Mr. Speaker, the people who are continuing to sign this petition, that have signed it, and are even signing it today in different businesses and in public buildings in Western Labrador, because they have a very, very heavy concern about the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro and the effects it is going to have on them in Labrador City and Wabush.

This particular government hasn't handled the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro... I guess it is probably the most bungled attempt of any government to present any piece of legislation, or any offer of any type of change of policy of a government that has ever occurred in this Province. The people honestly believe, I think anyway, that this government is attempting to pull a fast one. They are attempting to be tricky by a half, I guess is a common Newfoundland expression. They are attempting to deceive the people. They are attempting to make a deal with some of their rich friends.

That is what people believe, and the reason they believe that is because the story keeps changing on why this should be privatized. The story keeps changing why the people of this Province should have to lose their Crown corporation, Newfoundland Hydro. The story keeps changing on the benefits that are going to accrue, or what it is going to cost the people in the long run, or how the people in this Province are going to lose money, whether you are an individual with a family and a home, or whether you're a business, that because of this privatization the people who operate small businesses realize that they are going to have to pay more for their energy that is going to be consumed within that small business.

They also recognize that one of the things that this is going to do with the small amount of capital that is available to small business in this Province to the private sector, which I totally agree with in the essence that it is going to be with the idea, the premise, that the private sector is indeed a very important and the most important factor in the development of our provincial economy, and naturally, the extension of that is the national economy. But, Mr. Speaker, this, I believe, will be a detriment to the private sector, and so do most of the businessmen when they stop and look at it, because they realize, not only are they going to have to pay more for the everyday consumption of power, they also realize it's going to remove the opportunity to raise more capital, because it's going to be invested here. They feel that a lot of capital in this Province is going to be invested here because the return is going to be greater, because the major shareholders are going to be people from outside the Province who will be able to get more return on their investment, thus, people here are going to be removing capital from the Province in that manner, Mr. Speaker. Those are a couple of the reasons why small businesses and consumers -

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The Minister of Finance is nodding his head in agreement with me. He says, `Yes, that could be a factor.' I'm glad that he's finally seeing the light and that he's starting to break away from the sheep that was in Cabinet who were deceiving the people of this Province. The Premier admitted it back some three weeks ago when he apologized to the people that he had some super scheme -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. A. SNOW: No leave. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for Menihek, on behalf of a number of constituents in his district. The member held a number of meetings in his constituency whereby the people down there, on their own, circulated a petition. What is coming through loud and clear, Mr. Speaker, from the people of Labrador, from one end of Labrador to the other - from one part of Newfoundland to the other - is that is they do not agree with privatization.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Blanc Sablon right up to L'Anse-au-Clair.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to get into that. If the Member for Eagle River wants to choose to rent a car in Quebec I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, if he's spending his own money, it's his business.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Offering good relationships with Quebec.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Western Labrador shopping (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes. It's strange when the people from Western Labrador can't bring back a package of cigarettes and yet the Member for Eagle River can bring back a car.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province are very concerned about the way that government is approaching, number one, the sale of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the fact that government wants to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Now, we have seen a lot of things happening regarding the attempts - the way that government is grasping at straws, Mr. Speaker, to try to sell, get rid of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. You know when the government puts an ad in the paper and all the answers - taxpayers' money by the way, a 1-800 number. But when the registered Liberals of this Province get a letter two days before it appears in the weekend edition of The Evening Telegram, Mr. Speaker, telling them to be ready, it's coming, the number will be public, Mr. Speaker, what does that tell you? If it's `yes', call in. If that is not grasping at straws, when a Liberal goes into the post-office and reads his mail and says, `Ah, we got it here boys, it's coming out this weekend.' He shows his buddies and he checks his post-office box and he says, `there's neither one in mine.' Oh, he said, `No, you're the wrong colour, it's only the registered Liberals.' `My dear Liberal friends' or whatever it's called. Now, Mr. Speaker, that's what's going on in this Province and then, as we heard today, $1.5 million spent to privatize Newfoundland Hydro - $1.5 million - yet you can't keep open hospital beds in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, and if you have a conscience, Sir, you will not be supporting a government that would waste $1.5 million -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: - on the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro when there's hospital beds over here, when there are people dying in this Province because they can't get into the hospitals. That's where the money should be spent. That's where the money should be spent, looking after the sick and the suffering, never mind the bag money, Mr. Speaker, in Quebec and other places, those who want to get their hands on the property of Newfoundland Hydro so that they can tax the ratepayers in this Province to pieces, I say to the Member for St. John's North. That's what is going on. What did the Minister of Mines and Energy refer to it as? What is the word he used?

AN HON. MEMBER: Trivial.

MR. TOBIN: Trivial. The amount to be spent is trivial. Well, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy that that trivial $1.5 million could keep a few hospital beds open in this Province, Mr. Speaker. The people who are dying in this Province because of lack of medical care do not consider it trivial. And what about $886 million in one year on the Churchill Falls Smallwood-Wells deal? What about that one, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SIMMS: And $100,000 for the working group on child sexual abuse.

MR. TOBIN: That's right, $100,000 for the working group on child sexual abuse. `I am sorry,' the Minister of Social Services says, `we don't have any money.' Yet, the government can give a trivial amount of $1.5 million to the Rothschilds and another group in this Province to privatize Hydro. Is that the concern of this government? Are those the priorities? To the Rothschilds, $538,400. Who are the Rothschilds? The same crowd who were involved in the giveaway before, Mr. Speaker, of the Upper Churchill, that's who the Rothschilds are. The crowd who were in bed with the BRINCOs of the world and the John C. Doyles of the world.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for Ferryland was on his feet.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to present a petition on behalf of residents on the West Coast of the Province, in Kippins, in Stephenville, in several districts on the West Coast. There are thirty-four names on this petition.

AN HON. MEMBER: The prayer?

The prayer: they are asking that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador not privatize Newfoundland Hydro.

The Premier states that this Province is open for business, and when the Member for Eagle River takes it to heart and gives his business to Quebec - yes, he rents his cars from Quebec. He doesn't spend taxpayers' money in this Province. He pays retail sales tax and all other taxes in Quebec when he could be spending it here in the Province, and is probably obtaining taxpayers' money to do that. This Province in open for business in terms of Hydro. It is open to the business people on Bay Street in Toronto and it is open to the business people -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. SIMMS: He only has five minutes - don't be interrupting.

MR. MURPHY: I understand how many minutes we have, I tell the Leader of the Opposition. I am quite aware of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Listen to the writer of Andy's letter.

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding, and our standing rules are quite emphatic, that the member must read the prayer, and the prayer of the petition must be distinctive, as per our Standing Orders. I didn't hear the prayer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no requirement that the member actually read the prayer.

Please continue.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

He is only trying to take up valuable time and he doesn't want to hear the real facts. I usually read the prayer of the petition, but I just didn't want to take time because there are so many important things to be said. When the same Premier of this Province who sat in the Smallwood government when they gave away the Upper Churchill and consented with the Rothschilds, and the Government House Leader, the Member for Naskaupi, an assistant, an advisor in whom we confided at the time, participated in the sale of the Upper Churchill, did you think it was a good deal then, back in the 1960s when you sold the Upper Churchill to Quebec? No, and you think Hydro is such a fantastic deal now, and you have hired the same people to give you financial advice.

Well, the simple finances of privatization of Hydro is that this Province will spend probably an extra $70 million a year that it will cost us, the taxpayers and ratepayers to pay for the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. All the Province will save is $25 million a year and they spend anywhere from $70 million up to $91 million a year with privatization; and still, the Premier goes out and spends taxpayers' money, $1.5 million on privatization last year that the Minister of Mines and Energy wouldn't even admit to said it was trivial; it wasn't worth considering, it was so minor. And they budget another million-and-a-half this year on the privatization of Hydro that he doesn't acknowledge.

The people who are going to pay are the ratepayers of electricity of this Province. The average consumption of electricity is over 1,300 kilowatt hours, and the bill that is coming up in this House today, the Premier stated when he introduced the bill that an equitable amount of electricity for a household would be 700 kilowatt hours. Now that's forty-five dollars-worth of electricity. Anything beyond that we will start paying an ever-increasing price for the rest of our lives so the investors on Bay Street in Toronto and eastern townships in Quebec, are going to be able to take 80 per cent of the profits of that company out of this Province, and it is estimated that the most money the investment community in this Province could spend on a privatization is $150 million, which would represent only a maximum of 20 per cent ownership in Hydro initially, and many people, within a couple of years, it is projected, would sell their shares and get a return quickly, so it may decrease to what Newfoundland Power is now, Fortis, owned by probably 10 per cent of the people of this Province for a resource that we own now.

AN HON. MEMBER: I believe you are wrong.

MR. SULLIVAN: You think we are wrong - prove I am; I would prove

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: And we'll never get a chance to prove it because the Premier will probably do the honourable thing and withdraw the bill. We haven't seen it in a while and I don't expect to see it anymore. I don't expect to ever see that privatization bill again in this House for discussion and I hope I am right. For my benefit and yours, and for the benefit of taxpayers and ratepayers in this Province, let's hope I am right, because if not, in 1998-1999 we will be seeing exorbitant increase in electricity when that three-year cushion has been used up.

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

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise in support of the petition presented by the Member for Ferryland. He raises a number of very important points related to the sale and privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. The question that we have - I mean, the $1.5 million that we are talking about is only a fraction of the money that has been spent to date by the government, and by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to pursue this deal. And what I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, is, what did the Rothschilds get half-a-million dollars for? Did they get half-a-million dollars for telling the government that privatization was a good idea, is that what they got the half-million dollars for?

I am looking at a book here, the one that the Member for Eagle River likes to quote from about privatization in Britain, and this book, written by someone named Perry, in the U.K., talks about - he is a great exponent of privatization, he talks about how the British Government was roundly criticized in 1984 for giving 3.2 per cent of the sale of British gas to Rothschilds, over $200 million they gave to the Rothschilds in connection with the sale of British gas and the government, of course, there was criticized for that.

Now, this financial organization is involved in this kind of financial deal and they stand to benefit from it, they gain from this type of activity and they are very happy to get involved with privatization because they make a lot of money from it. It is like asking Colonel Sanders whether he thinks Kentucky Fried Chicken is good to eat. Would you give Colonel Sanders half-a-million dollars to answer that question for you? You know what answer you are going to get, so what did the government give half-a-million dollars to the Rothschilds for? that's what I would like to know, Mr. Speaker. I see the Minister of Finance smiling over there and grinning and he thinks it's a great joke that the Rothschilds could make half a million dollars from the people of Newfoundland for a bit of advice as to whether or not privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is a good thing. We know what they are going to say, Mr. Speaker, because we know what their attitude and their opinion is.

What we have going on here is a big scam by this government designed to pursue some sort of ideological policy and goal that is not for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland, but is for the benefit of that portion of the people of Newfoundland who think that the captains of industry ought to tell everybody else what to do, how much to pay for their electricity, how much money they should make and send out of the Province, and how much people like Angus Bruneau should receive on an annual basis for presiding over a utility that has its income guaranteed by the Public Utilities Board from the people of Newfoundland!

That is the kind of the people that this government is serving by its efforts to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Why is the Minister of Finance, as President of Treasury Board, sitting down and presiding over a grant to the Rothschilds of half a million dollars to give him advice that he wants to hear so that he can somehow fool the people of Newfoundland into trying to think that this is in their best interest.

Mr. Speaker, the only independent economic study that has been made public on the cost benefit analysis done by the economist Dr. Wade Locke at Memorial University, using very generous assumptions - more generous than even the Member for Pleasantville would give to the government on the results of this Hydro sale - but using very generous assumptions has concluded that the net cost to the people of Newfoundland as rate payers will be about $50 million to $70 million more than the benefit to the taxpayers of this Province.

That spells volumes about the wisdom of this idea. Never mind the ideological pros and cons because there are differences of opinion on that, says Dr. Locke. He says: I'm not going to deal with that, that is for politicians to argue about. When I look at the economics of it, he says, on the cost benefit analysis based on the government's own figures, I see a net cost to the public of Newfoundland as rate payers far, far greater, to the tune of $50 million or $60 million or more, than the benefit it is to the taxpayers.

MS. VERGE: Per year.

MR. HARRIS: Per year! Forever and ever. As long as the rivers flow, as the Premier says, into the sea. For every year $50 million or $60 million or $70 million more of cost to the people of Newfoundland than if the company was retained as a part of (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we've had two petitions and it is obvious that the members are anxious to get to the debate on the Electrical Power Control Act. Accordingly I move, pursuant to Standing Order 21, that the Orders of the Day now be read.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved by the hon. minister that the Orders of the Day now be read.

All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Against? Carried.

Orders of the Day

MR. TOBIN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know what the Government House Leader has done and all that kind of stuff, but during his absence we presented two and three petitions, never no more than three and all that. I don't know why the member decides to cut it off at two. When the acting House Leader was here there was never any problem. A lot of work was achieved, everything was done, petitions presented. All of a sudden he is back and he for some reason likes bringing in the gag order on petitions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

Is the hon. Minister of Justice speaking to that point of order?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, to that point of order. We've had two petitions today, I would say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West. He may be somewhat confused by the fact that they all sound the same. In fact, they are simply the same petition being presented over and over.

Notwithstanding the advice of my friend for Gander, who is resisting the `Bring Back Baker' movement, who advised me to suggest to the House that we couldn't do any real work in my absence, and that is why he let the petitions go on, the fact remains that this is simply a time -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: - that hon. - that is what my friend advised me. That is why I am leading the `Bring Back Baker' movement and supported by colleagues on all sides of the House. That this is simply a device to delay the House. We announced yesterday we are going to call the Electrical Power Control Act. Everything that has been said with respect to the petitions has been said before, that is point one. We don't mind people saying it again if they think that will help. So be it. It is in accordance with the rules.

Secondly and importantly, Mr. Speaker, it is at least as relevant to the Electrical Power Control Act as it is to anything else, and therefore we should get on with the business of the House in the legislation. Accordingly, I made the motion.

My hon. friend didn't really raise a point of order. He is the first to acknowledge it. All he has done is waste time, and here I am playing into his hands by doing it.

In due course the hon. gentleman's prevarication will lead to a prolongation of the session, and he will bear the responsibility for that. Let it be on his head; except, the trouble is, by then he will be swanning down the Jamieson highway to Burin - Placentia West to carry out further researches into the status of tax-paid product, as he does, he assures me, from time to time.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order, actually the motion put by the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, the motion put by the Government House Leader was clearly in order. It was carried, and we now move on to the Orders of the Day. There was really no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Could we call Order No. 4, which is the second reading of the Electrical Power Control Act. My recollection, subject to correction, is that when we adjourned my friend from St. John's East had the floor. I think he had just begun his remarks, and we are on a six month hoist amendment moved by my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, again if memory serves me correctly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 4. The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government House Leader is correct. I had just begun my remarks when the House adjourned, and I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak in this debate on Bill No. 2 and the six month hoist.

The six month hoist we all understand to be for the purpose of allowing legislation to be further considered and reviewed, and it has asked that the bill not now be read a second time, but be read a second time this day hence six months.

Mr. Speaker, given the recent debate, I was going to say `hysteria' about Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but I don't think I will say `hysteria' because I think that certain members of the government have acted rather hysterically about the opposition to it. They were rather upset that the people of this Province have had a say, and have an opinion, and have an idea what they want and what they don't want, and are not afraid to express it. Some of the members of the government, and particularly the Premier, have gotten rather hysterical about that notion of democracy which they had thought that they had put surely to rest last May 3.

Some people of this Province, in fact not only some, perhaps the majority, perhaps the vast majority - not enough to satisfy the Member for St. George's, because he needs 85 per cent, maybe 90 per cent, maybe 95 per cent, before he will consider changing his mind, but let's say the overwhelming majority of the people of this Province have taken a stand on the issue of the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Now that's not the Electrical Power Control Act. Let's be clear about that. The Premier hasn't been quite clear about it, but let's be clear about it. That is on the privatization of Hydro.

On the privatization of Hydro the people have made their wishes known and clear, and that is why you may have recalled my suggestion on the public televised debate that perhaps what we should do, if the Premier was willing, to withdraw Bill No. 1, if we could just tear that up and come into the House the next week and pass Bill No. 2. That was what I suggested to him. He didn't take up that suggestion, and if he had I might have been willing to say: Well, let's pass Bill No. 2. Let's see if he is right. Let's see if there is some potential here for doing the impossible. Let's see if there is some potential here for doing what very few people think is possible, and that is to turn back the clock, back before the Upper Churchill deal and the legislation accompanying it gave rights to the sale of electricity until the year 2041 to the Province of Quebec and Hydro Quebec.

Let's see if we can turn back the clock and see if there is some way that we can go about doing that. I might have been tempted to do that. The Premier hasn't said that. The Premier has said: Well, we are going to see, and we are going to debate Bill No. 2 anyway. We are going to debate it because we think that it is good legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it wasn't really until the week before the Easter break that we really were told what the purpose of the Premier was in producing Bill No. 2. It wasn't really till the debate got going that we realized that this was part of some other strategy. It wasn't until public minded people who had knowledge of these matters were able to assist the public in understanding what had gone on in the past over this. We now know that the intention here is to pass a piece of legislation that will have the effect of allowing the Public Utilities Board of Newfoundland and Labrador to order the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation, or any other utility producing power in the Province, to sell that power to someone else.

I think - and perhaps the Government House Leader can correct me, because he is very good at correcting people when he thinks they are wrong - but I think the Premier said that he would expect that the Public Utilities Board would be able to direct CF(L)Co to deliver power to a private corporation -

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman should simply read the bill.

MR. HARRIS: - at the same price that it is now being delivered to Hydro Quebec. I think the Premier said that. The Government House Leader says read the bill. The bill doesn't say that. The bill says that the Public Utilities Board can decide the terms and conditions and the price on which that power shall be delivered.

MR. ROBERTS: And does it not - will the hon. member yield for a second?

MR. HARRIS: I will yield, yes.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my friend. I simply ask him rhetorically, does not the bill also specify the principles and the elements that the PUB is to take into account into calculating the price, and the other delivery terms and conditions?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was hoping for an answer, because the Premier is the one who said that that would be an opportunity for the people of Newfoundland to receive power from the Upper Churchill at the same price as is now being received from Hydro Quebec. Who is to say that the Public Utilities Board would think that is a proper price? Do you think that the fact that CF(L)Co. is going to start losing money in the near future would not be taken into consideration? Do you think that the fact that the rebuilding of the Lobstick Dam as required to be undertaken and has to be capitalized would not be taken into consideration?

Do you think the right of Hydro Quebec to get that power at 3 mils and therefore have to replace it some other way, through atomic generation or through other hydro sources, would not be taken into consideration? That none of these factors will have any influence whatsoever on the Public Utilities Board if ever faced with a decision of that nature? I think not.

What we've really got is some sort of simplistic idea that the Premier has devised - and it is a long-standing idea, we seem to have found out, going back to the days when he was chairman of Newfoundland Light and Power Corporation, as it was then called - that he had this great idea that if you had a piece of legislation that allowed a private hydro corporation to call for power from the Churchill Falls contract, that the Government of Newfoundland could pass legislation that would allow that to happen.

Nobody else seems to accept that. It may be arguable. The government tells us that we have legal opinions to that effect. Maybe they were prepared by the Minister of Justice's former law firm. I'm sure these legal opinions say: Yes, Premier, or yes, government, you have an arguable case there. It is a case that can be argued. It can be brought to the court. You won't be laughed out of court. You won't be told that you can't be here. You can present your arguments; you can make that arguable case. You could put that to the courts. You can make an argument that will support that, but that's not the question, Mr. Speaker. The question is, is it a case that can be won? First of all, is it a case that can be won, and secondly, are there not other implications for taking that position?

Now, Mr. Speaker, as part of all of the debate about the Hydro privatization has come this whole Churchill Falls thing and I think they're two separate issues. They're joined in some ways, but I want to talk about this act by itself. I'll talk about it in some detail as to how we, in fact, regulate power resources and prices in the Province. But before I do that, let me deal with the issue of how -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: They are connected. There is a connection between the privatization of Hydro and the development of the Lower Churchill. That is, by having an intact Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation, we will have on our staff, on our team, on the people's side, loyal to the people only who are the shareholders of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a group of men and women whose dedication, whose loyalty, whose expertise, whose experience is all driven by one desire, and one desire only, and that is to serve its shareholders, the government and people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Those people, Mr. Speaker, those experts, those knowledgeable, experienced people who know - from an engineering, from an economic and from an environmental view - how to deal with projects of this nature, will be part of our team who will be able to work out, as they have in the past, arrangements and deals to develop the Lower Churchill power potential when the time is right, when the economics are right, when the aboriginal interests have been satisfied, when the project can produce the revenue that it needs to look after the financing costs, when the engineering work has been done - and most of it has been done.

At that time, Mr. Speaker, it will be our experts, not ones that we paid for like the Rothchilds at $1.5 million along with others, to give us opinions, when we don't know what their conflicts are, what other interests they have in this type of idea; that we have our own experts, and that's what is important, Mr. Speaker. That's what is important when a Province like Newfoundland is negotiating with the Province of Quebec, negotiating with the power moguls down in the New England States.

We need our own experts who can tell us - and that we can count on their loyalty and their expertise on our behalf, not on behalf of some other third parties or on behalf of making fees and generating revenue for their consulting firms, for their legal firms or for their international financial firms, but people who are salary, dedicated, loyal people committed to their employers and their compatriots in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That's what we want by keeping Hydro together and that's the connection that I see between it and the Churchill Falls issue.

Bill No. 2, Mr. Speaker, I see as being totally different. The Premier, himself, has said that in order for Bill 2 to be able to operate, you don't have to have a privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. He said that on public, Province-wide television, live on CBC, you don't need to have it. So let's talk about Bill 2 by itself. Let's talk about the principles of power generation and pricing. In doing so, I want to read firstly from the Annual Report of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro for the year ending December 31, 1992. In that report, Mr. Speaker, on page 3, as part of the corporate profile of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, it says as follows, `The mission of the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro group of companies is to provide electrical power and energy on behalf of the people of the Province at the lowest cost, consistent with reliable service, due consideration for the environment and the safety of our employees and the customers which we serve.' Now, Mr. Speaker, I support that mission statement. I support that as the goal and the mission of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

MR. TOBIN: You support all of that?

MR. HARRIS: All of that. I support the corporate profile and the mission statement of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro which says that its mission is to provide, on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, at the lowest cost consistent with reliable service, power, due consideration for the environment, and the safety of our employees and the customers which we serve. That is what I support, Mr. Speaker. I don't even see that in Bill No. 2. What I see are a number of competing principles set out here and there, and a role for the Public Utilities Board to balance those - not the Government of Newfoundland, not the people of Newfoundland, but the Public Utilities Board, to make the decisions to balance those competing interests, the competing interests of private enterprise who want to make a return on their investment and pay off their shareholders, to have what is called here a just and reasonable return, revenue to provide a just and reasonable return, as construed under the Public Utilities Act.

Mr. Speaker, hidden in those three or four words, `a just and reasonable return', under the Public Utilities Act, therein lies the problem with private utilities and the distribution of power in Newfoundland and Labrador.

What happens, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is recognized by economists, that in regulating private utilities using the principles of just and reasonable return that is being used by private utilities, there is a method of corporate behaviour, or a corporate behaviour that is encouraged, that incentives are given to under that system.

There are a couple of things that are set. The rate of return is set. The rate of return is set by experts giving evidence on the stock market, experts giving evidence on how much rate of return you would have to guarantee to make sure your shares would continue to be sold and maintained, its return on investment. All of that goes in, but what happens to price? We have to start understanding the behaviour of these corporate enterprises which we are allowing to control our lives.

In the corporate world of regulated industries, an incentive is given for companies to over-capitalize their operation. The more capital you employ in your operation, the more money you make. The rate of return is the same. The rate of return might be 13.5 per cent or 13.75 per cent, but the more money you can put on the rate base, the more money you can call capital invested, the more money you are going to get back.

Mr. Speaker, we do have a responsibility to try to understand that and understand how it works, because that is the major failing, aside from cost, of the regulated public utilities instrument. Any efficiencies in operation that show up as a savings to the customer are no good for the utility. They are no good for the utility, Mr. Speaker, because they don't make any more money for the utility. If they go to the Public Utilities Board and tell them how `we made our operation more efficient last year, we cut the following costs, we cut out $200,000 here, $300,000 here, $400,000 there, we saved in operating costs, a million dollars,' the Public Utilities Board is going to say, `Wonderful. You saved a million dollars, now we will take a million dollars off your rates and we will reduce the power to the consumer.' That's what would happen.

But, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't benefit the utility at all - it doesn't benefit the utility at all. The chairman of the board doesn't get any extra marks for that, doesn't get any bonus, doesn't get any extra share options on top of his $300,000 or $400,000 salary for that because all he has done is save money for the ratepayers. But he is working for the shareholders, and the shareholders want more money for them, and if anyone thinks, Mr. Speaker, that regulated industries or companies like this don't behave in response to incentives, then they don't understand how the real world works.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The benefits - If the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wants to learn, then he can listen. If he wants to speak in the debate, then he can get up and speak afterwards and say his piece, but if he wants to say that privately regulated utilities don't behave in such a manner as to maximize their profit, then he is living in a different world than I am, Mr. Speaker. It's a natural thing for people to try to maximize their own returns for themselves. So when governments are looking at how to regulate these things, what we have to start doing, Mr. Speaker, is making the rules in such a way that the benefits to the company also benefit the consumer, and I don't think, Mr. Speaker, that we are doing that when we say to private utilities, we will give you a return on your rate base for every dollar of capital that you can invest.

We see it happening now in this privatization discussion, when the Premier and the government are quite satisfied to allow the kind of cost that we are talking about; the million-and-a-half that the government spent to the Rothschilds and these people, the other, untold hundreds of thousands, untold because we haven't been told yet, maybe into the millions. There may be the `drop in the bucket' or the `What's a million?' Minister of Mines and Energy - it's only a trivial amount, the million-and-a-half dollars to the Minister of Mines and Energy, but there may be another couple of trivial amounts; if there were three or four trivial amounts like that, Mr. Speaker, we would all be broke. Maybe there is going to be $4 million or $5 million in the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro books that they will go to the Public Utilities Board next year and say: `Hey, by the way, we spent $5 million on this privatization, not counting the commissions onto the stockbrokers, another $10 million or $15 million at least, so we have another $25 million or $30 million, we want to put that in on the rate base. We want to capitalize that, and in addition to getting our 13.75 per cent revenue return on investment for all the other capital we have invested, we want to get 13.75 per cent on this $20 million or $25 million or $30 million,' or whatever it turns out to be. And when you go to a Public Utilities Board hearing, Mr. Speaker, you will see the private utilities coming in, saying, `Oh, we spent $5 million on a new computer system. Now, it is not a computer system that we are going to use in one year, we are going to use it over ten years or fifteen years or twenty years, so we think we should amortize it over that period; we think we should add that $5 million or $10 million to the rate base,' and the Public Utilities Board will say: `Well, is this capital or is this is not? and if they can decide it's capital, yes, they will say: `Okay, you add that to the rate base and we will give you 13.75 per cent on that, too.'

Now, what does that do, Mr. Speaker, that encourages - I see the Member for La Poile is listening and he tries to understand these business principles. Maybe he will respond to this. Every chance that a public utility will get they will go the Public Utilities Board and make new excuses for capital expenditure because they know that every cent they can spend as capital, they will get 13.75 per cent on it. That is what drives public utilities, that is what drives the salaries of the Angus Bruneaus of the world. The more money they can pile on to the capital, to the rate base, the more the shareholders get and the more Angus Bruneau and the chief executive officers and the other officers are going to get by way of salary and bonus and dividends and stock options and everything else that they get.

That is a how private utilities operate, Mr. Speaker. That is how the world of corporate enterprise works. It doesn't work by providing on behalf of the people of the Province, electrical power and energy at the lowest cost consistent with reliable service. It is not there to do that; the role and the job of the chief executive officer and the board of directors of a private utility is to maximize the profit for its shareholders - two entirely different things.

On the one hand, public service - delivery to the people of a basic essential need that provides heat and light and ability to cook at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service, taking into account the environment and the safety of the customers and employees. That is what the job of a public utility is that is owned in public hands like Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

What is the mission statement of Fortis Inc.? It is to maximize the return to its investors and shareholders. The providing of electricity, that is only the means of making the profit that goes on on the other side. It could be widgets. Anyone who went to business school or ever did a business class, they don't care what you produce; they don't care what you manufacture. It could be widgets one day, it could be watts or kilowatt hours of power the next. It doesn't make any different, the principle is still the same: maximize the return on investment, maximize the amount of money that goes back to the shareholders.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: I have three minutes left. The Member for Port de Grave says I haven't said anything yet. Well, if the Member for Port de Grave and his colleagues are prepared to give me another thirty minutes, I will be quite happy to educate him some more if he wants to listen. But I only have three minutes left.

I wanted to use the time that I had to outline my views on the distinction and the difference between electricity and the goals of a public utility such as Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as set forth in its mission statement which I support, and the goals and the operation of a private utility, such as Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and what drives them, what motivates them, and how our Public Utilities Board and how the Electrical Power Resources Act, how that acts to further the interest of the private enterprise and not the public good that is set forth in the mission statement of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

I would suggest that the previous piece of legislation we had more closely guards the public interest in the production of electricity by - this is: "An Act To Control The Rates Of Newfoundland And Labrador Hydro And To Declare A Provincial Power Policy" - as being more in keeping with the power needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I've said before, if I had my druthers we would be finding ways of nationalizing Newfoundland Light and Power, not trying to find ways to pass over to private enterprise, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation with a mission statement that I support and that is for the ultimate benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words on the motion as well, as put forth by the Leader of the Opposition, where he moved the six-month hoist on this piece of legislation.

I believe that is a fair request, to ask the government to provide six months whereby they can go out and meet with the people, to go around this Province and to hear what the people have to say, rather than implement this piece of legislation.

I believe that the people of this Province should have some input into this legislation, the act to regulate the electrical power resources of Newfoundland and Labrador, as I believe very strongly - I wouldn't want to disrupt the Minister of Health, I say to him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) wake him up.

MR. TOBIN: I don't want to wake him up. He can continue to do his crossword puzzle that he is famous for doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, that's right. You put up your head and you react.

At the same time, I say to him, I hope today he dealt with the -

DR. KITCHEN: My colleague said to ignore you totally.

MR. TOBIN: Your colleague said - which colleague was that, now?

I say to the Minister of Health, what he should have done was ignore the former Minister of Health, because it was the former Minister of Health who set up on the Burin Peninsula the deal with the former chairman to become regionalized on the Burin Peninsula, and nothing else would happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) helicopter?

MR. TOBIN: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the helicopter.

MR. TOBIN: I don't know anything about the trip he made with the helicopter. I don't know what that is about. Who was that? Which one? The Hydro helicopter - the Hydro plane.

Mr. Speaker, what the Leader of the Opposition was requesting was six months for the people of the Province to have an opportunity to have input into this piece of legislation, and I don't believe that is anything but a very fair and reasonable request. Why shouldn't the people of the Province have input into this piece of legislation?

I would suggest that most members opposite don't even know what this piece of legislation is about. I would suggest that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They didn't know about the other one, did they?

MR. TOBIN: They didn't know about the other one. The Minister of Finance admitted he didn't know about the last one. He got up in the House and said - he was contradicting himself one day and the next day, and he finally said - the Minister of Justice said something was in it, and

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He said I should read this.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I can tell him that I have read it, and I hope he is listening, because he is going to hear it now.

`The Electrical Power Resources Act provides for provincial control of all powers produced in the Province to meet the energy needs of the customers in the Province at the lowest possible cost. By the Premier's own admission, its real purpose is to gain access to the low-cost power that flows to Quebec under the Churchill Falls power contract. The legislation will certainly be challenged by Quebec, and will eventually come to court, probably to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Capturing some or all of the power locked up in the Churchill Falls power contract has been central to the economic energy and political policies of Newfoundland governments since the Smallwood era. Under the contract, the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation agree to supply virtually all of the 5,225 megawatts of power produced on the Upper Churchill to Hydro Quebec at an agreed price until 2041. Newfoundland can recall only 300 megawatts to meet its energy needs, which is virtually a worthless option since it is less than half the power needed to warrant the cost of building a transmission line to the Island.'

So the situation we have is that in order, as I understand it, for a transmission line to be feasible to come to the Island, we need 800 megawatts, and under this agreement, the Smallwood/Wells/Roberts agreement of the development of the Lower Churchill in the past -

AN HON. MEMBER: SWR.

MR. TOBIN: SWR - Smallwood, Wells, Roberts, John Doyle, the Rothschilds, all the same crowd, Mr. Speaker, the only one missing is John Doyle and we all know why.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Why didn't they name you? Mr. Speaker, if I had been Speaker I would have named you a long time ago but unfortunately I wasn't and I'll tell you something, it'll be some often you'd want to name me.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, some often he came close to naming you. He only named one member I believe, while he was Speaker.

MR. TOBIN: That's right and I can tell you - I say to the Minister of Social Services that the member you named had a lot of firsts in this Assembly.

In any case, Mr. Speaker, let me say that the Electrical Power Resources Act returns to the (inaudible) policy of the 1970s but with a slightly different strategy. Previous governments used the front door, that is legislation and Order in Council's aimed directly at gaining access to the Upper Churchill power. Mr. Wells proposes to use the back door. That is legislation of general application and orders issued by a quasi arm length agency, the Public Utilities Board.

So, Mr. Speaker, the government in their attempts to get their hands back on the agreement that he was a part of - he advised the Premier, as a minister in his Cabinet. The Government House Leader, Mr. Speaker, at the time was a parliamentary assistant to the Premier, advising the Premier. Both of these gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, the Premier and the Government House Leader were members in this Legislature when Smallwood decided to give away the Upper Churchill. They voted to give away the Upper Churchill. Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't know but the Minister of Health - no he wasn't at that time, no. He was not involved, he was not in politics - but they were there and what happens? What happens, Mr. Speaker, is that the present Minister of Mines and Energy is not involved in this piece of legislation to the extent that he should be.

The present Minister of Mines and Energy, Mr. Speaker, went to debate a couple of weeks ago in Corner Brook, number one, with the Member for Humber East and before they got to the debate the executive - and I want to point out the executive of the Corner Brook Chamber of Commerce decided they were going to agree with the privatization. I only wish the Member for Humber East had debated it with the person who made the most - it may be more interesting to see what knowledge they base their decision on. When they had the debate in Humber East, in Corner Brook, while the executive had already approved it the members of the Humber East Chamber of Commerce that night appeared on TV, Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear anyone who supported the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. There was one, Mr. Speaker.

Then the following week the Member for Humber East and the Minister of Mines and Energy were invited to participate in a debate by the Baccalieu Chamber of Commerce in the great district, I believe, of Trinity - Bay de Verde, in Green's Harbour. Now I want to point out that the Chamber of Commerce was not strictly a Bay de Verde Chamber of Commerce. There were people there, Mr. Speaker, from - it's made up of people from several districts; Trinity - Bay de Verde, Bellevue, Carbonear, Harbour Grace, Port de Grave, five provincial districts. Mr. Speaker, are they five Conservative districts? Are they five NDP districts? No they're not. They are five Liberal districts.

What did they say after the debate took place between the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Member for Humber East? What did they say when the ballot box was put on the table and a secret ballot given? Two-thirds, Mr. Speaker, of the membership present, not the executive, two-thirds of the membership present voted against the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. We ask why? Because like everyone else in the Province except the Premier, they opposed it.

The Member for St. John's South went out and had a meeting in his District.

MR. MURPHY: I did.

MR. TOBIN: Yes he did.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: When he went out and had a meeting, he went out and had a meeting. The Member for St. John's South went out and had a meeting and he has to be given credit, and I will give it to him. Everybody was talking about having meetings in their region. The Member for St. John's West, the Member for St. John's Centre, the Member for St. John's North, they didn't go out and have meetings with their constituents. The Minister of Mines and Energy has not gone back to his own constituency with this horrendous piece of legislation. He has not gone to explain it to his own constituents, and one must ask why.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: You didn't have one either. You didn't have a public meeting either, I would say to the Member for St. George's.

DR. HULAN: Sir, I had three public meetings.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no.

MR. TOBIN: No you did not.

DR. HULAN: Yes, I did.

MR. TOBIN: No you did not.

DR. HULAN: Sorry, I did. I had one in McKay's, one in St. George's, and one in the Codroy Valley. I'm sorry.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I don't know what the Member for Port au Port is talking about. If you had three meetings. I'm not sure what he was talking about.

DR. HULAN: You won't get him up. (Inaudible) meeting in the Codroy Valley with 250 people.

MR. TOBIN: How many?

DR. HULAN: Two hundred and fifty.

MR. TOBIN: On Hydro?

DR. HULAN: On another meeting (inaudible) -

MR. TOBIN: Yes, that was during the election campaign!

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

MR. TOBIN: That was during the election campaign you are talking about now!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. HULAN: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair has recognised the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is probably -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Okay, Mr. Speaker, but to be fair to the Member for St. George's I was probably - I'm responsible for getting him involved in that debate and I want to apologise to the House for doing so.

The fact still remains that he never went out to his District and had a public meeting on Hydro!

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are misleading the House!

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

I want to remind the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West that he is now debating the bill on the Electrical Power Control Act and that he should be relevant in this -

MR. TOBIN: The six-month hoist.

MR. SPEAKER: The six-month hoist, yes. The Chair fails to see (inaudible) -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why it should be done. I agree. Why it should be done. And why the six-month hoist should be -

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

The Chair fails to see the relevance of the direction that the member is going in, so I ask the hon. member to be relevant.

MR. TOBIN: Okay, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. The point of the matter is we are debating a six-month hoist and that is to give people an opportunity for six months to go back to their districts and hold public hearings and public meetings. The Member for St. John's North hasn't done it. The Member for St. George's went out and had public meetings, but he never had them on Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, he is misleading the House (inaudible).

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

DR. HULAN: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: Well, I can tell you one thing about it, I would say to the Member for -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: St. John's North.

MR. TOBIN: I know. I can't say what I want to say.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Better judgement.

MR. TOBIN: Better judgement, yes. What this bill is about, what we are debating now, is the six-month hoist, I say to the Member for St. John's North. That is six months to give people an opportunity to go back and meet with their constituents, if they haven't had time already, to debate what all this is about. What I'm saying to the Member for St. George's is that he now has six months to go back to his constituents and he should avail of the opportunity. That is all I'm saying. That is all I'm saying to him.

The opportunity is now there for the Member for St. George's, and all other members - the Member for St. John's North - to go back. You talk about he had 250 people at a public meeting. The Member for St. George's says he had 250 people at a public meeting. I would say to the Member for St. George's that myself and my colleague for Grand Bank and my colleague for Waterford Kenmount attended a meeting last week with 2500 people, a public meeting, at least 2500.

DR. HULAN: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I say to the Member for St. George's, far be it to take advice from the Minister of Mines and Energy. What was it he said?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Trivial.

MR. TOBIN: Trivial was the word he use, that $1.5 million is a trivial amount to spend. I say to the Members for St. George's and St. John's North that you would be well advised not to take his advice because I am sure you do not believe that hospital beds in this Province should be closed while the Minister of Mines and Energy refers to $1.5 million as being trivial. What the minister was doing was not being honest in this Legislature. That is what he was doing.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, you would not know anything about your information, I say to the Member for St. John's North. How would you know? I tell him one way he can put a price on it, and that is if he had a meeting in his district.

AN HON. MEMBER: If you told the truth we would not have to spend the money.

MR. TOBIN: What a sick argument. How would you know, a man living in Florida half the year and then comes back here and tells us what is going on. The Member for St. George's should leave. He should leave. That is what this act is about, trying to get an opportunity. Why the rush, I say to members opposite, when we have six months? If you approve this today we have six months to debate it and let people have their say. We know what people are saying. Seventy per cent of Newfoundlanders are opposed to it. Now, there may be some changes, the Premier would like to think, when he has a 1-800 number. The clerk is now phoning the 1-800 number to say he supports it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, withdraw it, he is saying.

MR. TOBIN: I hope he is, Mr. Speaker. The clerk phoned the 1-800 number. It is here for us all to witness, but he could not get an answer. There is no one there, Mr. Speaker.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He had some important questions but they would not answer them.

MR. SPEAKER: Could the hon. member take his seat for a moment while I inform the House of the questions for the Late Show?

The first question is: I am not satisfied with the answer to my question by the Premier regarding the new Atlantic groundfish strategy, TAGS, and that is the hon. Member for Grand Bank.

I am not satisfied with the answer to my question to the Minister of Education concerning the decrease in the number of teaching and administrative positions at the end of the current school year. That is the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

The third question is from the hon. Member for Kilbride to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations concerning the cut to the UI system and the impact on the Province.

The hon. the member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: I was saying that the Premier decided to write all the registered Liberals in this Province. Now, I do not know how many registered Liberals there are.

MR. REID: Hundreds of thousands.

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs said hundreds of thousands. Well, if there are they all got a letter asking them to phone 1-800 and say, Mr. Premier, I support it. I will table the letter one of these days at the appropriate time. What does that tell you?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, it is the truth. It is fact. It is not my fault. He is never here, is he?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who?

MR. TOBIN: The Premier. He brought in this piece of legislation, introduced it in the House, and was gone for eight days.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is right.

MR. TOBIN: Here asking questions, and if he wasn't I was here asking them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: No, it wasn't twelve times, it was three times.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Premier has written to all registered Liberals in this Province. The Premier admitted it yesterday. He said that government didn't send out the letters but the Liberal Party sent the letters, may have sent the letters. The fact of the matter is that registered Liberals in my district got a letter from the Premier of this Province regarding all the information that was - the Premier of this Province sent out letters, I say to the Member for Terra Nova, to all registered Liberals in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you get one?

MR. TOBIN: No I didn't, but I tell you something, I know someone very well who did. I know someone in Marystown who very well did. Got his on a Wednesday morning. The Evening Telegram came out on Thursday. On Wednesday he got the letter from the Premier. I'm not sure - wait now. I will table it one of these days and we will all - most of you have seen it anyway. Probably you have one.

The Member, Mr. Speaker, from Port de Grave. His constituents were the people who got up the other night and voted to reject the privatization of Newfoundland and....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: Ask the Member for Humber East. The Member for Humber East went out on the debate -

MR. EFFORD: That must be Doug Moores.

MR. TOBIN: No it wasn't Doug Moores.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Doug Moores supports you, boy. Donates to you every time.

MR. EFFORD: Yes!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Big donation.

MR. TOBIN: He doesn't?

MR. EFFORD: What?

MR. TOBIN: Doug Moores doesn't support you?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: Yes, yes.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, oh!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what has happened here is the Member for Humber East went out the other night to the Baccalieu Chamber of Commerce, the largest in the Province by the way, and they just won an award, I understand, a major award, for the achievements that they have made. There were people there from Port de Grave, Carbonear -

MR. EFFORD: Nobody from Port de Grave.

MR. TOBIN: The Member for Humber East, there were people there, weren't they, from all over the district.

MS. VERGE: Yes.

MR. TOBIN: Now, including Port de Grave.

MS. VERGE: Bay Roberts and Spaniard's Bay, and Upper Island Cove.

MR. EFFORD: No way.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the people who were there from Port de Grave together with the other group, 66 per cent, two-thirds of the people there, voted against the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

MS. VERGE: All business people and all from Liberal districts.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, why is privatizing Hydro wrong? Why are the majority of the people in this Province opposed to the privatization of Hydro? Why are they -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: What did you say?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is nobody opposed to (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, boy. Seventy per cent in every poll done. What is going to happen is that this government here, Mr. Speaker, by cosying up to the federal government, by all members opposite agreeing with the compensation package that is going to eliminate 20-odd thousand people in this province from NCARP.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, it is true and I would say to the Minister of Finance, I find one Baker extremely conspicuous by his silence on this issue. 20,000 plus will be eliminated from the NCARP package.

MR. BAKER: We will eliminate them all.

MR. TOBIN: No, you won't eliminate them all, that's what coming off, 20,000 plus.

AN HON. MEMBER: About 18,000 (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, in this Province it is 18,000 but throughout Atlantic Canada, 20,000 -

MR. EFFORD: That's Tory numbers.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They are accurate numbers and you know it.

AN HON. MEMBER: 17,000 in this Province (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, what are your numbers, I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, what are your numbers?

MR. EFFORD: Ask the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

AN HON. MEMBER: 17,300 in this Province alone.

MR. TOBIN: 18,000 in this Province alone. Mr. Speaker, where are these people going to get the money to invest in a privatized Newfoundland Hydro, a new Hydro, where are they going to get the money to buy shares, $50,000-unit shares in Hydro, I ask members opposite?

AN HON. MEMBER: $50,000?

MR. TOBIN: I said unit.

MR. BAKER: Ten dollars.

MR. TOBIN: Ten dollars, the Minister of Finance says.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten dollars, six and four.

MR. TOBIN: No, you said ten dollars a share. There are people looking out who are going to invest in units and they are talking about $50,000; that's what someone said here one day, I believe I heard it. But, Mr. Speaker, where are these 18,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are coming off the package going to get money to invest in new Hydro? Where? They are not going to get it.

The government brought in legislation a few weeks ago banning the use of All Terrain Vehicles, basically. Now, they can't get to haul the wood out of the woods, so that wasn't enough, they brought in legislation whereby they can't cut wood anymore, except six cords and you must have it out of the woods two months from the time the permit is issued.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I only have eight minutes left. They would probably include, Mr. Speaker, ten cords and it would be good I say to the Member for Trinity North, but the fact of the matter is, that people who use wood today to heat their homes to cook and to do all the other things will not have enough wood to operate and will not be able to afford to use electric heat because of the cost involved when this company becomes private.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I wouldn't say that you are the only fellow to use it. You don't want to sell it to someone who is going to use it, do you, for $200?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know I have only a couple of minutes left but I would say to the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, that the people who are coming off the package in this Province, the 18,000, that this government of which he is a member has agreed to eliminate from the fisheries, will not be able to afford to heat their homes when this company is privatized. The Member for Port de Grave and all of the Cabinet, we have to remember, all of the Cabinet were involved in the decision.

MR. EFFORD: What decision?

MR. TOBIN: The decision to accept the package or the new package

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: By telling you that fishermen in your district and my district and all over Newfoundland and Labrador will not be able to afford to heat their homes, that's what I am saying, and you, sir, were part of the Cabinet, that the Minister of Fisheries or the Premier brought in a recommendation and said they are going to strip 18,000 people from the package and you supported it or you would be out of the Cabinet.

MR. EFFORD: Let me tell you that the people who voted for you (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Is that right?

MR. EFFORD: Yes.

MR. TOBIN: I am not saying that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Is that right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: So do you support the 18,000 coming out of the fishery?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: Do you support the 18,000 coming out of the fishery?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to expose the Member for Port de Grave. Will he give me leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hesitated there for a moment because I was sure that the Member for St. George's, or the Member for Port de Grave, or one of the other members opposite who heckled my colleague from Burin - Placentia West would want to stand in his place and speak for twenty or thirty minutes on this bill, the Electrical Power Control Act.

This has been put forward by the leader of the members opposite, and his cohort, the Member for Naskaupi, as the most important legislative initiative, along with Bill 1, since Confederation, so I was sure that members opposite would be vying with each other for a chance to have their say on this measure.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is interwoven with Bill 1. Bill 1, the measure to privatize Hydro, has been resoundingly rejected by the citizens of the Province, and members know it. The Premier, on March 24 promised, on Province-wide live television, that if in the end a majority of the population are opposed to Hydro privatization he would withdraw the legislation, so we have to assume now that Bill 1 is dead and that the government will not be proceeding to privatize Hydro. Therefore, it seems quite inappropriate for us here today to be debating Bill 2.

Now Bill 2 has several measures which relate to the privatization of Hydro. If those measures were deleted, this measure could stand on its own, but what would be sensible would be for the government to withdraw formally Bill 1, the privatization act, and then to pause and revise this bill, to amend it, reflecting continued public ownership of Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, when the Premier did speak on second reading of this bill, the Electrical Power Control Act, he gave the House of Assembly false information. At any rate, it was information inconsistent with what he later said on his Province-wide TV address.

In the first week of March, speaking in this Assembly, the Premier answered questions from the Opposition about the impact of provisions of the bill empowering the Public Utilities Board to reallocate power, indicating that he didn't know if it would affect the Upper Churchill. Three weeks later, after feeling the wrath of the public, after realizing that selling Hydro was hugely unpopular, the Premier asked for free Province-wide TV time. He got it, as he requested, from NTV, and during his NTV address he made the startling admission that he had withheld information from the House of Assembly and the people of the Province about one of his real reasons for wanting to pass Bill 2, the Electrical Power Control Act.

Mr. Speaker, what the Premier said, speaking to the House, he later contradicted in his TV address, so we, having heard an incomplete or a false account of the government's purposes for this bill from the Premier, it seems to me the Premier and the government should start from scratch, and the Premier should give us a revised, corrected explanation. At the very least this should be delayed for six months for the measure to be put out for public hearings.

The Premier's remarks have been inconsistent. The provisions of this bill themselves are inconsistent. One of the principles laid out in the bill is the provision of electricity to consumers at the lowest possible cost. That's found in one of the early sections of the bill. On page 8, clause 3(b)(iii), which says, `it is declared to be the policy of the Province that' and then (b) `all sources and facilities for the production, transmission and distribution of power in the Province should be managed and operated in a manner,' (iii) `that would result in power being delivered to consumers in the Province at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service.'

Well, Mr. Speaker, the other provisions of the bill which have to do with privatization of Hydro and which dovetail with Bill 1, will lead to higher cost electricity generation and higher costs to consumers then would result from continued public ownership of Hydro. Mr. Speaker, the government themselves have admitted that over the first five years, despite subsidies and tax breaks, the cost to consumers would rise by 11 per cent with private ownership versus 7 per cent with public ownership. Now, Mr. Speaker, the government, in making those projections, used the best case scenario for private ownership and the worst case scenario for Crown ownership.

Yesterday, I attended Memorial University Economics Professor Wade Locke's briefing on his analysis of the cost of Hydro privatization. Dr. Locke used what I consider to be very conservative, small `c' conservative, assumptions in his model. He pointed out that he has not been able to get the government's assumptions, their figures or their calculations because the government has withheld from the public it's calculations but Professor Locke and others who've analyzed the Hydro privatization question, do have quite a great deal of relevant information. We have the financial statements of Hydro - some of us haven't been able to get the most recent statement, the minister is withholding that but I gather from listening to Professor Locke that the Hydro officials recently gave him the most recent Hydro financial statements or some information contained in those statements.

So we have Hydro financial information, we have Public Utilities Board rulings and records, we have the bills, Bills 1 and 2 of course, and we have information about utilities throughout Canada, Newfoundland Power, Light and Power here in the Province. Based on all of those sources Professor Locke developed a model for analyzing the effects of Hydro privatization. The effects on the provincial economy in a comprehensive way. Professor Locke's best guesses or assumptions which he considers to be the most reasonable, lead to the conclusion that there will be a significant annual and on-going cost to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador resulting from privatization of Hydro.

Just for academic purposes he plugged into his model different assumptions and he had to inject assumptions that most knowledgable people would consider to be ridiculous to end up with anything like the numbers the provincial government has been publishing but the professor had to keep saying that nobody on the outside of government has been able to get the government's actual assumptions or calculations.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that assumes that the government did calculations. I don't personally assume that the government did a cost benefit analysis. I'm inclined to suspect that one reason the government hasn't published a cost benefit analysis is that it didn't do one. It's obvious that the Premier personally has been steering this whole Hydro privatization process. It is apparent that the Minister of Mines and Energy has had no real role. The minister's staff have not been involved.

The President of Treasury Board hasn't had a meaningful say, so the people within the government you would expect to be assisting the Premier with a financial analysis have not been players. This has been the Premier's personal cause, and the Premier has no expertise in financial analysis, so my personal guess is that the government didn't do a financial analysis, certainly - if they did one at all - not until the process of privatization was well launched.

Mr. Speaker, the Electrical Power Control Act, as I have just quoted, lays out as part of provincial policy the provision of lowest possible cost electricity to consumers. Yet, the privatization of Hydro will result in higher than necessary costs - higher costs than would follow from continued public ownership of Hydro, so this bill itself, on its face, is inconsistent and contradictory.

Now Professor Locke yesterday stressed one point in particular. It is a point that I had previously understood, but I think it deserves more attention in our House of Assembly debate. This bill, Bill 2, again in one of the early clauses, Clause 3 - I am having difficulty reading today because I lost my glasses - I think it is on page 9, is a provision saying that the income tax that electricity retailers pay the federal government, 85 per cent of which is now under federal legislation, the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, or PUITTA for short, comes to the Province will, by the Province, be handed back to the utilities. So Newfoundland Light and Power which, in recent years, has been paying federal tax, and 85 per cent of that tax the federal government has been paying the Province and staying in provincial coffers to go for the President of Treasury Board's operations, will, if this act is passed, be handed from the provincial government back to Newfoundland Light and Power.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Well, we hope it will go back to the rate payers. That would be subject to the Public Utilities Board rulings.

Now Hydro, as a Crown corporation, is not subject to the requirement of paying income tax, so PUITTA is academic with public ownership of Hydro, but if Hydro is privatized then it will be subject -

MR. EFFORD: When it is privatized.

MS. VERGE: If -

MR. EFFORD: No, when.

MS. VERGE: So the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is not going to respect public opinion. He is not going to honour the Premier's commitment to withdraw the Hydro privatization if a majority of people are against it.

Obviously, 80 per cent of the general population are against it, and two-thirds of the business people in Port de Grave District, who are in the Baccalieu Trail Chamber of Commerce are against it, and I know it's true. I talked to several of the minister's constituents the other night.

Mr. Speaker, if I could have the attention of the President of Treasury Board again, if Hydro is privatized it will be subject to liability for income tax, and under PUITTA, the federal act, 85 per cent of that will have to be paid by the federal government to the Province. This act will have the effect of the provincial 85 per cent being handed back to the privately owned Hydro.

Now Professor Locke's point, and I would like the attention of the President of Treasury Board, is that there is no guarantee that the federal legislation, the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, will continue, and he suggested that competitors for energy, such as oil companies, would likely lobby against PUITTA, perhaps arguing in favour of that arrangement being extended to oil companies, or perhaps urging the Federal Government to end the discriminatory treatment of suppliers of energy, and remove the tax break for electrical generators, or retailers, if it is not going to be extended to oil companies who, after all, compete for the same business. If you bear in mind that the big provinces of Ontario and Quebec have Crown-owned electrical utilities, in Ontario, Ontario Hydro and in Quebec, Hydro Quebec, there wouldn't be much of a lobby in Ottawa against the discontinuation of PUITTA. If PUITTA is terminated, if there is no future federal legislation obligating the Federal Government to share income tax from privately-owned utilities with provincial governments, then, obviously there will be nothing that the Provincial Government here, or the Provincial House of Assembly here will be able to do to get any of that income tax back from Ottawa, and the full effect of the income tax paid by Newfoundland Light and Power, and a privatized Hydro, if that happens, the full amount of that tax paid to the Federal Government would be retained by the Federal Government and would be a real operating cost of the privately- owned utilities here, which those utilities obviously would have built into their rate base by the Public Utilities Board.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It being 4:30 p.m., I ask the hon. member to adjourn the debate.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I adjourn the debate with the comment that, if the federal legislation called PUITTA is terminated, then electricity consumers in this Province would be subjected to an annual rate increase of about $50 million a year more than we would be subjected to already, so the extent of the cost increase would be much more horrendous than it would be otherwise.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to clue up.

It being 4:30 p.m., under our Standing Orders we will commence the adjournment debate.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not satisfied with the answer to my question to the Premier on Tuesday. It was the first time I questioned the Premier. I was certainly not satisfied with the answer he gave me yesterday, and I am less satisfied today because he didn't give me any answer. It is pertaining to the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy that we all now refer to as TAGS. The one aspect of the program that he thought he was familiar with, that of the fishing industry renewal boards, which was his baby, which he thought he was most familiar with, and which he thought he had made a gain from Mr. Tobin with the industry renewal boards - I pointed out to him that the mandate of the industry renewal boards was very strict. Mr. Tobin was very explicit that the mandate of the fishing industry renewal boards was to oversee, to bring about, a reduction in the harvesting and processing capacity in Atlantic Canada to a minimum of 50 per cent. Now, the Premier took exception to my questioning and probing on Tuesday.

MR. BAKER: So he should.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: `So he should,' says the Minister of Finance. After the Premier read the information given him by his Minister of Fisheries during the questioning, and since he has realized that what I said on Tuesday was correct, the Premier, of course, yesterday morning very quickly sent off a letter to the federal minister wanting him to outline and to explain the mandate of the fishing industry renewal boards, because the Premier is not quite as comfortable now. He is not quite as confident that the renewal boards have the mandate that he thought they had. So it will be very interesting to follow this now, over the next while, until Mr. Tobin responds.

So, the Premier didn't know the aspect of the TAGS program that he though he knew best. Then, of course, under further questioning, whether people who will go on the green projects, the make-work projects, whether when they went on U.I. and the U.I. ran out, would they then revert to the TAGS program that the Premier, at that particular time, said they would.

He then went on to say that those - as well, I wanted to question him on the training programs. What happens if a person decides to take a two-year retraining program, and completes the training program? Would they then revert to compensation under TAGS? Well, I'm not so sure the Premier was correct in his answer, I say to the Minister of Finance. It's something that I think the Premier should write another letter to Mr. Tobin about and get those answers.

The other thing that really threw me, Mr. Speaker, on the Premier, was how evasive he was. He went on to say, on Tuesday, that they had worked very closely with the Federal Government since March 10. He says, `Since about March 10, there has been a detailed, almost daily involvement with the two governments developing this approach.' Yet, the Premier could not stand in the House, give us the criteria, tell us how many people - he said 3,000 people in the first year, which has now been verified by officials of Human Resources. Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't think he does anything himself, I say to the Minister of Finance, only travel, and I don't think he does that by himself - every time I watch the television to see who's with him and who's standing behind him. I don't think he even does that by himself, I say to the minister. It's always the same familiar face that's very close to the Premier, regardless of what part of the country or the world the Premier is in. So he doesn't even travel alone.

But it is amazing for the Premier to admit that they have been involved on a daily basis since March 10, `but I don't know the criteria, I don't know the mandate of the fishing industry renewal boards, I don't know how many people will be displaced between now and May 15, 1995, I don't know if the figure of 10,100 is correct, the member is misrepresenting the facts.' And when I asked him to table a copy of the criteria and of the government's position, he refused to do that. So it's totally amazing, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier of this Province - of a program that's so important to the future of our Province and so important to the 23,000 people now receiving benefits under NCARP and AGAP that he could not give an answer on any of it, and when he gave an answer on what he was supposed to be most familiar with, he didn't understand that either, Mr. Speaker. So I'm totally dissatisfied with the answer from the Premier and I think he should resign.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the two or three different issues that the hon. member raised, there has been no confusion from day one about any of them. If there is confusion maybe it's in the hon. member's mind but there's certainly no confusion anywhere else.

With the mandate of the renewal boards, which is an issue, Mr. Speaker, that is continuing in it's development - because there are no renewal boards in place yet, there are no criteria agreed to as to exactly what the mandate of those renewal boards will be - there has been a general consensus reached at this in point in time. Yes, we do think it's probably a very good idea and a good way to go to the next aspect of the program because there's a three-pronged approach, Mr. Speaker, that we're dealing with.

The immediate concern was compensation, following May 15, which has now been announced by the federal minister. The second issue was the whole idea of dealing with the industry, what the shape and make-up of the industry will be for the future when the cod stocks and the ground fishery returns and then, of course, the fact that regardless of what that particular industry looks like, what other economic development types of initiatives do we need in the Province as a companion type of program.

So the Premier did, indeed, know the mandate of the renewal boards, Mr. Speaker, and it was right in the information that the hon. members opposite had. The language itself says that the role of each industry renewal board could be to manage an industry consultation process, develop, and co-ordinate and implement capacity reduction plans, and the clear indication in the information provided by the federal ministers at the press conference, Mr. Speaker, was that, that could be part of the mandate and in all likelihood might very well be part of the mandate, and one of the things that will happen, certainly, is that somebody, hopefully these renewal boards, will look at the revitalized, renewed fishery of the future. And it is just not an exercise of going through which plants will close of the existing plants on a permanent basis, but it is a full exercise of looking at what will be the fishery of the future. What about the existing ongoing fishery? What about the addition to that of re-opening of a groundfish fishery? and what would the whole shape of the new fishery be? And that's exactly what the Premier answered, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the members opposite didn't want to hear it or didn't understand it, but there was no confusion, certainly by the Premier, and none on this side.

Talking about the hon. member, Mr. Speaker, raising the question because he wasn't satisfied with the answer, everybody here was totally satisfied with the answer on this side of the House and have been totally satisfied with the level of consultation, and as the full details of the eligibility criteria and the rest are released and given first and foremost to the individuals involved, they will be fully satisfied and, as indicated, the Province has been pleased to have been given an opportunity to consult and are recognizing that it will be seen to be a fair start to a program that has a very large mandate to accomplish.

The hon. member, Mr. Speaker, as well, referenced the training programs, and if he will read the information again -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. GRIMES: I am sorry about that; I would like to go further, but maybe in answer to one of the next questions, I may carry on with this answer first.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: `Roger', why do you stand up and say that, knowing that you know the difference? You don't know any more about this than (inaudible), do you, boy?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before I recognize the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, the level of private conversation in this House is reaching such a level that for the last three or four minutes, I had difficulty hearing both the hon. the Member for Grand Bank and the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. The Chair is going to start enforcing the rules in this House, and I advise hon. members to take heed.

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good ruling.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HODDER: On Tuesday, I asked a question of the Minister of Education relative to the number of teaching and administrative positions that school boards can retain for the next school year, 1994-95, and I raise it because a number of school boards have said publicly that the cuts to their staff are two to three times what they had expected, and as a consequence, the school boards are eliminating some vital programs that I am sure causes the minister to have some great concern, and when we start to cut programs like music and art and physical education - and, in particular, I noted that some school boards are cutting guidance services.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister, in his response, indicated that there would be 191 teaching positions lost because of the normal decline in student enrolments in the Province, and that the number lost through the 2 per cent savings clause would be 362 teachers. We know that that doesn't quite add up in reality to 500-something positions because there are some adjustments that are being made.

Mr. Speaker, I have been receiving a lot of correspondence in the last little while from school boards and from Parent-Teacher Associations and they all raise the same questions. The questions basically revolve around: How can we protect the integrity of guidance services, special education services, and still, at the same time, try to live within the economic constraints that we have to face as a Province?

The loss of guidance positions causes us great concern, as we all are aware that many children of this Province are facing difficult circumstances in their homes - circumstances the like of which have not been needed to be faced by parents and families in perhaps the last fifty years. Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that when we start cutting guidance programs, and cutting career counselling, we are looking at not giving the kind of guidance to children who have very special needs, children who daily have to cope with adult-world problems, and it is certainly not going to augur well for the education of the children of this Province, and it's going to be, I guess, in it's total impact on the school system, a very, very negative phenomena.

Mr. Speaker, parents are saying to me, as the critic for education, they are afraid of doubling the numbers in a classroom.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Every year, between January and March, the Department of Education looks at the total school system, and during that period, the department determines how many teachers are required to teach all the programs that are allocated, to provide guidance councillors, to deal with the special needs, to deal with the small schools allocation. There are a whole lot of things which are taken into consideration when the department determines just how many teachers are going to be allocated to the system.

This year, as in other years, the department looked at the Strait of Belle Isle School Board, looked at the Avalon Consolidated School Board, looked at the school boards on the West Coast, all the schools in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, looked at all their subjects, all their requirements, and it was determined, taking into consideration declining enrolment and what have you, that in order to do an adequate job, a perfect job of delivering the courses, the system would need 7,293 teachers.

These teachers have been allocated. The school boards have been notified. I am confident that considering the job that has to be done, considering the financial position that the Province is in, that is an adequate number of teachers, and that they will do all the things that are required to be done to fulfil our duty to deliver education to this Province.

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

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

On Tuesday I questioned the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations dealing with the $262 million loss of revenue coming into this Province due to the federal government's budget dealing with UI cuts. Now the minister, while answering my questions, or attempting to answer my questions, failed to give any substance whatsoever to the real economic impact that these changes will have on the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not wrong, I say to the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. He stood in this House early in March, when I introduced a Private Member's resolution, and said that as a result of these changes only $20 million to $25 million would be lost to this Province. He was wrong then; he is wrong now. I pointed out at that time, as did members on this side of the House, that over $200 million would be lost as a result of these changes, and it has been confirmed by the federal Department of Human Resources.

Mr. Speaker, what is more interesting to note than anything is that as a result of these changes Newfoundland and Labrador, across the country, was the third highest province in terms of revenue lost, coming behind only Quebec and Ontario.

Now I ask the minister then, that Newfoundland and Labrador, with 2 per cent of the population, that we know here that changes are coming to the social safety programs in our country, and that we know that we also have to bear our share of responsibility, but let us bear it equally was the point I put forward - that if we were to bear responsibility for those changes, 2 per cent of the population of Canada, then we would have lost $58 million in revenue, not $262 million.

I asked the minister on Tuesday, had his government examined the impact on the provincial economy of this huge loss in income. He did not answer and could not answer that question; I suspect because they had not.

I asked the minister how many jobs will be lost as a result, because there will be a $262 million drop in consumer spending. He did not answer, because I suspect again that he could not, because they had not examined that very, very important question.

I also asked the minister how much revenue will the Province lose directly and indirectly as a result of these cuts. The minister again could not answer because the Province and his government, or the government that he represents have not examined the impact from these changes.

Mr. Speaker, I hasten to point out as well that as a result of these UI changes - and people can slough it off and not pay attention to it, but the cold hard reality is coming home to roost within the next four to five months in this Province, that as a result of these changes there will be an additional 16,350 people who will no longer quality for UI in this Province, 16,000 people extra will find themselves in some way, shape, or form, on the payroll of the Province in terms of social assistance. Also as a result of these cuts 13,700 people will get less UI because of the reduced benefits and the shortened claim period.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have stood in this House and asked the minister questions on this all important subject, and I asked him today to answer the questions directly, to examine the impact, the economic and social impact of these changes, to put forward the point of view of the Province, and to condemn, to condemn, I say again, the actions and the impact that these changes will have on the Province and on our people. It is interesting to note also, Mr. Speaker, that $262 million annually coming out of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a result of these changes, disproportionately, I might add, will result over a five year period to almost exactly the same amount that we will see as a Province coming in, in terms of the new fish aid package.

That is a reality, and that is a fact we cannot escape. I ask the minister to come clean today. If he has not examined the impact directly, come clean, and say he has not, and say that his department will examine the impact and then put forward a plan of how he, and the government he represents, intends to put those 16,000 people who will find themselves without any UI whatsoever, as a result of these changes, how he intends, and how his government intends to find employment or put them to work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity, in a little bit of an extended fashion, to deal with this issue because it is obvious that, for whatever convenient reason, the Opposition, as represented by the hon. critic, has decided to dwell on a certain point and make it seem like this is something terrible when in fact it is not.

The issue that is raised - and that is exactly what I will deal with now, how narrow minded and how small people can be about something if you want to dwell on it, in one aspect only. If you looked at a comparison, one part of which has been done by the federal officials and also examined by ourselves, of saying that if in next year exactly the same circumstance pertained in Newfoundland and Labrador as in the previous year and nothing changed whatsoever, all the same people qualified for UI and the new regulations came into place, this is the possibility of the kind of magnitude of a change that could possibly occur.

That assumes though that nothing else changed whatsoever, nobody did anything to try to do anything about it, and that we were just going to sit back and let it happen and make no attempts to try to find a new answer to what we have admitted up front has created a new difficulty. There has been a new void created. Our efforts are not to go around complaining about that and saying: No, federal government, you shouldn't have made any attempt whatsoever to preserve the UI program for the use of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Because we use it in a disproportionate rate compared to anybody else in the country. So we said: Please preserve it.

We had other proposals that said: If you are going to do that, please consider this as well, which are not ready yet and not approved. Our efforts, Mr. Speaker, have been in terms of trying to find a way to fill that void. Not in terms of condemning somebody for doing one part that was right even though they didn't do the rest. The one part that we did is right because everybody in the country, and particularly Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, want the unemployment insurance program maintained, preserved, and make sure it is viable into the distant future, not only into the short-term. That is exactly the kind of changes that the federal government looked at.

The hon. member in presenting his case talked about the third highest loss being experienced in Newfoundland and Labrador. He didn't mention where we rate in terms of how many benefits we receive on an annual basis and where that ranks in terms of the rest of the provinces of Canada, either in raw numbers or on a percentage basis. You can't have one side of that equation without the other.

Let me talk about the one number that he continues to use: 2 per cent of the population. Great argument. We use it ourselves many times in terms of what we are in relation to the whole country and what the needs should be and on a fair basis that should happen. But nobody on this side of the House, and nobody on that side of the House, I'm sure, ever proposed that in terms of unemployment insurance benefits coming to Newfoundland and Labrador, that regardless of the need, and regardless of how many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians qualified on an individual basis, that no more than 2 per cent of the money in the UI fund should ever come to Newfoundland and Labrador. You can't argue that both ways.

You cannot say on one hand that if everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador for some reason tomorrow qualified for UI, that they met the qualification criteria, that you couldn't send any more money to Newfoundland and Labrador than 2 per cent of the total fund because that is our population, nobody here will argue that. That's never been the case but as soon as a fair system is applied to the whole country in terms of a reduction that has to be done on a criteria that fits the whole country then because it's convenient, members opposite would say, never mind what happens to the criteria. The money that's taken out of the Province on a lump sum basis should not exceed 2 per cent of the total loss. It just doesn't fit. The argument has to fit both ways. You can't use it when it's convenient, Mr. Speaker, it can't be done. The question is always - there's the suggestion that 16,000 people may not qualify for UI. That may very well be true but we understand that those numbers might be close, provided again, nothing changes.

The assumption then, proposed by the hon. member opposite, is that they automatically go to social assistance. The normal take up is that less then 20 per cent of UI exhaustee's qualify for social assistance because of the fact, Mr. Speaker, that unemployment insurance is a personal entitlement whereas social assistance is a family based entitlement. Just because I, as an individual, may no longer qualify for UI does not mean that I automatically get social assistance. It depends then on what other income is in the family and so on. So you can't make the argument in a very simplistic fashion and suggest that there's something terribly wrong with this. There is an outcome that we'd rather not have. We've addressed that with the federal government, we said the real answer is to look at the $800 million fund that Mr. Axworthy has at his disposal and find out -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. GRIMES: - how much of that we can get into this Province to fill the new void that has been created.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, now that the minister has explained this distinctly, concisely and effectively, before you put the motion to adjourn that the rules require, and I expect the motion will be passed, not withstanding the demands of hon. member's opposite to carry on straightforwardly through the meal hour but, Your Honour, may I remind the House that we shall tomorrow carry on with the debate on the bill on the Electrical Power Control Act - did I get that right?

MR. BAKER: Yes.

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my friend from Gander.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I see, okay. That just goes to show that even the printers are not perfectionists. Only the hon. woman is able to claim perfection in this House. Now that we've heard from the best of the Opposition member's, we await with eagerness to the speeches from the others tomorrow. With that said, I'll leave it to Your Honour to put whatever motion is appropriate.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, at 9 a.m.