December 12, 1994          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLII  No. 78


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

For the purposes of Hansard I would to record that the House did not meet on Friday, December 9, 1994 because of a power failure here at the Confederation Building, among other places.

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform hon. members of the House of Assembly and residents of this Province that my department's plans to call early tenders for highway projects funded under the Roads for Rails Agreement for the 1995-96 construction seasons. This year's projects, totalling $55 million, includes the upgrading and paving of gravel roads, resurfacing of existing paved roads, and repairs to existing bridges on the Province's Trans-Canada Highway and trunk roads. I would also like to advise this hon. House that my department will include with these contracts some projects funded by the Provincial Highways Program which is 100 per cent provincially funded.

Mr. Speaker, the projects to be carried out under this Capital Highways Program reflect the priorities established by my department to improve the overall transportation infrastructure of Newfoundland and Labrador. The government realizes that the projects I am announcing today will not meet all requirements for highway improvement throughout the Province. However, given the restraint that government must adopt, the amount of funds approved for this purpose is significant and will boost employment throughout the provincial highway construction industry.

Mr. Speaker, tenders for the work will be called as soon as possible, and it is anticipated that all projects will be tendered by June. For the information of hon. members and the general public I have listed each project separately as attached.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to add that the other reason for my calling them is because it will give the construction companies time over the winter months, those who have successfully tendered, to get their machinery repaired and those who are not will not have to go through the expense of getting their equipment ready for the construction season for projects they may not necessarily get, so it is an advantage to the construction industry as well as to government.

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

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

Let me have a brief second to respond. I note that the minister did not highlight how much the Province would be putting into their program. He says it was 100 per cent provincially funded but he did not say how much it would be. It is my understanding that it's $2,755,000.00 to be exact, somewhere in that area, but we agree with early tendering, Mr. Speaker, it is something that we did when we were in government and we know the advantages to both the construction industry and to the Province, they will get better prices and hopefully get more road work done, but I say to the minister, I certainly hope that there will be a further announcement from the minister as it pertains to a provincial roads component program where - this is not all we are going to see because just about all this money, 98 per cent or 99 per cent of this money is federal, money from the Roads for Rail Agreement -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - so I hope that the minister will, in the next few weeks, stand up and announce a Provincial Roads Program for us.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I have a summary of the events of the last few days regarding the electrical problems in the Province and I have had a rather long statement prepared by Hydro on the Hydro experience; I will not read it but I will table it for hon. members so they can see the details of what happened to Hydro; I have a number of copies available. I have just received, since I arrived here today, a two-page summary from Newfoundland Light and Power, I have not had a chance to make copies of this but I will make copies and table this as well, as soon as copies are made.

I will not go into the details myself right now, except to say that I would like to congratulate the many lines crews with both Light and Power and Hydro, who have done a lot of work in the last few days and are getting the Province back on line, and have done a marvellous job, a marvellous job!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I spoke to the minister just before the session started and he mentioned it to me; but we too, want to share with the minister in paying our tribute to the men and women I guess who have been working basically the entire weekend trying to put the electrical system back in place. There are parts of this Province that still do not have electricity at this present time, even though the men are working hard trying to restore the power but I am sure I will have an opportunity to discuss it with the minister in a matter of minutes.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If I could have leave of the House, just to make a brief statement to clarify certain issues that have risen from the Question Period on Thursday.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave to address the House? Is leave given?

MR. WINDSOR: I just want to clarify things, Mr. Speaker, because of news media reports over the weekend and quite a bit of controversy and sensationalism that arose from that exchange in Question Period on Thursday.

First of all, I make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, that I did not, in this House of Assembly, call the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation a murderer nor was it ever any intent of mine to do so or imply so, and if that in fact was the result of that, then that is most unfortunate, and that clearly, Mr. Speaker, was not my intent. Indeed, had it been, or had I inadvertently done so, I have no doubt Your Honour would have brought me to task in this hon. House, as you should because it clearly would have been unparliamentary.

I want to make it very clear there was never any intent on my behalf, nor did I do that. It is unfortunate certain members of the news media tend to want to sensationalize and took an unfortunate choice of words that I used at that particular time to sensationalize, instead of getting into the real issue, which were the conditions of the highway that I had complained about to the minister on two occasions. I was pointing out to him again that in my view, and in the view of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, highway conditions during snow and ice problems have been far less than satisfactory and have deteriorated.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, Mr. Speaker, in that that day and subsequent to then it is has been my observation and that of many others in fact that we've seen a tremendous improvement in the level of service that is being provided. If the result of what I said has in fact saved even one accident then I think it was well done.

If there is any effrontery to the minister I would apologize to the minister. I say, however, that I really don't feel I have anything to apologize for. There was no intent, either implied or intended to in any way imply that the minister was in fact a murderer. I would certainly not do so and did not do so and would never do so in this hon. House or anywhere else. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly eighteen adult basic education students from Lawrence College on Blackmarsh Road here in St. John's, accompanied by their teacher Ms. Isabelle Maynard.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to get back to Trans City Holdings. I want to ask the Premier a question. We understand - and this comes, I guess, from sworn public testimony - that on October 17 1991, the day before the resignation I guess of the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir then as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - I think it was October 17 -, that a Cabinet meeting was held and a decision was made at that Cabinet meeting after the Premier had left that particular Cabinet meeting to seek a legal opinion on the Trans City Holdings case. Can the Premier confirm this information?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the time at which it was decided to seek a legal opinion, but however in literally hundreds of papers that are dealt with by Cabinet we quite often go back to seek legal opinion and so on. I don't remember the date. If the hon. member says it was in sworn testimony, then I guess that was the date, but I don't recall.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask the Minister of Finance if he recalled, I asked the Premier if he recalled, and if he could find out, was that the date of the meeting and had that decision been taken to seek a legal opinion on that issue after he had left the Cabinet meeting? That is what I am trying to find out.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the minister has answered the question fully and thoroughly - I have no other knowledge. I don't even know that I left the Cabinet meeting on that day.

MR. SIMMS: Will you find out?

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I will take a look but I am not going to turn the thing inside out because the member suggests I left the Cabinet meeting. What difference does it make whether I was there or I wasn't there? A decision was taken by Cabinet, it was Cabinet's decision and I am responsible for it whether I was there or I wasn't there.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, it might not be of any interest to the Premier but it is of interest to others and that is why I am asking the questions. Now, let me ask him again with reference to questions I asked him here in the House on Thursday; back in 1991, in reference to the health care contracts, you told The Evening Telegram and I quote from the interview here, `you had never met with Mr. Hickman or anyone connected with this project to discuss this project, never at any time.' On Thursday in this House you felt a little less certain about that, because in answer to another question I asked about the same thing, you said, in response to my question, `I can't say to the House with certainty that I did not.' Now, I want to ask the Premier, which tale is true? At any time did you or did you not talk to Mr. Hickman or any of the principals about those health care projects?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know the Leader of the Opposition is dragging and scratching to try to give some credibility to the attempt they have made over the last few weeks to create a mountain out of a molehill but I can tell the hon. member he isn't going to succeed. I have given the answers to the questions and I don't always accept what The Evening Telegram says, still less am I prepared to accept something that is interrupted by the hon. member out of The Evening Telegram.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the reason I was hesitant was because he didn't answer the question, which seems to be the approach he has used in response to all my questions over the last several weeks. So it isn't me, making a mountain out of a molehill, it is the Premier.

He also said, Mr. Speaker, in the House last Thursday that at his meeting with Mr. Hickman, Mr. Case and Mr. Butler on April 4, the discussion at that meeting had to do with the proposal to do a design, build/lease contract to Trans City, to build a library for the court house on Duckworth Street, and that was all that was discussed.

I want to ask the Premier this question: If your good friend, Tom Hickman, can walk into your office looking for a contract to build a courthouse library, do you really expect anyone to believe that there never was, at any time, any discussion between you and Tom Hickman, or any of these other people, about the more lucrative health care projects?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, he just fell through the bottom of the bucket and he has gone right out of sight, right down wallowing in the mud, and he is obviously choking on it; that's why he has come up with this mess.

Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that I met with the then Minister of Justice, the then President of Treasury Board, and myself, with the three gentlemen who proposed this as a solution. There was no decision to give a contract to anybody to build a courthouse. This was proposed as a solution, and if that had been a solution that the government were prepared to follow at the time, proposals would have been invited in a public manner in the same way as they were with respect to the health care facilities.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, let's get back to the meeting on April 4, then, that you say dealt with the Duckworth courts. Now, we have been told publicly that the decision to reject Trans City's proposal on that idea had, in fact, already been made months before by the government, in 1990, so what possible explanation can the Premier have to be meeting those people back in 1991, several months later, after the government had, in fact, already rejected the idea?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the hon. member gets the information and, if he doesn't get the information, from what cloud he produces it. I know of nothing of any accuracy in what he just said, so I can't answer any question in relation to it.

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

MR. SIMMS: It is the usual response, Mr. Speaker. This information comes from sworn testimony. What we do know is that the government did ignore the advice of its own officials - there is lots of evidence on that - Finance officials, Works, Services and Justice officials.

We have a Finance Minister who has been standing in this House over the last number of weeks, saying he didn't know anything about this appendix. He doesn't know who wrote it, who gave it to him, why he signed it - he doesn't know any of that - and the Premier's response in all of this is: I can't recall; I don't remember; I can't say with any certainty.

Well, I want to say to you, Premier: Isn't it a fact, because of the evasiveness of all of this that you have been showing now, that you knew everything from day one and that you are masterminding a cover-up of this whole situation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, he has left the planet altogether - he is out in Mars somewhere.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if ever there was a sign of guilt you see it there every day with his answers. He can abuse me and attack me about questions I am asking all he wants but the fact of the matter is you are pulling the wool over the eyes of the people of this Province and you are covering up everything you have been doing on this whole issue. That is what is going on here.

Let me ask the Premier this question, will he put an end to this once and for all? Will he appoint a judicial inquiry to decide and determine whether or not there was improper political interference into this whole mess? Will he do that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me say again, there is a judicial inquiry in progress and I am not about to cause another judicial inquiry to be conducted. The member just stood here in the House talking about sworn testimony being given. Where is this being given?.... in a court where a judicial inquiry is taking place. Now, Mr. Speaker, I will not subvert the course of civil justice in this Province, even to satisfy the political urges of the Leader of the Opposition. I simply will not do it.

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: The Premier had no difficulty in subverting the Public Tender Act, it appears, Mr. Speaker, and he knows full well that the civil court case which is ongoing has nothing to do with political wrongdoing. That is what I am asking for. That is a civil case looking into whether or not the act was broken and whether people who feel aggrieved will be compensated. I want an inquiry into whether or not there was political wrongdoing by him and his government. Will he do that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will say again. When the present court case is concluded, if there is anything that comes out of this court case, or anything from any other source except the raving imaginings of the Leader of the Opposition I will most certainly cause a public inquiry to be held.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Energy. He said earlier he had some information so I want to ask him now if he can tell us if he has any preliminary estimates of the amount of damage that was done and how much it will cost for repairs as a result of what took place this past weekend?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any dollar values on the amount of damage but the amount of damage was really significant, particularly to the Newfoundland Light and Power system. There was some damage to the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro system but in retrospect as we look back on it now it was quite small. In the Newfoundland Labrador Hydro system case there was the failure of one major breaker at Holyrood that is now being repaired, and will be repaired probably within hours, certainly within a day or two, and one of the major lines for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro between here and Long Harbour went down, Line 201. That one had seven wooden structures collapse and that is going to take a few days. I will probably have an estimate of cost in due course on that. Maybe by the end of a week, by this time next week, that line will be back in service.

That is all the damage that Hydro had, really, significant damage. There was one conductor that came off Line 217 and had to be spliced in three places but that wasn't a lot of major damage. It came down because of the weight of the ice and snow that was on it. Really, in terms of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, not a lot of damage at all, despite the problem.

In the Newfoundland Power case, though, between here and Gander there were some major failures in structures. Naturally with the distribution system there are a lot more facilities that can be affected and were affected in this case. Over 200 poles were destroyed, lines were down all over, primarily though on the Avalon. There were some problems as far west as Gander but these were taken care of quickly. Light and Power right now has thirty line crews and twelve pole crews in the field on the Avalon west of St. John's. They've had fifteen crews in the field in the St. John's area getting new poles in place, getting lines in place. A lot of damage. Even despite all the damage, with all the crews they've put into the field they expect to have pretty well everything back on line again by tomorrow night.

There are going to be some towns back on line by tonight out in the Freshwater - Placentia area, and then there is another string of towns around the northern Avalon Peninsula down around Heart's Delight, Brownsdale, and down around that peninsula, that are expected to be back on line by tomorrow night. A lot of damage, a lot of work, and it will take some time I think to get the cost.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there has been some concern about how long it took to put the Holyrood generating plant back on line. I'm wondering if that is the case, if it was longer than it should be, and if it was what caused it to take so long to put it back on line.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, maybe I could say a few things of what is in the note that I tabled for people's information. When the major failure occurred on Thursday night-Friday morning as a result of the storm it wasn't primarily because of a failure of the Hydro system. We lost two lines, one at 11:04 on Thursday evening and one at 1:34 on Friday morning. At that time all that happened was that the eastern Avalon became isolated from everything to the west and we were running on Holyrood. There was an adequate supply from Holyrood to keep the eastern Avalon going. It was doing that. The problem was that the Light and Power system, was down and could not do any distribution. Lots of power was available.

What happened at Holyrood that caused it to go down happened on Saturday afternoon when Hydro after surveying Transmission Line 217, a big 230,000 volt line, couldn't find any faults on it and decided to try to get it back into the system. When they did hook it back into the system a major breaker at Holyrood blew. When that one happened it tripped out the Holyrood system, it knocked out the Holyrood system. Once that is done the machinery takes over and it has to close down in a routine fashion. It has to close down in such a way that there would not be damage to the equipment. That did happen on Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening.

Within twenty-four hours Hydro had all that back and restarted again. I've got the exact times. On Sunday everything was back and operating. Unit 2 was operating at 12:44 p.m. on Sunday, Unit 3 at 1:35 p.m., and Unit 1 a little bit later in the day. We got everything back on Holyrood. It did take close to twenty-four hours but that is nothing unusual because of the nature of that particular system.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister giving his statement to the media early Saturday morning when he was awakened by the media stations. I would like to ask the minister, was there any provincial agency on the ground coordinating the emergency relief measures throughout the areas that were affected?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask any particular agency to do anything. I dealt with Hydro to get power available to the Province, to the eastern Avalon, and Light and Power was doing everything it could to get its system back in place to get that power distributed to the customer. I didn't consider it to be an emergency or declare an emergency.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health.

In the Budget last March, the Minister of Finance announced that the three diploma schools of nursing in the St. John's area, namely: St. Clare's, The Grace General and The General Hospital will be consolidated into a single program this year. We are now close to the end of the calendar year and nine months into the fiscal year. I ask the minister, can he tell us, when will the consolidation take place?

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

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

The matter of the consolidation of the three nursing schools, the two at the hospitals and the one at the university, is under consideration right now. Government has not dealt with it in finality; I can tell the member that as late as this morning, I sat with my officials and had discussions on the issue and I will be proposing some options for consideration by government within the next week or ten days through Cabinet and in due course, not too long, probably late this year or early in the new year, assuming we deal with it at that level, I will be able to indicate exactly what government's plan is to amalgamate, consolidate these three schools of nursing and the time frames, the time parameters within which we hope to have this achieved.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I gather there is not, but I ask him if there is, a specific plan. The reason I am asking, is because the staff at these three schools of nursing, who were very concerned about their jobs and their livelihoods, have heard nothing about a plan and know nothing about a plan.

Now, is there a plan to treat them with fairness that they deserve or are they going to be lined up again this year for one of the Christmas delights that this government is famous for?

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

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

Again, to my hon. colleague, there is a plan; it will be presented to government and it will be discussed in the near future with them. Once we finalize the preferred option, the preferred time frame into which we want to do this, we will make it known. The people who will be affected in terms of their jobs, in terms of employment will be given, ample, full time consistent with collective agreements and that sort of thing, to be made aware of what the plan is, when the thing will happen, and everybody will be treated in a fair, balanced, and considered way, consistent with what this government does traditionally, on pretty well everything we deal with.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, in the same they have treated things in the past. I say to the minister, they found out about it when he read his statement here, when he brought down his Budget this past winter, that is when the schools of nursing found out.

Now, already, directives have been sent out to those schools of nursing to slash from $250,000 upwards out of their budgets for the upcoming year. Now, is the minister putting the responsibility on those schools to get rid of the staff before the new board takes over?

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

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

No, we are not. What is done in a budgetary consideration is one thing, what is done in terms of policy direction with respect to the consolidation of the schools of nursing is another thing, and whatever directions have been given to the schools of nursing in terms of budgetary considerations have been done on one of two bases. It is being done in the context of budgets that were approved last year or it is being done as a collaborative consultative process, looking forward to Budgets next year, but the budget thing and the consolidation of the schools of nursing are really two separate things and please don't get them mixed up in the question.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know how far advanced the design work for the so-called Caboto Centre is; when does the minister see start-up of construction, and most important of all, anticipate the completion of this building?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As indicated in the statement I made to the House one day last week, the preliminary design work has been completed by the consulting firm and the Provincial Government will be making an official request of the Federal Government for funding hopefully, before Christmas.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, a part of my first question I will have to repeat, again.

I asked the minister, when does he foresee completion of the Caboto Centre? Will it be ready for the 1997 celebrations?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the whole idea of making the official request to the federal government at this point in time is so that we could meet some deadlines that would allow us to have a visible structure in place sometime in 1997.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the minister should be more interested in the stadium.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm sorry - I can't hear the hon. member.

MR. MANNING: He should be more interested in a stadium than a Caboto Centre, the way he is skating around the question.

My question concerns wheelchair accessibility to the Newfoundland Museum, and I was trying to get at it in my first question. On a television interview last week, the minister stated that they had no intention of renovating the existing Newfoundland Museum, or the building that holds the Newfoundland Museum, because they were planning a new Caboto Centre. We are looking at a possibility of four - possibly five - years before the Caboto Centre will be ready. I would like to ask the minister: Does he really believe that the people who are in wheelchairs in this Province can wait for four years to enjoy the Newfoundland Museum, or should he act right now and do something about it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Maybe, as well, the hon. member could ask his colleagues in the front benches who were in the Cabinet for seventeen years when the same museum was in use and when the same accessibility criteria were in place, and for seventeen years they chose to do nothing about the accessibility of the Newfoundland Museum which is in the same building.

We have indicated clearly that the plan of this government is to replace the museum with a new structure that will be totally accessible according to current and modern building codes. I don't know what the plan of the other group was for seventeen years; I didn't hear tell of it, but in fact, the plan of this government is clear. We understand that it does not make sense to spend thousands and thousands of dollars putting elevators into a building like the old museum, because ramps can't fit in there. It would have to be elevators which are very expensive in that structure but in fact we will, indeed, at the earliest possible opportunity, have a new museum in place.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier. It has to do with a bill now before the House, Bill 42, which is an act to deal with the purchase of freehold land from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

In the agreement and in the indentures there is a section there excepting the urban areas of Corner Brook, Deer Lake and Pasadena -some sections of the urban areas of those three municipalities - from this particular agreement. Could the Premier explain why those particular areas were left out of the total agreement to purchase 272,000 hectares from Kruger?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, members have to remember, that agreement was a negotiated agreement. We weren't judging whether it was right that Kruger should keep it or Kruger shouldn't keep it. It was what was negotiated, what we would buy for that amount of money, and the whole of it was a negotiated agreement. They wanted to keep a lot more and we said: No, if you are going to do this, and going to live up to the principle of conveying back to the Crown the original Reid lots, pretty well all of those original Reid lots, unless there is some compelling operational reason from the company's point of view, and that is where they got down to the city of Corner Brook, the town of Deer Lake, and the town of Pasadena, which are three areas where either now or in the recent past the company has had operations and could well need the lands, or some of the lands, that are there. That was the agreement that was negotiated. There was no other reason other than that.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Could the Premier explain to me why all the interests of Kruger, especially as it pertains to two sections of land in Schedule A(e) on Adies Stream, comprising some five hectares each - ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will only get half an acre for a house or something, and they got thirteen or fourteen acres for a cabin - the Hammond Farm property is looked after, the Marble Mountain property is looked after, all rights of way of Kruger with regard to Junction Brook, Spillway or transmission lines in the Province is looked after, and yet we have the Town of Deer Lake, that needs the land within the boundaries for development, comprising approximately 100 hectares in total, plus the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian in that area who cannot get title to their property. Could the Premier explain that to me, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To explain, it is quite simple. Hammond Farm was leased by the Bowater company, before Kruger bought the shares of Bowater, to Mr. Simmons, a long-term lease - I think it was thirty years, I am not sure but I believe it was thirty years - that lease also contained an option to purchase it, in the event that the company decided it was going to sell the property it would have to give an opportunity to purchase it to the lessees. The lessees have purported, whether they have succeeded in doing so or not is a legal question, they have at the very least purported to exercise their option to purchase, whether or not they succeed in that remains to be seen. That is the sole reason for that, it has nothing to do with looking after Hammond Farm, it comes to the government.

Now the other thing he said was looked after was Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain was not looked after as such. The property at Marble Mountain was transferred by Bowaters to the Crown in right of the Province I believe about 1985 or '86. I have forgotten when but it is around about that time when it was transferred to the Province. There is a little small piece down at the base that was not transferred to the Province, this comes back to the Province under this arrangement.

The land at Adies Stream - I think there are two small parcels of land and to the best of my knowledge what that is is a fishing camp area that employees of the company have had fishing camps where they take turns using it during the summer for the employees and to the best of my knowledge that has been in operation for thirty or forty years. It just seemed unreasonable for the government to insist that the mere fact that title of that still vested in the company meant that it had to be transferred to the Crown. It did not seem to be the right thing to do so we agreed with the companies request that that be excluded for that reason.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier that I consider it just as unreasonable to have ordinary people who cannot get title to their property looked after as well. Would the Premier make a commitment to the House today, that if there are any individuals in the Deer Lake - Spillway area that cannot get title to their property, even after this exercise is completed, that he would intervene, through his office, with Kruger so that they would gain title to their property?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The key word is `their' property. If they own the property there is no problem getting title to it but if somebody squat on company lands in the last few years and decided: well I am just simply going to claim this. I am there now, I have built a cabin or I've farmed a garden or something like that, I am going to claim it... then no, I will not guarantee that. If somebody got a deed or a title document of some kind from the company twenty or thirty years ago and they have lost it without having registered it, sure, the government would do everything reasonable to facilitate that because it is their property that they've purchased from the company but I will not give a blanket guarantee that will allow the member to go out and say: well, the Premier said if you've got possession of a piece of property he will guarantee title. The answer is no, not in that circumstance unless there is some proper legal basis for the claim.

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. Last week I asked the minister a question pertaining to the sea urchin processing license for 3 T's Fisheries of Woody Point. I am wondering if the minister can now inform the House whether or not he has determined if there is a processing requirement for that company to process sea urchins at Woody Point or can the minister confirm that indeed the company will be shipping unprocessed sea urchins, I am told, to Portland, Maine without any processing taking place at Woody Point?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Initially the requirement was for the processing of sea urchins at plants in Newfoundland - to do the total processing here on the island. At the industry's request, because of market flexibility and so on, at the industry's request 60 per cent of the processing of sea urchins occurs in plants here on the island and at the request of the industry to accommodate their needs, 40 per cent they can now export live, 40 per cent of the sea urchins.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. HULAN: This company is no different. They are processing up to 60 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. HULAN: 3 T's. They have the equipment and they are processing up to 60 per cent. 3 T's, Woody Point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe the Opposition House Leader was asking the questions and Hansard is not picking up the supplementary from the other member.

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of Supplementary Supply to Her Majesty. (Bill No.2) - last years.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Family Law Act, The Reciprocal Enforcement Of Support Orders Act, And The Support Orders Enforcement Act." I might add that the bill is not much longer than the long title of it, but it is a very straightforward bill we will deal with in due course.

Petitions

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise once again today to present a petition on behalf of people from the District of St. Mary's - The Capes. I will read the prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker. To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer. We the undersigned do hereby request the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately provide emergency funding to generate desperately needed employment in our communities. As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I rise again today to present another one of the many petitions that have been forwarded to me from people within my district, and to bring a concern of not only people in my district but indeed people throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador regarding the employment situation, or the lack thereof, I should say, that many people find themselves in.

I was very disappointed Friday when the House did not sit because I was anticipating that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations would be standing in his place on Friday, hopefully, to announce a program. Once again, today, I waited with anticipated breath hoping he would announce something today. I know in my own heart and soul that the minister would like to stand up and announce something. I know he is working diligently to find something for the people of this Province. I know he has been, ever since he became minister, trying to put in place some type of program for the people who need employment in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MANNING: I give credit where credit is due. I know that the minister is trying, but my concern are the blocks. The blocks are up somewhere, either in his own Cabinet on that side over there, or the block is in Ottawa. It is not the block from Quebec I am talking about it, it is the blocks that are in the cousins of his own party, Mr. Speaker.

Whatever the case maybe I just want to emphasize once again, as I am sure the minister understands, that there is a desperate need for employment out in the Province, Mr. Speaker. Day after day there are people throughout the Province who have resorted to social assistance. There are only a couple of weeks left before Christmas, Mr. Speaker. I know there can be nothing started before Christmas but at least if people knew something was coming down the tubes in a few weeks time they would be able to sit back and hopefully be somewhat at peace during the Christmas season.

Mr. Speaker, there are many young married families. I had a call last week from a man who was facing eviction who has a family of three children under ten. It is these stories that keep coming and coming, Mr. Speaker, that are really hard to listen to, but they must be listened to. These people must have a voice and I am glad to have the opportunity to present petitions in the House here because at least the voice of these people, I hope, is being heard not only in the halls of Confederation Building but in the halls of the House of Commons also, Mr. Speaker.

I hope that over the next few days the hon. minister has the opportunity to stand up and present something in the House, and propose something in relation to job creation, whether it be on behalf of the federal and provincial government, or on behalf of the provincial government itself, if it cannot get any co-operation from the federal government. While I understand that times are tough economically we see a lot of money being wasted away while many people out in our area are looking for work. These short-term programs as I've said before and several members on both sides of the House have said, they are not the answer to all the problems that we face in Newfoundland today. But, as the hon. Member for Baie Verte - White Bay said a couple of weeks ago, they are the answer for supper time for a lot of people.

Over the next few days more petitions will be arriving. I hope that I don't get to present them all. I hope that the minister has something to announce before all the petitions arrive. There will be more petitions, there will be more calls for this government to do something about the employment situation in this Province. There will be more calls for the minister to put in place a program that will put food on the table and clothes on the children. It is hard to believe, but there are children going to school in this Province hungry and without the proper clothing. We don't have to go from our shores to see that. We can see it right here within this City of St. John's and throughout many parts of rural Newfoundland.

I hope that through airing this situation again that the minister, indeed the government, will look over the next couple of days in providing some type of job creation program for people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. MANNING: - so that the people -

MR. SHELLEY: Stand up and support it! Stand up and support it!

AN HON. MEMBER: Time's up, time's up, time's up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MANNING: Oh, a new Speaker now, have we?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the government announces something in the next few days so that these people can go to work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to support the petition of the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. He and many others have presented petitions in the last number of weeks concerning this same issue. One thing that constantly comes up, and I hope that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is going to be able to answer this question when he rises after this petition, one question that comes up and hasn't been satisfactorily answered yet is: Why is it that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations or this government seems to have to get the permission of the Liberal Party of Canada or of the Liberal government in Ottawa to go ahead with an employment program?

We've had emergency response, emergency employment programs for the last three or four years running. The former Minister of Employment and Labour Relations came and announced these programs. They were used with provincial government dollars and they met a much needed need, a need that is no less great today. In fact, it is greater today than it was last year, the year before, and the year before that. I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, does he have the political will himself, and his government, to ensure that these programs are going to be put in place, or is he off asking Lloyd Axworthy is he allowed to do it. Does he have the permission of Lloyd Axworthy or Paul Martin or somebody in Ottawa, does he need that permission, in order to do something for the people of this Province?

I know the minister has said on occasion that he wants to make sure that whatever the government does is coordinated with Mr. Axworthy's plans. I've got a very grave concern about some of Mr. Axworthy's plans, because those plans seem to run counter to the interests of the people of this Province. Some of those plans include destroying what is left of the unemployment insurance program to make third-class citizens out of the unemployed in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of those plans are being discussed today by a committee from the House of Commons who are listening to a few people - five people, is it? Five minutes each they give people to talk about it. I don't know if the minister is going down to make a presentation or not on behalf of the government. The ordinary people of this Province and organizations and people representing thousands of members are only given five minutes to say a few words, only in St. John's and nowhere else in this Province.

What is happening is that if the government of this Province is going to dovetail its plans in with those of Mr. Axworthy, I have a very grave concern about what is going to happen to the people who are seeking for work in this Province and the people who are dependent upon social assistance and other forms of the social safety net that the Liberal government in Ottawa seems to be hell-bent on dismantling.

I have a grave concern, and perhaps the minister is able to reassure me and assure the House that it is not the intention of this government to go along with those plans, and that independent of whatever the government of the day in Ottawa is doing that his government intends to bring forth an employment program to meet the needs of the people of this Province. That seems to me to me to be much more of a concern than what Mr. Axworthy is or isn't going to do and how our plans might dovetail in with theirs. It is a very serious issue.

Last week, last Wednesday, hon. members opposite and their Liberal friends were able to attend a $500 a plate dinner in St. John's, some 500 of them, on a Wednesday night. On Thursday night in the very same hotel the president of the national anti-poverty organization was speaking and not one single member opposite was there, Mr. Speaker - not one single member was there the next night on the issue of poverty in this province, in this country and that, Mr. Speaker, I consider to be a spectacle deserving of great note.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to try to provide some explanation as to why his government doesn't seem to be concerned about this issue except in some kind of lock step with what Mr. Lloyd Axworthy and the Liberals in Ottawa are doing, and that, Mr. Speaker, seems to me to be wrong. Perhaps the minister could explain why he is dilly- dallying and not bringing about the programs that are needed for the people of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

We have discussed this issue for some time now. Let me say to the hon. the Member for St. John's East, that obviously, the need in the Province to give people an opportunity to get to work to qualify for UI would take a tremendous amount of money if we were to look after every situation that is out there, so I think it was a wise approach to go to the Federal Government to ask them, as we have in five other programs they participated in, to participate in this particular program.

I agree with the hon. the Member for St. John's East - not very often, but I agree with him today - that, yes, we do have some serious concerns about the social programming and the social direction taken by our friends in Ottawa, and we will continue to address that concern. We didn't get involved today, I say to the hon. member, because we wanted to leave that opportunity available to those people, community groups et cetera, and I understand that the House committee will only be meeting for five and ten minutes at the max, which I find a little bit condescending.

I don't think people with grave concerns can get their point across in ten minutes. And I say to the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, I understand his concern; he and other colleagues on this side and on his side, have stood on this emergency response.

I can honestly tell you that we have not given up on the Emergency Response Program and we are very hopeful that before - as I said last week, most hon. members know how this process comes together; it takes that time to deal with the feds and to deal with the government itself. Most hon. members in the front would certainly know that and I am sure members in the back also know it.

I am very hopeful, I say to all hon. members, that we will have something to relieve the very serious situation that exists throughout the Province, before the end of the week. I can assure the hon. member, and they all know that nothing would better suit this member, than to be able to stand in my place and announce some kind of assistance for some of our people, because I think most of us understand we just won't be able to help them all.

So with those few words, Mr. Speaker, I hope that that response is at least some kind of a ray of hope for hon. members opposite, that we are still going along, still trying. As a matter of fact, I have to call my friend in Ottawa before 3:15, and with that in mind, I move on to the other petition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, could we first deal with Motion 3, please, which is leave to introduce?

Motion, the hon. the Government House Leader to introduce a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law," carried. (Bill No. 57).

On motion, Bill No. 57 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, would you please call Order 23, which is Bill 51, that is the EDGE legislation; and my recollection which is refreshed by Hansard, is that the hon. the Member for Green Bay adjourned the debate and will presumably carry on with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, Order 23, the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will have a few more brief comments on Bill 51, "An Act To Promote Economic Diversification And Growth Enterprises In The Province", a bill commonly referred to as the EDGE Bill.

As the hon. the Leader of the Opposition pointed out when this bill was first brought up for debate and as I indicated on Thursday past when I discussed the bill, we had some serious concerns with regard to the initial draft of this bill, both in terms of its content as regards labour relations, and as regards its content in the area of economic development and job creation.

The Official Opposition made several representations on this matter over the previous months, and we were quite pleased when the government finally tabled the legislation that we have before us here today. Some considerable progress was made in terms of broadening the scope of the bill to include a wider variety of enterprises that might be able to avail of the incentives and tax breaks that are allowed for in the bill, and the really offensive matters regarding labour relations were eliminated.

As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, we also had very serious concern with regard to the initial draft of the bill because it tended to be very narrow and restrictive and we were worried, with some good reason, as to whether or not this bill, instead of being a bill of general application, was really a bill of some specific application for some favourite son or corporation of the Wells Administration.

We have seen, in the past, legislation on financial corporations that was essentially tailored to the Fortis corporation, and we had severe concerns that the intent of the government with regard to this particular legislation was, indeed, to give an easy access, a lucrative advantage, to some particular individuals or corporations that had the ear of the government in one way or the other. We are glad that the current draft has broadened the legislation somewhat, and our concerns are lessened that this is in some way an avenue for political pork-barrelling.

We have seen, in matters raised in this Assembly over the last few weeks, certainly in the matter raised by the hon. the Opposition Leader today, this administration is quite capable of political interference in the proper conduct of Her Majesty's business, and we have every right, and I guess we have a duty, as an Opposition, to point out our concerns in that regard. As I indicated, I think our concerns for once did not fall on deaf ears and there were some considerable improvements in this bill.

That being said, Mr. Speaker, I will leave it there. I think there are other colleagues of mine who have specific concerns with regard to this bill, and I will let them speak now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise today and have a few comments on Bill 51. This bill is a significant improvement over the proposals that were put forward in the White Paper. In particular, we want to draw attention to section 3 on the amount of capital that is required, the changes to the minimum amount of capital from $500,000 down to $300,000, and the change in the incremental sales from $1 million in total sales to at least $500,000, and the change of the language from ten full-time jobs to ten permanent jobs.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that Bill 51 is a strong policy statement by the Provincial Government. We say it is a positive policy initiative, and it is designed to stimulate the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, and all members of this House, regardless of which side they sit on, would want to do anything that can be done to stimulate the economy of our Province.

Mr. Speaker, it shows that the government is attempting to face the new challenges and the changes that are occurring in the new economic order that we have in this Province and, of course, in this nation and, as we saw on the weekend, with the new economic order throughout not just North America but now including South America as well. Newfoundland has to be ready to face the world, and we have to do all we can to get our people and our business community and our labour force ready to face that challenge.

Mr. Speaker, this bill shows as well the benefit of consultation with interested groups in the community. I say to the minister that his White Paper caused many potential investors in this Province some great concern. Many of them expressed concerns to the Official Opposition, and the Official Opposition brought their concerns, or they brought their own concerns to the public forum. The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities made representation, and I'm glad to see that the minister was listening to that kind of representation. The Chambers of Commerce, the Board of Trade in St. John's, and others in the community at large had made representations on this particular concept, and they have made good representations because it is admitted that all of these groups together caused the government to listen.

I say to the minister today that the listening approach that he has followed in his dialogue with the community is commendable. It is good to see that the government was willing to listen. Because, in this particular case, the minister can see the benefit. Today, we are pleased as a Province, and I am pleased as the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, to say there is a lot in this particular piece of legislation that we can apply. Because the minister has been listening to the representations that have been made by the community at large. It is good to see that he has developed more of a non-confrontational approach. Certainly, I would say to the minister, perhaps he should be talking to his colleague, the Minister of Education, and saying to him that he might follow similar approaches; then we might not have the controversy over educational reform that we have in the Province at the moment.

Mr. Speaker, I want, as well, to reference a couple of other points. In the Throne Speech read by His Honour on February 28 of this year there was a significant comment on page 4 of that Throne Speech on the government's determination to review all existing governmental regulations, and I quote, "...with a view to substantially reducing the onerous regulatory burden that is presently imposed on those who wish to pursue or carry on economic activity in this Province." Further in the same speech we read the following statement. It says, and I quote: "All unnecessarily burdensome regulations will be eliminated and steps will be taken to streamline and make the burden that remains far easier for business to bear."

Now, Mr. Speaker, we haven't seen a great deal of evidence to date of any deregulation that is proposed. We commend the government for that initiative but we want to see some action on it. I know that Mr. Michael Dwyer has been meeting with various government agencies. We know that there are some recommendations that have been prepared and submitted to the Ministry, and to the Cabinet, I assume, by this time, for action. We say to the minister, if he is going to truly attract business to this Province, he has to be willing to do away with a lot of the regulatory stumbling blocks that we now have. It is not good for Michael Dwyer to do a report if it is going to sit on some shelf. I say to the minister, one of the things I have found in my many years is that investors are so frustrated with the regulatory processes. Let me illustrate.

When we have an investor coming to our Province, he often will visit the local municipal office. It takes about three to six months to process a simple municipal plan amendment. Very often it is nearer to six months than it is to three months. Some years ago I did a little analysis of municipal plan amendments and I found out that they vary from a minimum of three months to a maximum of two years. I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, if they are going to truly try to implement the EDGE legislation, then not just his department but all departments of government have to be willing to be a facilitating agency. We say to the government that they should be acting on the intent announced in the Throne Speech; it was a good intent. And we have to bring Michael Dwyer's recommendations alive, we have to be positive on them and get some work done.

Some of us a few days ago were quite perturbed at the ACOA announcement. When the ACOA people announced that they were not going to be giving any more grants to potential investors in Atlantic Canada, it really wasn't news, we already knew it, but the ACOA people decided they would make a big announcement on it. Mr. Speaker, the difficulty we have is not with what the ACOA people said, but with the negative attitude it gave towards investment in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the three Maritime premiers met on Friday to discuss this matter, among others, and the local paper carried a commentary on it. All we say to ACOA is, do what you can to make Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick a level playing field in comparison to other parts of Canada, and that is what we have to be fighting for in Atlantic Canada. The Golden Triangle of Canada, the Central Canada group, we don't begrudge them their industry - we don't begrudge them their automobile industry, we don't begrudge them their high-tech, but we do get pretty upset when they begrudge us the bit of industry we have in this part of the country. We don't complain about the Canadian Wheat Board, we don't complain that the federal Department of Agriculture was an official department as far back as the 1870s and they had a strong lobby group that fought for their rights as farmers in this country. We don't go around and complain about that but it sure hurts when you hear people from Central Canada kind of treating ACOA funding as if it were some kind of gifts to some - not just underdeveloped - almost like treating, in a welfare sense, that we in this part of the country don't deserve to be supported in the way we should be.

So, Mr. Speaker, we say to Central Canada, stop begrudging us our few dollars that we get from the Federal Government. And I say to the government today, we should watch out that ACOA doesn't become what it was not supposed to become, and that is, more interested in supporting Central Canada's principles than it is in preserving a level playing field in our Province and in our region.

So, Mr. Speaker, we want to say as well, again, that the poor timing of the ACOA announcement sends out a negative message. Atlantic Canada shouldn't have to apologize for the money it receives from Ottawa for regional development and we don't want to be portrayed by national politicians as poor country cousins. All we ask for is fairness in the approach to investment in this country. We are on the fringes of the continent - we know that. We know that trade is difficult to foster in the Newfoundland environment and we look to Ottawa to be a supporter of a common denominator approach, trying to give us the kind of benefit that we should expect from being part of this country.

Mr. Speaker, if I could return to talking about Bill 51 and municipalities. I am pleased to say that the minister, in his bill, compared to the White Paper, is giving more options to municipalities; that is an improvement. I say to the minister, he should be striving to involve the municipal level of government more directly in the decision-making approaches.

For example, what is wrong with involving the municipalities as active participants in the decision-making that is required, and why should there not be a member of the municipality, particularly those municipalities which have their own economic development offices - why should these municipalities not have people who can be involved at the facilitation stage so we don't find that the decisions are made and then they are being passed over to the municipalities without due consultation? That kind of approach has been tried in the past, it hasn't worked that well, and it ends up having everybody frustrated.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that he should try to involve municipalities in decision-making, do it up-front, and things will work better if it is done that way. I say again to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that one of the things I found when I had been doing some talking about this particular issue is the, I suppose you could call it the differences that investors find when they are talking to Newfoundland government officials as opposed to talking to government officials, let's say, in the Province of New Brunswick.

Premier McKenna, rightly or wrongly, has sent out a message that New Brunswick is open for business. When I talked to an investor just a few days ago, he said, when I contacted the government office in New Brunswick, I found that within a day, I had a call from the Premier, himself. He was surprised that he was able to get access so fast to so much information. He had information within a week that perhaps would take him a much longer time to get in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about the one-stop approach to business development. We say to the government, it is in the Throne Speech and we should be acting on it. Investors want to be led through the bureaucracy. They want to be told what is possible to be done. They want to have all the help they can get in overcoming all of the burdensome regulatory processes that often are not as necessary as they might appear to be.

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is, give decisions on a timely basis, reduce the bureaucracy, and regulate for success. Very often we find that bureaucrats fail to see the point of the regulation other than the fact that it is a regulation. Very often we know that bureaucrats need to have a change of attitude. I found during my many years as a municipal person that you had to encourage the bureaucracy to be positive, to have a development attitude, to be pro-active, to follow up on every lead that comes by, and to turn what is simply a proposal into a concrete plan that is ready for implementation.

Mr. Speaker, we also want to note that if all of these people pull together, if we can have a one-stop approach and it can be made to be effective and efficient, the investors will respond. We are not going to have a situation where we are going to have people knocking on our doors every day saying: `We want to develop in Newfoundland and Labrador.' We have to go out and look for investment.

I can tell you how frustrating it can be. I spent many, many years trying to get an investment proposal going in the city of Mount Pearl at the Pearlgate Shopping Centre. It isn't easy work. Sometimes you can get potential investors and sometimes you can't, but one thing was for sure, my office door was not being knocked down by people who wanted to invest. If that is the case in the St. John's region, then we know it is even moreso outside of this region.

Mr. Speaker, I have one final comment, which is to say that this particular piece of legislation still doesn't address the issue of small business and the payroll tax. If we are going to compete with all of Atlantic Canada, then we have to have similar taxation structures. The payroll tax is a disincentive to investment, not only in Atlantic Canada, but if we implement this bill as it is written, and we don't do away with payroll taxes, we are going to have, as the Mount Pearl Chamber of Commerce has said, two lots of businesses - one group of businesses that will pay the payroll tax, and the other group of businesses that will not be paying the payroll tax.

This creates difficulties within our own communities; it creates difficulties within our Province. We say to the minister: Please recognize that it isn't a fair approach to have one group of businesses operating on a different playing field from others. In the case of the payroll tax, we advocate its complete elimination so that all businesses, large and small, can have the same benefits and can operate with the same kinds of incentives, and with that kind of approach we believe there will be even greater efficiency and it will bring even greater meaning to the intent of Bill 51.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Your Honour, you did recognize me but by tradition it normally goes back and forth. If the member wants to speak, I will wait until later.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl was the first on his feet, so the Chair recognizes the first person up; it doesn't matter which side.

MR. WINDSOR: Exactly, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: But you are willing to yield?

MR. WINDSOR: I will yield to the member if he wants to speak first, sure.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I really wanted to have a few words on this particular issue because I do believe this is a very important piece of legislation. I would say it is the most important piece of legislation we have seen these past couple of years in this House, and we have seen some very important pieces of legislation passed.

I think it will be recorded in history as a very important piece of legislation for a number of reasons, first of all, because it does fundamentally attack the underlying problems of economic development in our Province. It does make some fundamental changes in the way that the economic development opportunities will exist for entrepreneurs. It gives significant investment opportunities for people out there now who feel this is not the place to do business. I do believe, at the end of the day, we are going to find significant investment interests in the Province as a result of the changes that have been made, and I guess one of the things I would like to say from the outset is that it must be good, it must be great, it must be absolutely outstanding, because we are getting the accolades of members opposite.

The Leader of the Opposition took a couple of days to research his position on it, and came back a couple of days later telling us it was an excellent piece of legislation, one that he had no problem in supporting. I went through a number of his statements and he did point out, yes, there were, I think, six areas where the Opposition initially had some concerns. Members on this side of the House had some concerns initially, but certainly it would have to be recorded as probably the most important piece of legislation that has come to this House, that has received such wide support amongst the parties in the House and people who have more than a passing interest in this area of public policy, Mr. Speaker.

I am encouraged by the words I am hearing from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I'm encouraged by what he is telling me, that every day there are enquiries in this Province. That is one of the things, I guess, that we want to make sure of, that the word goes out from Nain to L'Anse-au-Clair, Labrador City, Port aux Basques, everywhere in this great Province, we are encouraging investors in this Province to take control of their future, to put money into new business opportunities, to create those jobs that are so necessary for the sustaining of our rural economy in particular. I see that some of the aspects of this legislation have certainly not been in any other piece of legislation we have seen in the past when it comes to economic development.

I guess, in the areas of extra incentive, there would be extra years given of a tax break on the basis of the unemployment rate in the various regions of the Province. As a member for Labrador, where we have very high unemployment for a significant part of the year, we are encouraged by that aspect of it. Because we know that if there is going to be an extra three or four years of tax breaks for these new businesses, if they can go, for instance, into Deer Lake and set up, then it wouldn't be unusual, it wouldn't be that hard for them to move on up the Northern Peninsula and on to the Labrador Straits, for instance, and be able to set up and function just as well. Obviously, in the Labrador Straits area, they would get a greater tax benefit from setting up there.

That, to me, is the essence of regional development. You don't just bring in a policy of regional development and put it from one end of the Province to the other regardless of the setting. Because there are areas of this Province, mainly the urban areas, where economic activity is greater, where the recovery from the recession is quicker, in areas like St. John's, Gander, Grand Falls, Corner Brook, these areas, Labrador West, Goose Bay. We have seen these areas relatively stable over the past few years as we have been grappling with the fishery closure.

So, Mr. Speaker, to see that element in this bill is very encouraging. I would hope, and certainly I guess all of us in this House are praying, that this is something that will work. Because we have tried so many times before; we have tried with our grants programs, we have tried with our loans programs, we have gone out, and certainly previous administrations and - not just to pick on the administration before. Administrations before that with the late Smallwood Administration certainly tried a number of things that did not work. The previous administration tried a number of things that did not work.

I think what we have here today is an element of regional development that we can say is ours. It is designed and it is brought forward and it is going to be out there with the Liberal stamp on it. It is an hallmark of the consultation process that this government is famous for right from 1989. We have consulted everybody in this Province - whether it came to education policy, or social policy, or to debating the future of the Constitution of Canada, we gave the people a chance to speak. So, for this new piece of legislation, when it comes to how we are dealing with the economic bread-and-butter issues, we gave people a chance to speak. We put that in place with the Strategic Economic Plan and certainly, this is a very substantial part of the Strategic Economic Plan that is going to be implemented in this Province with a big Liberal red stamp on it.

We are very proud to go from one end of this Province to the other with it. I am very confident that we are going to have a very busy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in the years ahead. He will be going to one opening after another, Mr. Speaker, of EDGE corporations, with the scissors in one hand and red ribbons in the other, opening one EDGE corporation after another. There is no doubt about that, and it is going to be refreshing, it is going to be welcome, it is going to be great news for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I could think of no better way that we could end off this session of the House, than to be able to stand up and promote the virtues of this piece of legislation because it will be, I believe, seen as watershed legislation for Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is going to be the other thing - apart from the aspects of good, fiscal management that we have put in place over the years, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in this Province and the administration generally, have put our financial house in order; we have control of our expenditures, we have control of our workforce, we have introduced a certain degree of fiscal integrity that I think is the envy of Canada, and, Mr. Speaker, that is certainly one of the things essential to keeping this piece of legislation promoted to the forefront, because without that kind of hand on the tiller of the economic aspects of the government, without knowing that we have a solid fiscal manager, then certainly, nobody would be out there saying, even with the benefits in this legislation, that they would still come here and invest.

Another aspect of this legislation, Mr. Speaker, that I think is very welcome, is the removal of the labour focus on this legislation. I think the labour movement has obviously responded well to this. Many on our side thought this should have been removed in the first place - for all the right reasons, it should have been removed. And I think the latest commentary by the President of the Federation of Labour was very welcome indeed; the President of the Board of Trade, I think, also gave his thumbs up to that aspect of it being removed. Again, it is another example of how this government went out there with the White Paper, and listened to what people had to say, and we have brought forward a piece of legislation of which the consensus surrounding it is unbelievable, and the fact that members on the opposite side have seen fit not to say too much about it other than to go through the formalities of welcoming it and extolling its virtues, Mr. Speaker, obviously, is very telling indeed.

We are on to a winner here in this piece of legislation and there is no doubt that it is being acclaimed from all sides of the House and indeed, throughout the Province. Mr. Speaker, I believe this legislation, of course, is long overdue. Especially now that we have the crisis in our fishing industry, I believe where rural Newfoundland is grappling with its very future, where we have to diversify our economy like no time ever, that, to have this kind of legislation with the elements built in for regional development, to have those extra incentives built in, indeed, it will be welcome news to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. And that is one of the main points I wanted to bring to this debate, that rural Newfoundland and Labrador is welcoming this piece of legislation.

We are going to see new businesses open up in rural Newfoundland as a result of this. I am sure that the Labrador Straits will see some new investment; I am sure that people are keenly looking at the forest industry down in the Port Hope Simpson, Charlottetown area; there are people down there looking at the recreational salmon fishing industry along the Coast of Labrador, where we are going to be able to have ten or twelve full-time jobs I am sure, on at least four or five more rivers in the near future, after this piece of legislation comes in, more full-time, meaningful jobs on the Coast of Labrador as a result of this great initiative by this government.

We are, no doubt, on the leading edge of public policy-making in this Province as we never have been before. This is province-building at its best, Mr. Speaker, I would say. We have not seen province building yet, Mr. Speaker, in this Province. Since the last twenty years we have not seen province building of the sort that we are seeing now because we are telling every part of this Province that yes, indeed you have a future. We are not telling one part of this Province, we are not telling inside of the overpass that you have a future, we are telling every part of this Province; to the mining industry in Labrador, to the quarries and the new opportunities around Nain, to the possible future of Labrador City and the new operation up there, Mr. Speaker, and down to the Coast of Labrador as I just mentioned, the Northern Peninsula, over on the northeast coast, down on the Burin Peninsula, down around the Southeast Coast of Newfoundland. All of these places are saying this is finally an initiative that has not been done for St. John's and the urban areas but this is something that we know -and we have asked the government to do and they have responded to us in a very, very significant way.

I know the members of the Opposition do not like to hear all of this type of thing. They would like to have rural Newfoundland up in arms, they would like to have the people out there saying that this is the bad government again but indeed this piece of legislation shows that we certainly had our thinking caps on. We have certainly done our homework on this piece of legislation. We have amassed a number of elements of economic development into this one piece of legislation that is not existing anywhere else in this country and I would venture to say not existing anywhere else in North America. Indeed, we are going to be, I think, getting tremendous interest shown in this Province as a result.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not talking to the galleries. I am talking to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, that's what I am talking to!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: And I am telling the future, I am telling the kids out there today that when it was time to do something with our imagination, when it was time to put our ideals to work, when it was time to put our majority behind a piece of legislation that rebuilt the economic development of rural Newfoundland, the Liberal Government was there!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: We were there and we were proud to stand up and stand behind Bill 51! We were proud to be able to say that we are going to have incentives for the Labrador Straits, we are going to have incentives for the northeast coast, for over in the St. George's area and down on the Burin Peninsula. We are proud to say that we were there for them. We did not shirk our responsibilities. We, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House have never shirked our responsibilities. People have wondered what we have done, people out there have wondered what we have done but today again, just a year after we got another majority government, we are delivering in the most meaningful comprehensive way that we have ever seen the economic development approach in this Province since Confederation. There is absolutely no doubt about it, Mr. Speaker, and we are not doing it on the basis of throwing money at something, we are not doing it on the basis of saying there is going to be $3 million here or $2 million there to be able to do something. We are saying that there are ways through the tax system, we are saying that there are ways through the other mechanisms of government that this can be done apart from throwing cash at something, Mr. Speaker, and I think that that represents a real change. The taking out of the piece of the labour aspect of it, I think it was very welcomed news by all the people in this Province, Mr. Speaker, very welcomed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: I think, Mr. Speaker, that probably that aspect of it will go down as one - I know a lot of members on this side of the House really pushed for the removal of that part of the legislation and, Mr. Speaker, obviously there are other elements of this that we, on this side, support fully. We give the government due credit, we give the minister due credit, we give the legislative advisor to the minister due credit because it was him, working with the minister, who made sure that that consultation process worked. We made sure that those changes were implemented so that when it did come to this House we would hear nothing but accolades extended from one end to the other, one party after the other and one element of society after another, whether it is the Federation of Labour or the Board of Trade, Mr. Speaker, anywhere in this Province, anybody who wants to stand up and see where this legislation is going cannot help but praise it. Cannot help but praise this piece of legislation. Obviously, to all the people who were part of formulating this piece of legislation we would have to extend our very, very sincere congratulations because they have done a marvellous piece of work.

Mr. Speaker, with that said I ask all members of this hon. House to extend their full support, not only to it today as we sit here in this House, but after this bill gets the royal assent to go throughout this Province and tell people the good news. Tell people what has happened and tell the people the good things that this administration has done to make sure there are jobs, to make sure there is a future, and to make sure there is a stable and growing economy in all parts of this Province.

Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am absolutely delighted that I agreed to yield to my friend for Eagle River. I would not have wanted to miss that performance for the world. The hon. gentleman has missed his calling and I am sure there is a place for him on Broadway. Either that, Mr. Speaker, or he is about to start his own ministry and I cannot wait to join that. I will give him this, he certainly is an entertaining speaker. I will give him ten for being entertaining. Zero for content, but ten for entertaining. I have to admit that when he gets wound up he can certainly go.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier realized that when he did not put him in the Cabinet.

MR. WINDSOR: That is why the Premier did not put him in Cabinet because when he gets wound up he is liable to say anything. He is like a loose cannon on the deck of the Titanic, but he certainly is entertaining, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address this bill for a few moments because it is an important piece of legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: I recognized the hon. Member for Mount Pearl but I am having difficulty in hearing him.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The three days power failure gave him time to charge up. We have to run him down a little bit, I guess, before we can get through with all this.

It is an important piece of legislation and I would like to address it briefly. I will not take a lot of the time of the House because in general principle there is a great deal in this bill that we can support. In fact as we have said many times it has always been the policy of the opposition party that we will support any effort that will hopefully result in the attraction and the development of new business, jobs, and economic development in our Province. Any effort in that regard is a welcome one. Perhaps a little late as it took this government now five years to come forward with a scheme such as this, but nevertheless the fact is that the bill is now here.

I am not without concerns about this particular piece of legislation either. Although we recognize that it has some merit and for those corporations that can qualify it certainly will be of some benefit to them, and we certainly hope that there are corporations or investors that can be attracted here as a result of that, or Newfoundland companies that can take advantage of this. The problem I have with it is that it sets up two classes of company, particularly as it relates to a tax regime, and I do have concerns about that.

There are many corporations in this Province that are suffering greatly because of the tax burden on them. I think it is fair to say that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are suffering because of the tax burden placed on us, and many Canadians as well. Certainly, companies in this Province are suffering from it. Now, with some of these taxes, Mr. Speaker, you have to realize that if you are not making a profit you are not paying those taxes, so tax relief in itself is not necessarily something that will help those corporations that were marginally profitable at this point in time, with the exception of remission of the payroll tax. That is the key here, that is a tax that is a direct disincentive to all businesses, either from within the Province or outside the Province, to invest and to do business in this Province. If this government wanted to do something to attract development and investment they would undo what they have done when they introduced the payroll tax in this Province, which puts us at a decided disadvantage with most other provinces in Canada, certainly all of the Atlantic provinces, which are, generally speaking, our greatest competitors for economic investment.

The point also has to be made is that a corporation coming in here will not be paying any taxes. If that corporation is a marginal corporation anyway, so that they are not going to be developing profits in their early years, then they wouldn't pay taxes anyway. So are we really giving up anything by offering these incentives, outside of the payroll tax? As I've said many times before, the payroll tax is a tremendous disincentive because you would pay it regardless of your ability to pay, whether or not you make a profit. You pay the payroll tax based on the number of people you employ, the number of jobs that you create. The more jobs you create the more you pay in payroll tax. It bears no regard to the profitability of the corporation or its ability to pay that particular tax. That is why it is such an unfair and regressive tax to corporations.

Other taxes they wouldn't be paying anyway, so we are not offering a lot. If a company is not going to be profitable, not going to be paying those taxes, then we haven't given away an awful lot. On the other side you can argue that if we don't provide incentives and the corporations don't come here or don't establish, or expand as the case may be, then we wouldn't have given up anything either. You can justify these types of incentives from two points of view: a) that they wouldn't be profitable, therefore they wouldn't have to pay taxes, or; b) that they wouldn't be here anyway, in which event they -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) playing with their own money.

MR. WINDSOR: They are playing with their own money. I don't have a difficulty with offering tax advantages. In fact, I like - as my friend for Waterford - Kenmount pointed out, finally municipalities now are able to do their own form of economic development, or attracting economic development, by providing incentive packages, tax relief, in accordance with this. It may well be that for many of these corporations the only taxes that they are actually getting relived is the municipal tax. Because they probably wouldn't be paying other taxes except for the payroll taxes anyway. The municipalities can now indeed - they are not bound to, but the ability is here - provide tax incentives. We may have some problems with one municipality competing with the other now and trying to offer larger tax incentives but we will deal with that as the time comes. But even -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) waive it or not waive.

MR. WINDSOR: That is right. It is all or nothing. But they are different levels of relief, and the term of that relief. They either waive it for - they don't waive it for a whole period. They might -

MR. ROBERTS: All or nothing. We designed that very carefully (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: So it is ten years or nothing.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. We don't want one municipality playing off, one saying: We will give you 10 per cent or a five-year renewal, and the other saying: We will give you (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Okay. So it is write them all off or nothing. I stand corrected. In that case that resolves that problem. It is not a major concern.

MR. ROBERTS: A level playing field (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: A level playing field.

MR. WINDSOR: A level playing field, and so it should be, Mr. Speaker.

The real concern I have here is that we are bringing in corporations or establishing corporations that would not otherwise establish here. What does that tell us? It says that they are a marginal operation at best. They need these tax incentives to survive. It is questionable whether or not they will survive when the tax incentives expire at the end of the ten- or fifteen-year period. It is questionable whether they will stay here after that period. You always have that concern that a corporation will establish here for that period of time and when those incentives are gone they will go elsewhere looking for other forums or other incentives. That is always a concern, and that would be the case regardless of the type of assistance that you offered. They will come if you offer them grants up front till those grants are used up, and then they will disappear. They will come until tax incentives are no longer available to them and then they have to compete on a level playing field with corporations that are presently here or that are not declared EDGE corporations.

There is a little bit of concern there, it gives us a little bit of concern, as to the level playing field as my friend has pointed out. A level playing field is fair ball. If we can't compete on a level playing field then the question is whether or not it is the kind of corporation that is of value to the economy. Jobs are important, and we should use everything possible to create jobs.

The Premier made a statement in his introduction of the bill that I certainly agree with. He says, every dollar we take out of the economy through legislation impairs the ability of the economy to regenerate itself, and he is absolutely correct. It impairs the ability of the economy to regenerate itself, but the government has at least paid lip service many times to the concept that the economy should be regenerated by the business sector, by the private sector, and that government should be the facilitator of economic development in this Province, and we certainly subscribe to that, but it is important here to recognize that we are setting up two different types of corporations.

I think the government should go a little bit further and not only remit payroll tax to these corporation, but remit it as well to all corporations, all businesses in the Province, in other words, eliminate the payroll tax altogether.

There was some indication last year that government was starting to realize that the payroll tax was a direct disincentive, was unfair, was having a very, very negative impact on many corporations in this Province and that they might indeed reconsider that and replace that with some other form of taxation which would be less regressive to businesses in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, those are the key points upon which I wanted to touch. I am a little concerned about making Crown land available for $1. It is available to lease for $1, I think, for fifty years, and the company has the right to purchase for $1 at the end of that year. I would be a little concerned about that. That might be a tremendous advantage but, nevertheless, we have used Crown land before as an incentive and it is not too unlike things that have been put in place.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know where all of these corporations are going to come from, and I don't much care where they come from. I don't care whether they are from out of Province or in Province, or from out of country. If this legislation can do anything to attract business, then so be it, but again we are looking at companies that are investing a minimum of $300,000, with sales of at least $500,000, and creating ten jobs.

MR. WOODFORD: How are you going to predict sales?

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

MR. WOODFORD: How are you going to predict sales?

MR. WINDSOR: How are you going to predict the sales? Obviously. That is a good question my friend from Humber Valley brings up. How do you predict the sales, indeed? You have to go on projections, I guess. You have to accept certain information that is brought forward, but they are only as good as the estimates and the assumptions that are made. We can all sit down with a set of numbers. Our real concern with all of that is that it provides a different regime for the bigger corporations, the bigger companies, because a company that invests $300,000 in Newfoundland is a larger company. It is not your normal small company that is operating in and around rural Newfoundland. It is a small business, by any stretch of the imagination, but by our standards a very small percentage of our businesses would have that kind of capital investment. So it precludes many, many operations in this Province that could be started up, many small operations in the tourism industry.

This government, in its great plan, is always saying that tourism is an area where there is tremendous potential and I, for one, certainly agree with that. There are dozens, hundreds, thousands, perhaps, of small businesses that could be established in this Province based on the tourism industry, but they won't be able to take advantage of this either because they are too small and couldn't get involved in an enterprise of this size, or because it could hardly be said that they are being brought in from outside or otherwise would not have been established. It is very difficult here, and that is one of the real problems, the subjectivity of deciding that they would or would not otherwise have been established - very, very difficult.

I say to the government, without causing any political connotations here, that they will be subject to political accusations, I guess, that one company or another was or wasn't designated as an EDGE corporation so they could take advantage of this, because it can be construed as a political decision, so there is a weakness there.

Mr. Speaker, with those few points I think I have covered most of the key things that I wanted to - could not be directly competitive with, or have an adverse impact on the viability of other businesses.

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to disagree with that but difficult also to ascertain up front, whether or not a company will have a direct impact on existing businesses. Obviously, it is not to our advantage to invest in companies that are simply putting another company out of business, and I don't think that it has ever been the policy of any government program to allow that to take place if it could at all be avoided, but it is very difficult to determine that; very difficult what the corporation might get into once it is established, the intent of a corporation, the product lines or the services whatever the case may be, may be very clear up front, but what guarantees do we have that that won't change down the road, in five years time or even ten years time that the company then is competing with somebody because the policies of that company have changed as a result.

So, Mr. Speaker, those are the sorts of things that we would be concerned about, but generally speaking, we support any effort as I said, to promote economic development, to create jobs in this Province. It is too little too late, unfortunately; I would like to see it expanded so that all businesses, all investors who want to create even one job in this Province could receive these types of incentives. We had a plan in this Province of providing a remission of taxes for small businesses for three years, a program we brought in, back I would say in 1978, I think.

It was a three-year remission of provincial taxes for all new, small businesses in this Province and that has been eliminated since this government took office, so now we are providing incentives for larger corporations but not for the smaller ones, who will, in fact, who do I guess, encompass by far the majority of businesses in this Province and also the biggest employers in this Province, is the small business, Mr. Speaker, hundreds and thousands in fact, of small businesses creating, two, three, four, ten, fifteen jobs, and those incentives now are not in place.

Mr. Speaker, my real concern is that we are creating two levels of business, two classes of business, two levels of taxation depending on the circumstances of the particular corporation.

Thank you, very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on this bill because I think it is an important piece of legislation. I would also echo some of the sentiments of my colleagues on this side of the House in that, some of the changes that have been made since the original proposal was made to establish EDGE corporations I have to agree with. I had criticized, as had many others this legislation because of what it was doing particularly in creating, what I referred to as our own version of the Maquiladoras of Mexico, where you would have separate rules that applied to labour relations in the corporations that would qualify for these EDGE corporations.

I thought that, that was a very dangerous precedent, a very retrogressive step, and one that would lead to the erosion of labour rights throughout the entire Province in all sectors, because, Mr. Speaker, once a particular group of corporations had different rules applying to their employees under the labour relations statutes and rules, then if they were perceived to be advantageous to employers, then there would be significant pressure on government to level the playing field for all employers with respect to employment relations, and that would be a very serious, retrogressive step; in fact, it goes so far as being an attack on labour rights in the Province and the government was quite rightly and quite soundly criticized for having such a proposal before the people of this Province.

What was also wrong with it, Mr. Speaker, was that it was going to take out the free collective bargaining which has worked very well in this Province. Now, many people say that there is a lot of difficulties with labour relations and problems with unions and strikes and that sort of thing but the reality is very different, Mr. Speaker. The reality is that unions offer a democratic alternative to employees if they so choose to participate, a democratic alternative in the workplace that they may have some say over their working conditions, their wages, and what is, after all, their means of livelihood. To have a democratic means of exercising some rights over your employment relationship is one of the hallmarks of a democratic society, and in this Province that system has worked on the whole fairly well. Obviously there have been problems. There have been some difficulties from time to time, but in the vast majority of the cases - and I would say in excess of 95 per cent or perhaps even higher of the cases - collective agreements are negotiated again and again without the necessity of resorting to the strike or lockout which is the extreme form of labour relations after a breakdown of negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, obviously that kind of action, whether it be a strike or a lockout, is the one that attracts the news and becomes newsworthy, creating an impression in the minds of many people in the public, fostered by some of the interests that would seek to destroy the rights of working people, foster the idea that labour relations organizations, that trade unions giving rights to workers causes problems in the workplace and in the economy. I am glad that the government has seen fit to let the labour relations system work in these so-called EDGE corporations as it is working in other industrial sectors and indeed the public sector in this Province.

One of the other criticisms that was made of these very same provisions - and these were made not just by labour representatives or union representatives, but made by business people - was that having that kind of provision, special status for EDGE corporations with respect to labour relations, was creating a false impression in the minds of potential investors outside the Province that indeed labour relations was a problem here. That was the concern expressed by a number of business groups and business individuals who said, quite rightly, that by putting that sort of thing in your promotion of investors package that you were, in fact, sending a flag or sending a message to the rest of the country and to other outside investors that labour relations was a particular and special problem that investors ought to look out for in Newfoundland.

I think these business enterprises and other people felt quite rightly that was not, in fact, the case, that on the overall, particularly in the manufacturing sectors, it was very clear that this was not, in fact, the case, that labour relations were going along quite smoothly, thank you very much, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial sector of this Province, and to include such provisions in a piece of legislation of this nature was, in fact, putting a red flag out saying: Beware investors; unless you are an EDGE corporation you are going to be in big trouble with labour relations in the Province.

I think it was very wise on the part of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, to take that section out of the act. I think that the government, in doing that, listened to their better nature and for once listened to the advice given to it by substantial members of the public. I suppose the fact that some of the senior business people who were criticizing it were also prominent Liberals might have helped a little bit as well, or at least helped them realize that it was a sincere and serious criticism that ought to be listened to.

Mr. Speaker, I have to ask a number of questions, rhetorical questions, I suppose, in my mind when I look at this legislation because it really continues a trend, I guess, that has been going on in this Province for many, many decades now, and that is creating special incentives to business to conduct their activities in this Province. Mr. Speaker, I see that these so-called EDGE corporations will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council certain matters. We all know who that is, we all know who the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is. They are the ones who will finally decide whether or not -

MR. BAKER: Let's nationalize them all, Jack. That is a good idea, let's nationalize them all.

MR. HARRIS: There is one company, I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, that I would be happy to nationalize, because the Province would make a lot of money if they did.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like what?

MR. HARRIS: Trans City Holdings.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Should nationalize Trans City Holdings. Because when we start talking about - and we will pay them what it is worth. Mr. Speaker, when this government starts talking about giving the Cabinet power to make these kinds of decisions one wonders what you have to do to meet the criteria. We know how easy it was for Trans City Holdings to meet certain criteria set down by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, so I wonder here when you get the Lieutenant-Governor in Council making these final decisions what control there is going to be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I pause, because I would not want to have on the record any of the things said privately by hon. members.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Education and Training makes a good point that perhaps there should be a rule from now on that the ministers should table their speeches, like the Minister of Natural Resources did this afternoon, and then we wouldn't have to be bothered listening to them. We could just go home and read all this stuff and not have the advantage of being entertained by the speeches in the House.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board actually should pay attention because one thing that is very absent from this bill - and this is a bill that says to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: You get no retail sales tax for ten, perhaps fifteen, years. You get no post-secondary education tax, no income tax, and all of this goes on for ten and perhaps fifteen years. What I would like to hear the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board tell us is how much is this going to cost. I ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board how much this is going to cost and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology swings his hand in some sort of goose egg.

I don't know whether the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is prepared to say that foregone tax revenues means that there is no cost. There is no income tax, there is no health or post-secondary education tax, no retail sales tax, and this could go on for ten to fifteen years. Any income tax that the employees would pay in the first year we are going to give back in the form of $2,000 rebates. I would just like to know how much the minister anticipates the foregone revenues of these corporations would be.

I say that because I don't have a lot of confidence in the judgement of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council as to whether or not these corporations would have invested or would have set up without these incentives. A lot of judgement has to take place here in determining who gets to be considered an EDGE corporation and who doesn't. If somebody comes to the government and says: I'm about to make this investment that has a potential - only a potential, now - we can potentially have incremental sales of half a million dollars, we have the potential for the creation of maintenance of at least permanent jobs in the Province, the potential only. I am going to say to the government that well I would not have made this investment or we would not have made this investment and we would not have set up this corporation if it was not for these incentives and the minister's committee has to make recommendations to government. The government has finally the right to decide whether or not to designate an EDGE corporation. I would like to know how the minister and his government intends to ensure the public of this Province that in fact the circumstances are such that this investment or incremental investment would not have taken place without the incentives that are provided?

The other thing I would like to ask the minister, is he going to make it public what recommendations are accepted and what recommendations are rejected by this committee that is being set up because we have here that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is being given the final say? We have a committee appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, a board put in place, the board is going to make recommendations and the Cabinet is going to make the final decisions. Are we going to have to have the Leader of the Opposition probing and poking and cross-examining the Premier for days and days on end to find out how certain people might get past the post from the recommendation stage, where the board may have said no but the government says yes in designating somebody an EDGE corporation, or are we going to have made available to the House of Assembly, a list of the recommendations made by this board and then designated by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council as to which ones are designated and which are ones are not?

Mr. Speaker, I think this opens the door to a lot of hanky-panky. I personally don't have confidence that this government is not going to indulge in hanky-panky, given their record, given their handling of even an act such as the Public Tender Act, particularly revelations that have been made in recent weeks and days about the carryings on of the government. The recommendations of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board that were not really recommendations because he does not quite make it exactly to the place that they were designated to make. These are some of the concerns that the people of this Province will have, as to how certain corporations get the edge, Mr. Speaker, who gets the edge and who doesn't. Who gets the edge with this government, Mr. Speaker, seems to depend an awful lot on politics. Who gets the edge and who gets the shaft, as the Member for St. John's East Extern has said.

These are the kinds of decisions that are going to be made, presumably by this board and by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, behind closed doors. Where is the transparency, Mr. Speaker? Is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology going to tell us here in the House today that he will publish, on a monthly basis, a list of the decisions made by this board, the recommendations made by this board to say, `yea' or `nay' and the Cabinet's decision as to whether or not they are `yea' or `nay'? I see him nodding his head and I would leave it to him to make sure that Hansard has recorded his answer when he speaks in closing debate on this. So I have a concern about that, Mr. Speaker, I have a concern that there will be a little hanky-panky as to who gets the edge and who does not.

I also have a question, Mr. Speaker, this is obviously much more for detailed debate but it comes under the general section of the act. It gives the right of a corporation to be given the edge, not being affected by any proposal made to the government with respect to the establishment or expansion of a business or undertaking in the Province, being June 29, 1994, on the day which this act comes into force. I would like the minister to explain what particular proposals he wants to make sure gets protected by that particular provision or is it anybody - because that was the day presumably the announcement was made to - the Board of Trade I think that announcement was made to.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The White Paper was released to the Board of Trade was it? Yes, I think so. This was shortly after the House closed and the MHAs were out of sight. They released this on the last day of June and wanted all responses in to it over the summer when most people were not focusing totally on public attention.

The Board of Trade, I think the minister called them the merchants' union - the merchants' union, according to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. He wants to give credit for that quote to someone else, but I understand the minister regards them as such as well.

I see here an awful lot of particular concessions being given. I wonder whether any thought has been given as to whether or not there should be some ceiling on the tax relief here. Is it right that someone can come in and hire ten people and make a killing for fifteen years, make an absolute substantial, gargantuan amount of money in fifteen years and not pay any income tax on it? I know that some corporations in our country - the banks are very good at it, not paying any taxes, making hundreds of millions of dollars.

MR. SULLIVAN: The banks paid $100 million in taxes this year.

MR. HARRIS: The bank paid $100 million in taxes?

MR. SULLIVAN: Hundreds of millions.

MR. HARRIS: Between them?

MR. SULLIVAN: No. The Royal Bank had over $1 billion, I think, and paid between $500 million and $600 million out of $1 billion (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I am glad to see the Member for Ferryland come to the defence of the banks.

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I am just telling the truth.

MR. HARRIS: I am glad to see the Member for Ferryland come to the defence of the banks because they need their defenders, too. I am sure the banks would be very pleased that they have their defenders here in this House.

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise on a point of order because there was information not factual attributed to me, and I want to go on record as indicating that it is incorrect what the Member for St. John's East stated here. I have stated clearly what I read in a magazine called The Financial Post on what banks contributed in income tax to Canada, so I wanted to clarify for the record that the Member for St. John's East took the liberty to say words that were not my words, or imputing motives, if you want to call it that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has taken the opportunity to clarify his position.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, the banks are particularly adept in avoiding paying income taxes. In fact, a couple of years ago this woman worked as a teller at the Royal Bank - Mary, I think - they used to brag about it. Mary was the Royal Bank, and Mary used to pay more taxes than the Royal Bank did. Now the Member for Ferryland informs us that this year, when they made $1 billion in profit, they actually did pay some taxes. I am glad to hear that, and I am glad that the Member for Ferryland is here quick to his feet, every time an opportunity presents itself, to correct the record on behalf of the banks. As I say, they need their defenders, too, and I am glad they have them here.

Mr. Speaker, I do have a concern here, and it is a legitimate concern. Despite hon. members interest in making sure the banks get credit for their taxes, I do want to ask the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, whether he thinks it is right that there be no upper limit as to how much profit, how much tax remission, how much can go on under this legislation, without any obligation to the people of this Province other than the hiring of ten employees that should take place.

Mr. Speaker, I also have a concern, and I don't see the answer here - maybe the minister can point it out to me - when we talk about the definition of jobs here, they talk about ten permanent jobs in the Province. The Premier in introducing the legislation talked about these ten permanent jobs. He said they don't have to be year-round jobs, they can be seasonal jobs. Do they have to be full-time seasonal jobs? Do they have to be full-time? Is there going to be an amendment to the legislation to clarify that?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what permanent means.

MR. HARRIS: That is what permanent means. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology thinks that permanent means full-time, forty hours a week, thirty-five hours a week.

MR. FUREY: Full-time was in the original legislation, and there was a problem (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Okay. So, Mr. Speaker, if that is what they intend is permanent seasonal jobs - a permanent job could be - if you worked twenty hours a week fifty-two weeks a years you have a permanent part-time job. If you look at definitions in collective agreements - and I know Mr. Speaker has looked at many of them in his day as an arbitrator - the definition of jobs, whether they are permanent or temporary, can be defined in many ways. You can have a permanent part-time, you can have a permanent full-time, you can have a temporary part-time or a temporary full-time, or you can have a seasonal, which may be seasonal full-time, or if you only work twenty hours a week in the summertime, then it is a seasonal part-time job.

I would hesitate to have confidence in the minister's assertion that a permanent job means that it must be a certain number of hours per week, other than part-time, because it is nowhere in this statute that indicates that these in fact will require to be full-week jobs. Whether it be a regular working week of thirty-five hours, as in some sectors, or a regular working week of forty hours as it is in many industrial sectors.

I would hesitate to rely on the minister without some assurance that at least the ten people who might potentially receive jobs are going to have jobs for a - they are going to be substantial jobs, they are going to be jobs that give them an income. If we are being asked to forego ten to fifteen years of taxes of an unlimited amount - and I have grave difficulties with that, that there is no cap on the amount of incentive that an individual can have here. They can have a ten- to fifteen-year tax holiday for all taxes for an unlimited amount of money. If they are able to avoid taxes of $1 million, $2 million or $3 million over ten years that is hardly a proper incentive for the creation of ten jobs. Especially if these are only part-time jobs, part-time part-year jobs, which seem to be possible under the definition of permanent jobs set forth here.

I really would like to hear some proper explanation for that. I've practised labour law in this Province for nearly fifteen years and I am not satisfied that permanent employment or permanent job means full-time. I don't know if any other labour lawyer or indeed any lawyer would be satisfied with a definition that just says ten permanent jobs without indicating that they must be of at least a certain number of hours' duration per week. That is not satisfactory. Perhaps it is a matter that could be handled by regulation and go into some detail as to what a permanent job consists of. If that is the case then I would certainly be interested in seeing exactly what kind of regulations are made to ensure that the taxpayers of this Province, the ones who are going to be paying the taxes that these individuals, these companies, aren't, are getting their money's worth.

Because if somebody can walk into this Province or some individual in this Province can avoid the payment of perhaps several million dollars in taxes over the ten to fifteen years that they get, then that is a pretty substantial incentive, let me say. There doesn't appear to be any relationship, I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, between the amount of the incentive that is received and the number of jobs or the economic benefits that are created. That is the first time I have seen that, Mr. Speaker, that kind of open-ended incentive when the government has no idea what the amount of that incentive is, because the Member for Grand Bank, who sets up a business that generates enough activity that the sales tax alone could be millions of dollars over a period of ten years, and he creates ten jobs for ten weeks a year, these are ten, permanent, seasonal jobs and the people, the taxpayers of this Province are asked to give up $100 million in taxes to create ten part-time jobs or ten seasonal jobs and it is open-ended for ten years.

We could forego $5 million to create ten seasonal jobs in one case and we could forego half-a-million dollars in another case. There is no relationship between the economic return to this Province of an investment and the amount of the incentive that is there. It is open-ended, Mr. Speaker, and I think that that is dangerous. There ought to be a cap on these corporations. These individual corporations who are being given the edge, ought to have an edge that does not go so far as to give them an unlimited advantage at the expense of the people of this Province.

Now, I see the two, the banker's defender and the minister agreeing that some people do not understand that this costs nothing. Well, Mr. Speaker, if it costs nothing why would we forego millions of dollars of tax revenue, regardless of the number of jobs created. Now if somebody was creating fifty jobs or 100 jobs, I could see the foregoing a larger amount of tax revenue because the incentive would be greater because of the result, but I don't see any relationship here between the result and the tax incentive and I see the opportunity for all kinds of corporations that are friends of the government being given the edge, and a lot of other people potentially being given the shaft, so I have those concerns, Mr. Speaker; I appreciate that the government has made substantial changes in response to public opinion and public criticism, but I think the legislation is fundamentally flawed and has to be totally re-examined.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will just take two minutes -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right. I have a concern, it is not the one the Member for St. John's East has; I think the Member for St. John's East is half-afraid we are going to create ten jobs in this Province, I think that is his concern.

Now, I have a concern and I think maybe, an amendment might address this concern. When this original legislation was reworded, revised, almost completely revamped, let us put it that way, in article 3, I say to the minister, in clause 3, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: In 3 (c) in the bill, it states: `for the creation and maintenance of at least ten permanent jobs in the Province.'

Now initially, this was ten permanent, full-time jobs so -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, okay ten full-time. So they eliminated that and made it permanent. Now, over in section 13 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: There is an amendment? Okay, I just want to get my concern on the record anyway so I will just mention it. In 13 (2), they did not make the change where they are going to give an incentive of $2,000 per grant, they just left it permanent, full-time, so I am just assuming that full-time is going to be deleted and will become permanent and it is my understanding that memo will be forthcoming?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. Thank you. Mr. Speaker; and I am not afraid to see ten jobs in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister now speaks, he will close debate.

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the hon. gentleman from St. John's East, who attended the London School of Economics, could not see what we are trying to do here.

What we are trying to do is stimulate the economy. Maybe he needs an intellectual epidural to get his stimulants going.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) schedule one for Quebec.

MR. FUREY: That is right, and you notice the economy in Ontario is starting to boom the closer we get to throwing out the NDP which will be next year, I guess, some time next year.

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of this piece of legislation. We are very proud of what is happening in the economy generally. If you set aside the fishery in the last economic review done by the analysis group up at IGA which was put in place, I believe, by Premier Peckford early in his mandate, they started to track the economy through each quarter, and if you look at the last nine months in this particular Province you will see that the Minister of Finance's forecasts were right on target. He projected a 3.4 per cent growth in the economy and it is coming to be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Retail sales have grown in the last nine months by 3.4 per cent and that says to me that the consumers have confidence in the economy, Mr. Speaker. They are starting to spend. We see that manufacturing is up by just under 1 per cent, shipments in the manufacturing sector. Investment intentions on capital spending side for construction and other matters are up by 11.5 per cent.

Hon. members will be interested in hearing this. If you set aside the fishery for a second and just look at the other parts of the economy, all the other sectors, employment grew in the last nine months by 3.4 per cent which is directly on target with what the Minister of Finance projected in his Budget, and that is double the national average.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is it now?

MR. FUREY: It is a stubborn 20 per cent, but, Mr. Speaker, just think about it. With a booming fishery under the Conservative government, and the Member for Grand Bank will remember this, it is very difficult, as they grew the economy, as they grew job opportunities, new entrants coming into the economy outpaced the actual growth and while they performed well in certain times, I think in 1986 and 1987 you just could not outpace them, I think at one point there was a 26 per cent unemployment rate.

Mr. Speaker, construction, public services, finance, insurance, and the real estate industry are showing positive signs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Newsprint shipments in the three mills in the last three quarters grew by 5.3 per cent. Iron ore production out of Labrador grew by 26 per cent, and employment in Labrador grew by 8 per cent over the last year. Employment at the Hibernia site has crested up to 7,100 people, a 34 per cent growth over last year. The tourism numbers grew this year over last year by 5.3 per cent. Expenditures in tourism from outside spending grew by 6.1 per cent over last year, and Newfoundland led the Atlantic Provinces in small business growth the third year in a row by (inaudible)

Mr. Speaker, where did my socialist friend run off too?

As I listened to the debate I heard the Opposition say that they supported the thrust, the intent, the principle, and the direction that government is taking in the EDGE corporation, and I appreciate that. That is the right way to go.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: But as I hear my hon. friend for St. John's East speak I could not determine from all the gibberish what he was saying. Is he for it or is he against it? He was frightened by the ten jobs. He was Duckworth nit-picking, whether it was permanent, semi-permanent, seasonal, or where it stood. Mr. Speaker, I say to him, that if we do this right, if we promote it properly, we have laid the foundation, I think, for a centrepiece for recovery. The recovery has started. Some people may not like that but the recovery has started.

Our exports are up, there is strength in the economy, and the forecasts of the Minister of Finance are bang on the money for the first time ever. He is putting our books in order. The deficit is being wrestled to the ground, Mr. Speaker, and we are saying to outsiders, this is a good place to invest. Newfoundland and Labrador is a good place to invest.

Mr. Speaker, I sense that my friend for St. John's East will vote against this bold, creative, and innovative legislation, but let history record that fifty-one sensible members saw the light, saw the opportunity, saw the hope, that we set out in this piece of legislation to draw in new investment and new opportunity, and I move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Provide For Economic Diversification And Growth Enterprises In The Province," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 51).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Order No. 24, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 24.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act". (Bill No. 46).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: We have a very lively crew here today, Mr. Speaker. I hope you appreciate that. Christmas is coming.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce this bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act". Essentially, I suppose, the purpose of this bill is to crack down on the smuggling of liquor, and a variety of other things, and I am sure there are members in the House who would be very interested in this bill.

Clause 1 of the bill simply redefines some words to tighten up the regulations a bit, defining the words `contraband', `motor vehicle' and `trailer'.

Clause 2 of the bill would give inspectors appointed under the act the powers of the RNC for the purpose of enforcing the act only.

Clause 3 would exempt from the application of the act, wine, beer brewed by a person for his or her own consumption, for obvious reasons.

Clause 4 of the bill would amend the act to require the Liquor Control Board to cancel or refuse to issue to a person a licence issued under the act where that person is convicted of an offence under Section 124.1 of the act.

Clause 5 substitutes some new sections that have to do with the search and seizure of contraband without a warrant in certain circumstances. It provides for a means of disposing of contraband or other seized goods of persons dealing in contraband, provide the means for an innocent person to regain possession of his or her property.

Clause 6 of the bill would repeal section 100 of the act respecting the provision of a certificate as to the officer's good behaviour for his or her actions.

Clause 7 of the bill provides that no time limitation apply to prosecutions. Currently there is a six-month limitation and we want to remove that.

Clause 9 of the bill is particularly important. It would amend the act to make it an offence for a person to deal in contraband liquor and would provide specific penalties for that offence, including fines and imprisonment. Mr. Speaker, you will see that the fines and the penalties for dealing in contraband liquor are very extensive, indeed, and very severe, and the Member for Grand Bank will be very pleased with that.

Clauses 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the bill deal with other pieces of legislation, namely the Gasoline Tax Act, the Lotteries Act, the Retail Sales Tax Act, and the Tobacco Tax Act. Quite obviously what it does is that where a person is convicted of an offence under the Liquor Control Act, it gives the government the right to refuse permits under all of the other acts. So a person dealing in contraband, especially if it is a business, is effectively put out of business. They can't be granted a license under the Gasoline Tax Act, under the Lotteries Act, or under the RC Act, which effectively would put them out of retail business, or under the Tobacco Tax Act. So this represents a significant crack-down on contraband and a tightening up of the regulations.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know full well what members opposite are going to say. They are simply going to say there is no need to crack down on contraband, all you need to do is eliminate the taxes and that, in itself, will prevent smuggling - if you eliminate all the taxes that will prevent smuggling. Now, Mr. Speaker, I guess there is a philosophical difference here. I suppose members opposite could argue that what we should do is eliminate all those other taxes and raise the income tax by eight or ten points or fifteen or twenty points to compensate, whatever it might be. They might argue that but, Mr. Speaker, I think that argument is not going to be accepted by the people of the Province. Government uses these mechanisms to raise money and where the majority of people are law-abiding citizens who are paying their taxes properly, the non-law-abiding people who are involved in smuggling and in contraband, Mr. Speaker, have to be dealt with harshly instead of simply cancelling this method of revenue collection and adding it all to the (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce this bill. I believe it is a significant bill in terms of the controlling of contraband in the Province. I am very interested to hear what the Member for Burin - Placentia West will have to say about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to respond to the bill. Let me say to the minister, no, I wouldn't advocate that he eliminate all taxes, not by any stretch of the imagination. I guess what I'm saying, though is that over the years we were both responsible for increasing taxes on liquor and tobacco to the point where now - in some cases we have passed the point of diminishing return and also where it makes us so far out of sync with other areas where these products are available that it certainly makes smuggling very, very attractive, or it has.

Now, this is one way to combat it - I guess, one way to combat it is to make the penalties equally as large as the benefits, and that is the bottom line. Up until now, I think it is probably fair to say that the benefits that were being reaped by persons involved in smuggling tobacco and alcohol were far greater than the penalties they might be subjected to or that they were subjected to when they were caught. In fact, there is no question, I guess, that they were able to say, `Well, our fines are a small percentage of what we can take in and therefore the risk justifies the end.' Obviously, this is one way to deal with that, to change the level of penalty that is imposed for those who are caught.

I guess it is difficult for any of us - none of us are going to stand here and defend persons who are breaking laws. A law is a law regardless of what it deals with. There is a lot of sympathy, obviously, from the consuming public who are prepared to purchase these products. I guess they don't realize that they, themselves are breaking a law by actually having in their possession contraband liquors, but it is socially, perhaps, acceptable in many areas. Certain laws, if they are broken, are socially acceptable and this is probably one of them to some degree. Some persons are quite prepared to say, well, that's okay - if we can do something to get money out of government it is okay, and that has always been, unfortunately. Nobody is being hurt, it is only the government. We have seen those people who evade taxes, who find all kinds of schemes to reduce the amount of taxes they pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: All those millionaires who don't pay taxes.

MR. WINDSOR: Who don't pay income tax, perhaps. Sure, there are lots of them who find ways and means of getting around paying income tax, of hiding their income in certain investments and so forth - perhaps, in many cases, within the law, but in some cases not. And this is one of those laws, I guess, that if they are violated to some degree it is socially acceptable, it is a great joke. I got a crock for $10 or $15. You don't hide that away, many people don't, so it is somewhat socially acceptable breaking some law such as these.

It doesn't change the fact that these are laws of the Province. There are many examples that we can look at, many laws relating to municipalities. My friend, the minister will confirm that municipalities tend to ignore some of the provisions of the Municipalities Act. They don't realize that these are laws and they are breaking a law. I guess, the question is, who was injured by it, and if in this case it is only the government, so what. If we can get away with taxes, `Good for you, boy,' if you manage to get away without paying a certain amount of tax.

They don't realize that taxes are the means by which government raises the revenues to provide the services that we all want and enjoy in this Province. Government simply redistributes the public wealth and if some persons are unfairly getting out from under paying their share, then obviously, it is not for us to stand here in the House and defend that, Mr. Speaker.

The intent of the minister's bill is something, I guess, that is difficult to disagree with. The question is whether we need to go quite so far. The penalties here are extremely severe - extremely severe. Perhaps there may not be a lot of sympathy for the person who is deliberately and flagrantly violating the act. There are probably a lot of people who might get somewhat innocently caught up in this as well, so I guess it's a matter of degree, and perhaps we have to trust to the wisdom of the courts to decide what the degree is.

In some cases here, though, I suspect there is not a lot of flexibility, and the courts may not be given the flexibility, and that causes me some concern. It is one thing for us to trust the courts to administer the spirit and intent of the act. I am not totally sure, in my own mind, that I have that much confidence in our courts, to be quite honest, but that is another issue.

The other aspect of it is to have legislation that doesn't give the courts any flexibility if there are extenuating circumstances, and I figure there are some provisions in this bill that we will deal with in committee perhaps more properly than now, as we go through each clause that we could deal with that, but it is important that extenuating circumstances can be considered and that the courts can deal with it, Mr. Speaker.

There is some concern about those who are innocent here as it relates to property, vehicles, or whatever, that might be used as part of the smuggling of contraband liquors, and there is provision here in the act that persons can - but I think the onus is on them to prove that they are not involved. I have some concern that here we are guilty until proven innocent. I can understand where government is coming from, that they have to

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, I have an issue that I want to discuss with the Minister of Social Services at a more appropriate time, dealing with an issue that was brought to my attention by a constituent recently where I believe she is deemed guilty until proven innocent. It is a very difficult situation, but I will deal with that one at another time. I am afraid here it may be another case where the innocent party may be without his vehicle or whatever for a period of time until proven innocent.

Now, the provision whereby the minister can take away licences issued under the Gasoline Tax Act, or the Lotteries Act, or the Tobacco Act because of contraband liquor, there may well be times when that is justified, I say to the minister. Somebody who is operating a business that relies on these four licences, that person is, you know, blatantly violating the act, then maybe they should pay that penalty but there may be extenuating circumstances again, where, somehow, relating to that business, or in that business or around the premises, a breach of the liquor's act takes place and yet, the whole business can be shut down. I used the example last week in dealing with the Tobacco Tax Act which is basically, companion legislation to this one.

It is companion legislation where, a person may be operating the same motel where they have a lounge downstairs with a liquor licence and with a lotteries licence there with the machines that are now in place, the gambling machines that are in place and yet, in the lobby, they are probably selling tobacco products, and a minor comes in and purchases a tobacco product, some person on the front desk is not as perhaps vigilant as he or she should be in asking for identification, you know, something as simple as that, this is obviously - I am using an extreme example perhaps, but I use it for emphasis, that that young person could purchase tobacco products and as a result, under that legislation now, that this House gave second reading to a week or so ago, the minister has the right to cancel all of these licences, lounge licence, lotteries licence, everything, even though it has nothing to do with the sale of tobacco that took place upstairs or at the other end of the building, the same owner perhaps, but again it is a matter of degree and a matter of extenuating circumstances, whether or not the owner was deliberately involved. You know, I mean, was the owner telling that staff person at the front desk: don't worry about it, sell tobacco products to minors if you wish. If so, then perhaps the minister has some justification, but I suspect that that is not the case.

I suspect most legitimate owners today are saying: no, we don't want to see that take place, and maybe it is the same case here, and is it possible that a lounge owner gets into his or her possession, unknowingly, contraband alcohol. The onus now is on them to prove that they did not know that it was contraband, and I suppose if they do not purchase it through NLC, then they can always assume that it must be, but there are many things that take place in business you know, that could cause somebody to get into a situation innocently enough, and so I am a little concerned there, Mr. Speaker, again, that adequate safeguards are not here, that a person is not judged guilty until proven innocent, and in the course of proving themselves innocent, during that course of time, business could be destroyed; certainly, a person's reputation could be destroyed but, as well, a business could be destroyed during that period of time until that person is somehow, if ever, able to prove his innocence in a particular affair. So it is fine for the courts to be able to take it away but in this case the minister can automatically cancel a license I believe. The minister can correct me if I am wrong but as I read it - and the minister confirms - the minister has the right to cancel.

MR. BAKER: The Minister shall.

MR. WINDSOR: The minister shall, that is right. The minister does not even have any discretion. The minister cannot even look at it and say: well now this is not what we were trying to stop but my hands are tied. There is nothing I can do about it.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: We will adjourn at - by all means, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Now that Your Honour's words will be recorded properly and appropriately, there is, I believe, a consensus among members that we might ask the House to sit a little beyond 5:00 p.m. to finish the debate at second reading. That is a consensus I understand but one thing I don't want to do is to see us in a situation where the Speaker must rise at 5:00 p.m. and come back at 7:00 p.m. So perhaps it could be agreed that the House will not rise at 5:00 but we will finish this bill at 5:15 or 5:20, whenever? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. to permit second reading of the bill.

Motion carried.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To enable all the other speakers I do not intend to delay much longer. In fact, basically I have come to the end of what I was saying. I think the minister understands what I am saying here is that we do not want to get into circumstances where the innocent are caught here and where the minister - as the minister just told us - does not have any flexibility either. So a situation can be brought before him where something is found to be somewhat incorrect, nothing blatant, no intent perhaps to violate the act, not really involved in smuggling but somehow getting caught up in something that is illegal, the minister in that case does not even have an opportunity to say: no, this is not fair.

I had a case - one of my colleagues mentioned to me last week, as it relates to all-terrain vehicles, where somebody was using an all-terrain vehicle or the children were, to get from their home to the highway to catch a school bus or whatever. The home is located well back from the highway and particularly in spring, fall and winter of the year, access can only be gained by all-terrain vehicles. A child apparently came to the highway, it was on highway property, turned around on the highway or whatever with their all-terrain vehicle and under the act, under that act, the vehicle was confiscated and there was no flexibility. The act says the minister shall confiscate it. It had nothing to do with anybody - the act was designed to stop people from travelling on wilderness areas, on bogs and bog lands, destroying the environment. Absolutely no danger to the environment. The child was travelling on a well travelled trail, on an access route, a woods road sort of thing that had no bearing on the environment whatsoever. But because that person very briefly and involuntarily to some degree entered onto the highway then the very expensive vehicle was seized from a family that needs that vehicle for transportation to and from their home.

That is not the intent of the act. The government doesn't want to do that, the government didn't intend to do that. Probably doesn't even know it did it. Unfortunately the act says the minister shall seize. The RCMP and the courts - actually I think it says in this case the court shall seize. I believes it says the court shall seize, not the minister even. The courts in this case didn't have any flexibility.

I fear that every day we are seeing legislation coming here that is taking out any discretionary power, not only from the minister but even worse, I guess, from the hands of the courts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: The police?

AN HON. MEMBER: We are becoming a police state.

MR. WINDSOR: We are becoming a police state, my friend says. There are always extenuating circumstances. Where it can be proven to a court, alright? With due process, I say. I get concerned when I see us passing laws in this House that allow somebody to be tried and convicted without due process of defending themselves. As in the case of the constituent I mentioned who is a social assistance recipient who has lost all benefits because the department felt that she had violated a section of the act. She says very clearly: No, and they can't prove it. There is no evidence. There is some circumstantial evidence. The department feels they have enough. Maybe they are right in that particular case.

In the meantime, while that constituent goes through an appeal process which could take a couple of months to go through the social assistance appeal board, that person is without any means of support for herself and her children. None whatsoever. The appeal process says: We will cut off your benefits until - you can appeal if you don't like it, and if you win, fine. If you don't, well then, fine. If you don't then you shouldn't have, perhaps. How does that person live for two or three months while you go through that appeal process? The same is true here. A vehicle can be seized under this legislation and you have to prove, then, that you are innocent.

I am getting a little bit concerned that we are passing all too much legislation in this House, and perhaps the Parliament of Canada as well, that says you are guilty until proven innocent, which is not the concept of our whole basis for our democratic society.

With those few remarks I will conclude, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to make a few brief remarks on this legislation, and comment on what I feel is a bit of a disturbing trend in legislation and in policy from this government with respect to the lack of flexibility that is being built into our system. It appears that any individual, under this legislation, who is guilty of even the possession of an amount of contraband, if somebody gives you a bottle of liquor that turns out to be contraband, and you are convicted of an offence under section 124 of possession of contraband, you are dealt with what appears to be a lifetime ban of ever being able to sell tobacco legitimately, run a service station, get a retailer's licence of any kind. You can't get a retailer's licence, you can't run a gas station, you can't have a licence under the Lotteries Act, because of one conviction of a violation of section 124.1 of the act which says you can't possess, acquire, purchase, transport, store or sell contraband. I think that is a very onerous provision.

There must have been some discussion going on in the government about this, though, because the explanatory notes to the act say that the minister may - looking back at the explanatory notes, clause 10 of the bill would amend the Gasoline Tax Act to permit the minister to cancel the retailer licence issued under the act, but when you actually look at clause 10 it says: Where a person who applies for or holds a licence under the Gasoline Tax Act is convicted of an offence, the minister shall refuse to issue or cancel or suspend that person's licence.

Actually, I am not sure what that means - shall refuse to issue or shall cancel or suspend - for how long? If you don't have a licence you can't get one, but if you have one you will either have it cancelled or suspended. I suppose at least that gives some flexibility to the minister for someone who already has a licence, that they may only suffer a suspension, but if they don't have one they can never get one, apparently, forever.

I don't know what that is there. I don't know why the government has to be so afraid of the discretion that might be exercised by a minister in circumstances like this, or in other cases by the courts, where very serious and strong required penalties are necessarily imposed, regardless of the circumstances.

There is a notion of justice that is pretty universally held that the punishment must fit the crime. Although these are administrative penalties only, refusing to grant a permit, or cancellation of a licence or refusal to grant a licence, they are administrative penalties but they can be very onerous penalties indeed to a particular individual or a family who has a family business, or are operating a business where somebody within that family through perhaps a failure of judgement on a particular occasion gets himself, or herself, involved in a contravention of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I think there is good reason for having strong legislation - don't get me wrong. I think if I were running a bar down on George Street and I were supplying my bar with contraband liquor and not paying any tax to the Minister of Finance, then unless it was an EDGE corporation, I suppose, the Minister of Finance would be very upset about that. If it was an EDGE corporation that didn't pay any taxes then that would be alright because it wouldn't make any difference to the minister. But if a bar on George Street, or anywhere else in this Province, were supplying its customers with liquor at the same price as everybody else, not paying any taxes on it, using contraband liquor, well, I can see the necessity for a very stiff response by government and a very strong disincentive for anybody engaged in the bar business or the liquor business to sell contraband as part of that business.

I have no difficulty with the intention of creating strong penalties and creating strong powers in the government to deal with circumstances as they arise, but what I do object to, Mr. Speaker, is this kind of provision which says `the minister must', `the minister shall', `the minister has no option', and that appears to be a lifetime ban turning an individual into an outlaw as far as these kinds of activities are concerned, an outlaw for life, because of one conviction for an offence of possessing, acquiring, purchasing, selling, storing, or transporting contraband liquor.

I think that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. That could happen to somebody who is seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen years old, or twenty-one years old, and for life, according to this, for life they are prohibited from having any kinds of these licenses or permits that might be required to engage in this type of business on a legitimate basis.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is wrong. I agree with the principle of having stiff measures and I think that obviously there is a cat and mouse kind of game going on between the Minister of Finance and the people dealing in contraband liquor, and tobacco for that matter. There has to be a fairly strong response, because the rest of us pay through lack of tax revenue generated. I say that as my remarks on the bill.

That is very similar, unfortunately, to other legislation the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is bringing in which says if you don't pay your back school tax, you can't have your driver's license. I think that is a disturbing trend, Mr. Speaker, and linking up things that are not related whatsoever, not related at all. If somebody doesn't pay his post-secondary education tax or the school tax and the Minister of Transportation says, `You are not going to have your driver's license renewed,' I think that is wrong.

I also think it is wrong, by the way, to say the same thing about arrears of maintenance. I am not supporting people not paying their maintenance. In fact, I think there should be stronger measures to ensure that people are required to pay maintenance arrears, but to connect up that issue with the issue of driver's license is unfair, it is arbitrary and unjust, Mr. Speaker.

For example, supposing an individual were in a situation where he was required to pay maintenance but he had a job paying $5.00 an hour, perhaps driving a courier around town delivering messages and that $5.00 an hour hardly earned him enough money to keep up his payments, or his arrears, and there was an outstanding order. Now, he can go back to court and get an amendment, and all that kind of stuff, sure he can, but what happens in the meantime? In the meantime he has no licence, he can't earn a living because the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has a policy in place and legislation in place preventing him from having his driver's licence.

Now, the minister will have them horsewhipped, he says. Well, that day is gone, fortunately, because I wouldn't want to be living in a community where the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation could decide who gets horsewhipped and who doesn't, and in fact, Mr. Speaker, no one obviously, should be horsewhipped in our community.

Now, Mr. Speaker, those are my comments on the legislation. I support the principle of having stiff measures but I would ask the minister if, at third reading, he would accept an amendment to change the arbitrary nature of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - in Committee or third reading, whatever, accept an amendment to change the arbitrary nature of the onerous provisions that require in all circumstances, regardless of the case, that there be what appears to be a lifetime ban for any violation whatsoever, of section 124.1.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, if he now speaks, will close debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the Official Opposition on my right and the other party on my left for their support in principle of this particular bill. They have pointed out some details that can be dealt with at Committee stage and it would be more properly dealt with at that stage. As I understand it, the points are: one having to do with the penalties, another having to do with extenuating circumstances, another having to do with the concept of being innocent until proven guilty and another having to do with the concept of the minister not have discretion in terms of all of these other acts, if a person is convicted of possessing or selling contraband. Mr. Speaker, these points can be adequately debated and dealt with at Committee stage. I once again thank members opposite for their support in principle; we will deal with these matters at Committee stage and I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I move the adjournment, may I advise members that we shall begin tomorrow with Bill 36, which is Order No. 25, and unless there is some particular reason which I cannot anticipate but which may occur, I acknowledge, the proposal will be when we finish Order 25 - I am reading today's Order Paper of course - we will go on to Order 26 and when we finish that, we will go on to Order 27 and so forth. So I will say both to my colleagues in the ministry and to members on both sides who are not at the present in the ministry, whatever they want to debate, they should be prepared to, because we will take them in order, starting at Order 25 and just keep on going until we hit the end or Christmas, whichever comes first, and I am sure I speak for every member when I say I hope we hit the end before we hit Christmas.

There is no plan to ask the House to sit in the evenings but I think my friend, the Member for Grand Bank and I have both come to the conclusion that if we need to in order to allow full debate of all these measures, we are prepared to ask the House to do it. My suggestion is that members take due heed of that in formulating their speeches, particularly the length of their speeches, and I said to my colleagues in the ministry as well.

With that said, Sir, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday at two o'clock.

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