December 15, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 77


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

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

Before we proceed with the routine business of the day the Chair wishes to address the House on a matter of grave importance.

Yesterday an event took place which appears to be unparalleled and unprecedented in the history of this House. Yesterday the Member for Kilbride rose on a point of order and uttered unparliamentary remarks, whereupon the Chair asked the member to withdraw these remarks. The Chair afforded the member several opportunities to withdraw. The member declined to comply with the Chair's request. At that point the Chair was obliged to name the member. A motion duly put was carried by the House that the Member for Kilbride withdraw from the Chamber for the remainder of yesterday's sitting.

The member did not withdraw from the Chamber. The Chair recessed the House. Upon resuming, the Speaker afforded the member yet another opportunity to accede to the Chair's direction. Again the member refused to withdraw. Then the Chair asked the Sergeant-at-Arms to escort the member from the House. The member again refused even after the Sergeant-at-Arms had asked for the assistance of the commissionaires. After another recess, it being past 4:30 p.m. and there being no questions for the adjournment debate, the adjournment motion was put and carried.

The Chair has afforded the member every opportunity to obey the rules and the orders of the House, yet the member has persisted in disregarding the authority of the Chair. The member, along with all other members, indeed has a right and an obligation to express his view; however, the member has an equal obligation to respect the rules of the House. If members continue to disregard the authority of the Chair the House is paralysed and unable to carry out the people's business. This is an affront to all the other members of the House and must not be allowed to continue.

The Speaker is left with very few options, and hon. members should realize what those few options are. Being forced to resort to the civil authorities would be most undesirable and unprecedented, yet the Chair has according -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Yet the Chair has according to the British parliamentary tradition this authority. The Chair therefore asks the hon. member to consider the consequences of his actions in disregarding the authority of the Chair by not obeying the order to withdraw, and calls upon the member to put the matter to rest by apologizing for his actions of yesterday, so that the House may continue uninterrupted with its business.

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

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to say first and foremost that my intent yesterday was not to put Your Honour in the position that he was put in, or to disregard blatantly the proceedings of the House but rather to draw attention to the fact that when we debate legislation here, that we have a responsibility as members to speak the truth, all the time, every time, as we know it, and I felt, yesterday, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier of this Province did not do that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is not going to get into a debate with the hon. member on this. The Chair has asked the hon. member to consider his actions, and is asking him to apologize to the House and to the Chair, for those actions.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me say simply, I apologize for putting the Speaker in the position that he is in, but I do not withdraw my comments yesterday and I stand by the comments that I made in this House of Assembly.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair was not asking the hon. member to withdraw his comments. The record of yesterday will show what transpired here in this House, but what the Chair is asking the hon. member to do is, to apologize for his actions unequivocally.

Is the member apologizing for his -

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for putting you in the position that you are in, and with that I will sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions to the Premier about Bill 35, the notorious bill before the House which fundamentally alters Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and which will significantly increase electricity rates in this Province.

I ask the Premier, what is his rationale for changing the law to remove Hydro's exclusive right to develop remaining hydro sites in the Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is fairly simple, Mr. Speaker. The development of hydro power in the Province should be in the control of the government and it should be managed by the government at any point in time. It is not appropriate that it be left from here on in in the hands of Hydro. Hydro has developed for the most part all of the areas that it was particularly interested in over the years, and at Hydro's request and on Hydro's recommendation certain smaller hydro areas were removed from Hydro's right and they acceded to it being done when proposals were called for the small hydro developments.

We believe, Mr. Speaker, that the management of future hydro development ought to be decided by the government at the time that occurs and not by the Hydro Corporation. As well the objective of government in this piece of legislation is to do two things. It is to alter the Electrical Power Control Act to recognize that Hydro is not going to be privatized and is not intended to be privatized at this time by government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has asked a question and let the hon. Premier answer.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me state again, the objective of the bill is twofold. It is to recognize the fact that Hydro is not being privatized and there is no intention to privatize it. Let me state clearly the position of the government on that issue. The government will not bring a measure before this House to privatize Hydro without being satisfied that it has the support of the majority of the people of this Province. Now, nobody can give any more assurance than that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The sole purpose of this bill is to place the laws of the Province's Electrical Power Control Act, and the Hydro Corporation, managed and owned by the people of this Province, to place it in a position so it will be done effectively and efficiently. That is the sole purpose, and in placing Hydro under the regulatory control of the PU board along with the other utilities, which is what the bill provides for, it is inappropriate that Hydro be left with the absolute right to develop all remaining powers. Those powers go back to the government where they were before that legislation was passed. It is an eminently sensible and sound management approach, and that is the sole reason for it.

MR. TOBIN: Why cut off debate? Why choke debate? Why are you forcing it through now?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on a supplementary.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the Premier is saying touches on extremely important public policy issues. The Premier has essentially confirmed what the Opposition has been saying, namely, that Bill 35 is a vitally important legislative measure, far too important to be rammed through the House of Assembly a few days before Christmas -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: - far too important to be rammed through the House of Assembly with less than a week's debate, far too important for closure to be imposed after only four members of the Opposition had a right to speak, far too important to be withheld from public scrutiny through a public hearing process. I ask the Premier once again, will the Premier refer Bill 35, amending the Hydro legislation and the Electrical Power Control Act to a House committee for public hearings early in the new year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, this whole issue and all of the principles involved in it were debated when the Electrical Power Control Act was put to the House. This is a relatively minor amendment to accommodate one fact, the Electrical Power Control Act when it was passed by this House contemplated a privatized Hydro. That is not now going to happen. This amendment is to provide for the fact that Hydro will not be privatized and to allow the Electrical Power Control Act to operate in light of that fact. All of the issues and principles involved were fully and thoroughly debated when the Electrical Power Control Act was before this House. This, in those terms, is a relatively minor amendment and no, Mr. Speaker, it is not necessary. It is a complete waste of time and effort to refer this to a parliamentary committee or a legislative committee.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, I ask him to withdraw that remark.

MR. WINDSOR: What remark?

MR. SPEAKER: Dictator.

MR. WINDSOR: That is unparliamentary in this House?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you cannot refer to members as dictators.

MR. WINDSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, out of respect for the House I will comply with Your Honour's request, but I remind Your Honour that Your Honour is here to administer the rules of this House as made by the House, not to make the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has withdrawn his remarks but I remind the hon. member that the Chair is not going to tolerate this kind of language, calling members dictators and cowards. These are clearly unparliamentary and unacceptable.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier, if this bill amending the Hydro Act and the Electrical Power Control Act is such a minor bill, why are you using closure in an unprecedented way, in an anti-democratic way, to shut off debate -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: - to shut off debate after only four members of the Opposition had an opportunity to speak?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we have a fairly substantial agenda.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, they have asked a question. I am prepared to answer it, and if they are civil enough to allow it to be answered they can criticize my answer but at least hear the answer, be civil enough to hear the answer.

Mr. Speaker, we have a fairly substantial agenda. There are a few days before the Christmas recess. Two of the thirty-two days - two of those thirty-two government working days were used on this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: - were used on this debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, closure doesn't prevent debate; it puts in place a reasonable limitation on it. Every member of the House has a right to speak for twenty minutes after closure is introduced, and as far as I know, I don't think many members on this side of the House want to take the time, so if the members want the time they can do it; they can have it.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are not allowed to speak. They are afraid to speak over there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier: What difference does it make to you whether Bill 35 is passed before Christmas or passed next Spring in the 1996 session of the House of Assembly?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What is the difference?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Because we want to start the process of managing the hydro-electric affairs of this Province in the best way possible, as soon as possible. I remind hon. members that the Board of Directors of Hydro just recently appointed a new Chairman to succeed Mr. Mercer. He takes office on the first of January. I would like to have matters for Hydro set in place so that on the first of January, when the new President and CEO of Hydro takes office, he can start with his team to put Hydro in place in accordance with the legislative direction of this Legislature.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the EPCA has been on the books for some time, everybody has known. But we put that legislation before the House in the form and with the provisions that it has in contemplation that Hydro would be privatized and would be an investor-owned utility instead of a Crown-owned utility. We got the clear message from the people of the Province that they did not want Hydro privatized. That does not alter my opinion that it is still, in my judgement, the best interest, and that the people have been misled by those who have opposed it.

Nevertheless, that does not matter. I cannot impose my judgement on the majority of the people of the Province. So we have adopted the policy of doing exactly what everybody said at the time: Make Hydro efficient, make it effective, give it a chance to re-earn money for the government and people of this Province, and keep it in public ownership, but make it work effectively. That is precisely what we are doing!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will not the Premier admit that there is absolutely nothing in this bill to make Hydro more efficient? What is in this bill are provisions to force the Public Utilities Board to increase Hydro's rate base, to increase the cost base, and to use a different basis for determining the rate of return, which is not going to make Hydro one iota more efficient. It is simply going to extract more money from Light and Power and ultimately from electricity consumers in this Province. Will not the Premier admit that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as I explained when the question was posed, this bill will not cause a rate increase unless the government directs -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: - unless there is direction. That is exactly what was said when the interview took place. Unless -

AN HON. MEMBER: Unless you tell them to.

MR. WINDSOR: Backing up now, are you not?

PREMIER WELLS: No, I am not. That is precisely the statement. Just listen to the tape.

- unless the government directs that the equity-debt ratio situation in Hydro be changed. Now, Mr. Speaker, we could direct that today!

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, why are you bringing (inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: Because that is not the purpose of the legislation. The purpose of the legislation is to provide for proper regulation of hydro-electric power and proper management of the government's own utility in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On March 7, 1994 the Premier was the guest of honour at the annual Prospectors and Developers annual meeting in Toronto. In his speech, the Premier said, and I quote: Federal and provincial governments, I believe, have taken a closer look at our mining industry, what we have done to it, the extent to which we have made it too difficult for them to operate, and the extent to which we have caused them to look in other areas. The Premier also said: We have made significant changes in the mining sector tax as well, that acts as an inducement to investment in mines.

How does the Premier square these statements, selling the local mining industry against the changes that he brought in yesterday to a tax law that was only introduced, this time last year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is quite simple, Mr. Speaker.

When the tax law was introduced a year or so ago - it was announced in the Budget two years ago, I think, and the legislative changes were brought in about a year or so ago. When it was done, the officials who advised us as to how to structure it and so on, never contemplated a Voisey's Bay - a mine that rich, we never contemplated that.

Now, maybe, we should have, maybe, the Cabinet collectively should have had enough wisdom to contemplate it, maybe the House, collectively should have had enough wisdom to propose an amendment that would provide for it, but none of us did; none of us did, Mr. Speaker. The difference between us and them is, we are prepared to admit that we didn't do it quite right the first time around. This is an effort to correct that. We gave notice of the intention in May of this year, and for the last few months, members opposite were saying: When are you going to bring it in? Well, I agree. I would have liked to have had it in a long time ago, but, Mr. Speaker, we have been working diligently to make sure that this time we get it right, that we will not have to go back again.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what I said last year, that the hon. member just quoted, to the annual meeting of the explorationists, I stand by. But, Mr. Speaker, no self-respecting government can see its laws, whether they were correctly or incorrectly put, can see its laws continue to remain as they are if it results in an unfair treatment of the taxpayers of this Province, and the reason for doing it now is to let all those who are exploring, know beforehand - not to wait until after the fact, but to tell them beforehand; that is why it is generic legislation. But it also exempts any smaller mine that has an annual cash gross sale of the mine, gross revenue of the mine of less that $100 million is not in any manner affected by that, so this won't, we believe, impair to any degree at all, any interest of explorers in going out and exploring, but, Mr. Speaker, it would be unconscionable for us not to protect the public interest in this way.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, on a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We all want to protect the public interest and we also want to protect the growing mineral sector that we do have.

The government has this book that it has been flogging in the mineral industry for years, talking about a mining-friendly investment climate. Now, would the Premier not think that keeping the current law in existence and bringing in some sort of special provision to deal with large projects on a project-agreement basis, with a revenue agreement and an industrial benefits agreement including say, a smelter, would be much better in that it does not change the current law and scare off very finicky investors in the mining sector?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The hon. member has an opinion on that. I respect his opinion, but I have to say to him, I disagree with it and if his friend will let me do it, I will explain why I disagree with it. I respect his opinion on it and the basis on which he puts it forward is sound, but it is fairly simple.

If, instead, we adopt his method of saying: we will wait until you discover something and then we will pounce, what kind of a message are we sending out? Is it not it more effective and more honest to say to people: Here is what it will be, up front, so you know.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) exactly what you are doing.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, that is not what we are doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are changing the rules (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, that is not what we are doing now. What we are doing now is telling all who are exploring in Labrador, in particular, at the moment, that if you have a big find, before you plan your investment in the money, before you try to sell the rights to the whole world for hundreds of millions of dollars, before you try to take it out of the Province so that the people will not get their share, we will tell you up front: Here is the operation that you will be facing.

Mr. Speaker, that does two things. With great credibility, it protects the interest of the public of this Province, and it tells people beforehand what the situation will be, it doesn't pounce on them after the fact.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, on a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, the government is already guilty of changing the rules in the middle of the game. Given the fickleness of the investment in the mining sector and the fact that, as the Premier said in his remarks in Toronto, they often go elsewhere when they don't like the climate, would the Premier consider putting this bill out to a committee of the House, as we have suggested for the Hydro bill, so that members of the mining community and members of the general public can have full input. There is no rush. Voisey's Bay is not going to happen for a year or so, so can we not have this looked at and have some public hearings on it before it is finalized?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would say that there is no need to have it rushed through before Christmas. It is sensible to have it done so that those who are carrying on mining and exploration activity in January and February and March, until the House sits again, will know what the rule is. Now, it will not make any difference in the sense of getting it through before Christmas in that sense, so I have to say: No, it is not an absolute emergency or urgent that it be through. Nothing is absolutely dependent on it. We don't think it will affect a single mine in the Province in January or February - I have to confess that - but I believe it is important to let those who will be investing in the companies that are involved in the Voisey's Bay find, know what the rules will be.

Now, if I were satisfied that the companies accept this as notification of what the rules are going to be, I would not be adverse to seeing it debated further in a coming session of the House of Assembly, but I wanted people to know. It is important that we be fair and straightforward with those who are investing in the Province, and tell them up front as quickly as we know what our rules are going to be. It is important that we tell them up front.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, on a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, I reiterate my call that the matter be put out to a committee, but is the Premier specifically confirming that this bill will not be pushed through before Christmas?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I just answered the hon. member's question, and I cannot make that decision because it is not mine to make -

MR. WINDSOR: It is the only one in the Province that is not yours, then.

PREMIER WELLS: - it is a Cabinet decision - but I am quite prepared to ask government to consider taking that approach, and I can say to hon. members that we could debate the principle, and the principles are spelled out, and I think most hon. members agree with the stated principle. The stated principles are clearly spelled out in it. Our mining tax laws should be such as to ensure a fair return for the people of this Province, and the investors who invest in the mine.

Secondly -

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: If the hon. member would just restrain his noise for a minute he might learn something that would be of value to him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: He drowns out every intelligent thought with his own noise. It leaves him in the dark as a result.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is spelled out very clearly. It is to make sure that the depletion of our non-renewable resources are managed in such a way that those who invest get a fair return, but also that the people of this Province who own the resources get a fair return.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: The second principle is, the richer the mine, the more the people should get.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Premier to get to the answer quickly.

PREMIER WELLS: Very well, Mr. Speaker.

What I am saying is that that principle can be debated, and if everybody agrees with the principle, we can refer it to a committee after second reading. It is very simple and very easy to do.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

My question is for the Premier.

The Premier is on the record as saying that Bill 35, and I quote from a transcript with CBC Radio: that this has nothing to do with power rates, no direct impact on power rates.

Will the Premier stand today and confirm that in fact four or five provisions of this bill will cause power rates to rise significantly in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: May I ask the quote from which he read, so that I can read it all, and not just the excerpt that he read?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is all of the quote on it.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, if that is all that CBC reported, they did not report accurately what was said. I have a tape recording of it, so does CBC, and so do all the news media, and they can tell you - well, I cannot be responsible for what CBC reports, but what I can say to hon. members is precisely what I said yesterday, the provisions of Bill C-135 will not, of themselves, cause a rate increase in this Province. That is my opinion and I stand by that opinion.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill 35, not C-135.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, whatever it is. The provisions of this bill will not - and what I said to the CBC was, will not cause an increase unless the government does what it can do today without this bill, and direct that the management investment policy of Hydro be such as to increase its equity and decrease its debt, and if it does that, that could cause the rates to go up. We can do that today without the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this is exactly the point where we were yesterday in Question Period. The Premier knows full well that what he is doing with Bill 35 will, in fact, increase the debt of Hydro, lowering it equity rate and thus causing electrical rates for domestic consumers or domestic users in this Province to rise. Let me ask him to confirm this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I invite the Member for Windsor - Buchans, if he wants to speak, to stand and be recognized. If not, sit down and shut your mouth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me ask the Premier to confirm this. By proclamation of the Electrical Power Control Act where $8 million a year remaining on the rural subsidy from industrial users to domestic consumers - domestic consumers will have to pay that over the next four years - the bill will authorize Cabinet to require the Public Utilities Board to use the same basis for calculating hydro rates as is used for setting the rates of Newfoundland Power, thus boosting Hydro's profit from about $20 million to $40 million. The bill will transfer responsibility of Hydro employees pension plan from government to Hydro, thus - I ask the Premier to confirm this - thus spreading the amount of the unfunded liability portion on to hydro rates over the next fifteen years, and will the Premier confirm that the bill will require the Public Utilities Board to use different accounting methods to calculate hydro costs thereby increasing Hydro's demand and to get increased electrical rates? Will the Premier confirm that those provisions will in fact have that impact and thus cause electrical rates to increase in the Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if every provision in it were implemented immediately, it would cause an increase in rates, but let me remind hon. members that the hon. member is wrong, it will not cause an increase in rates for this reason. They are directed to deal with the foreign exchange problem amortized over forty years, and precisely so as not to cause an increase in rates. They are directed to deal with the pension deficiency amortized over twenty or twenty-five years specifically so as not to cause an increase in rates. It has to be dealt with sometime. It was those members opposite when they had responsibility for government who borrowed in a foreign currency and put us in this position!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: We are trying to clean up their mess and, Mr. Speaker, we are trying to do it in an orderly and civilized way that will not see power increases.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, we are also trying to provide for sound rates for businesses in this Province so that they do not come to us and say we would like to build a business here but your power rates are out of whack. You caused the business element to subsidize the resident element of it. So your power rates are out of whack and if they said that, they would be right. So does that mean they go then to Quebec where there is a different situation where business rates are in fact subsidized? That is what they would do. We have 50,000 people out of work, Mr. Speaker, and we need all the jobs we can get. So this provides for adjustment on the extent to which business is subsidizing the residential rate, over a period of time, so as to avoid a specific increase in rates. That is the purpose of this legislation, not to cause it. Now the hon. member is entitled to his opinion if he thinks it will do the opposite but that is my opinion and I give it honestly to this House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality of the situation is this, that the total increase in Hydro rates will add up to a very substantial amount which we estimate to be between $30 million and $40 million. Now let me remind this Premier, that it is $30 million to $40 million a year. Now Premier, be forthright with the people of the Province, tell them that you are commercializing Hydro. That as a result, electricity rates will substantially increase and why are you doing that? Why will you not admit to it, to the people of this Province and to this House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will not admit to it for the simple fact that it is not correct. It is not accurate, Mr. Speaker! Now, I respect the hon. member's judgement. He has a right to hold that opinion. He also has a right to express it but I have a right to my opinion too and not only a right but a responsibility as Premier of the Province to express that judgement to the people of the Province. Now this government will answer to the people of the Province if we are wrong on this but our purpose is not to increase. We do not believe that the actions that we are taking will cause themselves now an increase in Hydro rates or in the foreseeable future. We do not believe it will provoke an increase in the Hydro rates. We are trying to correct the mess they made in the past over a period of time. Now I should say, Mr. Speaker, that the pension is not twenty or twenty-five years, it is amortized over fifteen years. The foreign exchange loss is amortized over forty years, Mr. Speaker, so as to avoid any possibility of an increase and we do not believe it will cause one.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

On a point of order, the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday there was a great kerfuffle in this House because of comments that the Premier made to the media and this morning I listened to the Government House Leader on the media and, Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to say that the Government House Leader lied to the people or that he intentionally misled the people but I am prepared to say that he didn't give the right information to the people.

The Government House Leader this morning stated on the media that this resolution on closure did not immediately cut off debate, that it would have provided an opportunity for all members to speak for twenty minutes. What he didn't tell the media this morning is that before he had given notice to this House that before he got to the closure motion he wanted five pieces of legislation dealt with. He wanted second reading on An Act Respecting Provincial Offences. The first time we saw it was the day before. He wanted Committee of the Whole on other bills respecting -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what I'm saying is that the Minister of Justice was not forthright this morning. What was told to the people of this Province was not right. It is that he was either going to choke debate on five pieces of legislation -

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

MR. TOBIN: - or choke debate, Mr. Speaker, on the closure motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is not a point of order that the hon. member is raising.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a point of order.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I don't rise on points of order very lightly in this House, as members know, but I want to make a point of order related to a comment made by the Premier this morning in Question Period. I wouldn't do it during Question Period. That is about the amount of time that has been taken for debate on Bill No. 35. Four people have participated in the debate: The Leader of the Opposition, the Member for St. John's East, the Member for Green Bay and the Member for Kilbride.

My point is that these members only spoke on the provisions of the Standing Orders of this House. The Leader of the Opposition who responded first was entitled to an hour, and the other members thirty minutes. My point to the Premier - the point of order is, that if you don't want members to speak for thirty minutes or twenty minutes or ten minutes as provided in the Standing Orders, then the way to do it is to change the Standing Orders of the House to reduce members' debating time. Not to bring in closure such as we've seen brought into this House on every important piece of legislation in this House.

I want to make the point of order that if the Premier wants to go about it in somewhat of a legitimate way then the thing to do is to change the Standing Orders. Don't blame it on us because we get up and speak for the time allotted under the Standing Orders, which for all of us in this case is thirty minuets until we get the closure which is twenty minutes. Change the Standing Orders if you want to reduce the length of time. That is my point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader to the point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may briefly, Mr. Speaker. The situation is quite straightforward. The government under the rules of the House has the right to ask the House to invoke a procedure known as closure. When that happens every member is entitled to speak once and once only, but for not more than twenty minutes. There is another -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor from Ferryland, might let me finish my sentence.

Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 50 also -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Standing Order 50, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Thank, you, Mr. Speaker. Standing Order 50 also provides that the debate shall end not later than 1:00 a.m. If for example we were to call the closure motion at 12:00 a.m. only three members would be allowed to speak before the vote was taken. We have no such intention of doing that, nor have we ever done so. We are quite prepared when we ask the House through the closure motion to do it in sufficient time to allow every member opposite to speak for the full twenty minutes that he or she is allowed. In the case of several of them that would be the second speech they've made on the bill.

I submit there is simply no point of order. What we have is a group of members opposite who, for whatever reason, don't want to let the House get on with the business and deal with the merits of the legislation before us.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland on the point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Government House Leader gave the impression to this House that every single person can speak on a closure motion. Since I came into this House people have been denied the right to speak on a closure motion because the Government House Leader had not called that motion in time to give everybody their twenty-minute allotment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: We had no assurance from that Government House Leader when he would call that closure motion. He had five other pieces of business on the Order Paper for that day that he intended to call - one we only saw the day before - that had significant impacts on the City of St. John's and other jurisdictions in this Province, and to tell us that we would have had time, we never had that assurance. He has denied it, and he has tried to give the impression to the public and to this House that that was the case. That is wrong, and I ask the Government House Leader to apologize for misleading the people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, obviously there has not been a breach of procedure established by our Standing Orders, so there is really no point of order.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. REID: I give notice that I will, on today, ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Taxation of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act".

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will, on tomorrow, ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act," (Bill No. 50).

Petitions

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

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

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Menihek, the residents of Labrador City and Wabush. The prayer of the petition is:

WHEREAS because of budgetary restraint new school busing proposals are unrealistic and dangerous; and

WHEREAS extreme climatic conditions and local conditions force students to use school buses;

THEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that the government allocate necessary funding to permit the continuing operation of a safe and reliable school busing program in Western Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the proposals by the government to save money on the backs of children in Labrador is unconscionable. The parents feel it is callous, uncaring, and cruel. It is unconscionable for a government to sacrifice children's safety on the idea of saving $300,000. The implementation of the program that the government has recommended for school busing in Western Labrador will cause to have triple runs in busing that will see students out at the bus stop at 7:00 a.m. It will see the winter season change to April 15, when after April 15 recorded temperatures in Western Labrador have been known, over the years, to be down below 40̊ below zero.

This government, sitting in the comfort of their Cabinet room, with their thick, lush carpets, oak chairs -

AN HON. MEMBER: And fur coats.

MR. A. SNOW: - and fur coats, and crystal, I suppose, and china coffee cups, they are making a decision in the Cabinet room to send the children out at 30̊ below zero. It ain't 30̊ below zero in the Cabinet room, I will guarantee you. By the hot air that comes out of the Cabinet minister who spoke here in Question Period, it is not 30̊ below zero in that Cabinet room.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The former President of the NTA should have a conscience. He should understand that children, when they go to school at 30̊ below zero, it is unsafe for them when it is pitch dark. At 7:15 in Western Labrador it is pitch dark. The parents say it is unsafe; yet the former President of the NTA, who sold himself out when he got to the Cabinet room - he forgot the problems of the classroom - now we are seeing this government implement a program of school busing that is going to cause an unsafe condition in Labrador for children. Cabinet ministers, like the Minister of Tourism, forgot the students in the whole Province. He forgot the people of the whole Province, and that is what is wrong with this government.

The fact that school busing is going to be restricted to force parents who have their children in the French Immersion program in Western Labrador, the kids - some fifty or sixty of them - who live in Wabush, will either have to provide their own transportation to school or withdraw from that French Immersion program. So these programs, this cut of $300,000 will lower the quality of education in Western Labrador if these children have to drop out of this particular program.

It will do away with the lunch runs. There will be no lunch runs in Western Labrador, in the school busing programs. The students will have to carry lunches to school. Out of the five schools that we have only one school has cafeteria facilities. So the students are expected to either eat in the corridors or the gymnasium which will cut out the extracurricular activities, or in the classrooms. That is unsuitable for students in 1995 to be doing that when all that is necessary is to have the necessary funds to deliver the busing system that was built, designed by and paid for by the people of Western Labrador.

This government institutes changes that will cause them to make these changes and cause the students in Western Labrador to have to use the busing system which is unsafe and will ultimately lower the quality of education in Western Labrador. I ask this government to reconsider what it is doing to this busing program in Western Labrador, take into consideration that it is unsafe, take into consideration that it is going to lower the quality of education for the students of Western Labrador, and to tell the people in Western Labrador that it will reinstate the funding of $300,000 so that the children of Western Labrador can attend school in a safe and reliable manner, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to rise to support the petition presented by my colleague for Menihek. It doesn't look like anyone from the government side is going to stand even to acknowledge the petition.

It is an issue that the Member for Menihek is taking very seriously, because it is an issue that the people of Labrador West are taking very seriously, changes to the school busing system in their communities. The member has over a number of days presented a number of petitions, and quoted from letters sent to him by parents about concerns that they have for their children when this school busing system is changed, and the safety aspect that the member has alluded to, of going to school in the morning when it is dark and very cold. No busing home at lunchtime, schools not equipped in some cases with a cafeteria.

It is a very serious concern that any member in this House should bring forward on behalf of his or her constituents and the Member for Menihek has done that very well. But several members opposite, in particular ministers opposite, seem to treat this matter rather lightly. They laugh at the member when he brings it forward. They think he is being too repetitive. They think he is falsifying the situation in Labrador West. But I mean, any of us who have any familiarity whatsoever with the situation there knows that the climatic conditions in Labrador West are indeed extreme at this time of year, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. If there is one minister in this House who should know about the different climatic conditions around this Province, whether it is for implications for school busing or for attracting people into the Province for tourism benefits, it should be the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

But he always seems to attack and turn on the Member for Menihek every time he presents a petition on this issue here. He seems to treat it so lightly, but it is not a light issue. It is a matter of grave concern. I want to stand this morning to support the petition put forward by the Member for Menihek. I was hoping that someone from the government side would at least get up and respond to the petition, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Because there aren't too many - well, none of them over there are allowed to speak on the most important issues affecting our Province, like Hydro, like the mineral tax, like the educational reform issue.

How many on the other side stood and talked about the great educational reform debate, participated in that? What do we see now? It is not going to even pass the House of Commons in this calendar year. It was the expenditure of a couple of million dollars, and tied up this Province for months in debate, and where is it now? Where are all the educational reforms that this Premier promised? He told the people of this Province that it would be dealt with in the federal system by the end of this calendar year.

I'm not surprised that they aren't standing in their places and expressing concern or responding to petitions and other matters brought forward by members on this side. But I just wish that over the Christmas break more members - there are some over there - but I hope more members start looking inwardly at themselves to see what their roles really are in this House and in this Legislature. It is to represent the people who elected you and sent you here, not to be silent and give silent consent to what Clyde Wells, Ed Roberts, Chris Decker and Roger Grimes want you to give silent consent to. Stand up and be counted for the people who sent you here, Mr. Speaker, this very important issue -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Stand up and be counted, Mr. Speaker, because I assure you, if you do not, that on election night you won't be counted very many times from the ballots coming out of the ballot box. So stand up now and stand up for the people of the Province.

I see the Member for Windsor - Buchans - his alarm clock went off again, Mr. Speaker. He missed many calls in his lifetime, very important calls, but he is awake this morning. It is good to see that the Member for Kilbride did something that no one else could do in my thirteen years here, and that is wake up the Member for Windsor - Buchans.

I want to conclude by supporting the petition presented by the Member for Menihek.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I wish to give (inaudible) that when I have had a chance to review the proceedings of today's session and have made arrangements (inaudible) pertaining to the actions (inaudible) of the Member for Kilbride. That action, depending on the (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I had trouble hearing the Member for Fogo, no reflection on him but I just want to (inaudible). I wonder if he could repeat it so that we could hear, as well as to have it recorded, please.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I wish to give notice -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your mike is still off.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, I think that mike will pick up the hon. member's comments.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I wish to give notice that, when I have had a chance to review the proceedings of today's session, to get a chance to review it in Hansard, I may be raising a point of privilege. I want to give notice to Your Honour now, as it concerns the actions of the Member for Kilbride and that action, on my part of raising a point of privilege, may come as early as Monday. My initial reaction, Mr. Speaker, is that the rights of members in this Legislature, to do their job, has been seriously impeded by what has gone on in the last few days, but I want to review Hansard first.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to make a few comments with respect to the petition presented in the House by the hon. the Member for Menihek and to assure all hon. members that the government has and continues to take the issue of school busing in the Province generally and in Labrador West, in particular, very seriously. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I would like to report that just recently myself and the hon. the Government House Leader, the Minister of Justice as Chair of our Cabinet Committee on Labrador matters, and the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, were in Labrador West. We met with residents of the area with respect to this issue. They understand and know and I believe the hon. member knows, Mr. Speaker, that there are continuing meetings with respect to that issue in Labrador West. There are legitimate concerns about the busing situation, particularly with the extreme climatic conditions in that part of our Province.

It is true, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member has repeatedly raised this issue in the House. I have laughed at some of his speeches and I did so again today because, Mr. Speaker, while we do take the issue very seriously, I, for one member of the House, do sometimes question the seriousness of the hon. member presenting them when he gets off the issue and starts with his normal diatribe about china, posh offices, heated spaces, fur coats and all the nonsense he gets on with. I would like to remind him, Mr. Speaker, and other hon. members that what he refers to is a state of mind and a state of government that was here when his friends opposite were the government. Because we had to take the china out of the private dining room in this building when we formed the office in 1989 and pass it over to the former Premier, Mr. Peckford, who still had it in his house until he left the Province. We had to take cases of liquor out of the private dining room across the hall here. He is referring to a situation that prevailed when they were the government, not when we are the government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that he is -

Order, please!

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

MR. A. SNOW: Will the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation also point out that he had to take his golf clubs out of the Premier's car? It had to be done, Mr. Speaker, after it was raised in the House of Assembly by members of the Opposition, because he was using government property to transport his golf clubs back and forth to the golf course rather than working for the government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order, but I remind the hon. minister that he is on a petition and he should stick to the prayer of the petition.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I repeat again that we do take the issue very seriously and it is because of the very nature of exactly what the hon. member just exhibited that we do question his sincerity, because all he has been interested in each time, somewhere in his five-minute presentation - he starts off presenting the issue seriously and then always spends a minute-and-a-half, or two minutes, getting on with a diatribe of absolute foolishness totally unrelated to the petition. I will get a good laugh out of that part of his speech when he presents it again on the next day the House meets, on Monday, and I will probably get a good laugh again on Tuesday. I tell you, the issue is very serious, but the diatribe that the hon. member throws in each time is great comic relief and it really does raise the question as to whether he is serious about the issue or just presenting the petition so that he can get up and get on with a pile of foolishness.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of 214 people from the Lewisporte area who are opposed to Sunday shopping in this Province. I would sincerely hope, if the minister stands to respond to this petition, that he do so with some sincerity as it relates to Sunday shopping, and not stand to try to bail himself out of the situation where he laughed at the fact that children in Labrador have to go to school in minus thirty degree temperatures, as the minister just did. He laughed at the children and not what the minister said. That is what is going on in this House day-in and day-out. And that is the same minister who is making a decision on Sunday shopping in this Province. They are the same group of ministers who sit around the table. Can you question if they take anything in this Province seriously, when they laugh at the fact that there are children in Labrador going to school in thirty below temperatures?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, on a point of order.

MR. GRIMES: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West applauded his colleague, the Member for Kilbride yesterday for saying that we are here in the House and committed to telling the truth and presenting the facts as they are. He knows in his representation of what I laugh at that it is the exact opposite of what he is now saying. Why would he try to suggest that I or anybody else on this side of the House laughs about the conditions in Labrador West in busing? I explained in my presentation a minute ago that we laugh at the member and his lack of sincerity. The issue is very serious, and now this member tries to twist words and totally misrepresent my representation of the issue. He should either tell the truth of the issue or withdraw what he is saying.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat. There is no point of order. I remind the hon. member, he is on a petition and should stick to the prayer of that petition.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking very clearly to the petition. I am questioning the judgement of this government when ministers laugh at people when a sincere member presents a petition in this House on behalf of children who have to go to school in minus thirty degree temperatures. They are laughed at by such ministers as the minister opposite who just stood to bail himself out. I have every right to question his ability to make a decision as it relates to Sunday shopping. Sure, I applauded my colleague, the Member for Kilbride, and I applaud anyone who stands for decency and honesty for the people of this Province in this Chamber, I say to the minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as it relates to the petition, these 214 people from the Lewisporte area are concerned about Sunday shopping in this Province or they would not have faxed the petition in to be presented, as have people from the Corner Brook area, from the St. John's area, from Harbour Grace, from Carbonear. People from all over this Province are faxing in petitions, and I sincerely hope that their cries and their appeals will be listened to and that this government will do the right and honourable thing and respond to the request of these people that is coming through the Opposition, and will listen to what the Opposition are saying on behalf of these people.

We are speaking out as an Opposition on behalf of the people of this Province and we are asking the government to withdraw this piece of legislation from the Order Paper. If not, Mr. Speaker, we may not be given the opportunity to debate it once it is called, because this government have been known, they hold a record, as my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank said this morning, I heard him on the media, nowhere in the British Parliamentary system has closure been used as a tool, so often, as this government have used it, and I would have great problems if this government want to bring in closure motions on something as important as Sunday shopping. Because, if they don't withdraw it from the Order Paper, I would suspect that it will be a long Christmas in this Legislature. And it is time for the backbenchers over there, to stand up to this government, to show some courage, and to tell this government and the Premier, that the gag order is unacceptable, that the hob-nailed boot days are over in this Province, that we are not going to lie down, Mr. Speaker, and that the Opposition are going to respond.

Mr. Speaker, government should realize that the people on this side of the House have had it up to there, with the cold, uncaring, callous attitude of this government as it relates to our democratic right to debate in this House, as it relates to our right to defend the truth in this House -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: You have no respect for democratic right (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, he is the man who has no respect. All you have to do is look at what he is doing to the sick and the suffering of this Province. If he had respect, he would do something for the poor and the sick and the suffering, instead of taking away their home care -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: - instead of closing down their hospital beds, instead of denying them the right to medical facilities. I say to him, don't talk about respect -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. TOBIN: - when you have just issued a brutal attack, the most brutal attack that has ever been issued in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West wasn't addressing his remarks to me so I will not respond to them, but let me just simply say in response to the petition, that the hon. gentleman has given us a prime example of hysterical histrionics. He knows - I believe he knows full well, if not let me tell him full well - to show you the depth of the commitment and the sincerity, and he spoke of commitment and sincerity, let it be on the record that I recall telling him several days ago that the Shops Closing Act would not be called for debate.

MR. TOBIN: You never told me.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman tells me I did not tell him, I accept his word, of course, but I will tell him I have a firm recollection of being in a conversation to which he was a party, in which I said that two bills would not be called in this session; one was the Shops Closing Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) hearing aid.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: I do not have my hearing aid turned off, but I do have a hearing impairment, Mr. Speaker, like thousands of other Newfoundlanders and again, we see you laughing at people with impairments in this Province. You are just a joke, laughing at the deaf and mute in this Province, that is the type of character you are.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. gentleman to get to his point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, my point of order, is that this House has never been told by the minister responsible nor by the Government House Leader that this legislation will be withdrawn and until such time, Mr. Speaker, as we are notified, we are very suspicious of what this government might do, so I am really encouraged to hear the minister say he is going to withdraw the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that intervention is typical of the hon. gentleman. I did not say the House had been told. I said, I was part of a conversation and my recollection is that the hon. gentleman was there. Now, whether he heard, I know not, and whether if he heard, he understood, I know not, and if he heard and understood and recollected, I know not. What I do know is, he was part of the conversation - that's my recollection - in which I said there were two bills that will not be called for debate. One is Bill No. 5, the Works, Services and Transportation amendment act, the departmental amendment act and the second is the famous Shops Closing legislation, Bill No. 49, and that is all I want to say on this particular - The hon. gentleman gets up and makes this histrionic, hysterical, hypocritical speech -

MR. TOBIN: Is that unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: If he is saying it about you, yes.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, If I have used an unparliamentary -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) unparliamentary, (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: It is quite parliamentary.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in my judgement, the hon. gentleman was hysterical, hypocritical and histrionic and he has just given us further evidence of that, and that being said, Mr. Speaker, I have nothing more to say on the petition.

Thank you.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, Beauchesne, 6th Edition, clearly states that it is unparliamentary to refer to someone as a hypocrite or hypocritical.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't say you were, but that your speech was. (Inaudible). He didn't refer to you, he said your speech was.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I'm delighted, Mr. Speaker, that you finally found out something about parliamentary procedure.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order. The Chair will just check Hansard, but I believe what the hon. member said was: Hypocritical statements, or something of that nature. I'm not sure but I will check the -

MR. TOBIN: He said I was being hypocritical (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will check Hansard to see.

MR. TOBIN: What is the difference?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: What's the difference (inaudible)?

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will review Hansard.

MR. TOBIN: If there are going to be rules in this House, you have to (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if I might first move that the House do not adjourn at noon, please.

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

All those in favour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Against. Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The first part of the day's business will be to deal with the business that we ought to have dealt with yesterday were it not for other events. That was laid out when I moved the adjournment motion on Wednesday. We will begin with the provincial offences act, which I assume will not take long, but we shall see. Then we will go in and deal at Committee stage with three bills which have been passed at second reading, and then referred through to the Standing Order 84 committee, and have been reported back with clear bills and a recommendation, I believe, that we proceed to adopt them.

Then we will deal with the mineral impost bill, which is not the mining tax act or the minerals act but is a very minor, technical bill. That will then bring us through to the second reading debate on the Hydro act, Bill No. 35.

I don't know how long the House will sit. That, of course, is the decision of the members, and in part will be determined by how many members wish to speak on each matter and for how long. But we must get on with our business. We have only two or three days left before Christmas. Now, I understand the Cabinet will -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) December 25th?

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No. My hon. friend, the Member for Grand Bank can accuse me of many things but I'm not the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Your Honour, before we get into the badinage let me deal with two other points that members may wish to - I gather my colleagues and I are going to consider whether we will ask an appropriate committee to deal with the mineral tax amendments after they receive second reading, assuming they receive second reading. If they don't receive second reading then the question, of course, is moot. Secondly, I believe the two bills of which notice was given today are either printed or about to be printed.

AN HON. MEMBER: More?

MR. ROBERTS: No, the notice was given today. One is the Attorney General's act -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend, the Member for Ferryland did this to me earlier. If he would let me finish my half-baked, pathetic, inchoate thoughts, then he could come in with his penetrating, incisive, inquisitorial questions. Let me try to get it out first, in my own humble little way, you know? After twenty-five years in the House, I have had a degree of experience, and I say to my friend, the Member for Ferryland, I have seen better than him.

Mr. Speaker, the point I want to make is that we gave two notices today. I understand those bills, if they are not printed, are about to be printed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the medical act, I hope, is being printed as we speak. What I would ask is that if the House is prepared to take the Notices of Motion and convert them into first readings - as soon as the bills are physically available they will be distributed to members, and members can then read them and do as they wish with them. I would ask if we could have leave to have both those bills read a first time today.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair just wants to clarify. What order is the hon. member calling first?

MR. ROBERTS: I am asking for leave, Mr. Speaker, to deal with the two notices of motion which were given today.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It will need leave, but if the House is prepared to give leave -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: For first reading of these bills?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

MR. ROBERTS: Then we will distribute them as soon as they are physically available, which I believe will be today.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave for second reading?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, first reading.

MR. SPEAKER: First reading, I am sorry.

On motion, following bills read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act." (Bill No. 51)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act." (Bill No. 50)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the bills will be available. I can tell the House briefly what is in them.

The amendment to the Cable Utilities Act recognizes the fact that when the bill was passed the only telephone utility was Newfoundland Telephone. We now have Unitel, Sprint and others, and there is also an amendment in there to address a situation which affects in particular the municipality of Wabush in Labrador where there is a very unique situation. I believe members opposite are familiar with that, and there is a provision to address the situation there. That bill is urgent and we will have to ask the House to deal with it before the House adjourns. Again, I think members opposite are aware of why it is urgent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, members can see it and make their own decision.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I believe it is printed, in which case the hon. gentleman will see it as soon as -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I already said ten minutes ago, before he began his latest inquisition. The hon. gentleman should go down to Provincial Court some time and see how it is really done, by real lawyers.

MR. SULLIVAN: When are we going to see it?

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Ferryland: (a) as soon as it is available. Secondly, I have already said two or three times that I understand one is now physically available, and will be distributed as soon as the Pages can get it around and, secondly, the other one is at the printers and I understand will be in the House shortly, and it will be distributed as soon as it is here.

If my hon. friend wants, I can tell him what the Medical Act addresses. If he doesn't want to, I am prepared to wait. I know what is in it. If the hon. gentleman wants to know what is in it I will tell him. If he doesn't, let him wait.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright. The hon. gentleman can read it, too.

It is a bill addressed at a situation that has arisen with respect to the peer review of the doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador by doctors who are licensed to practice in other provinces but come in here by arrangement with the medical association or the medical board to conduct peer reviews, and the bill deals with some concerns that have been raised in connection with that process.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the peer group review is part of the ongoing, if you wish, licensing/discipline/professional responsibility exercise carried out by the board and the medical association.

AN HON. MEMBER: The medical board.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, the board has the discipline authority but the medical association also has a role, of course. That is what the bill does. It takes a fair number of words to do it, but that is the purpose of it. The reason they were not here before, it was only yesterday Cabinet gave authority for the final approval on them.

Now, Your Honour, with that said perhaps we can call the long-awaited Order 37, Bill No. 47, the Provincial Offences Act.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Provincial Offences". (Bill No. 47)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I shall be brief on this because I believe the bill is a very straightforward piece of legislation and ought not to require a great deal of comment from me, but I will try to outline what it does and what it does not do, and deal with one matter in particular which seems to have gotten some public attention, and that is to deal with the effect upon municipalities. Then, if there are further questions we can deal with them at the appropriate time.

Your Honour, this bill essentially achieves two purposes. The first is to re-enact the Summary Proceedings Act. The name is changed to the Provincial Offences Act, and members will note that the Summary Proceedings Act, in fact, is repealed and replaced by this. That is done by the second-last section of the bill, but the substantive provisions of the Summary Proceedings Act, without exception, are re-enacted.

There are some consequential changes made because of the Fatalities Investigations Act, because the Fatalities Investigations Act, as members will recall, now requires judges to play a role in looking into untimely or untoward deaths. That role has been set aside and is being replaced by the provisions of the medical examiners in the Fatalities Enquiry Act. Other than that the substantive provisions of the present Summary Proceedings Act have been reenacted in this bill. I know that members are aware of the Summary Proceedings Act and what it does so I will not go on and talk about it any further.

The second purpose of this bill, and it is a very important one, is it will give the Cabinet, the Governor in Council, the authority to implement in respect of all provincial offences the system which we now use in respect of - if memory serves me correctly and perhaps my speaking notes will deal with this, the Highway Traffic Act, the Alcoholic Liquors Act, and two or three other bits of legislation. I do not have a list of offences that are currently ticketable, but a substantial number coming from those offences are ticketable, and this bill will give us the authority by regulation to make them all ticketable. The reason we are asking for a regulation making authority is because it will take some time to phase in the system. Members will note as well that the bill is subject to proclamation in whole or in part by the Cabinet, and that, too, reflects the reality that we will need a little time to make the mechanical adjustments needed to bring this system in. It is our intention to proceed as quickly as possible.

Now, the ticket system may require a little description. The normal way in which one is held to account for a breach of a provincial statute is this, an enforcement officer, it could be a member of the Constabulary, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, anyone of the wide range of individuals who are authorized for one purpose or another to be enforcement officers, observes an individual committing an offence, and the office then attends a provincial court or before a justice of the peace to swear out a information. Now, an information is just a document which is called an information, and that document sets out the charge and sets out the reason in the officer's belief why he or she has reasonable and probably grounds to believe that the named defendant has in fact committed the offence described in the information. Members may, from time to time, have been on the receiving end of an information.

In any event, that is what happens. The officer has to say that one has reasonable and probable cause, and that is the same procedure as is used in criminal offences other than those where there is an instant arrest or an arrest under a warrant. Once the information has been sworn it is issued by the court. Fine, that is an automatic procedure and the necessary papers are filed, the necessary fee, if there is one, is paid, the necessary stamp is put on it, and of we go. The information has been issued and a summons is issued. The defendant is then served with the summons. The accused then comes to court and enters his or her plea.

I say to my friends from the press that I will be happy to talk to them in the scrum, the eloquently named scrum, as soon as I finish speaking with the House. I can only do one thing at once.

The accused enters a plea, and if the accused pleads guilty, then conviction is entered and a sentence is imposed, and if the accused pleads not guilty then a trial date is set and the matter goes on in the normal way, and in due course is resolved. That is a fairly complicated and time consuming system. The ticketing system works very differently. The officer observes the offence being committed, if there is no observation by an officer then there is no way in which one can be held to account, the officer serves a ticket on a defendant on the spot. Members who have may run afoul of the speeding regulations on the Trans-Canada or one of our other highways would be familiar with this. They get a ticket on the spot.

The ticket specifies the offence, specifies the section and the statute, the events which caused the offence, and also specifies the fine. Now, I will come back to that because that is an important point. The defendant then, the recipient of the ticket, may either enter a not guilty plea by mail, enter a plea in person, pay the fine voluntarily, or simply do nothing. Whatever the defendant chooses to do the officer files the ticket with the court. If the defendant pleads guilty and pays the fine voluntarily, well that is the end of it, you have brought yourself square. It is like my friend from Kilbride apologizing to the House, that brings the issue square. That is pretty basic to our system. If the defendant does not do anything, if the defendant simply ignores and just simply says: well I will let it pile up, life goes on, we will see what happens. A justice - and that means a judge - may convict the defendant in the absence of the hearing without the taking of evidence if the ticket is complete and regular on its face.

If however the defendant pleads not guilty, then a trial date is set and word is sent to the defendant. So the choices are there. The defendant can plead guilty and get it over with if he or she believes that they are guilty and are prepared to accept the penalty. They can plead not guilty in which a trial date will be set, all the rights are preserved. They show up with counsel if they wish. The Crown makes its case, the defendant makes its case and then the judge makes a decision and that is it or if they do nothing the court can convict them without a hearing assuming the formalities have been observed and the judge is convinced that the case is made out on the papers. Now that is the provincial ticketing system. It has been in force, with respect to the Highway Traffic Act, for eight or ten years. I suspect it was done by our predecessors in office and if that is the case I give them credit for it. It is a good system, it works very well. We extended it a year or two ago to most of the forestry offenses and I believe there were a substantial number of alcoholic liquor offenses perhaps to others as well.

Now I said, and this is a point I want to stress, that the system applies only where the fine is specified. It is easy to say if you drive to fast and you are twenty miles over the speed limit the fine is x dollars. We can do that in regulations or in legislation as the House authorizes but there are a range of offenses through which the fine ranges from - there is one in the environment act, I believe, that ranges from $100 to $500,000 and obviously depending on the severity of the offense. It is like this ridiculous campaign I have been subjected to by people who believe that Paul Watson was in danger of being sent to jail for life if he had been convicted on those relatively minor criminal code charges which he faced in connection with that incident on the Grand Banks a couple of years ago. If Captain Watson had been convicted of those he would have been sentenced possibly to a term of incarceration, I don't know, but certainly not to life in jail and yet I have had a couple of thousand post cards from people who say how barbaric of you Canadians to put this man in jail for simply going out and breaking the law in such a minor way. Well someone said he is not breaking the law, he can make his own law in their view, and the courts have dealt with that.

In respect to those offenses where the fine or the possible penalty is a wide ranging one, the ticket will not be used. There we will simply use the same information and summons system we use now. The defendant still has the option to plead guilty but that will require a court to hear evidence and decide upon the appropriate penalty. Now, Mr. Speaker, the ticketing system is a very large step forward. It makes the system much more efficient, much more workable. I understand, in fact, the federal government are about to start using it. They are going to start using it and I understand they essentially have adopted the procedures we have had in effect here for a number of years. Well if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I guess Allan Rock owes me one. I will remind him when next we speak or when next we meet. So I have no hesitation in commending the system to the House and asking the House to support the parts of the bill that deal with that.

Just let me go through the bill. Part one of the bill - I won't go through it section by section - part one is virtually identical to part one of the current Summary Proceedings Act. Part two is the part which deals with ticketable offenses and I have described that section at some length. Part three deals with an improved fine collection system for cities, municipalities and the Province. Now we have seen a little bit of hullabaloo by the Mayor of St. John's who has a concern, and I accept his concern as being legitimate and am prepared to deal with it on its merits, which in my view are not many. I am prepared to deal with them but it should be noted that the bill also will enable municipalities to collect the fines that they are entitled to collect, enable them to collect them much, much more efficiently.

First of all, cities and towns, where a fine is payable to them, will be able to register the judgement imposing the fine as a judgement of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court. That is comparable to the way we now collect RST. We simply file an order signed by the minister and that becomes a judgement and can be executed upon in the appropriate way. Once a court orders a fine to be paid it will enable the municipality to register it as a judgement.

That is a big step forward. My friend for St. John's East Extern was mayor of a municipality. I suspect he will confirm that if you take a man or woman into court for not paying their taxes, you get a fine imposed, and it doesn't do you any good because you can't collect on it. Because you then have to sue on the judgement. Now we will enable the judgement, the fine - and a fine is a judgement of the court - to be registered. Then enforcement can be taken in the ways available to enforce any judgement of the Supreme Court, and they are substantial, far-ranging and effective.

We are also asking for authority to refuse to renew driver's licences for any unpaid fine, period. We have shown I think in the motor vehicle case that this is the most effective collection method ever devised. Most of us have a driver's licence. There are, from recollection, about 350,000 driver's licences out there. They come up for renewal from time to time. Is it a three-year cycle now? Is it five with the new pictures?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Five with the pictures? But they do come up from time to time and we just get the print-off. We also use it on vehicle registration which is still annual. We all see the print-outs. I manage to avoid them most of the time but I have a couple of daughters who regularly feature in the - I keep getting letters from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation about unpaid fines. Some of the vehicles are registered in my name, but I have to tell you, I am not parking them over in the Memorial University parking lot.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Do they? I'm sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm not sure, I don't know. I've sinned in many ways but that is not one of them. Does my hon. friend recommend it as a good way to sin?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Okay. I take his word, of course. We are also asking the House to give us discretionary authority to refuse other provincial permits and licences while fines are outstanding. That is evidence that we are deadly serious, Mr. Speaker, about collecting fines that are owed by people to the court. There are other technical changes in Part III but I think that is the substance of it.

Part IV is identical to the corresponding provisions of the Summary Proceedings Act. Part V provides the Cabinet with authority to designate ticketable offences and to fix the fines by regulations. The fine so fixed is the only penalty the defendant is liable to bear in the absence of any mandatory penalty. I want to make that point clear. I've already told the House why we ask authority to bring these in by regulation.

Mr. Speaker, let me then come to the other point, the fines for municipalities. Here there is more to it than the City of St. John's has chosen to make public so let me make public the rest of the story. A couple of years ago a member of the St. John's council - from recollection it was Mr. Andrew Wells, the deputy mayor, a gentleman who is indefatigable in research and is not always wrong. He is often right. He sometimes has an irritating manner but I guess I'm not the one to complain about that. I've been known on occasion to ruffle the odd feather here or there. Mr. Wells - I believe it was Mr. Wells -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to `Byrne Primus' that I've already made the point he just made and as usual he is about five minutes late coming into the party.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it was Mr. Wells. If I'm wrong he will correct me. I hope he will. I don't think I've done him any grievous harm because I'm about to pay him a compliment. Mr. Wells raised an issue as to whether the City of St. John's is receiving the monies due to it under its ticketing system. The City of St. John's, in common with many other municipalities, has the authority to make by-laws that create ticketable offences and penalties for breaching those by-laws. The parking by-laws are perhaps the best known example.

In due course Mr. Wells, if it was Mr. Wells, raised it with his colleagues on the council. June 19 the then-city clerk, Mr. Ryan - I believe he has since gone on to other adventures - wrote to me as the Minister of Justice to say: I am writing you at the direction of council in connection with the above noted. The above noted is: Remuneration for city issued tickets. In reviewing the issuance of traffic tickets by the city for the years 1990, 1991 and 1992, the dollar value of these tickets represent, and the actual remuneration to the city from the Province, there is a large discrepancy which exists. The following is a breakdown of traffic tickets issued and the expected revenues for these three years, and what we were doing was, we were collecting money on tickets and giving back the money less 10 per cent and in year one, he figured we owed him - well I will give the total - they figured that over the three-year period we owed the city $575,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was that the whole 10 per cent he was looking for or just -

MR. ROBERTS: Oh no. He figured 107,108 tickets were issued and the revenue value of those was $799,414. and the actual amount received from the Province was $693,000 and add back the 10 per cent handling fee, that's $69,300 for a total of $762, so he took $762 from $799,414, came up with $37,414 and he said: you owe us that, and then in 1991 he got $131,000 and in 1992 he got $406,000 for a total of $575,000.

Now, Mr. Ryan's methodology was a little flawed because he apparently failed to take into account the fact that we are on a cash basis and he was looking at tickets issued. I mean, if we send them $100, it might be from a ticket from last year or from this year or from ten years ago but in any event, I thought this was a fair comment, we should look into this and I wrote him back and I said we will have a look at this. I told him I would pass it to my Deputy Minister and she would be in touch with him in due course.

Well she, my Deputy Minister, got cracking on it and in due course on the 1st of October, 1993 so it took a couple months to move this through the system, June 19th and 1st October my deputy writes back and she points out what has been going on and she ends up by saying: We are in the process of reviewing the entire regime at traffic court including the methods used and costs associated with collection efforts particularly as they apply to small, dollar- value fines. Our objective is to achieve a more effective, realistic, consistent and accountable system. Now, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that every member of the House will endorse that.

Well, here is what we learned, Sir, when we got into it: The City of St. John's imposes parking tickets at $5.00 each, and I can go through these numbers in any detail I want but it was costing us $5.11 to process that ticket, so if my friend from St. John's East was detected in a breach of a parking regulation and a ticket was issued, he would have to pay $5.00 for his transgression.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from St. John's East says as he frequently is. Good. It is going to cost him more I predict from here on in. So he would pay his $5.00 and it would cost us $5.11 to collect that and we were sending the city $4.50.

MR. SULLIVAN: I just wondered what cost (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry? One at a time. I will tell my friend from Ferryland how we got to the number. My friend from St. John's East -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: Is the minister's salary (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the minister's salary is not in it. The minister has little to do with traffic tickets except occasionally he gets a parking ticket and he pays it by cheque.

These are '94-'95 figures as I have it. Traffic Court Budget we add on the mail cost, we add on the prosecutor costs - we have a Crown Attorney down there prosecuting these things - and we have total direct costs. We factor in 2.5 per cent of the provincial court costs because that's roughly what the traffic court consumes; we put in 55K for overheads, that came to $1.24 million, 242,000 tickets issued not all from the city and divide it, you get $5.11

MR. SULLIVAN: So, you get (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. - so what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, here is what we are going to be doing now, we are going to say to the city: we will give you everything we collect less a five-dollar charge. Now, that's going to cause them a problem if they leave their tickets at $5.00, and the other night, the mayor and I ran into each other at a social occasion and he and I have known each other for many, many years, and we had a spirited exchange over the spirits in the spirit of Christmas, and I think we agreed to disagree but I told him, I said: John, we are not going to go on spending $5.00 to collect a ticket for $5 and send you the $5. We don't mind collecting the $5 ticket, but we are going to keep the $5. He said: Well then, you've just ruined my budget. I asked: What does this have to do with your budget? He said: Well, you are raising taxes. I asked: What does it have to do with taxes? I don't think parking tickets are taxes, I don't think they are revenue measures. I think parking by-laws are designed to discourage people from parking illegally. My answer was simple. I said: John, go ahead, increase your fees, increase your tickets, we will give you a couple of months' grace, and we will.

It affects everybody in the Province who is in it. I've got a list here if I can find it in the piles of paper. Let me just go through it now. St. John's, the base year revenue is $1,085,000. We figure that the $5 per ticket charge will cost it $412,000. Mount Pearl, $28,933, it will cost them $3,264, Corner Brook, $52,524, $13,739. Grand Falls, $22,424, it will lose $7,150. Gander $83,431, it will lose $9,715. Deer Lake, $3,944, it will lose $750. Stephenville, $6,605, it will lose $3,370. All these municipalities are going to have to come to grips with this issue. Paradise, $1,020. They were getting nothing back. Carbonear, $132. Happy Valley, $130. My own constituents will be affected. Labrador City, $90. These obviously aren't school buses left outside in no parking zones, I say to my friend for ferryland. Harbour Grace, $20.

We've had the losers, we now come to the winners. Memorial will get $84,000 more under this system because we have not been giving anything back to Memorial. The community colleges, we have $11,185. St. Clare's Hospital got $11,365. The Miller Institute will get $1,080, The Grace will get $4,105. The Waterford will get $10 more. Apparently there is very little overdue parking. I will have to ask my friend the Minister of Health why the Waterford produces so little parking ticket revenue. I understand two tickets. Carbonear, $995, the James Paton $260, the Central Newfoundland Regional Hospital in Grand Falls will get $3,630, and so on. The plan will work itself out. Provincial revenues will increase somewhat and will go against the cost we have been bearing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Hold on now, one at a time now. I say to my friend for St. John's East Extern I do not have a number for Health Sciences. I will attempt to get that for him but I don't know the answer to that. The same principles would apply. My friend for Ferryland had a question, I think.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) percentage of revenues are strictly provincial, excluding (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: Of the tickets? I can't answer that because I don't know how much we would - it will vary depending on how much we - the percentage of revenue would be a meaningless thing in this context. In the year I gave you we issued about 243,000 tickets to round it off to the nearest thousand. If he takes -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. The number of tickets issued by the city and so forth, you would have to work -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't have the number. One could work it through. I assume it is available.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know. I don't want to take a guess because I don't know. But the impact will fall primarily on the City of St. John's because it has by far the largest volume of tickets anywhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: You would have to ask the City, but if it says it loses $300,000 a year - is that the number I've heard Mr. Murphy saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible). So call it $350,000 at $4.50 each and that will give you about 80,000 tickets as memory -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) 60,000, 70,000 (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright. So let's say 80,000, and out of 240,000 so about a third of the tickets processed by the St. John's Traffic Court on that analysis would be (inaudible) -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I assume so, yes. I'm giving raw ticket figures. The point is, if they want to raise revenue by this they simply will have to raise the - when they set the rate for the ticket they will have to figure $5 for the processing, and then whatever they want by way it will go on from there. I assume they have the authority to set these rates. We aren't proposing to change whatever authority - I haven't looked at the municipalities act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now that is pretty well seat of the pants work, but let's assume that about one-third of it are St. John's parking tickets. Of course a ticket, being a ticket, has to be processed, and whether it is a $200 ticket or a $5 ticket it is the same processing, so I suspect the effect of this will be to require the council to increase their tickets, and that doesn't trouble me particularly. If people don't want to pay that rate they simply don't have to park unlawfully. Anybody can avoid paying a parking ticket by following the parking regulations. It is really a very straightforward proposition indeed, and it has nothing to do with city revenues. Ticket fines are not revenues in the sense of taxes. It is money in the pocket, and I understand it can be spent, and the city may say they are counting on it. Fine, they can still count on it, but they should no longer expect the people in Bonavista or Burin or Brigus or Baie Verte or anywhere else to subsidize the St. John's City Council.

From now on we will use the system to collect the fines, and we will hold on to $5 - we are giving an eleven cent subsidy there - to put against the cost of the court, and 100 per cent of whatever is left will go to the municipality or to the hospital or to the college, whoever has authority to impose these ticket revenues, and we are not changing the people who have authority. If they have it now they will continue to have it.

Mr. Speaker, that is, I think, at least enough on that. I may have said more than members want on the bill. I believe it is a good bill. I hope the House will agree and that we will be able to give it second reading and move on. In any event, I move that it now be read a second time.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the absence of my colleague from Humber Valley I want to rise and have a few comments.

The minister is correct that for the most part this is a positive step forward. I did want to raise a couple of questions, and again I acknowledge that we have not had a great deal of time to be able to go over this. Particularly in the absence of my colleague I have had even less time in the last little while.

Mr. Speaker, the minister was speaking about municipal taxes, and I am wondering if he would want to clarify the implications for municipal taxation and the implications that this would have. As we know, municipalities assessed property, or they have a poll tax, and they send out invoices to people according to the procedures which the council will have in place, and in some cases when people fail to pay those taxes the municipality will begin proceedings against the property or against the individuals, if they are poll taxes. I wanted to ask the minister - maybe he could clarify it - what the implications would be under this particular piece of legislation. I heard him say, or I believe he has said, that under this procedure when a municipality would assess the taxation rate, and if the individual or the persons who are supposed to pay the taxes don't do it then the municipality goes to court, and if there is a judgement made in favour of the municipality then the enforcement procedures will then come into place, and then there can be sanctions made and there will be an enforcement regime put in. Would the minister want to clarify that now?

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. member will yield.

MR. HODDER: Yes, I will yield.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, section 33.(2), which is on page 20 of the bill if the hon. member wanted to turn to it. Section 33.(1) deals with fines payable to the provincial Crown. Section 33.(2) says: Where an enactment provides that a fine or late payment penalty imposed on conviction for an offence enures to the benefit of a municipality, town, city, local service district or community council and the conviction has not been entered as a judgement under subsection (1), - in other words, which is not something coming to the provincial Crown - an agent of the municipality, town, city, local service district, et cetera, may enter the amount of the fine, together with an applicable late payment penalty, payable by the convicted defendant for that offence as a judgement under subsection (1).'

When you go back to subsection (1), it allows it to be entered as a judgement of the trial division and the judgement is enforceable against the convicted defendant in the same manner as if it were a judgement rendered against the defendant in the court in a civil proceeding. Now I assume members are fairly familiar with the methods available to enforce civil judgements. They are very extensive; garnishment, seizing bank accounts, through the Sheriff, seizure and sale of real property or personal property.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 36?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but 36 deals with fines payable to the Crown and those are fines that come to the Province but 33(2) is the one that deals specifically with municipalities. My friend the minister tells me that he believes it is a very great weapon in the hands of municipalities trying to get out there and collect the taxes due to them.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister. I say to the minister that this has been a problem for municipalities for a long, long time in that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has been saying to municipalities: Would you go out and collect the taxes? They do take proceedings in court to have their taxes collected and they do get judgements in favour of the municipality. However, some people don't pay their taxes and -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HODDER: Yes, so what has happened is that then the lawyers for the municipality - of course they have already been in court once and now it becomes a very lengthy procedure. At some point it becomes very counter-productive both in terms of time and also in terms of expense. This I do believe will simplify the matter and will be a very powerful asset for the municipalities in terms of making it very simply understood in terms of consequences. So when an individual or the holder of a piece of property or the person who is supposed to pay the poll tax refuses to pay the poll tax then the consequences for themselves in terms of their drivers license, in terms of other actions that will follow as a consequence will be able to be accessed by the municipality. That will, I do believe, simplify matters and will also help the municipalities be able to put budgets in place that will draw, I guess, the budget figures closer to the revenue figures. It will make sure that municipalities are able to prepare sensible budgets and they won't have to carry those great huge amounts of non-collectibles in terms of their debts.

However, Mr. Speaker, we do have some concerns. The concern that we have, largely with the issue that the minister raised in the concluding statements that he was making and that is with regard to the collection of fines, the change from the present system and how it will impact on some municipalities. At the moment, the City of St. John's has prepared its budget. While the minister made - I should not say the word `light' but he did not take, I think, great positive comments or commentary from the Mayor of St. John's when he was dialoguing with him.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) he was not in favour of the motion.

MR. HODDER: He was not in favour. The implications for this change is $344,000 to the City of St. John's in the next year. That is substantial and that means that somewhere the City of St. John's has to find $344,000.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) provincial fines.

MR. HODDER: Well the alternative that St. John's has is to (a) stop giving tickets, which they won't do, they cannot do. To have an orderly city they have to have sanctions in place for certain actions that people take, whether it is parking, whether it is snow clearing or parking near hydrants or whatever, they have to have some sanctions and the ticket system is the most reliable one we have, so St. John's has to increase its ticket costs. The penalties will have to be increased, and that means that ordinary citizens who live in downtown St. John's, in particular, and who have very limited parking at any time, these people are going to be very negatively effected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. HODDER: Because if you increase the amount of the ticket then-

MR. ROBERTS: They are parking unlawfully.

MR. HODDER: The law of probability is that some people will do that, and some people at some time do not have any choice.

MR. ROBERTS: I know people who park unlawfully who say, it is only five bucks, that's cheaper than going into the commercial parking lots.

MR. HODDER: If people minimize the amount that is to be paid then I have no sympathy with the fact if they increased it double the amount.

MR. ROBERTS: The other issue is, should the people in Bonavista, Ferryland or in Renews pay to subsidize the St. John's city council tickets?

MR. HODDER: Well, my point to the minister would be, the City of St. John's by law has to have its budget prepared as of today's date, December 15th. The St. John's Act requires December 15th for the preparation of the budget, however when the minister was doing his Budget in the estimates, when he was looking at fines administration, he looked at revenues here in this category and he said, $400,000 is listed in the justice estimates on Page 254 of the estimates.

Now, in the very same way the City of St. John's in doing its budget for the year will go and say, fines and revenue from fines, because there is an offsetting thing. That is they have staff who are going out across the city every day making sure the city is run in an orderly manner, so therefore the city decides a scale of penalties chargeable for people who do not obey the law. Some of them are relatively minor, parking on a meter that is expired is going to cost you $5.00. I am not sure of the scale in St. John's, but if you park near a hydrant it is going to cost you $25.00, and so on and so forth, the scale will vary. Blocking snow clearing is going to cost you, I think $45.00. If your vehicle is towed away you have to pay the fine, plus the tow away fee.

Now, in the St. John's budget they likewise do as the minister has done in his budget. They put in the amount and they look at the number of tickets which in the calendar year 1994 was 91,300, and something, tickets. They then knew there was going to be a 10 per cent administration fee charged by the Province for the collection. They look at the amount of revenue, they deduct the 10 per cent administration fee, and they come up with the figure which they put in the budget.

Now, this change here will mean that would change, and in effect that will mean $344,000 will be kept by the Province. Money is going to be going somewhere. If the same rates apply the amount will still be paid, so if the City of St. John's is not getting $345,000 thereabouts therefore the Province must be getting an extra $345,000, so in this particular way something could happen. It means that the revenues that will be appearing in the minister's estimates under the estimates for his department will correspondently go up, but the revenues expected by the City of St. John's will correspondently go down.

Now, there are two factors there, one is, who is going to pay the money? The City of St. John's, if it increases its fines, it means that very often it will be the people in downtown St. John's who (a) have nowhere to park and it is very difficult to avoid getting tickets, and in some cases you do not have parking facilities, and very often these are people who just can't afford to pay the $5.00, but they have to, that's the inconvenience of living in certain parts of the City of St. John's.

If St. John's increases it to $10.00 or doubles the amount whatever the amount is now, adds on the extra $5.00, it means that again it is downloading. We have taken an amount of money, that you know, transferred it from the Province, it has gone to the municipality, the municipality is going to then have to take action to make sure that all of its fines are increased by $5.00, so St. John's has to charge $5.00 for a ticket, say for an expired meter plus an administration fee of $5.00 or $4.50 or whatever, because that would be the amount if you change from the 10 per cent rate charge now to the straight $5.00, this is going to have a negative impact on the people of St. John's and for the most part on people who can't afford to pay.

Again, it is the people who already live in subsidized housing who can't pay their light bills and phone bills and it is a very negative impact on again, the poorest of the people who live in the capital city, Mr. Speaker. However, the City of St. John's may not have any choice but to transfer this down. Again we have a very positive piece of legislation but in the implementation there is a substantive negative, and I ask the minister if he will consider in the fines part, there is a clause there which - The clause indicates that the minister may charge the $5.00 or he may decide that he would charge some other amount.

It says here, section 54, talks about the City of Corner Brook amendment or section (2) talks about the City of Mount Pearl and the clause says here: "Where a fine imposed under subsection (1) is for a ticketable offence the council shall pay to the Province $5.00 of an amount that the Minister of Justice may order for every ticket processed by the Province". I ask the minister, in fairness to St. John's and the other municipalities, if he would consider for the next year, the same system which we now have, as that would be fair to everybody.

It would be fair to St. John's and it would mean that their budget would be intact, you know, to put this in the context of already having had to absorb a 22 per cent change in the municipal operating grants, and so we are looking at a total picture here and, Mr. Speaker, if the minister would consider not charging the $5.00 per ticket for calendar year 1996, but that he would defer the implementation maybe for a reasonable length of time, but that for 1996, if he were to use the same process that is there now, the 10 per cent, at least that would give the City of St. John's and other municipalities a chance to be able to live within their budgets, and I say to the members opposite, that in the case of the City of St. John's they have tried their best this year, as every other municipality, not to pass on these costs, the extra losses in revenue that have occurred because of the changes in the MOG to the taxpayers. However, at some point or another, somebody has to find the money to balance the budget and I do not believe that it is reasonable to expect St. John's to be able to find an extra $345,000 at this stage. The budget is finished. It has been prepared today, and has already been passed by the council, last Tuesday, in fact, and upping the fines will not fix it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HODDER: That is right, while we suspect that will not happen, that people will still have to pay fines.

Mr. Speaker, on some of the other provisions here, again the university will be positively affected. They will pick up an extra $84,000; however, that is really only just a transfer because the university's funds come totally from the Province, so therefore it just means that there is an entry into a ledger, because before this bill was introduced the Province, of course, was collecting all of that money and it was keeping it, and the same thing for the hospitals and other boards, and to the extent that these other institutions will get extra revenue, that is a positive feature; however, again I repeat and I might note as well that, in the case of the City of Mount Pearl the negative impact would be about $5,000, but again the City of Mount Pearl has the same problem that St. John's has; the budget has been gone over by all the council members, and finding $5,000 is not impossible but it is not easy either.

With these comments, very positive toward the implications for the collection of municipal taxes and that new structure there, because that has been something that has been talked about by the Federation of Municipalities for a long time, that is a positive feature; however, be very concerned about changing the rules in midstream, particularly after city budgets have already been prepared.

Also, I should note here that there was not any consultation with the municipalities affected or with the federation itself, and these kinds of changes should have a consultation process. There has been no consultation and the bill, again, being submitted just a few days ago and now up for debate today means that there has been a lot of scrambling to try to find out the kind of implications you would have, particularly as it affects St. John's and the major municipalities.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a few remarks.

I wish the minister were here, because one of the problems that we are having in the City of St. John's has to do with landlords, and as I read the bill I am not sure if I am correct here. Right now if an electrical inspector goes around and visits a premises and finds that there is some danger there with respect to a hanging wire, the landlord can be charged and brought to court, and eventually his fine can be up to $5,000. Remember we brought this through the House, recently, and there are quite a number of offences out there and it is kind of difficult to process them. Would this now mean that the electrical inspector and the other inspectors who go around for the city can ticket the landlord with the minimum fine on it or whatever, and then let the landlord take it to court if he wants to protest it? This would certainly alleviate some of the problems that we are having in St. John's with landlords and other people who are not keeping their properties up to scratch. When the minister comes back perhaps he will address this question. Otherwise I will bring it up again at second reading.

The other question, what has been introduced here seems to me to be a new concept in justice. It has to do with user-pay for justice. I'm just wondering if we are going to extend this principle to all the others who use the justice system. Will single-mothers now who are trying to collect their spousal support, will they have to be charged for the law enforcement procedures of that group over in Corner Brook who pursue the spouse with the money? Will they then be deducted the cost of collections? Is this a new principle that we are bringing in here? Have we really thought this thing through, or does it just apply to user-pay for municipalities on the collection of their taxes? I think it is a new concept in justice. I'm wondering if the Minister of Justice when he concludes second reading would respond to this point.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a number of remarks on the legislation before the House, Bill No. 47, An Act Respecting Provincial Offences, now before the House at second reading.

It is a complex act. It has some new provisions in it and some old ones having to do with the Summary Proceedings Act. There are a number of new concepts introduced as the Member for St. John's Centre has pointed out; and the Member for Waterford - Kenmount has also raised the concerns about how this affects the revenues of, in particular the City of St. John's, but also the City of Corner Brook and others.

Before I get to that I want to talk about a general concept of justice which I think it is time that we in this Province bring about a change to. That is the practice and the procedure that is contained in this act of putting people in jail who cannot pay a fine. I too wish the Minister of Justice were sitting here in this House right now, because I want to ask members opposite to endorse the concept that people should not be put in jail because they are unable to pay a fine.

I got a call yesterday from someone who was put in jail this week because he couldn't pay a $125 fine which was imposed on him for failing to pay a $70 school tax in 1986. This person was put in jail earlier this week because he was unable to pay this fine. This man is a forty-eight year old man who is a day care patient at St. Clare's because he has certain medical problems.

MR. REID: Now he is going to pay you $1,000 to get him off (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The cynical Member for Carbonear over there doesn't want to talk about justice, he wants to talk about bull! Absolute garbage and bull! Mr. Speaker, a constituent of mine was put in jail this week because he couldn't pay a $125 fine which is imposed by a court because he didn't pay, allegedly, a $70 school tax in 1986! I consider that to be a serious matter of justice, and it has nothing to do whatsoever with the kind of bull that the Member for Carbonear is getting on with. If the Member for Carbonear, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, wants to get on with that kind of bull let him get up in the House and say something about it. But this is a constituent of mine who called me as a member of this House -

MR. EFFORD: What did you do for him?

MR. REID: And did you charge him?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I think the Member for Carbonear ought to be restrained because he is going to provoke a breach of the peace, not just a breach of the decorum of this House. We have had an example in the last twenty-four hours where the kind of provocation and abuse of this House that has been going on by members opposite has led to a national incident involving the members of this House.

I would ask the Member for Carbonear to restrain himself and pay attention to issues of justice when they are brought before this House. If the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs thinks it is right that someone has to go to jail -

MR. REID: Yes, I do think it is right! Nothing wrong with it.

MR. HARRIS: - because they can't afford to pay a fine, well, then, I don't believe in the same system of justice as the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs does. A law for the minister, on his salary, to pay a fine, if he can afford it, and someone else to go to jail because they can't, is not just. It's not just!

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a problem that I think ought to be addressed, and it can be addressed in this act. I think it is time, Mr. Speaker, that provincial offenses that provide for the imposition of fine should remove from the provincial court the power to impose a sentence of jail in default of payment of a fine.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: All of these - Mr. Speaker, I wonder if members can be asked to be quiet so that I can try to make a point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has asked to be heard in silence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I understand the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is not prepared to let me be heard in silence. I wonder if you could ask him to restrain himself and try not to provoke disorder in the House.

I think it is time that this House acknowledged the injustice of putting people in jail because they can't afford to pay a fine. All of these ticketable offences can have a provision for imprisonment in default of payment of a fine. That can go from a $10 ticket to a $50 ticket or a $100 fine. And the circumstances can arise, as in the example that I gave to the House this morning, where this individual was approached by two police officers last week and asked to pay the $125 fine. And they gave him a couple of days. They were very good. They said: We have authorization to take you away and lock you up for ten days for non-payment of fine, but we will give you a couple of days and see if you can round it up.

He had a very serious problem. He didn't have any money. In fact, he wasn't even aware he had gotten the fine. And the $70 school tax which he allegedly hadn't paid, in fact, when he received notice that he was being charged with failure to pay it, he went and paid the $70 school tax and had a receipt for it. He thought that was sufficient. Nevertheless, the justice system took its course and he was fined $125 which he wasn't aware of, and eventually they found him. Two police officers were going to take him away.

As the Minister of Justice will tell us all, it costs $130 a day to keep someone in jail. So to collect this $125 fine

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible), Jack?

MR. HARRIS: They did put him out. I will get to that part.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I will get to that part.

MR. ROBERTS: What do you do with somebody who doesn't pay fines?

AN HON. MEMBER: He said not to put them in jail.

MR. HARRIS: Well, it is not a question of don't pay fines, it is a question of can't pay fines, I say to the minister.

MR. ROBERTS: Sometimes (inaudible) pay their cable t.v. bill.

MR. HARRIS: I am talking about an individual who was arrested the other day.

MR. ROBERTS: Have a look at the section that says the court may (inaudible) the fine.

MR. HARRIS: I want to refer the minister to other sections which provide for a fines option program, and what I want to suggest is that if a fines option program is not available as an alternative to non-payment of fines, that there be no possibility of imprisonment in lieu of payment of fine. There are some people who make a choice. If I am fined $500 or six days in jail, which sometimes happens, some people say: Oh, I think I will take the six days, because it is better for me to take the six days than to come up with the $500. That is a choice they might want to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's the one (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is a choice they might want to make and it happens every now and then, I say to the members opposite, but we are talking here about an individual on social assistance, who is required to travel every day or go every day to a day care program put on by St. Clare's Hospital. And he was unable to come up with the fine. He went to Legal Aid and asked Legal Aid to help him sort out the fine and they refused him. He then was taken to jail, spent one night in jail and was released on a temporary release of some sort, under what they call `house arrest'. He is not allowed to leave his house until Sunday afternoon at two o'clock. So this individual, because he could not pay the $125 fine, was arrested and held overnight and then released and is now, until Sunday afternoon, not allowed to leave his house except to go to this day care program at St. Clare's.

AN HON. MEMBER: Does he have to pay the fine?

MR. HARRIS: He doesn't have to pay the fine but he is also terribly concerned that this is going to give him a criminal record. He says that is what he was told by the warders at the penitentiary. Now, I think that is wrong. I think that is wrong, and I did my best to assure him of that.

Now, I said to hon. members that I was approached by a constituent of mine to deal with this problem and I dealt with it as a constituency matter.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you charge him for legal advice?

MR. HARRIS: Of course not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh. good (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Of course not.

MR. ROBERTS: The lawyer who charges (inaudible) that (inaudible) now.

MR. HARRIS: Don't ask me about it. Ask your firm about it, I say to the Minister of Justice, not me.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that there is not much sympathy over there for people who cannot afford to pay fines and it may be of no consequence to some members opposite that there are people in this Province and in this city and in my constituency who can't afford to pay a $125 fine and have to go to jail; it may be of no consequence but that, in fact, is the reality for people in this city and in this Province, and the Member for St. John's Centre knows well that that is true. There is no need to have a law that puts people in jail for non-payment of fines.

The act under section 38, I believe, provides for a fines option program: The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations establishing a program to permit payment of fines by means of credit for work performed and may set up categories for that to be done. So, if there is somebody who can't afford to pay a fine, there is an alternative.

The act has all kinds of power to seize people's goods or to make other nefarious credit collection provisions, but if it comes to somebody who doesn't have any money, it seems their option is to go to jail. Now, Mr. Speaker, if section 38 is there, allowing the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to have a fines option program, then there ought to be no power in a judge or no power in the police to put someone in jail for default of a fine unless there is a fines option program available to that person, that he or she has turned down. Now, that is a very simple and just alternative to the system we have right now, and if people want to make ad hominem attacks on me because I raise it, well, then, let that be so, but what I am talking about is people who are incarcerated in this Province who should not be.

Mr. Speaker, it is all very well for the Minister of Justice to come in here in his high-handed manner and talk about how we are changing this and we are changing that, we are modernizing this and we are modernizing the system, and we are going to do it the way we want to do it, but there ought to be room in this House for the voice of justice for people who are ill-treated by the system, without invoking a personal attack on hon. members. I think that is something that could be done, and could be done easily, I say to hon. members. In fact, at third reading I am going to be proposing such an amendment, and we will see then whether or not some members opposite, or the majority of members opposite, could support a call for justice in this matter.

It is no pleasure of mine to have a tell an individual that there is nothing I can do about the fact that he is treated in this manner, because the law permits it, nothing I can do between now and Sunday at two o'clock to change what has happened, but maybe members of this House can effect a change that will see that this does not happen again, that people are not deprived of their liberty for reasons of this nature, and I am going to be asking hon. members to do that.

There are a number of other matters that could and should be raised at second reading on this issue. I have no difficulty with formalization of a ticketing procedure as long as it operates fairly. I have a difficulty and I have a strong concern about what is happening to the financial picture of the City of St. John's as a result of these measures. I don't think it is a simple matter of upping the fines for parking from $5 to $10 and collecting the same amount of revenue. Obviously, if fines are supposed to be a deterrent, the revenue from fines or the receipts from fines is actually going to decrease. What is happening is, in fact, that a budget that was made by the City in the last week or so projecting its receipts on the one hand and its requirement of expenditure on the other hand has already been done, and if the minister and the government want to impose a cost on to the City of St. John's after the budget has been done -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well, then, what they are doing is interfering with the sensible operation of the City of St. John's and imposing a further hardship on the citizens of St. John's without adequate discussion and without adequate means of looking at alternatives to the processing and the method of processing that is going on.

I don't necessarily accept that all of the figures that the minister has put forth ought to be included in the cost of processing a ticket. Obviously, one cannot take an arbitrary figure based on overhead at Provincial Court and assign it to each and every ticket that goes through the system. There are details about that which I have my doubts about, but still the basic principle involved, as the Member for St. John's Centre pointed out, is: What are we doing here? Are we taking a particular cost and allocating it to the City because one can easily identify it as such? Are we also going to take the cost of the support enforcement agency and spread that out over the single parents, or parents who are in receipt of maintenance benefits, as a cost of obtaining justice on that side of the ledger as well?

The principle is wrong, and the application here to the City of St. John's without their awareness - the Mayor and city council said they were unaware that this bill was coming to the House and they were going to do this now, and there was no opportunity to prepare for it in their budget or to look at alternate ways of setting up the fine system, or setting up the collection system. I think it is another example of this government acting in an arbitrary manner, downloading costs onto the municipal structures.

It is not satisfactory to say that the citizens of Bonavista should not subsidize the people of St. John's. Is the minister saying that no one should subsidize the Town of Bonavista as well, that the Town of Bonavista should get no subsidy from anybody else in the Province because of some general principle? Here, Mr. Speaker, is an example of government acting once again in an arbitrary manner and downloading its costs onto the people of St. John's in this particular instance.

Mr. Speaker, there are also certain anomalies here with respect to the inquiries into death, the public inquiries under Part 4 of the act. There seems to be a bit of an inconsistency here and perhaps we can deal with it at another time when the minister is in the House when we are looking at third reading and we have ten and ten to look talk about it. But there seems to be a difference in approach to the conduct of public inquiries under this act and under Bill 36 that is now before the House, the Fatalities Act. That is something I would like to discuss and make some enquiries of the minister.

I also refer members to section 34. I have a bit of a problem as well with section 34, which is the section that allows ministers to refuse to issue or renew permits, licenses, or other permission instruments which they have the authority to issue or renew until the fine and applicable late payment penalty are paid and the proof of the responsibility is the responsibility of the offender. Now, I have a problem with that because it is a very general kind of right that has been given to ministers. I can see if someone has failed to pay fines involving the use of a motor vehicle, that perhaps the Minister of Transport can refuse to renew his driving privileges. I can see, that makes sense. I can see where an electrical inspector or an electrical contractor has failed to pay fines in relation to their activities, that they can have their permits withheld as a method of enforcing not only the payment of the fine but also the laws involved. But what I do not see as being reasonable is the creation of some sort of general outlaw policy, that if you do not pay the fine for a parking ticket in St. John's, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, or the Minister of Labour can refuse to give you a permit that has something to do with something else. I think this section is too general and provides for too great an arbitrary power on the part of ministers of the Crown.

There is another section that provides for a fairly arbitrary circumstance that is given to peace officers, where a police officer, or a peace officer, is given the right to require someone to attend in court. Section 21 (7), subject to Section 28 a peace officer or any other person may issue a ticket in respect to an offence to which this section applies requiring the person to whom the ticket is issued to appear in court to answer to the charge without the option of paying a fine as set out in section 21.

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

MR. HARRIS: Well, I am just wondering about that. It seems, by looking at it, to give the right to the police officer to decide whether you should appear in court or whether you should not, and I don't think that is right, because again, it leaves room for an arbitrary action by a police officer, depending on the circumstances.

Perhaps the minister can clarify that particular issue. I will ask him about it privately afterwards. Those matters of principle, Mr. Speaker, concerning the imprisonment of people who are unable to pay fines. Considering the general power, the too general power I think, for ministers of the Crown to refuse permits on unrelated matters where fines are unpaid, the issue of how the apparent arbitrariness of Section 21(7) in giving peace officers power to determine whether a person should appear in court or not and the imposition of new charges on the City of St. John's at this late date, after their budget has been determined. On those issues I oppose the act. I think that these matters should be cleared up before this act be passed by this House.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to say a few words on the bill. The Member for Waterford - Kenmount covered most of the issues that I wanted to address, Mr. Speaker, so I won't rehash that. I am sure the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will be happy to hear that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do have some concerns with respect to the way this was brought in, that there was no consultation with the city or the municipalities and of course that is typical with this administration. The city had their budget completed for this year basically of course, then the government drops this on them and they had to come up with another $344,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: $344,000 that the city will have to come up with. Now the Minister of Justice did say, I think, that they are going to give them a couple of months leeway to give them time to increase the value of their tickets or not the value but the penalty of the tickets for different offenses and what have you but then again that is, from my perspective, indirect taxation down on the people of the City of St. John's and other municipalities in the Province and this government has not been shy on downloading costs to the municipalities of this Province.

Again, as I said, there was no planning with this government on the issues. As we see from time to time, and I said it before in this House, Mr. Speaker, that basically this administration is into crisis management. We seen that last week or the week before when the Minister of Finance came down with their financial statements to lay off 400 people in this Province. It is just another example of the ineptness and the incompetence of this administration. Now the Minister of Justice, when he introduced the bill, made a few comments. I would say too that there are some positive things, I suppose, in this bill. One of them being the fact that switching from one system to the other system - from going through the - basically the procedure now is a summons and a plea. The people have to go to court and fight the ticket if they wish to do that but now we are going through the ticket system where the offense and the amount is on the fine. The person can either mail it in or do nothing and then they will go through the court system.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the new system that they are talking about I suppose, would be more efficient and workable as the Minister of Justice said and maybe free up the courts somewhat for these minor offenses when people are being - to go to court and to fight the ticket offence. Maybe it would free up the courts for more serious offenses by people in the Province and hopefully that will be a positive aspect of this bill. Now the Member of St. John's East covered a lot of issues while he was on his feet, Mr. Speaker, and there is no need to rehash that. I agree with a lot of the things that he did say, Mr. Speaker.

Part 3 of this bill talks about the recovery of fines. The towns will be able to collect the fines more efficiently. The Minister of Justice, when he was on his feet, referred to the licensing of automobiles. I believe now that each year, before you get your license or your car license renewed, you have to pay the fines. That in itself seems to be a good system and the fines are mostly paid automatically when people are getting their licenses renewed. It certainly will save the cost of sending police officers around to collect the taxes, which once was the case.

Now, I am wondering, with respect to the City of St. John's for example, if in due course they do increase their fines for tickets, for ticketable offenses, would that have a reverse effect that there would be less people paying their fines because they cannot afford to end up in court, so it would actually put an extra burden on the system itself. That remains to be seen, but the extra burden that this puts on the City of St. John's, $344,654, is going to be quite a burden, there is no doubt about that. I think the people of the City of St. John's will not look favourably upon this administration for doing that, but there is one thing that I find is a particular peeve of mine, and that is this:

I have had occasion to go in, of course, to the Health Sciences Centre, and I asked the Minister of Justice, when he was on his feet, about the amount of money that is collected at the Health Sciences Centre on tickets. Now I have been there on a number of occasions where I would go in to have tests done and put a loonie in the machine. People don't know how long they are going to be in the Health Sciences when they go in, because you might be scheduled to have a test or some kind of examination done and there are normally lineups, so you come out - I remember being in there just three or four weeks ago. I went in to have a test done, and I put what I thought would be lots of money in the machine to cover my time in there. When I came out, I was out five minutes over the time that I knew was on the machine, and there was a ticket on my vehicle, and I really find that offensive.

We have people in the Health Sciences, going in for these tests, sick people going to the cancer clinic and what have you, and we have people going in there to visit their sick mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers, dying patients, and they come out and find a ticket on their car. I really find that to be a pet peeve of mine, and I find it really offensive and hurtful, and I think something should be done about that. That is the reason why I asked the Minister of Justice how much money the Health Sciences Centre basically collects in revenue in ticketable offences in parking meters in there each year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Memorial University.

MR. J. BYRNE: Memorial University collects the money? I was wondering who got the money, if it was the Health Sciences or Memorial University. The Member for St. John's Centre is saying it is Memorial University.

From my perspective, and I have accused this government of this before, and I will go further, the previous administration were just the same; the parking meters are in there, and I find that to be very cold-hearted. Just to sit back and think about it, and to go through it, and I have gone through it a number of times, and I have had other people talk to me about that issue, I am wondering if it is possible, when I asked the minister how much money is collected - I don't know if it is $1,000 or $100,000 or $200,000 just on the parking meters for the Health Sciences Centre, if that could be offset or compensated to take those meters out of there and let the government compensate Memorial University for the amount of loss of revenues for that service. I know we are in tight times and what have you, and we are looking for every cent everywhere we can get it, and I might be sticking my neck out here, but I am sure there are other buildings in St. John's, or anywhere, I suppose, there are buildings around where there are no parking meters. You take the stores, I suppose, like the malls and what have you, that don't have parking meters, and I don't think we are talking about a great expense for government, so maybe government should have a serious look at taking the meters out and offsetting Memorial University; better still, maybe put the money straight into the Health Sciences Centre instead of Memorial University.

Other than that, the other comment I would make is that the Minister of Justice stated that it will cost the government now $5.11 to process tickets, and with the new system it will only cost them eleven cents. As the Member for Ferryland made a comment across the House, maybe if the government would look at actually being more efficient, we all know that government administrations are not that efficient when it comes to administration in certain cases, if you become more efficient maybe we could get it down to $2.50 to administer the tickets, and the extra burden put on to the city may not have to be such as it is today.

Those are just a few comments I wanted to make. As I said, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount covered the issues really well, so with that I will just say that I do support, to a certain extent, the bill, but I have concerns about the process, no consultation, and I think that the Government House Leader should seriously look at, maybe giving the City of St. John's and the municipalities a time frame to implement this bill, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader. If he speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I take it no other member wants to speak on this bill.

Let me just respond to two of the comments made opposite.

First, my friend from St. John's East gave us a disposition on the situation of people who do not pay fines and whether or not they should be subjected to the sanction of prison.

Like him, I have grave trouble with the idea of sending somebody to jail because of fines not paid and first of all, it doesn't do anything to collect fines; secondly, it doesn't help the person and thirdly, it runs up an expense because in fact it costs us considerably more to keep a person in jail than to put them up at the Holiday Inn or the Newfoundland Hotel - I say to my friend from Grand Bank, that's his constituents coming to get him now, they are descending from on high. I don't know if my friend has seen the movie, American President -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I saw it. It is a very good movie but at one point in it, the character who plays the President, Kirk Douglas, was trying to impress this young woman; he is a widower and there is a spark - that's the story line of course, and he is saying he has to go off to make a speech or go to a dinner or something and all of a sudden there is just as here, a helicopter, clatter, clatter, clatter, he looks out the window and there is Marine One, the big helicopter coming in and he says: there is my ride now. The young woman, fortunately was no more impressed by it than she should have been - it is a very funny movie. My wife and I often go to movies and I am not sure what this has to do with second reading, but it is unusual we find when we both agree on normally, to preserve domestic harmony, she gets to call one time and I get to call the next, the others you just close your eyes and get on with it, but we both enjoyed it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Exactly, exactly and I would say if members opposite were as reasonable and as intelligent and as helpful as my wife, we would get along very well indeed. Is that fair, Roger, would you say, is that fair?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We are sending her a copy of Hansard.

MR. ROBERTS: I don't mind my friend sending her a copy of Hansard but I must say I do resent my friend from Eagle River sending my wife retirement brochures or retirement plan brochures and pictures of palm trees and beaches that say: This is what awaits you if you retire.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a strong message in that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Danny Dumaresque?

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Eagle River. He says he has given up sending them to me and sends them to my wife.

Your Honour, the bill does contain a provision which allows a court to make different arrangements for a fine, and it is found in section 37. That may or may not be adequate; I believe it is adequate but my hon. friend, the learned gentleman from St. John's East, tells me he wants to move an amendment. I will say to him, as I said earlier outside the House, that if he lets me have it in advance, I shall ask my officials to deal with this and let me have their advice and we are not hung up, if there is a better way to achieve the end we will, but the problem we must address is the person who does not pay a fine when he or she can, and inability to pay a fine is not simply unwillingness.

If somebody said to me: well, I can't pay the fine because the Cable television is due, that, in my book, is not an inability to pay a fine but I acknowledge there may be people who find fines an unfair burden. While my friend for St. John's East may not mind having to pay a $50 fine one of his constituents may find it an impossible burden, I accept that and I acknowledge it. I believe the present provision deals with it but I am prepared to look at others.

To my friend for St. John's East Extern, I think I heard him say that we should give municipalities a little time to adjust, and I repeat what I said when I opened second reading. This bill is subject to proclamation by section or by part, or in whole. I will give an undertaking now, and I assume my colleagues in Cabinet will support me, if not the next minister can deal with it, we will not proclaim those sections of the act until we have given municipalities an opportunity to review their financial situation, and if they want to increase their fines to do that, and if it is necessary for us to act on the fine issue we are prepared to deal with that as well. Perhaps it might be appropriate, say on April 1, that is the beginning of our next fiscal year, and that would give them three months to deal with it.

MR. J. BYRNE: May I ask a question?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, of course.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: When I was on my feet I referred to the Health Sciences, and basically general hospitals, where you have parking meters. Of course you have all had family, friends or relatives in the Health Sciences and we have been patients ourselves. Sometimes we go in there to have tests and examinations done and we put a loony in the meter, or whatever the case may be, and we come out and there is a ticket on our vehicles. I am wondering if any consideration be given to removing those meters, because the question I asked was how much is received there? Remove those meters and offset it with revenue from government.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we will look at anything, and if it is reasonable we will do it. I do not have the number of the Health Sciences. Let me say to my friend that my recollection - now I may be getting on thin ice here, I was Chair of the board when I left the Waterford. I came out of the Waterford as it were -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Now, no comments from my own colleagues on that, please. I became Chair of the board of the General Hospital and in fact was Chair until I resigned to join the Cabinet.

MR. REID: When did you get out of the Waterford?

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for Carbonear that the difference between him and me is I came out of the Waterford lawfully, and I can prove it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He may not be able to prove it.

MR. ROBERTS: Many years ago when I was a student in Ontario a friend of mine had an uncle who had been at what was called 999 Queen Street West which was the psychiatric hospital in Ontario. The gentleman in due course had been discharged and he went over to my friend's house for a cup of cheer. His uncle was there and he was fond of entertaining us by saying: I can prove that I am sane, can any of you do it? He would produce his piece of paper and there it was. But let me come back, my friend makes a very good question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look who's coming in. The president is coming in, he is coming for you.

MR. ROBERTS: I was going to say it is Loyola looking for Lynn.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) this place, I don't think very much is happening this morning.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I think we should be grateful there is no surveillance of this place because if the people of Newfoundland and Labrador saw what my friend from Grand Bank and I get up to on occasion, there would be meetings in every community in the Province.

My retirement counsellor, the gentleman from Eagle River, my retirement counsellor has returned.

Your Honour, my recollection is the Health Sciences Centre collected a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year in fine revenue. I don't stand by that, that is three or four years ago but what I would say to my friend from St. John's East Extern, there is a very simple way to avoid it and that is simply to put - I have not been a patient at the Health Sciences, I have been in there on occasion for tests but I have had members of my family there and the trick is to put your loonie - I think it is a loonie goes in the slots and put it in.

DR. GIBBONS: A loonie or a quarter. I was there this morning.

MR. ROBERTS: A quarter. My friend the Minister of Natural Resources was there this morning to visit a member of his family, fortunately all is well I am told, but that is the very simple way. With any parking fine - the trouble with parking fines at $5.00 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well then you just say excuse me and you run out and put it in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, Mr. Speaker, one can construct a hypothetical I suppose that deals with almost anything but let me simply say if there is a problem we will deal with it but the main problem is people don't put the money in or ignore it. If there is another problem I am sure we can deal with that and I am prepared to look at ways to do it.

With that said Your Honour I thank members for their contribution and ask that the bill be now read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Provincial Offences," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 47)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Your Honour, we will now ask the House to deal at committee stage and I don't think this will take us very long. With three separate bills, which have been passed at second reading and then were referred out to the standing committee on social services matters. My recollection is that the Chair of that committee, my friend from Trinity North reported the Committee had examined them, had heard all it wanted to be heard and recommended the House get on with passing it without further amendment. My friend is in the House and nods acquiescence.

So I would ask, Your Honour, if we could resolve the House into Committee of the Whole to deal with those three bills. Then we will go on and deal with this very minor Mineral Holdings Impost Act which is a very minor piece of business. Then we will get on with that.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Sir.

The business before the committee will be to deal at committee stages with Orders 25, 26 and 28. Order 27 is not yet back from the committee, and we will not be dealing with that at this stage. There are no other bills ready for committee stage at this stage.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill 36, Order 25, "An Act Respecting The Investigation of Fatalities."

MR. ROBERTS: Perhaps I could inform the committee that there are no law clerks here, but as far as I know there are no amendments to either of these three bills.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Investigation Of Fatalities." (Bill No. 36)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order 26, Bill No. 40, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act".

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, it might interest the committee, the government's intention is to proclaim the entire act, including the amendments, which I hope we will approve with effect from the 1st. of January. We will be notifying the Law Society and the City of St. John's, who are the other persons interested in this, so the word will get out to those who are interested, but that is our intention if the committee pass this bill.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall clause 1 carry?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say a few words.

I look forward to the proclamation of this act January 1, 1996, and I hope it does work to improve the situation with respect to leaseholds which have been a very thorny issue in this city. We have, for the last several years, postponed the operation of leases or the termination of leases, and by transferring the properties to the City I think that the system should work.

We have also tried to deal with a few anomalies that have arisen, in particular one that I brought to the attention of the House. Amendments are made to it that we hope will provide for the circumstances that have arisen. I guess it remains to be seen whether that has been totally successful, but I think that there has been an honest effort made to try and deal with these anomalies, to come up with a system that avoids individuals abusing the law to the disadvantage of the little person, I say to the Member for Port de Grave.

The people who get done in by this for the most part are ordinary people who are trying to live out their lives and get their financial affairs in order: Buy and sell a house, get a mortgage and those kinds of things. They run into very considerable and serious problems, and often serious costs and delays in not being able to sort out their leasehold property title. So I hope it has been successful. If not, of course, we will have to come back and try and amend it further.

I want to thank the minister and his officials for considering the problems that have come up and been brought up in the House and in committee with his officials. I hope that we have together been successful in dealing with them, and look forward to seeing the act go into full operation and see how the new system works with the cooperation of the St. John's City Council.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act." (Bill No. 40)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order No. 28, Bill No. 41, An Act Respecting Standards Of Conduct For Non-Elected Public Office Holders.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, there are some amendments to this bill. Because the bill is mine I will ask my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources to move them. We have given a copy to the other side. They are simply to correct grammatical errors that somehow slipped past the eagle eyes of our law clerks in the Legislative Councils offices.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege to move the amendments as distributed.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may speak to them, Sir?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, Your Honour has a copy of them and we have given a copy to members opposite. If they check through the bill they will find that these are really exactly as described by the explanatory notes. These amendments will correct minor errors of reference and grammar.

Let me just give one example. There is an amendment to Section 17 Sub 2 and that is a section that applies for appeals. Sub 2 now says: an appeal for determination under Section 16 (1) by a public office holder other than political staff, chief operating officer, deputy minister, or minister to the commissioner. Now, that is ungrammatical. There is no verb in that sentence, and secondly, minister does not belong in there because ministers are not subject to this legislation, so the amendment will now read, to replace those words with these: by a public office holder other than political staff, chief operating officer, or deputy minister is to the commissioner, and then it goes on, the same kind of change, put a verb in the next sentence in (b) these people, political staff, chief operating officers, or deputy ministers will appeal to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court.

The amendments are very straightforward and I commend them to the committee. These are not even minor, these are minimus.

A bill, "An Act Respecting Standards Of Conduct For Non-Elected Public Office Holders." (Bill No. 41)

On motion Clauses 14, 17, 18, as amended, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendments, carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bills 36 and 40 without amendment and Bill 41 with amendments and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received as adopted. Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 41, read a first and second time, ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Grand Bank, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace. We are the hollow men measuring out our lives.... With apologies to T.S. Eliot.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEWLETT: Out, out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage...

MR. ROBERTS: With apologies to W. Shakespeare and the seven ages of man, and the hon. gentleman from Green Bay is up to the second of the seven, I figure, by now.

MS VERGE: Five to go.

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Humber East, Shakespeare spoke only of the seven ages of man. I am not sure where that leaves the hon. lady.

Would Your Honour be good enough, please, to call Order 30, Bill No. 21?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act to Amend The Mineral Act And The Mineral Holdings Impost Act". (Bill No. 21)

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has some amendments to the Mineral Act and some amendments to the Mineral Holdings Impost Act. Some of these amendments are quite routine coming out of the reorganization of government last year, changing the name of the department from Mines and Energy to Natural Resources, so there are a number of references in this bill where we say: Delete Minister of Mines and Energy and just refer to `minister'; whatever department name it might take in the future would take that.

There are a number of amendments to the bill, and I can best follow them through the explanatory notes. Clause 1 deals with what I just said relative to the Minister of Mines and Energy substituting a title of `minister'. Clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the bill refer to delegating some routine matters from the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to the minister, and these refer to such things as the order permitting search on private land for mineral exploration, the waiving of the obligation of a lessee to commence commercial production within five years from the issuance date of the licence, the renewal of a mining lease, and the issuance of a reversion order respecting production mines which grew out of production. These matters now would be handled through the minister's office and would not require Lieutenant-Governor in Council approval, rather routine matters.

In the Mineral Holdings Impost Act, again, some delegation to the minister, but the most significant thing here is that the mineral holdings impost act will in future be administered through the Department of Natural Resources and not through the Department of Finance and Treasury Board. That is the most significant aspect of this.

One of the matters of delegation, clause 8 of this particular bill, relates to the appointment of the assessor. It will no longer be required that this be done through the Cabinet. The minister will be able to appoint an assessor to assess taxes on a particular area. The minister will also be able to, in clause 9, determine times of filing and the finance year, taxation year, for impost act purposes.

Clause 11, again it is a delegation, and clause 12. Previously Cabinet would approve amendments, and now we are delegating authority to the minister to make regulations under this particular bill relative to calculating interest, the types of forms and documents used, the types of records required, and the times and manner of paying refunds and interest and other such matters.

Mr. Speaker, this is a rather routine bill which is mostly, housekeeping matters, and I am pleased to move it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Opposition has no particular quarrel with this bill. It is to do with certain administrative matters with regard to changes in name arising out of a government reorganization, certain delegation of powers from the Cabinet down to the minister, I guess for the greater efficiency, the handling, of the mineral industry. In general, I do not have a problem with that.

I only wish that the minister had had some delegated power with regard to the tax act that we talked about earlier in the House. Given the minister's background, I guess, in the mineral industry or the mineral department before he became a minister of the Crown, he would obviously be well in tune with the thinking of the companies, and moreso, cognizant of the very volatile and fickle nature of funds raised for mineral exploration. Had the minister been in charge, had it been delegated to him to make changes, I do believe that we would have had a less onerous set of changes as regards the impact on the industry.

Everybody in this House agrees that we need to maximize revenues to the treasury, wherever possible, from any natural resource development. It is just a matter of how you do it, and I regret that the sensitivity required to maintain an active mineral exploration industry is probably not as present as it should have been in the act that was tabled here the other day. As I said, had the minister had that authority delegated as he does with certain routine matters here in this bill, I do believe that what would have come down yesterday would have been more palatable to the mining industry.

Mr. Speaker, there is one other thing I should note for the record, I guess. The hon. minister called me aside a moment ago and indicated a press release to me that came out today from Major General Resources. This is a company that has mineral holdings in my district of Green Bay. There has been a significant gold find in the King's Point area, the Hammer Down deposit. It has been worked on for quite some time over the last year or two. There had been expectation of a bulk sample being taken last Fall, but I guess, the financing or whatever wasn't arranged in sufficient time to arrange for that. The gold find that is in the press release indicates good grades, 6 grams per ton of gold over a 200-metre strike length, 1.3 metres deep. So, Mr. Speaker, this bodes well for that particular property and I only hope that this is the nudge that is required to bring that particular company's operations, in Green Bay, over the top, that it will entice sufficient interest in the investment community to allow that company to go on and start a significant mining operation. We certainly need it, in my district.

When I was a teenager, we had three copper mines being serviced out of my district and the fact that they are not there now is missed. The people who used to operate in the industry are very much missed, Mr. Speaker, they are scattered mostly over Northern Canada. A number of them were in Labrador this year in relation to the Voisey's Bay and related exploration but this is certainly good news. I hope it bodes well and I hope it leads to a mine.

With regard to the bill, Mr. Speaker, as I said, it involves routine administrative matters and we have no significant problem with it. Thank you.

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

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: I thank the hon. member for his comments. I just have one word myself on that new announcement this morning on the Hammer Down. They have a nice property of about 500,000 tons of good grade and I'm hoping we will see underground work on that this year. So I am pleased to move the amendments that we have talked about in this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act And The Mineral Holdings Impost Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 21)

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if the Government House Leader would consider taking a fifteen- or twenty-minute break now so we can go and have a pop and a sandwich, and come back. Because we are going into the afternoon. The end result is obvious. We are going into closure, and whoever wants to speak or whoever can speak for twenty minutes will, so why don't we just take a break and have a bite to eat so we don't be quite as contrary as the afternoon goes on. Then we just might get out of here at a decent hour or so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) or one o'clock, yes. In the spirit of Christmas - if the Government House Leader would be willing to consider that.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am always willing consider anything. Supposing it is 12:14 p.m. Anything which would improve the temper of members on all sides is to be welcomed by everybody. So perhaps Your Honour could simply leave the Chair until 1:00 p.m., by unanimous consent of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I mean, I'm easy, 1:00 p.m. That gives members time to have two cans of pop, and get rid of the first one.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) conditional that we only have pop. (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this is one of these cases where res ipsa loquitor. But if Your Honour would perhaps recess the House until 1:00 p.m. and then we will come back and get on with it. Perhaps my friend, the Member for Grand Bank and I could have a word as to what we do at 1:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: By agreement, we will recess until 1:00 p.m.


 

December 15, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS       Vol. XLII  No. 77A


The House resumed at 1:00 p.m.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we are now at the point where we are going to move into the remaining business of the day. I think I have spoken to all of my colleagues over the break. If any of them haven't been spoken to about sending the mining tax bill to Committee would he or she please speak up now. Then I have in fact checked with all of them and they are all prepared to suggest to the House that when the mining tax bill gets second reading, approval in principle, we will refer it to the appropriate standing committee using the same process as we have used four or five times already this session. That is the 54.2 committee.

That will mean the House will have to return at some point in the new year to put the bill through Committee stage here in the Whole House and then third reading, because we do intend to carry the bill through. If it is amended we will deal with that. The understanding would be it will go through second reading, so I'm authorized to make that statement.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I would ask if you would call Motion No. 5 please, which stands in my name, and that is the closure motion.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate or further consideration of second reading of Bill No. 35 entitled "An Act To Amend The Hydro Corporation Act, The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And Other Acts" standing in the name of the hon. Minister of Natural Resources and any amendments to that motion for second reading of Bill No. 35 shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any amendments relating to second reading of Bill No. 35 shall not be further postponed.

Motion carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if you would be good enough, please, to call Order No. 31, which is the adjourned debate of the second reading of the Hydro Corporation amendment act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 31.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all let me say to the Government House Leader that we appreciate the fact that the mining tax act is going to be referred to Committee. It is eminently sensible, as we said yesterday when the bill was introduced. The bill probably has some merit in it. There are many new concepts in that that have not been explored before, and we would welcome the opportunity to explore them in detail, to analyze them thoroughly, and particularly to have a consultation with the mining community on it. So we welcome the announcement by the minister that that bill will be referred to a committee of the House and that there will be an opportunity for adequate input into it and adequate consultation on the bill. That makes a lot of sense. It is unfortunate that government wasn't prepared to do that a little sooner. We might have saved a lot of screaming and shouting across the House.

Let me ask the Government House Leader, why would he not be prepared to take like action with this particular piece of legislation?

MR. ROBERTS: Do you want me to answer that?

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: Do you want to yield and I can answer?

MR. WINDSOR: I will yield in a moment, yes. I make the same arguments, Mr. Speaker, that there is need for further analysis of this bill, of this measure. It is a very important piece of legislation. I think that not only the members of the House but the public at large, or those who might be very directly affected by it - corporations, whatever, or individuals, private citizens, those who consume electricity -, would like to have more time to find out exactly what the implications are. There is a very strong difference of opinion between government and the Opposition members, obviously, on what the implications of this act may be. That is fair enough. Time will tell which argument is the correct argument. Or perhaps somewhere in between, which is most normally the case. There is always some right and some wrong on both sides.

It would make a lot of sense for government to refer the matter to a committee and let there be thorough consultation rather than trying to force this bill through today at this point in time. Jamming it through at 1:00 p.m. on Friday a week or so before the House is to adjourn for Christmas. I am sure we will be here until next Friday if the House Leader is proposing to get through all the legislation that is there. What is the rush to have this bill passed before Christmas? Why can it not be treated in the same way that the Mining Tax Act is being treated, which is a responsible way and a reasonable way; give ample opportunity. But government has come forward and invoked closure even on this debate.

Not only that, a further effrontery today has been committed by the Government House Leader by calling five pieces of legislation before even calling the closure motion. Now it is implicit on the whole concept of closure, which is a mechanism awarded to government when opposition parties are deliberately delaying the process of the House, filibustering in debate, to stop a particular piece of legislation going through. It is a tool that is rarely used. I think it was only used three or four times from Confederation until this particular administration took office in 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three times.

MR. WINDSOR: Three times.

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot invoke closure if the House is not open.

MR. WINDSOR: I am not going to waste my time with the member from wherever down south, South St. John's. It is inconsequential, insignificant, and I am not going to be diverted by it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, if he is not able to control himself, let him remove himself from the House and do us all a favour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't need a lecture from you.

MR. WINDSOR: You need one from somebody, I say to the member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, why can we not follow that same procedure? The government has brought this in today, a further affront to the House. Instead of following the concept of closure which, as bad as it is, provides a mechanism which is valid enough, I guess, in certain circumstances, when the government has given ample opportunity to debate, when oppositions are clearly, deliberately, destructing the work of the House, interrupting the work of the House, not allowing that they proceed in reasonable fashion, then closure is there. As I said, it was used three times from 1949 until 1989 - three times in forty years - and it has been used at least fifteen times since this administration came to power. That in itself shows that this is an abuse of that particular section of our Standing Orders and of parliamentary tradition; but for the Government House Leader today, instead of calling closure right after routine business of the day, once Orders of the Day were called, it has always been tradition, whether by Standing Orders - there is nothing clearly defined in Standing Orders; there is nothing clearly defined in Beauchesne, but in my recollection, at least until this administration had taken over, closure was always called immediately. Notice is given at least twenty-four hours before, and that is the purpose of giving notice, saying that on tomorrow, once we begin debate on this piece of legislation, it will not cease. There is a time limit put in our Standing Orders of 1:00 a.m., that all members may speak only once, but that debate will close by 1:00 a.m.

Now if you consider the approach taken by the Government House Leader today we could go on debating routine legislation - unless the Opposition were prepared to let it all flow through, which is what government would like to see, have a whole bunch of... During the lunch break the leader came and asked us to put more through, which is a gross insult in this stage of the game.

MR. ROBERTS: If you are not careful we are going to be here a lot later tonight.

MR. WINDSOR: We may well be.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: We may well be.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. House Leader has a personality like a bottle of vinegar. He should stay quiet and let me complete what I am saying; we might get through it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. members to my left to allow the hon. member to speak.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a gross effrontery to the House of Assembly to manipulate the rules that way. They are using their majority over there. We have seen example after example of Standing Orders that have been violated or bent and somehow they have managed to get a ruling on it. That ruling then becomes a precedent that they stand on time after time again. They have taken the House on their backs, Mr. Speaker, and this is the worst example that we've ever seen, of using closure and then not even calling closure at the beginning of the days business.

Theoretically, Mr. Speaker, we could have been here until 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock tonight debating routine business and then at 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock tonight call the closure motion. Let's say we were here until 12:00 o'clock tonight debating routine business then when the closure motion is called at 1:00 a.m. debate would have to cease. So you have a total of one hour. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is clearly not the intent of the closure motion, clearly not the intent for which that power was given to a government to be used wisely and very infrequently only when absolutely essential. Other government's, Mr. Speaker, in the British Commonwealth have been very reticent to use this particular piece of legislation, very reticent indeed because it reflects on the whole democratic procedure. What it amounts to is taking away from members of the House the right to speak as they choose on a particular piece of legislation. It is a way of stifling debate when it is abused and that is precisely what has happened here. This is not an honourable use of the closure term. They have stifled debate on the Hydro Bill. All members now can speak for only twenty minutes, no opportunity in committee to speak now. Once a certain time comes and the question I guess pertains - and maybe, Your Honour, might like to take it under advisement - as to what would happen if we did go on through this evening? Obviously we won't, there is not enough time. If everybody in the House today spoke we would be finished but under Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker, debate closes at 1:00 a.m. The question now is on a Friday, which is not covered, does it follow that corresponding period of time after the normal closing hour of the House will be the time that debate would terminate, in which case it will be 8:00 p.m.? One o'clock in the morning being eight hours after the normal closure time of 5:00 o'clock and on a Friday 8:00 p.m. will be eight hours following the normal closure hour of 12:00 p.m.

I won't belay that, Mr. Speaker, because it is a question, Your Honour, might want to take under advisement and maybe give the House a ruling on it. It would be worthwhile to have that clarified for future debates because if not then we could be here until 1:00 a.m. Well that would be fine, we would all have an opportunity to speak at least once. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a gross abuse of the privileges afforded by the Standing Orders to the House leader in bringing this particular motion forward at this time of day. One o'clock on a Friday afternoon -

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman might not get to Lewisporte tonight.

MR. WINDSOR: The hon. gentleman could not care less if he ever gets to Lewisporte this weekend, Mr. Speaker. I would be delighted to stay here if it served democracy, if it served the people of this Province I will stay here all night and gladly do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Gladly do it, Mr. Speaker. I am not anxious to get out - I don't know what the government is afraid of, why they are afraid of having adequate debate on this piece of legislation. What are they trying to hide, Mr. Speaker, that they won't allow full and open debate? If they are not afraid of full and open debate why will they not refer this particular piece of legislation to a committee of the House of Assembly? Why will they not, Mr. Speaker, give the same courtesy afforded by the action just announced on the mineral tax act? Why will they not do it, Mr. Speaker? Because they don't want the people of the Province to know that this piece of legislation is going to greatly increase consumer rates in this Province. They keep trying to deny that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. members to my left to restrain themselves and keep from interjecting.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Why are they afraid to let the people of the Province see exactly what this piece of legislation does? This is a good question, Mr. Speaker. Are they afraid that the people of the Province will find out that electricity rates are going to increase tremendously, and that the information that the Premier has given publicly and here in the House is not at all accurate? Is that what they are afraid of? They are afraid now to have it proven that what the Premier said in the House was incorrect. Is that what they are saying they are afraid of? We know it is incorrect; many other people know it is incorrect but they are trying to hide it. They are afraid to have it fully debated publicly, afraid to have public hearings on it.

MS VERGE: The Member for Pleasantville said publicly it is wrong.

MR. WINDSOR: The Member for Pleasantville is the only one over there who has a little bit of backbone to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong. The only one with any backbone over there, Mr. Speaker, and I congratulate him for having the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up for his constituents, constituents who put him there. I congratulate him. It is a breath of fresh air to see a member opposite....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation should be very careful. My tolerance level for that hon. minister has always been very low. Alright? We lost a good friend on the highways of this Province last week, and my tolerance for the minister now and for the job that he is doing as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is even lower. If he had any sense he would keep himself quiet over there. He contributes nothing to the House. Sit back and yawn if he wants or go out and get some fresh air, if he wants fresh air that badly, but he should stifle himself and stop being an insult to the people who were foolish enough to put him here, the good people of the District of Port de Grave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Why can't we have ample opportunity? What is the government afraid of that it will not refer this piece of legislation? Is it afraid that the people will find out that what is being done here is government is transferring a portion of the very significant pension debt that we have -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. members to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having difficulty hearing him because of the conversations that are going on and the interjections across the House. I ask hon. members to allow the hon. member to be heard in silence.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Very difficult to talk with this kind of bantering going on. Is the government afraid that the people will find out that what it is doing here is down loading part of the unfunded liability for the public service pension plan to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? That is what it is doing. If Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is now responsible for that there is no question, it will have to ask for an increase in its rate structure to accommodate it. Because it is going to change its debt-equity ratio, and the government has said in this bill that the debt-equity ratio must be maintained until the PUB at least gives a ruling.

The interesting thing is that government has retained upon itself the right to direct the PUB as to how it shall act in relation to certain matters of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. To say that this is not now still going to be a Crown corporation is correct in one respect, but incorrect in the other, in that the government now has a very smart way, a very cute, tricky way I guess, of giving direction to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and putting the blame for it on the Public Utilities Board. It will now do indirectly.

Let us be under no false illusion that this is indeed a privatization bill. The government would try to have the people of this Province believe that this does not privatize Hydro. In and of itself it does not, the Premier said. He was quite right. The Premier is a master of half-truths. He was quite right. He said: This in and of itself does not privatize. This does not privatize Hydro, not in and of itself, but it certainly paves the way, Mr. Speaker, it certainly paves the way. The only step that would be left was the selling of the shares and it is very unlikely, in fact I am not clear, but I suspect that government could sell the shares of Hydro without coming back - maybe they could not, maybe they would have to come back to the House of Assembly - but that is all that would be left to do, everything else is in place. It is a privatized or commercialized corporation as they try to say here and that is all that would be left, would be the transfer of the shares from the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to private hands, either piecemeal, so many shares next year, so many shares the following year.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board gets another one of his crisis management situations that he created himself or that this government created - I won't blame the poor Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, he has not been in the portfolio long enough but he unfortunately, reacted to it improperly - created a financial crisis of their own making, they could do the same thing again next year and say we will solve that, we will sell $60 million worth of Hydro shares and the boys from Fortis will coming running up, can't wait to get up here and buy $60 million worth of shares in Newfoundland Hydro or they might sell the whole lot, maybe Fortis would like to have Newfoundland Hydro to set it on the shelf next to the Holiday Inn shares they just bought; another little deal between government and Fortis.

Maybe this is their game, Mr. Speaker, doing by the back door what they were told by the people of this Province last year that they could not do by the front door, which is to privatize Hydro and the Premier admitted yesterday, it is still government's intention to privatize Hydro. He said: I still think that is the right thing to do. So let nobody be under false illusions, Mr. Speaker, that government will indeed privatize Hydro at the first opportunity and I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this has gone, not only one step but five steps toward that in enabling the government to transfer Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to private hands, Mr. Speaker, so that is why they are afraid to let this be debated openly, that is why they are afraid to put it out to public hearings, that is why they are afraid to send it to a committee of the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, that is why the House Leader is not prepared to refer the bill to a select committee of the House, to be brought back again after Christmas.

He has already told us the House will be called together to deal with the Mineral Tax Act after Christmas, this bill could be dealt with at the same time, that would at least give people who are concerned about what is taking place here an opportunity, and it would at least give the government an opportunity to show that they are not afraid to have this matter debated publicly, that they are not afraid to stand up and be accountable to the people who are the real shareholders of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: What a waste of time.

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

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this very, very, important piece of legislation.

If you were to listen to the members opposite they would leave you with the idea that this means absolutely nothing, it is just a housekeeping piece of legislation and they would slide this through. I am surprised that they haven't just presented this bill on Monday or Tuesday of next week so that they would know that everybody would be even closer to Christmas and people don't want to be concerned and are not concerned about all the things that are occurring in this House, they are more concerned about what is going on in their homes, Mr. Speaker, in preparation for the Christmas season.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident that what this government is attempting to do in invoking closure is to stifle debate on this very important piece of legislation. Now by stifling debate they used closure, by stifling debate they brought this bill in last week -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, I am dying with the flu I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, I hope I am not dying; but I am quite -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, while I have the flu I would like to be able to continue with my few remarks with regard to Bill 35.

This government attempted to push this bill through the House of Assembly because they did not want the public to be aware of the consequences this particular piece of legislation was going to have on their own household budget, because there is not a household, I would think, in this Province, that does not have an electricity bill dropped at their door every month of the year. Everybody pays electricity; everybody consumes it, so it is very important. It is going to affect every house owner, every resident in this Province, one way or another, and it will affect the businesses of this Province. So the government attempts to push this through as just a minor piece of legislation that has no affect on the people of this Province. Well, it has a lot of affect, and the affects are going to be positive in the sense of positive rate increases. The impact on individuals will mean that they have to pay more money for this necessary commodity, electricity. It is going to cost more money to cook a meal, more money to heat their home.

Mr. Speaker, this government tried to sneak it through, and it wasn't until an issue was raised yesterday that the public became more aware of it. Because of some things that occurred in the House here yesterday the public became more aware of it and are even more concerned now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, there was no planning. It was an impromptu reaction by a member of this House because he was angry at what this government was doing, and in particular what the Premier was doing to this Province. The people want to have input into this piece of legislation.

Now the government has recognized the error of its ways, so to speak, with regard to the Mineral Act, and they are going to put it out to the public, to the committee, to the Legislative Committee, and allow public input. I want to commend the government for listening to members of the Opposition to go to the public. I want to commend the government for behaving as they should on that particular piece of legislation. That particular piece of legislation is a very important piece of legislation in the mining industry. It is going to affect the mining industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) shares.

MR. A. SNOW: It does not matter if I have shares or not. That piece of legislation is going to have a tremendous impact on the mining industry, and the mining industry is one of the most important industries we have in this Province, whether it is as an employee generator or whether it is producing tax revenues or employment for the Province. It is probably the most important industry in this Province and will probably, contrary to Doug House's suggestion of a couple of years ago when he said that we should forget the resource industries and concentrate on knitting, I think it was; he wanted to knit his way out of the recession -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, the other one was cookies, I think; he was going to have cookies, too.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that rather than laying off 400 people the government would have saved a heck of a lot more money by laying off one individual, Doug House. I think that would have saved this government more money than the 400 that they did lay off.

The government has recognized, the Cabinet has recognized, the errors of their ways with regard to asking for public input and allowing public input, public discourse and public debate on a piece of legislation. They did it in fact in responding in a positive manner with regard to the minerals act and they are going to put it to a legislative committee. I think they made a mistake, they made an error in judgement but I commend them for going out and seeking public input now with this important piece of legislation. I would only ask that they take a similar approach to this Hydro legislation, Mr. Speaker. This has a tremendous impact - probably as important an impact, maybe even more in the long run, I don't know - on individuals in this Province because of the tremendous potential for rate increase. Now why would people be concerned about rate increases, Mr. Speaker, in this particular bill? It has been pointed out by my colleagues on this side of the House, it has been pointed out by individuals outside the House that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Okay go ahead, I will yield.

MR. EFFORD: As the legislation reads now, can the rates increase?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. EFFORD: Well there you go.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) this new bill.

MR. EFFORD: No, no, the act which was set before this bill, can the rates increase?

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, you mean in the old legislation?

MR. EFFORD: The old legislation.

MR. A. SNOW: Sure the rates can increase.

MR. EFFORD: Well there you go.

MS VERGE: They will increase more this way.

MR. A. SNOW: The problem with -

MR. EFFORD: That is wrong.

MR. A. SNOW: It is quite evident by the question - quite often by the question from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation -

AN HON. MEMBER: I said before boys, you did not know what you were talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident by the tone of the question from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - about whether or not it is possible to have a rate increase under the old act versus the new act - that he undoubtedly did not read this piece of legislation or if he did not read it he undoubtedly did not understand it when it was put to the Cabinet and that is all I will say to that particular question.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what is happening with this bill, well it has the potential to have tremendous potential for increases in the rate of electricity in this Province. Many, many people inside and outside this House echo those sentiments. Now, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I did not say 300 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if this bill will privatize Hydro. In all sincerity, I will say with all honesty, I don't know if this bill will privatize Hydro. I don't know but I do know that parts of this bill has the potential to have tremendous rate increases for the consumer, more so then what the - this will provide a greater opportunity for Newfoundland Hydro to charge more rates.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I don't know why both ministers did not read the bill while they approved it in Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, or at least try and understand it when it was presented in Cabinet - the bill does not do away with the Public Utilities Board but it does say that the Lieutenant - Governor in Council may direct the Public Utilities Board with respect to the policies and procedures to be implemented by the board with respect to the termination of the rates of public utilities under the Public Utilities Act.

So Cabinet can direct the Public Utilities Board to increase rates.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes they can, Mr. Speaker.

One of the concerns, a tremendous concern that people in my district have, is the attitude of this government and their representative in Cabinet, I suppose you could call him, that is the Minister of Justice. In a recent meeting with the town council in Labrador City, their local newspaper reported a story on the front page; the headline said: Free ride statement upsets Labrador City councillor. Then: The minister says, statement misunderstood, underneath that.

Mr. Speaker, people in Western Labrador are concerned that if that attitude prevails through the government, that the people of Western Labrador have been getting a free ride with regard to electricity rates, they feel if that attitude prevails, and that is what the attitude of Cabinet is, that there is no doubt what the attitude of the Public Utilities Board is going to be, and that is going to be to nail the people of Western Labrador. That they resent and do not want.

Right now we pay a reasonable rate for electricity based upon the cost of production of that electricity, and it is a very reasonable rate based upon the cost of production of that electricity. What more could be asked of the people of Western Labrador, who consume a tremendous amount of electricity by the nature of the climate? We consume more; we are more dependent upon it because of the nature of where we live. We consume more energy than anywhere else in this Province, per capita, because of where we live and our lifestyles, and they are concerned that this government will have the same thoughts that this councillor thought that the Minister of Justice had, that they have had a free ride. The only thing he can gather from that is that this so-called free ride is going to be impacted upon in the sense that they are going to be charging a tremendous amount more. Now that is what he has to think, that they are going to pay a lot more in Western Labrador. That is what they think. They have those concerns.

While I said I didn't know if this bill would lead the way to privatization, I don't know - I honestly don't know - but I do know that this government is hell bent for leather on privatizing it. Now, one of the things about the private sector, I have earned my living, all my life, of either being employed with the private sector - except until I got into this life here; I am not employed by the private sector today - either by working for a large corporation, mining company, or as an operator of a family business. So I know what the private sector does. It is driven by profit.

Mr. Speaker, we have to be concerned about that in the sense that we are talking about a Crown corporation now whose public policy purpose is to, in providing electricity to the people of this Province at the lowest possible price consistent with reliable service and the safety of its employees. That is the public policy purpose of the Crown corporation as we know it today, Newfoundland Hydro. That is what they should be doing. Now, if we change that public policy purpose to a private sector, or commercialize, the purpose of this Crown corporation is going to change. If we are going to change it - that is what we have done now, is change it. So it can perform the act of collecting more money from individuals. It is a method of taxing people, Mr. Speaker, is what I call it.

Because when I opened my very few brief remarks this afternoon I said it was going to affect practically everybody in this Province, and I believe every resident who owns a home or lives in a home consumes electricity. They will have to pay for it and there is going to be an increase.

If it is not going to be privatized it is going to be commercialized and it is going to be driven by profit, and not of the delivery of the best and reliable and the safest and cheapest method of electrical rates. It isn't going to be driven by that. They have changed the public policy purpose of this Crown corporation one way or the other. By getting more money, more revenue out of the people of this Province, it is a tax by another name. That is what I find wrong with what this bill is doing. That is what this bill is doing. It is taxing people in an indirect method. Because they are able to get at everybody, every home, every resident in this Province through a different method of taxation, and it is called your power bill.

To me that is fundamentally unfair to the people in Western Labrador because they consume more than people elsewhere in this Province because of the nature of where they live. Because of climatic conditions and their lifestyle they consume more. That is one of the basic reasons why I can't support this bill, and I'm sure that the people in my district would want me to voice their opinions with regard to how they would feel with regard to the imposition of this bill and the affect it is going to have on the residents of Labrador City and Wabush.

The people in Western Labrador would want me to speak up. I feel I have spoken up on their behalf. I regret that the government won't listen as they listened before with regard to when people on this side of the House and the industry spoke up with regard to allowing public input so that the people can show their disfavour with what the government was doing with this legislation, and doing to their Crown corporation. I would hope that the government will reconsider its ways and take this bill to the public, pass this bill to the legislative review committee, and ask for public input so that the people throughout this Province can have a say in what their future electrical rates will be so that they can have an impact on a decision that is going to impede their salaries, it is going to take more out of their discretionary income for years to come. I would ask the government again to reconsider and put this bill to a legislative review committee and to allow public input. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls.

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to make a few comments on Bill No. 35. This bill is very technical and somewhat complicated and difficult for the public to understand, yet the government has made no effort to educate the public or the people about its implications and give them an opportunity for input through public hearings.

This bill contains some major changes which could amount to the preparation for a renewed attempt to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and which in any case are going to lead to substantially increased electricity rate. This bill does away with Hydro's exclusive right to develop the larger remaining hydro sites on the Island of Newfoundland. As well, there is also provision that is not clear and therefore difficult to understand, about Hydro's rights to develop hydro sites in Labrador. A lot could be riding on these changes, Mr. Speaker. Those two provisions could be opening the door to more BRINCOs. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will remember that the Smallwood government gave the rights to Churchill to BRINCO.

The main thrust of the amendments is to make Hydro more of an arm's length corporation by making it fully regulated and not as subject to the whims of government; that is, commercialized. Hydro is now only regulated with regard to retail customers. Henceforth it will be fully regulated. While the intent is not a problem in itself there are a number of amendments which will result in higher electrical costs in the long run.

The first amendment basically substitutes the word "shareholders" for the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. The plural use of the word shareholder is just a guise to make it sound like Hydro is not a fully owned Crown corporation, which it remains. At present the shares are all held solely by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Presumably more than one minister will now hold the shares so that there can be shareholders' meetings and the like. This is only blindfolding the devil in the dark.

The deletion of section 14 which gave Hydro the sole right to develop hydro sites on the Island is significant, because it now means that companies like Newfoundland Light and Power, Fortis and the like can develop hydro sites for private gain. Previously the concept was that water rights were for the future benefit of all. While small hydro projects were permitted, all the remaining major sites were publicly owned. Ownership of hydro facilities can be very profitable over time, and passing them over to the private sector will mean that all the profit will go to a few, rather than to the people at large.

The new section 17 regarding accounting methods and a rate stabilization plan could have serious repercussions for the Public Utilities Board, or the changes. At present, Hydro does not use the straight line depreciation method for Hydro plants, but does for terminal plants and transmission lines, I believe. Hydro plants are depreciated over a sixty-five year period, and other assets over a thirty-year period. The method used for hydro plants is to start with a small amount of depreciation and gradually increase the amount over time. Should the Public Utilities Board change this to a straight line method the cost of electricity rates will rise, since more depreciation will have to be charged in the earlier years.

The new section 17(3)(a) could also increase rates if assets transferred from the public service pension plan to the new Hydro pension plan are less than the contingent liabilities, which appears to be the case. This likelihood is also implied in section 18(3), section 17(d) and (e), which provide for the amortization of these shortfalls, and would not be necessary unless there is one overall. The Province will be transferring part of its unused or unfunded pension liability to Hydro and allowing Hydro to cover the shortfall by increasing rates, i.e., passing the cost onto electrical rate payers instead of the provincial taxpayers.

MR. GRIMES: Who wrote that for you?

MR. MACKEY: I would like to tell the hon. Member for Exploits that there was enough time since this bill was released to do some research, and at least to prepare something sensible to say so that the members opposite would have something to reflect on when they go to vote on this major piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: I would like to tell the hon. member it certainly wasn't anyone from the District of Exploits, because since it is east of the wonderful District of Grand Falls, at this time of the year we don't expect anyone else to rise from the east.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: I don't know who is responsible for this.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Speaker, the repeal of section 26 could also be significant. Hydro, through its subsidiary, the Lower Churchill Development Corporation, now has the right to develop the Lower Churchill. Does the repeal of this section mean that anyone can now develop the Lower Churchill? If so, we can look at another Upper Churchill if this deal is possible, another BRINCO in other words.

Mr. Speaker, the Electrical Power Control Act has not yet been proclaimed but will be when the amendments to this piece of legislation are passed. This opens a whole new question on the Churchill Falls contract once again, and if and when the Public Utilities Board tries to allocate power away from Hydro Quebec - I refer to Parts I and II of the Electrical Power Control Act - indeed Hydro Quebec could challenge immediately.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: You research it. Just research it.

Several of the amendments in this legislation delete reference to the federal tax that used to come back to Hydro, since this is no longer relevant. The new section, 5.1, is significant and will lead to increased rates over time. It also uses the term `public utilities' and so applies to more than just Hydro Newfoundland. Light and Power will be very concerned with this. The idea here is to move Hydro to a rate of return basis rather than an interest margin basis for setting rates. This will allow Hydro to earn more money, more profit, and allow the government to get a larger dividend.

Mr. Speaker, at present Hydro sets its rates to recover all its costs, including interest, and is allowed a margin on interest to keep the bond holders happy. The margin varies from the rate hearing for Hydro, ends for a cover for at least 15 per cent, as a general rule. This margin then becomes Hydro's profit, and now Hydro has built up equity which is now in excess of $300 million. So if you take Hydro's power earned from its interest margin and apply it to the percentage of equity, you get a de facto rate of return. For example, if Hydro makes $20 million this year from its interest margin, and has a total equity of $300 million, then its implicit rate of return is 20/300, or approximately 7 per cent.

MR. GRIMES: Who wrote that for you?

MR. MACKEY: It amazes you, doesn't it?

MR. GRIMES: It does so.

MR. MACKEY: So if it was a public utility, i.e. Newfoundland Light and Power, or Fortis, it would be allowed to make a rate of return of up to 13 per cent. So its profit would be about $30 million a year. That would be about double. So as it moves to this higher rate over a period of years it will have to increase rates, it's as simple as that. It can be argued that it can become more efficient but that may be true regardless if there was nothing to suggest that it is not operating efficiently now.

Mr. Speaker, moving the rate of return basis and then taking most of the profit as a dividend is therefore merely a disguised increase in provincial taxes paid by electricity consumers. It is just another way to get more money out of the taxpayers. The proclamation of the EPCA will also mean higher rates for domestic consumers because under Section 3.4 the share of the rural subsidy paid by industrial customers will be phased out by 1999. This presently amounts to about $8 million a year and so domestic rates will have to rise by that amount over the next four years.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will authorize the Cabinet to require the Public Utilities Board to use the same basis for calculating Hydro's rates that is used for setting the rates of Newfoundland Power merely the rate of return basis. This will mean a doubling of Hydro's profits, boosting Hydro's profit from approximately $20 million a year to close to $40 million a year. So this increase, Mr. Speaker, will have to be recovered by Hydro from rates passed on to the consumers of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, overall the amendments will result in higher electricity rates and that rate of increase will depend on the speed with which these new provisions are implemented. The phase-out of the industrial share of rural subsidies will mean an $8 million a year more by 1999. The pension transfer liability will also increase rates and will move the rate on a return basis. The amount could be quite significant, at least $10 million a year.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, should the public utility change the accounting method used for depreciation, rates would have increased even further. At least I would like to tell the hon. members opposite that I did take some time to research this. I made some speaking notes, I think that if they were worth saying they are certainly worth listening to because a fair amount of time has been put into it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MACKEY: In summary, Mr. Speaker, the total increase in Hydro will add up to a very substantial amount which we estimate to be $30 - $40 million a year. Mr. Speaker, if implemented this could have a major impact, some major implications on the taxpayers in this Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bay Verte - White Bay.

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

I am glad to rise today to have a few comments on this because the whole point behind this debate and the whole point to our argument and the closure is exactly that, Mr. Speaker, that we will only have a chance to make a few comments because of the closure motion. That is the whole point and my colleague from Grand Falls as well as my other colleagues on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, are making that point for that very reason.

Why is the closure brought in? The minister keeps referring to the member while he was speaking about who did his research and who gave him his points. The whole point, the reason for this closure, is that we are not going to get that opportunity to explore this in detail so the people of this Province, who have the fear, can find out the full truth and the complete understanding of what this bill is and the implications it will have for the taxpayer in this Province. That is the point.

I am not going to get up here today and pretend to any minister over there or any of my colleagues that I know everything that is in the bill. I've read it, I've had some time, we have made some notes, we did some research. There are fears in it. The challenge I will have to the members opposite who seem to know so much about it, all these members opposite - I wonder if they have read it, for one thing, like so much of the legislation that they never read. They just let the Premier put it forward and the Premier said: This is good for you so don't bother reading it, I will take care of it. Dad knows best. That is the problem.

That is the problem with the whole other side of the House. The Premier puts forward the bills by two or three of his... I was going to say - I can't use that word I was going to use. Lackeys is a good word. By a few of his lackeys opposite. I don't think that is unparliamentary, but then again these days you don't know what is unparliamentary in here any more. The point being that the Premier puts these bills forward, he asks his few lackeys sitting next to him, a very close-knit few over there: Say, listen. The members in the back benches don't need to read this, we will just tell them what is best for them. I will put it forward and tell them to trust me. That is the word, I guess. The Premier says: Trust me.

That is the whole point. That is why when the members opposite who were talking to the Member for Grand Falls here as he tried to put some points forward - I say the same thing that my colleague said. I don't pretend to be an expert on this particular bill because the point is that we need to talk about it more, we need to research it a bit more. The bottom line is it was only a few days ago we thought that this House would be closing today. But lo and behold, what pops out of left field is this bill, which the Premier keeps putting down as: It isn't important, it is very minor, it is only a minor bill that we should get through, don't worry about it.

For some strange reason the people in this Province, apart from the people on this side of the House, don't trust the Premier. I think the cartoon in today's paper sums it all up very well. Today's cartoon in The Evening Telegram summed it up pretty well. Not just what the people here feel, the people in the media, the people in the public, how they trust this Premier as soon as he mentions the word Hydro. Other members have said when they rose here -

MS VERGE: (Inaudible) `Clydro.'

MR. SHELLEY: `Clydro,' Mr. Speaker, that is what they call it. The new chairman of `Clydro.' Of course the Pinocchio nose I suppose speaks for itself. The cartoon today in today's paper I guess sums it all up, what people in this Province think about this Premier when he mentions the word Hydro.

I will concur with other members of the House who spoke earlier today who said that I don't believe that this bill - I don't believe at this point, I'm still not sure about that - but I don't believe that this bill alone will lead to the privatization of Hydro. I don't think it will but I'm still not sure about that. What is the sequence of events that led up to where we are today? It seems like everything seemed to fall in the lap of the Premier and he decided that he was going to go ahead with it. Quietly, in the beginning, when he first brought the privatization bill to the House and just lead it through.

MS VERGE: First he had private, secret talks with Fortis, (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is where it all started, that is where it all took root. I had to be reminded, Mr. Speaker. That is where it all took root, the private conversations with Fortis. All of a sudden a merger was being talked about, then a privatization was being talked about. Mr. Speaker, finally, the saga unfolded through the help of the public, through the help of different groups around the Province we finally unveiled the real truth to it all.

So the truth is, the whole idea behind this particular bill although I believe it will not privatize Hydro, it will still be part of a sequence of events which leads this Premier into one of these days, because he is saying not right now, but in one of these days, Mr. Speaker, this Premier, finally, privatizing, commercializing but doing something with Hydro before he leaves the Chair as Premier of this Province, that is what I believe and for this to happen now and how it happened in this Legislature over the last few days, Mr. Speaker, there is no member here who liked to see what happened in these last few days in this Legislature.

There is no one, and different members on the opposite side of the House, rose and said that was planned and orchestrated and everything else. Some things may be planned and orchestrated but emotions which erupted here yesterday were the result of frustration, and may be shown by the Member for Kilbride but I will say, Mr. Speaker, that it was shown by many people in this Province, and by the way, Mr. Speaker, what my hon. colleague, the Member for Kilbride, expressed yesterday was indicative of what the people of this Province really feel, is what the people of this Province feel toward this government, Mr. Speaker, and that is, they don't trust them and that is the bottom line.

Here we are, two or three days before the House closes and all members here should be going home today with the bills that came to this House, all wrapped up. The Government House Leader should concur that we have been very co-operative when it comes to other pieces of legislation over the last few weeks in this House, and I think he would concur with that, that the Government House Leader, through the co-operation of our House Leader, we have made great progress on some of the bills put forward. We have had colleagues on this side stand, I have heard our members commend the government on some of the legislation that went through in this session and we have supported it; we have raised some concerns but for the most part we voted unanimously with the government on different parts of legislation since this session began so, Mr. Speaker, it is not that we have an Opposition here that they say would criticize, criticize and not offer anything.

The truth is, when we want to be co-operative, our jobs as critics in opposition are to raise concerns, that is our jobs as opposition and sometimes, Mr. Speaker, to give alternatives too, so as both House leaders on different legislation that came before this House in this Assembly -

MR. EFFORD: What would be the alternative?

MR. SHELLEY: Well, the alternative is simple, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, allow some public input and allow something to be debated and put through this House properly, that is a simple alternative, and if there is no rush, and if this is such a minor thing, Mr. Speaker, if it is so minor that the Premier gets up and is so red-faced and says it is so minor, what are you all worried about, well, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister this: Why the rush, why the hurry? It all comes back to what the public in this Province believes, not just the Opposition here, but the public in this Province believes, and that is that they do not trust this Premier, as soon as he utters the word `Hydro'.

As soon as he utters the word, `Hydro', Mr. Speaker, a red flag goes up and how can you blame them? Now what I will do is, I will put forward the four concerns that were raised by us through researchers, through people who did some work for us. We do our own research, Mr. Speaker, we have a very competent group of people here - and the Premier could not even respond but, Mr. Speaker, I know one thing, the researchers on the other side is the Premier himself and the man who sits to his left, other than that, the rest of them do not have a word to say. The only time that these hon. members get their say is right now when the Premier is away and the boys can talk back and forth across the House. There is one exception probably, Mr. Speaker. The point is that we raised concerns.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is the exception?

MR. SHELLEY: I better not say.

We raised concerns. The point is, as I have said to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the other ministers, why not have debate?

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier stands in his place to talk about democracy and to say that: we have given you two days to debate, you could have raised all the concerns, but the real truth and the reality is, four members on this side had a chance to stand and debate. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the fourth speaker never had a chance to finish his time. We started with the leader and we went with three people and finally, closure was brought in again, and as my colleague mentioned earlier, up to 1989, three times was closure brought in, even under the Smallwood Government, that was there for so many years, and Frank Moores and Peckford and so on - three times since Confederation. What is happening in this House, Mr. Speaker, that closure is brought in time and time again?

How can you blame the public for being suspicious, two or three days before the Christmas break when we thought we were wrapping up, we thought we were making progress through co-operation on a lot of legislation in this House, when all of a sudden, this bill is brought before the House and the Premier says: Don't worry about it, it is only minor, it won't affect you. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but the people in this Province just don't buy that. And by the way, the response that the Member for Kilbride got from raising that question and asking the Premier up front, there is one fear that comes down through all this.

This bill may become complicated in different ways, Mr. Speaker, and is complicated in some ways, and I agree with that and with the reading of the bill and making sure what the implications would be but, Mr. Speaker, there is an overriding fear in this Province that the rates will increase, and that, Mr. Speaker, is the bottom-line argument. The Premier is saying they will not and the minister is saying they will not; we have members who are saying they will, we believe they will. So all I will say to the minister is, if the minister believes what the Premier is saying, which he is saying here, now, that they will not increase, let us give the people in this Chamber a chance to confirm that. But you are not even giving us a chance. What are you saying to us as an Opposition or to the people in this Province? Don't worry about it, we don't want to debate it, you don't need to have concerns, just believe us that there will be no rate increases in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there is no one in this Province who is going to buy that, no one. All we are saying as the Official Opposition is, give us plenty of time to research on our own, besides getting help from people; and I don't mind getting help from people. I don't profess to be the critic for everything and the expert on everything, like so many members -

MR. GRIMES: You are not one of them.

MR. SHELLEY: - I have no problem saying that. Well, that is fine for the minister to say, but I am never too proud to stand in this House and say: no, I don't know everything about forestry; no, I don't know everything about the fishery.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well maybe, Mr. Speaker, but I am just telling the minister what I think and that is, we are not all experts on everything and there is no one in this House, right now, who can stand and say they know everything for sure about this bill that is being brought forward.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible) he does not like what you are saying now because he is convinced he is an expert on (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Member for Ferryland can speak for himself; I don't have to speak up for the Member for Ferryland.

Mr. Speaker, this is very serious. I will say this, too, that the concept and some of the ideas in this bill, as far as I can develop by looking at it now and studying it, there are some good concepts and some merits, I will say that to the government and maybe, it will proceed in the right way. But you know, on issue after issue, the public of this Province keep saying that it is not what the Premier is doing, it is how he is doing it. Maybe this is the right bill. There is a possibility that it could be, and maybe he is right and I hope he is right, that there will not be rate increases in this Province, and I hope that we are not the ones who will have to stand up in two or three weeks or a couple of months from now when this is all implemented, and I hope we don't have to point to the Premier and say: Premier, we told you there were going to be rate increases but you said there wouldn't be.

But, Mr. Speaker, then you see, that is water under the bridge, it is too late then. The average person in this Province is paying more in rates then and it is no good to point the finger. The same with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation when he talks about his cutbacks; it is no good to point the finger after the fact, you do it before, that is how you respond to it and if the government is any good at all, every now and then it listens and takes heed and does something about it. So, Mr. Speaker, yes, the concept of the bill has some merit. No, it will not privatize Hydro, I don't believe it does at this stage anyway. I don't think it is the be-all to privatize Hydro, but I have said it time after time and I will say it again, this may not privatize Hydro, from what I am reading from it so far, but will it link, Mr. Speaker, as another part of the sequence of events which started with the private meetings reported. You cannot blame people for being curious and suspicious about that, Mr. Speaker. This government cannot blame the public in this Province for starting an uprising again because they are worried.

The minister here a little while ago asked for alternatives, what would we do? Mr. Speaker, it is as simple as this, if we brought forward this bill, we would first of all give everybody the chance in this Chamber to put forward the debate because a lot of times in this House - believe it or not, contrary to belief - we do hear a lot of good things from both sides of the House and bring up some very important points, in the Hydro debate, in the education debate and so on, Mr. Speaker, big issues that affect this Province. So there are times, besides the tirades that go on, Mr. Speaker, I agree with the minister. Beside the tirades that go on, every now and then there is debate back and forth where facts are brought out, points are given and by the Member for Ferryland, too, Mr. Speaker, who does study, probably more than any of us, the bills that come through this House.

I will concur with him on that. But the bottom line is that as we read through the bill - and the one underlying fear of the Province is simple; the bill may be complicated in ways but the fear of people in this Province is simple, that the rates may increase. I am not guaranteeing 100 per cent that they will increase - regardless of my objection to this bill, Mr. Speaker. I am not saying I am 100 per cent sure, as the Member for Bay Verte - White Bay, that the rates will increase if this bill is passed. I am not saying that in this House in debate today but I will say this if the people ask me: I am not sure that they won't increase. The alternative I gave to the minister when he asked me a while ago was this, well, if there is nothing to fear, if the rates are not going to increase, then the Premier of this Province should say let us prolong the debate. Let us give them their chance to have their say. When they have all had their say and spoken for the Opposition side of the House, we will proceed. Because the only question I have, Mr. Speaker, is, why the rush? We still have not had a chance to really study this bill properly. I don't think anyone in this House has had the time, and the public certainly has not, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there was a question asked about a public review committee to study this. I think that was a straightforward request. It would put people's minds at ease. But the debate on closure is something that I am so tired of hearing in this House. I am tired of hearing it - and just after a few days, it is closure again.

That was what happened in this House yesterday. You can talk about plans and orchestrations and everything else. Some things may be planned and they are. We strategize like the government strategizes every day, but often it happens with frustration back and forth. We know when a heated debate gets started sometimes we say stuff we should not. I even believe I said something once that I should not have but, Mr. Speaker, sometimes that happens in this House. We all understand that. But it got to a certain point yesterday where I think my colleague had a hard time with it, the same as all government members and all Opposition members here. The hardest part was with the order of the House and not having respect for the House and the order that we have to hold in here if we are going to govern this Province properly. I think that is why he apologized to the Speaker today because he felt that in this House we have to maintain decorum and order so we can get on with the business of the day. But he will not apologize, Mr. Speaker - he also said in public and he said here today in that apology, the apology is not to the Premier because he still believes what was said by the Premier was incorrect.

The whole underlying fact of it all is that frustrations are building and something that we thought would end this Friday with minor pieces of legislation - a lot of the stuff that we had read, we were very familiar with, but we were not familiar with this. We are not sure of the implications of it. Mr. Speaker, the reason for my not supporting it was because I cannot tell the people in my district, as a lot of members here cannot tell the people in their districts they are 100 per cent sure that rates will not increase.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as members - not just Cabinet Ministers, but as members in this House on both sides - that is the only main question. You do not have to go into the details with John Joe that you meet out in your district on the weekend. You don't have to go into details about the different points we have raised here. But when he asks you as his member: Are you sure that our rates won't increase now if this bill goes through? as long as you can answer with a clear conscience to the people who elected you, that is fine; you go right ahead and stand in this House and support the bill, but if you cannot do that then you should not be supporting the bill. That is the bottom line to this, and I cannot.

Maybe if we had a few more days into next week, two or three days, and we debated it back and forth and got into specifics, not in the twenty minutes that everybody has, but if we got into the specifics of it and we could be convinced - or even if you could not convince us, at least you would have shown the public of this Province, and the Premier would have shown the public of this Province, that you were open to listening. Although we criticize each other on both sides of this House, we are still the Official Opposition and part of a democracy where we were elected to represent people, and we should, on behalf of them, be able to get up and have our say on this, Mr. Speaker. That is the bottom line.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible) you said, get up and have your say. I want to get up.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, you can get up.

Mr. Speaker, I have about a minute left here, so I will just conclude. I would be delighted to have the minister, or any member of the House, get up in the short time we have, which was limited to us, and have the minister try to convince us, to show us point blank facts, why the rate increases in this Province - and I will go home... I will be going home in a couple of hours to my district. I would love for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to get up, in the short time that he has, the twenty minutes that he is allowed, and reassure us that we can go home to our districts and tell our constituents who elected us, `Don't worry; the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation confirmed today, and he explained it perfectly, and you have 100 per cent assurance that you will not have to worry about rate increases when this bill goes through.' That is what we are looking for.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments with respect to the bill.

I appreciate the comments made by the speaker who just finished, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, and his friend and my friend and colleague, the Member for Grand Falls. They are two different approaches but we are used to that because there are several different approaches on the other side on most issues. I think that it was clear, but it was very refreshing because I do believe that the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay is very sincere, and he threw out the challenge: Could somebody get up and say that as a result of this bill people could be assured there would be no rate increases, and that Hydro would not be privatized?

The answer to both, without question, is that neither he, nor anybody in the Province, need worry about a rate increase as a direct result of this bill, or that privatization can happen as a result of this bill. Neither can happen. By virtue of this bill passing this Legislature there will be no PUB hearing that will lead to a rate increase because Bill 35 passes. It won't happen. It will not happen.

Can privatization occur because Bill 35 passes? No. In order for privatization to occur, another bill would have to come to the Legislature saying that we are privatizing Hydro. So because of the passage of Bill 35 there will be no privatization and there will be no rate increases.

Now, I suppose, in ten years time there might be a rate increase, and somebody might come back and say, `That was because of Bill 35 that was passed back in December of 1995.' Well, good luck trying to make the linkage. I would like to know what other things would happen between now and then as well.

MR. SHELLEY: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The member, I think, would like to ask the minister a question, or are you on a point of order?

MR. SHELLEY: I would like to ask the minister a question.

MR. GRIMES: No, I am not interested in any questions. I didn't question him.

MR. SHELLEY: On a point of order, then, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: The minister stood to say he would confirm that there would be no direct increases. I would like to ask the minister if he would say that there will be no - because of direct or indirect.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I thought - just a matter of trying to interrupt the great thoughts that I was starting to lay out for the House.

In any event, a couple of things. I will not prolong the debate, because I recognize that there have been a couple of different approaches taken by members opposite. I am delighted that the hon. the Member for Ferryland came back because I am sure he heard the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay on the speaker. By the way, you should have a chat with him, because he got up and said that he didn't profess to be an expert on everything like somebody else and other people in his caucus. I said: You needn't be, because you have one of those. I said: The Member for Ferryland is one of those, you need not try to do that, and so on.

MR. SHELLEY: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay on a point of order.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the member can get the Hansard. I did not say anybody in this caucus, I said experts in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I might have missed one word somewhere in that quote. I will check Hansard as well, but I think the point is very well made.

A couple of things, Mr. Speaker - there are a couple of approaches though that the hon. members are putting forward. One is the general view taken by the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay where he talks about the fact that he doesn't want to talk about the details of the bill, but he just wants to express that he knows there is great concern in the Province, that people are not sure that this won't lead to rate increases and so on. He wanted to make the more general view.

The hon. the Member for Grand Falls went into great detail. As I said to him when I wasn't the recognized speaker, I will make sure that his friends and mine in Grand Falls know that he did a very good job of presenting the case that somebody else made for him. He didn't confirm who the actual writer of it was, but maybe - I know in his previous life he wouldn't plagiarize and he wouldn't take credit for stuff that he didn't write. Maybe when he calls The Grand Falls Advertiser he will let them know who gave him that stuff that he wrote. Because it was very well done and he read it very well.

I'm sure that there are two approaches, the general view and then the detailed view. We will see what happens with the rest of the speakers today.

A couple of things with consistency though. The cry here today, part of the cry, is that we shouldn't be doing this, we shouldn't be offering this opportunity for debate, because everybody gets to speak today if they want - we should instead go to a committee. All of a sudden, just for the members opposite who are here in a shorter term - because there are only, I think, two members opposite now who were here prior to 1993, and those same two were here prior to 1989 when the government changed. This whole idea of a committee, just for the record so that we remember, is a notion that rests and should be credited to this government. Maybe the caucus members on the other side should check with the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition House Leader and ask them about how many committees they had in place when they were the government for seventeen years.

The answer was zero. They didn't have committees going around with legislation. That is a concept and an idea that this government brought in. All of a sudden, every time anything comes up, this group says: Send it off to a committee. They never had a committee. They didn't know how to spell the word for seventeen years, and all of a sudden it is the best thing since white sliced bread. No matter what comes up, don't debate it in the House, don't make a decision about it, send it off to a committee. They must be at least acknowledging that that initiative of the Liberal Government is a very good one, that committees from time to time can be very useful because they never ever had them.

Not only that, there is one other point to that. Not only did they not use committees, in their last couple of years they didn't even use the Legislature. They didn't even come into this place. Now they are saying they want extended debate and they want committees. They didn't open the House and they didn't know what a committee was. Then, all of a sudden they are in here with this indignation, high and righteousness and everything, saying: We have to have some committees.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The minister cannot be allowed to get away with this. I know he is buying time to get the real Government House Leader back here because he has lost control and can't run the House over there; he is out of his element, out of his environment. Doesn't the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation realize that when Leo Barry came up to the House of Assembly and knocked on the door wearing his red shoes that indeed it was for a (inaudible), they call it now. That is what it was, that indeed the House was actually open at that time. Hasn't anyone informed the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation that, and that the House wasn't open for two years is a fallacy, it is not true. Is the minister aware of that? Does he want me to keep talking until the real Government House Leader gets back, to take him off the hook?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If he is having trouble running the House, I will be glad to tell him what we are doing next and how to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: I appreciate the interjection, Mr. Speaker, and I recognize that yes, there was a day or two somewhere in the couple of years at the end when the House did open, but it was a very rare occasion. The point was very well made by Mr. Barry, actually, and very well done, almost as well as when the current Minister of Works, Services and Transportation brought in the water buckets and so on to demonstrate about the leaks and the great treatment that the government of the day, two members over there, still there, Mr. Speaker, gave the Opposition. Here they are, up there in the lap of luxury these days, wonderful office spaces, great accommodations, and the poor old crowd a few years ago had to sit up there in offices with the water pouring down on their heads and they trying to do a day's work.

Another point, Mr. Speaker, about the committees. The members opposite talk about the need for going out to a committee. This whole issue was debated in detail, absolute, total detail a year or more ago, not only in the House but in the whole of the Province, when we were debating the privatization bill. We did do the Electrical Power Control Act. These amendments are here now, as the Premier pointed out, to make sure that it fits and that that act makes sense when there is no privatization, because it was designed for privatization.

Mr. Speaker, there is no point in going back over all that, but what has happened - and this is where I think they should get back to some consistency, because the hon. the member for Baie Verte - White Bay indicates that he is not sure this could lead to privatization, and he is not sure whether it is going to lead to rate increases or not. He does not know, it may or it may not. He should get his act together. Because the Leader of the Opposition, on the first day, ran out of here, called up George MacLaren at 10:30 in the night stating emphatically and without a doubt, the position of the Opposition was that this would indeed lead to huge, massive rate increases, that it couldn't be helped - `it had to be the case, George,' - and tried to make the case in the Legislature again today, Mr. Speaker, that there is no question that the terms in here would definitely lead to some of the points that my good friend, the Member for Grand Falls was trying to read off here today, about this was going to happen and that was going to happen. And all of a sudden, the rates had to go up. And then, the member gets up right after that and says: I don't know if the rates are going up or not. But I tell you, Mr. Speaker, the rates will not go up as a result of Bill 35 being passed; it is not possible, Mr. Speaker, it cannot happen.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on a point of order.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is getting on with the same nonsense as his leader, the Premier. Of course, the minister is simply parroting the Premier. I ask the minister to tell us the amount of the unfunded liability for the Hydro Pension Plan. How much unfunded liability is going to be loaded onto rates over the next fifteen years under this bill, I ask the minister?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. minister.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I appreciate the interjection and I am sure that the questions will be asked again in an appropriate forum, in a Question Period, and she will get the answers.

The other issue, Mr. Speaker, right away, that same evening on the Night Line - because I happened to be out driving between my district and Gander and heard the show on the radio, and it was a great bit of entertainment because it kept me awake. I was watching for the moose and checking to see if there was any black ice on the highway, and I heard the Leader of the Opposition on with George. George thanked her, of course, for calling in and getting us up to date and, of course, Sue came on right after, so I did get it right. There was one caller in between. And oh, yes, `Lynn' was on, and whatever `Lynn' said, `George', you know, that was alright; `the rates are going to go right through the roof, the people of Newfoundland have to watch out for this, this is the ruination of the Province,' and this was the position taken.

Now, the member gets up today and says, Well, I can't really tell whether or not the rates are going to go up. I don't know if it will lead to privatization. The Leader of the Opposition was on, with Sue back as backup, saying: `Oh, yes, this is just another go at privatization, George - you needn't worry, that is what it is,' and sure enough, in one fell swoop they try again to get the two bogeymen out there. This group, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition, is not a bit interested, really, in this bill. The reality is, the details of this bill they have no interest in. They figured it was a perfect opportunity to revive again the two great bogeymen: number one, that this government is still trying to privatize Hydro and number two, that it was going to lead to massive rate increases, therefore you have to stop this bill.

Neither of those issues, Mr. Speaker, has anything whatsoever to do with this bill; they know that so they have thrown the two big bogeymen out there again. Now, if the Leader of the Opposition could only get all of the people in the caucus to stick with the same line, then they might have something going for them.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to throw in those couple of comments, I have appreciated the interjections from the members opposite and I look forward to the real leader, the Member for Ferryland, getting up and telling us what it is really all about. Because he has been doing the stuff for most of the others, in any event. So I look forward to an interesting debate, Mr. Speaker, for the rest of the afternoon.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few comments to make relative to the bill and, Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to comment on section 23.

Section 23 of the bill is relative to the Public Tender Act, and in this particular section, section 23 (1) it says that: in the future, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will not be subject to the Public Tender Act. Mr. Speaker, I see no substantive rationale presented for that, and I note that in the Public Tender Act exemptions for July of 1995, there are, I think, altogether, seven exemptions that are listed here to the value of approximately $465,000.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in this particular month, that is just one month's report, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has been exempted from going to public tender to the purchase value of nearly $500,000. At no time during the discussions we have had in the last several days has there been any minister or the Premier draw any reference or give any rationale as to why in the future Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro should be exempted from the Public Tender Act.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will still be owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the government, through the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, will hold the responsibility of assuring that the procedures of governments are carried forward. What possible rationale could there be for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro not to be subject to the Public Tender Act of this Province in the future? For example, and continuing on with the exemptions I was noting just a moment ago, in the October Public Tender Act exemptions, the report submitted by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, again there are four exemptions to the value of $155,000, approximately. Now, Mr. Speaker, just in those two months alone, July and October of 1995, we have nearly $750,000 of exemptions noted.

Is it the case that the government, knowing that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has been in the habit of not abiding by public tender, is now saying to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro through legislation: That is okay. Even though you are owned by the taxpayers of this Province, even though we have responsibility for your overall governance, we are not going to require you in the future to be subject to the public tendering acts of this Province. There is something fundamentally wrong if that is the case. What that says is that if you get enough exemptions, after a while the government will slack off and we won't require groups like Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to be subject to the Public Tender Act.

I also wanted to have a comment relative to section 16. It is a section that is - I guess it really begins as section 15, the Electrical Power Control Act. Section 16 basically gives Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro the possibility, and no doubt they will avail of it, to change the setting and subsidization of rural electricity rates. That means approximately $8 million right at the moment that has to come from somewhere. Eight million dollars which is now not paid by rural users will in future be paid by them. If you aren't going to put the rates up - as the minister just said a few minutes ago - he said there would be no rate increases - you have to ask yourself the question: Where will that $8 million come from? Because if you are not going to put the rates up - and there is only one revenue source for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, that is, the ratepayers. There aren't multiple sources, there is one source of revenue, the people who pay their bills at the end of each month, the ratepayers of the Province. Where will we find that extra $8 million?

If that is the case, then what we are saying is, if it is going to come through increased efficiencies, then Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro must have been a terribly inefficient operation prior to this. If it is that inefficient that you can find $8 million just like that, then one has to ask the question: Why wasn't it done before?

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to change, as I said here, in section 16 - 5.1 - they are going to give direction to the board, and they are going to cancel the rural rates, one has to ask oneself why and how the corporation is going to be able to absorb an $8 million loss.

Likewise, we have the situation relative to the pension changes. Again, that is contained in section 18. In this particular case basically what it is saying is that in the future the employees of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro would be moving out of the government money purchase plan and that, of course, they would form their own particular pension plan.

Mr. Speaker, of itself, that is not a bad idea. It is a good idea. It is a positive thing to be able to move this group of Hydro employees out of the government plan into their own plan; however, in giving them this independence there has to be a financial consequence. And the consequence to the Province over, I think it is fifteen years that is mentioned, is that there has to again be some way in which the unfunded liability can be transferred from the Province, the government money purchase plan, over to the Hydro money purchase plan, or the Hydro pension plan.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ask ourselves the question: What amount of money are we talking about in terms of an unfunded liability? When this is transferred from the government money purchase plan over to the Hydro purchase plan, what is the amount of unfunded liability? Where will that money come from?

Now, there is nothing magical about pension plans, nothing at all. It is money that is taken in, shared by the employees and the employers, and at some point, after some years of investment, the employees get the money back in their retiring years. If Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is going to take over responsibility for administration of its own plan - and I am certainly not against that - all I am saying is that when you do that, recognize that there are financial consequences to it. That means that there have to be dollar values attached to it, and when you attach those dollar values, someone has to say: Where will the extra money come from?

Is that $5 million, $10 million, $20 million? How much is the unfunded liability in the Hydro pension plan going to be? We do not know. Nobody has said how much this change will mean in the pension plan. We know that it is going to be amortized over fifteen years, but what are the implications for 1996, and so on and so forth?

Mr. Speaker, again we repeat our statement. The minister rose a few moments ago and said that there would be no financial consequences that would result in increased rates. Well, if there is only one ratepayer and we are going to take on financial responsibilities that we do not now have, therefore, we have to ask: Where will the money come from? And there is only one source of money - it is the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, on those two issues, on the issue of the withdrawal of the rural subsidization to the tune of about $8 million annually on the transfer to the pension plan from the Government Money Purchase to the Hydro Money Purchase Plan. We haven't been given the actual cost of that. What the minister would have us believe it that he is going to be able to get all of that through efficiencies.

I recognize there is nothing in this particular piece of legislation that will direct Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to go to the Public Utilities Board and argue for more money. But if we have a situation where we are going to have increased expenditures and we are going to say that we have to have an adequate return to the investors, because the bottom line is that the investors are not going to be willing to take reduced earnings, we have to say to ourselves: Where will the extra money come from? There is only one place for it to come from, and that is from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, how much will all of this mean? Frankly, I do not know how much it will all mean, but I do know where the consequences will rest. They will rest with the ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who will find themselves having to either have reductions in services, which is not going to happen, or they will have to pay more for the services that they receive. These are some of the questions that we, on this side, wanted to ask. We wanted to ask very precise questions as to what the implications were and because of closure we haven't been able to ask these.

I wanted to comment on the procedures for a few moments. Someone has said that between 1949 and 1989 closure was used in this House, over that forty-year period, three times, on three separate occasions. While some members say: Well, the House wasn't open, or whatever, I remember many occasions coming here in the late 1950s and 1960s when the House was open. While there may have been times when the House should have been open more than it was, for the most part the House on average over the years has been open somewhere between seventy and ninety days. There well might have been times when it was less than that, but that would be about average. Over that forty years closure was used only on three or four occasions, yet we have had closure used that many times in this autumn session. That is what has led to some of the animosity, some of the conflict, and some of the boisterous debate in the last few days.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are very tolerant people but there is one thing about them: they like to be informed. And I give this government credit for adopting the committee system. In fact, I give them credit for having brought that in. It is a good system. But it is only going to be valuable as long as it is made to work. In this particular instance, I want to refer to instances just on today's Order Paper where there is recognition of the committee system. For example, An Act Respecting The Investigation Of Fatalities was referred to the Social Services Committee. That Committee met on two separate occasions. It advertised for people who might be interested to make presentations. We had several meetings in which members of the public representing the legal community, the medical community, representing hospital boards, these people were invited to come in and make representation. On this particular bill we have today there has been no invitation whatsoever for any kind of committee review because as the Premier said this morning: I would like to have this ready for January 1, so that when the new chairman takes over Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro he can have it fresh on his desk and begin his new appointment with this particular empowerment in place and ready for him to act on.

Likewise, Mr. Speaker, we had an act to amend the Leaseholds in St. John's Act which was referred to the Social Services Committee on November 30 and again an opportunity was made for public input. The same thing happened to an Act to Revise the Law Respecting Limitations, again there were advertisements that went out and the legal community responded. We had meetings with the officials of the various departments, particularly the Department of Justice and there were suggestions made, explanations given and the list goes on and on. We had an act respecting standards of conduct for many elected public office holders, again it was referred to a committee of the House. The same thing applies to Bill No. 43 because the government said this afternoon that they are prepared to have hearings on an act to amend the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act.

Mr. Speaker, the precedent of this government is that when they get what we might call - not always minor but they get certain pieces of legislation they will say let's give it to a committee. When we have a substantive piece of legislation, like in Bill 35, with all the questions not answered about the affects of dropping the rural subsidization clause and the issues relative to public tendering, the implications for the changes in the pension plan and the questions as to whether or not all this will result in increased rates we do not have that referred to the public for any comment whatsoever.

My complaint is not with the process that the government initiated some years ago but it is with their selective following of that process when they have certain pieces of legislation. Again, I compliment them on establishing the process but I say to the Minister of Justice that there has to be consistency in the approach. I agree with him, the committee system is a very good system to use. I have used it for many, many years and it works. It irons out a lot of the wrinkles that might be in the legislation. It obviously let's the public know what is going on and it is a process that is to be commended. As I say, I have used it extensively and it works. However, you have to be careful that you don't use it one day on something that you think should be referred and then another day when you have a piece of legislation, like we have now, then we say no, no, no, we are afraid or there is no need. Yet, when people say yes we would like to have public input we say no you can only have public input if we perceive that this is not a controversial thing.

So I say, Mr. Speaker, on those matters, the issues I have raised here today, the reasons why Newfoundland Hydro would be exempted from public tender legislation is the fact that it has not been referred to a committee, the implications of the change in the pension arrangements, these are all issues that will have impact on rates.

While the minister who spoke before me said that he doesn't believe it, and I take him at his word, the Premier, in speaking on CBC on last Wednesday evening, which would be December 13, said - and I quote from the transcript from Here And Now - "This has nothing to do with power rates, no direct impact on power rates." That was his statement.

I would like to believe -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. HODDER: I would like to believe the Premier is correct. However, if I could just conclude my statement, I have great doubt about whether or not all of the provisions of this particular bill can be implemented without direct impact on the rate payers of this Province.

I thank you very much.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to say a few words on Bill 35 and the closure motion. From my perspective, the tactics of this administration with respect to this and other bills are nothing less than deplorable, disgusting, disheartening and shameful. I would almost go so far as to say it is conniving and devious, but I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, if those words are parliamentary or not, so I will not use them in describing what is happening with respect to this bill and other bills of this government.

Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, this administration is making a mockery of the democratic process. From 1949 to 1989 the closure motion was brought in three times, and this government has brought it in three times in this sitting alone. If that is not downright abuse of power and a symbol of arrogance, I don't know what is.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has asked for public hearings with respect to Bill 35 but this administration has refused to go along with public hearings on the bill. Now, the mining tax act which was brought in today, the government has said they will go to committee on that. Why won't they go to committee with respect to the hydro bill, Bill 35? Because, simply put, they don't want to give the people of this Province time to mount an opposition to this bill. The last time they tried to put similar legislation through, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province got up in arms and they got enough time to mount an opposition. This time they are trying to force it through just before Christmas so that the people of the Province will not have time to mount an opposition.

I personally believe that this is the first major step towards the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. What can happen in the future, Mr. Speaker, is that the ministers, who will be the shareholders, can have meetings. If the government needs money a year or two down the road, what they will do is have a shareholders' meeting and decide to sell off a number of shares to whomever; we do not know, Mr. Speaker. That is what can happen.

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation over there, I doubt if he ever read the bill, Mr. Speaker, I doubt it very much.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Sit down and figure it out, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

The Premier says - and I am not sure if I am quoting him word for word - he has no intention of privatizing Hydro at this time, Mr. Speaker, until the majority of the people of the Province want Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to be privatized. Now, we have to be very careful with the words the Premier says, because he can twist things around pretty quickly. He says, `at this time' and `until the majority of people want it.' What I am saying is that if by some stretch of the imagination that I can't comprehend, after the next provincial election if the they happen to form the government, which I doubt very much by any stretch of the imagination, the Premier will take that as a mandate to privatize Hydro; so that is where he is coming from. He says 'at this point in time'.

Then again, why should we believe the Premier, and why should the people of the Province believe the Premier? If you look at his record, if you look at the record of the Premier of this Province, and it goes back to - as a matter of fact, I will be honest. When the Premier ran for the leadership, I don't think he had any competition; he just walked into it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay.

When he won it I had high hopes. I wasn't in politics at the time and I had high hopes for the Premier. I really thought he could do something for the Province. I honestly believed that until I saw his actions with respect to Meech Lake. Then I started to have my worries; I guarantee you that.

With respect to Meech Lake, I think he made three promises that he would either go for a referendum in the Province; one province could not decide the fate of the whole country. He backed off on that. Then he said he would - yes, if it came down to only one Province making the decision for the whole country, that 500,000 people couldn't make a decision for 26 or 27 million people, and he backed off on that. Then he said the least he could do was bring it to the House of Assembly for a vote, and what happened? No vote; one man made the decision for the whole country. That is when I started to become disillusioned with the Premier of this Province.

Then we talked about amalgamation. Now I am talking about the record of this Premier and the honesty of the Premier. Then, from Meech Lake he jumped to amalgamation. I was a mayor at the time, and what he said was this: There will be no amalgamation of any municipalities that do not want it. And what did we see happen to Wedgewood Park? What did we see happen to Kilbride? He said, if the towns did not want it they would not have it. What happened? The only place that applied, from my memory, is in his own district. The Goulds was forced to amalgamate.

Now we jump from that to the unions. Now we are talking about the history of this administration. He went out and signed contracts with unions. Two days later he broke the contracts with the unions. Now if that is not an act of bad faith, what is? The Premier of this Province, the government of this Province, that is who did it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation over there is known now in the public as the wing nut, so if the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wants to get on his feet and support this legislation, let him get up and say what he has to say, but don't be interrupting people when they are saying something that 90 per cent of the crowd over there believes in, but 90 per cent of them are afraid to stand on their feet and say it.

MR. EFFORD: There is only one nut in this (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: And that is the wing nut sitting down there. Yes, sirree; that is the wing nut sitting right there. You are the one known as the wing nut, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, not me.

The other big situation in the Province, this Premier stood in this House of Assembly and made a statement with respect to the reform on education in this Province. He stood in his place and said that he would not be going for a constitutional amendment, before the last election - just before the last election - and what happened? Just after he got elected he started bringing in educational reform, went for a constitutional amendment, went to the public, and here we are today. What happened? He was told that he would not get the resolution through the House of Commons this fall on education. He was told by everybody on this side of the House that he would actually delay educational reform in this Province, and what has he done? He has delayed educational reform as far down the road, maybe, as 1997, because of the tunnel vision and 'my way or no way'. That is what happened to the Premier of this Province.

Now there is other stuff too. Why I am saying this now is because he is talking about not privatizing Hydro, and why we should or should not believe the man. I remember when the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I should say to you, listen. I told you before that there are members on that side of the House who have, well, to put it politely, not a high opinion of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to try and be diplomatic. I will tell you now what the people over there think of you.

Shortly after the wing nut thing came into place around the Province, and how you are referred to as the wing nut, I got a note sent over to me - and I don't name the person because I'm sure he would try and have him fired.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would.

MR. J. BYRNE: You would, there is no doubt about that. Even though he is elected by the people in his district you would try to have him fired, I'm sure of that. So I would never name the man. Here is what he says. This is it now, talking about your policies with respect to 0.05 per cent and the car inspections not being required any more. He says: Mr. Byrne - that is John, `Primus,' according to the Minister of Justice. He says: John Efford -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, the writing is not that plain so it might take a bit of time. Okay? John Efford plans to implement a new policy having cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, and if it works, one year later he will have the trucks go over to the left-hand side too. That is something like you would do. That is about as much planning now that you put into things, I would say.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Just from time to time - it is getting too much lately, I suggest to the Chair, that hon. members opposite are calling ministers and members on this side by their first names, full names. I think that is inappropriate and I think the Chair should rule on it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern speaking to that point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: It is not acceptable under any circumstances for any hon. member of this House to be referred to by name. Members must (inaudible) -

AN HON. MEMBER: Send a note to the Premier, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Members must always be referred to by the district they represent or by the ministry that they are responsible for.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I did not refer to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation as the wing nut. If that is his first name, I'm not sure. I made a statement that the people of the Province are referring to him as the wing nut. I didn't refer to him as John Efford, I was just reading from a note that was sent to me. I always refer to him as the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. At least, I always try to.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, that is all I can do. Mr. Speaker, the other point I was going to make with respect to this Premier and this government, this Administration campaigned on opening hospital beds in this Province. What happened? What do we see the Minister of Health doing these days? He isn't only closing hospital beds, he isn't only losing wheelchairs, right, left and centre, he is going to close down hospitals all over the Province after this Administration went out spending $40 million more, or planning on spending $40 million more, for three hospitals than they should have spent, paying off their buddies. Why should the people of this Province trust this Administration, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Fogo on a point of order.

MR. TULK: I recognize that the rules of relevancy for this House are somewhat broad and that they are usually interpreted in that fashion. But I would like for somebody to explain to me, Mr. Speaker, just what the health care service in this Province has to do with the present bill before the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern is speaking to that -

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if the -

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

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern is speaking to the point of order?

MR. J. BYRNE: Sure, I will speak to the point of order. As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order. But in the meantime, if he is looking for relevancy -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. member speaking to the point of order?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has been - Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Wake up over there, I say to you.

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

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern has been recognized.

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

I say to you, wake up. The relevancy is this, what the government is planning on doing with privatizing Hydro, is to get more money out of Hydro to help balance the Budget as they did last year when they took $20 million and another $2.9 million which is $22.9 million and they are cutting the hospitals right, left and centre to try and get money to pay for things that they don't know what they are at, so do you understand now?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, you have it figured out. Now I know the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is not too bright. The other day he admitted he used a wrong - misunderstood twice -

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

The Chair would like to rule that there is no point of order, it was just an -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members took advantage of the opportunity for further clarification.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, I think I cleared it up for the Member for Fogo.

MR. HEWLETT: Chased him out.

MR. J. BYRNE: Chased him out, he is gone I know. He does not like to be proven wrong twice in one day.

Anyway, with respect to hospitals, Mr. Speaker, as I said, he is not only closing hospital beds and losing wheelchairs (inaudible), Mr. Speaker, but he is letting people go, frontline workers are being let go. For example, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board came in last week with a statement. This is all connected together, the finances of the Province, it is all hooked together. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board came in last week and made a statement that 400 people are being let go from this Province just before Christmas, the Grinch, the Scrooge or whatever the case may be and the RNC down there, the RNC -

AN HON. MEMBER: His job is gone.

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: His job is gone.

MR. J. BYRNE: The RNC, Mr. Speaker, let ten people go. The statement he made - being a very few frontline workers go and it is all feeding down through the system. The RNC letting four administrators go, two superintendents or lieutenants and an inspector, four going out the door with $300,000 and we have ten constables being let go to pay for the four administrators who are going, Mr. Speaker, is downright ludicrous and to say that the people of this Province are being treated fairly and the frontline workers are not being let go, is downright disgraceful.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this administration, this government led by the Premier of this Province and his lieutenant there, the Minister of Justice, campaigned on creating jobs in this Province. Now, how many jobs have they created, Mr. Speaker? One of the boys put the motion forward and the Member for LaPoile saying that they have potential with the EDGE legislation of creating 600 jobs, and he ups and fires 400, so now we have a potential of 200 jobs created after spending maybe $100,000,000. Whoop-de-doo, Mr. Speaker, whoop-de-doo for this administration.

Now, with respect to this bill itself, Bill 35, the Premier -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the bill itself, Bill 35 will transfer $8 million and there will be no rate increase according to the Premier and according to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and according to a few more on that side of the House who had the nerve to get up. I think the Member for Pleasantville made a statement to the media that this will increase rates to the public of this Province and there is no, if, ands, or buts about that, it will, it will increase the rates.

They will be transferring $8 million from the industrial users to the domestic consumers. Now, $8 million, where is that coming from? Is it going to drop out of the sky? Is it going to flow over Churchill Falls from out of the blue? No. It is going to be passed on to the consumers; there will be $8 million passed on to the consumers of this Province, the Premier can say what he wants on that issue but that is the bottom line.

The bill will also transfer responsibility of the Hydro employees pension plan from the government to Hydro. Now, how much money are we talking here, Mr. Speaker, $10 million, $20 million, $100 million, $200 million? We don't know, we haven't been given the figure. That is going to be transferred to the people of this Province also, so therefore that will be an increase. Now, we don't even know how much that will be, Mr. Speaker, at this point in time.

The bill will also require the Public Utilities Board to use different accounting methods for Hydro's costs, Mr. Speaker. So what is happening here is they will use a different method than they are using now to write down the assets. They may be written down in two, three or five years, but it will certainly be speeded up. Therefore, there will be another increase to the taxpayers of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the people on that side of the House like to get up and rant and roar and say nothing. The one I get the most amusement from is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. He stood up today and he said he was going to take five minutes and he went nineteen minutes. I said to him at that time, he can't say hello in five minutes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: How long will it take you to say goodbye?

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Justice, I will say goodbye now shortly.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation gets on his feet and tries to come across as being very sincere. When he is not being nasty, he tries to be very sincere. Well, at least he tries to be sincere, but that fellow right there, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, as I say, can't say hello in five minutes. When he is asked a question in the House of Assembly, he gets up and goes on and on and on, Mr. Speaker, and you can almost fall asleep.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: You shouldn't ask for relevancy from me all the time because there are people on that side of the House who get on their feet and go on and on and don't have any relevancy. Talk to that man right there about relevancy. He is wicked!

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: A minute.

MR. J. BYRNE: One minute. Oh my! This went pretty quick.

Mr. Speaker, I must say, I enjoyed this little do.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Justice, I hope it looks a bit better than the one on your shoulders.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your time.

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

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, other than drivel - there are other things I have heard from this minister over the century he has been here in this hon. House. Well, it seems that long, I should say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) out of the House, did he?

MR. CAREEN: I have seen it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: There is no need. This House belongs to the people, I say to the Member for Eagle River, it doesn't belong to him. It doesn't belong to me or anybody else, it belongs to the people out there in this Province. If you can get a dust of sense between now and the time this place closes, I would say it will be a vast improvement from what I have seen over the last two years.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 35, the Premier said, is minor. He said it was minor, very minor.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack Minor, Bill Minor.

MR. CAREEN: He must think that we have all gone underground. The

Premier said there will be no direct rate increases. The people of this Province know the difference.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you believe him?

MR. CAREEN: No, nor would I believe the fellow who was trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't his to sell, I say Mr. Speaker, no more than it is the Premier's right to get rid of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: It does. You are putting it dangerously close, within a hairs breath of privatizing. Since I have been here in the spring of '93, they have tried a merger with Fortis, that was tried first. Secondly, they tried privatization and now they are back to commercialize Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) going to commercialize, privatize.

MR. CAREEN: He is echoing what he heard his leader say. There are always henchmen, Mr. Speaker, to follow what some of their leaders say. A classic case was Henry II of England who was having trouble with Thomas Becket. Two of Henry II's henchmen heard him say, `Will someone rid me of this man?' So the henchmen went out and murdered Thomas Becket because the henchmen figured that is what the leader wanted. We have henchmen over on the opposite side, Mr. Speaker, to the left of you who will do anything in anticipation of what the leader wants and that is what it all boils down to, what the leader wants. The leader, Mr. Wells, was in his seat yesterday when he said, in answer to a question from here, he still believes in the privatization of Hydro. He has not changed his mind no matter what the people in this Province say. He remains steadfast in his determination to privatize Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is not a minor bill with some amendments at all. It has far reaching affects for the consumers of this Province. The bill makes changes regarding the rural subsidy. It changes the way the Public Utilities Board calculates Hydro's rates. It also transfers costs associated with the employees pension plan and it changes the way the Public Utilities Board calculates Hydro's costs. Now someone said that it is not going to increase. We are told that it is not going to have an affect on the people out there in the Province, the consumer. How can it be? I would like to know how can this not have an affect on the people of this Province? The answers from across, Mr. Speaker, have not quelled those questions. They have not dampened the desire I have to get it settled or any other member over here or other people out there in this Province that the idea of Hydro will have to go the same way as Newfoundland Light and Power to the Public Utilities Board when the cap can be risen from 7 per cent to 13 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: It will be capped at 7?

AN HON. MEMBER: Or maybe.

MR. CAREEN: Or maybe. Now there are to many `or maybes' I say to the hon. minister.

MR. MURPHY: The sky is falling, chicken little.

MR. CAREEN: No, no, not chicken little. I have seen too many perhaps and too many maybes here to be settled with just that, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. No, when in doubt throw it out. When in doubt say no and I have my doubts about the intentions of this government. I have serious doubts about this Premier. The people of this Province know better.

If you have to get money - and we all know we have hard times. I can argue and I can support - we all know it is hard times, but I can't support you, government, when you don't knock Ottawa. It can do what it likes. It would be better if you were more honest and said to the people: We are going to increase, put a tax up front, then to come in through the back door. Always better to do stuff man fashion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CAREEN: It has been better to do stuff man fashion -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, the rabble opposite think they have hinged on a word but they have not. They are on rusty hinges, I say. Because it is a term, and a very good term is man fashion. Not to try to be hypocritical, not to be hypocritical and to use these more pleasant terms that you grow cat out of skin now today to try and say. Be honest, I say, and be honest on Bill No. 13. You are no more honest on Bill No. 13 than some of the cackles that are coming from across the way this afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I would like to hear the minister apologize again. He apologized twice last week over what was going on. The Cabinet made him back down over the Bell Island ferry.

MR. EFFORD: I was man enough to apologize!

MR. CAREEN: You weren't man enough, you were frightened, you were cowered into it, you were afraid you were going to lose the ministry again. You thought you might have to go back to the back benches and then find your stomach where you left it a couple of years ago.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, there are times in this House of Assembly when hon. members get to speak and they get taken out of context from what they said. But the hon. member opposite knows full well the comment that he made to this House of Assembly and how it impacts on other members in this House of Assembly. If any decency (inaudible) the House he should apologize for the comment that he made.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair said that it was no point of order. The Chair doesn't rule whether it was a sexist remark or not.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, this is getting up for Christmas, this is December 15. I thought all the nuts had fallen from the trees by the end of October, but they are hanging on for a longer length this year. Like this government. They are hanging by a thread themselves. Before they leave they are going to do what their Leader wants them to do, the man who accommodated some of these people in the front benches, by privatizing Hydro. They are willing to do anything at the dictates of their Leader. Closure evoked after only four speakers spoke the other day. Wednesday, brought it in again. Jackboot policies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I was to a funeral this morning, Mr. Speaker. An uncle of mine by marriage, a war veteran -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: You have no respect for war veterans either do you, I say to the Member for Fogo? I was to the funeral this morning of a war veteran.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I will tell you what I am getting at. This man played his part during the last war, when people were not allowed to speak in some countries. They were trying to put what they wanted over on other countries of this world.

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

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

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman just clearly made a remark which somehow reflects upon my respect for people who have served this country in World Wars and otherwise. Let me say to him that my respect for people who have served this country is as great as his.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Neither am I a sexist who comes in here and refers to the male sex as the dominant gender.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member took the opportunity to clarify a point.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, if that is all the Member for Fogo has to say, it is no more than what he said in this past couple of years since I have been here, another fellow who follows in the dictates of what his leader says. It is too bad he never followed more dictates; then probably he would have been in the front benches instead of hanging up on the back benches.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CAREEN: The leader of our party can hold her own with any of them. She can hold her own with any of them, needs no apology, knows where a person comes from.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Social Services cackling over on the other side.

This bill has far-reaching effects on the people of this Province. The Premier said it is minor. The hon. Minister of Natural Resources got up, and while he was delivering it kept his head down. You should keep your head down, I say to the hon. minister. This has too many far-reaching effects on the people of this Province, and none of you care?

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. CAREEN: None of you care? Rush it out, get out for Christmas, get it all over; let Fortis have its way, or others who can invest eventually when it comes to selling off shares. Who is going to invest?

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

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When I hear sexist remarks like that I have to question it. We have this gentleman over here in the Opposition referring to, what is it, man -

AN HON. MEMBER: Man fashion.

MS YOUNG: Man fashion, man fashion. There is no gender sensitivity on that side, absolutely none, and I am quite surprised that he would use that kind of language, recognizing that the leader of that party is a woman, and she would not even recognize the fact that he was being gender insensitive. She was the champion of all the women of this Province, and to ignore that and to laugh at it, I think, is certainly inappropriate, and I don't think it says much for that party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no point of order. The Minister of Social Services is unable to intelligently defend Bill 35. She has remained in her seat throughout this short debate. Now she is trying to deflect attention, along with her mischief-making colleagues, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

My colleague, the member for Placentia, made an accurate statement when he accused the Premier of hiding the truth from the people of the Province, of camouflaging the electricity rate increases that will result from the provisions of Bill 35. When he said the Premier is not courageous enough to reveal the truth about this bill, he was referring to the Premier's gender. That is all the member did.

Now, I say to the Minister of Social Services, if she can't add anything more of substance to the debate about Hydro and about electricity rate increases -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: - I would suggest that she pack it in and go home early.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The Chair is going to rule on the point of order. There is no point of order.

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

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

MS YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, when the Opposition House Leader tells me to go back and sit on my nest of eggs, I think that is certainly a sexist remark, and I want it on the record. Because that is what that party is all about. They don't defend the rights of women in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Old red rooster! Old red rooster!

MS YOUNG: He didn't guard the eggs.

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

There is no point of order. There is a debate going on in what constitutes sexist language, and the Chair is not in a position to rule on whether language is sexist or not. It may be in our new rule book which might come out in another fifty years time, but it is not presently part of the rule book.

The hon. member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, you see the Liberals over there, they are like sitting hens. The only difference between the Liberals and a sitting hen is that a sitting hen is more productive; more productive, I say.

Anyway, this is the third time they have tried with Hydro. They will force it through, they will get their way. The people of the Province have more problems now than you can shake a stick at, and they will, Mr. Speaker, unless something drastic happens in the next few days, get their way; their way, the government's, thirty-four members of the government. Thirty-four people will get their way over the people of this Province. I say, it is a shame. I say, it is a dirty rotten shame.

MR. ROBERTS: A dirty rotten shame?

MR. CAREEN: Yes, rotten, sleazy. We are going to be led down the road, Churchill Falls, the Lower Churchill, will be repeated. Brinco's history - will we see the Rothschilds' shadows on the wall here next week? We will see you having seances to get back some of the people who sold her out. They have got to do the same thing, because if you don't mind history, I say to the Minister of Social Services, if you don't pay attention history will repeat itself.

MR. AYLWARD: Are you telling us we have to build an ark?

MR. CAREEN: Yes. I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the ark had two of every creature, and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, he does very well on twos. Two jobs, two houses, two places of residence.

Mr. Speaker, no fun intended. I believe this is serious. I drove back here today to be here to get a lick in, to say my piece about it being serious. If it wasn't very serious, why would they be invoking closure? Why wouldn't they let the public have a look at it, why wouldn't they put it to a legislative committee here, why wouldn't they give it a bit of time?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Sprung? I wasn't here then.

AN HON. MEMBER: That doesn't change anything.

MR. CAREEN: No, it doesn't. But it changes the thing that I stand for here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) myself.

MR. CAREEN: No, my word. The Public Utilities Board, electrical power act, getting money, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. CAREEN: - in a way that is certainly not appropriate for this House.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, you know, for that rousing reception I got here from both sides of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, if they would listen, and they get a chance to hear what I have to say, I would like to comment on the amendments to amend the new `Clydro' corporation act, the electrical power act and other acts.

I think it is quite an act. The Minister of Natural Resources made a statement that changes are not to privatize but to allow the corporation to operate more efficiently. That would be one of the rationales in bringing in this piece of legislation. I'm sure everybody is aware of the Premier's comments in the media this past while, and this is a transcript of the Premier's comments. The Premier indicated that in an interview, the statement was: It is not even clear yet - that is what the reporter indicated - it is not clear yet what the move will mean for electricity consumers. A number of critics say the changes will let the government take more money from Hydro and from its customers. But once again there are contradictions, and the Premier said: This has nothing to do with power rates, no direct impact on power rates. The Premier indicated.

I say to the Minister of Natural Resources, I am all for efficiencies in running a corporation or business. I would like to know from the minister what aspects under this act are going to put increased efficiencies in place that cannot be put in place under the Hydro Corporation as it stands right now. Can we move to increase efficiencies in administration, efficiencies in eliminating cost, and getting the best return to the shareholders who are the people of this Province? If we would look at efficiencies -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You will get your turn.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) change?

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure. I hate to use my time to hear it, though, but -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) big change (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm getting that, yes, I'm getting these things. When I finish, if there are lots of questions I'm sure the Government House Leader can rise and he can have his say, because I don't know if they are in a generous enough mood today to give me leave beyond twenty minutes, I'm not sure.

There are implications. There are exemptions coming from the Freedom of Information Act, we know that. We know, even though it is going to be totally owned by this government, by the people of this Province, there are exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act that are going to apply. There are exemptions from the Public Tendering Act and when we do get exemptions under the Public Tendering Act there increases the opportunity to have bids that are not as competitive when you remove the public tendering aspect that increases costs to Hydro and costs to any group when they entertain bids or any government, if it is not a competitive tendering process, has the capability to increase costs more so then to reduce costs for the operation of that corporation. That would be one of the down sides in exempting from the Public Tendering Act.

There are other implications there and once again it comes down to a matter of philosophy, whom do you want to pay the rates in this Province? For example, if we are going to look at the elimination of the subsidy program in rural areas - if we want to eliminate a subsidy, which I believe is in the ball park figure of $8 million, I am sure the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The rural subsidy, the rural, in the vicinity of $15 million.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is what I'm talking about, the rural industrial subsidy, roughly $8 million is what I understand it to be. If that is going to be eliminated well it is a matter of shifting your priorities of who is going to pay to maintain the same revenues for the corporation. The people who are the recipients of this subsidy, in those areas, are now going to have to pay basically a higher price. Maybe there are savings to somebody who is now paying more to compensate for that but overall there are people under this aspect who are going to pay in the higher rates. How we rationalize the shifting of rates in the corporation, under the same revenues, can be subject to discussion I know on both sides.

There is another particular area of interest there, the pension plan. We all know now that the public service pension plan has a liability as of December 31, this year of $1,157,000,000 under the pension plan. By setting up a plan under Hydro, the Hydro pension plan, that is going to remove that liability for the people of this Province as people of this Province - there is a debt on the books of this government and it is going to shift that liability, an unfunded liability now, along with the assets that are there into a Hydro pension plan as an option under this bill. So what is going to happen, the unfunded liability - I would like to get the facts in before I get to the political aspect.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Some people have their priorities all mixed up, I say to the Government House Leader. What it is going to do in this case, I say to the minister, is that we are going to then look at recovering the unfunded liabilities in that plan over the next fifteen years which means, where do we go, I say to the minister? Maybe the minister could tell me what the unfunded liability as it applies - and I did not research that - the unfunded liability as it applies to the Hydro employees, the people in the plan, the people who are the recipients of pensions that are drawing from the plan and the future actuarial reviews as to what the actual number is as of December 31. I am sure you know that but if you could just give roughly the figure offhand, what is the unfunded liability that (inaudible) for Hydro employees?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I just wanted the Hydro. No, no all I am asking, I say to the Government House Leader, I think it is a little off the topic that I am talking about. I am just wondering what - maybe the Minister of Natural Resources should be able to answer that - what is the unfunded liability of this $1,157,000,000 unfunded liability in the public service pension plan? What liability is attributable in that to Hydro employees?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: One hundred and twenty-five million?

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty-five million.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, $25 million. In other words, that $25 million unfunded liability, along with the amortization over the next fifteen years, and the recovering of interest thereof that would accrue on that unfunded liability, which is an increase in cost, will be recovered over fifteen years into the expenses of the Hydro Corporation, which means we have to get $25 million over the next fifteen years from the corporation. So that is a figure we are looking at of $25 million now that has to be obtained somewhere by increasing the efficiencies in the operation of Hydro, which is not going to happen now because it cannot possibly achieve it in that manner, so what is going to happen is that we are going to have to increase the rates to consumers in this Province to recoup this $15 million plus accrued interest on the unfunded liability. I say to the minister, that should be - the minister said $25 million. I would assume, minister, over fifteen years we would have to recoup about $60 million or $70 million - over fifteen years - maybe $4 million or $5 million a year, or more, to recover that amount.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, if it is $25 million interest in one year, we are looking at close to $2.5 million on one year's interest. I know if there is a declining amount, with time, I can assure him that basically on that basis it is going to be more. If I had my little guide with me I could tell you very quickly, but I can guarantee you it is over $50 million, if not $70 million, there; it is in that ball park range.

There are a few other aspects, too, and increasing rates, different accounting procedures - well, it could be open to interpretation of how you are going to deal with accounting mechanisms which are in place for reporting your assets and your liabilities. That is something that could be subject to interpretation, but whatever way you look at it there are tens of millions of dollars of implications for increased rates that are going to have to be recovered from the consumers across this Province by virtue of this, and to see how it is going to have no effect upon that is something that I find very, very difficult to be able to understand.

Mr. Speaker, there are numerous implications here. In this pension plan, does that mean this government is going to take the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation now, and they are going to move out the corporation that has arms of that which make money, and we are now going to move the pension plans of these employees out, if you are using the same rationale, make that work more efficiently at arm's length, make them be responsible for the pension plan, increase the rates to tenants, and there are a lot of these in subsidized housing, others are not - they are supposed to be making a small profit in some - the same implications. They are Crown corporations. If you are going to move them away from government, take them out of government hands, put them out to the people who are going to have to pay that price, are we going to have a privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, independent as a Crown agency, even though it has a role to serve in public housing it is also involved in other public housing, and are we going to separate these? There are numerous implications, numerous, numerous implications, that I see in developing on the pension plan aspect that could be applied to other Crown agencies in this Province, and maybe that is the first step in moving it out at arm's length from this government, to work on a commercialized basis, but I cannot see, and as much as I am in favour of companies operating efficiently, I do not see and I have not been told and I don't see anything here to tell me how we are going to improve efficiencies that we can't improve today, how we are going to keep the rates down to consumers by bringing this bill in here. I cannot see how this is going to happen; I have not heard it from the Premier, I have not heard it from the Minister of Natural Resources and I have not heard it from anybody to spell out how that is going to happen.

If it should go to a commercializing move at arm's length, we have to deal with that aspect when it goes to Public Utilities in a competitive environment if you are going to have Hydro operate as an efficient Crown corporation, it must be able to compete in the marketplace and it also must be able to give a rate of return to the shareholders of that corporation on a competitive basis with other competing industries out there today. We are the shareholders, you have the determination to give policy. You can pass on policy and directives, that is here, I am quite aware of that, that you can pass on to that particular utilities board, but what is any different now, I say to minister than if you want to take $20 million now in profits or $20 million in dividends another $2.9 in this latest financial statement, $22.9, ten million more I think, for guaranteeing the debt we are getting?

What they did, and this is a sneaky thing. I said to the Minister of Justice just a couple days ago: You don't see anywhere listed in the revenues of this Province that $20 million that we get in dividends or the ten for guaranteeing (inaudible) it is not in the revenues in this Budget. Where did they put it? They put it in a section under Industrial and Investment Initiatives, Crown Agencies Recoveries. They used it to reduce the expenditures in this Province, to show that we are spending - I will mention this. Here is what you do: My income is not going in this Province it is coming out of the Province therefore it is a liability on this Province and it is a debt.

I am saying the income comes from Hydro, income, that is a liability; you can take it whatever way you want to (inaudible) it is a liability as well as your income is a bigger liability because you have a bigger income so it is still a liability, and if you want to talk about value for what we are getting in the Province, let the voters of the Province determine that, not here in the House of Assembly, but I will say to the minister, in every other instance where we fund programs in this Province, where we spend money and we recover federally, it shows the federal contribution to offset that expenditure and I agree with putting that in the expense line, but this instance here, there is not one penny of identifiable expense to recover that $20 million in dividends and the $2.9 and it should be on the revenue side on this Estimates here in the Budget should be in the revenue there because it makes the government look better. Our expenses are down, $22.9 million less in expenses when in reality, it is $22.9 more in expenses and it should be on the revenue side. It is a little public relations, a little cosmetic job to look like government is cutting their costs when they are not, and that is there in this statement, and if you look at the $10 million for guaranteeing the debt, it is the same way, it is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it wasn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It wasn't. How could he make it there when he never got a dividend until this year? How could he make it? It was only brought in in March so how could he make it five years ago? I know we have a lot of foresight over here on this side and we have a lot of initiative and creativity there, but I am not really sure if we are that far ahead of our time, I say to the minister, but it is wrong. The minister just tried to mislead this House with a statement there, he was in his seat, he is not on the record with something there that this government decided.

He said, the $20 million in dividends is to go into the expense side of the ledger because the Member for Mount Pearl made that recommendation.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Is it? Okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) say anything.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not talking to you.

AN HON. MEMBER: I do that all the time (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not talking about you, the minister, the minister. There is more than one minister. You are not the only minister, you might think you are but you are not. There are other ministers who sit around here too. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I did not. Mr. Speaker, I won't lower myself to calling him names; I don't agree with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't. I said the Minister of Justice about three minutes ago. I said the minister and looked at the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs who made that statement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) blinded (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am not blinded by it. I say to the minister, it is another little bit of your bookwork and trickery here to make the expenses in this Province look better than they really are, that is what I say to the Government House Leader and he does not like that. He does not like that because we happen to know those things over here. Forty minutes left?

MR. ROBERTS: Omnipotent.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all, not omnipotent.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What do you have against people who are drinking stuff not sold in stores?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will tell the Government House Leader that I never drank anything come out of a hard-liquor bottle in my life.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is right.

MR. SULLIVAN: Hard liquor or a beer bottle. There might be some other spirits but not those ones. But the minister is not happy. The minister is -

AN HON. MEMBER: Which minister, which one?

MR. ROBERTS: Exactly.

MR. SULLIVAN: The person who thinks he is the minister for everybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the person, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No I don't, at all, I don't. Some of the points I made there - no I don't profess to be at all. If I have questions I make statements; if you don't agree with them, you stand up and you give the reasons why and I would be willing to hear the reasons why in response to what I have said here and if I don't get them, I assume you don't have any answers. I assume you are wrong and if you come back with them, I will search further and ask questions on other things I want clarified and that is the role of this. The role of this debate here today is to allow people to stand up and ask those questions and make those statements here, and not to move closure after three of the official Opposition had spoken on this bill. The Leader of the Opposition had spoken on the bill, the Member for Kilbride and the Member for Green Bay were the only three of the official Opposition who spoke on this bill, Bill 35, when the Government House Leader stood up in his place and moved closure and I don't think that is proper, I don't think it is acceptable, I don't think it is the way to operate in a democratic society.

We have dealt with in this House, over forty bills that have been tabled in this session and the Government House Leader brings in bills a week before Christmas, The Mineral Tax came in last year that one on the Mineral Tax, now we are back trying to do it right this year. He closed the House on May 31, and I said earlier in this House, this fall, we will never see the bill on the Education Referendum, we will never see it until it goes through the House of Commons and we haven't, and we are not going to see it. They are trying to push things through before Christmas and not give it the due process. All we are asking in bills, is an opportunity to go through these to read them. If we need a couple of days to do research on them, come back and ask sensible questions so we can get answers but it seems like you don't want us to research them; you don't want us to ask questions and give answers and that, and I'm not going to be stymied in the process there. If I want to get answers I will stand up here and I will make every attempt I can to get answers to sensible questions and things I've made relevant to this bill here today. I think we have a right. You have a duty as a member of Cabinet, a member of government, to provide answers to the people and not try to hide them from the people - no wonder they don't have confidence and trust in you from what you have done in the past, I can tell you.

You found out on the Hydro bill how much confidence -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, there are 54 per cent who are dissatisfied with you, that is what it said. More than half of Newfoundlanders don't believe in you. That is what it said. It said there are 54 per cent that don't trust this government, they are dissatisfied and they don't think it is doing a good job. That is what they said in this Province. I can tell you that number will go up higher. There will be more people dissatisfied next month and the month after, and the month after. Because this government has lost the trust of the people in the Province.

That has been repeated. You can look at poll after poll. That level of distrust has been moving. It was 56 per cent and now it is 54 per cent. Very significant. In the last six months the people's satisfaction in this Province, in this government, has been consistently at 54 per cent to 56 per cent. I would say that is not good news for the government. Because it is trying to ram through legislation, forty-some pieces of legislation in this House this fall, when May 31 abruptly it shut this House down and announced there might be an education referendum next day. Later on, on June 27 or whatever, it announced it, had it before school opened, and it hasn't given this House - we had about eighteen days in May of debate in this House, in the spring, since Easter, on bills in this House, and I don't think that is appropriate.

I would say in the past, in the fall of the year, and if you look back over the last several years you will see that most of the important bills it tried to get through this House we didn't see them until a week before Christmas, and then it tried to ram them through in all night sessions. Before it wouldn't filter out to the public, they wouldn't find out about it. It ran out its shop closing act there, it figure it might fly, it might get lost in the Budget shuffle there, it might try this one now, divert attention away from the Budget to get it there. But the public put that to an end very quickly. They said: We are not going to be pushed around any more on this shop closing act, we will take it out of there.

Even though the minister wouldn't admit it, the Government House Leader pretty well said it won't be called here in this House, and it is now an accepted fact that we aren't going to see it. You know he said it off the record, he made reference to it, he didn't say it officially.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I thought he related what he said off the record in the House today. He didn't make a definitive statement to my knowledge. Hansard will show it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: If I'm wrong I will apologize. I will stand to be corrected if I'm wrong but he made reference.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SULLIVAN: I can wrap up in twenty minutes if I could get leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I have a few remarks I would like to make on this bill. I've always been concerned about the running of Newfoundland Hydro and the Newfoundland Light and Power Corporation because of the lack of reliability that is out there in the service. I'm going to say a few words about that in a few moments.

On this particular bill, which doesn't deal with that, we have had assurances now from the Premier and from others that this bill does not lead to privatization. As I read it I see it does not lead to privatization. That is my view as well. But I will tell you this, that you and I will hold the Premier to that commitment. We will. That is the commitment that he made. I've heard it and we will hold him to it. There is no privatization as a result of this bill. Alright, I will accept that. We have the commitment.

There has also been the opinion expressed on the other side of the House and developed by the last speaker and others that this may, over time, result in rate increases. It has been suggested on this side of the House that that is not the view of government. I expect that somebody on the government side will probably deal with that issue in some detail, I hope, particularly with respect to the pension issue and matters of that sort so that we will all be reassured that it would not necessarily lead to rate increases. The government has a way, as you read this, of setting various rates of capitalization and indebtedness which can have an affect on increases.

I am concerned about these two companies. I am concerned with the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro - we were able, last week, to take $2.7 million of unexpected profits from that and take it into general revenue. At the same time, as soon as the wind goes over twenty miles an hour people lose their services around this Province. It bothers me very much because the profits of Hydro, a large part of it, should be ploughed back into making the system better. Similarly in this city, part of which I represent, the same thing is true and we depend upon electricity. It is not Hydro, it is Newfoundland Light which makes a tremendous profit. It is all dragged out of the Province or almost all of it and goes off. Yet, when the wind blows a bit up she goes, everything is shut down, people are cold, they cannot cook their food, they cannot wash their clothes, they cannot put the radio on, no television and nowadays you might even lose the stuff that is on your computer if you are not smart enough to save it every few minutes.

So what we have here is a monopoly situation providing an essential social service, a service that is just as essential as the Department of Social Services or any other part. It is an essential social service without any competition and it has to be regulated. It has to provide a reliable service. It is my view that these two corporations are not providing an appropriate level of reliability as far as their service is concerned and it is a matter of very grave concern to the people in my district. I believe that we have to govern these two companies in a more effective way and effectiveness does not mean just the bottom line, it means that too, you don't want to waste money but you want to put the money to improve the service that the people are getting and it is my view that the service is not there.

I am also concerned with the fact that if you don't pay your bill or cannot pay your bill with Newfoundland Light and if you go over a couple of months in arrears they will send somebody down and haul the plug. Now that is something for an essential social service which people must have. It is almost as essential as the air we breath or the water we drink and yet they will pull the plug on some people. Not only that, one time we had the Department of Social Services that would go in and step in but they don't step in any more. So it is a very great burden on many people that I represent. I always have to be phoning up Newfoundland Light and they are very nice about it and try to make some arrangements but they do send the guy around to pull the plug. That is what happens all the time. I would like to see that these companies are more appropriately regulated so that - and I don't know if the Public Utilities Board is the right one to do it or not. If it is their responsibility then someone should jolly well take hold of them and make them live up to their responsibility which is to provide a reliable service that does not go out as soon as the wind gets a little high. We are living in a high wind place.

Another problem that we mentioned, we had our public meeting the other night and in that public meeting the deputy fire chief made this comment that there was a fire in downtown St. John's some time ago and somebody was trapped. They could not get the aerial ladder up there because they had to go up through the power lines. If they touched the power lines the firemen would be electrocuted and that is not acceptable in this city. That is not acceptable anywhere. Power lines should be buried, where people are living in great densities. And why should the profits of these corporations be dragged out of this Province - that corporation - and why should the government be able to take out any loose change and put it into general revenue when the service that has to be provided is not appropriately provided?

Mr. Speaker, I don't have any great concerns about this bill. I will accept the assurance that it is not being privatized. I don't think it is; I can see no evidence here. It is treating it more like a private company in the sense that it is going to be more efficient - I don't mind that - and it says there is going to be no rate increase. I would like somebody to address that point on our side because it looks to me that there may not be a rate increase, but if the members opposite are right, they are right; I don't know, but we have a mechanism for control.

I am going to vote for the bill, but I am going to watch out and see what happens.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to have a few moments to debate, in essence, the closure motion as brought forward by the Government House Leader. I have a few words on the implications of the closure motion, but more importantly the implications of Bill 35 to the people of the Province, particularly the rate payers of the Province.

I listened with great interest to the Member for St. John's Centre. He made some very good points and outlined some very grave concerns that he has for both himself and his constituents, which is what every member in this House should do. At least then you cannot be accused of not bringing forward the concerns, which many members in this House on this issue and others have not done over the last few years. They have sat in their seats and been silent, and let the Premier and the Cabinet and the ministers ram things through this House that have not been good for their constituents in this Province, that are going to have negative impacts on their constituents. We have seen too much of that.

I just want to talk about a couple of things that convince me that what is happening with Bill 35 indeed is going to increase power rates in this Province. I have to ask the question: Why will Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro be exempt from the Public Tender Act? Why did the Public Tender Act pass through this House and come into effect in this Province? Why was there a need for a Public Tender Act? I think everyone in this House knows the reason for that. Why was it? Was it because there was unfair advantage given to some people in this Province with getting contracts with government departments and government agencies? I suggest the answer is yes; it was because some people were hand-picked for government work. That is why it was brought in. The other reason it was brought in is that it is obvious that if you have a public tendering system where you have a number of companies or agencies bidding for contracts it becomes competitive and the price for that work will go down. Now those are the two basic reasons why we have a Public Tender Act in this Province. One is to make the playing field level so that contractors or companies are not hand-picked by the government to do government work, and the other is to make it competitive so it consequently brings the price down where it is competitive and everyone has a fair chance. It reduces the burden on the taxpayer. Now that is the reason for the Public Tender Act. Why, in this bill, is Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro being exempt from the Public Tender Act?

MR. SULLIVAN: It is still owned by us.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It is still owned by the people of the Province, owned publicly by the people of the Province. Why, I ask members opposite, mainly ministers, why are you exempting Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro from the Public Tender Act? Why?

I am sure the minister will try to explain.

MR. ROBERTS: Good reason for it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, I am sure there is. I am sure if there is anyone who knows there is a good reason for it, it is the Government House Leader. There is no doubt the Government House Leader knows why there is a reason for it. That is what I am afraid of, I say to the Government House Leader, that there is a reason for it, and I think - I don't think; I know - that by exempting Hydro from the Public Tender Act, is going to drive up the cost of supplies to Hydro and work to Hydro, and who, in the end is going to pay for that? You and I, the people in the gallery, the people out and about this Province.

MR. ROBERTS: The people in the gallery (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, there are some there. I consider them to be people I say to the Government House Leader. Now he might look but I consider them to be real people. They are real people I say to him, real people.

MR. ROBERTS: Of course they are real people.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am not surprised they are listening to me I say to the Government House Leader, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets up that they may leave.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) is listening, he is not understanding but he is listening.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it is more than that, I say to the Government House Leader; he talks too much and doesn't listen. They are listening to me but when he gets up they are going to leave, I say to him.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is one concern I have. It is a very legitimate concern.

MR. ROBERTS: I agree with him. There is a proper (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Proper, Mr. Speaker? The Government House Leader's definition of proper quite often differs from my definition of proper, I say to him.

MR. ROBERTS: Well when my colleague gets up he will (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He will attempt to satisfy my concerns.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) satisfy the hon. gentleman.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, he might, he might.

Exemption from Freedom of Information, why? Why should an agency of the Crown -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A monopoly? Is that why it should be exempt?

MR. ROBERTS: Well why should it not be exempt?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Precisely, but, just think: what kind of businesses and agencies in this Province are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Tender Act? Are they public agencies owned by the people of the Province? No, Mr. Speaker, private enterprises. Private enterprises are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Tender Act, I say to members opposite.

Now, I think we are getting close.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Close to closing.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, we are getting close to closing too, thank God. The unfunded liability in the pension fund; there you can argue -

MR. SULLIVAN: It will take about $50 million to pay back the 25 million over fifteen years.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - about $50 million to pay back the $15 million -

MR. SULLIVAN: Or, the $25 million.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - sorry, the $25 million over fifteen years. Now, that is right out of the mortgage book, is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Straight out of the book with some minor adjustments, $25 million over fifteen years -

MR. GRIMES: Put that book away for goodness sakes.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I can understand the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation not wanting to refer to the book because he will get some facts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Fifty million, where is the $50 million coming from, I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation? From the Cabot Corporation? Cabot Corporation is going to give up their $7 million or $8 million? ERC, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, possibility. Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, the great gift to the Province from the employment insurance program that is going to throw so much money now into the Province we are going to smother, we are going to have to beat it off now, all that money coming into the Province from the new unemployment insurance fund. Going to beat it off. We are going to be buried under it like a big feather bed. Is it going to come from there? No.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Atlantic Accord.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Atlantic Accord. Yes, possibility. Where is it coming from?

AN HON. MEMBER: The pickle factory.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The pickle factory. It is going to come from the pickle factory. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if only the people had a little pickle now to spread over their roads in some cases, I would say, we would be a lot better off about this Province. A little pickle to melt the ice so we don't have as much black ice and unattended roads in this Province as we now have. But that is another problem for another day. Daily. That is a problem pretty daily now this time of year.

Where is the $50 million going to come from, Mr. Speaker? Whether it is spread over ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, twenty-five years, where is it going to come from? Is it going to grow on a money tree?

AN HON. MEMBER: On the cucumber tree.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: On the cucumber tree. That is the minister's best defence, Mr. Speaker, the old cucumber tree. Let me say to him that this is another cucumber tree. The people of this Province are going to pay for it dearly. The money has to come from somewhere. Where is it going to come from? You and I and the people in the gallery and the people out and about this Province are going to pay for it on their power bills. That is where it is going to come from, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. He seems surprised. I'm not surprised that he is surprised.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I'm going through this now step by step, very basically.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you realize (inaudible)?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Let me say to the minister: Two Sprungs don't make one Sprung right. I don't know if he understands that now.

AN HON. MEMBER: This is not a Sprung.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, we are getting down to it in dollars and cents now. Fifty million dollars over fifteen years to take care of the unfunded liability. Twenty-five million dollars over fifteen years Premier, I say to you. It is going to amount to about $50 million that has to be found somewhere. Okay? Fifty million dollars, approximately, that has to be found somewhere. Okay?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Taxes and revenues from somewhere. But where does that come from? Does that come from Ottawa by way of the money boat or the money train? Perhaps we should go out and watch the Money Train movie, I don't know. Perhaps then it will finally sink in if I go and see the Money Train.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I'm not going to give you one second. You are trying to get yourself in a bigger pickle than you are already in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Twenty five million dollars. Well. These are my arguments, these are concerns I have, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to at least express my concerns about this bill. That is all I'm doing. I'm not making light of it. I'm expressing the concerns because they are real concerns for me. I would be derelict in my duties if I didn't express them, if I didn't tell the Premier and the ministers and everyone else what my concerns were, and I'm sorry that I'm keeping the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation up. I'm sorry I'm keeping you awake. But yes, for a change it is nice to see that he is awake. I'm not saying he is alert, but at least he is awake.

I think I have raised some serious concerns and some serious questions, I really do. My worst fear is that the people in the district of Grand Bank are going to end up paying for it. Many of them cannot afford their light bills now. I mean, the member for St. John's Centre talked about people getting cut off notices and being left in the cold. Well, if my concerns are real, how many more are going to be left like that? I am sure we all have to deal with it, call up the social services offices and beg them to get the thing reconnected. As the member said, they won't do any more, or very few of them. They are very reluctant to deal with it.

I thought all of us here could identify with the real problems in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I am convinced that there are those amongst us who really can't, maybe because they have never had to deal with these problems or live with the problems, I would say. Maybe that is it, maybe there are those here who have never had to live in those situations or never had to go about trying to find solutions for people in those situations, but I have. I know people who have been cold. I know single mothers who haven't had milk for their babies; I do. I have never been blessed with money, but when I knew a baby was hungry, I would go and buy the milk and give it to the mother. But you can't afford to get light bills that are in arrears paid up, because they won't reconnect them unless the arrears are paid, unless there is some arrangement made with the minister's office, Social Services.

Those are the real problems out and about this Province, and I don't want to see any more of them, I don't want to see the problems increased. I am afraid that what we are doing here is certainly going to increase those problems, by a corporation that is very profitable, that is owned by the people of this Province and is very, very profitable, that is getting a good return from the people of this Province but, at the same time, meeting its very important mandate which is to provide that utility to the people of this Province at a reasonable rate, so that you don't bury them in the process. I am concerned that what we are doing here will reverse the mandate and won't protect the people of this Province who own it. In one, two, three, four or five years we are going to see a selling off of shares in blocks, 200,000 shares next year, another 250,000 shares the next year.

MR. TOBIN: Privatized.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It will be privatized, and who is going to be able to afford to buy the shares, I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation? It certainly won't be me. Maybe it will be the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why couldn't you buy some shares?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, some. It depends on the price of them. Perhaps I won't be able to buy any, depending on the price, but there is one thing I do know, that Fortis who owns Newfoundland Light will certainly be able to buy up 200,000, 250,000 or 500,000 shares. In a period of five years, who will be the majority shareholder of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You've guessed it, that is who it is going to be, not me or the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) by the public utilities.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes! I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I am happy I am not in the minister's position today, because you are going to be left, my worst fear, with all kinds of egg on your face over this.

MS YOUNG: You've got eggs (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I am preoccupied with eggs, I say to the Minister of Social Services, preoccupied with eggs. I am confused about the time of year, it is Christmas not Easter.

MS YOUNG: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is another story, Mr. Speaker. That is a story for another day, the minister's department and what that encompasses, what the minister is responsible for. I won't get into that now.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) perfect (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I am not perfect, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour. God knows, if there is anybody not perfect, it is me. Every time I look in the mirror in the morning how much I realize I'm not perfect, I tell him. But you see, I'm so imperfect I don't look in there too often, I say to the minister. I think that is part of the problem here, you see. I think the minister has hit on something. That there are those amongst us in this Chamber who - I don't know if they think they are perfect, but they think they know what is best, and they are not willing to listen to others, and they cast it aside. When they set their mind and set their goals and set their sights on something that they are going to get there by hook or by crook.

My belief is that the Premier has been so determined about this, he has been a few years at it now, and he is very determined that he wants to deal with this corporation for whatever reason. He wants to deal with it before he leaves us, before he rides off into the sunset. That is my belief, that he is very determined to do that. He is hell-bent he is going to find a way to get there. That is what this piece of legislation is about, in my view. It won't happen immediately, oh no, I concede that, and the Premier chooses his words very carefully. You know, used the word immediate or direct, but it is going to happen. It mightn't be direct, mightn't be immediate, might be indirect and a little more long term, but it is going to happen, Mr. Speaker. Those are my concerns with this piece of legislation. I hope it doesn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A lot of things going to happen, there is no doubt. I can think of a couple of things, I say to the minister, that are going to happen as sure as I'm standing here. Some of them will be good, a lot of them will be bad.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I think that would be bad. The minister would think it is good. I think - would it be good if I sit down or if I keep speaking?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, I mean, he deserves to be tortured. If I'm torturing the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Mr. Speaker, then I feel good. He deserves to be tortured today.

I can't sit down without making reference to the closure motion brought here again, restricting debate, limiting debate after only four members of the Opposition had spoken. I would say it is unprecedented that we would have a closure motion invoked in this House with only four people having spoken, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. If I were a member of the government I would be concerned about that, I wouldn't be proud of that. Three times since Confederation up to the time of this government taking office the closure motion was used. Three times from 1949 to 1989. Forty years. We use it now three times a week.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is because the Opposition used to be more cooperative back then (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, there was no Opposition back then, I would say, most times back then. The problem is now that there is a real Opposition and the government can't handle that. Because we expose the government, we scrutinize the legislation, we inform the public. That is our role here. If we aren't permitted to scrutinize legislation, if we don't get it in time to be able to scrutinize it ourselves and to outline to the people of this Province the concerns that we have about it, then we are being derelict in our duties, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, then we should not be here.

I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation the person in the Chair, Your Honour will decide when my time is up not the minister. He is starting to get like the Government House Leader now. He was over in his chair for a couple of minutes today and it rubbed off on him. He wants to be a bully now. He wants to bully me down.

AN HON. MEMBER: His district will decide when his time is up.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if we don't do that then we are being derelict. If we don't have the legislation in time to properly scrutinize it, I say to the Government House Leader and the Premier, and point out to the public of the Province the concerns we have about the legislation then we are being derelict and that is all we have done. There are four people on this side of the House who spoke on this piece of legislation but the public has not had a chance to give us any input to say if they see any concerns in the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Why didn't the government put it out to the public, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, just a minute to clue up.

All this would have been avoided if only government had seen fit to put the legislation out, give it a week or two, we are not asking for six months. Give a committee a couple of weeks to let people - if they were interested - come in and give their views on this, to scrutinize it and come in and outline concerns to the committee, that is all we ask for. We seen them do it with three or four other bills here and this bill, in my view, is more far reaching and has more serious implications to the people of the Province then other bills we have sent to committee. Now I am not knocking the bills we sent or the process but why didn't this go? The Government House Leader has agreed now or indicated that he is going to send the mineral tax act to a committee, which I applaud. I support it, I say to the Government House Leader, I applaud that. As a consequence of doing that, you will find that the Opposition will be far more reasonable in dealing with the bill and getting second reading through, I say to the Government House Leader. I hope he is listening to me because quite often what happens here is people get their backs up because they are not given a chance, that's all.

So if you use the process properly, I say to the Government House Leader, you will get a lot more cooperation and we will make a lot more progress here in dealing with government business. That is all we are asking for. We are not against progress. I enjoy it when they report progress and it is real progress. There are times when we report progress here and there is no progress but I enjoy it when we report real progress. I am not an obstructionist just by nature. So that is what irks us on this side, Mr. Speaker, that is what bothers us. That is all we are asking for.

So if only the Premier and the Government House Leader would put this bill out to committee for a couple of weeks, come back in January or whenever and deal with that and the mining tax act then we would be happy and the people of the Province would be happy. The people of the Province then could scrutinize both bills and see if they have problems with both bills. If they don't have any well then we will pass it in short order but if there are concerns and there needs to be amendments to those bills, then let's deal with them. The way this House Leader and this Premier runs this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, it is just hard to take. It is hard to take and we are not going to put up with it. We are not going to be bullied. We will not be bullied even when the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is in the Premier's seat, I tell him. I want to tell him now, I want to give him fair warning -

MR. SULLIVAN: He will never be there, if that meeting materialized in (inaudible) he will never be there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I will tell him now, he will never - you may as well get it through your head now, your ambitious - there is a big meeting in Ottawa today. Half the Cabinet is in Ottawa; the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Education stopped in on his way back from Calgary. Half the Cabinet is up there, Mr. Speaker, but anyway I am a little sidetracked. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation provoked me and I don't want to get sidetracked.

I want to conclude my remarks and say that I have expressed the concerns I have with the bill. I sincerely hope that the concerns I have are not real. I sincerely hope that what we are doing here is the right thing. I am not convinced. There are a lot of people in the Province who are not convinced, and all I would like and ask the Premier and the Government House Leader to do is give the people of the Province a chance to feel comfortable with it, so they can at least feel comfortable, because there has been a fair degree of suspicion aroused about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Premier says wrongly, but I am not convinced of that, either, I say to him. That is all I ask for, and I hope I have outlined the concerns, and I hope the Premier and the Government House Leader are listening to me, that they will put it to a committee and let it go out, and come back and deal with it in January or February, whenever the Government House Leader is going to deal with the Mineral Tax Act, so we can deal with both of it in short order, report progress and have the bills pass.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that I -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we can deal with this one of two ways. I am quite prepared to deal with gentlemen like the hon. Member for Baie Verte - White Bay - I have been here for a long time and I have seen better than him - or we can deal with it seriously. I prefer to take the latter course, because I believe there are some very significant points. I think in particular my friend from Grand Bank made some points.

I anticipate I shall be the last speaker, because there is nobody else, certainly on the other side, who is entitled to speak.

MR. SULLIVAN: I had another question or so, but I didn't get (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I believe the day the hon. gentleman leaves this House, which may be many years from now, he will still have a question, in all likelihood unanswered. I don't argue with him in that at all, and I have no problem in trying to respond to his questions. I will acknowledge that while he does not always get it right, he does his homework, more so than most members on either side of the House, and I don't fault that. When he is wrong he is really wrong, and when he is right he is sometimes really right.

I do want to make a comment on the very intemperate remarks of the gentleman from Mount Pearl who read us a lecture. He was concerned this was somehow an affront to the House. Of course, the hon. gentleman showed us what he thought. I do not see him here for the vote. My understanding is that he had decided that he could - other matters took him elsewhere, no doubt in the public interest, and we will let it go at that, but the sheer hypocrisy of an argument that somehow this was an affront to the House and then the member, having imposed his views on the House for twenty minutes, as he has every right to do, then shows his contempt for everybody else who wishes to speak by simply leaving the House to go off on whatever business he has gone off on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you referring to a member who is not here (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I am referring to a member who is not here, only because the hon. member from Lewisporte - Lewisporte; he will never be an hon. member from Lewisporte - the hon. Member for Mount Pearl did not have the good grace to stay around for the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I have no doubt he had something to do.

Mr. Speaker, let me move on to this suggestion of calling other bills first. We have always said on this we will allow time, and here we are; it is 4:24 p.m. We will take the vote about 4:40 p.m. or 4:45 p.m., and that will be the end of it. It will take that long because I want to deal with one or two of the questions raised by my friend from Grand Bank.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It will be the end of this debate. It may or may not be the end of the matter, but it will be the end of this debate. That is the purpose of closure, to bring the debate to an end so the House can express its view. The matter then moves forward.

The point I wanted to make is that there has never been the least suggestion we would not afford an opportunity to every member to speak at the length of the rule. I must look up when the closure rule was put in, but it certainly wasn't since 1989. It has been there for a long, long time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) before.

MR. ROBERTS: It may have been used less frequently before then, but that - and here I speak with some real knowledge - was because we had a far more responsible Opposition. Instead of the practice we see with the present group where every member (inaudible) - I mean, I can't fault their right to do this - every member feels the urge - and we sit time and time again - to get up and speak for the full half an hour on every bill. That is ballyragging, that is ragging the puck. They have a right to do it, no question, no quarrel.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Standing Orders!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have read Standing Orders. Sometimes I understand them, sometimes I don't. I acknowledge every member has the right to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for Grand Bank, read Standing Orders, and particularly Standing Order 50. What we are doing we have every right to do, and we are doing it according to the rules, and not a rule that we made. The last major revision of the rules of this House was done by Mr. Marshall when he was the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Who wrote Standing Order 50?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, I think so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I appreciate the omniscience and the omnipotence my hon. friend attributes to me. Like him, I will acknowledge this is an attribute of all House Leaders.

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend for Grand Bank, he didn't get a mug from On The Go today. His says: On the gone. Think what I would have got if I had gotten all five right instead of only four out of five.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: There are three points I want to make. The first I think is a very important one but let it be stated on the record. If the government of this Province wishes to sell Hydro it will need, in my opinion as a lawyer - and this is also my belief as a member of the government, and it is also the policy of this government, but let me just give my legal view - it will need legislative authorization to do so. It will not be possible under this bill, it will not be possible under any bill, except a bill comparable to the privatization bill. It doesn't have to be cast in the same form as the privatization bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) with that.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentlemen, whether they agree or - I'm not saying anybody agrees or disagrees, I'm simply recording that we would not be able, if we were minded to sell Hydro - and we are not, that is not our policy, the Premier has made it very clear. It is our belief that we should, but until and unless public support is there it is not going to be done. It cannot be done legally without this House's prior sanction.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend for St. John's East might look at the Hydro act. He will find the answer there in the clause that says Hydro is an agent of Her Majesty.

Let me go on to the next point. I don't want to debate at length. I just recorded it and the hon. and learned gentleman for St. John's East can come to grips with it himself as best he wants, but there we are, you know.

Secondly, Hydro is a statutory corporation. By statute of this House it has a unique status. There are other statutory corporations. Mr. Speaker, that brings us to the question - I want to deal with the public tender act. Somebody, my friend, I believe for Grand Bank, has asked why are we asking the House to exempt Hydro from the public tender act. The answer to that is implicit in the principle of what we intend to do with Hydro. That is, the principle, approved by this House in the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, which says Hydro will be fully regulated, not the way it is now regulated.

It is regulated now by the Cabinet, by Order in Council. The PUB has an advisory capacity. It renders a report to the Cabinet which it may or may not accept. It is up to Cabinet. That is what the legislation says. It goes right back to the Hydro act, possibly to the original Hydro act, but certainly to the present act, which from recollection came in about 1977. I think Leo Barry was the minister of energy and mines at the time who sponsored it. We believe that Hydro should be fully regulated on the same basis as Newfoundland Light and Power or any other utility, any other public utility as that term is defined in the act.

When that happens the regulation is not through the public tender act or through any other act, it is through the Public Utilities Board, which applies proper principles. Hydro will have to come before the board and make its case: Why are its expenses such? Because remember how it works, it has to justify its expenses, because its expenses and its cost of capital taken together give the amount they must earn, and the amount they must earn divided by the amount of energy they produce and sell in the year is the price per kilowatt hour, the rate. That is the basic regulatory scheme. So Hydro will have to come before the board, just as does Light and Power, just as the telephone company does before the CRTC or any regulatory body in the Canadian system - it is uniform throughout Canada, as I understand it - and make its case.

Now, the public tender act may or may not - one can make an argument whether the public tender act actually produces lower costs.

PREMIER WELLS: There is one instance where it didn't, school busing.

MR. ROBERTS: There is at least one where it doesn't, there may be others. School busing is a classic argument, the position we found ourselves in with school busing this year, where by following the public tendering act we have ended up spending an extra $400,000 or $500,000.

PREMIER WELLS: By following the advice of the Auditor General in doing it, it cost us a good deal extra money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It may be an anomaly, you are right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) justify it. It is goods and services that is costing Hydro more and more.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but that begs the question: Why do they cost more because they are not under the public tender act. I mean, the public tender act is not magic. All the public tender act says is, you shall call tenders. Now, if Hydro, Mr. Speaker, attempted to come before the PU Board - the hon. gentleman is maintaining a very untenable proposition - and say: we want $50,000 for glasses and mugs this year, as part of our rate base, and somebody says: hold on now, why do you want so much -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are missing the point.

MR. ROBERTS: No, I am not missing the point, that is the point. If the hon. gentleman wants to go to the real point he should be looking at it is the huge gap in our whole regulatory process of interveners, and that is one we are addressing.

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. lady could just hold on, I can deal with one at a time but I can't deal with all.

The real gap in the regulatory problem is we have no means to test the applicant. We have used a number of methods over the years. We have the consumer advocate, we have on occasion funded the consumers association, on occasion we have funded the municipalities federation, but there has never been any proper testing. The board hires its own experts, which is an interesting process. I have never heard of a board sitting - I mean, it is quite proper and appropriate - but I have never heard of a court, in that context, hiring its own experts. We are trying to figure out the best way to do it, probably to fund some body or group on some rational basis which would be recovered - the money would be recovered as part of the regulatory process because the PU Board is a revenue neutral outfit, it is a user pay outfit, the utilities it regulates are paid for - and then fund them probably so they can test, not simply Hydro but equally test Newfoundland Light or whatever they call it, Newfoundland Power it is called, I believe, these days, and then put them to their proof. When they come in and say we need $5 million for expenses this year, and that includes this and this and this, somebody to cross examine, to question, to test, to give the board the evidence on which they can make their determination. That is the big flaw in the regulatory process now, in my view, not this shibboleth of the public tender act.

MR. HEWLETT: Did you say the public tender act does not bring on competitive bidding?

MR. ROBERTS: I didn't say that, no, I didn't say that, and that is not the point I am addressing. The point I am addressing is, why are we asking the House to exempt Hydro from this - and that is the answer. Now, hon. members may think it is sound or they may think it is not sound, they may accept it or they may not accept it, but I am giving the answer.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me move on. What I am saying is, the utility will just have to justify to the Public Utilities Board, in a public hearing, that it has the lowest possible cost of all of its services, period.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't always get it by public tender.

MR. ROBERTS: No.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) usually you do.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: How do you know?

AN HON. MEMBER: In some instances, yes.

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, let me go on to the final point I want to make because I think it was really the only other point raised by -

MS VERGE: (Inaudible) corruption.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady goes on with nonsense about discouraging corruption. We will talk about the government of which she was a part, if she wishes. Talk about the Sprung thing. If you want to talk about `open to corruption', Mr. Speaker, they spent - don't get me started on that, I have only twenty minutes.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the final point I want to make and that is the question of why we are not going to ask the House to refer this to a committee. There are two reasons. The first is, the matter has been thoroughly hashed out; there is nothing new in this bill. These principles have been debated in this House at great length and, in fact, all we are doing really, is implementing the oft-voiced wish of those on the other side, during the privatization debates last year who said: Make Hydro more efficient, don't sell it. It is our birthright, don't sell it, make it more efficient. Well, that is what this bill does.

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady may think that, she may also think she has the support of her party, when she is no more sound on one than the other.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me go on. There is a second reason. We want to proclaim this act and we cannot proclaim it - we cannot proclaim the Electrical Power Control Act until these amendments are made for the reasons which my friend, the minister gave when he introduced the bill at second reading. These amendments are necessary because the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 was originally written as a companion piece with the Privatization Act.

The Privatization Act is no more. It is legislative history, it has not become law and it will not; therefore, Mr. Speaker, we must address several lacunae in that act, the Electrical Power Control Act, and that is what these amendments do. Now, there is no more to it than this. This is a very minor bill to implement a principle -

MS VERGE: Why are you using the (inaudible) of closure?

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady keeps thinking she is somehow in provincial court cross-examining, I don't know, a bootlegger or a miscreant of some sort. She should realize this is the House of Assembly and we are not acting like junior grade Perry Masons.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back. This is a very minor bill, a very minor piece of legislation applying and implementing principles that have been well debated, thoroughly debated, and are accepted by this House in the legislation. With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill now be read a second time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: How much is the unfunded pension liability?

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Hydro Corporation Act, The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And Other Acts", (Bill No. 35), read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House, on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we have now, in effect, done two days work. I want to thank members for doing it. We have sat since nine this morning until 4:30, that is about two days work, and we would have been out of here at noon today, were it not for certain other events which occurred.

Let me just tell the House where we are. I have spoken to my friend, the Opposition House Leader and my friend, the learned Member for St. John's East, and members may want to know so they can make their plans. We now have four bills at Committee stage: The limitations act - I understand the committee to it will likely deal with that on Monday morning and report it back to the House; the provincial offences act; the mineral impost act; and the Hydro bill, which we just gave second reading and will stand for Committee.

We have three supply bills which will be dealt with in Committee of the Whole. We have had some debate on these. Certainly, there may be something more to be said. We have a pension benefits bill which is a relatively minor piece of legislation, I venture to suggest; and we have the Attorney General bill, which is the usual cleaning up the glitches we have detected in the statutes. It also enacts an age and majority act. It doesn't change the age, it just puts it back into an accessible form.

In addition to that we have four other bills that members may wish to debate at greater length. We have the utility cable tax act which has been distributed; we have the medical act which was distributed today; we have the minerals act, that is the smelting requirement; and we have the mineral tax act which we have indicated we are prepared to refer to a committee if the House reads it a second time. Then we, of course, have third readings on all the legislation. In fact, we have not actually given a bill third reading since we met some forty-odd days ago.

Monday and Tuesday are government days. Hon. members will have to consider whether they wish to use Wednesday for their own motion, which they have a right to do. That would leave Thursday and Friday. My anticipation - and this is not - I'm not wagering; I have been at this long enough to make no wagers - is that with the kind of good-will we have seen latterly today once we got on with it, and without too many pokes by one of us at the other, we will be out of here either Wednesday or thursday of next week.

We are going to ask the House to deal with all these bills. They are all distributed. Some bills are not in the House that will not be distributed. The public accountancy act, we will not be able to get that before the House although it is there for second reading. There are two bills which we have already said we will not call. Those are Bill No. 5, the Works, Services and Transportation amendment act, and the shops closing one which is Bill No. 49, the shops closing amendment act. They will not be dealt with. As far as I know, that deals with all of the bills standing on the Order Paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The finance motions, I referred to, Motion Nos. 1, 2 and 4, these are the supply bills so we will deal with these in Committee of the Whole.

We will probably on Monday ask the House to perhaps deal with the three supply bills and clean those off, and then we might go on to deal maybe with the minerals and mineral tax act if we could take both at one bite. That would leave us Tuesday to deal with other legislative matters and some Committee stages. Then we can either do third readings on the Wednesday, or if Wednesday should not be made available by unanimous consent we will do the third readings on a Thursday. I understand members opposite may wish to move a six-month hoist or some acceptable technique on a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, but if they do, fine, I have no quarrel with that. What I propose to do on third readings, Mr. Speaker, so members will know, is simply start at the bottom of the Order Paper on the third reading category and take them right up through. If a member wishes to move a six-month hoist, for example, on the electoral boundaries bill, it will be the last one to be called because it is the first one on the Order Paper. It stands as Order No. 2. Members can make their plans accordingly.

I anticipate that we will be out of here on Wednesday or Thursday of next week with what is probably - I will have somebody look this up if we get a minute - the most productive legislative session this House has seen in many years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the Premier didn't say that. We will have had - if we end today we have done nothing but we are on the verge, if I may, no pun intended, of achieving really one of the most productive sessions, not only in the quantity of legislation, but in the quality of it. It will have far-reaching and, we believe, beneficial effects. In any event, there is another day for that.

MR. REID: Any nights next week?

MR. ROBERTS: My friend, the Member for Carbonear asks about nights. We may or may not find it necessary to sit a little beyond 5:00 p.m. on Monday or Tuesday. That will depend entirely on how the flow of debate goes. If I can keep my friend from Carbonear off his feet it will go more quickly.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 2:00 p.m.

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