July 24, 1996              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLIII  No. 33


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please!

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health. In view of the recent strikes of the health care workers on the Southern Shore and now Comcare here in the City of St. John's, I would like to ask the minister: Is the government prepared today to announce that it will increase the money it provides for companies whose workers provide home care services to the sick, the elderly, and the disabled in their own homes so that the companies can afford to pay workers reasonable wages for the essential health care services that they provide?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I have no knowledge that government is prepared to announce now, or at any time, anything with respect to the amount of money that we put into those programs to fund them. It is a question that more appropriately, of course, should be directed to the Minister of Finance or the President of Treasury Board. In terms of the issue that caused the strike, it is an issue between an employer and the employees, and that is how the matter is being handled, and that is how government views it should be handled.

The issue is an employer/employee relation issue. We are not the employer. We are the effective funding agency, there is no question about that, but outside of that perimeter the normal process continues to work, we think.

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, if the rules permitted me to I would say that I would gladly ask the questions of the Minister of Finance, but unfortunately, he is not here. I am not allowed to say that so I cannot say it.

Government talks much about its shifting emphasis in health care from institutions back to the community when it comes to planning and financing such a shift. That is where the talks end. When is this government prepared to put its planning and its money where its mouth is by providing adequate funding to the agencies, companies, and workers who are coping with this shift from institution to community that is already well underway?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member is correct in confirming for us, if that was necessary, that the direction generally in health care is to provide more funds and mores services at the community based level and less and less at the institutional level. We reflected that quite clearly in our Budget that was presented in May by the Minister of Finance.

In terms of the health Budget, I should mention it to him that last week I issued, for the benefit of everybody in the Province, a synopsis or an analysis in a press release as to how the health Budget is being expended this year, and he will find if he looks at that - and I am prepared to give it to him on an individual basis - that in terms of percentage adjustments within the health care envelope, we put more money, more extra, newer, more additional money this year into the community-based services and into our community health care boards than we did in any other area of the health care budget. So he is absolutely right in saying that community emphasis is our direction, and I am saying to him that we have confirmed that and demonstrated amply by the way in which we have distributed the Budget this year and the direction will continue to grow in that fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, on a final supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Home care workers employed by private companies funded by the provincial government are receiving significantly less than the health care workers employed directly by the provincial government although they perform the same duties. Why the double standard, Mr. Minister? When will the government increase its funding to these companies so that its workers can be afforded the same rights and privileges as the rest of the people who perform this very important role to the health care service in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Again, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

To the second part of the question: When will we be providing more resources? I can't answer that. The answer to it at the moment is that I have no knowledge of us anticipating being able to do that now or at any time in the future. If that changes, then he will become aware of it like everybody else.

In terms of what is being paid to the home care workers, we acknowledge the level of pay that they are receiving; we know it is not a great amount of money. It is, however, an amount of money that that particular segment of employees within the workforce has been traditionally working at. That is not to say that it is the right rate of pay, but it is the rate of pay that they have been working for and accepting over the past number of years. In terms of the current circumstance where there is a strike ongoing, the matter of wages is one of many matters -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: - is one of many issues which is being dealt with in the employer/employee relationship context.

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

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

My question today if for the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

Many students who are in one, two and three-year training programs and who are being funded in part or in whole by Human Resource Canada, have found themselves in a peculiar position right now in that, some of them who are in a one-year program, who have two years left to go, have been told that they are not sure if the fee-payer program will continue. They are not sure if funding will go beyond the next year even though they negotiated a year ago with the federal department that this would happen. Does the minister have any explanation for this and can he provide any details to the House and to the people affected on this matter?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite has just said it is a federal program so the explanation would have to come from the federal government.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me inform the minister then, that under the new EI, UI rules, under the section that deals with my very question, skills, loans and grants, it specifically says - and I hauled this off the internet last night - that under that section those skills, loans and grants that students now enjoy will become available only with the agreement of the Province or the territory in which you live. So the question I ask the minister then: Are there negotiations ongoing right now with the federal department governing this area which is clearly, according to the federal government documents, in line with your department? Are the negotiations taking place right now regarding this matter and can you enlighten us about those negotiations? Can you tell the students, of which there are several hundred from the calls that I've gotten, who are involved in programs throughout the entire Province, when this matter will be resolved?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, anything to do with skills, loans and grants of the EI reform or the UI reform will be dealt with by the Minister of Education; and if he wishes to put the question to the Minister of Education feel free to do so.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: First of all let me ask the Minister of Education: Do I need to repeat the question? Would you like me to repeat it or would you like to stand up and enlighten us on your views on this subject?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Because the changes affected to the unemployment insurance program and changes to the employment insurance program took place effective July 1 of this year, there were some changes in terms of some of the program headings and some of the qualification criteria. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, because we are now into a negotiation with the federal government about the possibility as it was offered by the federal government and the federal minister, Mr. Young, the minister responsible for human resources development, as to what level and extent any of the provinces would like to assume total provincial control or some increased provincial control over these training programs with the money continuing to come from federal sources - those discussions were ongoing. I was contacted actually, Mr. Speaker, by Minister Young six or seven weeks ago when we were in Ottawa actually with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the New Democratic Party on another matter with respect to education reform. That is when they made that offer public. The discussions are ongoing.

Because on July 1 we obviously knew that many of the provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador, were not going to be ready to enter into any new arrangement, we corresponded with the Federal Government and gave them the authority that they needed to continue expending training dollars for those programs under the old rules and provisions until we agreed to a new arrangement. They have a certain view as to how the skills, grants and loans should apply. There are some areas where this Province and other provinces agree, some areas where we disagree. The discussions are ongoing, and we hope to be in a position to point out and to let the people of the Province know exactly what the new arrangements will be some time later in the fall. But in the interim the Federal Government is actually intending to continue spending from their program funding even though the legal authority for that was to expire on July 1; but we have given the permission from the Province to continue funding programs on the old basis until they are ready for the new programs to be totally implemented.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the answer by the Minister of Education, but the fact of the matter is that what he said is happening is not happening. Right now at the federal departments and outlets of human resources across the Province, when it comes to skills, loans and grants for students who are either returning to a program or just beginning a program, there is no money available. Front-line councillors have been told that the policy coming down emanating from the federal department - they have been told directly to inform clients that there is no money available. Now, there are many students - I repeat, there are many students - who are finding themselves in a bind four weeks away from the commencement of classes. Will the minister look into this matter immediately, and will he ensure, in view of the fact that it is within the Province's jurisdiction, that the students who are involved in the program, who are depending upon being funded, who have already been given the commitment to be funded, that they are given the word from Human Resources Canada immediately and that they can proceed with their courses beginning in the fall? Will be make that commitment today?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is the issue that actually the officials in our department in the advanced education section have been dealing with, because we do understand that there are a number of students who, at this point in time, are very uncertain as to whether or not there will be seat purchases and funding made available on their behalf into the next full regular semester which starts in September.

The group that were funded from a separate fund. I think it was referred to as the consolidated revenue funding. There were some 130 or so students who were funded through a special program. We are trying to make arrangements to transfer them over to one of the ongoing funding bases in HRD, and the discussions are continuing.

We are aware that some of the students are very concerned at this point because they have not been able to get assurances through their local HRD offices that their programs will be funded when they return in September. We have been very aware of that. We are working on that issue. I cannot guarantee that it will happen, but I can guarantee all members in the House that the position and the representation that the Provincial Government is taking is that these people should be funded through one of the program bases through the remainder of the programs that they have already started and entered into.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Premier. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation yesterday tabled in this House Bill No. 19, the Printing Services Act. The government is looking for authority to circumvent the public tender act for as long as agreements are in place with Kodak Canada Incorporated to supply printing services to the government.

Will the Premier confirm figures today in The Evening Telegram which indicate that $1.7 million, nearly half of the money spent by government each year in printing services, is currently awarded to private companies, many of them operating and employing people in this Province? Will he confirm that this bill means that some, and perhaps all of that work, would be taken from those companies and be given to Kodak?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, further details will be dealt with when the bill is introduced for the second and third reading. However, in response to the question that has been asked -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MS BETTNEY: In response to the question that has been asked, the figures that were quoted in The Evening Telegram, in today's paper, indicate that the total cost of printing services for government, including the cost of employees' salaries and benefits, is approximately $3.6 million. Included in that is an amount of $1.7 million, which is the cost of printing services and micrographic services that government contracts out to other businesses, both local and to firms that are not within the Province because the Province does not have the capacity to do all of the work which is requested by government departments, either technically or by capacity.

So, yes, the figures that were quoted are accurate. They reflect a volume of work which is currently being contracted out to the business community, both locally and in other parts of the country. The actual amount that goes to local business from government services of this $1.7 million is approximately $800,000.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier: Why would Kodak Canada be unwilling to compete with other companies for publicly funded work in accordance with the provision of the Public Tender Act? Is it not the whole point of the Public Tender Act to ensure that all companies are treated fairly and that government gets the best possible deal for the public's money? Or is it the government's intention to do what it cannot do under EDGE, and that is to subsidize the company from the public treasury, and moreover, at the expense of existing Newfoundland businesses whose jobs we already value?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am quite happy to answer the question from the Leader of the Opposition. As I said to him when I called him the other day to advise him of the recall of the House, and gave him, as I said we would, on the question of education reform; I mentioned to the Leader of the Opposition at that stage, when I called to advise him of the recall of the House, that we were looking at a bill, as well, with respect to Kodak, I told the Leader of the Opposition then, and I say to him now again today publicly, that the purpose of the bill is to enable the government, to enable the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to enter into negotiations, or to carry on negotiations which are ongoing with Kodak.

Now, there is no agreement with Kodak. There have been -

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I say to the Member for Kilbride that sometimes listening is one of the ways one can acquire more information.

MR. E. BYRNE: I do not need any listening to you, Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) cannot advise me; I can tell you that right now.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, when the member is ready, I will answer the question from his leader.

Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is: Government is currently in negotiations with Kodak. The purpose of the negotiation is to bring, if that is possible, and we do not want to prejudge the outcome of negotiations; it has to be a good deal - this is the question the Leader of the Opposition is raising - for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to bring an international firm to the Province. As part of that process, to have an imaging centre, which is on the cutting edge of technology, located in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a multi-million investment in this Province, and a facility in this Province available nowhere else in Atlantic Canada, or for that matter nowhere else in the eastern part of this country. The purpose is to have that imaging centre, create more jobs in the Province today in the printing industry than currently exist, and to do so in a way that allows us to compete for work that is being done outside the Province. For example, the Federal Government, under the Canada communications group, is about to privatize all of its own printing services. We need in this Province, if it is possible to reach fair terms, a facility and a company with the capacity to compete for all of that federal work, and to do it right here - or a good chunk of it - in Newfoundland and Labrador, and to create jobs in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I want to continue for members, because they asked the question. The negotiation that we are engaged in involves the union involved, involves each of the individual employees involved, all of whom have been consulted and who are being talked to, involves a guarantee for all of the jobs that are currently in place either at Kodak or within government, involves the creation of additional jobs that currently do not exist, and has a component with government out-sourcing its current printing services, both those done by the printing services of government and those done for the moment at the Department of Health, that will result in an amount of work approximate to what is now being done continuing to be out-sourced to private printing operators in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and no net loss of work or jobs. That will happen in addition, we hope, to a good deal with Kodak, and new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, and I hope the Leader of the Opposition will support all of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am about to recognize the Leader of the Opposition. If the other members would like to ask questions, I would recognize them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier gave this House the impression that the jobs are guaranteed. I have spoken with workers as late as this morning, I say to the Premier, and other people, and there is no guarantee of jobs. You just said you had no agreement. How can they give an agreement of jobs when they do not have an agreement?

I ask the Premier: Has the government had formal discussions about this legislation with any of the local companies doing or capable of doing printing, microfilming, or electronic imaging work for the government regarding the impact of such an arrangement on their businesses? If not, is the Premier willing to halt further discussions until such discussions have been conducted?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, the government could do this two ways. The government could go out and enter into a negotiation - and by the way, the only purpose, the only reason for doing this is to try to bring investment and jobs to the Province. Now, the prospect of doing that may upset some members of the House, but it upsets nobody on this side of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: If there is not millions of dollars of new investment in Newfoundland and Labrador, if there is not cutting edge technology in Newfoundland and Labrador, if there is not a capacity to compete and win contracts outside of Newfoundland and Labrador and to service those contracts from Newfoundland and Labrador, we will not be signing any agreement with anybody. But we are not prepared to sit here and say our fiscal situation is difficult, our job situation requires stimulation, and to be buried in negativity. We are going to go out and try to create jobs and attract new investment to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Leader of the Opposition should support the government in that objective instead of being a nay-sayer, a critic, and wrapping himself up in a cocoon of criticism every time he stands on his feet in the House of Assembly!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the few months you have been Premier we have seen over 2,000 people leave this Province, and when you were a minister in the Federal Government we saw 15,000 leave the Province in the past two years, when you were our representative. If that is protecting jobs in this Province - now, this government has shown a disturbing lack of respect for the Public Tender Act. As we have seen quite clearly in documents, exceptions here monthly in this House, not to mention the Trans City affair which has cost taxpayers over $30 million, and the Supreme Court has confirmed that the government has erred, I have great concerns -

AN HON. MEMBER: Question, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am getting to the question, Mr. Speaker. I have great concerns about this latest attempt to contract out our public tendering laws. Why would you want to circumvent the very process that levels the playing fields for companies in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Leader of the Opposition has understood what the basis of this discussion is, and I would ask him to listen for a moment. If government was simply contracting out printing services, I would agree wholeheartedly with the Leader of the Opposition. If what we were asking is that the private sector take care of all our printing, we should make a public tender call, get the cheapest bid, and allow somebody to do all of our printing services, those currently done in-house done outside by whatever firm provided the lowest bid. But that is not the nature of this discussion. What is being discussed here is having a large international firm come and invest millions of dollars in the Province to build a modern state-of-the-art imaging centre which is going to be capable of competing for work right across Canada, those jobs being done in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the nature of the negotiation.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, it is not finished. I say to him, if it is not a good deal it will not be signed. But I equally say to the Leader of the Opposition, and I say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that it is not the job of government simply to manage decline. We have to go out and promote Newfoundland and Labrador, promote our workers, promote our opportunities, bring in new companies, bring in new investment and move the economy forward. That is what we are going to do this summer while you are sitting on the beach thinking of more reasons to be negative about Newfoundland and Labrador! We think we can compete, we think we can win, and we are going to demonstrate it over the weeks ahead!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If Kodak needs to violate the Public Tender Act and have a monopoly on services forever and a day in this Province then they should stay where they are, I say to the Premier, if you have to go outside that act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is reported to have refused to tell The Evening Telegram what percentage of government printing would be contracted out to Kodak, how much the government would hope to save, or why the government would want to forego calling public tenders for such work in the future? Now, she said, and I quote, "That is a level of detail that I just cannot get into right now because they are still subject to negotiations."

Now, I ask the Premier: Is he willing to provide that information to the House today, and if not, do you really expect members of this Legislature to pass legislation in the absence of such fundamental detail, and to give what is in effect a blank cheque to violate the Public Tender Act that is suppose to protect the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let the people of Newfoundland and Labrador note, let the people of the Province of Canada with the highest per capita debt, with the highest taxes in the country, with the highest level of unemployment, let them note that the Leader of the Opposition, without even waiting to see what the outcome of the negotiations is going to be, has just sent a signal right across this country, a signal right across North America, when he says to Kodak: stay where you are, we do not want you in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it is that kind of dog-in-the-manger, negative attitude that has kept us where we are, and it is time we changed and went on a process of trying to attract responsible investment to Newfoundland and Labrador. I say again to the Leader of the Opposition, we are going to say to Kodak in a responsible way the same think we have said to Inco, that if it is a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador we will proceed.

That is why we said during the last election campaign there must be a smelter, there must be a refinery or there will not be a mine. The Leader of the Opposition said: oh, you cannot believe the Liberal government. Well, I say to the Leader of the Opposition that we are going to start all three at once or we will start none, and I vow here we will start all three or we will all vacate this side of the House.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, the same kind of negative attitude was prevalent on the question of trans-shipment. We are going to have a trans-shipment facility in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, some people in this Province put their political agenda ahead of the prospect of success for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I say to the Leader of the Opposition get ready to live with a little success because we are going to have some in the weeks and months ahead.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is why we have a problem in the Province today, Premier. That is why, without public tender, $30 million of taxpayer's money was given away on Trans City. That is why we have the problem, Premier. I am prepared to ask my colleagues to come back and reconvene this House when you have the agreement and we will deal with it then, but we will not give you a blank cheque.

Now, the Premier stated here today already and I would like for him to clarify again - my final question, Mr. Speaker: Has this government given a guarantee to public employees who are working in the printing services that their jobs will be secure after this transfer to Kodak Canada? Will you give that guarantee here today, that all jobs will be secure? They have told me differently, Mr. Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am really surprised at the Leader of the Opposition. He normally is an individual who takes the time to do his homework, prepares himself in advance before coming to the floor of the House, and brings a smidgen of optimism with him on occasion; but today a great big black cloud is chasing him around. He is shattered, he is shaken, he is upset at the prospect that a little good news might creep in in the middle of the good weather we are experiencing at this time of the year.

Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition had done his homework he would know that the collective agreement ensures that all of the workers keep their jobs, and we are going to respect the collective agreement.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not what the question was, so I ask the Premier again: Will you stand and answer yes or no? Have you guaranteed that all these jobs will be guaranteed on the transfer to Kodak and not subject to bumping within the public service? Will they all be guaranteed jobs? Yes or no, I ask the Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I just said to the Leader of the Opposition - and I know this is difficult, I know it causes him to get upset and gets his blood pressure on the rise - I just said to the Leader of the Opposition that we would expect that the majority, and a significant majority of the employees -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Listen to the answer, don't get too excited. A majority of the employees, a very significant majority, would go to work with kodak, would be offered a job with kodak and I think a significant majority would want a job. Those who under the collective agreement do not exercise that option and choose instead to stay with government would have positions within government. Is that clear enough or do we need to write a note and send it across the isle?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question period has expired.

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

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that the rules of the House be followed and I feel it incumbent to raise this point of order. Regardless of what one might think about the questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition, one thing is certain that they were totally out of order. I refer the hon. members to Beauchesne, page 121, clause 409 - which begins on page 120 - and subsection 12, on page 121 of Beauchesne, this is popularly referred to in parliamentary language as the anticipatory rule and it states, "Questions should not anticipate a debate scheduled for the day, but should be reserved for the debate." It is my understanding that this particular question was on the Order Paper today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I find it strange, when one gets up on a Point of Order that hon. members opposite don't like it. What? Do they not want to know the rules of the House? It is important that we all know the rules of the House; these rules are there for a reason, for a very important reason. One of the reasons is to not use up the time of Question Period unnecessarily when there is going to be a debate and the matter can be raised in debate form.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: So, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing can be done about it. I just thought I would do the House a favour and raise the point of order; the questions have been asked obviously. I just want to acquaint members with this particular rule so that we can be governed by it in the future.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: To that point of order, Speaker. I am very much aware of that section, I say to the member. I discussed it with my Caucus this morning. The reason I proceeded with the question today is because it is not what we anticipated. We were informed by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that certain particulars in this bill could not be discussed here in this House. In fact, my office had a call from the minister on Friday and again on Monday from the minister's office. We wanted an opportunity to raise in Question Period what would not be permitted to come to the floor of this House. In fact, if it had to be ruled out of order I had another prepared set of questions. I say to the member, I am very much aware of this, as we all are. It is completely in order, I say to the Speaker, it is completely in order here because anticipated discussion on this was not going to occur by virtue of what the minister had informed us.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point of order that the member raised, a most experienced member in this Chamber has raised, is absolutely correct; but the reality is, Mr. Speaker, so that the public record is clear and in your ruling on this, your own assessment is complete, the notice of this bill was given originally by me directly to the Leader of the Opposition in a courtesy phone call. Secondly, the minister in question had offered to brief the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues or his assigned critic. Mr. Speaker, there is nothing secretive about this. We gave advance notice; I personally gave it. The minister gave it because we wanted to have the opportunity to negotiate a good arrangement for the Province. That has been known from day one. We are quite willing to discuss it in the House, outside the House, to brief the Leader of the Opposition because we want him to share in the prospect of a little good news for a change. It looks like he needs a bit of joy in his life these days.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Now that the Premier has made reference to it, I will state I received a call from the Premier on Thursday with the possibility, he indicated to me and asked me in confidence. I did not even discuss with my colleagues the possibility of this bill coming. I did not know until the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation called my office on Friday to inform me the bill was forthcoming. That is what happened, I say to the Premier. I didn't even inform my colleagues because you asked me in confidence on Thursday morning. We didn't know; it was a possibility it may come, you told me, and you said it may not, but in case it does. The next I knew, I was out of the office and a call came for the minister. Now, those are the facts of the case here. We have every right - the minister indicated to my House Leader, who can speak for himself, that certain particulars of this case could not be discussed - and we have every right as the Opposition in this Province to bring the facts on the floor of the House of Assembly. The House Leader can speak for himself on this matter. I ask the minister too, to stand in her place and speak on this particular matter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier, the last submission.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with leave to respond to this point. The fact of the matter is we are in the middle of a commercial negotiation. If the Leader of the Opposition is saying that every aspect of a negotiation with a private company, every single detail has to be put on the table, that we should negotiate this publicly and in the media with Kodak, the Leader of the Opposition knows that that is not a responsible position for us to take.

The principle of what we are trying to do, the intent of what we are trying to achieve, all of that can be fully discussed in this place or in public, Mr. Speaker, but confidential commercial information cannot be discussed. The Leader of the Opposition knows that, and one day, Mr. Speaker, whenever that might be, if he ever has the opportunity to sit on this side of the House, he will be constrained by the same commercial considerations and I think he knows that.

MR. SPEAKER: I will permit one more submission and that's it.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The difficulty that we have with this particular procedure is not that we were offered a briefing by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation but the conditions which were placed on that particular briefing; and the briefing was offered with certain conditions attached; namely, that certain comments had to be kept in private.

Mr. Speaker, when we are sitting here in this House, we cannot agree as an Opposition that we will go to private meetings and then we will not be able to share that information with our colleagues or indeed in a public forum. Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this House is to get information out and we decided as a caucus today that this was an opportunity for the Premier to answer those questions. The Premier knows he does not always stay after Question Period and we thought today, the head of this government should be held accountable for the intent that this government has; therefore Question Period is designed with that in mind.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think we have exhausted this submission. We are getting now to a debate about conversations and private conversations and what happened in private conversations. My experience in the House is that, there have been cases when we have had major legislation before this House and there have been questions in Question Period on that legislation. Our rules say that we have to look at the precedents of our House and then we would go to others.

The Chair would like to research this further before we rule on it so that we can have a ruling for future considerations. I can't recall, since I have been here, that there has been a ruling on this particular section, and I would like to research it further and do a ruling so that we will have something to guide us in future years.

The hon. Premier I think has leave to revert to Statements by Ministers?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in my place on behalf of - I know I will be joined by other members - but on behalf of all members of the Legislature and indeed on behalf of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to express heartfelt condolences to the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, Yvonne Jones and to her husband Jim. An infant girl, Liza, was born yesterday to Yvonne and Jim and died shortly, Mr. Speaker, after birth.

I know that all members and indeed the people of the Province want to express our very heartfelt condolences to both Yvonne and Jim and to wish them both well in this time of their grieving, and to say to Yvonne that we look forward to her return to the House of Assembly at an appropriate moment.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I too join with the Premier in offering our condolences to Ms Jones, the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, on this unfortunate affair. I guess a very joyful moment initially, and then a moment where her infant child has passed away in a premature case, I understand, of birth in this instance. It is very unfortunate, and our condolences certainly from our caucus go out to Ms Jones in this regard.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to join with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition in offering to the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair and her husband our greatest sympathy. I know most members of the House are parents and all of us, I know, can empathize with the personal anguish and sorrow that she must now feel along with her family. We all grieve along with her and her husband Jim in their loss. I would ask that the Speaker, on behalf of all hon. members of the House, convey to her and her family our sincerest condolences.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to present another petition on the food fishery. I feel I would be remiss if I didn't offer one during these couple of days that the House is open this summer, where I presented so many during the other session.

As a matter of fact, as I spent some time in my district over the last few weeks people continued to say that as the summer went on they feel more strongly than ever as they see indications all over the Province that we should indeed be allowed to have a food fishery, where people can go out and jig ten or twelve fish, or whatever the case might be, for food, and to enjoy that right that they have enjoyed for so many years.

As a matter of fact, just today I received a lengthy letter from the community of Lewisporte that apparently was copied to the minister - I don't know if he received the letter yet - talking about remarks that the minister made in the House with regard to a commercial food fishery and a food fishery. They told me to remind the minister we aren't talking about a commercial fishery where you open up the fishery to all these boats and all the commercial activity that would go with that. We are talking about a simple food fishery.

They said to me, Mr. Speaker, in the letter to try to get that through to the minister, that there is a major difference between a food fishery where you go out and jig a fish to eat and enjoy it, and to let everybody go out with their big boats and long-liners and nets and so on and get fish. It is a simple thing and we shouldn't be making a mountain out of a molehill when we talk about opening the food fishery for a couple of weeks where all these people come back to visit in Newfoundland. During the caplin fishery there were fish on the beaches. I understand there was a picture in The Evening Telegram a little while ago of a big fish that was caught somewhere.

Every community I go to, thirty-three rural communities in my district, every single one I went into talked about how many fish were in the harbour, how many fish were there. They had friends home who wanted to go down and jig a fish. The bay was full of them, they could have rowed out in a dory, as a matter of fact they could have caught them right off their wharf with a casting rod, and still this minister, every time he talks about the food fishery talks about the commercial fishery and how we are going to ruin the stocks if we let somebody go out and jig ten fish. A load of malarkey, Mr. Speaker, is what it is.

It all started with the Premier when he was former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa, when he was going to take on the Spanish he decided he was going to cut the food fishery for Newfoundland too. It was all a show is what it was. The simple truth is that while Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec - to add insult to injury, this year people on the Burin Peninsula, I have gotten calls from there also, would sit on the shores while people from St. Pierre - Miquelon, a foreign country, would smile at the Newfoundlanders sitting on shore and jig fish because they were in St. Pierre - Miquelon waters.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you tell me how that makes sense, where a Minister of Fisheries can stand in his place and say: It is alright for them to jig a fish but Newfoundlanders are different. There is a boundary in those waters and they are different fish. It is foolishness, is what it is. I tell the minister, stop making a mountain out of a molehill, open up a food fishery for a couple of weeks, let people go out and enjoy a tradition they have enjoyed for years, and not discriminate from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and so on.

Last year when I went to Prince Edward Island, a Newfoundlander on a holiday for a week, I could go out and jig a fish, but I couldn't come back to Newfoundland to jig a fish; because apparently, from what the minister was saying, there are boundaries in the waters. The Newfoundland fish swim up so far and see the boundaries and swim back. What a load of foolishness.

Another piece of information that DFO just gave me is that there was a fish off the South Coast of Newfoundland found in the Bering Strait. He must have gone astray, I say to the minister. The truth is that there is enough fish for a food fishery. Stop making such a big deal of it. Deal with the issue of a commercial fishery on a different basis, and let people have the dignity, if their bay is full of fish, to row out, or stand on the wharf, and jig a fish to eat. By the way, besides that point, there are a lot of people in this Province who could use a meal of fish for their families with such times in this Province. A small food fishery, if you just sit back and stop the foolishness that we started with this, making a mountain out of a mole hill, let them jig a measly fish, and let them be happy as Newfoundlanders with the last thing they can do in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to make a few quick comments.

Yesterday we had an announcement, or a couple of days ago we had an announcement, by the Federal Government of Canada that the funding for the TAGS program was about to run out, that the program may be cut short by one year. If all of that comes to reality we will have something like 25,000 or 30,000 people unemployed in this Province. We already have thousands of people unemployed.

The obligation, on behalf of all members in this House of Assembly, would be to conserve what fish we have until we are satisfied that a commercial fishery can be reopened to get people back to work. Once the commercial fishery is open and people are back to work, then we can look at what other things we can put in place.

When I hear the hon. member there talking about fish rolling on the beaches, fish jumping on top of the wharves, and everywhere you go there are codfish, codfish, codfish, it really excites me. Because if that is happening then we know that all of the people who are now coming off TAGS will be back fishing, and all the fish plants that we now have closed will be processing fish, then we can all sit down and be happy, and all of us will get a fish to eat.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Order No. 4, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 4.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated". (Bill No. 19).

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this legislation is to enable government to enter into an agreement which involves contracting its printing, microfilming and electronic imaging services to Kodak Canada Incorporated should government determine that such an agreement serves the best interest of this Province.

The bill which is before you would exclude these services from the provisions of the Public Tender Act for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewal of the agreement. The bill applies only to this agreement with Kodak Canada Incorporated, and only if government concludes the agreement within the next thirty days. Should government decide not to proceed with this agreement, then the provisions of the Public Tender Act will continue to apply to government's printing services as it has in the past.

To explain the need for this particular legislation, it is necessary to provide some background on government's printing services. The printing and micrographic division commenced operations in 1954. It has provided centralized printing and micrographic services to all departments and certain agencies of the Provincial Government. Over the past few years, government has concluded that printing work being done by the private sector is actually more cost-effective than its own internal operation. With this in mind, government decided to contract with a private company to manage the operation of this division. It was expected that an outside management company would be able to improve efficiencies and achieve cost reductions for government.

In June, 1995, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, in accordance with the Public Tender Act, issued a proposal call requesting the services of a management company to oversee the operations of printing services. Government received three proposals, one of which was from Kodak Canada. Kodak subsequently approached government with an economic development proposal which involved the complete contracting out of printing services rather than simply facilities management. Their proposal involved a direct saving to government on its annual printing costs, a significant capital investment by the company, the attraction of new business to the Province, and an increase in employment.

Government officials subsequently invited the remaining companies which had bid on the facilities management proposal to submit new proposals which included a similar economic development component. Given the propitiatory nature of the matter, however, government did not issue another formal call for proposals. The remaining two companies submitted a joint proposal and officials of government then conducted an evaluation to determine which provided the greater overall savings and benefits to the Province.

After careful analysis, government has determined that the Kodak Canada Incorporated proposal offers the greatest potential benefits for the Province and has therefore proceeded to negotiate an agreement on this basis. The agreement with Kodak Canada Incorporated has the potential to provide an alternative method of delivering these government services which increases efficiency and helps develop the economy through partnerships with the private sector. The negotiations are proceeding and should be concluded within the next thirty days. If government is satisfied that this arrangement is good for the Province then it wishes to have the necessary authority to conclude an agreement in this time frame. If, however, government is unable to negotiate a satisfactory agreement within this time frame, then it does not plan to proceed further. In this case, my department would look for other means to improvement efficiency in its printing services. If enacted, the printing services act will enable government to enter into an exclusive arrangement with Kodak Canada Incorporated for the provision of printing, microfilming and electronic imaging services to government for a set time to be negotiated. Should government decide not to proceed with this agreement, then this legislation loses its effect and the normal provisions of the Public Tender Act apply to printing and micrographic services.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request the support of members of the House for this bill. I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I cannot really say, Mr. Speaker, whether I support the bill or whether I do not. I don't really know what is in there. I find it very strange that the bill is not here, the details of what is there. I guess what the minister is doing is probably asking for a rubber stamp. That, Mr. Speaker, I, for one, am certainly not prepared to give. The government has the right to negotiate whatever contracts it so desires. So why can this not follow the same procedure? Why do we again have to circumvent the Public Tender Act forever and a day as it relates to this one particular company? I have had one phone call so far as it relates to this particular bill, asking me exactly what is going on and exactly what the government is trying to do here. I have to say in all honesty, Mr. Speaker, I really could not answer because I really don't know the answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, I am not about to take some members words, Mr. Minister, believe me, I, for one, would like to see all of this. I would like to know the details of this bill before I, for one, would certainly vote to accept it. If it continues on the way that it is I certainly will not vote to support this bill, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, I will do everything in my power - even though we probably do not have the numbers - but everything that I can certainly do to see that this particular bill is defeated. I think it is wrong to come into this House and ask us to rubber stamp on this particular issue.

We have people who work in the department in here who have been doing printing. Some of them have been there for some twenty-odd years and my understanding from some of these people is that they have probably been guaranteed nothing and I mean nothing. They don't really know where they stand. Today, and I hope it is wrong, I have been told that this whole exercise has probably already been decided. I hope again, Mr. Speaker, that that is wrong. The people who work in this particular division of government also have a right to know where they are going. Their lives depend on it. Some of them have given some 20-odd years to working for this government, so I would hope that we would certainly have some care and some concern for these people as it relates to their jobs. These people have families as well, whom they have to support, so I would hope, that before any agreement is entered into, the workers of Newfoundland and Labrador are looked after. I say this, Mr. Speaker, for lots of reasons.

We look at the Newfoundland Dockyard here which is about to close in another few days, putting some 500 people out of work, and the Government of Canada wishes to treat Newfoundlanders differently from the way they treat people in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I wonder why. I really wonder why. Why are we again going to do this to our own people? So, before I would even consider this bill, I, for one, want to make sure that these people's rights, their benefits and everything that is in here is covered and well looked after, Mr. Speaker, well looked after. I cannot, again, for the life of me, understand why there is such a massive rush to get this bill through when the government has the power and the numbers to negotiate with Kodak or with anybody else and come to an agreement, a suitable agreement, and then bring it before this House.

I cannot understand, Mr. Speaker, why the rush. All of a sudden we were going to be called back to debate an Education bill and now, we are into something else, and that bothers me, Mr. Speaker. It makes me wonder why the rush? You know, who are we trying to satisfy here? Are we trying to satisfy Kodak? Are we trying to satisfy the minister? Are we trying to satisfy the House? Are we trying to satisfy the people of this Province? Who are we really trying to satisfy? I would really like to know what is going on in the back room, because it has to be something. There is a rush here to have this passed. You want us in and out in two days, in and out in two days on this particular bill, no debate, no discussion, no nothing, just bring it in, bring it out and we are out of here in two days.

I don't care, Mr. Speaker, if I am here all summer. It matters little to me; but, before I vote for this bill to pass in this House, there have to be a lot of questions answered and the biggest question of all is: Why the rush to have this bill go through within a day; why, all of a sudden do we have to have this, bango, done, delivered? It really bothers me, Mr. Speaker, there is a rush here, almost a hidden agenda, I guess. There is something going on and I think we, as elected representatives of this House, have a right to know.

So, for me, Mr. Speaker, and I will sit down on this note, I want to know more about this bill; I want to know more about the people in this Province, how they are going to be protected and I want to know how the rest of the printers in this Province feel about this bill. I have had one phone call already today and it is not even out there yet. And I am sure when it gets out there, Mr. Speaker, I will have many, many more. So I ask the minister: why the rush, when you do have the right to negotiate, to bring this to a suitable conclusion? Why the rush to have it put through in two days? It amazes me.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to participate in this debate. It is second reading on the legislation to exclude from the Public Tender Act, any agreement or renewal of an agreement with Kodak of Canada that may be negotiated by government within the next thirty days.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the previous speaker, have referred to this legislation as a blank cheque to allow the government to negotiate whatever agreement it wants in the next thirty days. I don't know how anyone on this side of the House could support such a bill. Because we have not been convinced that we should support it, other than the hidden message which is: Trust us, we will only enter in an agreement that we think is best for the people of this Province.

I heard the discussion a little earlier about what knowledge the Leader of the Opposition had or did not have about the bill. I want to say that, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I had a briefing. I do not recall being asked to keep anything confidential. I wasn't asked, so I will tell you everything I learned. It wasn't very much, I tell you, and I left the meeting no more convinced than when I went to it, so you didn't miss much.

What I was told, and I will tell you, was that this deal they are hoping to negotiate has the potential for other business outside the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They couldn't answer a very important question, and maybe the minister will answer it when she closes debate. They couldn't answer a very important question which was: Why here? Why, in Newfoundland and Labrador, of all the places in North America or the world that Kodak could set up their first imaging centre, why are they coming here?

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't want them, do you?

MR. HARRIS: It is not a question of whether we want, it is a question of what do they want, and what are they going to get as a condition of their coming here.

Negotiations, of course, are a two-sided deal. You cannot make a deal unless two people agree. Let us look at the kinds of negotiations we have heard about so far. The employees, what are they being offered? Nobody knows. The employees don't know. I am not sure government knows. I have not heard any grand statements from the minister about performance contracts or performance requirements. The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal was speaking to the Employers Council the other day and thumping and thundering about how the government in its dealings with the economic zone boards was going to have performance contracts to ensure that these economic development zones met the requirements of government in terms of its activities.

I would like to know what standards does this government have in performance contracts for this organization? Do we have, and will we have, guarantees of a level of investment, and for how long? Will we have guarantees of employment for the people they are prepared to offer jobs to? So far what I am told is that the employees have received no answers about what happens to their pensions, what happens to the current obligations that exist for redundancy pay. What about security of employment in this new enterprise if they are offered a job?

It is not there - no answers; lots of questions, but no answers for the employees now, and I would suspect that this government is not going to insist on any answers after they make the contract. The employees will be hived off to Kodak if they take those jobs, and good-bye job security, good-bye any guarantee of contingent work, good-bye probably a collective bargaining relationship. Because this government has not insisted upon legislation, and I doubt very much will insist upon successorship of the collective bargaining regime that is now in place for those workers who are employed by the public service.

They have contractual rights now. They don't have to go, they don't have to leave. They do not have to go to Kodak. And they may be able to keep a job in the public service. But let there be no mistake, if thirty-four employees in government printing services are no longer employed in government printing services, they may keep a job, but I guarantee you, there are going to be thirty-four other people who are gone out the door and gone on the street along with the other hundreds that this government has laid off in the last couple of years. I do not take a lot of comfort from the words of the Premier, when he says that the majority of them, or a significant majority of them, may be offered a job. What kind of job, what kind of security will they have, and what kind of a future will they have?

Mr. Speaker, I do not know a heck of a lot about Kodak Incorporated but I have heard that it is not particularly union-friendly. I do not know the details of that but that is what I hear, and I hear they favour in-house company unions, so-called, as opposed to -

MR. MATTHEWS: More fearmongering.

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Health, the fearmongerer himself over there. He is the man who is presiding over, in his government, a pink ghetto of workers out there working for less than the poverty level wages, doing home care, kicking people out of institutions where they make twice as much money, and he is talking about fearmongering.

Mr. Speaker, we have a track record here with this government already. We already have a track record with this government of having people who formerly worked at $7.00 an hour for Comcare, providing home care services, and they are now paid 25 per cent less, thanks to the level of protection that his government was prepared to give to workers employed with government funds. Mr. Speaker, this is not fearmongering, this is reality, this is the track record of this very government and this minister's department, and the concerns that this minister has.

I would like the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to tell us whether she has a different attitude than the Minister of Health and is prepared to guarantee that in this agreement there will be the kind of protection of employment contracts, security, seniority, and wage rates that these employees deserve? What about successive rights, Mr. Speaker? We do not have it in legislation from the public sector to the private sector. All contracting out is not bad, but contracting out such as in the health care industry which results in the exploitation of women in the health care industry, that is wrong, that is bad, and that cannot be supported.

Mr. Speaker, the workers who are currently employed in conducting this activity ought to have the protection of a collective bargaining agent that they have chosen to represent them. Can the minister assure this House that that kind of protection will be in an agreement with Kodak?

I know the government hopes they are going to enter into an agreement that they think will be fruitful, but I do not have any insurances today other than the bluster and the bluff of the Premier which is similar to that conducted in the election campaign. We have not heard anything here in this House today, or in the briefing sessions, or in any public statements, that would give us a lot of confidence. The potential is a bit tantalizing; there are certain ideas that may have some merit, but if the government wants this House of Assembly, and certainly, this hon. member, to support an exception to the Public Tender Act for an agreement we have never seen, and that we do not even know the broad outlines of, then that is a little bit too much to ask.

Let them negotiate, let them set a deadline for negotiating, and perhaps let the House give the bill second reading, if that is what they want to do, and come back with an agreement for third reading

later on this summer or whenever they want to do it. Go as far as second reading, we can do that today, we are doing it now. Go into Committee and have a debate on the one clause of the bill and leave it on the table. We will come back, Mr. Speaker, and see the deal, see what they have negotiated. They will have their negotiating time frame. Kodak will be aware. They have to make a deal within thirty days or not at all. They will have their ability to have the time limits as a framework for negotiations, although I hate to use that word `framework' but it will certainly be a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It would focus the minds of Kodak, no pun intended, and would allow the government to do whatever hard bargaining it feels it can do, and we will come back and look at the deal. We can all decide whether it is something that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are prepared to accept the Public Tender Act to allow to happen or not. We can all decide whether it is something that is good for this Province, that it is sufficient to do away with the Public Tender Act.

I mean, some of the information that I learned from this briefing session is not about this deal, it is about government printing Services. Right now, about $900,000-worth of government printing services annually goes outside the Province, is done by someone outside the Province. That is not going to change. My question to the minister is: Is that $900,000 also going to be funnelled through Kodak? Are they going to get their cut on that? Are they going to be the broker for that outside business? Is that going to be done in New York now instead of Montreal? Is it going to go outside the country altogether, not just outside the Province? Is that part of the contract? Are they getting all of the government printing services to subcontract to whoever they wish, whatever partners their company may have in the United States, Mexico or somewhere else? Are we going into a situation where this multinational corporation is now going to be a broker of $3 million or so worth of government business? Is there going to be any particular guarantees that this business is not going to go outside, not just the Province, but outside the country?

We are, Mr. Speaker, in an era of free trade, like it or lump it, and mostly we have been lumping it in this country, in this Province. We have been lumping it to the tune of lost jobs. It may be with the use of the fibre optic cables and the high tech, high-end technology business that Kodak would want to do in Newfoundland could be done here just as easily as it could be in Los Angeles or Redwood Valley, California where microsoft operates or anywhere else in the world. It may well be that that business will come here, but it may well be, Mr. Speaker, that other businesses will just as quickly go the other way if all of this business is turned over to Kodak.

So what are we talking about here, Mr. Speaker? Are we talking about passing over all the business to Kodak or just that business that Kodak itself will do or want to do or want to establish its base for? Are they going to be taking a profit off the subcontracting of government work now that goes out, the $1.7 million that is now subcontracted out? A figure the minister used today in the House, $1.7 million-worth of work done outside of government already of the approximately $3 million or $3.1 million of printing work that is being done - currently, that is done outside of government. Why would that be given to a company when the statement is that most of that work will still be done outside or out-source, I think is the word the Premier used today - why give it to them? Are they going to take a profit on that? Is that part of the deal? Is that part of the sweetener for Kodak to give them business that is already properly managed and properly contracted out and giving business locally? Why is that part of the deal? I don't think that question has been answered. In fact, there are so many unanswered questions at this stage that it makes it almost impossible for this bill to be supported.

There is no mention, as I said earlier, of the Minister of Labour being involved in this to ensure that proper provisions are in place to establish the right of the employees to continue to be represented for collective bargaining in the new enterprise. Our legislation is inadequate for that purpose, and the only way to safeguard that is to ensure, in a contract with a company such as Kodak, that they would recognize the bargaining agent for these employees and carry on to negotiate a collective agreement.

I am sure the minister will say that the new company will agree to abide by all laws in the Province with respect to labour relations. Well, they have to do that anyway, but the problem is and the difficulty is that in the area of contracting out, and in the area of contracts generally by government, the provisions of the Labour Relations Act, or the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, or labour relations acts generally, are inadequate to provide a mechanism to follow a contract from the public sector to the private sector, or from one contractor to the other, in the case where there are successive contracts one to the other, and the only way to protect those rights is to actually negotiate them with the person you are dealing with. I do not know, and I do not have at this point confidence that the minister has included that in her negotiations with Kodak.

I do not want to be a complete nay-sayer, because we are all in this Province looking for ways to build on the talents, on the knowledge, on the skills, on the learning of our people, and in the area of information technology we have both a high level of quality work being undertaken right now by a number of different companies that are world leaders in the software technology, and in some cases the hardware technology, in relation to certain specified high technology enterprises. The expertise is here. We have seen the development of unique expertise in the area of nautical mapping done through digital computer-based software. We have seen the development of high tech aviation equipment. We have seen communication systems developed in this Province that are used internationally, and we have on the hardware side not one but two complete, across-the-Province, fibre optic networks that can plug people in this Province into the rest of North America through the latest technology of information transfer.

So we do have some significant interest, involvement and investment as a people already in the high tech field. So one might say this is a natural, and I would like to share the optimism that is expressed by the minister and by the Premier as to this particular enterprise, but until we see the results of the negotiations, until we see what the government is able to negotiate, we will be left with the promise of the Premier which becomes then a self-fulfilling prophecy, that having committed himself as he did today, to Voisey's Bay, mine, mill and smelter, or resign, he now has to deliver or resign. That is what he said today. He has put his government's existence on his ability to ensure that Inco develops a mine, a mill and a smelter.

Well, I guarantee you, Mr. Speaker, that Inco was really glad to hear that; Inco is delighted to hear that because now they know that come hell or high water, they can get a deal, and they can get a better deal after today than they could have gotten yesterday because the Premier has now said that: if I do not get the deal that I want, I will have to resign. So, Mr. Speaker, that is the danger of passing legislation like this, because the Premier then and the government then have to come up with some kind of a deal or have egg on their faces, and it is far more preferable, Mr. Speaker, to have this legislation passed even at second reading and go off, negotiate the deal and come back to this House after the deal is negotiated, come back for third reading, convince the people of this Province, convince the members of the House of Assembly that it is a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador and members on this side of the House and the backbenchers on that side of the House will have an opportunity to judge it on its merits.

What we are being asked to do today is, as was said earlier, to give the government a blank cheque, to ignore the provisions of the Public Tender Act. We know what happens, Mr. Speaker, when this government decides to ignore the provisions of the Public Tender Act. We have a track record - we are not fearmongering about that any more than we are fearmongering about the rights of employees and what is going to happen to them. We are talking about the track record of this government and the predecessor government filled by most of the ministers who are sitting over there now.

When they choose to or have the right to, whether legal or not, ignore the Public Tender Act, watch out, watch out, Mr. Speaker, because there is bound to be losses to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. So if they want to have the support of the members of this House, on behalf of their constituents, to violate or, in this case, make an exception to the Public Tender Act, then they should put the deal on the table of this House and let us have a look at it up front, let us vote on it, let us determine whether it is a good deal for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to voice my opposition to Bill 19 as presented today and while I want to see opportunities in this Province for job creation as much as the Premier wants to see them - I want to see as many jobs in this Province as possible. But it is unfair and it is putting the minister in a difficult situation, I am sure; it puts pressure on the minister to have her department circumvent the Public Tender Act, and to give an exclusive contract that says here in this legislation: for the provision of Printing, Microfilming and Electronic Imaging to the Government of the Province, the Public Tender Act does not apply to the acquisition of Printing, Microfilming and Electronic Imaging by the government of the Province from Kodak Canada Incorporated, during the currency of those agreements or any renewal of those agreements. I mean, renewal of agreements can go on forever, forever, and we have seen some bad agreements we would like to change.

To give an agreement forever, we have seen the Upper Churchill, we would like to turn the clock back on that before 2033; we would like to turn it back in the next less than twenty years. We are going to see electricity for two mils instead of three.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) turn it back today.

MR. SULLIVAN: We would, and there is a way to do it, I have instructed the Minister of Mines and Energy and this House; I have discussed it with people in the legal profession, people in the legal community who called me after I raised that issue, people who worked on theses and in law school and judges. I have had calls and have been approached by people in this category who told me that there is an avenue to get money back on the Upper Churchill and it is called an export tax on electricity. It is in section 92A of the Constitution that was brought in after the water rights reversion act of 1980. It was brought in in 1982 when we repatriated our Constitution here in Canada and there is a provision there. There are three specific sections dealing with our chance to get it back.

I asked them if they would refer it to the lawyers in the Department of Justice or to the Supreme Court for a ruling on our right and they have not done that, on section 92A. I gave background information, I gave a Supreme Court review article. I gave background information to the minister. I did a release with background briefings to the media with all the particulars pertaining to it and the grounds on which we can do that, and they have not acted. Eight hundred million dollars, $900 million, going to Quebec when we get $9 million and $10 million a year. It is an unacceptable procedure, it is a poor agreement.

We have an avenue to do it. The avenue became clear when Saskatchewan lost its Supreme Court case in 1970. Then, under repatriating the Constitution, they gave powers to the provinces under the right to be able to tax the export of their resources, provided -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you believe what you are saying?

MR. SULLIVAN: I certainly do, and I can quote the sections and give you specifics, I say to the minister.

- provided such export tax is not discriminatory among other provinces in Canada. It must be a non-discriminatory tax, which means we cannot charge Quebec more than we can charge Saskatchewan if we sold them power, too. That export tax must be the same.

When you look at the legal agreement the minister talked about that day, and this is very fundamental here to deals, when you look at that particular - the minister failed to look at that. I mean, it is an export tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your advisors must be -

MR. SULLIVAN: It has nothing to do - no.

AN HON. MEMBER: You would need to be smarter than the Supreme Court of Canada (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I say to the minister, that is the problem, the minister doesn't understand. The Supreme Court decision came down in 1984 or 1985, if the minister would listen. The decision was based on a water rights reversion act that was never fully proclaimed, for starters. All parts of it were not proclaimed. There was no reference in the judgement to the 92A of the Constitution because it was enacted after that legislation, after that challenge went to the courts. It was never a part of the decision in that, I say to the minister.

Numerous people in the legal profession have contacted me - judge, lawyers and other people - when they heard that. One person indicated to me - and I spoke to a person from another province: I worked on my thesis, I did special work in that area, I am very interested in that. It is an issue they believe strongly in. All I am asking the government to do is refer it to their legal department, get a decision, or for a reference to the Supreme Court to find out if we have that right. The minister pleaded ignorance to it on two different occasions that I asked this question in the House. That is an important fundamental give-away of $800 million.

What would we do in this Province with $200 million of that a year? When we have just seen a reduction by the Federal Government in the social safety net in this country where from $427 million last year, this year's Budget is only going to give us $340 million under the Canada Health and Social Transfer. It is going down to $230 million in the next three to four years time. It is going to be $230 million, where they are going to set a level there at which it won't go below that. That is what is being said now. Two hundred million dollars to get back in taxation to be able to provide services in this Province? It is essential, it is an opportunity. It could be more depending on what tax is used.

In fact, there is one section - the most limited aspect of section 92A, I tell the minister, the worst scenario if we got the most adverse rulings on each thing there, the worst situation we could do is have to tax our own electricity, which is only one-third of the total production in the Province. We export twice what we use here. Then we could deliver that back in other avenues by breaks in other programs to our people. That is an avenue that is available, I say to the minister, that is a deal that we have a chance to write and the government ignores it.

Now, we have an opportunity here. We have just seen in this Province under Trans City when we took a higher bidder - we didn't take the lowest bidder, we didn't take the preferred bidder, we took a higher bidder. The highest court in this Province, the Supreme Court of Appeal, ruled that we violated the Public Tender Act. What it is costing this Province in long-term financing, the minister is interested, is an extra $30 million from awarding it to a preferred bidder, and more if you award it to a lower bidder. Not only that, in addition, the original agreement before government changed it in the back rooms: We will get all these three facilities for $1 under that lease-back. Now, we have to pay a fair market value that will be in the millions, maybe. (Inaudible) cost $24 million, something, or brick buildings and so on, depreciation is at a lower rate. They are going to have a higher value. It is costing us more millions of dollars.

And they are asking us to trust this government to go out and give a contract for eternity to a company to provide service in this Province? They must think we are crazy, I say to the minister. They must think we are crazy to do that.

I must complement the minister, she is very straightforward and she has been very truthful, I might add, very truthful on this issue and very up front. I appreciate the opportunity for a briefing but I do not want to deal with anything, to be honest with you - the Premier raised it today, I did not. I would not have raised the conversation with him, I would not have raised it with anybody, but the Premier opened `a box' on it today and said he called me and said that legislation would be forthcoming, and that is not factual. I stated here earlier today, he said there was a possibility and he would like me to keep it in confidence, but since he mentioned it I will elaborate on it.

I did not tell anyone. I kept it in confidence. I did not discuss it with my colleagues until the minister called on Friday. I was out in a different part of the Province and I got my office to call back, then there were some mistruths, they weren't accurate - you can call them what you like; there are other unparliamentary names you could call them, but I would not do that. I would not intentionally say anything unparliamentary, I say to the minister. There are things I would like to say to the minister but I will not. When we are back here tomorrow, I may get an opportunity, but overall, it is not the appropriate way to go.

I am sure the minister must feel uncomfortable with violating the Public Tender Act as opposed to a level playing field. The minister said today there is about $800,000 out of that amount of money that is open on the market here. We are depriving companies out around this Province, or in Canada, wherever, from bidding on printing and on microfilm, whatever it might be, to be able to provide at maybe a more cost-efficient price. It is not a matter of whether you privatize the printing process or whether you do not. The minister said it can be done more efficiently by contracting out, but that is not the point here, and if it is, what (inaudible) afraid to hide from other people? If we can contract it out more cheaply, then open it up to everybody. Let everybody bid on it and get a cheaper price. Is that not what we should do? If you were in business, would you not like to get bids?

The point about this bid is that it was not open for proposals. They were unsolicited proposals. There was not a call for proposals on this particular scheme. When they called about managing the printing services - and the minister said in her statement today there were some companies that expressed an interest; and it is only those companies then that were discussed by government to deal with this particular situation. That is wrong.

I would like to see Kodak in the Province here providing jobs, and I would like to see whoever else bid. I think the Premier mentioned another company today. He made reference to another company outside the House that was involved in this discussion, but whoever the companies are, is not the relevant thing to me. The relevant thing is that there is a level playing field for companies doing business in this Province, and you should not do through the back door what you cannot do through the front door. If you cannot qualify under EDGE legislation, or any other company who wants to deal in this Province, if they cannot go out in the marketplace they should not do it by allowing them to break the laws of this Province that we are asked to come in here and make and protect.

That is wrong, and it is costing us dollars, in this Province, valuable dollars, I might add, that could be used in construction, which is almost dried up, $6 million this year. The minister, I am sure, would like to have $56 million to be able to do the roads. The roads in this Province are in a terrible state, and we have siphoned out valuable dollars by waste and poor government decisions that are frustrating our abilities to be able to provide those services.

Anybody who has the gumption to stand up and vote against this bill, I compliment them, because it is a bill that is going to give a carte blanche agreement with one company that can renew the contract forever. You would not do that in private business so why would you want to do it with public money? I am not going to accept anybody up front on an agreement that I do not see - because I have a responsibility as Leader of the Opposition, and our caucus has a responsibility to want to see the facts of this before I make a decision.

I have been out in the business community for twenty years and I have dealt with contracts, some large and some small. I know how it operates, and this is not fair game, I say to the minister. It is not fair game for businesses here in this Province. And in the short while they were aware it was coming out, just since yesterday, there have been some calls to our office. A colleague made reference that he received a call today. And to run it through this Legislature, we are not going to expedite the matter. In fact, we will do all we can to delay the matter, to have it deferred. We will come back and deal with it when we see the agreement and then put it through.

It is fundamentally wrong, it is improper. The same company, by the way - I read an article back in January: Kodak selling copying division, poor earnings; stiff competition cited - in the Wall Street Journal back in January, the same company. They are getting into court photography and other areas. They are trying to get rid of it. There are comments here that it is not profitable; they want to get out of this.

They are up, too, knocking on the door of Premier Savage in Nova Scotia, they are knocking on the door of Frank McKenna, the same particular company, trying to get a better deal. That is what they are doing, and that is factual. That is what they are doing, and I am sure the minister is aware of that, and trying to rush it. I want to get a good deal for this Province. I want to see jobs, but not at the expense of the long-term interest, and costing us more money in the long term, and that is important.

After the House today I am sure - we are dealing with second reading today, or whatever; I am sure the bill is not going to be dealt with today, it is only second reading - I am sure it will give you an opportunity to revisit that and discuss it with your colleagues in Cabinet, what the implications are on this and find out - if you were over here on this side of the House, would you consider that an appropriate action for this government? I am quite sure you would not. If you were the Mayor of Mount Pearl, would you do it? Or any particular town in this Province, or in private business? You would be crazy to do it.

I do not support it. It was not an open bid, it was not an open process even. Even if it had merit, it was not an open process that allowed other companies to partake in this process. This was a closed shop. They were unsolicited bids. There were not proposals called out in the public for this at all, to look at the services.

If you want to get government operating efficiently, deal within the printing divisions. Do not sell out other potential job opportunities. The Premier would not even confirm today - he stated today in the House that the jobs are going to be guaranteed, if you go back and read Hansard. Then I came back a little later and asked: `Will he give that assurance?' He said the majority of jobs are going to be transferred to Kodak.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) significant.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, no, he said `majority' first. Then he said `a significant majority'.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) we expect.

MR. SULLIVAN: We expect. Now, the Premier will not give it because there is no agreement. They have no severance package, they have no pension benefits, they have no guarantees. Some do not have other transferrable skills because their skills are confined to a specific job, and why should it? Even from the job security point of view, it is only one of the many particular issues at stake here. The main thing is the principle of public tendering, the principle of making contracts available to businesses in this Province on an open basis and in a non-discriminatory fashion. It is dictatorial to do otherwise.

Monopolies are not proper unless they are regulated and come under scrutiny like under the Public Utilities Board and Hydro, probably one of the few companies or agencies of government that I would be opposed to privatizing. There are lots of other (inaudible) on their merit. Privatizing could be great. I am a believer in private enterprise, but I am a believer in privatizing aspects on their merit of that specific process. If it is inefficient, if inefficiencies cannot be corrected and delivered as cheaply as in a private enterprise, there is merit - it cannot be done. If not, if it can be done at less cost to the taxpayers - our job, overall, is not to create jobs in the Province; it is not to create jobs.

MR. TULK: What?

MR. SULLIVAN: We would love to do it. We would love to be able to do it. With the dollars we have, our job is to use the taxpayers' money most efficiently to deliver the service that we need here in the Province. That is the role of government.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say to the minister, that is the role of government. We would love to create jobs.

MR. TULK: Can you repeat that again?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, read it in Hansard tomorrow.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister may have a listening problem.

MR. TULK: I just cannot believe what I heard him say.

MR. SULLIVAN: If you cannot, read it.

MR. TULK: What?

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister may have a hearing problem.

MR. TULK: I do not.

MR. SULLIVAN: If you have a reading problem, I will tell you tomorrow, I say to the minister.

MR. TULK: I just cannot believe what I just heard you say.

MR. EFFORD: It is unbelievable.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, sure, definitely, that is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: Premier Wells said (inaudible) that here over and over again.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture gets in the Premier's chair now and wants to act like the Premier. That is what he does. Go back in your seat and the Premier will tell the minister when he is allowed to stand up, I say to the minister. The Premier will let him know when he is allowed to stand up, and we have seen examples of that.

Now, I do not want to get diverted by the diversionary tactics of the minister, because we have something here very, very, fundamental to our system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, minister, it is not the sole role of government to create jobs is it? It is not the role of government to create jobs. How's that? It is the role of government to entice and enhance the business climate in the Province so jobs can be created. I said in the context -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh yes, I said it is not the role of the government to create jobs. We will use the resources that we have here in the Province, and I will repeat it again, we should use the dollars we have to ensure that services are delivered in the most efficient manner in the Province. I said that is one of the roles of government and you can read it again. The minister can read it over and over and it should be on tape, go back and read it. It should be on tape there. I am sure the minister can listen again to the tape and we will give him a copy.

Now, why would you want, I ask the minister, to give a company an upper hand or an advantage over other companies that want to do business here in the Province? Why would you do that with one exclusive company when you did not allow other companies to submit bids? I ask the minister: Have you discussed the implications of this on other companies doing business in the Province? Has there been consultation with other companies doing business in the Province, whatever the companies are? There are lots of printing companies. I know one of the major ones out there -

AN HON. MEMBER: The minister called public proposals. What are you -

MR. SULLIVAN: No, she did not. Ask the minister. I have the minister's statement here. Here is what the minister entered in the House today.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister thinks he is still the Works, Services and Transportation minister, he still thinks he is but the minister who is now the official Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - not the minister who wants to be - stated here today that there were no public proposals and it is in this print that the minister read today.

AN HON. MEMBER: There was none?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there was none. What happened was they wanted to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You can check with the minister. No, here is what happened, I say to the minister -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all. I will quote the minister: `Over the past few years government has concluded that printing work being done by the private sector is more cost-effective than its own internal operation.' I will go on and indicate, `with this in mind, they decided to contract with a private company to manage the operations of the division. It was expected that an outside management company would be able to improve efficiencies and achieve cost reductions for government.' It went on to say, `In June 1995, in accordance with the Public Tender Act, issued a proposal call requesting the services of a management company to oversee the operations of printing services.' Then it went on: `Government received three proposals, one from Kodak Canada, and Kodak subsequently approached government with an economic development proposal which involved the complete contracting out of printing services rather than facilities management.' That is the difference. Then -

MR. EFFORD: And then?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am getting to it. Their proposal involved a direct savings to government on its annual printing costs and so on. Then they went on to say, government officials subsequently invited the remaining companies out of these three - out of these three companies selected the remaining three which had bid on the facility management proposal to include a similar plan. They did not invite anybody else other than someone who was going to run the management, nobody else out in the public. Some people might want to buy it but they might not want to manage it. They might want to do the service. That is not open public proposal. If that is what you call it, I think -

AN HON. MEMBER: No wonder you got in trouble with Trans City.

MR. SULLIVAN: No wonder we had problems. If that is the mentality we are using here in this House to determine proposals, we need to get a definition to redefine what a proposal is. And I say to the minister, here is the next sentence, `Given the propriety nature of the matter, however, government did not issue another formal call for proposals.' That is what is stated here. I asked the minister, is this factual what is here, and she indicated that it is. And they went to proceed (inaudible).

Now, how many people would want to sign an agreement, give approval in the House, without seeing what they are signing?

MR. TULK: We are not.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, you are. Our Legislature is, you are not, the Premier is not, the minister is not, but, this Legislature should not give approval to circumvent the Public Tender Act to reach an agreement when we have not seen it.

MR. TULK: You have a chance to go back to (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) rush to do something (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The only rush you have created here is a rush for people out of this Province since you have been here. That is the rush that we have seen. In the last two years we have seen 17,000 people scramble out of this Province when in 1989 you were elected on a promise to create jobs and bring home every mother's son. Well, there are not too many mothers' sons left in this Province now they are all heading West, I say to the member. The only mother's son who came back is the one who is supposed to be there now where the minister is, he is the only one we have seen come back. That is who we have seen come back, and at the current rate of mismanagement of our finances we are going to see more mothers' sons wanting to get out of this Province because we are going to further encumber and affect people's future to be able to survive here in our Province, and it is those types of deals -

The deal on the Upper Churchill, the Trans City deal and other deals, or whatever the deal is, it doesn't make any difference who made them or what have you, bad deals are bad deals, and why should we enter into something blindly contrary to the Public Tender Act of our Province? You should have known the difference, the Supreme Court told you, the Supreme Court of Appeals told you that already.

And now they are debating - next week they are supposed to let us know if they are going to try it in the Supreme Court of Canada at other millions of dollars cost to the taxpayers. Do they ever know when to quit? Now, can't you admit you are wrong and save us money? Would you fight the case if it were your own personal money, on all these cases and millions of dollars in the courts? No. Because it is taxpayers' money and people don't care.

Sometimes, a fundamental business decision, when you know you can't win, you cut your losses. It is a fundamental business decision; you cut your losses and get out, you don't stay in, and that is a fundamental mistake many governments make. All governments, PC governments, Liberal governments, they do not have the guts to admit: We made a mistake; and they fail to cut their losses, because it is not their own money they are dealing with. And I can tell you, not too many people in business who are spending their own money will start pouring in more money when they know the end of the road is close and near and is in sight; they will not do it, but you will do it with taxpayers' money.

We are not going to be a party -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

MR. EFFORD: Are you speaking from experience?

MR. SULLIVAN: Me?

MR. EFFORD: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I never lost money in business.

MR. EFFORD: I never lost money either.

MR. SULLIVAN: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am speaking from experience.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe I had the foresight to know if a situation arose that - to divert and shift, it is called proper business planning, that is what it is called, proper business planning. I haven't seen any of that planning done by government here in the long term, and that is the sad part about it.

MR. EFFORD: You wouldn't recognize it if you did see it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe I wouldn't but I have survived so far and I can tell you -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is right.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I will tell you how. And I would put anything on the line, on the record, on anything, I can tell the minister: I have nothing I am ashamed of or have a problem with; I feel on any particular thing I have acted in proper faith, and the minister is trying to make various little implications in things that are untrue. It is completely untrue and I would stand on the record at any time I say to the minister and if he wants to debate it any time, I am only too willing to do it.

Now, we are back to an issue here where, the former minister should know what violating the Public Tender Act does to you. We are still waiting on the Minister of Justice to hear on that one, we are still waiting to hear what is going to happen there, and it has cost us a lot of dollars. It cost us tens of millions of dollars, money that this Province could use; $6 million for Transportation this year for roads in the Province, when we are used to seeing $30 million, $40 million and $50 million, except for the Roads for Rail Agreement of over $800 million, the roads in our Province would be in hard shape.

MR. TULK: We would have (inaudible) anyway.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, if it were there or not. We would be in hard shape without it.

MR. TULK: It was there anyway, before the agreement for Roads for Rail was signed. Where were you?

MR. SULLIVAN: What was there?

MR. TULK: The Roads for Rail Agreement that was signed. It was only just (inaudible) we get our money (inaudible) getting for twenty years.

MR. SULLIVAN: There was a lump sum. We would be getting some. We would be getting roads on an ongoing basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: Your government sold out the rail (inaudible)!

MR. SULLIVAN: So do you want it back?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) for them.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you want it back?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: If you want to get into petty politics, so -

MR. TULK: Oh, it is petty politics now? We can talk about Trans City though, and it is not petty politics!

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the Supreme Court has ruled it is not petty politics. The Supreme Court has ruled - the highest court in this Province.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) crook.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) too.

MR. SULLIVAN: No. The highest court in this Province, the Supreme Court of Appeal, has ruled that a government of which you were a part, a member, violated the Public Tender Act. The Supreme Court ruled it, and the Supreme Court of Appeal. Eight hundred million dollars on roads in this Province - we would like to have $1 billion. I said that, thank God, we have that $50-some million a year to spend on federal roads in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, maybe I would have held fast for $1.5 billion instead of $800 million. Maybe it would have been more. But I can tell you - I cannot speak for a party that I wasn't a part of before 1992. I will only speak since 1992, I say to the minister. That is something about our party. None of us were here before 1992! We are all new, I say to the minister.

MR. TULK: Oh yes, you are lily-white!

MR. SULLIVAN: No, we are new.

MR. TULK: You are lily-white. Did you support the PC Party before you got elected?

MR. SULLIVAN: Did I? That is my right.

MR. TULK: Admit it, boy.

MR. SULLIVAN: Support the Party. All of us are new to the House of Assembly. I will stand on my record, not the record of somebody before me. The members here will stand on their record. That is what we should do. Are you going to stand on the record -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) government (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not hold you personally responsible because of Upper Churchill. But I hold people responsible - I will hold you responsible today -

MR. TULK: Do you hold the Premier responsible for Trans City?

MR. SULLIVAN: I hold a good part of -

MR. TULK: Do you hold this minister responsible for Trans City?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, but several members of your Cabinet are, the same Cabinet. I hold you responsible for being a part of Cabinet that is pushing and spending millions of dollars of public money, I say to you. And if this legislation goes through and it is a bad deal, I will hold you responsible as a member of that Cabinet. That is why it is all the more important to look carefully at legislation here in this Province, and what is happening here, I say to the minister.

It is improper for any government of the day to circumvent the Public Tender Act. You are giving an exception to an exclusive monopoly, a contract forever.

MR. TULK: We brought it to this House.

MR. SULLIVAN: You have not brought it to this House. You have not brought the details to this House. You haven't done it. You want thirty days to go out and negotiate a deal and then sign a deal. I might support this if I knew the particulars.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) anyway.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader will have an opportunity to stand and speak his piece on this bill. He has lots of opportunity, instead of having to shout - the person who should be setting the standards of decorum in this House, the Government House Leader, and one who fails to do that. That is who should be doing it. He is lowering the level of decorum in this House, and he is continuing to do it.

MR. TULK: I will follow your example in Question Period today.

MR. SULLIVAN: I consider it very much in order. When I was informed that we weren't able to discuss certain things, I consider it my right to get these out here in the public forum. That is right. That is the right of an Opposition. We are not going to be scared of doing something that we believe is right. I don't care what the consequences are. We are going to support what we think is right.

We were going to call this House back and deal with education reform. We have not seen it yet. We saw it yesterday and I tell the Government House Leader right now -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I tell the Government House Leader right now if he wants education reform, we can adjourn this debate, we can move to education reform and get it out of the way before 5:00 this evening. That is what we will do, and we will give you leave for third reading, which you don't need.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We will do education reform today, I tell the minister, if you want education reform. We did not negotiate on a bill, not on a bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten o'clock tonight.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, we will go until 10:00 p.m. We will go until 2:00 tomorrow morning and you will see. We will go until 2:00 a.m. but we did not tell you we are going to give you this bill, because I tell the Government House Leader right now, you are not going to get this bill today. You are not going to get it today and that's a fact because I don't believe in it. If I could stop it tomorrow and the next day, I would. There will not be leave dealing with third reading on this bill today because it is wrong, it is improper and we are not going to do it. If you want education legislation you call it, get it dealt with it, and we will support it and move it expeditiously. That is what I tell the minister now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I will not. I am entitled to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: No leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will not abuse the time, Mr. Speaker. I will conclude in a minute, Mr. Speaker, with thanks to the government side for allowing it.

On a very serious note, Mr. Speaker, I disagree with this legislation, because it is wrong. It is wrong to circumvent and to give exceptions to a Public Tender Act, not only that would tie a contract in for a year or two, five or ten, but forever, for the continuation of that contract. We have seen in the House instances - I know we did a deal with NLCS, we will call it, when it went to NewTel information solutions -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am allowed now, but I am not going to abuse time. I will wrap up in a minute.

We have seen a deal and I would like to see the results of that. I am certainly not going to give approval to do what we are asked to do here. I will agree to come back to reconvene the House within thirty days. If an agreement is struck within thirty days, I will agree to come back to this House, wherever I am, and deal with it when we see the particulars, and reconvene then. We were asked to reconvene this House to deal with education legislation. It has not even been called by the Government House Leader today as a piece of legislation. Today, I said -

MR. TULK: You know exactly what is going to happen (inaudible). You were informed yesterday and the House was informed, so don't (inaudible) on that.

MR. SULLIVAN: I said to the minister, it has not been called today. It is the prerogative, it is the right and responsibility of the Government House Leader to call legislation. I said the Government House Leader did not call the education legislation today. I am hoping it will be called, I say to the Government House Leader but it is not at the expense - we are not dispensing with a particular bill that we are fundamentally opposed to. If the minister wants his education legislation I will sit down and adjourn this - the Speaker is not even listening to you, I say to the Government House Leader. He does not want to even listen to you.

MR. TULK: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: If the hon. gentleman wants to stand over there and debate this bill as long as he wants, then that is his privilege but I have to clearly state to him that his House Leader and I, as happens in this House, agreed to close this House yesterday at 5:00 p.m. They knew all three pieces of legislation were coming. It was announced yesterday evening in this House that we would do second reading, the order of business today. I have changed nothing. I have changed nothing since I started to talk to the Opposition House Leader, and they know that, and for him to stand up and try to say something else is out of the question. Let me also tell him that he is right, it is the government's business when we call business in this House. I told the House Leader this morning that we would do second reading of this bill, second reading of the Public Accountancy bill and then we would go to Committee. They know that is the story, no more and no less.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government House Leader indicates a certain order of business and that is correct that he did indicate we would be calling Bill 19 and then Bill 20. We did agree today, this Opposition agreed not to have Private Members' Day so that we would be able to facilitate a discussion on the education legislation before this House. The people on this side of the House did not agree to forego Private Members' Day in order that we could discuss the Kodak legislation.

It is the Government House Leader's job to call the order of business. Today, we are prepared on this side to deal with all pieces of legislation, the Education bill, the Public Accountancy bill, to deal with Committee on those bills, to deal with second reading of this bill, to let this House go beyond 5:00 p.m., but I can tell the Government House Leader today that we will not permit third reading of this particular bill today. We agreed to forego Private Member's Day, and the government said it becomes a government business day. They can call the legislation in any order that they wish.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman knows that he was given a copy of the Education bill, he was given a copy of the bill put forward by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, he was offered briefings on this, and he also knows that there was a gentleman's agreement that this House would close yesterday evening at 5:00 p.m. instead of sitting at night, and that we would try to clue up business today at 10:00 p.m., and that it would be done. The hon. gentleman knows that.

MR. H. HODDER: That we would try.

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman knows that; we had an agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order, but rather engaging in negotiations between the two House leaders, and a difference of opinion.

The Leader of the Opposition, I said that your time was up, but you have an hour in this debate.

Thank you.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will not take much more time, Mr. Speaker.

I want to indicate, and let the Government House Leader know, in all fairness - it is 4:07 p.m. - that we have never indicated - we have discussed it, and are very much aware of it - that there was no leave of Private Member's Day today to talk about a Kodak bill here, that we had not seen and do not agree with, circumventing a Public Tender Act in this Province. The House Leader agreed, and we discussed that we would forego it to deal with education, to expedite the matters, to assist in that education matter.

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

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

MR. TULK: That is incorrect. That is not a correct statement. His House Leader did agree to forego Private Member's Day to discuss government business. There were no set parameters around it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

I remind hon. members that we are debating second reading of a bill, the principle of the bill, and I would ask hon. members to get back to debating the bill rather than debating what kinds of agreements had been made between the two Government House Leaders.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In conclusion, I am opposed to giving carte blanche, a blank cheque, to any company in this Province outside the confines of the Public Tender Act, at the expense of other business in this Province, and striking a deal and signing it outside this Legislature, and trying to give advance approval. I have great, great difficulty with that process. It is going to cause tremendous problems for us, and I want to see it. I am prepared, and our caucus is prepared, to come back in this House and deal with it when we see that, at any time to expedite the government's agenda to deal with this company so we can have this company do business in this Province, if that agreement is good. That is not an unfair statement at all, but we are not going to do it, and whatever avenue the government wishes to move on other legislation on the Order Paper today, it is their prerogative. We will co-operate with the other two pieces of legislation to the ultimate, I say to the Government House Leader - we will co-operate to the ultimate - but we will not do it on this piece of legislation, and that is final.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

Motion carried.

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

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

I rise just to make a few points on Bill 19, and to try to stick to the issue that is in the script here.

Let me say for the record that there is nobody in this House, I do not think, against the creation of jobs for people in this Province, and to suggest otherwise, or for any member of this House to suggest otherwise, is simply a red herring that has been thrown out for some debate, that really doesn't make any sense or is not to the point at all.

Let me say also for the record that as a member I'm not against the privatization of certain government services. Where they make sense, where they can create efficiencies, a word the minister has used, and where we can better expend public dollars and get a better bang for our dollar, I support that. Where such privatization initiatives, Mr. Speaker, ensure that the protection of the public servant is there under existing agreements and contracts, and we don't fly in the face of negotiated contracts, then I support that.

Two years ago in this House the government of the day introduced a piece of legislation that specifically dealt with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, because government felt that the usefulness of Computer Services at the time had outlived its purpose for government. Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services was a creation and a corporation of government that was meant to induce and provide, through a corporation, computer skills to enhance the computer knowledge and technical base and the technical knowledge of all of us, particularly in the private sector, and more particularly to government. In the early 1970s that was a useful corporation.

Two years ago government came before this House and presented a bill before all members to privatize Computer Services. Now what was different about that piece of legislation than what we see here is that government clearly outlined what it expected. It clearly outlined the deal between Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services to the parent company Newtel which would buy it, it outlined the arrangement, and it outlined the cost of what government was going to get. We debated all the facts right here in this House, as we should have, and as is the right of all members in the House, not just government, but all members as private members in this House. At that time, Mr. Speaker, I supported the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, and I still support it today.

The question with this piece of legislation is not the privatization of technical or printing services of government. The question that really needs to be begged is government's intention, and I use the minister's words: The purpose of this legislation is to enable government to enter into an agreement which involves contracting its printing, microfilming, electronic imaging services to Kodak Canada Incorporated. I have no problem with that. Should government determine that such an agreement serves the best interests of the Province, the minister goes on to say, the bill which is before you would exclude these services from the provisions of the public tendering act for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewal of the agreement. The bill applies only to this agreement with Kodak Canada Incorporated and only if government concludes the agreement within the next thirty days.

The question I have to ask the minister, and the question I ask all members on the government side, is: Why do we need to circumvent the public tendering act? Is there a -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible) more jobs.

MR. E. BYRNE: It has nothing to do with jobs, I say to the Member for Topsail. It has everything to do - there is no rush. Government has by its very nature -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Member for Topsail, Mr. Speaker, speaks a lot in this House but refuses to get to his feet to be on the record to hear what he has to say. That is his prerogative, and he will be held accountable for that at some point.

Government has at its disposal at any time the complete right, the complete power, to negotiate with any company, with any person, with any organization, with any other province, with any other territory, agreements. That is the power that is enshrined in government that government has because the people vested it in it. That is the reality of what governing is about. If this legislation does not pass, it doesn't mean that Kodak Incorporated will not negotiate with government. It does not mean that the jobs that government says will be created as a result of this legislation will disappear. It does not mean that at all. Government has exclusively within its power and jurisdiction to negotiate an arrangement with Kodak Incorporated, to come back before this House to introduce a piece of legislation and debate the merits of it.

What is inherent in this piece of legislation and what is dangerous about it is that, if an agreement is reached between government and Kodak, government on one hand and Kodak on the other, what this piece of legislation is calling for is that that agreement will exist forever and a day; government can renew it at any time, continue to renew it, can come in at any time and be exempt from the Public Tender Act forever and a day because it is such a great deal.

Mr. Speaker, that is a dangerous philosophy and a dangerous belief unto itself, I say to the minister, to believe that something that is good today will be good for the next twenty or thirty years. I don't think that any of us have that much foresight. People in the Legislature, back in the late 60s, who supported the Upper Churchill deal, and every member on both sides of the House, not just Liberal members, Progressive Conservative members, did that. While this is not such dramatic legislation or will not have such dramatic consequences, the principle remains the same.

The question that still has to be answered is: Why do we have to circumvent the Public Tender Act? Why can't government go ahead, make an arrangement, enter into an agreement? They have the sheer numbers. By the fact that they are government they have enough numbers on that side of the House to pass legislation when they see fit. They have the power to enter into agreements with private sector companies where they see and where they believe the best interests of the people of the Province are going to be served. They have the right to do that, but, Mr. Speaker, exclusively, it does not belong to government alone. Exclusively, it belongs to each and every Private Member of this House, and there is no reason why government cannot come back here with an agreement that benefits the Province, that benefits the public purse, that benefits the private sector, that is good for potential employees, it is good for potential investment and have it debated and laid up front. That is all we are asking for, nothing more and nothing less.

From 1949 to 1971 we operated in this Province without a Public Tender Act. Maybe there are many members in this Legislature who were not necessarily aware what that meant; and I may be one of them because I was very young at the time. Maybe we need to be reminded of what it was like in those twenty-three years without the Public Tender Act. There were millions, really not millions but billions of dollars that were lost - hospitals that were build on cost plus, roads and bridges that were built on cost plus. The only way that you could get a contract in those days was to be a friend of the government. That was the only way you could get a contract.

MR. EFFORD: When?

MR. E. BYRNE: I am talking about the days in Confederation when there was no public tendering process; when there was no Public Tender Act that governed business between government and the private sector. I am not necessarily beating up on government right now; I am not. I am stating a fact that most members in this House would agree to. I think the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would agree to it, because when he sat in opposition he at times took on the Peckford Administration. and rightfully so I say to him, in breaches to the Public Tender Act. I only wish that as minister he would do it right now on this piece of legislation.

The reality is this, that if we want to return to those days, when there was no Public Tender Act, what stops government tomorrow or next month or next year from coming before this House and introducing a Bill 39, saying: What we want to do now is we want to privatize St. Clare's Hospital, and that we are negotiating now with a private company to do it, but we are only negotiating with them exclusively, and that we are going to pass a piece of legislation that allows us to do it, and if government feels it is a good deal then we will tell you so and that is all we are going to tell you about it. I mean, that is the principle that is at stake here.

Now, inherent in public tendering in the act, means simply this: That when it comes to government and the public purse where work and services have to be contracted, that it will be done so on a level playing field that will be fair to all who want to compete. That is all it means.

So when the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation sends out a call for proposals on any given issue - it could be for the Goulds bypass road - her department will not deal exclusively with one contractor, but they will call for proposals to deal with a contractor who will serve the public interest the best, in their opinion. Am I right? That is what the public tender process is about.

When the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation calls for a specific part of the Trans Canada Highway to be paved or upgraded, whatever the case maybe, she calls for proposals for one reason and one reason only, to ensure that of the proposals that come in, the department can pick the best proposal that gets the best bang for the dollar for the public and that serves the public interest.

Now, this piece of legislation, in my mind, does not serve the public interest. It has nothing to do with Kodak, it has nothing to do with the agreement that government is in the process of negotiating, it has nothing to do with the negotiating process and what will emanate from that. What it has to do with is that this Legislature and every individual member in this House is being asked to circumvent the public tendering process so that government can say to Kodak, it can say to anybody: You deal with us exclusively, you take care of us exclusively and we will take care of you. Then other people and other companies, or other organizations who could legitimately provide the same service have been frozen out of the process, a process that was fought long and hard for by this Legislature, frozen out of the process by the mere fact that Cabinet decides and then the back bench of government follows. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. We have seen that happen too many times.

This would be very easily negotiated, I say to the minister. Carry on with your negotiations, reach an agreement, put the agreement in a piece of legislation like former governments have done, and come before the House. You have the sheer numbers to do it, there is nothing to be afraid of, you have the sheer numbers to exercise your will which the people of the Province gave you. In electing a majority on that side, they gave you the right to exercise it, but exercise it legitimately is what I say; bring it before the House and let it be looked at. Let it be looked at where it should be looked at, in this House. Do not circumvent the right of me as a private member or members on the other side by this piece of legislation.

Now, it may be, as the Government House Leader said, that the comments on this piece of legislation are all for naught and that we may be creating a racket over nothing. That is quite possible but it still does not -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it would not. I say to the Government House Leader, it is my hope that you can create 400 jobs by this deal. It would be my hope, I say to the Government House Leader, that 400 to 500 jobs could be created by this piece of legislation, but the reality is; do it in a proper and right fashion that the people of this Province have come to, not only expect, but what they have come to deserve. There has been no legitimate explanation of why

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: You have an opportunity, I guess, if you so desire to talk about it.

MR. J. BYRNE: He will not get up.

MR. E. BYRNE: Government does not have to have this legislation, An Act To Facilitate. If government needs legislation to facilitate all its negotiations with outside agencies, then we would never get anything done in this House. Government by its right, Mr. Speaker, has the power to negotiate with any and all bodies on behalf of government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: I conclude my points by asking the minister a couple of questions. One, if you can explain to me why you need this piece of legislation to negotiate with a company which as minister you already have the power to do? You have the power to negotiate with anybody. That is your right as government. Why can you not go ahead and negotiate a deal, as government? Kodak, for example, or any other company, are not going to question in bad faith. When you are the government, you are the government. You are not the government today and not tomorrow unless you seek a mandate, and you are not likely to seek a mandate within the next year-and-a-half or two years.

The reality is, go ahead and negotiate your agreement. Put it in legislation and come back and tell us why, up front, it is a good deal. If it is a good deal for the people of this Province, then I will be one of the first members in this House to stand and support it, and that is the pledge I make to the minister. But she has to explain to me, and she has to explain to this House, why she needs the power, as minister, to facilitate an agreement between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Kodak, and in order to facilitate that agreement she needs, and government needs, to circumvent the public tendering process. That is all I ask, Mr. Speaker, nothing more, nothing less.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now, she closes the debate. The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in order to conclude this debate, I would just like to refer to a couple of points with respect to the legislation that is being put forward here to the background that underpins the legislation, and to the opportunity that this presents for government and for the Province.

In the last comments that were made, the question was repeated a number of times as to why government needed this legislation in order to negotiate. The point of this agreement, and the purpose of the agreement, is not to give government the ability to be able to negotiate, it is to give government the ability to be able to enter into an agreement for this particular proposal with Kodak Canada Incorporated that has a number of different components to it.

One component of this is the printing services of government. Everybody recognizes that. There is the printing services that is traditionally done by the printing service and micrographic division of this government on behalf of government departments and its agencies.

The other aspects of this agreement, however, also include a much larger part of business that would benefit the Province. This refers to the imaging centre which the Premier spoke of in his comments earlier today. This larger piece of business is something that is completely unique to this Province. There is not another imaging centre of this type in the country, as a matter of fact, and I find it ironic that a member of this House, a leader in this Province, would stand and question, `Well, why are they coming here?' To me, I am quite proud to say that they are coming here because of the skilled employees that we have, because of the reputation that we have in the area of information technology, because of the fibre optics that we have to be able to do this kind of business. So it is quite clear that we do have advantages that we can offer to the world to come and set up business in this Province, and the intent of this legislation is to enable this government to be able to access these opportunities and, at the same time, to be able to do government services more efficiently.

The key that seems to be lost here is that with this proposal we will be able - assuming that again the details are all worked out -to perform and to have the printing services and the micrographic services of this government performed more efficiently than we could do internally, and we want to be able to capitalize on that. We think that is part of what we should be doing as a government. We make no bones about the fact that we take it as our job, and a good one to grow this economy and to run this government efficiently, and in doing things like this, we are providing government with the ability to be able to do that, if that is going to be realized, and to keep that potential open to us.

Government did not enter into this lightly. This has not been something that has been done in a happenstance manner. We have carried out considerable analysis and deliberation to determine that what is being proposed here does exactly represent an opportunity.

The members asked if we talked to Xerox. Yes, we, as a government, have talked to Xerox. As late as today I have spoken with Xerox and informed them of the essence of this legislation and explained to them the way that the process will be handled and what it means. These things have all been taken care of.

In terms of the essence of the Public Tender Act, in terms of the intent of this government to ensure that all businesses in this Province have fair and equal access to the business of government, the intent of that legislation is being upheld by going through this process today. It was upheld when the original bid and call for proposals was issued. It was upheld again after the second proposal was put forward, after the proposal was brought forward which enlarged the scope of the business, where we went back to every individual company which had bid on the original management proposal and invited them to come back and come to government with a proposal on the same scale of economic development. We would entertain that, and we did.

We took the proposal from both of the firms that came back to us and we analyzed them and came to the conclusion that the agreement that we are trying to provide and work through and give ourselves the ability to enter into offers far more potential for savings to this Province and for economic benefit to this Province than the other proposals that were submitted.

This initiative has the potential to generate significant spin-off benefits for this Province. Some of the local businesses will also benefit from the business that a corporation the size of Kodak, setting up a world-class facility in this city, will be able to bring to this Province. It will be bringing and have the capacity to bring in business that cannot be done here at this time, business likewise that will be able to flow through to other businesses in this city and in this Province. That is an important factor in economic development.

I can say to members here today that if this agreement is satisfactorily concluded - and I say to you right up front here that we have this margin over the next thirty days, when we will either conclude this agreement satisfactorily or not, and if the conditions and the benefits that we are looking for for the Province are not agreed on, we will not enter into this agreement with Kodak Canada Incorporated.

If the agreement is concluded satisfactorily, it will contain a significant capital investment in this Province. It will provide for the same services that government is now purchasing and delivering itself and do it more cost efficiently. It will create a significant saving for my department and for government. It will ensure that local businesses maintain the same share of government printing businesses that they have today, that they have had for the last number of years. Those are fundamental components of the agreement that we will be negotiating and have been negotiating over the past few months.

It will also ensure that the majority of the employees, a significant number of the employees, whatever terms you wish to use with it, will be accommodated through this agreement. If they are not, then the collective agreement under which they are governed will apply and government will continue to provide employment for the employees who are affected through this contracting out.

In essence, Mr. Speaker, this is simply an enabling piece of legislation to give government the opportunity to be able to take advantage of a significant opportunity for economic development for this Province. Government is very much aware that it has a responsibility and that it will indeed ensure that this proves to be to the economic advantage of the whole Province, that it does have the benefits that people are looking for here today.

A reference was made earlier to the term and this whole arrangement being completely open-ended forever and a day, that all of the printing services of government would forever more be locked in because of passing this bill. But if you refer to the bill and the specifics that are contained in it, you will see that what it says is that it applies to Kodak Canada Incorporated during the currency of these agreements. Now agreements usually have a set specific term. This agreement is no different, it will have a set specific term; that is part of the negotiating details. I cannot stand here and say today that it will be x number of years, that is part of negotiations. This agreement then will exclude government printing services and micrographic services for the currency of these agreements and any renewals that we choose to make to these agreements. Those details of how long that will apply then will be contained in the agreement.

I say to you that in the manner we have dealt with the companies who are in this business, who came forward on earlier calls for proposals, reaffirms our commitment to treat fairly and to provide open access to the business. One thing that has to be remembered in all of this is that the government printing services and micrographic services are only one small part of this economic development proposal that Kodak Canada has come to us with as a Province. There is an opportunity for a significant capital investment in this Province. There is an opportunity to create a core of business that is high technology and that can be a first of its kind in this country. I think that as a government we need to capitalize and to take advantage of that and any other advantage that can bring jobs to this Province, that can bring good business to this Province and that can create economic benefits for the benefit of people and taxpayers in this Province. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill No. 19)

MR. TULK: Order No. 3, Mr. Speaker, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act No. 2". (Bill No. 20)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act No. 2". (Bill No. 20)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In June Bill No. 11 was passed by this House to cause amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to enable the three accountancy groups to be represented on the licensing board. There were two problems with that particular piece of legislation. We are now bringing forward two clauses that will correct this situation. Clause 1 of the bill will amend the Public Accountancy Act to provide for appointment of a licensing board that is reflective of the different groups of accountants practising in the Province. The amendment would also provide for representation from the general public. The second clause of the bill would provide for a quorum of the board as seven.

Mr. Speaker, Subsection 3(2) of the Public Accountancy Act is repealed and the following substituted: The board shall consist of twelve members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council and of these members, (a) one member shall be nominated by and shall be a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland; and (b) one member shall be nominated by and shall be a member of the Certified General Accountants Association; (c) one member shall be nominated by and shall be a member of the Society of Management Accountants of Newfoundland. Six members to be nominated by the minister, two of whom shall be members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants; two of whom shall be members of the Certified General Accountants Association and two of whom shall be members of the Society of Management Accountants of Newfoundland and, Mr. Speaker, three members shall be nominated by the minister to represent the public, one of whom shall be appointed Chairperson of the Board.

Also, section 6 of the act is repealed and the following substituted: Seven members constitute a quorum of the board.

Mr. Speaker, this would be the correction of Bill No. 11 which was presented to the House in June.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I recognize that the bill that was passed as Bill No. 11 in June had some flaws in it but I didn't think that the composition of the board was one of them.

The Member for Kilbride amended the composition of the board to provide for a representation of the various accountancy bodies on the board in a proportion to their numbers of registered members holding registration with each of the three accountancy groups. My understanding was that was certainly a very different type of board than was in the original legislation which was essentially to have three accountants only on the board, appointed one each by the accountancy groups, and then it was up to the minister to appoint a certain number of members from the public to that, and to be chaired by a lawyer. That was the original piece of legislation. The bill was basically that the majority of the members were going to be appointed by the minister, they were going to be non-accountants or members of the public and chaired by a lawyer, for some reason.

The Member for Kilbride, with the support of the House, moved an amendment to give accountants the majority on the board based on principles that were espoused by the member at that time and supported by the House. I wasn't aware that that was an error, and my understanding was that was obviously a different principle than what was contained in the original bill and was adopted by the House. In fact, subsequent to the passage of the legislation in June, the officials of the department of the minister wrote, I assume, to the various accountancy boards - I have a copy of a letter here dated July 5, 1996 which was sent to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in which it refers to the act and refers to between five and seven board members to be nominated by the three professional counselling bodies on a pro rata basis, and it had to be calculated on the basis of registered members of each of the three accounting bodies not including students.

It went on to say, in order to determine the number of board members you were entitled to nominate under this section, please provide a listing of your current registered members. Once this is received we will write you requesting you nominations to the licensing board.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the legislation having been passed and in the process of being implemented, it appears that without further consultation with the accountancy groups or at least with the chartered accountants according the new president with whom I spoke today, who was, once again he says, taken by surprise by the fact that legislation was being introduced into the House on this matter over and above the quorum problem of which I think he was aware; all of a sudden we have a different composition of the board which, under the legislation now before us, provides for six members of the board, two from each of the three accounting bodies. Mr. Speaker, I am told, subject to verification by the minister, who may in fact know, I am told that the registration of the various bodies are approximately 550 for the chartered accountants and approximately half of that number for the certified management accountants and approximately the same number that is half of the chartered accountants number for the other group, the certified public accountants.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have not really a correction, I guess, of an error, we have in fact a new policy, different from that which was in the original act, different from the amendment passed in June, and no real explanation as to why we are doing this without further consulting with the people involved.

I would agree that Clause 2 of the bill deals with the error that was by mistake introduced into the legislation which had the effect of removing the new quorum and leaving a quorum of three for a body that was going to consist of thirteen members. I think that was obviously an error, so if we are correcting an error in that part then I do not have any difficulty with that, but what we are doing here, in fact, is bringing about a further change to the act without really, to my knowledge, and at least to the knowledge of the president elect, I think he is called, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. I think in fact he is now the president.

Mr. Speaker, I do not see how in principle we should be making all of these sorts of changes on what seems to be an ad hoc basis. Perhaps the amendments in June were made in that fashion because things seemed to be done in a bit of a hurry that day, for some reason or other, which I will not go into; but why we are doing this now I do not know, why we are now changing the composition of the board yet again without any further consultation with the accounting bodies.

I do not think the minister has really provided any explanation. So on that basis I am not able to support in principle the amendment certainly to Clause 1 although I have certainly no difficulty with the amendment to Clause 2, that a majority of the board would constitute a quorum. That seems to be a very logical and sensible provision and is needed in order to correct the consequences of what happened on the floor of the House on June 18. For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I am unable to support the legislation as it is printed at second reading.

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

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

Back in the Spring session, when we passed legislation, or legislation came before the House on this particular issue, I as the Member for Kilbride being a member of a select committee of the House some years ago, two years ago, I believe, which dealt with this specific issue, had some serious concerns about what came before us, and they emanated from two points of view; the concerns from what the select committee requested and made representations of, and what the findings of the select committee on public accountancy were, and what their recommendations were to the House.

When the bill came before the House in the spring, the recommendations of the select committee were not entirely contained in that bill, but what was not contained, and what was missing, was more important than what was contained in our recommendations; and let me explain.

We sat through about forty representations made by CMAs, CGAs and CAs. The practice of public accounting, and who was designated as a public accountant, and who could be designated or licensed as a public accountant in this Province, had not changed since 1966. It was clear that it had to change. It was also clear, since 1966, that one accounting body had clear control over who would be licensed; in essence, Mr. Speaker, what amounted to a monopoly. The select committee - and it is important to point out again for the record - was a majority committee. There were no dissenting views, there was no dissenting or minority report that came from that committee.

Now it was clear in our deliberations, and in the recommendations made to us, that there were people outside of the chartered accountants group who had the academic background, who had the necessary experience, that they should have been allowed to practice public accounting. So the committee took a view, and this was the view they took: Number one, that a problem existed, and that it needed a solution; and, number two, what we suggested and recommended in the report - and I can read it into the record again for members - was that a standards directorate be established, and that a majority of people who would sit on that standards directorate would come from the recognized accounting bodies that practice in this Province; namely, chartered accountants, certified general accountants, and certified management accountants.

Now, if we cannot trust those three accounting bodies to sit on a standards directorate, to come up with the standards that meet the highest test, that meet the litmus test, that meet a bench mark by where the public interest is best served, then I suggest we all lose.

What was also in the bill, and why I recommended amendments and put forward amendments in the last sitting, was because the majority of the board was not from those professional accounting bodies. The majority of the board consisted of what I called at that time lay people, people who may have used the service or may have need of the use of the service of public accounting, but have no specific knowledge about what should be the bench mark, what should be the litmus test, what should be the standard by which an individual, whether they have a CMA, a CGA or a CA, or any other designation by which somebody can pass the test, meet the standard, and be judged by that standards directorate to be designated and licensed to practice public accounting in the Province.

The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi indicated that my amendment, what is proposed in this act here, what is proposed in the amendments, flies in the face of the amendment that I made. I say to him, it does not, and I will tell you why it does not. It centres on the definition of what pro rata is. He being a lawyer would have specific knowledge about that. He has been trained in that profession, so he can claim a more specific knowledge base on this issue than I can.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: One second. I understand that, I will get to that.

And rightly so. But, Mr. Speaker, when this issue came up - I've spoken to four lawyers and asked them to look at: number one, the select committee's recommendations in which it was clear that what we were trying to achieve was a standard by which all people exclusive - not exclusive of what designation they are into - but exclusive of their experience and their ability to meet a standard, and their professionalism based on the number of years and their experience, could be allowed to practice public accounting, and that a monopoly could not exist; if the standard was met, and if their respective associations allowed them to put them forward to the standards directorate as nominees, and if the standards directorate then said yes based upon the standards which that directorate will come up with.

I spoke to four different lawyers on the definition of pro rata in terms of what it meant here. One lawyer told me - this is from the dictionary.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No. One was, but not all of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you pay for it?

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I haven't got the bill yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: One was. One indicated that pro rata - and the definition is clear: In proportion according to a certain percentage of rate. There is another definition which says: pro rata parte, proportionately.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was your amendment, boy.

MR. E. BYRNE: I'm trying to explain, because you have indicated in this House, I say to the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, that this specific amendment flies in the face of the amendment that I made, and I say it does not.

The reality is this, that the select committee - we can dance around it all we want, there has been significant discussion, there have been significant representations made - the select committee, in the spirit of its findings and its recommendations, wanted to create a situation where there would be a standards directorate in place that would judge standards, where there would cease to exist a monopoly on who would be licensed; and I say the amendments do that.

Nobody has been happy with this particular initiative of government. Nobody has been happy with the particular initiative or the findings of the Select Committee. They were not happy with the recommendations that we put forward. Many people were not happy with the legislation that was amended in the spring and people are not happy today. The reality is we have to move on with it now.

Professionals in the accounting field have before them the opportunity to judge for themselves and to put forward for themselves what the standards for public accounting will be. Now if they choose not to do that and if they choose to say that they do not wish to do that, well then maybe it should have been that we should have left the majority of the board to lay people so they could do it. I doubt that professionals in the field would have been happy with that either. The reality is, let's move on with it. It has been on the table for more than two-and-a-half years and let's move ahead very, very quickly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


 

July 24, 1996             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 33A


[Continuation of sitting]

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

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 11 which this House passed in June, did the very thing that we are trying to correct now, and that is present equal membership to the accountancy groups in the Province.

If you remember, before the amendment was made by the member for Kilbride, we had one member from each of the accountancy groups. So what we are doing now, in amending this in Bill No. 20, is providing that the accountancy groups are equally represented and that they have a majority on the licensing board of the public accountants.

Mr. Speaker, I would now move second reading of Bill No. 20.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act No. 2," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill No. 20)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill No. 8, Bill No. 20 and Bill No. 19, in that order.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR: Order, please!

Bill No. 8, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act."

On motion, clause 1, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 2 carry?

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In clause 2, with reference to subsection (4), it says, "Where a regulation made under subsection (3) conflicts with a section of this Act or the Education Act, the section in the regulations shall prevail." I have difficulty with that particular section, because it takes away the power of the Legislature and puts it into Cabinet. I don't feel that in any way the schools act or the education act should be subservient to regulations made by Cabinet. Regulations should emanate from the schools act rather than the other way around.

I move an amendment that clause 2 of Bill No. 8, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act," be amended by striking out the proposed subsection 2.1(4).

I don't wish to speak any further on that, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am not going to be terribly elaborate except to say that I have heard the comments of the Leader of the Opposition in the House today and also in the media this morning, and I had some discussions yesterday with other members on this very point, and I want to say that I agree with him entirely; that what the existing clause provides is something that should not be contemplated by this House to give the Cabinet the power to override legislation by regulation. In fact, one would wonder whether such legislation is even within the power of this Legislature to do. In fact, I think it is ultra vires, is the Latin phrase for it, and that the Cabinet cannot have greater power than the Legislature in our parliamentary democracy, and any amendment that purports to do that would probably be struck down; but it is just as well for us not to pass it in the first place.

I support the amendment and I won't say anything further.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just wanted, again, for purposes of the record more so than anything else, to indicate the rationale as to why this extraordinary clause was included in this particular bill. The points made by the Leader of the Opposition and also the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi are exactly correct. This would not, in any normal set of circumstances, appear in a piece of legislation, to try to create a circumstance where the legislation itself could be overridden by a regulation which is in the hands of a Cabinet at any one of its meetings. That would not be the normal practice at all.

The circumstance that we are in, just so that the record shows, is that this deals only with the commission scolaire francophone for the Province, which everybody acknowledges has nothing to do with our other issues with respect to ten school boards and a single construction board. It is only now we are in the early stages of discussion with the francophone association, trying to look at the details of how their commission scolaire will actually operate.

They were hopeful, Mr. Chairman, that the legislation would be more detailed with respect to that, that it would not only say there will be a commission scolaire but it would also point out what the duties and powers of that particular francophone school board were, because we are not advanced enough in the discussions with them to agree as to what they will be. We felt that the only potential legal way around it was to conclude the discussions with the francophone, put that into regulations and if there were some conflict between what we had agreed to with the francophone and what The Schools Act and The Education Act said, that we would then come back and amend the legislation in the fall.

It is clear though too, in checking with them, that the discussions will probably take some time from now into the fall. At the earliest opportunity we agree, Mr. Chairman, that the best thing at this point is to support the motion to amend by deleting. We will expedite the meetings with the francophone association as quickly as possible, and we will come back to the Legislature at the earliest opportunity in the fall with more detailed legislation that will actually spell out how the commission scolaire will operate and how it will function in the Province.

So we appreciate it being pointed out. We don't disagree at all with the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. It was an attempt to try to do that in another way because we didn't have the legislation available, but it won't be for some months. We will probably be back here on another timely basis and be able to do it at that point.

When it comes to a vote later, Mr. Chairman, the government will certainly support the motion to amend by deletion.

CHAIR: It is the ruling of the Chair that the amendment is in order?

On motion, amendment, carried.

On motion, clause 2 as amended, carried.

On motion, clause 3, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 4 carry?

We have a proposed amendment to clause 4.

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I don't have an amendment to clause 4 but I did want to speak to clause 4. There is an issue that arises under clause 4. The amended section 6 of the act provides that the new - on page 10 of the bill, subclause 6 refers to the former section 6 of the act, and allows all agreements, contracts and obligations in relation to a school, existing prior to that, to continue into force. The successor in law is the new school board and all agreements, contracts, et cetera become assumed by the successor board.

My concern here is that we have had a situation in the last few months in the Province in relation to school boards where, for reasons perhaps of finance, but also in anticipation of the merger of the school boards under the new Term 17, and the reforms to the schools consequent on the new change to ten school boards from twenty-seven, a number of lay-offs have occurred; and they have occurred within particular bargaining units for each particular individual school board.

As a result of that, of course, there have been changes within those bargaining units. Individuals who, for reasons of seniority in a particular job category, were laid off and perhaps bumped others, and are now in a different job category, they are all going to be merged together in a matter of whenever the minister, or whenever the Cabinet, proclaims the legislation. They are now going to be facing additional lay-offs within these bargaining units, and a whole different set of people, who would have been laid off if they waited, might get laid off and end up without jobs.

This particular legislation requires a rather lengthy process to be undertaken whereby each bargaining unit presumably might have to go to the Labour Relations Board to try to decide that issue. It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, to be an unfairness to the employees of these school boards to go through a double set of bumping procedures and lay-offs. I believe the minister has had some representations to have the government turn back the clock, if you will, and suggest that any lay-offs that may take place as a result of the merger of these school boards be based on the staffing levels and seniority provisions of the various collective agreements as of a certain date in time prior to the recent lay-offs. Perhaps March 31, April 1, April 30, or the end of the fiscal year, might be an appropriate period to which to turn back the clock and allow the staffing levels of the various boards that were in existence at that time to be the basis for a new bargaining unit within those boards.

Mr. Chairman, that is obviously going to affect the rights of various individuals within those boards, and perhaps the rights of the bargaining agents; so that is the kind of thing that may not be able to be done without the consent of the various players. My own reading of the legislation is that it requires the existing agreements to be followed in each case, which may result in the anomalies that have arisen, and the unfairness that will arise, being supported by this legislation.

I want to ask the minister, what he has concluded as a result of the representations that he has received, and what advice he may have received. Is he in a position to assure the House that it is possible to turn back the clock and to have any lay-offs that might take place in school boards, as a result of amalgamation of these boards, take place on the basis of the staffing levels of seniority as they existed, say, at the beginning of this fiscal year?

I know, Mr. Chairman, we are all in favour of reform of the education system, and everybody understands that the result of that reform process, in order to achieve the efficiencies that everybody wants, is inevitably going to result in perhaps a certain number, at least, of fewer people being involved in the school system. What we would want to have happen is that there be an overall fairness to individual members who are affected by this rather than being affected because they happen to be laid off to save money for a particular school board a month or two before the amalgamation actually takes places so that a particular school board can save money.

I wonder: Can the minister assure the House that, in fact, fairness can prevail and that the clock can be turned back with respect to lay-offs under these circumstances?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Just to respond briefly if I may, Mr. Chairman. It is a very important point actually. The department has had representation made to it by representatives of the unions. I was personally involved in a meeting with representatives from CUPE that represent workers at one or more of the school boards that will merge in the local St. John's area in particular. There is a provincial transition team, Mr. Chairman, that is working on some of those issues, one of them of course being collective bargaining human resource related issues.

There is the issue raised, as exactly, by the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi with respect to a merging list from the two unions; the fact that because of budgetary considerations they have had to lay off some people in advance of the overall merger. We understand, it has not been confirmed yet in its entirety because I am not aware of what the outcome of the discussions have been with the NAPE representatives, but I have been led to believe they are on the same wave length. We also have some non-unionized personnel involved here as well.

The proposal is that there would likely be a Memorandum of Understanding, Mr. Chairman, that would allow everybody to go back and take the lists, as they would have been, as suggested by the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, on March 31 before the Budget impacts took place and so on; and that those people who have been laid off now, because of pressure put on the school boards by reduced budgets, would be considered in the merger for the new board because they have recall rights and so on with their current board in any event.

Our expectation fully is that there would be a Memorandum of Understanding - that is being discussed now - that could be presented to the new board, the new single board, indicating that the unions involved, two unions with several bargaining units and the non-unionized employees, could all potentially be considered as the resource base for personnel; and that they would all then be given consideration by that new board even though some are already laid off because they might have had more seniority than others coming from other boards.

So the potential is there. The issue has been addressed. To their credit, the unions came forward and raised the issue indicating that they had a lot of concerns for their members in their individual boards, knowing that had the merger occurred first there might have been a very different group of people in the positions than what are there now. They are expressing a willingness to go back and address it, and unless there is some unbeknownst objection to that, we fully expect that there might be a Memorandum of Understanding to allow for that exact procedure, as outlined by the hon. member, to be the most likely occurrence once the new board is in place.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just a few comments, Mr. Chairman, with respect to clause 4. When we look specifically under clause 4, subsection 5(1) under interim school boards we see, "A school board constituted or continued under this Act..." Under subsection 5(2), "Notwithstanding subsection 6.1(1), the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall immediately upon the commencement of this section appoint a school board for each school district and (a) 2/3 of the school board members shall be representatives of the classes of persons having rights under Term 17, and each class shall have appointed..."

Has there been consideration given I wonder, Mr. Chairman, or could consideration be given, that added to that `on the recommendation of the proper education council,' because we do have the education councils obviously, as it appears when we look at the thrust of this legislation, having a significant role once these boards have been in full swing. So I wonder if the minister could just respond to that? Is there an opportunity that this could be amended to reflect that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In discussions that we have had with the denominational education councils on a fairly regular basis, and even in the last few days once they saw these drafts, there are a number of places in the bill, Mr. Chairman, where they have requested inclusion of that kind of language; that certain things happen upon the recommendation or with the permission of or with the approval of the appropriate denominational education council.

The position of the government, Mr. Chairman, is that in this instance, the one that has been pointed out now by the hon. member, the Opposition critic for education, the Member for St. John's East, what he mentioned in terms of potential amendment is exactly what will occur. As a matter of fact, we have already asked the denominational education councils for their nominees, and they have indicated to me that they expect to have them in my hands by Friday or Monday. There has been a big debate in the Province about, how much do you want to write those things in the legislation to guarantee that into the future, even after these councils may no longer exist, that you will have to come back and change the legislation again because you put in a provision saying: You must get a recommendation from the council.

We have indicated to them that there is no need legally to put that there. In practice we have done that. They already have the request from the government. There is only going to be one interim board with these appointments, so we don't need to put in legislation and burden the legislation at this point for something that we have already asked them to do and they have already agreed to do.

We don't really understand the basis of the request, Mr. Chairman, because in fact, upon the recommendation of the proper education council, the appointments, we have asked, they have agreed to give them, and we don't see that there is any need to enshrine in the legislation any more legalized powers and authorities for the denominational education councils than they absolutely entirely have to have by legislation to enable them to function.

What has been proposed here is exactly what is already in motion for this interim board. Then next year, everybody knows, there will be no interim board, there will be no recommendations, because it will be done by election. We felt that since we are already doing exactly what they have proposed there is no need to write it in legislation. We have already asked them, they are already submitting the names, and there is no need to amend in that particular fact.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

On the issue of elections of members as is found on the next page, under subsection 5(4)(b), on page 10 of the draft, there is an indication that "...the first election of members to a school board under this... Act." There is no time. I'm just wondering - there has been talk, of course, that this will be obviously an approximate twelve-month period, but is there an exact time frame that we are looking at, that stakeholders in education can at least point to in terms of a specific date with respect to school board elections?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: There is only one reason, Mr. Chairman, why the date isn't specific at this point. The school boards, in being elected in the last number of elections, have always been elected concurrently with the municipal elections; so they have run at the same time. The only reason why we can't specify that: that election would normally be in November of 1997, that is the next due election. There is a request before the government, supported by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities, to move that election date up to September so that the new councils coming in will have a better chance to prepare a budget before the end of the calendar year, which is one of the major duties of the councils.

I think the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has indicated he is disposed to that type of amendment, but again it will have to go through a process here I believe in this Legislature. I believe it requires legislative change, if not regulatory change. I believe it is a piece of legislation. So because that isn't definitive yet we didn't want to tie ourselves to the November date, because we are hoping it is going to change. We couldn't preclude and presume that the September date would be agreed to in this House. All of the partners and stakeholders in education, Mr. Chairman, understand that it will be done concurrently with the municipal elections. It is only a matter of the minister bringing forward the proposal for confirming the date as either remaining in November of 1997 or moving to a date in September of 1997. That is why we have been talking, roughly, about a year or so, because it could be as early as September of 1997 but it will be no later than November of 1997.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Still under clause 4, but subsection 6.(2), paragraph (c), we get into an area, Mr. Chairman, dealing with title to real and personal property of dissolved school boards.

I know for many people in the Province - it has certainly been my experience in dealing with people in my own district and people throughout the Province, that there have been concerns raised about what the implications may very well be in terms of acquisition of property, real or personal, from dissolved boards to newly acquired boards.

Now, I realize, Mr. Chairman, that this particular section is not extended to the point where we are talking about church properties which, of course, is an area that is a very delicate one, and one which many Newfoundlanders are very genuinely concerned about; what implications this type of wording may well have. However, I am interested in the minister's commentary, and perhaps interpretation, of really how far this section goes, this subsection (c), with respect to title of real property and personal property, and what potentials the minister may feel this may have in terms of subsequent church owned property, and how that will impact, obviously, on individuals and communities in the Province.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This one will be a very significant issue in the future, and I think it will be part of the larger amendments that we will be bringing in in the fall. I think the hon. member and other members of the Legislature would recall some very grave concerns by the denominational education councils and the churches themselves with respect to the draft bill released after Christmas. There were some suggestions that there was wide-sweeping expropriation of property by the government, and those types of things.

What we have done here, Mr. Chairman, in this particular subsection is just move into a holding pattern for the time being while we go and have a full discussion in the fall and bring back the legislation as to what will happen to property that is no longer needed for educational purposes after schools are consolidated and so on. That issue is not addressed here. What this does at this point in time, is says that the boundaries right now are going to change from twenty-seven to ten; however, the property is held within those twenty-seven. Whatever parts go into each of the ten, they will be held the same way for the interim. In the fall, when we bring back the major piece of legislation, there will have to be a decision taken in this Legislature, Mr. Chairman, as to exactly how property is disposed of when it is no longer needed for educational and schooling purposes.

The intent in the previous piece of legislation, Mr. Chairman, was that property that was vested directly in the churches would remain the property of the churches; the property that was vested with school boards, that was no longer needed for educational purposes, would return to the government because it was largely financed by the government, and if some share of that had been actually sponsored by some denomination then they would be given an equivalent share of any proceeds and so on. So whether or not that version will come back, when we deal with this again at Christmas or early in the New Year, that will be part of the public dialogue in the fall, and will be part of the issue.

What we have done here is arrange for a legal holding pattern so that we do not have to deal with any change in the issue of the vesting or title of property until we get to the point where we substantially change the Schools Act and the Education Act in this Legislature late in this calendar year or very early in the next school year.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So from those comments, Mr. Chairman, I can only assume that that is an issue that will be open for public debate and there will be, obviously, community consultation amongst property owners, stakeholders, residents of communities, who obviously have a particular point of view on this particular topic.

Mr. Chairman, under subsection 7 of clause 4, page 11, there is reference to:

"Unless otherwise determined by the successor board, until a director is appointed under section 17, where there is no superintendent under subsection (6) to exercise the functions set out in section 18 for a school, the successor board shall designate a superintendent...." I question the term "designate." Is this a matter of applying for a job, is it a question of appointment? What is the interpretation of the term "designate" in that particular section?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, in this particular section all we are looking at is making sure that if we were ever to end up in a circumstance, and we will be in the interim, the potential exists for us to have the ten interim school boards named as early as next week. The likelihood that they will go through a process - because there will be an application process, there will be a screening, there will be interviewing, there will be a selection committee of each of the boards - the likelihood that they will have their brand new single director in place is not great for maybe a month or five weeks or so.

In the intervening period, Mr. Chairman, there are several existing superintendents who are available to that new board, because they are already employed by the existing twenty-seven boards. What we wanted to do was make sure that where there is no subsection to exercise the functions, "the successor board shall designate a superintendent...." What we have are several superintendents who are actually available, and they will be, in practice, shared, and they will take their direction for matters of policy relating to the next school year, in 1997, planning for the future, from the interim board; and take their direction with respect to this school year that is imminent now from their existing board. They will continue to operate until dissolved by the minister when advised that the transition has been successfully completed.

It is just a safeguard provision, Mr. Chairman, to make sure that if we were to find a circumstance - we don't think it exists - where an interim school board would be in place and have no superintendent available to it - possibly they might all retire, the current ones who are there, they may not apply for the new position, they may vacate - it gives them a chance to designate a superintendent whose employment is continued and so on, to exercise the functions until they actually get their first new director. We expect that process to take four or five weeks to go through a normal recruitment, interviewing and screening process.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The determination of a population of class according to subsection 8 as found on page 12 has a peculiar method, I may suggest, in that Statistics Canada - and in fact I believe it is the most recent, which in this case would be 1991 - is being used as the determining factor in determining, obviously, the population of a class, which of course goes to the crux of the very make-up of a particular board in terms of the representation on that board.

I would ask the minister: In the determination of this, there must be indeed other means and methods that may be adopted to determine the actual population of a class pursuant to paragraph 2 as is found in subsection 8. One suggestion, certainly, which has been made to me, and it seems to be a very reasonable one, is to obviously use the most recent reliable data, which in fact would be the current school population, the current school enrolment of a particular class. That is reliable, it is recent, it is 1996. We aren't relying on outdated information of approximately five years ago.

It is a point on which I would be interested in hearing the minister's comments.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This has been a point of some considerable discussion as well between representatives in our department and the representatives of the various denominational councils. There is quite a variance of opinion, I would suggest, as I think the hon. member knows, with respect to the issue for other educational matters, with respect to funding and proportionate shares from the government and so on, particularly relating to capital expenditures and the tradition since 1949 to allocate money to the denominations based upon their share of the population.

The standard that has been consistently used is the census data from Statistics Canada. It is widely accepted in the public for a whole range of uses and purposes as the most respected. Even though some people would suggest that some of it is not always as accurate, but at least generally across the country and in the Province, there is an acknowledgement and a respect of the census data from Statistics Canada. That has always been the standard in the education system for allocating the funding for capital expenditure. That has always been acceptable to the denominational representatives. There is a discussion about it with respect to the make-up of the boards and how many members of each of the classes are to be entitled both for appointment now and for election into the future; because if you count some other way the numbers do change. In our view, they don't change significantly, the greatest difference is a matter of one, but if you count by the method that the hon. member suggests, by looking at school populations in some districts, one group would get one more and one group would get one less. It is not like it changes by three or four in any one district of the ten districts.

The disappointment in it for us, Mr. Chairman, and why we have been hesitant to do it any other way, is that because this is the norm of what has been accepted for the other calculations that we do in education, and that we do in many other departments for purposes of allocation for all kinds of reasons in government, the sensitivity with this - because it is not an insensitive issue - but the degree of sensitivity over one member in the difference,as to whether it is going to be one more Roman Catholic or one more integrated member or one more Pentecostal member to go with the six at large, is sad, in our view; because it shows that people are still concentrating far too much on the denominational nature instead of the interdenominational nature of what we are trying to embark upon. Because of that, we have been trying to encourage each of the councils to live with the notion of the census data from Statistics Canada which they readily accepted in the past or readily accepted for forty-five years or so in the past - forty-six or forty-seven years for capital purposes.

When we have agreement, as we tried to come to with respect to the framework discussions, one or two of the councils would say: let's count the students in the school. At one point, all three of the councils were saying: yes, let's do that instead of using the census data; but then one of the councils would come back and say: no, we don't want that. We will never agree to that. We think that the other system is the right one to use for all those reasons. So you will get one or the other of the councils. There will be no agreement amongst the councils as to which is the best method to use.

For consistency the government feels and believes that the census data from Statistics Canada is the most appropriate measure to use. It is used for other purposes in education, has been used in other departments for other government decisions and we think that's the right approach to make, even though we have had numerous discussions about the issue.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This particular point is of some concern simply from the point of view that - I understand by the comment that the minister has made that there has been a variety of interpretation and opinion. Therefore, clearly there is a difference of opinion which would leave the door open it seems, Mr. Chairman, that on this particular point the possibility of challenge does exist in terms of legal challenge.

Would it not be, perhaps, more prudent at this time, when we are laying the foundation as the basis of reform - this is the time when we are doing it. In a matter of minutes or hours or whatever, this matter will have been history in terms of this bill on education reform as it relates to structure; so this is the time.

You know, where a risk is there and where data is being used which is clearly outdated when we have much more reliable figures and information before us, and where there is the argument that there is a violation of the existing Term 17 because it predates the January 1995 date which is part and parcel of the new Term 17, isn't the risk sufficient, in the mind of the minister, that perhaps this particular point ought to be addressed now and re-consideration given to a more widely accepted approach to determination of structure, and avoid the risk of any possible legal challenge which would only, perhaps, defeat the very thing that we are trying to accomplish in the finalizing of this matter?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think we all understand in this Legislature that we are at risk, in any event, with this whole process we are going through, that if any one affected group or any one affected person, for any reason in this bill, feels that they have a problem and challenges, the likelihood is that it would not withstand. Because we are presenting this assuming that the new Term 17 is in place not the old Term 17. Again, with the whole notion, we should not, I think, fall into the trap of suggesting that another approach, meaning counting students in the school, is widely accepted. It is the preferred method for one of the denominational groups.

One of the denominational groups prefers to count the students in the school rather than use the census data. If there is a risk that they are going to challenge, I think it would sadden the government and surprise and disappoint us greatly. If any one of the denominations found it to be so critical to this, after expressing their support for the concept of interdenominational boards, that they would hold up the whole process at this point for the sake of having seven members on a board instead of six, then I would like them to go ahead and explain that to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, why the whole process and the whole thing that they say they support in principle, is going to be hung up and challenged over the sake - and what is so critical about that one board member.

There is a risk in this, we all understand that, but by trying to accommodate the risk because one group clearly prefers this because it is to their advantage in getting an extra member on four or five boards, then right away the other groups, who are going to lose a member, will be just as much at risk and they might hop off to the court. What we are hoping, and the risk we are willing to run by bringing in this whole notion, is that common sense will prevail and that, surely goodness, nobody is going to try to suggest to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that on this education reform initiative, that it is worth scuttling at this point in time, over the sake of one, single member out of a board of eighteen. That is a risk that the government is willing to run, and we are hoping that everybody will let common sense prevail and that we will continue on and do this in the interest of the students, rather than be going around suggesting, or in a veiled, threatening way, propose that we might have to take this to court because we thought we should have had six members on the board and we are only going to get five, because you are going to use the census data, which for forty-seven years has been readily accepted as the basis for doling out monies for the purpose of building the schools they operate. Now, because there is one body in the difference on a board of eighteen, we are not going to hold up to our public statements of saying, we agree with this process, we agree with this reform, that that one member is so critical, that we must challenge in the courts. So there is a risk, it is not widely accepted, it is the preferred position clearly of one group and we should continue on, in the view of the government.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Is your point on that section?

MR. HARRIS: On this section, yes.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Is it? Okay, go ahead.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: While we are on the issue, Mr. Chairman, of the elections of the boards, and the method of determining how the boards should be elected, I would ask the minister if he would comment on this issue.

Looking in the schedule to the act, the new Term 17, it provides in 17(e), page 22: "if" - and the word is if - "the classes of persons having rights under this Term so desire, they shall have the right to elect in total not less than two thirds of the members of a school board...." What the legislation provides for in section 6.1(2)(a), page 12, of the new act is that a school board shall have "2/3 thirds of the school board members... representatives of the classes of persons having rights under Term 17, and each class shall elect that portion of the 2/3 that is proportionate to the population of that class in the area under the school board's jurisdiction...."

I'm wondering if the minister can tell us whether the classes have all been consulted, and in what manner they were consulted. Have they all, these classes, advised the minister that they do wish to exercise their section 17(e) rights and elect people to the board along denominational or so-called class lines? Has that process been undertaken, or is the minister treating this as sort of enabling legislation to allow it to take effect, or has the consultation taken place? Have the classes exercised their option, as it were, under 17(e)? Can the minister enlighten us on the process by which they did that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

With respect to the election as pointed out by the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi in section 6.1(1) and (2), we have not made a contact with respect to their intention for the election which would be a year's hence, in September or November, depending on the municipal elections. We do understand that because of the way it is described in Term 17, that they must trigger their entitlement. They must let us know before the ballots are created and printed that they are insistent upon having their portion of their class elected. We haven't done that. We will do it prior to the election, because that will be part of the process before the ballots are created in each of the ten boards.

With respect to the interim boards and for the appointment, we have asked the question, Mr. Chairman, in the generic sense. We have not gone to each of the ten interim boards, because they are not in place yet, and asked: Do you want to have this? But we have asked the holders of the rights recognized legally at this point, who have been sent to the government, being the official executive directors of the DECs. Each of them has indicated to us at this point in time that they want to have their entitlement under Term 17 on the interim board. They will be asked again prior to any election in the future.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The very last section under clause 4 deals with the definition section of interdenominational school and uni-denominational school.

Under section (c) it is somewhat of an unusual wording in that it talks about "...the group of classes, having rights under Term 17, that formed one integrated school system..." I am just curious as to why simply the term `integrated' was not used there to simplify the definition section and to have it consistent with interdenominational and uni-denominational.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This has been an issue of discussion for some time, particularly with the Integrated Education Council. The whole notion, once the designation of schools was going to be put into the two categories of interdenominational schools or uni-denominational schools, the question had to be answered as to which of those did the current integrated schools consider themselves to be, and which one did they want to be designated as, because you must be one or the other; that is all that is provided for under the new Term 17.

They have indicated that they recognize and treat themselves as uni-denominational schools, and the provision in (c) is to give effect to that, that the group of classes in integration may be considered as if they were one class. They themselves, though, are then given the leeway with this provision to decide from one board to another, in that instance, whether they want to be considered interdenominational or uni-denominational. So there is an option for the integrated group in each case to decide whether or not they want to have themselves declared as an interdenominational or a uni-denominational school, and that reflects, to our understanding, the wishes of the integrated group.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, a further amendment to propose, moved by myself, seconded by the hon. Minister of Justice with respect to Clause 4. For those who are following, you will find it on page 13 of the bill, section 6.3(1).

Since we provided for wide consultation with respect to this matter since Friday past, and indicated we are always willing to look at better drafting if it is available, there is a clarification in section 6.3(1) which clearly better describes the full intent that everybody understands with respect to the establishment of the subcommittees. The Table has the amendment that we are moving, and would propose, actually, that in section 6.3(1) at the bottom of page 13, in the last line when it talks about "...that school board shall appoint from among its members a denominational committee..." everybody understands that the denominational committee for Roman Catholics will be appointed from members who are elected as Roman Catholics or who, in this first instance, appointed; that it would not be from any members on the board.

We all understood that in the discussions. It was clear that is the way the section will be actually used. So for further clarity the motion that the Table has, Mr. Chairman, is, after the word `members' in that last line, to add the words: elected under paragraph 6.1(2)(a), which are those denominational electees, the members who are elected in that fashion.

It is there, Mr. Chairman, just to give further clarity to the fact that those denominational subcommittee members will be people on the board who were elected or, in the first instance, appointed, as members of that class, not the members at large or any other class.

MR. H. HODDER: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: In order to facilitate the proceedings of the House, I raise a point of order relative to section 585, Amending One's Own Motion, on page 177 of Beauchesne, just so that we can be sure we are following procedures. In accordance with my good colleague - the spirit of his point of order this afternoon - I remind the hon. minister that without leave he cannot really amend his own motion; therefore, I put that forward as a point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate the correction. I was so wrapped up in the work to do that I forgot the rule for a second. I appreciate your reminder and would ask either leave or have the Government House Leader move the amendment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Just for the record, now that we are on this, does the hon. gentleman have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. TULK: Okay, move the amendment then, will you?

CHAIR: Order, please!

Does the hon. minister have leave to introduce the amendment?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

CHAIR: It is the ruling of the Chair that the amendment is in order.

On motion, amendment, carried.

On motion, clause 4 as amended, carried.

On motion, clauses 7 through to 11, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 12 carry?

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, again because of the consultation and for further clarity in the language, I would ask leave to have an amendment in clause 12, section 18(1), right at the bottom of page 17 in the printed bill, Mr. Chairman, seconded again by the Minister of Justice; that in fact, while it may be a redundant provision, some of the stakeholders, in looking at the provision, suggest that the duties of the director, while they are spelled out here very specifically and in some detail, that there should be no doubt that they should all be in compliance with this act and the education act. So to assure that everybody understands that and that it is legally provided for, the amendment that again the table has, Mr. Chairman, in section 18 (1), that clause 12 of the bill in this section be amended immediately after the first comma in the proposed subsection. So where it says, "A director shall..." right after that comma at the very bottom of page 17, insert, `the amendment subject to the provisions of this act and the Education Act and...' With that insertion, the sentence and the section 18 (1) then continues to finish reading, "...under the direction of the school board..." and it spells out the rest of the duties. So, for further clarity to ensure, I move, with leave, that amendment to section 18 (1) as presented before the table.

CHAIR: Does the hon. the minister have leave to introduce the motion to amend clause 12?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave. It is the ruling of the Chair that the motion is in order.

On motion, amendment, carried.

On motion, clause 12 as amended, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 13 to 30 inclusive carry?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I just have a question, Mr. Chairman, on - was the last one 13 to 30?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Okay. Clause 23, Mr. Chairman, on the duties of a construction board, subsection 8.2: "The construction board shall, in accordance with the regulations (a) receive proposals from school boards for the erection, extension and equipment of schools."

That term, `equipment of schools', I just want to raise a point on that, Mr. Chairman, if I may. I mean, if we look at that, the actual strict interpretation of that wording, equipment of schools could be something as basic as gymnasium equipment, home economics equipment, drama equipment or science lab equipment. I don't think that is what envisaged by the legislation. However, that wording could indeed encompass curricular materials that we find in our day-to-day schools. So I am just wondering if we could have some clarification on that reference. I am sure that is not the purpose of the construction board, it is to deal with extension and the construction of schools and is not going to be concerned about day-to-day equipment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again, it is language that has been carried over from the current practices carried on by the denominational educational councils because they, separately now, have responsibility for these matters. We provide the money and they decide how to do it.

The practice that has been occurring - when this language is used, the equipment of schools - the practice has been that if there is an extension, adding on classrooms, a library, a home economics room or so on, the phrase, `the equipment of schools', means that the normal basic infrastructure equipment that goes in there is also included in the cost of the initial construction or renovation. So if you are putting in a lab you don't just build the four walls, you put in the desks, you put in the sinks.

Now, it doesn't mean either, it doesn't go, in fact, as far as buying the Bunsen burners, or buying the microscopes. That comes from the instructional funding. Equipment that has been used in this sense - in everyday language we would probably use `the equipping,' meaning putting in the basic equipment, not the actual instructional aids that are there, but that you wouldn't build a library without putting in the shelves, you wouldn't just build the four walls. Neither does it go as far as to include the books that are on the shelves or the different materials that are available for the computer system and so on, the software packages and so on.

That is where the language has come from. It reflects the practice of the DECs in their construction activities to date, and that is how it is interpreted to be given, as an instruction to the construction board. You would include in that, of course, in a new classroom, the desks, but you wouldn't include - the desks are part of the capital construction for and built into those costs.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would ask the minister if he would care to comment on the process whereby a community which has concerns about the condition of their school, or the need for a particular school in their area, what process would they be required to follow as compared to the current process? I know members in this House have had reason to bring forth to the Minister of Education and to officials of the department the need for funds for school construction in their own district. I know this has been a big issue in a number of districts, both in Labrador and on the Island portion of the Province. It seems that the school construction board is only going to receive proposals from, or presumably hear representations from, school boards and not from communities, not from members of the House, not from members of the public, not from anybody else. The only people who have access to bend the ear of the construction boards are the school boards themselves.

I understand they obviously are elected bodies and they will have the ability to make representations on behalf of their own constituents, as it were; but ought there not to be an opportunity for delegations from particular communities, whether they be elected officials of that community, mayors, municipal or local councils, MHAs or others, to make representation to the construction board about the particular problems of a school in their community, or the need for a school in their community.

Would the Member for Torngat Mountains, for example, have to come to this House and make speeches, or would he be able to go to the school construction board and plead the case of his constituents directly to that board, or would he have to go through the school board?

Looking at the duties of the school board - and I want to commend the Member for Torngat Mountains for bringing these issues before the House and to the attention of the public of this Province. Is there a role then other than under the new section 8.2 of the Education Act for the construction board to receive representations or to provide an opportunity for communities or groups to make representations to that board and be heard, aside from just the school boards themselves? Perhaps the minister would comment on that first.

It may be that we can consider an amendment that would allow for representations to be heard from others other than proposals from other than the school boards themselves with respect to - I know that proposals may be a narrow word. Propose might be: Okay, here is a proposal for a school, here is the design, here is the construction cost, here is a proposed location. That would be a formal proposal for the erection or construction of a particular school.

I am thinking more on the political level of a recommendation or representation with respect to the need for funds in a particular area because of the condition of a school, and an attempt by a particular community to get priority. I wonder, would the minister comment on that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I actually appreciate the question because it is an important issue. So that everybody understands the direction of what is contemplated here: The Schools Act and the Education Act give the school boards, of which there will be ten, autonomy in determining how many schools they will decide to operate for their group of students within their geographic boundary. Right now it is done by twenty-seven denominational boards. In the future, for example, in the Avalon East area, that board has to make a determination as to how many facilities it will run for the students that it has responsibility for because they have that legal authority. The school construction board will not have that authority; this Legislature does not have that authority. This Legislature, through that piece of legislation, gives that authority to the elected school boards.

That is why section (a), Mr. Chairman, says that the construction board is only bound to receive proposals from these boards, because they are the only ones entitled to determine which schools will run in their geographic area of jurisprudence and care.

So what will happen is you will get representation from the communities and parents directly, and you will get representation from maybe members of the Legislature, like the Member for Torngat Mountains because he has already done that, to the DECs directly and so on. In effect what will happen is the law will dictate that the construction board, even if they get a representation from someone else - they probably will not deny it - but they will have to go back to the board and say: We have heard from these parents; we have heard from this MHA. Will you, as the board, support this recommendation? Because if that board does not, nobody has the authority to step in over the authority and over the legal jurisdiction of that board and say: We are going to do something to that board, even though the board that is responsible for it never, ever asked for it.

The process again, Mr. Chairman, will be: parents and MHAs must go to one of the ten school boards and influence them to ask the construction board to do this particular project. The advantage, as we all know, as in the case of Hopedale as an example, is that if that school board comes forward to the construction board they will not be limited to just part of the available funding. They will have the full of whatever the provincial funding is available that year. They will be able to get some slice of that rather than just some slice of their denominational part, and that is the real advantage in this. The process is that only the school board has the legal right, so the construction board can only accede to a request that officially comes from a school board in the first instance.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate the comments of the minister, but given the powers of the construction board under paragraph (b) there to prioritize, or priorize - I am not sure which is correct; priorize is being used there - to give priority to one proposal or another, that priority right or obligation is given to the construction board itself. Suppose, using the example of the school in Hopedale, the Member for Torngat Mountains, his board has put forth a particular priority or a particular proposal for school construction, and another board in another part of the Province has put forth an equally compelling case in respect of a school, or a proposed school, or a proposed school renovation, in his or her district, and the school boards are on side. It is now left to the construction board. Is it intended that it be the case that the only people whom the school construction board can hear from or listen to are the school boards themselves, that in fact the Members for Torngat Mountains or Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi would be precluded from going to the school construction board and saying: Look, I don't know what all your total resources are available to you, but I want to argue the case of the school in Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi or Torngat Mountains, or Exploits as the case may be?

Is that still contemplated here? If it is, where is the construction board given the power or the obligation to even hear from, other than the fact - paper doesn't refuse ink. Obviously if you send them a letter they get the letter, but whether they are required or even entitled to consider representations outside of those coming from the school board itself; there doesn't seem to be provision for that here.

Unless, I suppose, under the broad section (h), if they can manage to convince the Minister of Education that they should consider a particular request under clause 23, section 8.2(h). I don't think that is intended though to cover what I'm talking about. It seems that if this board is going to be given ultimate power to make the decisions in terms of priorities, at least, amongst the several proposals coming from various school boards, it seems to me that there ought to be a duty upon them to hear representations from MHAs or from community groups which may wish to make sure that the board is apprised fully of the concerns that a particular MHA, or minister for that matter, or a community group may have, in relation to a particular school.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Actually, the issue has been discussed before. The situation that we have been contemplating, and will look at in detail now as we put this first construction board in place, is right back at the beginning of the section 8.2(h), under clause 23, where it says: "The construction board shall, in accordance with the regulations...."

The accompanying regulations, the discussions that we have been having, is that the regulations that will then be spelled out to show how this board will actually function, whether there will be per diems, how they will be paid and all those kinds of things, what staff they will have, part of it will be to cover off, that in doing their work under section (b) of the act, which is when they priorize or prioritize, whatever language most people prefer, what level of consultation they will engage in will be laid out in the regulations with respect to that.

I think currently the DECs, for example, accept consultation from community groups, from individuals in some instances, from PTAs and so on. The expectation with respect to the construction board is that there would be provision for them as part of their prioritizing activity to hear submissions. They won't be bound by them but they would certainly allow for input.

On motion, clauses 13 through 30, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act," as amended, carried. (Bill No. 8)

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: We are a little bit late, Mr. Chairman. I understand we have agreement to break for supper. Then we will come back and do Committee reading of Bill Nos. 20 and 19, in that order.

CHAIR: The House will now recess and will reconvene at 7:00 this evening.

Recess

The House resumed at 7:00 p.m.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act No. 2.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act No. 2." (Bill No. 20)

On motion, clauses 1 through to 2, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed Bill No. 20 without amendment, carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill No. 19.

CHAIR: Bill No. 19.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: We are on the title, are we?

CHAIR: We are dealing with the title, clause 1?

MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to speak on the title, I say to the minister.

CHAIR: Clause 1.

MR. SULLIVAN: Clause 1?

MR. TULK: The short title.

MR. SULLIVAN: Whatever. Do you want me to speak on clause 1: May be cited as the printing services act?

MR. TULK: That is it.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is fine; I will speak on that.

Maybe it should be more appropriately named, Mr. Chairman, as the Diversion to the Public Tender Act. That might be an appropriate title, I say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I am sure members received a copy; I know I received a copy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: This is a letter -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, this is a genuine addition to what I said earlier today, very genuine. In fact, it is a letter from Xerox. The letter indicates: "Re: "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated." (Bill No. 19)

In case all members have not read theirs - it is copied to all members; I would assume everybody had one of these - it says: "Xerox Canada has just been apprised that the Legislature is considering Bill 19, and may proceed to third reading as early as this afternoon." I would like to indicate, that part is not going to be factual, I can assure you.

"Xerox Canada, which employs thirty-four people, and generates significant revenues in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, has serious objections and concerns to the passage of the legislation without the opportunity of public comment.

"Bill 19 allows for the bypassing of the public tendering process. This principle merits public discussion. The implications of such bypass will seriously impact Xerox Canada's business in the Province. It will also have a significant impact on and preclude the government's ability to obtain products and services and their inherent benefits through the competitive process which public tendering is intended to provide.

"We respectfully submit that Bill 19 not be adopted until the public is afforded the opportunity to comment. Xerox Canada is prepared to provide its comments within ten days."

That is signed by Steve Lesley, the General Manager of Xerox Canada Limited.

Mr. Chairman, to introduce a bill in the House and expect to deal with both readings the one day, without giving sufficient time in the public forum to hear what companies have to say, that is significant. I think that is very, very significant, to have companies already, on the day we see the bill, practically the day after we see the bill, expressing grave concern that the employment of their people here in this Province - they are not going to be permitted to avail of the normal public tendering process to be in the bill.

MR. OSBORNE: A Kodak moment.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, probably a Kodak moment.

We would not want government to make a snap decision on this particular issue, I say to the minister. We would not want to see that happen because it is very important. I, personally, want to see the opportunity for jobs in this Province. I am certainly prepared, when a negotiated settlement is reached within thirty days, if that is the time frame, within that period, to come back here and deal with it then. That is not in any way preventing this government from going out and negotiating. They do not need the Legislature to negotiate with Kodak Canada. What they need is permission from this Legislature to bypass the Public Tender Act, and that is not something I am prepared to do, or my Caucus is prepared to do; to allow this government a blank cheque to go out and circumvent the Public Tender Act, decide, outside this House, upon the grounds that they are going to go outside the confines of an act, enter into an agreement and they can renew that agreement forever.

That is what the legislation states. It says: during the currency of those agreements or the renewal of those agreements. That is not appropriate; it should not be done. There wasn't an opportunity for any private company out there to put proposals in, only the ones that wanted to have proposals on management of service could do it. It was not open to other people, I say to the minister, and that is by the minister's own statement here in the House today. It was not available to other companies in this Province, only the three that were interested in managing were restricted now to enter into whatever you call an economic development proposal.

I want to see as many economic development proposals come forward as we can possibly deal with but I don't want to give permission and I don't want to support any dealings to bypass the Public Tender Act that could indebt us to deal with contracts for what may be an agreement, what could be a potential agreement out there with Kodak Canada, any more than any other company. The same would apply whether the company was Xerox or whatever the company was. It is not an appropriate procedure and it should not be done. If you want permission to bypass the Public Tender Act, when we see the agreement then come back, and if we think it is in the best interest of this Province in the long term, that it is going to free up some of the shackles that might prevent us from entering into that agreement, then we will judge it on its merit and we will pass judgement at that particular time; not beforehand when we have not seen it.

Position yourself on this side of the House in a similar situation and tell me you would not make the same decision we are making here; I am quite sure you would.

MR. E. BYRNE: He actually said in the debate in closing second reading, that they are actually protecting the Public Tender Act.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the minister did say on the record - I was here in the House at the time too - that they are protecting The Public Tender Act. I can assure you, there is nothing in this bill that protects The Public Tender Act here. There is something in this bill that takes The Public Tender Act and tears it up, in reference to this particular project, and throws it out the window. That is what is happening here in The Public Tender Act. Those are the facts of it, the case. The minister is well aware of it. I don't know how many members are aware of the implications of this but I think you should be informed and you should have time to look at the implications over the next while and to have an opportunity to render your own judgement on this particular piece of legislation.

It is not something, as I said it to the Government House Leader before, it is not something, I can tell you, that we are taking lightly. In fact, we are taking it very, very seriously. It is not something - we are prepared to stay here on a continuous basis until next week without adjourning the House. If that is what it takes to do it, that is what we will do. The Government House Leader, the people in expediting business: that is certainly what we intend to do. We intend to delay this process as long as we possibly can until we know more of the facts, until they are prepared to put more on the table to deal with this particular piece of legislation.

I think it is important to realize that it is not proper. We were not asked to come back here on a day or two notice, on short notice, to deal with this particular bill here. We did not have any forewarning of it. I know some members around here did not know anything about it, I am quite sure. We didn't. I had no inkling of this until the possibility of it on Thursday and confirmation of it on Friday. To have to deal with this when we were called back to deal with education legislation and some general quick dealing with the public accountancy act; we will do that.

We dealt with the education legislation very, very, rapidly, I might add, very, very quickly. We only put up a few speakers on second reading. Only one person in the committee stage, I think, asked questions from this side of the House, I do believe, pertaining to it on certain areas, our critic in that particular area. We want to expedite matters here but we don't want to do it on a bill that was not in the nature of reconvening this House and one that has not had proper time to be tested out in the community out there by businesses.

I had calls on my desk when I went up. I have calls on my desk from businesses that I did not yet get to return. I would like to talk to these people to see what their concerns are. They are in this type of business, I know by the message that is there. I want to hear what they have to say, what some implications are, how their business is going to be affected by this process and what we are doing - and that is only fair game - rather than coming in here yesterday and expect to be out of here today with that bill. It is not proper, it is not appropriate.

One company already has told us - and I assume all legislators here in this House have received a copy of that. That is one company.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, of course we didn't.

MR. FITZGERALD: It sounds like the work of old (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Of course, we didn't; of course we didn't do any such thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Government House Leader should know the rules of this House on second and third readings. We cannot deal with it in one day without the consent of every single member of the House, without leave. I would just tell the Government House Leader, it is not going to be done because this is wrong.

I would like to speak to the nature of the bill here certainly. We dealt with that before. I am not going to hassle on that all night long. We have made that point, we discussed it, we passed our judgement on it, who said what and who didn't say what and it is all on record. I want to say on this bill that, if their intentions are proper, and I am sure they are, if they think something can be done cheaper, I want to support this government. I don't agree with paying out extra money when we don't need to, to provide a service.

I don't agree with giving carte blanche here to a particular company that will go out in the marketplace and compete against other companies, because they may be able to reach an agreement; because you may reach an agreement. We should have some control here in this Legislature over an act, the Public Tender Act that was put in place by the Legislature here and that is there to protect various companies across this particular Province, ones that want to have a level playing field to do business in this Province. It is tough enough doing business in this Province with the various tax-structure regime, even though it has been a bit enticing I must say in certain areas with certain taxes that went up initially, back since '89, but then they came back again. For instance, there is a payroll tax added, there are a lot of burdens on companies here in the Province today doing business, and the last thing we want is to shut other companies out of doing business here, when that should not happen unless there are very strong, very valid reasons to do that, that are not going jeopardize people here in this Province who do business, and not going to put the taxpayers in this Province at risk.

I have seen too many bad situations in the past. I talked about it earlier today, the Upper Churchill. Maybe we didn't foresee it. There were no other clauses in there. Maybe nobody foresaw that, but I think we need to learn by past mistakes. We dealt with the Public Tender Act on Trans City. Maybe there is a lesson in all these things that we don't go out and try to subject ourselves to extra millions of dollars, taxpayers. That is going to cost us in excess of $30 million because of that decision in paying back, not counting court costs in the millions, not counting having to buy back the facilities again now at the market value, when we could have gotten them back for one dollar. That was the original intent, what was tendered. Changing the rules when the game was started, that is what got the government in trouble on the tendering process here and that is something that we want to avoid. To come into this Legislature and ask for permission to go out and circumvent the Public Tender Act without laying the cards on the table, that is not fair game and it is something I cannot support.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the comments with respect to the objections that the Leader of the Opposition has received in the form of the letter to which he referred in his opening comments.

Now, I would like to refer back, once again, to the process on which I provided background in my comments which have been distributed. I indicated in my comments that, in June of 1995, my department, in accordance with the Public Tender Act, issued a proposal call requesting the services of a management company to oversee the management of the Printing Services of government. I indicated in those comments as well, that government received three proposals, one of which was from Kodak Canada. I would also say that a second of which was from Xerox.

Kodak subsequently approached government with an economic development proposal which we explored and decided, on the basis of the potential that it offered, that it was reasonable and a good opportunity to look at further. On the basis of that, my department went back to Xerox and invited them to come and meet with me and my officials to explore and to consider and look at a similar scope proposal. Then we went away from that and invited Xerox to submit a proposal along the scales and scope that we had discussed so that we could consider it instead of simply considering the one proposal that was put forward to us.

I attended that meeting with Mr. Lesley. I can assure you that he fully understood, as did his officials, the scope of the economic development proposal that we were considering, and that we were offering to him the exact same opportunity, on behalf of Xerox, to make to government in this regard. Xerox did come back with a proposal and both of those proposals then - the Kodak one and the Xerox one - were taken and fully evaluated according to established criteria. The decision that was reached was that the Kodak proposal, which we are now pursuing in terms of negotiation, far outweighed in its overall benefits in all aspects that you want to look at it: investment in the Province, business opportunity, cost savings to government, the treatment and the way it would address the human resource aspect of it. Every aspect that we looked at, this was a superior proposal.

So your concern that another major player in a similar environment would not have had access is not accurate. In fact, they have had full access. They have submitted a proposal and it has been fairly evaluated. The outcome now is that we judge the Kodak proposal to be the superior proposal, and therefore are pursuing this.

That I think addresses the issue of having fair and equitable access to deal with this particular kind of proposal. I might add that this is not the same as tendering a piece of road or tendering just printing services. This is a much larger and more complex economic development proposal and it needs to be dealt with in accordance, because of the nature and complexity of this.

The Leader of the Opposition has stated that if something can be done more cheaply he supports it. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that in fact we know, when it comes to the printing services of government, that the agreement we are exploring and looking for enabling legislation now to allow us to enter into it, will, absolutely, provide for cheaper, more efficient services for government in this area of printing, as well as all of the other advantages. If the agreement does not include all of these then we simply will not enter into it. There is no reason for us to enter into it. Those are the things that we are trying to take advantage of on behalf of the taxpayers of this Province.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all I want to make it clear to the minister that I was citing Xerox as one of the companies which is going to be affected by business in this Province. I wasn't taking up the cause of Xerox.

I want to clarify something the minister just indicated in her statement and make sure we are quite clear on what she has said. Initially, they called for proposals for management to manage the operation of printing services. How many out there are interested in managing the printing services? Three people came forward and said: We would like to get involved in managing the printing services. Only those three who are interested in management - lots might have liked to take it over, to privatize. There could be hundreds out there wanting to take it over. You asked how many were interested in management; there were only three. You only called those three. In that, Kodak made a proposal and you contacted others. Only those three were allowed to be able to get involved in taking over that process, nobody else.

I could be interested in buying it and running it, but I might not be interested in managing the service, because I might be out there in the marketplace already doing similar work and so on, and to run a parallel service there, there are lots of reasons why not. This was excluded to every single company that wanted to bid on this process or be a part of it, except three. Selective!

That is what happened, if you remember, on Trans City. What happened on Trans City is that the committee made a decision to exclude certain other bids and you only considered the higher bids in it because they were excluded from that final process. That is one of the things that happened that caused problems with Trans City.

We are excluding every other company. I'm not sure if the minister intended it, but I drew from it that this was an open process for everybody. I'm sure the minister is quite clear on what I'm saying, that every company was excluded except the three that wanted to manage it. Because you don't want to manage it does not mean you shouldn't be part of the open process to want to buy it, run it or provide the service or tender on it. That's a different matter altogether, I say to the minister, a different matter altogether. Whatever it is, it is not an appropriate procedure.

What is wrong? The minister said it is a tremendous proposal. Let us see the proposal by Kodak. Give us the particulars you are telling us about. Why is it so good? Why is it miles ahead of others? Let us see it. Tell us why it is miles ahead. Why not call open proposals from everybody, then judge the proposals, if you want to look at that point of view, but don't make it exclusive. Don't prevent other people from using the process. It has not gone out to an open bid, this process, it has not been done. It has not happened. Even if it did open bids in a proposal, asking us then to bypass The Public Tender Act, to sign a contract with Kodak - this legislation is giving authority to this House to renew that contract in five years, ten years, fifteen, ninety, 100 or 1,000 years time; to renew the contract again. Who in their right mind would want to do that; I don't know? Who would want to do that because that to me does not make proper business sense. It is committing people, the taxpayers of this Province, and it is excluding people who have been striving to do business in this Province for many years. There are many other people who could be interested in participating in this process.

If it is a good idea, if we are going to get something new here, if we are going to create jobs, let us see it. In all probability it will be one of the first off the mark to be able to support endeavours that are based on merit, not on speculation. There are no guarantees of jobs in what may be an agreement, a potential agreement, to come into the House. In fact, I find it ludicrous, to be honest with you, to come into this House and try to waste time in here, debate something here - they are asking us to do something that is completely outlandish, it is improper, it is inappropriate and it is abuse of taxpayers' money.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, maybe I will, I say to the Government House Leader. I can tell you, on this particular piece of legislation you can stay until the cows come home here on this, I don't agree with it. On basic principle I am going to oppose it and if I have to stand in the House several times here to make that point I will do it, I say to the Government House Leader.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Chair.

The legislation now before us provides for thirty days to allow the government to enter into an agreement with Kodak. One of the issues that I raised in my earlier comments in the House was the question as to whether or not all of the business now undertaken by government printing services - perhaps the minister can tell us whether it is the $3.7 million, where she is quoted in the newspaper today as saying there is $3.7 million, or whether it is closer to $3.1 million or $3.2 million? Perhaps she could tell us that first of all.

Secondly, perhaps you can tell us what is the nature of the deal that is being contemplated here? Is the government planning on saying to Kodak, we have $3.7 million or $3.1 million or $3.2 million worth of business and we are going to give it to you. If you don't want to do it yourself and you want to contract it out, you can contract it out to one of the people who is now doing the business here in St. John's, in Toronto or somewhere else. If they are going to get the whole of the business are they not going to expect to get a commission on what they are passing out to everybody else? If that is the case, how can the government argue that the business is being done cheaper? How is the work going to be done cheaper if, instead of contracting the work directly to a printer, which is being done now for what appears to be $1.7 million worth of work, if Kodak has to manage that contract, presumably let the contracts, supervise the work, do what it is that government now does directly, will they not expect to make a profit on that as well? Will they not expect to make a profit on the business that they are subcontracting out to somebody else? If that is the case, how does that amount to a saving by government? That is one of the questions I have today that I hope the minister will address. I will have a seat and hope she will address it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: To do what?

MR. HARRIS: To continue my remarks.

If I do not have leave, I do not have leave.

CHAIR: The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

The Member for Kilbride relinquishes.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair and hon. members for giving me leave. I appreciate that the minister may not have been able to hear my remarks because between the minister and I is the Government House Leader who seems to have a habit of interjecting. He is not bullying yet, he is just braying, I think, at the moment. I appreciate that the minister may not have heard the last part of my remarks and that I was expecting her to respond to them.

The question was: Was she quoted correctly in the paper today as saying there was $3.7 million worth of government printing business that was being contemplated here, or is it the $3.1 or $3.2 that was discussed previously? The figure she agreed with, I believe yesterday or today, $1.7 million worth of work that is now contracted out, is that already contracted out? Is that to be part of this deal with Kodak, and if it is and Kodak is going to be asked, as the Premier said today, to ensure that a similar amount as is now contracted to private printing operations in the Province, if that is still going to be there, will Kodak not expect to make a commission or a profit on managing that work, too? If that is the case, how can the same amount of work, this $1.7 million worth of work, that instead of being contracted directly by government is being managed by Kodak and they are going to make a profit out of it, how can it then be done for less and how can the government save money on that?

I hope that the minister will respond to that. First of all, to let us know whether the figure is $3.1 or $3.2, or the $3.7 that she is quoted as saying in the paper today?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Chairman, to get the figures straight on this. My comments indicated that the total value and cost of printing services to government is approximately $3.6 million. That includes what is done in House and what is contracted externally. The value of what is contracted externally is approximately, again, $1.7 million. Of that figure some of it goes outside the Province, and approximately $700,000 to $800,000 of that amount stays in the Province and is done by local business.

If this proposal, and if government were to enter into this agreement, it will mean that government goes out of the printing business. So to all intents and purposes the printing that is required by government departments that would normally flow through the printing services division would then be part of the agreement that would be entered into with Kodak of Canada Limited.

The issue of the profit levels within Kodak is not a particular issue for this government. One aspect of what we are concerned with is what is the comparable cost of that line of business to government under the current arrangement of doing it in-House and partially contracting out, versus taking the same line of business and having it contracted out in this case, if the agreement is reached to Kodak.

The issue for government would be to ensure that the total value and the total cost of that is less, and I can assure you that in any agreement we will enter into the total cost of printing services to government will be significantly less than what we are currently paying by doing this service internally and contracting out externally as well.

The other point I might make that needs to be taken into consideration here goes back again to the issue of contracting out services, the impact it has on employees, and what that means in terms of the overall cost. If government were today to take the business that is printing and to contract out that whole line of business to the private sector, purely and simply we are getting out of the printing service business. Then government through its collective agreement would have an obligation to continue to provide employment for the approximately thirty staff who are currently involved in providing this service on government behalf. Consequently, the economic viability of contracting out, purely and simply and strictly the printing services, would not be particularly economic, I would think, if we had to continue as a government to pay the employees' salaries and benefits for the people who are now currently providing that service.

On the specific points that the member raised, I believe I have addressed the majority of them that I had noted here, and if there is further information that I can provide, without going into the strict and specific details that will be subject to negotiation as we work through this agreement, then I am more than willing to be able to provide it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the minister for confirming the figures of $3.6 million for government printing services.

Perhaps the minister could also tell us what is contemplated by government printing services now? Does this include agencies of government or boards, such as Workers' Compensation Commission, the Public Service Commission, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and other boards and agencies of government which have printing obligations?

No? I see the minister shaking her head. So you are talking about you do now in-House and what is contracted out. So, we are still talking then about $6.3 million as a substantial amount of government business. I think the real issue here is whether or not, as a result of this process we are going through today, the offer to Kodak of an exclusive contract, under terms to be negotiated, in advance giving the government a blank cheque or leave, as it were, to go ahead and enter whatever contract it deems advisable without this House being aware of what the contract contains and what the benefits of it are.

Now, I heard the Premier speak in the House today, and I have spoken to him privately about it. I think there is certainly some potential in the proposal being discussed; potential. That is like saying there was potential in the Churchill Falls power contract as well. There was a lot of potential in the Churchill Falls hydro power contract. In fact, the potential was so great that if it were done right we would have, as a people, $700 million a year more today in our coffers than we do now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Nine hundred million.

MR. HARRIS: Nine hundred million; I am corrected by the Government House Leader. The potential was even greater. There would be $900 million a year in the public coffers of the people of Newfoundland instead of Hydro Quebec, based on the potential of the Labrador Hydro contract. So I agree, there is some potential in this contract but let's see it on the Table of the House before we are asked to vote.

The former Premier, who sat on that side of the House, at one time refused to support legislation in a contract over the Come By Chance Oil Refinery. Why? Because he did not think it was a good enough contract. If this government has a contract that it thinks is good for the people of Newfoundland, so good that we should throw away the protection of The Public Tender Act, then let's see it. Let's find out the obligations that Kodak has to the people of Newfoundland. Let's find out what performance obligations there are or if there are any. Let's see what the answers are to the questions that the employees now have about what is going to happen to their pensions and what's going to happen to their job security.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) pocket?

MR. FITZGERALD: Perhaps it is something you would like to have.

MR. HARRIS: I would refer all questions about what is in my pocket to the Member for Bonavista South; he knows about that.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have no doubt that a contract like this may have potential. I have some doubt about the bona fides of this company. I have heard - and I have only heard yet, I have not done full research on it - I have heard that they are not too union friendly, that they don't necessarily like free collective bargaining. Now I am not going to say nasty things about Kodak Canada without the full research, and there has not really been time for that, but the proof of the pudding, Mr. Chairman, is in the eating. When we can see what it is that this government has to offer by way of an alternative to The Public Tender Act, when we see what this government is proposing to exclude The Public Tender Act in order to accomplish, if it is good for the people of Newfoundland, well then I will support; even though on principle we don't support contracting out as a method of government operation.

Not all contracting out is necessarily always bad, Mr. Chairman. If there is something in this agreement that guarantees the rights of the employees, that provides long term job security, that provides extra investment for the people of this Province that is going to make it worth our while to do this, that gives us access to the cutting edge of technology and work for people in this Province who have the skills, ability and experience to be able to take advantage of that, then I would be for it, Mr. Chairman. But if we are being asked to give a total blank cheque to the government of this Province to enter into whatever agreement that they see fit, without this House having a chance to look at it, then I cannot agree with that, Mr. Chairman.

That is the position that I take and I think that's the position that hon. members opposite would take in similar circumstances, if they were in the Opposition. So I think that they have to acknowledge that what is being asked here is something that they would not give to a government if they were in Opposition. If they are prepared to acknowledge that, then they should not support this bill, leave it at second reading, come back the deal is done and let's see the agreement and have it pass at that time.

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, the government is being abused here this evening. The government is being abused, I have to say it.

The only question I have: I have to wonder whether or not, the Leader of the NDP, if this is a full Caucus position? Has he talked to his Caucus about this because I think he should, Mr. Chairman. I think he should talk to his Caucus about this position he has taken, this extreme position that he has taken.

The government here, Mr. Chairman, is being open, is coming into the House of Assembly saying: Here is what we are looking at doing, here are the parameters within which we are thinking about doing it, and then we are going to undertake to try and do it. It is amazing that we might get the possibility of getting a company like Kodak in the Province, doing something in North America. There is only one other site in North America where this might be being undertaken. That just might happen. There is a chance that it might occur, and God knows, if it was to occur, what would happen then, I wonder. I'm sure when it happens, if he happens, the Opposition will change its mind and say: This thing is the best thing since sliced bread.

They have raised more alarms today, Mr. Chairman, on a proposal that is so attractive that it is leading edge. They want us to negotiate in the House of Assembly the details of trying to attract a company to this Province. I cannot understand the NDP, I can't understand them at all. Peter Fenwick this week was writing about whether or not they should move to the right. Well, I say to him that they shouldn't move too far right to where the PCs are. I think he should come towards somewhere in the middle to try to attract some votes. Because with this type of position being taken, which really says to the private sector: We don't want to bother with you, we don't want to talk with you, we don't really care whether or not it is a good idea, we just want to do things the way we have done them in the past, I think that day is over in this Province, of trying to do things as we have done them in the past. We are trying to find new investment. That is all this bill is about, attempting to attract new investment.

If the Opposition is going to do this, Mr. Chairman, continually get up and ask a whole range of questions to which the answers will come in due course - the government has been duly elected to try to attempt to attract new business. All it is doing here is coming in and saying: We are looking at a proposal and we are giving a heads-up to everybody, and we are heading towards this potential proposal to attract new business.

It is amazing, Mr. Chairman, the negativity from the other side. I don't understand it whatsoever. When other provinces are doing this in Atlantic Canada, it is usually welcomed with open arms by mostly everybody, as a matter of fact, when you try to attract new business, protect jobs that are already there, try to get them into a relationship where those jobs will go on into the future, that we create new contracts for this Province. Maybe that isn't a good thing to do. That is what I see coming from the other side. I've been listening to it for the last three or four hours. That is all I can see. I see nothing but negativity. The concerns they are raising are totally unfounded. I would ask the Opposition to get on board with attracting business to this Province, not trying to tell it to go away. It is time to get on board to help attract business. That is what this is about; it is no more and no less.

We have to go through the scrutiny of whatever we do. The government is going to have to go through the scrutiny of the public whatever it does, so at the end of the day you will still have all kinds of speeches to give about any deal that we sign. It is like: Just tell Kodak - you know, let's get so much interference here that this thing won't happen. I think that is the Opposition's plan. I hope it doesn't work, as a matter of fact. I hope the government succeeds with the possibility of having a name company in Canada set up in this Province for the first time that is not doing normally what some of these companies do, which is just to come in here and do the servicing. This company wants to do a new technology in this Province. If that is the case, you are going to hear all about it. I think they want to kill it before we get a chance to do anything about it, is what I see happening. I must be missing it, I think, Mr. Chairman. I have to be missing it totally.

The Opposition is totally cooperating. I can see that they are cooperating here. They are trying to help attract business to this Province. There is no doubt about it in my mind, from what I can see happening today. I'm sure that the questions they are asking, they are absolutely just doing that so that they can help along and make sure that the government doesn't miss anything. I suppose that's what I am hearing but I am going to have to listen more carefully as we go forward.

I would ask the Opposition: as they go forward with their discussion, questions and comments that they think a little bit about what they are saying, so that as we go forward to see what we can do in attracting some companies to this Province that not every other company is going to have to face the same type of flak that this company is already facing before we have even started to get a final deal, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour: If only what you are saying were true it would have some merit. But that's not the debatable point, that is not what is being debated in the House of Assembly right here, right now. Nobody in this House would not want to see an additional 100, 300 or 400 jobs attracted to this Province. There is not a member -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that how many jobs they are promising?

MR. E. BYRNE: I have no idea. There is not a member that would not want to see that happen.

The Minister of Environment and Labour stands up and talks about the Opposition being obstructionist. We have supported this government since they were elected on particular pieces of legislation and when they put them forward and we saw merit in them we congratulated them. Would the minister like me to name the pieces of legislation that I am talking about? It is not true. What we are talking about, I say to the minister, is simply this, that government does not need this piece of legislation to negotiate a deal with Kodak at all. It does not need it. The main question that has failed to be answered here this evening, in any part of the debate, is why does the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, representing the government on this issue, need a piece of legislation that circumvents the public tendering process, to go and negotiate with a company?

AN HON. MEMBER: He don't want to break the law. (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: We are hearing something now.

MR. E. BYRNE: Here we go! That's right. Maybe that's it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: That's the legal beagle over there.

MR. E. BYRNE: Here we go! Now this is the new counsel, QC, the Member for Topsail, (inaudible) by the Minister of Justice and given the title of QC, Queens Counsel. We will give him the title of Queens Counsel. The member admitted to the Privy Council - brilliant legal analysis of a question that I just asked the minister.

Government has failed to answer a fundamental question of why it needs to circumvent a public tendering process to negotiate with Kodak? Government does not need legislation to negotiate a deal with any other company. In the past it has not needed it. When we privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services government did not need legislation to do that. They made the deal, they can do it, they have the power. They can exercise their authority, enter into the agreement and say to Kodak or any other company: we will bring it before the House, we will call the House back and it will be done. It is a lame duck argument to say that Opposition is holding up a piece of legislation when government, by its very nature, has a majority in this House, to express its will to a vote of this House whenever it chooses. It is simply without merit.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood up earlier and said, and expects members in this House and the public to believe, that actually what this legislation is doing is protecting The Public Tender Act, that it is in fact protecting The Public Tender Act. It is a very simple question that has failed to be answered.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it is not about agricultural land I say to the minister. If you took some advice - so far you have, I will say that. The minister has been very accessible.

The fundamental question that government has failed to answer is: why does it need legislation to circumvent the public tendering process and The Public Tender Act to exercise the authority it already has?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: What else is new, I say to the Minister of Education? Nobody listens to anybody in here. Look around. Are we doing this for the goodness of our heart? Certainly, it is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Nobody listens to him. Nobody listens to him anymore.

I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour, nobody on this side of the House is trying to obstruct or stand in the way of business coming to this Province. Do whatever is necessary to ensure that happens. Maybe it is me; I fail to understand why government needs a piece of legislation to circumvent the Public Tender Act to exercise an authority that it already has in here, unto itself by being government, that they can enter into agreements and arrangements with companies, organizations of individuals.

Nobody can answer that and nobody has answered that. Until that question is answered, while this debate is ongoing I will get another opportunity and I am sure other members will, to speak about it again.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I cannot say I am pleased to stand in my place today and speak on Bill 19 because I personally do not believe this bill should be before the House. When this House closed back in June the Premier of the day said he would call the House together possibly in July, after the Senate hearings, to discuss or to debate the education bill, but we are here now with three bills that were not planned on when we were told we would be back here this July. This one here, Bill 19, from my perspective, again is a bill trying to be rushed through the House.

The minister, when she was on her feet today, said: if government determines that it can work a deal with Kodak that is in the best interest of the Province, they would sign a contract with these people. It may very well turn out to be a very good deal, Mr. Chairman, but my concern is that this administration and, in particular the front benches, of course, made previous decisions that they thought were in the best interest of this Province. One of them was Trans City which is going to cost the people of this Province $30 to $40 million more than it should have cost.

MR. E. BYRNE: If we had adopted that attitude, Hydro would be privatized.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am getting into Hydro. That is next.

Trans City is going to cost the people of this Province $30 or $40 million more.

Now, Hydro that was going to be privatized: that same group of people, mostly the same Cabinet ministers, a lot of them, wanted to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. It was only because of the opposition on this side of the House, and the opposition from the public, that the Newfoundland Hydro deal was stopped, Mr. Chairman. So why should we have faith in this administration to say: if we determine it is in the best interest of the Province, we will go ahead and sign the deal with Kodak?

Now, Mr. Chairman, of course we know that this bill here, this very short bill, by the way, can have a very big, big impact on the people of this Province. Hopefully if it goes ahead and it is a big impact on the people of the Province, it will be a positive impact on the people of this Province. Again, my concern is that it may be a negative impact on the people of the Province because they are talking about circumventing the Public Tender Act, the Public Tender Act, I believe, that was put in place by the Progressive Conservative Party of this Province when they were the government.

MR. TULK: The Public Tender Act was (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: Not yet, and that is what we are up to now. We are surveying this bill, I say to the Government House Leader.

As I say, Mr. Chairman, my concern is that this bill, if it is passed, would circumvent the Public Tender Act. That it what the government is asking for, Mr. Chairman. If it circumvents the Public Tender Act, and it does, what is to come down the road? We do not know what is to come, we do not know what deal will be made with Kodak Canada.

Also, Mr. Chairman, they talked about the duration, the duration of any contract with Kodak and the renewal of any contract with Kodak. So for all intents and purposes it could go on for eternity, almost as bad as Churchill Falls.

The minister was saying that if they privatize the printing services and what have you it would be more cost-effective and efficient. That very well could be. It is quite possible that it will happen that way, but we really don't know if it will be more cost-effective. I know people on this side of the House would support the idea of privatizing any government service that would bring benefits to the people of this Province, but we need to know up front that that is what will happen in this situation. We don't know, so how can we really be asked to pass a bill through the House of Assembly that gives the government the right to circumvent the Public Tender Act, which was actually put in place to protect the people of the Province? So I really don't know.

The minister was on her feet and she made some comments with respect to the proposal itself. The proposal went out -

AN HON. MEMBER: She really doesn't know.

MR. J. BYRNE: She really doesn't know.

MR. GRIMES: You really don't know.

MR. J. BYRNE: I really don't know on this issue. That is why we are up here, that is why we debating this, I say to the Minister of Education.

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What is the ATV man saying, the legal beagle from Topsail?

MR. WISEMAN: Listen, don't be confused about ATVs now.

MR. J. BYRNE: The ATV I'm talking about here is `another terrible venture.' You are the one who is confused. ATV is `another terrible venture,' not all-terrain vehicles. You are getting really confused. Go back to your seat over there and speak up. Stand on your feet and support the bill, I would say to the Member for Topsail.

With respect to the proposal call itself, the minister said the department made calls for a proposal to oversee the management of the printing services. Very well and good. She got a proposal in from Kodak, I think, and maybe Xerox and whoever else. Kodak came back later on with a more detailed, more involved proposal taking on more responsibilities. They looked at that and went out to the two other companies and asked them for proposals. So in actual fact there were only three businesses that were asked to make proposals on this venture, Mr. Chairman. There may be ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, or a hundred other companies within or outside the Province that could actually be interested in this service, providing this service to the people of the Province. It wasn't really quite accurate to say there were public proposals called for this service. There were only three companies which were permitted or asked to make a presentation with respect to this proposal.

The minister was on her feet saying that this agreement she was referring to with Kodak - so that would lead me to believe that they are pretty far along with respect to this agreement, if they want to put legislation through the House before the fact. Yet the Premier was on his feet today saying there was no agreement. Again we can see that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Get up on a point of order, Ralph.

MR. J. BYRNE: He doesn't know what a point of order is. He wouldn't know how to get up on a point of order, he doesn't know what one is.

Again I have a concern with respect to this bill; the time frame, thirty days, not twenty-nine days, not thirty-one days, not twenty-seven days, not thirty-two days, thirty days. If they don't have a deal worked out thirty days from the time this legislation is proclaimed, whatever, it will be null and void. Why the thirty days? Who is putting the pressure on who for this thirty day limit, I would ask?

The minister has been asked by a number of speakers previously, but she has yet to explain to this House as to why the need for this legislation. That to me hasn't been answered satisfactorily yet. The minister has not explained why the need for this legislation, Mr. Chairman. I think that before this legislation is passed in this House, if it is passed, the minister should be up front and tell us why this legislation is required, why it is needed. In actual fact, as I made a comment across the House today, what is the government hiding? What is it trying to hide with respect to this legislation? I think that is something that needs to be addressed.

There is another example of what could happen with respect to the passage of this legislation, Mr. Chairman, and that is a couple of years ago Newfoundland Tel took over NLCS, Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. It was supposed to be more cost effective for the taxpayers of this Province, it was to be more efficient for the taxpayers of this Province and that it would create more jobs within the Province; by privatizing NLCS. Now, Mr. Chairman, from what I can gather the Department of Government Services and Lands, which used to be Environment and Lands at the time, used to make use of NLCS with respect to their calculations at the Howley Building. I know that from working there. Memorial University used to utilize NLCS and other government departments utilized NLCS. Last year we found out that there has been a lot more money spent for the exact same services, Mr. Chairman, a lot more money spent by the taxpayers of this Province and the government of this Province for the same services that they were getting from NLCS. So again now: Will the same situation arise?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) in a different colour.

MR. J. BYRNE: What's this? Is the Member for Topsail playing musical chairs? Are you playing musical chairs, I say to the Member for Topsail? This House of Assembly is a much more serious -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What are you saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what I am saying, you want the minister to contravene the act.

MR. J. BYRNE: Come on over. Get up. We want the minister to be upfront and tell us what is going on here, to make a deal, bring it back to this House of Assembly and then let the people in this House decide. She doesn't need the legislation to go out and work a deal. She does not need legislation to out and talk, talk, talk.

MR. TULK: She is too upfront like you.

MR. J. BYRNE: Like you. Very good, she is too upfront. I would have to give her a certain amount of credit for being more upfront certainly than a few of the other ministers, I say to the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). You can't be more upfront than that?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, and I am working on it too.

Now another concern, Mr. Chairman, with respect to this legislation of course is the employees with the Queen's Printer and Printing Services with respect to the security of the jobs of those people. The contracts have been worked out. The union contracts have been signed - what would be the right word? What will be the long term effect, I suppose, on the employees and the security of their positions, their jobs, Mr. Chairman?

The Premier stated today in answering questions from the Leader of the Opposition that he expects the majority of the people working there would maintain their jobs, either within government or with Kodak. The key words here of course are, `he expects the majority.' Now would that be the minority or would it be - he expects the majority to maintain their jobs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the bill carry.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave? I have lots of time yet.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the minister herself stood this evening and made a comment with respect to Xerox being requested as one of the second companies to come back with a proposal for the management and what have you with respect to this bill. She looked at it, her and her staff and whoever, Cabinet, and made a decision that they should go with Kodak. That does not alter the fact that there were only three companies who made proposals, that were asked to make proposals and there could be hundreds of more out there who would be interested in making a presentation to government to provide this service.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I have to get back and say - I suppose from my comments you could determine that I am opposing this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: No?

MR. J. BYRNE: One would guess that but I don't know, there may be some members on the opposite side who would not pick up on this, you know.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I think I have gone on long enough for now. I am sure I will be up to say a few more words in due course.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) times yet.

MR. J. BYRNE: What? Three more times tonight? No problem, no sweat. Anyway, I am going to sit down now, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your time.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

For a moment, when the Minister of Environment and Labour stood up, I was pleased because I thought the Minister of Environment and Labour was going to tell us what was in the cards to protect the rights of the workers in this proposed deal. I thought he was also going to tell us why his government is setting about the creation of a low-wage ghetto for women in the home care industry, after this government told the people of this Province that it was doing something to fix up health care by allowing community control, that this was part of a grand government plan. Trust us, we are doing it right, we are doing it the right way. I thought he was going to tell us, Mr. Chairman, what plans he had to solve the problems that the Comcare workers have. Because they are now receiving 25 per cent less than what they received before the government reorganized the home care in the City of St. John's.

I thought he was going to tell us all that, Mr. Chairman, because he is the minister responsible for labour. I thought he was going to explain to us why it was that his government had not yet brought in legislation to guarantee that when work passes from the public sector to the private sector why there are no successor rights. I thought he was going to tell us why all of these things have existed up to now and are going to be different in the Kodak agreement.

He didn't, Mr. Chairman, he didn't say one single word about the protection of the workers who are going to be affected by this proposed deal; didn't say a thing. All he wanted to talk about was the platitudes about what his government - let us do exactly what we want, he said, and then sometime down the road, you know, two, three, four or five years from now, the people will decide whether to re-elect us. In the meantime, we want the complete right to do exactly what we want because we have a mandate from the people.

Mr. Chairman, that isn't the nature of democracy. This is a parliamentary democracy in which, when you want to have legislation changed you have to come to the House of Assembly to do it. If you are going to do something, you have to show the people of the Province what you are going to do. They haven't shown anybody anything! The minister's response to most of the questions is: Well, that is a level of detail that I don't want to go into. What detail do we have? We have the name of the company, Kodak; we have the scope of the business it is about to give to them; but we don't know what the benefits are, and we haven't heard what steps are being taken to guarantee the rights of the workers who are going to be displaced out of government and taken over by this company.

It isn't good enough to say there are going to be new jobs, or potentially new jobs. The question is: What kind of jobs? Are they going to be low-wage jobs? Are we going to be creating a new kind of low-wage work? Are we or are we not? What guarantees do we have that the kind of jobs that are going to be created by this company are of equal value to the economy as the jobs that it is going to displace. We have no guarantee for collective bargaining passing.

I'm glad the Minister of Environment and Labour is back because maybe he will get a chance to speak again, and this time address the issues that are under his jurisdiction. Tell us about the labour input and the labour content of this deal. Tell us what he is going to do for the home care workers who are now in a low-wage ghetto created by this government, especially for women. Tell us what he is going to do about that, as part of the reorganization of government services.

He says: Trust us. Leave us in charge for four or five years, maybe more. Leave us in charge and we will go the people a few years down the road; but in the meantime let us do exactly what we want.

Mr. Chairman, I was hoping that when the Minister of Environment and Labour took his place in the House and injected himself into the debate that we were going to hear more than just platitudes of what the former, former Leader of the New Democratic Party might have had to say about something or other. I would like to hear the Minister of Environment and Labour speak again. I see he is going back to his place and getting fired up to inject a little common sense into the debate, and tell us more about his own portfolio and what he and his government are doing to guarantee that whatever jobs are created in this field, what he is doing to ensure that there is going to be the kind of protection for employees that there should be. Tell us what he is going to do to ensure that when jobs move from the public sector to the private sector that there are successor rights for bargaining agents? Tell us what he is going to do about that, to ensure that if these jobs go from the public sector to the private sector through contracting out, that there is going to be some bridging provision between the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act and the Labour Relations Act? Tell us if he is going to bring that legislation in as well as this one, if he is going to have that in the contract or if he is going to guarantee it is in the contract? Tell us, Mr. Chairman, that he is sitting at the table along with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Premier, to ensure that the workers needs are being protected? Tell us those things the next time he gets up to inject himself in this debate, rather than laying on platitudes about what this government wants to do for the people of the Province and how the Opposition does not support it.

Mr. Chairman, he obviously did not listen to my speech because I said that, if he puts an agreement on the table that is good for the people of this Province then this hon. member will support it. If he asks for a carte blanche to enter into whatever agreements he wants, regardless of the requirements of the Public Tender Act, he is not going to get it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank my hon. colleagues for the applause.

I must admit that I do not know very much about the company that the minister is putting forward. I do not know very much about Kodak. I have heard the name before and I know they develop film but as far as their hiring practices and as far as their labour practices and being a good corporate citizen, I must admit that I know very little about it.

Mr. Chairman, when you see the minister stand in her place and make such a feeble attempt to introduce a piece of legislation, and when you see her stand in her place and not want to answer questions that were asked in Question Period, it throws all kinds of doubt, it throws all kinds of speculation out, as to what is happening here. Then when you see the feeble attempt of the Member for Terra Nova trying to protect the minister, getting up and saying we should not be asking her questions because there is a proposal coming forward, a piece of legislation, it gives you another thought in the back of your mind. What is really happening here, what is the government proposing?

Then the Minister of Environment and Labour stands in his place and figures he is going to protect the minister again. He got up and with on with a barrage of rhetoric, Mr. Chairman, never talked about the bill at all, never touched the bill, but talked about the wonderful things that government was doing and how we should trust them. Trust me, trust me! No wonder we over here on this side have doubts about this piece of legislation. We are not all paranoid over here, I say to the Government House Leader, but when you see the government of the day trying to put through a piece of legislation like this and saying: trust me, trust me, believe in me because we can make this work, when you see the tactics they are using, saying the Leader of the Opposition does not want to create jobs, that the Opposition does not believe in keeping people here in this Province, what bull, Mr. Chairman, I say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: This is a deal that sounds like it was cooked up in the back rooms of this Legislature.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: In fact, Mr. Chairman, if I did not know better I would say Eddie Escobar himself may have been here and worked on this. It doesn't sound like a piece of legislation that the Government House Leader of the day would bring forward. I don't think it is a piece of legislation that the minister herself believes in. I don't think it is. It sounds like a Government House Leader of another day had his hands in the pie. If he isn't dealing (inaudible) drugs, maybe he is out taking pictures now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to expose him?

MR. FITZGERALD: He should be exposed, I say to the member, he should be exposed.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: At least I was allowed to grow a beard, I say to the Government House Leader, that's more than he was allowed to do. At least I can look after myself in that way.

Mr. Chairman, that's what's happening here and that's why we over here on this side are not against a good employer or a good company coming in and being a good corporate citizen. Let us know, Mr. Chairman, what the details are. Go out and negotiate with Kodak or go out and negotiate with Xerox or somebody else. Bring it back and put it before the House and if it is a good deal for Newfoundland, and if it is a good deal for the people of this Province, you will get no opposition over here.

The Minister of Education saw where he had made a mistake today. He has gotten a little bit mellow since he is married. I think this lady had a little bit of effect on him and took that dogness away from him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Made him a more conciliatory man, Mr. Chairman. Formerly, before he took on his new mate, he would stand and he was hard nosed, he would not listen to anybody. He is a changed man today.

There are a lot of changed people over there. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: what a change in a man! A few months ago he would not even speak to anybody over here. I tell you, boy, he ruled with an iron fist, but he is a better man today because he changed his ways, he saw the light, he listened to somebody. That is what this minister should do because I firmly believe that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation does not agree with this piece of legislation. I think it is a bad piece of legislation, Mr. Chairman, and I think that if it were reintroduced into the House of Assembly at another time, with more information, so she could stand up in her place and speak right from the heart and tell the people of this Province, and tell the Legislature, exactly what was involved there, what all the good points were, then, Mr. Chairman, she would get no opposition from this side over here.

What we have to think about, when you talk about circumventing The Public Tender Act, Mr. Chairman, if you allow this to happen today, where does it stop? The minister said that this particular deal that she is trying to put together here is completely different from other tenders. I don't know why. I'm sure it is different, I have no doubt about that. Every tender I suppose is different and is pertinent to what it relates to. Here is a situation, Mr. Chairman, that if you start today with a company that the minister feels is a good company to set up business here and we are expected to believe her, where does it stop?

Next year it might be that we are going to pick a particular construction company to do all the road work in the Province. I am sure she won't have any trouble finding somebody who will want to do that. I am sure she won't have any trouble finding somebody who wants to build all the buildings, Mr. Chairman. What a situation!

AN HON. MEMBER: Water and sewer.

MR. FITZGERALD: Water and sewer, and the list goes on. She won't find any trouble at all getting somebody to come forward and say: I will give you a good price. I will do it cheaper than anybody else. All I want is all your work. What a perfect situation to be in.

The members opposite, some of them, look at us over here and say: Well what's wrong with them? They don't agree with anything. They are against privatization. They are against everything that the government brings forward. I say to the minister, look around you, I am sure there are lots over there on your side as well who would like more information about this piece of legislation, a lot of them.

Then the phone calls that were made, let's not forget the phone calls that were made to certain people wanting to come over and have a private meeting. Don't tell anybody else, this is a very delicate piece of legislation we are introducing here. We don't want too many people to know about it. We want to cover it up. But we want you to convince your side that it is a good deal. Just imagine!

I thought we all sat in this Legislature as equals. We know the government of the day is elected to govern, but, Mr. Chairman, our position here is to point out the shortcomings of government and the shortcomings of legislation such as we are witnessing here tonight. I, for one, Mr. Chairman, am willing to stay here until my beard grows out again before allow this piece of legislation to pass through this House. That is how firmly I believe in it.

I would like for the minister to do the honourable thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Resign!

MR. FITZGERALD: No, she doesn't have to resign, Mr. Chairman. In fact, I hope she doesn't take coaching from some of the members opposite. I'm afraid she may have fallen into that trap already, because I understand from my colleague for Mount Pearl that she was an excellent mayor in Mount Pearl, but I'm not so sure that she is using her own judgement when she brings forward pieces of legislation like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like your colleague who made a deal and couldn't keep it.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is between him and the Government House Leader. I don't know anything about that. Another deal, I say to the member, and you can see what happens when deals are made between small groups of individuals. A prime example, and I'm glad you brought it to light. A prime example of one or two people gathered in the back room and making a deal, and when they come out of it - there were only two of them there - you see the two completely different stories they had; completely different.

This is what happens in the back rooms, Mr. Chairman, when people get together and try to do those little deals; block everybody else out, try to get the other party and the other team in cahoots with them, bring it forward, slip it through, because everybody wants to get out and enjoy their golfing and their holidays again. I call on the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Speak for yourself. I enjoy a game of golf once in a while.

Mr. Chairman, I call on the minister to rethink this piece of legislation, look at what she is doing here, look at what she is trying to ask every member here to be a part of - I think it is totally unfair, to be honest with you - look at what she is trying to impose on us, I suppose, impose on this Legislature, impose on the government, and the taxpayers of this Province. It isn't only for thirty days, sixty days or eighty days, but it is for eternity. She wants the power to continue to renew. Don't go to public tender, forget the Public Tender Act, we will look after you. Maybe Kodak will look after the Liberal Party at the next election too. Maybe they will. I don't know because I don't know anything about the company. They may be the most reputable company in Canada. It is the process I'm talking about, it is the way this is trying to be put through this House. It is wrong. The Government House Leader knows it is wrong, and he would be the loudest voice on this side had he stood here. I can just see him here now. He would have to change his shirt three times instead of twice if he were over here, he would be so frustrated and disappointed with this piece of legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I call on the minister to rethink what she is doing here and take some time, take the summer, and if this is such a good deal -

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. FITZGERALD: If this is such a good deal, Mr. Chairman -

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation if she will rethink this piece of legislation; take some time. Obviously there are other companies out there interested in doing the same business. There might be some local companies who are quite capable of doing this type of business or there might be some local companies who would be interested in getting involved in such a business, especially, Mr. Chairman, if they know that there is going to be a special case made and they can have it forever and a day if they provide the right price and provide the right service.

I ask the minister to do the hon. thing, withdraw the legislation, bring it back when she has more information, bring it back when she has something put together that makes sense and will convince us that it is a good thing. Then we certainly won't object to it over here.

We don't expect the minister to include us in negotiations. We realize we are the Opposition and we are not the government. We realize we are the Opposition and we are not the Cabinet and there are confidential things that happen. Go ahead and do that, I plead with the minister, but withdraw the piece of legislation, bring it back again in the fall and if it is a good piece of legislation and if we're convinced that it is good for Newfoundland then we will support it. If it is not, Mr. Chairman, we will stand in our place and point out the inequities of it at that time as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield to another speaker.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I am not happy to rise this evening because I wish that we could have had some answers forthcoming. I am not happy to be (inaudible). So, Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that I am pleased to be here debating this piece of legislation but I am not because, Mr. Chairman, we had assumed today that the minister in questions and the Premier in questions would have come forward with answers to questions.

The Leader of the Opposition today came to this House in good faith. He had prepared questions, he wanted answers, he believed that he was holding in his office here a responsibility to the public of this Province. He said: I have a responsibility, as the Leader of the Opposition, to ask pertinent questions and to find the answers to them. We asked the questions and what we got was a lot of grandstanding, a lot of non-answers, a lot of politicking by the leader of the government on that side and we did not get one single substantive question answered. So, Mr. Chairman, that's why we are here. We are here because this government has said: trust us, give us a blank cheque.

Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you: look at the examples of where governments were given a blank cheque. I was just talking to the Sergeant-at-Arms and he tells me that back in the 1930s, when the government of the day gave ESSO a blank cheque - what did we get for a monopoly on oil supplies in this colony at that time, this dominion, we got $300,000. So, Mr. Chairman, what I am saying is we should never, never, ever give government a blank cheque because it is our money and it is our children who are going to pay for the mistakes that have been made.

Mr. Chairman, just remember what happened in Come by Chance. I was in the galleries in this House when John Sheehan was brought before the Bar of the House. I was in the galleries when John Crosbie and Clyde Wells said no. I was there at that time. Mr. Chairman, why did they disagree? They did not want to give the government of the day a blank cheque so they said: no, the deal is not right for the Province.

Mr. Chairman, what we are saying here today is that we are not going to take this leap of faith, this leap of blind faith. We are saying: tell us the facts. We want everybody in this Province to know that we are not against development. We hope the Kodak deal is the very best deal that anybody, not just this government, any government could negotiate. We are proactive when it comes to development. We are proactive when it comes to looking for places to find job opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but we are afraid when we see potential, as the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi said this afternoon - we want to know what the implications are for the people who are employed here in this Province employed now. We want to know what the bottom line is. We want it to be know to this Province and to this House that we, as an opposition, are pro-development and we are not against privatization. We are not against privatizing but what we are against is saying to the government of this Province: we are going to issue you today a blank cheque and you are going to be able to go and do what you want with it. Not only that, you are asking for authorization to go against the Statutes of this Province. You are saying: Would you please exempt this Kodak deal from the Statutes of this Province, from the laws we all hold dear, and which we think we have responsibility, we believe we have responsibility, to enforce and to uphold.

Mr. Chairman, we on this side of the House are saying that we have had enough of government going out and making deals. We know what happened with Trans City. In Trans City you went and made the deal and then said: Well now boys, we did not go against the Public Tender Act. We will go to court and try to show we did not go against the Public Tender Act. Mr. Chairman, what I am saying to the members opposite in this particular case is that we are not going to give you permission to go against the Public Tender Act.

We hope the deal with Kodak is a great deal. We are sure that we would be supportive if we could have more details, if we knew all the bottom-lines; but as the minister has said she is not prepared to let us be party to the agreement. She said that repeatedly today. So, Mr. Chairman, with no details offered and with questions about job security - for example, on job security; I talked this afternoon to one of the employees who works here with government who was so afraid to talk to me that he said: I want to make sure, first of all, that you will never, ever mention the person's name. He said: I do not want anybody to know that I called you. I am afraid. We were talked to and we were given more like an aptitude interview to see if we had any aptitude for the work that was being done. It was not an interview in terms of what are your skills, how can you add to the Kodak company. It was more or less an aptitude test. He told me that they were given no information, no information whatsoever. In fact, he told me that only five of the thirty people have expressed any interest at all in going with the Kodak firm.

According to him, he then went to a senior official and he asked the question: what happens if we don't go with this Kodak proposal? Well, he said, that is Plan B. In other words this employee was being intimidated, was being bullied, was being talked down to. So, Mr. Chairman, we have to speak up for some of those people as well. We want to make sure that we do not go out and create fifty jobs and destroy thirty. That does not make any sense.

Mr. Chairman, we on this side of the House are saying: why not go out and negotiate with Kodak. We have told the government opposite that we are prepared to come back.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. H. HODDER: I said to the Opposition House Leader that we will be here until noon on Friday.

MR. TULK: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: First of all, I am not the Opposition House Leader, I am the Government House Leader. Secondly we had an agreement to be out of there by 10:00 o'clock tonight, not Friday.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, to the point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. Opposition House Leader, to the point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, the only agreement we have is that we would be very accommodating and facilitating on the education bill. If the government wants to go today, right now call third reading of the education bill, we will facilitate its passing. That is what we came back here for, that was the intent of this session. Let me remind the Government House Leader that it takes three days to be able to pass legislation: first reading, second reading, third reading. You have to have unanimous consent to go beyond that. We gave you consent from the first day to introduce it.

We agreed to forego Private Members' Day today to make the debate happen, and that was the extent of our agreement. We have lived up to every little letter of it, every little iota of it. We haven't flinched one little bit from the agreement, not one smidgen, not one tiny bit. Therefore, now that the hon. the -

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

Is the hon. member still speaking to the point of order? The Chair would like to know when the hon. member has stopped speaking to the point of order so he could rule on it.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I will let the hon. Chair of Committee rule on the point of order.

CHAIR: Thank you very much.

The Chair rules that there is no point of order. It is just a disagreement between two hon. members.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, we knew there was no point of order. In fact, the government is all out of order.

Mr. Chairman, what I'm saying on this piece of legislation, and I apologize for getting sidetracked, is that we are very concerned with what the potential for this particular piece of legislation is. We would want to know the details. I have said that we would be prepared to come back to look at it in the future. The minister and the Cabinet members know that you had a choice. You could have gone negotiating with Kodak and you could have gone and made your agreement, you didn't need to come here to the House. You could have come here afterwards and you could have made it legally binding after you had negotiated. You can still do that.

What I'm saying is: Don't expect us on this side to give you a blank cheque because on this particular thing that isn't going to happen. You can follow the procedures all you want. If you want to stay here until the wee hours of the morning, that is okay with us. It is up to the Government House Leader to decide when this session ends this evening. It won't be decided by the people on this side.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I was just listening again, I must say, to the comments made by the members opposite. All I want to do is take five minutes to indicate that - I must say, I've been listening for some time now. They have raised the level of their rhetoric to a much better level. They are now making a little bit of sense; not a whole lot, but they are making some sense.

I went back and got some notes.

AN HON. MEMBER: I missed it.

MR. K. AYLWARD: You missed it? I'm sorry, there was about four seconds of it, I think, Minister. I'm not sure how long it was.

I went back and got a few notes as to the development policy of the provincial Tories, as a matter of fact, as to the last election. Somebody reminded me only a few minutes ago about the policy on the fishery. I think it was something to do with seventy-five fish plants or something like that, that the funding for the seventy-five -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: I just wanted to make sure. This is a wide-ranging debate, Mr. Chairman, and I just want to touch base on this. What we are trying to do here is not very complicated. All it is is providing information forward and indicating what we are trying to do. What I would hope is they would understand and work with the people on this side of the House to try to attract new business.

That is all we are trying to do. We aren't trying to do any more than that. We are just trying to work diligently for the people of the Province to go forward and try to attract new investment and new companies into the Province. There is no big plan here to hide and bring forward this massive plan to put aside this agenda, that we have some hidden agenda. Mr. Chairman, this is an upfront agenda for this government, it is totally up front. It is trying to attract new companies to the Province.

I was hearing some common sense, a little bit, I have to admit that, because I like to be fair to the Opposition. We are hearing some common sense as to the concerns they have, and we will address them. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is a competent minister. She is doing a great job, as far as I'm concerned, in a tough portfolio.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

MR. K. AYLWARD: I think that the Opposition should give some credit here, for bringing in this bill, for being totally upfront as to where we are trying to go here, trying to go forward to attract business. I think she is doing a great job. I think the Opposition, once in a while, should say that instead of just always getting up and making sure that they are critics all the time.

As we go forward in the debate - and I hope it isn't going to last too much longer because I think we have heard a lot of the questions, and the answers have been provided by the minister as a matter of fact, and provided very well. I just want to say that we should put a balance on it as we go forward, because going after these companies in Canada and North America is something we all need to do collectively. I think that the Opposition should help us out on this, in this sense, as we go forward, having their legitimate questions answered. I think they have legitimate questions.

At the end of the day, Mr. Chairman, this is not a major initiative that way. This is part of our prospecting strategy to attract new business. We are out trying to bring in new companies, new technology, and it is really good to see this effort under way. We are tired of seeing other provinces get some of these companies. We want to see these companies come into this Province and we are going to make that effort.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is about time (inaudible) effort. You've been there since 1989. (Inaudible) seen those places get some business!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I was trying to be nicer. I'm trying to be nice.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) since 1989!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, protect me.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) doing since 1989?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I'm trying to be nice.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, since 1989 we have been cleaning up the mess left over from the previous seventeen years. We inherited the high debt load. We inherited every problem you could think of in 1989 and we are finally -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, that is true too. We have been trying to get her straightened out. We have been trying to right the ship, Mr. Chairman, and get the rudder straightened out so we can go in a positive direction, so the sails can fly again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) doing in Province (inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: I hope the member for Bonavista has written a letter to the minister here to thank him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: That is great to hear; a responsive government.

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the minister as well that I called him personally, but it was typical that he didn't return my calls.

MR. K. AYLWARD: No comment.

As we go forward, Mr. Chairman, let's work together to attract new business to the Province. I'm just trying to be kind, Mr. Chairman, and say that we should think about it along those lines as we go forward. Any questions you have I'm sure the government is going to attempt to answer. I'm sure we will do a good job, as a matter of fact, because we are trying to do a good job. We are working hard here to attract new business, and it is about time, as far as I'm concerned. We are getting at it, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are cleaning up the environment too.

MR. K. AYLWARD: We are cleaning up the environment.

No matter what the Opposition says we are going to create new jobs. I don't care of they don't want us to or not, we are going to create them. They can be as negative as they want to but we are going to try and create them. No, we aren't going to do the seventy-five fish plant policy, we aren't going to do it. I don't care what they say about it, we aren't going to do it. We are going to try to do something a little more common sense.

On that note, Mr, Chairman, I'm sure that we will hear some more questions that are purely on the bill, and I look forward to discussion. Thank you.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I have heard substantial debate this afternoon and again this evening on the merits of a piece of legislation which is referred to as the Printing Services Act, and I have come to a conclusion in my own mind that there is clearly, on this side of the House, contrary to what is being alleged by members opposite, as has been expressed by my colleagues on this side, nothing whatsoever against any principles or any objectives dealing with development in this Province, or business opportunities in this Province, or indeed searching for private enterprise and the welcoming of private enterprise in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, what concerns me as a member in this House is the method by which this legislation attempts to accomplish what - I will acknowledge, from an objective point of view, that what is being hoped to be achieved through this legislation is admirable: the creation of work; the creation of guaranteed employment; and apparently, according to the legislation, renewable contracts. These sorts of plans and ideas are indeed worthy of praise. I have no problem with that. The problem is the method, because the legislation, in and of itself - and this is something which members opposite have to give very serious consideration to - the legislation, in and of itself, explicitly contravenes and specifically points out that it will contravene by simply neglecting precious legislation in this Province, which is the Public Tender Act.

The Public Tender Act is legislation which has been introduced and has been enforced in most situations, certainly with one notable exception of recent past. Section 3 of this Act states that: Where a public work is to be executed under the direction of a government funded body, or goods or services are to be acquired by the government funded body, the government funded body shall - it states `shall' - invite tenders for the execution or acquisition.

That particular section of the Public Tender Act legislation of this Province, Revised Statutes of Newfoundland, 1990, Chapter P-45, that legislation is the law of the land. It is as simple as that, Mr. Chairman. Section 3 of this legislation makes it clear when tenders have to be sought. It is not discretionary legislation. It does not state that the government `may' in certain circumstances. In the legislation the wording is quite clear, and it states that the government funded body shall invite tenders for the execution or acquisition. Therein lies the problem, Mr. Chairman, and therein lies the essence of why members on this side of the House oppose this legislation. It has nothing to do with what is being hoped for, and what the aspirations are, and what the business opportunities will be. We have no difficulty with that. Clearly we support the spirit of that legislation; however, the method is what is troublesome. The method clearly contravenes legislation which has been put in place in this Province to ensure that all parties play on an equal playing field, that anybody who is interested in doing business with government, whether it is this government or any future government, all parties are on an equal playing field and have an equal opportunity in contracting in good faith with the government of this Province.

Mr. Chairman, therefore, it is necessary that members on this side of the House speak strongly in voicing their objections to legislation which explicitly denies an equal playing field for people who want to do business with this government, by specifically indicating that the Public Tender Act will not apply, despite the firm wording of section 3 of the Public Tender Act.

As I indicated, Mr. Chairman, we are not opposed to business opportunity, to the securing of jobs and employment for our fellow Newfoundlanders - obviously not - but this government must be very careful and vigilant to ensure that the law is protected, and that that is not deviated from.

Mr. Chairman, I have to take some exception with some comments that my colleagues on this side of the House made earlier, because they referred to the infamous Trans City matter. The difference is this - and there is a significant difference - the difference in Trans City is people did not know, the public of this Province were not even aware of the fact that The Public Tender Act was being violated. Whereas in this piece of proposed legislation, the legislation, in and of itself, tells the public, tells the people of this Province, that The Public Tender Act is being circumvented; that is the difference.

In Trans City nobody knew until the Supreme Court of Newfoundland Appeal Division, in a sixty-eight page document, made it quite clear that The Public Tender Act was violated. It shows that all parties in a contract must contract in good faith and made what I would consider to be a very serious allegation in this decision by suggesting that government acted in bad faith. That is the difference in the Trans City fiasco when we compare this legislation which is before us because this legislation makes it clear that The Public Tender Act does not apply to the acquisition. So it spells out for us, in black and white, that the law is being circumvented. It must be taken seriously that this is not appropriate, that to violate the act in this way denies, obviously an equal playing field for parties who want to, in good faith, do business with government.

The legislation, Mr. Chairman, is there for a purpose, to protect the public who want to bargain in good faith. To deny an individual, a group, an organization, a company or a corporation that opportunity and that privilege is to deny something which is very basic and which this House of Assembly and which governments for years, since going back to the early 1970s, have recognized as being vital and essential.

So I had no difficulty, Mr. Chairman, in voicing my objection to the proposed legislation and I stand amongst my colleagues on this side of the House in doing so.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a point of order.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, I have talked to my colleagues in the House and Wednesday is normally Private Members' Day. It is my understanding that there was an arrangement or an agreement worked out between the Opposition House Leader on the one hand and the Government House Leader on the other hand that we would forego Private Members' Day and sit beyond 5:00 p.m. today to deal specifically with the passage of Bill No. 8. We have not yet gotten to Bill No. 8. The point that I want to bring to the attention of the Chair, that I would like a ruling on, is: Are we now operating under the consent of all members? If one member withdraws leave, does that therefore ensure or does that therefore cause the House to automatically close after 5:00 p.m.? Now that's the point of order I raise.

I say to the Chairperson, that being the case, then I, as a member here tonight - if the agreement that was made is not going to be lived up to, than I, as one member, would like to withdraw leave.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, to that point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Yesterday evening you will recall there was an agreement that today would not be Private Members' Day and we rose on that basis. We also heard from the Chair that, by agreement, today would not be Private Members' Day but that it would be a regular government business day. That was put by the Chair yesterday.

AN HON. MEMBER: To deal with education.

MR. TULK: No, it did not say to deal with education at all. The agreement was put by the Chair yesterday evening that today would be a regular government business day and that is what we are proceeding on.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was only by leave.

MR. TULK: No, I am sorry there was agreement and it was put by the Chair -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: It was put by the Chair that there would be a regular order of business today carried out. That means that we are operating under a regular routine order of business and therefore the motion before 5:00 p.m. that we not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. is perfectly normal.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: To the point of order, Mr. Chairman. We have never agreed to give leave today, and to give up Private Members' Day and sit beyond 5:00 p.m., to debate Bill No. 19, and that is factual. We gave leave on the basis that we would facilitate the process of moving the education legislation through. That was one of the reasons of recalling this House in this session in the summertime.

This being Wednesday, being Private Members' Day, any particular member has the right, after 5:00 this evening, to withdraw that leave on full consent of the House. We do not need a majority vote in the House. Any member has the right to remove it on Wednesday, being Private Members' Day, because the intent of giving up that leave was to be able to debate an issue that has not been called here tonight. Therefore, it makes it unnecessary for us to be here to debate something that was not a part of the original plan.

Had we been aware and told that we were going to stay here tonight to debate other than the education issue, or the Public Accountancy Bill, we would not have agreed to do that. We would have had our Private Members' Day, and we would have come back tomorrow, or whatever is necessary, to deal with that legislation.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, to that point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman - and I think Hansard will show, and perhaps Your Honour might want to adjourn to take a look, that the Chair yesterday afternoon said that there was agreement that today, rather than be a Private Members' Day, would be a government members' day.

Furthermore, let me say to the hon. gentleman that his House Leader has already admitted in this House tonight that he would go until 10:00 p.m. He has already admitted that in the House tonight, that he would go until 10:00 p.m. There was nothing in the agreement, there was nothing put from the Chair yesterday evening, that it would be done to debate the Education Bill or any other bill.

What we have here is a prime example of an Opposition grasping for straws to try to block, in whatever way they possibly can, government business. I say to you, Mr. Chairman, and I say to the hon. gentleman -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is an obstructionist.

MR. TULK: Yes, he is an obstructionist.

He can use every means that he has, and he should as an Opposition Leader, use every means that he has if he feels so inclined, but he is not going to run roughshod over the place.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If it makes the Government House Leader any happier to withdraw leave at 10:00 p.m., if a member has a right to do it - the member has indicated his right to withdraw leave - it is not going to change debate tonight; we are still debating the same bill.

I indicated earlier today to the Government House Leader our intention on this particular bill, and he knew full well today what he wanted to have debated in this House tonight. That was his choice. It was not in the original agreement.

Wednesday is Private Members' Day. Whatever was agreed can be withdrawn by any one member; it is conditional leave. At any time when leave is given a person can stand up, even if they are beyond their speaking time; any member can deny the right to continue when there is leave given to the House. The Member for Kilbride decided he is going to exercise that right because we are not debating legislation, the purpose for which we were recalled here during this session.

CHAIR: There being no other speaker to the point of order, the Chair will recess for five minutes and return with a ruling.

Recess

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is prepared to make a ruling on the point of order that was made prior to taking a break.

In reviewing the information that the Chair has available to it, the Chair would like first to refer to Standing Order 14 itself, which indeed does state that Wednesday is Private Members' Day. The Chair must also, though, take into account the proceedings of yesterday. As the clock drew near to 5:00 p.m. the Government House Leader, and I quote from Hansard, stated, "I understand that we have an agreement that tomorrow, although it is Private Members' Day, we will do government business and carry on... I understand we have agreement from both groups and that tomorrow we intend to proceed in this fashion, first of all to do second reading on Bill No. 19 - I won't read the long title - and to do second reading on Bill No. 20, then to move into Committee to do all three bills, and then to do third reading, whenever that occurs at some time in the future, but that will be the order of business.

"Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, July 24."

The Speaker himself, according to Hansard, asked for a partial clarification for his own understanding. The Speaker said: "Before I put the motion for adjournment, it is the Chair's understanding that tomorrow, being Wednesday, there is an agreement that Private Members' Day will be waived and it will be government business."

The Chair would also like to point out for hon. members that based on that agreement that was in place yesterday, the Table officers took it upon themselves, based on the agreement as stated in Hansard, to prepare the Orders for today. Following routine proceedings which would normally take place, beginning with Statements by Ministers and ending with Petitions, we would move immediately to Orders of the Day. The Orders of the Day as printed for today, Wednesday, July 24, indeed cover the items and only the items as laid out by the Government House Leader yesterday.

With that in mind, and the fact that the Orders of the Day were accepted, and the fact that Hansard speaks fairly clearly on the understanding of all members at that point in time, and the fact that the proceedings for today were as per the understanding of the Chair and the Table Officers, I would have to rule that the point of order as put forward by the Member for Kilbride is indeed out of order; and that today, Wednesday, under the agreements and indeed from the information in Hansard and the printing of the Orders of the Day, that the Orders of the Day will stand as printed for today, Wednesday, July 24.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I'm glad to rise now to make a few comments. I'm glad that the Chair has clarified that. Now we can continue on with our debate here tonight. We will go on till as long as we have to, if it is 10:00 p.m. or 10:30, or till the Member for Bonavista South grows back his beard, or whatever it is going to be.

I've listened to the different comments here tonight, especially from the Minister of Environment and Labour, as we talked about this particular bill and debated it, and it seems like he has missed the principle of why we even started this debate or discussion. First of all, I was in my district throughout the week, Mr. Chairman, and on Sunday night arrived back in St. John's because we were under the understanding from that point - I didn't know that there was a letter or a phone call on Friday night or whatever happened. The understanding I had was that we were coming back into the House of Assembly in the summertime, first time in - I don't know what the history of the House sitting during the summer before is, but I know I've never sat during the summer before.

My intention was that we were going to come back to facilitate and cooperate with the government in the passing of the bill on the education reform. That was my intent to come back to this House in the middle of July. It was to work with the government, cooperate with the government, to facilitate the movement of education reform, the first step, the basis for the reform that is about to take place.

Mr. Chairman, I think that is what a lot of members in this House had in mind, was to do that. No matter what you say about phone calls or who was talking to who, the truth is that this bill is a surprise. It is a surprise to members on this side of the House, and, Mr. Chairman, I'm willing to bet it is a surprise to a lot of the members on the government side of the House. We did not know that we would be coming back debating a bill that would circumvent the Public Tender Act. The principle involved in that, not talking about Kodak or Xerox or Tooton's or whoever it is, that isn't the point of why we decided to debate this and not to let it ride through.

First of all, the government will have to excuse us, or excuse the public, for saying: I'm sorry, but we don't trust government whether they are Tory or Liberal or NDP, or whatever they are. That is the number one point. Then the other question is: What is the rush? Why did we come in to debate education reform, then all of a sudden: we will throw out a little tactic now and we will try to push through this -

AN HON. MEMBER: They can go ahead and negotiate anyway, they don't need legislation.

MR. SHELLEY: That point has been made over and over. Mr. Minister, I say to you and your government, go ahead and negotiate but do not pass a bill through this House that has the potential and the danger of setting a precedent that you may be sorry for in the long run. That is what every single member who stood here today has said, and I believe there are members on the other side of the House who feel the same way. Why the rush? Why make a mistake we are going to be sorry for? Delay this, put it back on the table, go away for the Summer, think about it and let us see some details when we come back in the Fall, and then we will get up and support it, just like we said to the Minister of Education today. We did forego Private Members' Day. We cooperated all day. I was going to call a point of order earlier today because there was so much cooperation going on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SHELLEY: Then our own house leader made an amendment and the minister got up and said: Yes, you are absolutely right, we are going to cooperate again. The Government House Leader is dying to make a comment. Go ahead. Since yesterday there was so much cooperation that it was almost sickening. The word from every single member, including the NDP leader, and all members on this side, the phrase is simple, people in this Province are sick and tired of what is happening with the debate on education. Get on with it. That is the catch phrase when you mention education reform in this Province today; get on with it.

Mr. Chairman, with that said, we came into this House of Assembly in the middle of summer. I left my tour of the thirty-three communities I had to tour. I was just telling the Member for Virginia Waters that I just left my Tory district to come in.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: One Liberal walked in.

Mr. Chairman, I was on a tour of my district, thirty-three communities. There were fish on the beaches everywhere, and on the wharves. I am telling you they were fishing off Petty Harbour with fishing rods, off the shore, to catch cod fish, and caught them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: I know, they got caught. They have gone to jail, sold the shop. They were jigging from the wharf out in my district, too, and got caught, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask him where he was when he heard the news that the House was reopening? What part of the district were you in.

MR. SHELLEY: I was in the deepest part of the district, Mr. Chairman. I heard the news and said: Yes, let's get back, because when you talk about education reform people all over the Province say: get on with it. Whether you are a Tory, an NDP, or a Liberal, I am so sick of it; get on with it. We have to get it done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: I have to keep an eye on you.

To bring in this Kodak legislation in an instant is not proper. I was on tour of my district and I had all the intentions of touring the thirty-three communities, and coming in here and saying: Yes, I agree with what the people are saying to me. Let's get on with education reform.

I came to this House, Mr. Chairman, on Tuesday. We talked in caucus and all the caucus felt the same way: Let us cooperate, let us facilitate this process and let us get on with it, let us make amendments, and the government agreed on the amendments. It was the most cooperation I have seen in my three years here in this House of Assembly, the most cooperative spirit I have ever seen. Then all of a sudden the house leader, with the `bring back Ed slogan' which should be on the front of his desk, threw a kibosh into it all, Mr. Chairman. We were cooperating.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the whole point of this particular debate here tonight - we sit here at 9:30 at night on July 24 to debate a piece of legislation that we did not know was going to be here. Maybe the leader got a call on Friday, or somebody. I do not know exactly what happened but I know I came back here on Sunday evening, from touring the district, ready to debate -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible). I have them down there in my (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: You have them in your district?

MR. TULK: That is what you said (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I live in my district. They are sick of seeing me in my district. I was down in my district for a month touring.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Baie Verte loggers.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, I know everything that is happening with the Baie Verte loggers. I will compliment the minister, I finally got the attention of the government and the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods to go down and have a meeting. So I will compliment the minister now for going down and having a meeting in my district when I could not make it; and I apologize to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was a Sunday morning too.

MR. SHELLEY: It was Sunday morning. Are you a good Catholic? On Sunday morning, Mr. Chairman, he went down to my district and had a meeting with the loggers down in my area. Mr. Chairman, I compliment the minister for doing that. I know any of the members on this side will compliment a minister when he takes that time to put loggers, I say to the minister, especially for loggers who have always been put on the back burner. I think even the minister has agreed with that. Over the years it seemed like the loggers were the ones that are forgotten and put behind, but the minister took the time to go down and see them. Now I want to see the minister follow through on that meeting and make sure that the loggers are taken care of, make sure that they are put to the forefront. That's what the minister says and I am going to make sure that he follows through on that.

The point being, Mr. Chairman, that when I came back here the intent of cooperating was the full intent of this Caucus.

MR. TULK: He is common. I am not sure he is a good person.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, he is common and he is a good person, I say to the Government House Leader.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I say to the Government House Leader that every single Caucus member here - our meeting prior to the House sitting was one of cooperation, of facilitation of the move that is on to get on with it. We sat in this House and made some good agreements in the last forty-eight hours or so. We cooperated with the minister. For the minister to stand here today and cooperate with our house leader on a great amendment that he made to save on a big mistake shows that our leader - and that is why I compliment our leader in going through this piece of legislation along with our critic, in making sure that the wording is proper, making sure that the concerns were made and making sure before we laid the ground work - because this is all this is yet at this point, is the beginning. It is the foundation to move on with the reducing of the number of boards, of the construction and so on; that we had our foundation correct. There are some other flaws - there may be some -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a smidgen. Not an iota.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, anyway what we did is cooperate. This piece of legislation, in all fairness to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, may turn out to be - we may all stand up, Mr. Chairman, one by one and apologize.

For the Minister of Environment and Labour and for the Premier today to use the rhetoric of politics and he really did use it today. I have watched this Premier, by the way, don't anybody be amused by it but I have watched this Premier for fifteen years as my member in the district of Humber, St. Barbe - Baie Verte. I watched him with his hands, the voices and the proud Newfoundlander shaking for fifteen years, but somewhere in between there he has to give an answer. He has not given an answer. He had an agreement - the minister did not have an agreement. I have seen him shake many times.

Mr. Chairman, I just told the Member for Virginia Waters -

MR. NOEL: Keep an eye on him.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, I have been keeping an eye on him for fifteen years.

Mr. Chairman, I have seen him shake before and I am going to tell you I have seen this Premier, as my member, come in a helicopter - I used to talk about the typical politician before I ran myself. This is a true story. I never did use the name -

AN HON. MEMBER: Paul, didn't he try to get you to run for that party?

MR. SHELLEY: He certainly did. I wouldn't blame him. Mr. Chairman, I have no problem telling you that I would not blame the Premier for coming to get me to run for his party.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look who he settled for.

MR. SHELLEY: Look who he settled for, yes. He didn't settle for second-best, I will tell you that.

Mr. Chairman, I've watched the Premier before as my member, and I've talked about the typical members who get elected, come every four years, land in a helicopter, pass out a beautiful brochure all glossed over and all the right sayings, come to a big hall and bawl and shout and spit all over the stage and leave. You wouldn't see them for four years, couldn't return in four -

AN HON. MEMBER: Can you do that?

MR. SHELLEY: I don't do that type of campaigning. My type of campaigning is door-to-door, one-on-one. He would spit and bawl, and be gone for four years. Nobody could get hold of him. Never hear him speak up on an issue. Then sure enough, four years right on the button, you would see the helicopter coming again. That is the kind of member, Mr. Chairman, that has to be voted out. That is what I say to the Government House Leader.

I know the Premier very well. Any time he gets up shaking and looking up at the press and all the galleries full, I've seen it before. Nothing new to me. What I try to look for is the message in between. Is there an answer to the question that was just asked? Mr. Chairman, we didn't get any answers today. The truth is, if any members on that government side were sitting in Opposition today with their principles intact - that is important - they would ask the same questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) House Leader on that one.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Chairman, principles are important. I'm willing to bet -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

CHAIR: No leave.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that this House do not adjourn at 10:00 p.m.

On motion that the House do not adjourn at 10:00 p.m., carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a speech right now, I know I could speak for a period of time, but I gather that if somebody is speaking in between a speaker that the (inaudible) speaker can rise again. I was very interested in the remarks that the Member for Baie Verte was making. I think he has more in him. So, I will sit down and listen to the rest of his speech.

CHAIR: Yes indeed, the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi is correct, and in fact he did not have to stand to say that. The hon. member could have stood again because there was a speaker in between.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, everybody is right. The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi was right because he knows I have a lot more to say and I would like to continue. Everybody wins. It just goes to show that there is cooperation in the House. Now the Leader of the NDP is cooperating. The cooperation has been everywhere today, Mr. Chairman, except for the Government House Leader who threw a kibosh into it all.

We have to try to stick to the point which is being made today that is most, most important, that if all members on the government side had their principles intact, if you were in our place - I know it is hard to imagine but you shouldn't forget, especially the Government House Leader, because he is a lot more experienced than a lot of us with sitting on this side. He would also question the timing of this bill.

If we do come back in the fall, and Kodak or if it is Xerox or if it is Tooton's or I don't care who it is, comes back and this is a good deal, and more people do go to work and jobs are brought to this Province - I mean, this rhetoric about the Opposition doesn't want jobs for the Province, what a load of hogwash that is. For anybody to even say that, you are just playing games; you know you are. The truth is we all want jobs to come to the Province. As an Opposition, we are asking you on behalf of people in this Province to be careful. That is what we are talking about, be careful. That is a fair statement. When we started to ask questions today and the Member for Terra Nova wanted to worry about technicalities what a load of rubbish. The truth is -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, I say to the Government House Leader, if this is the great deal that -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: When all the horses are out it is no good to close the barn door, I say to the Government House Leader. It is no good to close the barn door after the horses are out; you have to do it before that. It is no good to talk about it afterwards.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Tooton's.

MR. TULK: No, (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, maybe that is the right thing to do, drive them out. Maybe we have better people to come in there. Who knows that? That is what I say to the Government House Leader.

We don't have to get into the technicalities of the pros and cons of this. All we are saying is, give it some time, show us what the good deal is that you are talking about, show us that Kodak -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: This is a good point, I say to the Government House Leader. It is not all the intricacies of the bill, it is just one, simple principle. That is all it is, one simple principle, that we slow down, and forgive us as an Opposition, and forgive the people of Newfoundland for saying: Sorry, but we don't trust you. Whether you are a Tory, a Liberal or an NDP, we don't trust governments. That is like the politician with his hands in his pockets, coming to you: I am from the government; I am here to help. That is about as believable as you saying that this piece of legislation is good for us.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, what I am saying is you are government. As the administration, government -

MR. TULK: You are saying (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, yes, I am saying that. If the Government House Leader wants me to repeat it, I will repeat it, and get it from Hansard: People don't trust politicians.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am not putting myself down. They do trust me. They don't trust politicians in general, like yourself.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, you're the exception.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I'm the exception.

I just said to the Government House Leader: The people of this Province, or any province for that matter, don't -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am just telling you a fact. I am not saying whether it is true or not. I am just saying, the fact is, people in general don't trust politicians, and we are all to blame for that, especially our previous administrations, especially fellows who have been here for years. They don't trust them. They trust some new ones.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am just telling you a fact. It is a general fact around this Province, anywhere you go, that people don't trust politicians. The point and the relevancy of that comment is this: When you come forward with a piece of legislation in the middle of summer, at the last minute, people are saying: Hold on a second. Slow this down. We want to see what it is all about, and that is pretty fair. We are not saying that you scrap this. We are not even telling the minister to forget this. As a matter of fact, we are saying to hold on to it, develop it, Kodak. Develop the idea, put it forward in its entirety, in its detail, and sit down before us and we will get up and commend you for it, if that is possible.

The truth is that the principle we do not agree upon, and disagree very strongly upon - and I say this on a serious note, and everybody has made the same comment, and I am sure there are members on the government side who must at least have a second thought on it - is that we are, I don't care which way you turn the words, we are bypassing the public tendering process. Now, we can move around the words or say different things, or negotiate and so on. The truth is, and the bottom line is, no matter how you turn the words, we are bypassing the public tendering process. That is the only principle that we can attack this on.

Negotiate it without the legislation, I say to the minister, and we would stand for it, stand and support it. You go right ahead and do your job, show us what you have in detail, and we will stand for it. That principle has to be adhered to, it has to be the one that is deepest in most people's minds, that we could be setting a very dangerous precedent that could follow for years in this Province, that can be renewed by an administration over and over and over, and that scares people; that we are going to tap into something that we could be stuck with for years and years and years.

I say to the Government House Leader, I know the politics that have to be played in the House, and how the barbs go back and forth, but if everybody sat back and gave it some serious, honest thought, you have to have some fear, all of the ministers have to have some fear, at least a small bit of fear, that this could set a precedent, and that it could happen again. The public tendering process is circumvented, it is being bypassed, and how many times can it happen?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Bud Hulan came down to the district. I have heard it all, so you cannot tell me another joke. After spending three days with Len Simms and all the jokes he can throw at you about this, I have it all, believe me.

Mr. Chairman, it is a principle that the Leader of the Opposition has put forward quite strongly, I would say, and he has been very serious about this since we started to discuss it in our caucus. Every time we talked about it, he stood to say very strongly that this could be a very dangerous precedent to be setting, circumventing the Public Tender Act. That is why we will stand on principle, unless we are given some guaranteed reason in detail for this happening. Otherwise, Mr. Chairman, each member of this Opposition and the Leader of the NDP are going to oppose this very strongly.

Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that if there is any doubt in the mind of any government member, you do not have to necessarily vote against the legislation but you should at least stand and express your views, your concerns, that this could indeed be a precedent that could be set and could be dangerous for years to come. The Government House Leader knows that too, and I think that he would admit it. If you admit that you have no fear of that, then I don't think you would be telling the truth. There is that fear. I do not care if it's printing, I do not care if it's sidewalks, I do not care what it is. I say to the Government House Leader, and I am saying right here now in Hansard, if that is the good deal they are talking about - and it may very well be -

MR. TULK: The point is, if it is not we are doing damage to ourselves.

MR. SHELLEY: That argument is not good enough. The Government House Leader says: we are doing damage to ourselves. Well, after the damage is done, we will crack you on the knuckles and say you did a bad thing, but it is too late then.

MR. TULK: No, it is not too late.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes it is, you are letting the horses out of the barn.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, the done deal should not be done.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, but you cannot do it without the legislation. We are being told you cannot do it without the legislation, so why do it? Why go and negotiate it? It was no open process, I say to the Government House Leader. If it is and if he wants to back up the statement he just made, well take it out of the dark rooms and wait until the Fall. Everybody talks about rushing and getting a job right away but you have to do it right.

I think everybody will agree that the problem with Newfoundland in general, and I do not care what government was in power, is that we have done things in a rush and on a whim many times. You can bring it back now, you can delay this. Leave it now, we are down to committee.

What you could do - the government is asking for suggestions, well we will give you one. Leave it on the table now and bring in back to the Legislature in the Fall to finish third reading. That is what we should be doing. Then nobody will be sceptical. That is not a problem.

I tell the Government House Leader now that I do not know enough about it to say it is a bad deal. I am not saying it is a bad deal. I would not argue with the minister that this is a bad deal. We just have to expose the deal. I say to the Government House Leader, that I have never commented on it being a negative deal but it is the process we are going through to get it, which is through the back door.

MR. TULK: You have no power to (inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: No, Mr. Chairman, but we do have a responsibility.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are delaying it.

MR. SHELLEY: We are delaying it?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, we have to do our duty, Mr. Chairman. I say to the Government House Leader, you have been in opposition before. It is my duty to stand here and speak until the Member for Bonavista's beard grows goes back. I will do that, filibuster government when you make mistakes. It is a good thing we filibustered you on the Hydro deal.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bunch of obstructionists.

MR. SHELLEY: We saved your skin on the Hydro deal so you should be thanking us, I say to the Member for The Straits & White Bay North. We saved you once before and now we have to save you again. We can't be saving you all the time. You are going to have to save yourself one of these days, you know. I say to the Member for The Straits & White Bay North, you should get up and have a little talk on this one, tell us how good a deal it is, so we can be on record. Obstruction: We have learned very well. We aren't obstructionists on this particular deal. We just came in in the middle of summer to talk about education reform. It is our job, Mr. Chairman, as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, I say to the Member for The Straits & White Bay North who is tired, beat out, he is electioned to death -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who are you talking about?

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for The Straits & White Bay North. He is tired, he is beat out, can't stay awake. He only mumbles every now and then, doesn't make any sense any more. I won't say selective senility, like my colleague for St. John's South has said.

It isn't obstruction. Well, you could look at it like that, that is an attitude you can take. You can say that. You can say it all day and we will say it isn't, and who is getting anywhere?

Two points and then I will sit down, Mr. Chairman, and let my colleague say a few more words. First of all, why the rush? Take your time, bring it back the fall. If it is a great deal we will get up and compliment the minister. It might be the best deal since sliced bread, but if it isn't, we didn't make the mistake. If we make the mistake through legislation we have made it and it is going to ride for years and years and years, and that could be the mistake. I don't think there are enough members on the government side who are sure. You don't do something like this unless you are 100 per cent sure.

Now, the minister has said that they have scrutinized it, this is something they never did quickly. I remember hearing her say that earlier today. How many members on the government side knew this legislation was coming? How many people went home the summer since the House closed in June and were studying this piece of legislation? I know how many, Mr. Chairman, none. None of the members on the government side knew about it. You didn't even give your own members a chance to stand and say - can you can tell me that you have read through all this and you understand it all? I certainly don't. I read through it. I don't confess to be an expert in Constitution or laws; I'm no lawyer, and I can tell you I don't understand it all yet. There is a concern there, and if there is a concern, let's slow down, take a couple of months, bring it back to the House in the fall and then bring it through. We will tap you on the back and say you created jobs, you made a good move. Why do it now?

Mr. Chairman, we stand on the principle that we are, whichever way you want to put it, bypassing the public tendering process. That is the bottom line. There is nobody who can switch the words any differently to make it sound any different. We are bypassing the public tendering process. Whether it is for printing, for Kodak, for lawns, for building roads or whatever it is, that is the principle of why we obstruct, if that is the word you want to use, or try to delay this particular bill, so that we might save you from making a mistake. Maybe we won't, but that is our job as the Loyal Opposition and I think that is what we have put forward. I think that is what the Leader of the Opposition has put forward quite strongly. That is what we stand on, that particular principle. We will do what can as an Opposition to obstruct or delay.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Again I rise in my place to say a few words on Bill No. 19, a bill that I certainly oppose. I said earlier that I didn't think it should be before this House of Assembly today because the House was called back basically to deal with the education bill which could have been passed here this evening before 5:00 o'clock.

We are discussing a bill now that we were informed of by a phone call on Friday, apparently, that is trying to be pushed through the House of Assembly tonight. The Government House Leader just stood a few minutes ago and made a motion that the House not close at 10:00 p.m. tonight. I don't know what he is trying to prove. We can be back here tomorrow afternoon and maybe Friday also to clue up this bill.

We have legitimate concerns with respect to this bill. Members on this side of the House have stood in their places and told this House, and told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, why we are opposed to this bill. We are not opposed to this bill based on the fact that it might create jobs, as members on the opposite side of the House have stated, that we are being very negative and we are opposed to creating jobs within the Province and what have you. A pile of malarkey, Mr. Chairman. We are opposed to this bill on the principle that it is circumventing the Public Tender Act. There is no other reason to be opposed to this, really.

If the minister can work a deal with the people from Kodak, bring back legislation later on when the House opens up, maybe in the fall, and deal with it at that point in time, lay the cards on the table and let the people in this Province know what is being negotiated or what has been negotiated rather than looking for a blank cheque or legislation to be put through this House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman, to give government the wherewithal to work a deal when we really don't know what's happening - we really don't want to give the government the power. Well, they don't really need the power. The government has the power, at this point in time, to negotiate with anyone they see fit to negotiate with, Mr. Chairman. The minister has that authority at this point in time. She can sit down and talk to Kodak, she can talk to Xerox, she can talk to any company within the Province and ask those people to make proposals or solicit proposals, or she can go to public tender on any given work that the government wants done. For some reason or other they want to put this legislation through the House of Assembly.

With respect to the duration, Mr. Chairman: Why the thirty days? That's another factor I brought up earlier. Why does there have to be a thirty day limit on it? If a deal is not struck within thirty days the legislation, if approved, will be basically null and void. I have some serious concerns with that.

The Leader of the Opposition today asked the Premier questions in this House with respect to this issue and we really did not get any answers. The Premier got up and responded to the Leader of the Opposition's questions. In his normal fashion he starts out very low key and then he builds up and builds up, Mr. Chairman, and tries to put on a real show for the people of the Province and the media who may be here in the galleries. We have seen him do this before.

Mr. Chairman, I made a comment today, after he made two responses to the Leader of the Opposition, that maybe the next time he gets up he should stand on his desk, stand on his head and spit nickels if he is looking for that much attention.

We have some legitimate concerns with respect to this legislation, and we are going to take as long as necessary, basically, to get to the bottom of what the full intent of this legislation is.

Now, the Government House Leader made a comment a little while ago that if they put this through the House and they work a deal that is not in the best interests of the people of the Province, that they are only hurting themselves. Again, that could be too late, and who would pay the price? In actual fact, would it be the government that would pay the price, or would it be the taxpayers of this Province? I would suggest that it would be the taxpayers of this Province who would pay the price who, from my perspective, are sick and tired of paying the price.

The people of this Province are going to have to pay the price for the Trans City deal that was worked out, that was supposed to be in the best interests of the people of this Province. Mr. Chairman, in actual fact, we now know that it is going to cost the taxpayers of this Province another $30 million to $40 million. We know that the highest court in the Province has ruled that the government should not have done what they did, and their judgement was not in the best interest of the people of this Province. It was basically in the best interest of certain friends of the government of this Province, and not necessarily the taxpayers.

We had, a few years ago, as I said earlier, the Newfoundland Hydro deal. The government of the day was trying, basically, to force the sale of Newfoundland Hydro. They were doing their best. They were ignoring the Opposition when we first brought it up, saying we were fearmongering, until the people of this Province got onto what we were saying, and then the government finally saw the light.

We have members sitting on that side of the House right now who were vehemently opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. The Member for Humber Valley was opposed. He stood in his place over here and opposed the privatization of Hydro. He is over there now, and I am sure that if the Member for Humber Valley were on this side of the House today he would be on his feet opposing this bill that is being pushed through the House of Assembly, because of the way the Government House Leader is trying to wear down the Opposition tonight, trying to go beyond 10:00 p.m. when there is actually no need for it. As I said earlier, what is the government trying to prove?

As I said earlier, the time frame is thirty days. Why? Why? Why? We asked the minister: Why does she need the legislation within thirty days? Why do they need the legislation at all to negotiate a contract, or to negotiate a deal? That has not been answered at all. Basically, government expects this House of Assembly to give them a rubber stamp on any legislation that is coming through the House, Mr. Chairman, and that is not likely to happen; let me tell you that.

As I said earlier, two years ago when the government decided that they would privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services there were some concerns brought up at that point in time by members on this side of the House, and they have come to pass, and that is the fact that government would pay more in the long run for the exact same services that they were getting at that point in time. In actual fact that is what is happening. They are paying more for the services that they are supplying to Memorial University. They are paying more for the services that they are providing to different government departments within government. So again we have to say: Why are we trying to rush this through the House of Assembly?

Government, as I said earlier, can decide to make and negotiate a deal with anybody within the Province, by any group within the Province, any company within the Province, any company outside the Province, within Canada, internationally or what have you. Again, if it is in the best interests of the people of the Province, bring it forward to the House of Assembly. At that point in time we can discuss it, we can debate it, the people can see it. That is what this House of Assembly is all about, Mr. Chairman, to bring to light or make public, any actions that the government wishes to take, are about to take or have taken unbeknownst to the public, Mr. Chairman. I would say that we need to take a sober, second look at this legislation, this bill that is going through the House.

Mr. Chairman, other concerns that I have, of course, are the concerns with respect to the employees of the Queen's Printer and the printing services of government. Will those jobs be protected, Mr. Chairman? Will their pensions be protected? What kind of deals will be worked out with these individuals?

The Premier stood in this House today and said that we could expect the majority of the workers would maintain their jobs, either with Kodak - he said expect the majority with Kodak or with government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, he said: expect the majority. So those are the key words.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, you read it, it is there.

MR. TULK: He said: The majority will go with Kodak and the rest will stay with government.

MR. J. BYRNE: He said: He would expect the majority of the workers to either stay with government or Kodak. He never said they all would. Now I would suggest to the Government House Leader that he read Hansard tomorrow and find out what the minister actually said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I won't be at all.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise tonight to speak once again on Bill No. 19. I suggest to the minister, she did not wrong number this bill, I can guarantee her. Bill No. 19, the perfect number for such a piece of legislation.

It is obvious, Mr. Chairman, that we have a problem here tonight, that everybody is not in agreement with this piece of legislation or what it proposes to do. The fears have been put forward here by speaker after speaker and it is obvious what our intent is. It is no surprise that, as we stand to speak, everybody will be carrying the same note and singing to the same tune, I would suggest.

Maybe I can refer the Government House Leader to the Standing Order 54.1. Maybe he would like to just think about this for a moment, "The Government House Leader may direct the Law Clerk to refer to one of the Standing Committees established under Standing Order 84(1) (a), (b) and (c), a draft public bill which the Government proposes to introduce into the House..." Maybe the Government House Leader, since there is some concern about this particular piece of legislation, would use the committees of the House, use them for exactly what they were put in place for, to take this bill -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well your figure is the thirty days. Thirty days has nothing to do with -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, maybe that's the place where it should be. If you have thirty days that's lots of time to have public hearings. That's lots of time for Xerox, I say to the Government House Leader, to come and put forward their proposals. That's what happens, Mr. Chairman, and there will be lots of time for the other companies out there - maybe there is a reputable Newfoundland company. Maybe, Mr. Chairman, Robinson-Blackmore or some other company might be interested in bidding on this. I don't think it should only be by the minister inviting somebody to come and put forward a public tender or put forward their suggestions, if they would be interested in this particular piece of legislation or bidding on such a lucrative, I would suggest, lucrative government contract.

You talk here, back and forth across the House, about the jobs of people that presently exist here, Mr. Chairman. Some people are saying that all the jobs will be protected, somebody else is saying the majority of jobs will be protected, and somebody else is saying that maybe none of the jobs will be protected. Those are the answers that we would like to have. Those are the answers that people deserve to know. Those are the answers. They are not answered here. All they are doing here, Mr. Chairman, is asking for authorization from the people's House here to go out and circumvent the Public Tender Act, an act that was evidently brought in place to protect exactly against what this minister is proposing to do with this piece of legislation. It is a bad piece of legislation, and I don't think it should be allowed to pass through this House.

I would invite people opposite - I am sure there are people over on the government side who would have people in their districts, and would have some of their own constituents, if they knew this was happening, who would want them to speak out and speak up. Never mind being afraid of your leader, or being afraid of the Government House Leader. Don't be stifled by those people, I say to members opposite. Those are not the people who are going to take you by the hand and lead you door-to-door when you have to go out and answer to a piece of legislation such as you have seen being brought forward here tonight.

Mr. Chairman, this bill is wrong. It is wrong for reasons that have been brought forward here tonight by speaker after speaker. I don't think it is too much to ask to have contracts such as this put forward, and use the Public Tender Act, use the act that was put in place for exactly this purpose, instead of going out and hand-picking one or two, or in this case I think it was three, individual companies, inviting them into the office, saying: Here is what we propose to do. Here is what we propose to give to you. Now you tell us what you will do for us. What can we do in order to make this work? Mr. Chairman, put it out, advertise it, the same as you do with everything else that is over $5,000 in this Province today. I don't see how this should be or can be any different.

Maybe at the end of the day Kodak may be the company that everybody feels might be the right party to come and do this work for government. If it is, then we will all stand here in our place and either speak in favour of it or not speak at all and allow it to go through the normal procedure that we see for legislation passing through this House which is good legislation.

It seems like the government of the day - well, not only the government of the day. In my short time here in this House, this past three years, with many of the same players over there, you look back through Hansard, you look back through other pieces of legislation, and what you will find every Easter, every Christmas, in the middle of the summer, this is what you will see; you will see pieces of legislation like this introduced at a time when they know that members are itching to do something else.

MR. TULK: That is not true.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, it is true, I say to the Government House Leader, yes, it is true. You look back and you will find that every Christmas and every Easter or at the end of every spring session, we are sitting here, as we are tonight, late at night, with government playing an agenda to wear people down, use up the time, to get through contentious legislation such as this in order to get their own way, if you would, and to get us stifled so they can get on and do what they want to do. This is the game that they play. They know how to play it, and they play it very well.

I say to members opposite, you are in for a long night tonight, because if we stay here then you people will stay here.

MR. TULK: We will decide that.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is right, you will decide it, no doubt about it. I say to the hon. Government House Leader that if he chooses to sit where he is and listen, then he had better make reservations to order his breakfast because I can guarantee you that we will be here, that we will not run out, and I don't think that the government of the day, or the Government House Leader, can do anything to stop us tonight. What is the slogan? "Nothing will stop us now." We are on our way and we will run this through as long at it takes to make sure.

MR. MATTHEWS: What are you trying to prove, Roger?

MR. FITZGERALD: What we are trying to prove is very simple, I would say to the Minister of Health. You, Minister of Health, should know what we are trying to prove here, because you are seeing it and you are hearing it every day with some of the legislation and some of the policies that you have brought about since you have been the Minister of Health. Shame on you for bringing about such policies that are hurting the people out there today! The poor and the suffering in this Province, Mr. Chairman, have never witnessed and never gone through what they are experiencing today by going to our hospitals and not receiving the kind of treatment that they should be getting, I say to the minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: Now I have another worry. You will get skin cancer if you stay out in the sun any longer.

MR. FITZGERALD: No I won't, I say to the minister, because I use sun block; but you have no worry about your sun tan oil, I say. If you expect to get this through you can go and put away your sun tan oil because your condo down in Florida can be rented for the next few days at least. You will not be going there.

MR. MATTHEWS: Is that all?

AN HON. MEMBER: Could I chance a week?

MR. FITZGERALD: You might be able to. I say to the Minister of Health, what he should do, instead of being here tonight, and if he figures this is a waste of time and we are going through a process that we aren't going to win, why don't you go up and visit one of the emergency wards of one of the hospitals here in St. John's? Go up and see what is happening in the emergency wards of some of the hospitals here in St. John's today.

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, I have been in the hospitals.

MR. FITZGERALD: I hope you have visited, Mr. Chairman.

MR. NOEL: This will give you an idea of what happens on a psychiatric ward.

MR. MATTHEWS: I wouldn't have to visit the Waterford, I can see that.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, the Waterford Hospital is a hospital like every other hospital. I don't think you should be standing here tonight laughing at what it does or laughing at the patients who are there.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are laughing at the patients over there!

MR. FITZGERALD: That is what you are doing. You are here tonight as the Minister of Health laughing at the Waterford Hospital and the patients who are there. Shame, I say to the Minister of Health. You should hang your head in shame.

The other day, I say to the Minister of Health before he leaves, I went to one of the emergency wards of one of the hospitals, and I talked to a patient who was there for eight hours waiting for surgery.

MR. MATTHEWS: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I would like to point out to the hon. House, to the Chairman and to the member who is speaking at the moment, that in no way am I here, have I been here, or will I be here, laughing at, making any type of innuendo or suggestive remarks or actions that are derogatory toward anybody in any hospital at any point in time. The fact that the hon. member says that I'm here doing that type of thing is despicable, it is uncalled for, it is unnecessary, and I would ask him, in the interests of decency, to withdraw that insinuation.

CHAIR: Is the hon. the Member for Bonavista South speaking to the point of order?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I'm not speaking to the point of order.

CHAIR: There is no point of order. It was just a matter of -

AN HON. MEMBER: You're not man enough to withdraw the remark.

CHAIR: Order, please!

It is just a disagreement between two hon. members.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, if I did misunderstand what the minister was saying - I did hear him and his colleague for Virginia Waters -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: By leave, Mr. Chairman, just to clarify that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to have some further comments on Bill No. 19.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have nothing left to say, Loyola.

MR. SULLIVAN: I haven't said everything, but I did tell the Government House Leader today that I will speak as often as necessary on this particular bill because I disagree with it. It is fundamentally wrong to ask this Legislature to circumvent, to except, to go outside the Public Tender Act and give an exclusive contract for a lifetime, according to this legislation, to one particular company without having an opportunity for a fair and level playing field and a bidding process.

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: What tricks (inaudible) on over there in terms of making deals?

MR. SULLIVAN: In terms of making deals?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes. (Inaudible). Your House Leader has no control and no influence (inaudible) or enforce a deal that he has made. What are the principles on which you put together your deals?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well the first principle I deal with is that when you are recognized you can stand and speak, the best one to call the basic principle of parliamentary procedure. Then when I have dealt with that, a deal with Kodak that has not yet been reached - a deal that has not yet been reached, I don't call a deal. They want approval in case they strike a deal in thirty days. In case we get a deal over the next thirty days we want to go outside The Public Tender Act; ask the Legislature to approve that! That is utterly crazy and it is not something that we are going to do. I said to the Government House Leader: We are not going to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do I have time to go and get (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, you certainly have. You will have time to take a vacation, a long vacation, I say to the minister.

What this bill is proposing to do - and it is based on a long premise first of all. If you did want to strike a deal, if you did want to entertain proposals and select the best one, as you said with Kodak, apart from The Public Tender Act it should have been opened up to anybody who wanted to put a proposal in to take over the printing services that are provided by this government; that should have been the first step. It should not have been exclusive, only certain people who wanted to manage it were allowed to put in a proposal.

That, first of all, prevented every other company in this Province - one company has expressed a concern. I returned a call tonight from a company who has a very grave concern, since I spoke in the House last, a very grave concern that we are preventing that company from bidding on services that this government provides. To give exclusively to a company, to any particular company - it does not matter if it is Kodak. It is not the company that is the concern. It is the basis principle here of asking this Legislature to ignore The Public Tender Act that was brought in to allow companies that are in this Province - and a lot of these companies are struggling to survive. A lot of them are depending on government work and they are depending on the marketplace to be able to scrounge enough business to stay alive in this Province. It is tough enough doing business in this Province without giving exclusives. That's not right. It is not fair to companies out there who wish to compete and it is not fair to exclude companies from the proposal process and include only those who want to manage it. That's like asking you if you want to manage a business for me and give us a proposal, and I said, no, I don't want to manage it, I am not interested in managing it, so you ask someone else to manage it. Then you come around and say, only those who want to manage it are going to be allowed to buy it or tender on the business. That's not right. That is wrong and it is wrong to commit taxpayers dollars.

We have seen, and I have said before, a case here where a government committee and Cabinet have made a decision not to include the lowest bidder, not to include a preferred bidder but to go with the higher bids and eliminate others in the process initially, and then subject that and pass out a tender to friends of government that cost these taxpayers over $30 million that the Supreme Court in this Province ruled was in contravention of The Public Tender Act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Two wrongs don't make a right.

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't agree with that either, I say to the member, I don't agree with it. The Minister of Justice is going to render his decision in the near future. We have asked questions. A part of this government, of which you are a member, is going to render a decision on what you should do. It was appealed last year to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, I would like the person who is supposed to set the decorum standards in this House to allow us to speak.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask that we allow the hon. the Leader of the Opposition the privilege of debating with some semblance of decorum in this House.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have not been interrupting other people speaking. There was a very limited basis and very briefly. The Government House Leader does it on a consistent basis here when he should set a proper decorum. This is a serious bill; it is not a laughing matter I say to the Government House Leader. This bill is not a laughing matter. It is a very serious bill. We have seen examples of circumventing it, and the highest court in this Province, the Supreme Court of Appeal, rendered a judgement that said: You broke the law of the Public Tender Act and our Province has to pay damages. Now, that is a decision not made by any political party, by any political people in this House, it was rendered by the highest court in this Province.

Now you want us to go out and circumvent, to defy legislation on the books, the purpose of bringing in this legislation now. It is just as well to tear up the Public Tender Act if we are going to do those things.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: I don't believe there is a quorum in the House. I would call for a quorum.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes there are, there are fourteen.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible). Can he count?

MR. SULLIVAN: The members are not in their seats, Mr. Chairman, so that would not constitute a quorum unless they get to their seats.

CHAIR: Ring the bell.

Quorum

CHAIR: There are sufficient members in the House of Assembly now to make a quorum.

I recognize the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I asked the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi if he can get an audience here for me and he said he will do his best. He has now provided that and I would like to thank him. We allowed him to turn on the speaker in the caucus room so he can listen.

Mr. Chairman, we were diverted temporarily from debate, diverted from the course but not strayed from the subject at hand, I say, not at all. Prior to that, I think the Government House Leader was delighted that I was interrupted when talking about circumventing the Public Tender Act. It was a very touchy subject I say, Mr. Chairman. When you violate those laws you were elected to protect, it is a very sensitive subject I say to the Government House Leader, very, very sensitive.

Why would you try to sneak through a bill under the guise of calling back the Legislature to deal with education reform? Education reform in this House took, I would say, probably one hour in total on second reading and Committee, about one hour or less of debate in this House. Roughly an hour or so has been taken on education reform and the Government House Leader does not see fit to want to deal with the issue of education reform. He wants to put it off for another day -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) tomorrow.

MR. SULLIVAN: We will deal with it tomorrow. We will deal with it all before we leave.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not possible to deal with it in this session, I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: It is what?

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not possible to deal with it in this session.

AN HON. MEMBER: On this day.

MR. SULLIVAN: On this day I should say, not this session. On this parliamentary day, it is not possible to do it. If we do not adjourn, the parliamentary day could go on for three weeks and it is still the same parliamentary day.

MR. TULK: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman, I say to him in all sincerity, it does not matter to me whether we pass it today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of next week. I have spent days and days opposing Tories before this House, and I will do it again. All I am doing now is giving you all the time you need to debate the bill. I don't want you standing up here tomorrow and saying: Well, I wasn't given an opportunity to make my points. So I say to you: have at it.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not sure what the Government House Leader was trying to tell me, but I do remember earlier today I told him the same thing, that we are going to take time and debate this. So don't preach to the converted, I say to the Government House Leader, because we are sold on this, and we want to take whatever time we think is necessary. We will use it, and by the time Monday rolls around, and we are still going around the clock for a week, we will survive it, I assure the Government House Leader. We are prepared to do it, and I serve notice. I just hope you will take us quite seriously, because I am not letting the opportunity go through to ignore the Public Tender Act, to give a company a contract that they can have for life. That is what this bill is doing, and we are not going to do it. It is wrong; it is improper.

Then the minister indicated that: We will give companies an opportunity to bid. You did not. You gave companies an opportunity to look at the management of the printing services, and then you only allowed those who wanted to manage it, those three - unsolicited bids from those three that you approached to have an opportunity to look at an economic development plan for our Province. If we want economic development, we are prepared to come back at any time to facilitate the agenda of government to pass something that is positive for our Province, but not if we have not seen it. Mr. Chairman, we are not going to pass something that we have not seen.

MR. TULK: Do you want french toast for breakfast or eggs done over easy?

MR. SULLIVAN: The answer is yes, I say to the Government House Leader. I am going to share with my colleagues, I say to the Government House Leader. I am not the greedy type. In fact, they can have first choice.

MR. TULK: Whatever you eat, they would eat.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, all for one, one for all.

Mr. Chairman, we have seen too many examples of bad decisions made by government in the past, and it does not matter - the Government House Leader gets up and talks about how he has made a life of attacking Tories. Well, so be it; I don't care if he has or not. I don't take any great pride in attacking Liberals any more than I do Tories, to be honest with you. I am going to address the issue, regardless of who deals with that particular issue, and that is important. That is why we are dealing with this particular issue here today.

I am sure many of your members - and I know for a fact they are over there - did not even know this bill was going to be here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: They did.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, they did not. That is a fact. Do you want a count of the people over there who did not know it was coming up, and were not aware of this? Ask them to stand if they knew it was coming up, I ask the Government House Leader, and our people. To try to force something through before people in the Province have a chance to see it, before businesses out there have a chance to be able to put their points across, who are the competing businesses, who are being affected by it - we are told that one company has thirty-four employees in this Province and they are going to be adversely affected.

I spoke with an individual tonight who is adversely affected by the direction that government is taking here on this particular matter, and I have every reason to believe there are many more people out there who are now going to be shut out of the process of competing for government business because we want to enter into a secret agreement. They are out knocking on the doors, the same people, Kodak, are talking to Premier Savage in Nova Scotia, and Premier McKenna in New Brunswick. I know that for a fact; I have been told it by people involved in the process. That is a fact. In fact, the Premier admitted that, I think, in an interview today. He admitted one of those particular provinces - I am not sure but it was said here in the House. I am not sure, but I think the minister made some reference that Nova Scotia, too, and I am not sure if she said New Brunswick, but it was said here and I think the minister said that she can certainly confirm that when she has an opportunity, that they are knocking on the door. I know for a fact they are out playing one against another to get a sweetheart deal. Who is going to pay the price. If Kodak or any other company is interested in setting up a business in this Province to compete, let them compete on an equal footing.

The Premier said today, and I heard it on the news this evening, that the federal government is going to be contracting out a lot of its printing service. Are they going to give an exclusive agreement to Kodak? The answer is, no. Kodak will have to compete like any other company in Canada or elsewhere for this business on contract basis, and they are going to compete on the same basis. The Government of Canada is not going to do what this Province is now doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure. They have indicated they are going to contract it out. They are not going to give an exclusive.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, quoted on record. The test of time will prove whether they are going to give an exclusive, I would say. I will stand on that. I will say that the Government of Canada is not going to give an exclusive contract to somebody and renew that contract forever without public tender. That is what I am saying, yes. This Province generally doesn't do that. In fact, it doesn't do it now in the contracting out of its printing services. Why should the government do something it isn't doing now?

Maybe the reason they found out they can do it cheaper, contracting out certain parts of the printing, is because it is competitive bidding. That won't be there after this bill comes into effect. We are going to take away that right and it is not going to happen.

There is no guarantee. If a minister can stand and tell me that there is something in writing that will guarantee, when we talk about jobs, that the thirty people who work in the printing services division there are guaranteed jobs, some - first he said all, then he said the majority, will get jobs with Kodak. There were general interviews done. There were no interviews for positions. There were general questions about Kodak, what they feel about the company. It was more like an aptitude. People -

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave?

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: There were general aptitude questions there. There were no interviews for jobs as such. There are jobs performing that service that might not be required. There are several, to my knowledge, that may not be required by Kodak because some people don't have skills that are adaptable to some of the particular jobs that Kodak or any company offering the service are going to need. They will be subjected to the same thing as any other employee in here who is losing their job, through a bumping procedure through the system, the rest of the employees. If that is a guarantee of a job, it depends on your years of service, your seniority and where you are to on that particular ladder there. If that is how secure your job is, the same as anybody else in the public service today, that isn't great security.

To give up a job in this day and age - and I stand to be corrected. If any minister can tell me that things have changed since today, that there is a severance agreement, or there is a pension, guarantees for people who are on that job now to take a job with Kodak, I would like to hear about it. Because to my knowledge there is no such agreement whatsoever, either verbally or in writing, provided to any of these people on that particular job.

That is only a pile of baloney, you can call it, a pile of bull, to tell us out there that all these people are going to get jobs. What is going to happen without security is that in six months' time anybody out in private industry are not going to hang on to employees who cannot fill a particular niche or perform a certain role with that specific company. They are not going to do it, because private businesses are out there to make money. That is a goal of private business. It is intended to be and it should be a business, the purpose to make money out there, and they aren't going to be looking at those particular aspects.

To try to tell us that the securities are out there, is not correct, and nobody has indicated to me in any way that that is factual. In fact, people have indicated to me, reasonably close to the scene, who I have talked to and have called me, that the situation is that (inaudible) is not there.

That is only a part of it. That has nothing to do with the principle at stake. Even if I were told that, I still wouldn't support going around the Public Tender Act to allow a company to enter into an exclusive contract with this Province and to renew that contract forever. I wouldn't do it. Anybody who would do that in their own private life or their own private business and subject people to that, it is something that is not acceptable and is improper. It is not a way to do business. It is trying to put jobs in the front door, probably 200 jobs, and send 300 jobs out the back door of this Province with no net gain and, in fact, a great loss to this Province. Whenever you stymie the free enterprise process, whenever you do that, and exclude others, you create inequalities and an uneven playing field that gives some people a competitive advantage in the marketplace over others. The marketplace will eventually come back, where there are monopolies there, and it will be unfair and companies will go out of business because of that.

That will happen any time there is a particular monopoly. You cannot compete against a person who monopolizes services, because in the area where they have a monopoly they can use the revenues they have to compete against others in other competing aspects of that business. We have been looking at regulating monopolies and how telephone companies, if they use the local rate charges in their long distance, have to compete. You can't use a particular arm of a regulated monopoly to make a huge profit. To make it non-competitive for an opposing person is contrary, I think, to the rules of doing business in this country. It isn't acceptable, it isn't appropriate, and that is what could happen in this particular instance here.

I know I'm on leave, so all I would say is if there is an agreement reached - they have indicated there is no agreement now - if it is so good, tell us about it, please. Tell us about it if it is so good, let us know. When you reach an agreement, provide it and let us see, put the cards on the table and let the House of Assembly determine if an agreement is so good that we should ignore the Public Tender Act. That agreement would want to be pretty positive to this Province. It would want to be reasonably positive to this Province, not possibilities, not negatives, for us to be able to circumvent that and allow that to happen. It is just not appropriate to happen. I am going to do my part to ensure that it doesn't happen, and whatever avenues we have at our disposal to be able to do that, we will do that, I say to the minister.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise again to participate in this particular debate. I think that the Leader of the Opposition has indicated very clearly the position of our party on this particular matter. We certainly want to continue to facilitate the education debate. That is what we came back here for, as I said when I spoke earlier. That was the intention. We came back here to facilitate the passage of the most important piece of legislation, probably, that has come before the House for a long time, namely the changes that we have all been anticipating to the education process.

Mr. Chairman, the Leader of the Opposition in his commentaries, when he spoke in this debate on several occasions today, has outlined clearly what our concerns are. The government should, I do believe, take under advisement some of the comments we have been making from this side of the House. While I know that the government has every intention to proceed, it should recognize that we do have certain concerns that we have been raising. We speak up for the other side of this debate; and also, we have had members from the government side who during this debate have come and said: I didn't understand all those particular points.

Mr. Chairman, I think we have to consider that it is wrong to give any government the kind of blank cheque that this particular piece of legislation gives to this government.

This afternoon the minister, in her introduction, said that the purpose of the legislation is to enable government to enter into an agreement which involves contracting, printing, microfilming and electronic imaging services to Kodak Canada should the government determine that such an agreement suits the best interests of the Province. Mr. Chairman, that was the opening sentence. Our difficulty is that we are not convinced, because we do not have details, that this agreement will serve the best interest of the Province. If more information were put forward then we could say, yes it does or no it doesn't. So, we will go back to the very first sentence that the minister said this afternoon. She said, in her opening commentaries, that she believes the agreement will serve the best interests of the Province, but we have not seen any details. Therefore we are asked to join with the government, sight unseen, text unread, to approve something that may have great benefit; it may not have great benefit.

Mr. Chairman, the thing that we want to do in this debate is to draw attention to what is really happening. This is not a debate over whether we think Kodak is a good company; not at all. That's not the issue. They may very well be a great company, as is Xerox, as is Robinson-Blackmore printing services and many other different companies. So, Mr. Chairman, we are not debating here the merits of one particular company over another. We are saying that the process that is used is flawed. We are saying that The Public Tender Act was brought in by the government back in the '70s - I think it was '73 or '74 - and amended in 1984. It was done for a very particular reason. It was done to protect the public interest. To bring in a piece of legislation that says, would you exempt us from The Public Tender Act with sight unseen, without any details, is incorrect. It is an incorrect approach and we don't believe that, without having the details, it will serve the best interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Of course, the minister mentioned the concept of calling proposals, and we understand the process. We have worked in that kind of set-up before and we have some idea as to what happens. When the minister called for proposals, we are not convinced that the proposals were called for on a level playing field because she only consulted with the proposals that were received when the government went looking for a management company. Of course, that is completely different from what is happening right now. So we made a change in the responsibilities. We went for proposals on a management proposal and now we are going to go and leap from that into a complete contracting out service. You have gone from (a) to (d) and you have not looked at (b) and (c) in between.

So, Mr. Chairman, what we are saying is that there are procedures to follow. To say that we are going to exempt Kodak from the public tendering process; show us the details and we may very well be delighted. We would like to join with the government and say that this proposal is great. We would like to see 100 jobs, 200 jobs, 500 jobs coming to this Province, and we hope that that indeed does happen. We are open for business. We believe the Premier when he says that he wants to attract business to this Province, but, Mr. Chairman, we want to know something about the conditions. We want to know that we are not going to gain fifty jobs and then turf out thirty long-term employees without any recourse in terms of job security.

Mr. Chairman, when others have spoken they have spoken about the issues of details. When I spoke before I spoke about the request that we have made for more information. That is what we are saying here: Tell us what is going on.

Mr. Chairman, when the Leader of the Opposition has spoken, and he has spoken repeatedly on this particular issue, he feels very strongly on it, as do all the members of our caucus over here. We are basically afraid. We are afraid that without having the information that this particular deal might not be a good deal. Kodak, from what I know of them, it is a reputable company. I've never seen anything in anything that would tell me anything different. Mr. Chairman, I do believe that they have entered into negotiations with the government in good faith, and I believe the government has entered into negotiations with them in good faith. But in doing that we have to be aware that we have a public trust. That public trust involves us making commitments on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

When you look at the piece of legislation, you find that the bill doesn't say that it is going to be a temporary arrangement. In fact, it says here that it is going to be, "during the currency of those agreements and any renewals of those agreements." It, in essence, has a potential for absolute perpetuity. We want to have some more information before we say we are going to give any company, whether it is Kodak or whether it is going to be Xerox, Robinson-Blackmore or any company, national company or a local company, that kind of monopoly on the printing of government services and microfilming procedures.

Mr. Chairman, that is where we are. The government has not seemed willing to share information. The minister hasn't stood in her place and said: Yes, I will give you more information, I will share more details. So all we can do on this side is to do what we are doing, which is to continue hour after hour, as long as it is necessary, for us to go and say that we want to make a substantive point. We are afraid of the exclusive arrangement, we are afraid of the fact that we have shut the doors on others. We have no doubt that there has been dialogue with Xerox, but certainly Xerox in its correspondence of today hasn't indicated it was unable to perform the processes referred to in this particular piece of legislation.

Therefore we would want to take a little more time. Maybe the government should consider, probably, going to some kind of public information program, maybe go out so that we can have some more public debate on this. Therefore we can go on and we can continue dialogue with Kodak, but we can also then involve others. We can go and let others - maybe nobody else will come forward. Maybe nobody else has the expertise that Kodak has. Maybe it is a case of where we will come to the conclusion, in a public dialogue, that Kodak does offer the best service and that it does deserve to have exclusivity, but we need to see the information, we need to see the dialogue, we need to see the presentations.

I would ask the minister if she would consider holding back this bill until we can have a proper, public dialogue. Maybe others will come forward, maybe nobody will come forward, but certainly, the public deserves a chance to have some commentary on this particular piece of legislation. Already today, we have had representations from certain parts of the industry saying they are surprised that they were not properly consulted. I cannot tell you whether they were consulted or not, because the minister has not said to whom she talked, has not said any of the names of the companies with whom she entered negotiations. We know that she has substantially concluded her dialogue with Kodak because that was the indication that has been given, that you are asking for thirty more days.

Now, common sense tells you that if you are saying: Give us thirty days and you have some idea as to where you are going, obviously there has been substantive dialogue already carried on with Kodak, there would have to be. Therefore, what we are saying is that, if there has been substantive dialogue already carried on with Kodak -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: Already, Mr. Chairman? Leave, for a few seconds?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. H. HODDER: No leave?

CHAIR: No leave.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again to debate this issue which is before us concerning Bill No. 19, which is entitled: "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated."

Even the title of the bill is of some concern to members on this side, Mr. Chairman. In fact, it is unusual that we would see a bill which is so brief, says so little and leaves out so much, because basically what we have here is just an invitation to a particular corporate entity to come into this Province and to do business with this government to the exclusion of everybody else; and that is the concern.

As I have stated earlier and, Mr. Chairman, as has been noted by other people who have joined in debate this evening, it is not what the legislation attempts to accomplish in terms of free enterprise or the development of business or the welcoming of corporations or corporate entities into the Province, it has nothing to do with that; we welcome that. It is the methodology which is being used, Mr. Chairman, and it is the process. I would even go as far as to say that, it violates the law of the land. That was indicated earlier in the piece of legislation called the Public Tender Act, which as we all know, was designed to act as a safeguard against this very thing.

So the question has to be asked, Mr. Chairman: How is it, when the Province has before it legislation which entrusts integrity into bargaining and contracting in this Province with parties who bargain and contract with the government, that this particular legislation is being violated to the point that it is specifically addressed in this bill, that the act is to be violated, that the act is to be overlooked, that the act is to be omitted when considering who does business with government, with respect to the provision of printing, microfilming and electronic imaging to the government of this Province?

Mr. Chairman, this raises serious concerns, and these concerns are reflected in the debates which have been heard this afternoon and this evening by members on this side of the House.

The act in section 2(a) defines goods or services as goods or services which are "provided to government funded bodies." In 2(b): "`government funded body' includes (i) a department of the government of the province, or in the case where goods or services are acquired on behalf of a department of the government of the province by the Government Purchasing Agency under the Department of Works, Services and Transportation Act, the Government Purchasing Agency."

Clearly what we are dealing with here falls into the definition of a government funded body. We are talking, in addition to that, about a term known as a public work. In 2(f): "`public work' means the construction, extension, enlargement, repair, maintenance or improvement at the expense of a government funded body of a building, structure, road or other work, whether of the preceding kind or not, in, under, or over real property and includes the acquisition by a government funded body by purchase, lease or otherwise of a public work specifically constructed for the purpose of that acquisition."

So clearly what we have before us is goods or services being provided to a government funded body. Then we had to turn to the provision in the act, which I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, is the most relevant, and the one which this government ought to take very seriously, and should have taken very seriously before this piece of legislation was envisaged. In section 3 it states where tenders are required, and it states in 3(1): "Where a public work is to be executed under the direction of a government funded body or goods or services" - so clearly by definition, this falls within what we are speaking about here this evening - "are to be acquired by a government funded body, the government funded body shall invite tenders for the execution or acquisition." Shall invite tenders. Simple language. It is in the legislation.

A question has to be asked: How is it in this bill, Bill No. 19, which is the subject of this debate, how is it when the legislation is so clear in the definitions sections of public works and services and government funded bodies, how is it that legislation which is so direct and so straightforward is being blatantly violated? The response is that other people, other companies, other corporate entities, which wish to do business with this Province with respect to this particular type of work, are being denied that opportunity. That is the essence of the disagreement which is held by most members on this side of the House.

It was mentioned by my colleague the Member for Waterford Valley that this is not a debate over enterprise, and clearly it is not. It is not a debate over the welcoming and inviting of people, whether from within the Province or, for that matter, outside, to do business. That is not the issue. It is an issue of process. It is an issue of opening up the legislation, letting the people of this Province be aware of what the process is all about, without denying those individuals who want to do business with this government the opportunity to do.

Mr. Chairman, it is the role of an Opposition to question seriously bills which come before this House which we, as an Opposition, feel violate what is in the public good and in the public interest. That is why we are here at almost 11:00 this evening, and by the looks of things we could be here a while longer. We are here because, as an Opposition, it is our duty and obligation to ensure that the public good and the public interest are being protected. We aren't here for the sake of being here. We are here because we truly believe, as an Opposition and as a caucus, that this bill is inappropriate and, for that matter, violates what this Legislature, over twenty years ago, had envisaged to be in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Chairman, other attempts have been made by the previous government to deal or tamper with the Public Tender Act. In fact, two courts in this Province, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland Trial Division, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland Appeals Division, stated quite clearly that there was a violation of the Public Tender Act, and that common-law practices of contracts were violated, and it called into question the very integrity of the public tendering system. The integrity of the public tendering system, that is what this debate is about. That is what this bill attempts to defeat, and that is why we are here to defeat this bill. Therefore, it must be remembered from past mistakes, particularly of the previous administration - many members are in the House this evening who were part of that administration - it must be remembered that it is not wise to tamper with the public tendering process. In fact, the courts of this Province have come down hard on the previous administration in the way that the process was tampered with. Mr. Chairman, that exercise and that example, and the litigation that was held in the two courts in this Province, should be held as a very direct reminder of what happens when governments attempt to violate the public tendering process and the integrity of the Public Tender Act.

I would ask, Mr. Chairman, that the government take a hard look at really what this legislation is all about, and what it attempts to do; and it is not too late. The minister, in her wisdom, can re-think this legislation. The minister can review the legislation with a view to correcting what is an injustice to the people of this Province and to other corporate entities, whether within or outside, who want to do business with the government of this Province.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: It is becoming clearer to me now.

Honourable members opposite would have the public believe that what we are embarking on here is some sinister plot to go ahead and act in such a way that we would thwart the intent of the Public Tender Act. Really, I think what you have to do as an Opposition you are attempting to do. They would say that what we are doing here is wrong, this is not right; we are again the sinister, ugly, three-headed monster that means nothing but bad for the people of the Province. That is not the case. What we are doing is following a procedure that we feel would be the best thing to do.

Granted, maybe the Opposition, regardless of how we went about this, just because it happens to be tied into the Public Tender Act, would put on those kind of shenanigans that they have gone on with here tonight. Regardless, if we brought in exceptions to The Public Tender Act, somewhere down the road they would probably dedicate three or four Question Periods to the issue and try, as they might, to suggest that this big Kodak Company coming into Newfoundland and Labrador is a sinister plot by the large corporate interests in Rochester, New York - where their headquarters are - the large corporate interest throughout North America, to again take advantage of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador. So what is it about? Is it about the process that the hon. members opposite are really concerned about? I don't think so. It is just the pure politics of the fact that we are talking about The Public Tender Act and they have decided to dig in their heels. Do you know why I feel that the hon. members opposite have dug in their heels?

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. RAMSAY: Because they - and I really should not say this - but they would sacrifice the new investment coming to the Province by a company, such as Kodak, for the sake of their own small political interests, and that is a shame, Mr. Chairman. It is to a point, the signal that we are sending to the business community, one of the largest companies, if not the largest company in the world that is involved in photography, involved in digital imaging, as Kodak have changed lately over to the newer technologies, to enable Newfoundland and Labrador to get involved -

AN HON. MEMBER: Give us some details.

MR. RAMSAY: Details? You are pulling all kinds of stuff off the Internet over there. If you want to know what Kodak is into just pull it off the Internet. You are already doing that here today. I am sure you can find out the details. You can contact Kodak yourself and find out what their future corporate plans are. I am sure that you can find out, as I can find out information. Maybe not about this specific deal but I don't think that Kodak would want to negotiate any deal in a province in Canada in the Legislature prior to the deal being consummated.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are not asking that.

MR. RAMSAY: You are not asking that. You were offered a confidential briefing and you turned that down because of the pure politics of the issue. So it is obvious to those of us over here what you are up to. I think the public of the Province will see through it very, very easily.

Now what is it about? You say it is about the process; the process that we are going through is faulty. The process we are going through is not faulty. It is just a matter of making a decision. We have made this decision and now we are going to carry it out. We are going to do what we can to try to stimulate new investment in the Province. What is it about? It is about being open for business, sending the right signal to the people of North America that Newfoundland and Labrador wants to join in. We want to sit at the head table of business in North America. You will never do it by impeding and trying to impose this petty politics on that kind of deal that is being brought forward. What is it about? It is about attracting investment to the Province. You have one of the largest companies in North America, the largest in the world - and the next one to them is Fuji, a Japanese company - a North American company which does this kind of technology here on your doorstep and you would have us not even negotiate with them. You would say: Well do your deal and see if the Legislature will approve of it. So ultimately I think your judgement on this is really botched and only public opinion will tell for sure.

Now you have made your statement and you know that the majority in a Legislature will prevail eventually if we get to that stage. So therefore you have made your statement - maybe it is because you want another couple of Question Periods this week of the long hot summer. Therefore you will impede this so you can try to get another couple of Question Periods this week so you can make a few more issues. It does not matter to me, I was here for the whole week anyway. It does not matter at all. Maybe even longer, it does not matter at all. To me that is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is the kind of signal that the Opposition has now sent to the business capitals of North America is the wrong signal. You are showing that Newfoundland and Labrador, some of the political officials in this Province, do not want development to occur. They are playing petty politics with it to prevent it from happening or try to prevent it from happening because the majority will prevail.

Now what is it about? We have already committed to the members of the Opposition that it is about maintaining and protecting the existing jobs that are in the imaging sector in the Province, in the provincial public service. That has been committed here as a part of that. That has been given as a commitment to the hon. members opposite. So what more do you want? Do you want us to say that guaranteed we are going to spend x number of millions of dollars in electronic imaging out in the private sector?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. RAMSAY: I am being abused, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. RAMSAY: At one time, Mr. Chairman, an approach like that would be met by more than laughter, but we are in a more gentle time I think.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I think this issue certainly is about protecting and maintaining the existing government jobs, protecting and maintaining and enhancing the Province's ability to eventually bid on government and other public sector and private sector contracts throughout the country, and even throughout North America. I am sure that this would be a good investment for the Province or the Province would not enter into such a negotiation, and will not sign if the negotiation proves to be futile. If they cannot get a good deal for the Province, if the minister and the government, along with Premier Tobin, cannot get a good deal for the people of the Province, then in their wisdom - and they will be judged by that by the electorate, not necessarily by the way that the Opposition decides to slow down the Legislature to a crawl so that they can make such an issue of this. Like I say, the galleries are not full; this is certainly not - I would even think that the news reporters are gone home.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, they have not.

MR. RAMSAY: They are recording it, I know. There are some of them here, probably.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: No, I have been asked to stand up and abuse the Opposition, so I am going to stand up and abuse the Opposition.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I think that what we see here is the reason why the Opposition is the Opposition. I think this certainly is the reason why we have the larger number of members over here and the smaller number over there, the inability to see the big picture - no pun intended - on this kind of situation. The hon. members opposite have dug in their heels -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: What was that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Chairman, I should not comment about one's apparel, I suppose. I have been abused myself about it, and I should not go to that level.

Great things are happening, but you are supposed to stay relevant to the bill, which I would implore the Chair to maintain relevance in the overall debate. There have been those of us who have strayed from relevance. Maybe we could clue this up by getting to a stage where the relevance was maintained. I guess once we go past midnight there is no session tomorrow. That might be the case.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was about to send up the white flag.

The Member for LaPoile stands up and would have people believe in this House that we are being obstructionists. I have heard the same speech before by the member on a different issue, when he was standing up and saying that all the members in the Opposition at the time did not want government to get out of debt, thought that Hydro was the best thing since sliced bread to sell; we should have done it; we should move quickly. We should not, he said, be holding up an important government initiative. And he still is in the same position he was in then, as whip of the Liberal caucus.

Mr. Chairman, we can, if we wish, and the government can, if it wishes, return to the days when there was no Public Tender Act in this Province, when the Premier of the day stood in places here in this Province and said: Do my bidding, I am sitting on the Public Treasury and you will get no help from me. We can return to those days; we can return to those days if we so wish.

Now, the reality of this piece of legislation is that the government does not need legislation by any shape or any means to negotiate with a company to sign a deal; it has that power inherently because it is government. They have that power to do that at any time, whether today or tomorrow, to enter into agreements with individuals, to enter into agreements with companies, to enter into agreements with any organization. Pardon me?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is what I am attempting to find out I say to the Minister of Education. That is what I am attempting to find out.

Government negotiated for several months. The now Minister of Justice knows what I am talking about. Former members of the Cabinet in the old government know what I am talking about. The government negotiated -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not hiding anything and I don't believe you are.

The government negotiated for several months with NewTel Communications for the privatization initiative of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. It didn't come before the House and ask for an act to facilitate that negotiation; it didn't come before the House and ask for an act to facilitate to negotiate with only one company, it called for proposals, it met with companies, it established the preferred bidder and then it negotiated. When the government of the day felt that they had a reasonable agreement that would best serve the public of the Province, they came before the House, introduced legislation and it was supported, not only by government members of the day and the Cabinet but it was supported to the person, by opposition members of the day, because we believed, as government believed, that it was time for government to get out of the business of computer technology. We believed then and we believe now -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: You didn't, and I am talking about the Official Opposition.

We believe now that when it came to that certain public corporation that that was the way that government should have proceeded and we debated it. There was full disclosure. The government of the day, the Cabinet of the day, did not come and ask this Legislature and members of this House to pass an act that would facilitate negotiations.

There is no need for this provision. There is no need to circumvent the public tendering process.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Sure, absolutely.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No. I would have yielded to the Government House Leader any time if he wanted to make a point of clarification or ask a question. I ask the minister, and then I will sit down, just a quick question, if she is willing to answer it, in my time, in the time I have right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? What is that? I guess she won't answer it, so....

How would the member for Grand Bank feel if today government had a $2 million, $3 million or $4 million contract that the Marystown Shipyard could do, and government and Cabinet decided that the only group they were going to deal with would be the Halifax shipyard or the Newfoundland Dockyard? How would that make that member feel? How would it make the businessmen and women in Marystown and on the Burin Peninsula feel? That is what is happening here.

We do not need to circumvent the Public Tender Act. Government, by its own nature of being government, can negotiate and sign agreements on behalf of the people of this Province. It does it every day, Cabinet does it every week, every month. I have never seen or read about or heard about where government has brought in a piece of legislation to ask the House of Assembly to pass, so it can facilitate the process of circumventing the public interest. What is next? That is the question. What is coming? What else is for sale? This is not the Commission of government days when people in this Province fell under, were used to and had to burden under that sort of process. That isn't what the Legislature should be about here today. I simply do not understand it.

Our opposition to this piece of legislation is rooted in that fundamental principle. It has nothing to do with free enterprise, or government negotiating with free enterprise to serve the public interest. It has nothing to do with trying to stop or block or impede the process which would improve or attract jobs and get more people in the Province working. Nobody in this Legislature would like to see that happen. All we are asking is to do it in a proper fashion, to do it in the fashion that serves the public interest. Not only must we serve it, but we must be perceived as serving it, and this act and this bill do not do that.

Mr. Chairman, so far in all of this debate when members opposite, Cabinet ministers, back benchers from the government side, have talked about that, they have failed to answer that one fundamental question. They have rooted and surrounded and wrapped themselves in some flag and notion that we are obstructing for the sake of obstructing. That is not true. I've seen more cooperation in the last four months, since this government was elected, on both sides of the House than I saw in the previous two and a half years on other pieces of legislation: returnable bottles, reform to education, and others.

The reality, and you cannot escape it, is this: That if we want to return to the days when only the friends of government, whether that is real or perceived, and when government can pass a bill in this Legislature that circumvents the Public Tender Act - my colleague for Bonavista South brought up a few remarks - what is next? When an unsolicited proposal comes before government from a major construction company in this Province and it says: We believe that it is in the public interest that all of the capital works funding next year should go to us. As a result of doing that, we can guarantee government a 30 per cent cut, a 30 per cent less rate so that you will get a better bang for your dollar. It may not be a bad idea. But government should not come before the House and ask this House to pass a bill to facilitate, us, as legislators, to circumvent the Public Tender Act, to allow that to happen. Send it out to the public, send it out to proposals.

If this government wants to practice what it is going to preach, and says that it believes in the free market system and that it believes in the private sector, then why are we so protectionist about dealing with one company? There are other companies in this Province who would like the same chance and be afforded the same opportunity.

Now, the minister has said that Kodak is bringing new technology to the Province. I applaud that. I would do whatever is necessary to ensure that it happens, but I will not - and, I repeat, I will not - in ensuring that will happen, I will not take the Public Tender Act of this Province and flush it down the political toilet because of the whim and will of the Cabinet of the day. I will not do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: There will be more to say on it, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, this afternoon the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, after a great deal of consultation between the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, after a great deal of offers to provide the Opposition with briefings - as a matter of fact, I believe she gave a briefing to the Leader of the NDP Party.

AN HON. MEMBER: She did.

MR. TULK: She did, yes, and a very good briefing I understand. The Opposition refused the briefing.

Yesterday in this House, it was my intention, as everybody knows - I told them in caucus, and I don't think I am betraying any secrets - that we were going to sit last night. I think that was known by everybody. We came to this House prepared to sit past 5:00 p.m. The Opposition House Leader, as he is wont to do at times, as we do, came to me and said: Do we have to sit past 5:00 this evening? Why don't we just do second reading of the Education Bill and we will sit tomorrow night until 10:00 p.m., and at 10:00 p.m. the business will be clued up? That was an agreement that was made between myself and the Opposition House Leader.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not accurate.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I say to the hon. gentleman from Cape St. Francis that it is indeed accurate. Otherwise, I ask him a simple question: Why would we have adjourned yesterday evening at 5:00 p.m.? We could have gone on until 10:00 p.m., got a great deal of debate underway, but we gave it up because the hon. gentleman wanted to give it up. It was as simple as that, in the spirit of co-operation with him. I called him again this morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: Five-thirty, when we came to work.

MR. TULK: No, I think it was something like 6:30 a.m., but I called him again this morning. I knew there was a bit of wavering - ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah - he wasn't quite sure.

AN HON. MEMBER: So you knew the flip-flop was about to be on.

MR. TULK: I knew there was something about to happen, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: The flip-flop was warming up.

MR. TULK: The flip-flop, flip-flap, was warming up, whatever it was.

We came in here this afternoon and the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman from Baie Verte, keep all his eyes open.

Mr. Chairman, we came in here and the bill was introduced by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman, they are better than any he has given before, I hope.

Mr. Chairman, the truth is that there has been a great deal of debate on this bill today.

AN HON. MEMBER: An exhaustive debate.

MR. TULK: There has been an exhaustive debate on this bill.

We could have, I guess, closed down the House at 5:00 p.m., we could have closed it again at 10:00 p.m., but we choose not to do that because we do believe that the people in this House have a right to make their points, but we do not believe in this House, and it is not in the best keeping of parliamentary tradition, that oppositions run governments. Otherwise, they should first of all go out and get elected. The hon. gentlemen on the other side were unable to do that.

Mr. Chairman, there has been some seven hours of debate on this bill, and I'm sure that before the week is out there will be some more hours of debate.

MR. DECKER: Irrelevant debate at this time.

MR. TULK: A lot of the debate, as the Minister of Justice says, has been totally irrelevant. It has gone back over and over and over and over. So, Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. TULK: You had it, boy.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. TULK: You had a briefing on it.

Mr. Chairman, I am going to do something which I don't want to have to do in this House too often. I say to hon. gentlemen opposite that they are not - I serve notice on them now - going to run this place. It is not going to happen.

I want to give notice that I will on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate of further consideration of Bill No. 19 entitled, "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated," standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any resolution or resolutions, clause or clauses, section or sections, preamble or preambles, title or titles, or whatever else might be related to debate in Committee of the Whole House respecting Bill No. 19 shall be the first business of the Committee when next called by the House, and shall not be further postponed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, having given notice of that motion, I would move that the Committee rise.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): 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 progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Thursday, July 25, at 2:00 p.m.

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