July 25, 1996             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLIII  No. 34


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Premier.

Yesterday, the House began debate on Bill 19, the printing services act, an unexpected and extremely disturbing piece of legislation that would give the government a blank cheque to exempt Kodak Canada from the Public Tender Act and give them publicly-funded work at the expense of other Newfoundland businesses and jobs; and yesterday, on the same day that debate began on this bill, only a day after the Legislature had even laid eyes on this legislation, and with the government refusing to provide even the most basic details about the intended implications of this measure, the government gave notice of its intention to invoke closure to force an end to the debate on this bill.

I ask the Premier, what is the government trying to hide?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition knows that the government has absolutely nothing it wants to hide. What the government has, is an opportunity to bring investment, millions of dollars worth of investment, to bring new technology capable of competing elsewhere in the country and to bring jobs to Newfoundland and Labrador; and I say to the Leader of the Opposition, that is the reason why the government, a) gave notice before the House was called back, to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of the NDP that this matter was being considered as a question we may call during this short session; that is why we offered to both parties even in advance of the House coming back, a briefing on the matter, which is hardly the mark of a government trying to hide something, that we offered a briefing to the Leader of the Opposition and a briefing to the Leader of the NDP. That is the reason why there have been discussions with the employees, hardly the mark of something to hide; that is why Dave Curtis of the labour movement of NAPE has been involved in this matter and has looked at it carefully, because there is nothing to hide; that is why the question was put before Kodak, before Xerox, Robinson-Blackmore; we had an open proposal and discussion with a variety of printing operators in the city before we proceeded, because there is nothing to hide. Mr. Speaker, I assure the Leader of the Opposition, if the outcome of these discussions do not result in jobs and investment and new technology for Newfoundland and Labrador, we will not be signing an agreement with anybody.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition talks about a blank cheque. The bill says: the government wants an exemption for thirty days to see if we can conclude within thirty days an agreement. Mr. Speaker, that is what it says, thirty days to try to bring investment and jobs to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Leader of the Opposition should be on his feet applauding that initiative, not condemning it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want my briefing here in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: And the contract is in perpetuity; it can be renewed at government's pleasure.

Will the Premier confirm that Bill 19 would give the Cabinet the power to do what it did illegally in the case of the Trans City scandal, and that is to award publicly-funded work without concern for the provision of the Public Tender Act which, by the way, a P.C. government put in place to level the playing field for businesses, to protect the provincial treasury, and to help rid the Province of political pork-barrelling.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is a wonder that organizations like Kodak or others do not head for the airport and fly straight out of the Province, never to return, when they hear the kind of negative comment from the Leader of the Opposition accusing Kodak of being some kind of pork-barrel agency involved in political patronage. It is a wonder you do not drive the last investment dollar out of the Province; but, fortunately, that does not occur because Kodak does not take seriously words such as those now being spoken by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, it is irresponsible, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, for the Leader of the Opposition to get up and smear an international firm that is interested in investing in Newfoundland; and I say to the Leader of the Opposition, if he continues that kind of activity, he may succeed in driving away the possibility of this investment in the Province. And I tell the Leader of the Opposition, if that occurs, he will be held responsible for destroying an opportunity to create jobs and new industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Premier confirm that the government has not had formal discussions with businesses that are now receiving printing, microfilming, or electronic imaging work from the Province, about the implications of this legislation on their businesses? Will he, in fact, confirm that Bill 19 puts in jeopardy any rights these companies currently have to bid for the nearly $2 million in printing work that the Province contracts out on an annual basis, and which helps keep these Newfoundland business companies operating and employing Newfoundlanders?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if you did not know better you would assume that the Leader of the Opposition was weaned on a bucket of pickles, and that he takes one every morning before he comes into the House to ask his questions. He sets out the worst kind of negative scenario, the worst kind of defeatist attitude. The man literally walks around with a black cloud tied to a string dragging along behind his back feet, Mr. Speaker. That is absolute nonsense. The fact of the matter is there is no agreement negotiated yet, there is no agreement signed yet, and there will not be an agreement unless there are benefits for local printers and a continued level of operation for local printers, and continued jobs for local printers. There will not be an agreement unless there is new technology for Newfoundland. There will not be an agreement unless there are new jobs for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, as to the question of whether we have discussed this matter with other operators, the fact of the matter is, as Premier I met with a representative of Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox Canada who themselves wanted to discuss making a similar arrangement with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The fact of the matter is we are sitting down with the best offer that was on the table, not just with any offer that came forward; and the Leader of the Opposition should recognize that instead of continuing to send out these negative notions.

I believe the Leader of the Opposition has come to the conclusion that Newfoundland's faith is summarized in a single word, failure. Well, I tell him, get ready to live with some success because we are going to make some happen in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier expects us to believe that he dealt seriously with companies on that? Will the Premier confirm that he received a letter on July 17 from the President of Robinson-Blackmore indicating the negative impacts Bill 19 will have on their company, a company that employs 250 people in this Province with an investment in excess of $20 million; a company, I might add, that can supply not only printing but also high end digital imaging capability as can five other Newfoundland firms? Will the Premier confirm that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is quite interesting that the Leader of the Opposition makes reference to the letter in question given that the letter in question does not communicate to the government on the basis being raised by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition wants everybody to believe there is something improper, illegal, or wrong going on with this negotiation, but the Leader of the Opposition knows full well, notwithstanding his attempt to try and attract a headline, that what he is saying is absolutely false. What is being said by Robinson-Blackmore is they want an opportunity to sit down with government to review the arrangement prior to any conclusion of the arrangement to make sure that local printers are not negatively affected by this kind of arrangement.

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation informed me that she has already been in touch with one of the local printers in the City of St. John's, one who is a member of the local association; and the minister is in the process of arranging a meeting with the association tomorrow to assure the association, first of all, of what the parameters are for this kind of negotiation, what the objectives are for this kind of negotiation, and to hear comment and advice from local printers prior to concluding any kind of arrangement. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a reasonable request from Robinson-Blackmore, and a reasonable response is now in the process of being given.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will release a copy of the letter I have and let people make their own determination about what Robinson-Blackmore said in that letter, I will say to the Premier. I will do that, I will make that letter that was sent to me available afterwards for any of the public who want to see it.

Does the Premier realize that this bill places in jeopardy the $100,000 to $120,000 in printing that the HUB currently receives from this government, the loss of which, we are told, would result in a lay off of a minimum of two disabled persons if not up to probably four people? Will he confirm that these jobs are in jeopardy under Bill No. 19 because the Cabinet will have complete authority and leeway to enter into agreements with Kodak Canada to give any and all printing work exclusively to Kodak?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, no, I don't agree with the Leader of the Opposition. What the leader of the Opposition is saying, and what he has been saying during the last two days and the picture he has been painting is absolutely, totally and completely false. More to the point, it is irresponsible.

This is a province with the highest rate of borrowings in Canada. This is a province with the highest rate of taxation in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador is the province with the highest rate of unemployment in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador is the province that needs most investment and new jobs. It is time for us to quit this dog-in-the-manger attitude, to get our heads out of the sand, and to go about the business with some positive confidence that we can achieve some economic growth; and that yes, Newfoundland and Labrador is the place where Kodak should set up. This is the place where they should have a leading edge, a technical data-imaging facility, and that they should be able to compete and win from Newfoundland and Labrador.

It isn't written in the script anywhere that we always have to be losers. Mr. Speaker, we can be a winner, but we have to start with a winning attitude, not the whining attitude of the Leader of the Opposition today in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is rhetoric that got us into trouble, not substance, I say to the Premier, in dealings in this Province, and part of the reason why we have such high taxation.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation suggests some printing work will continue to be made available to other local companies, but what she doesn't say is that the government would have authority under this legislation to give exclusively to Kodak any printing, microfilming or electronic imaging work that it wanted to. Nothing in legislation would bind the government to public tender any printing work and contracts would only be given to other printers at Cabinet's discretion, not because of any provisions in the Public Tender Act.

Now why is the government so eager to return to the days in Newfoundland before the Public Tender Act when contracts were handed out as favours to friends and supporters on the whim of the Premier and his Cabinet, because that is precisely what this bill would create?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. This exemption to the Public Tender Act is specific to Kodak. The time period for the exemption is thirty days. It does not allow the Cabinet to make any kind of arrangement with respect to any other matter, with any other firm, friend, foe or otherwise of the government. It is specific to Kodak for thirty days. For the Leader of the Opposition to stand up and try and pretend that this is a blanket exemption that applies to every area of government procurement, and could apply to any company in any line of work is absolutely, totally false. More to the point, the Leader of the Opposition, even as he speaks the words, knows them to be false.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with reference to the Robinson Blackmore letter, let me read from the letter because it is far more mature in its approach to this issue and far more honest in raising concerns and asking for assurances than the kind of panic that is evident in the questions by the Leader of the Opposition and the kind of deliberate attempt to try and stir fear. You know it is very easy to stand up and shout fire in a crowded room, and that appears to be the tactic that is now being employed by the Leader of the Opposition.

The letter says on page 2: we have been given assurances by representatives of government that the Kodak proposal does not envisage any traditional offset printing competition being impacted. So for all of the traditional offset printers, the letter from Robinson Blackmore itself says: we understand that that is not an issue. The letter goes on to raise questions as to whether or not high end digital imaging operations might be impacted. Robinson Blackmore says: we would like to sit down and discuss that with you. The letter says: we would appreciate an opportunity to review the proposed arrangement prior to completion. We are agreeing to do that.

The letter goes on to say: we agree with government's initiatives to privatize services which can be provided by private industry; however, any process which potentially exposes current jobs should be avoided. We agree with that. He says: we trust the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will give this issue sufficient review and analysis to ensure current investment and employment is not put at risk by government support of a competing operation in an already over-burdened industry. We also agree with that. We are prepared to sit down and talk with the industry in Newfoundland and Labrador to make sure that their interests are protected while, at the same time, seeking new investment, new technology and new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador. Surely, it is reasonable to ask the Leader of the Opposition to allow the process to be completed, to allow an actual agreement to be negotiated before he judges prior to that process, the value of the agreement and, more importantly, before he begins to call into question, the reputation and the integrity - I will put aside the government's reputation or integrity - but the reputation and the integrity of Kodak.

How in the name of all that is decent, Mr. Speaker, are we, as a Province going to attract international firms to this Province, ask them to invest in this Province, when the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition uses his protection of the House to call into question the integrity and the reputation of those international firms. They will not want to come to Newfoundland and Labrador, they will want to stay away, and if they do that, Newfoundland and Labrador loses every time.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What a load of bunk! That's what I call it. You are going to sit down with a company after you sign a contract and give an exclusive? What is there left to discuss? I ask the Premier. Consultation before agreement, that is what I say to the Premier and the letter says more than that, too, I say to the Premier but I will not waste time reading it as you did. I will provide a copy.

Now surely, Kodak Canada knows the government has the power to ram through this legislation, certainly after it saw the government ram through second reading of this bill yesterday. Now, surely, Kodak is confident it could work out the complete details of a possible arrangement with the Province without first having Bill 19 passed, knowing that the government would have the majority to reinforce this agreement later.

So, why does the government feel it is necessary to have Bill 19 passed first, in the absence of details of such an agreement? Why, I ask the Premier, are you asking members to vote blindly, unless the details of the agreement the government has in mind are so controversial, that Bill 19 would never pass if it were first disclosed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the questions of the Leader of the Opposition are now getting, frankly, so contradictory, that they are almost not worthy of a response except that I respect the role and the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

You now have the Leader of the Opposition arguing that we should go out and negotiate a binding deal and then retroactively, after the fact, sneak into Parliament, sneak into the Legislature, use our majority and ram through an exemption to the Public Tender Act, after the fact.

The Leader of the Opposition says: The Premier knows that he has a majority, he knows he could pass this later, negotiate first and tell us later. The only mistake we made, apparently, as far as the Leader of the Opposition is concerned, is that we have done this transparently, we have done it up front, we have told him and the rest of the people in advance and he can't stand a little fresh air in the Legislature. He should get used to it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier: Is it like your deal on the natural gas plant in Marystown back in February? Is that the type of deal you are going to give us here?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier: Would he confirm that he was informed by Robinson-Blackmore, that on June 27, 1996 informal discussions began to trickle back to Robinson-Blackmore that the Kodak proposal had in fact been accepted and the process was in place to finalize a contract? Will he inform that he was given that information by Robinson-Blackmore?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm anything the Leader of the Opposition is saying today because nothing of what he is saying adds up to anything other than rumour, innuendo, accusations of bad deals, accusations of criminal activity, accusations of illegal activity, accusations that Kodak is some kind of disreputable operation that is a political friend of the government. I mean, the Leader of the Opposition today, really, should go back and reread the transcript of these questions over the last two days.

If the Leader of the Opposition has some substantive reason to say that Newfoundland and Labrador should not be engaged in a discussion that could bring new jobs to the Province, then bring forward those objections. But merely to be picking at threads, to be trying to find every way possible through innuendo, through all kinds of unsubstantiated comment, to call people's reputations into question who are here negotiating with the Province in good faith, Mr. Speaker, that is not -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I am sorry. The Leader of the Opposition keeps referring to Kodak knowing they got a deal, he has made references to pork-barrelling, made references to friends of the government. He said yesterday, and I think I am quoting him verbatim: If this is the basis of Kodak being here talking to government, tell Kodak to go back home. I think I am quoting him verbatim.

Mr. Speaker, it is precisely that kind of attitude that will injure the interest of Newfoundland and Labrador. I say to the Leader of the Opposition, we offered to brief him on this arrangement, we offered to exchange with him confidential commercial information. He refused it. We offered to give it to him because we wanted him to behave responsibly, we wanted him to ask responsible questions. We did not want to see this opportunity injured by these kinds of questions. Obviously, our instinct was right. Regrettably, the Leader of the Opposition's posture in refusing to ask questions on the basis of fact was wrong.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, he has lost the confidence, in my mind, of the people of this Province, and he has lost the right to be briefed on confidential information because he is reckless and irresponsible with the kinds of accusations he is making today, and he is putting the interest of Newfoundland second and putting his own partisan opportunity to try to score a headline, first, obviously.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ask the people of the Province who has lost their confidence, I say to the Premier. Will you answer one simple question: Why, and for what motive, have you decided to circumvent the Public Tender Act, which is a law of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we have been answering the question for days. The Minister of works, Services and Transportation has been answering the question for the last couple of days. The fact of the matter is, this is not a question of government making a public tender call to say: We want to make a public tender call on all government printing services. If that is what we were doing I would say; Absolutely, the Public Tender Act should apply and there should be a public tender call.

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: But that is not what has happened here, I say to the Member for Baie Verte, who recently was in touch with my office, and the office of other ministers, asking for an EDGE designation, which we have given to companies in Baie Verte, giving preferential treatment to create jobs in Baie Verte. We did it with Roycefield mines. We may do it with a seal operation as well. We had the Member for Baie Verte applauding because we were creating jobs in his district, notwithstanding the destructive mentality of members of his own caucus.

I say to him: This is not a call for a public tender. This is an opportunity to sit down and to lever -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Understand this. Just clear your mind for a moment, I say to the Leader of the Opposition. This is an opportunity to attract millions of dollars of new investment to the Province, to attract leading edge technology to the Province, to attract an international firm to the Province, and to benefit the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, in the fullness of time, if there is an agreement, all of the details will be made available. The Leader of the Opposition can say they are good, he can say they are bad. The people of the Province ultimately, three or four years from now, will judge the government on whether we have made good arrangements, bad arrangements, good decisions or bad decisions. But, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, the government cannot be paralysed. We cannot be paralysed. We cannot refuse to go out and try to create jobs. We have to get on with it and that is what we are going to do, and we are not going to be scared away by the frightened negative mentality of the Leader of the Opposition.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tampering with the Public Tender Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

I have recognized the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tampering with the Public Tender Act tends to cause serious difficulties for governments. Of course, we have a well-known matter that all people in this Province are familiar with where the act was not tampered with, it was avoided, it was ignored.

My question is for the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of this Province. Has the minister made a recommendation to Cabinet in response to the Newfoundland Supreme Court of Appeal decision on the Trans City health centre contracts that the Provincial Government should not further appeal the judgement?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. gentleman knows, the Court of Appeal reduced the liability of the Province in the Trans City deal. The Trial Division ordered that we would pay the full lost profits to the health care developers; the Court of Appeal said we would pay half. The decision we have to make now as a government is whether or not we will ask leave to appeal this to the Supreme Court, or we will indeed pay half. So what I have asked the officials of my department to do is to have preliminary discussions with the health care developers to get some feel for them as to just what kind of a settlement we could make. We are still maintaining our right, I tell the hon. gentleman, to appeal to the Supreme Court if we do not get a satisfactory settlement.

The hon. member will know, if he is honest and up front, that as a result of the Trans City deal, we saved, over the life of that agreement, $6.8 million over the conventional route, so we do have -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. DECKER: Honourable members may laugh, Mr. Speaker, but that is the fact of the matter. Had we gone the traditional route, it would have cost $6.8 million more. Now, we do not want to have to spend that $6.8 million, and we would not even think about spending near that amount, but if we could reach a reasonable settlement which would be substantially less than that, of course, then we might - we might - but we have not given up on our option to ask leave to appeal this to the Supreme Court.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a supplementary.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have been told that the Trans City facilities are millions more expensive than the least expensive proposal to construct these facilities. How much will this fiasco have cost provincial taxpayers before it is all over?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the hon. member does not know what he is talking about. Even during the court, even in the original Trial Division, the lawyer for the plaintiff said, `We know this is a good deal for the Province; we are concerned with process'. It is a technicality. We are being held to ransom by a technicality. We have saved $6.8 million. We have three of the best health care centres in the Province, three of the best health care centres in North America, at a cost which is $6.8 million less. So the hon. member gets up with his down-in-the-mouth attitude that he has toward everything, the same attitude which you are displaying now where we are trying to entice an international company to come here and create some jobs.

This is a very difficult Province to govern and to create jobs in. We have a harsh climate. Most of our population lives on an Island. It is difficult to bring raw materials in. It is expensive to ship things out. It is very difficult to create jobs, but we do not expect the elected representatives of the people of this Province to come in here and try to drag this Province down into the dirt, and try to make sure that nobody works. We do not expect that. We expect a higher standard from the elected people in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a final supplementary.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bending the law is not a matter of detail. Bargaining in bad faith, and contracting in bad faith, is not a matter of detail, and I would ask the minister to read page 34 of the most recent Court of Appeal decision on that particular point.

I have a supplementary for the hon. the Minister of Health. At Gander, we also see how a reckless approach to capital planning can result in gross waste of scarce health care dollars. On a related matter, has the Minister of Health yet decided whether to complete the Gander Hospital, to spend millions to protect it from the elements, or spend a million or so to tear it down?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer by number, one, two, or three.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's East has asked a question.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I recognize the interest of the Member for Cape Freels wanting me to answer by number because that is very simple and they understand simple-minded issues on a very simple-minded basis, but the fact of the matter is that, as government, we are dealing with substantive issues and we have to deal with them on a considered basis, and on a basis that uses the maximum intelligence that we have, and we have that ingredient on this side of the House in considerable quantities.

In terms of the Gander project, the hon. member will know that in the Budget that was presented this year, government put a freeze on virtually all capital expenditures within the Province, particularly those in the health care sector, in cases where projects were not substantially completed. We had two projects, I believe, that were about 70 per cent or 80 per cent completed and we moved forward with these. The Gander Hospital project is about 20 per cent completed based on the projected cost of full completion, and a construction freeze was put on that project, with many, many other capital projects, for one year. We will see what happens in the future. We feel that in the year that we have as a window of opportunity, it is appropriate to look at our delivery of health care services by virtue of what we have, by way of infrastructure in Central Newfoundland, and we are taking that opportunity to review our health care services within the Central Newfoundland region.

With respect to the third point that the hon. member raises, are we going to spend millions of dollars to protect what we have there already, the steel that is in place -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am trying to hear what the minister has to say.

MR. MATTHEWS: With respect to the construction that is partially completed there, we have been assured, the Works, Services and Transportation people and the engineering people tell us, that there is absolutely zero, negative impact on that steel, leaving it as it is for one year. We are not going to spend any money doing anything. There is no negative impact on the construction.

As for his point as to whether or not we are going to spend $1 million to blow it up or tear it down, we are going to do neither, Mr. Speaker. The likelihood is that we will use what we have there for very good purposes, for health care purposes some time in the future on some basis. That will be determined when the study is done and when we come to a finalization of plans that are appropriate in the context of good health care delivery in the 1990s and into the Year 2000. We are heading into the next millennium -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: - and I think those on the other side should get ready to join us when we enter the next millennium instead of wanting to move back into the past.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have recognized the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi - time for a short question and a short answer.

MR. HARRIS: Most of my time, Mr. Speaker, has been taken up by the Speaker trying to get order but my question for the Premier concerns the large number of women who are on strike today on the Southern Shore and in St. John's who are working in home care field, Mr. Speaker. They are being paid less than half of what the equivalent workers in hospitals and nursing homes are being paid. The government, particularly the Minister of Social Services, has refused to take responsibility for the employment of these individuals.

I want to ask the Premier, is he aware of this and is he prepared to instruct government officials to sit down at the negotiating table and play a role in those negotiations the same as they do in the nursing home field or is the Premier and his government prepared to tolerate the creation of a low wage ghetto for women in this Province, despite claims by his government on other occasions, that they believe in pay equity for women?

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

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

To the first part of the question, it is not entirely accurate to make a correlation between the staff that work in our hospitals and nursing homes and the staff that work in the home care industry throughout the Province. There may be similarities in terms of the type of work they do, to some extent, but it is an `infactualization', I would tell the hon. member, to say that we are dealing with the same categories of work on the same basis in both institutions - we are not.

To the second part of his question, the people who are working in the home care industry have been traditionally, for many years, working in that industry on the basis of wages and working conditions that are currently in existence.

To the third part of the question, government is prepared to assist the employer and the employees, in terms of bringing about a resolution, to the extent that we have a responsibility to do that, to the Department of Environment and Labour. I understand my colleague has made offers of services of mediation if the parties so choose to take advantage of these things. So, on all accounts, we are doing what is reasonable, what is appropriate, and what is proper. I would remind the gentleman again that this is an issue between employees and an employer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: Government funds.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Government funds - many, many agencies, and many, many organizations within the Province, that do things on behalf of government, but that does not mean we have to get involved in the employer/employee relationship.

AN HON. MEMBER: Conciliation officers are involved.

MR. MATTHEWS: My hon. colleagues, if I may conclude by sharing what he has just shared with me, there are conciliators involved at the moment, so again the hon. member is substantially a day late and a dollar short.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

MR. H. HODDER: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

During the Question Period today the hon. the Premier made some comments to the effect that the Leader of the Opposition makes statements that he knows to be false. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is clearly unparliamentary. According to Beauchesne, Section 494, where it says, `The Acceptance of the Word of a Member,' and it also says that there should be no imputation of intentional falsehood permitted. Also, we have to look at Section 481 where it says that members are not allowed to impute motives to other hon. members.

Mr. Speaker, I put it forward as a statement for you to consider and ask the hon. Premier if he could withdraw the language that he used when he said that the Leader of the Opposition makes statements that he knows to be false.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, upon reflection I think it is quite possible that the Leader of the Opposition is not aware when he makes statements that are false that indeed they are false. Therefore I want to say that the Leader of the Opposition has clearly made false statements and I hope he now realizes they are false.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, to the point of order.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier were to realize what parliamentary rules are about - I am one member who has born the brunt of some unparliamentary comments. Let me say to the Premier directly, that on Page 151 of Beauchesne it is clear. "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no" - and I repeat, Mr. Speaker - "no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible."

Then on Page 141 it is clear again that it is unparliamentary "for members to impute bad motives or motives different from those acknowledged by a member, or to make a personal charge against a member."

It is clear, Mr. Speaker, I think, that the Premier indicated in Question Period that the Leader of the Opposition knowingly made false statements and he should be asked to withdraw unequivocally.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. Premier to clarify what he said.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, like the member opposite I have had a passing acquaintance with the rules myself in previous existence. Before I became such a diplomat, I was at one time a member of the opposition and I came to know the rules, although not with as much consequence as the member opposite.

Mr. Speaker, what I have said, and what I know to be within the rules, because I have had a passing acquaintance with them, is that what the Leader of the Opposition said today on several occasions is false. What is unparliamentary is to say that the Leader of the Opposition was deliberately being false, and I have come to the conclusion, because the Leader of the Opposition says it is so, and the House Leader says it is so, that the Leader of the Opposition wasn't being deliberately false; he was clearly being unknowingly false. I withdraw any accusation that he was being deliberately false, but, Mr. Speaker, I assure you that what he said was false.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

I would ask the Speaker to check the wording of Hansard to see what the Premier actually said, but I would like to say that I never made a statement that I know to be false. I haven't, and it is incumbent upon the Premier, if I made a statement that he knows to be false, to indicate what was false about the statement. I have not heard anything that the Premier has done to refute the statement that I made.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, again for greater certainly I take the word of the Leader of the Opposition. I am sure now he is telling the truth, that he did not realize the false statements he was making were false, therefore he did not make a deliberately false statement; but, Mr. Speaker, the statement itself was as false as the day is long.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will check the transcript of Hansard and rule at a later date.

MR. J. BYRNE: You are a little man, a tiny little man.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: It is true, you are a tiny little man.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Petitions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: Stevie Wonder.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Health, the future is so bright, according to the Premier, I had to wear the shades.

I'm sorry that I have to tell the members on the opposite side today that I don't have a food fishery petition and that we ran out of them. I presented so many in the last session - I didn't realize we would be back this summer, so I only had one left. But if I had a couple of more days I'm sure I would have some more.

I rise today to present a petition from my district on behalf of the community of Harbour Round on the noon hour busing. I will read the petition and then make a few comments on it, seeing as we are into education reform and so on.

The petition of the undersigned residents of the community of Harbour Round: Whereas there are very serious concerns regarding noon hour busing, we ask that you please consider the petition as a request to reconsider your decision on noon hour busing. Our children have already lost their school. Next year they will be in multi-grade classrooms. Specialty areas such as music and guidance are only on a part-time basis, and our area is an economically deprived location.

We the people of Harbour Round are presently experiencing financial hardship, and to send our children out to lunch will cost more money. Your decision to cut our busing and have our children stay into lunch will once again hurt the people who can afford it least.

Mr. Speaker, the point I would like to raise and I would like to mention it to the Minister of Education - we are here debating education reform and so on. This particular community sends their children from kindergarten right up through to another school. They wouldn't mind so much if they had to stay in the school to eat lunch but they don't have a place to sit to eat lunch. They have to sit in their classrooms or whatever.

Another point, and I mentioned it to the Minister of Health, this same school, La Rochelle in Brent's Cove, they can't even go to the fountain to drink water. The water is not drinkable at the school.

Mr. Speaker, the points that these people make I think are very sincere concerns. They are concerns of not just the community of Harbour Round in my district, I think they are indicative of what is happening around the Province. Yes, I agree, and we have been cooperative on education reform since this debate started, and the minister has confirmed that from yesterday; we have been cooperative. We have to move on with it.

I guess what the people in this community are really asking for, I say to the minister, is that a decision on noon hour busing be put off, at least until conditions at the school can be such that a six-year old can sit down in a respectable clean place to eat lunch, and they can go to the fountain afterwards and drink a bit of clean water. I don't think it is a lot to ask. I don't think they are asking you to indefinitely cancel that decision. I think what they are doing is trying to put forward the state in their community.

By the way - and the Premier knows this from being in his own district - Harbour Round is one of the most economically deprived communities on the Baie Verte Peninsula. The TAGS has not been available to a lot of people in that community. There is a high level of unemployment in that area. To pack lunches every day for these students, even if they could go to school to sit down and eat it, would be a hard thing for these parents.

I think it is a very sincere request and I'm glad I could bring forward this petition on their behalf today. I'm glad that the House was open during the summer to be able to do this, because we are heading into the fall now where school will start up again. At least if they had to stay in school during the day, that they could sit at a table to eat their lunch, and they could go to the fountain afterward and have a drink of water. I don't think that is too much to ask, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to speak briefly in response, in a general sense, to the concerns that have been raised in the petition by my colleague the Member for Baie Verte.

This is a situation again, as the minister is aware, where people throughout this Province are crying out for attention to particular issues in education on a need by need basis. Clearly the issue of school hour busing is somewhat of a controversial one, and there is a variety of opinion on that particular point. However, Mr. Speaker, if it is clearly shown, as is indicated by the parents of the community of Harbour Round in the District of Baie Verte, that the water is not fit for human consumption, and if there is no cafeteria or suitable eating a meeting place for these children, that noon-hour busing is indeed an answer, or at least, an option that may be taken into account by this government in dealing with and addressing this particular issue. Similarly, Mr. Speaker, on the issue of busing generally, as we have seen in a variety of petitions which have been brought forward by a number of members in this House, parents and students and other individuals from areas throughout the city of St. John's - for example, Shea Heights, Brophy Place, New Pennywell Road and so on - parents from these particular areas have voiced their concerns and have spoken loudly to the minister that there should be indeed a review of this situation on a case-by-case basis.

Unfortunately, I understand from the minister that there will be no decision to reverse that particular concern as raised by the parents and students in these particular areas; however, that is indicative, I would say, Mr. Speaker, of the callous approach which has been taken by this government in dealing with many issues in education, in particular, busing and general school busing in the city or, depending on the particular circumstance, school-hour busing in certain communities; this is indicative of the approach that this government will not take into account what are obviously serious concerns by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians throughout. So, in that vein, I support the petition, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask that government give some consideration to these special circumstances.

Thank you.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day be now read.

On motion, that Orders of the Day be now read.

Orders of the Day

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House dissolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider Bill No. 19.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mr. Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Motion No. 2, Mr. Chairman.

Motion No. 2: To Move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate of further consideration of Bill 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.

Motion, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

"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).

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I figured if I stood up long enough I would eventually be recognized.

AN HON. MEMBER: We can't see you, boy.

MR. FRENCH: I know, boy; if you can't see me, you should get your glasses changed. You should go see the Minister of Health, wherever he is.

Mr. Chairman, again I rise today to speak on this particular bill. Again I rise today to say that I certainly do not support this particular bill. We started out the other day by saying, `Why the rush?' and the same thing applies again today: Why the rush? When this government has the right to go out and negotiate a contract, why circumvent the Public Tender Act? It is a question that we have asked, and we have been asking for two days.

We came back here to debate an Education bill. We have been more than willing - more than willing - to let this particular bill pass so that we could move on, and close the House, and that would be it; but this government has seen fit to introduce another motion, another bill, out of the blue, to deal with Kodak, and nobody on this side of the House, or I am sure on that side, has any problem with Newfoundland certainly bringing in industry that creates more jobs. We have absolutely no problem with that at all. The problem here that arises is that we seem to want to do this in a great big hurry. We seem to want to do this in a great big hurry. Again I have to wonder why we do not want to go to public tender, why we do not want to talk to other firms in Newfoundland and Labrador about this particular bill, and I say again: Why the rush?

I also have a copy of the letter from Robinson-Blackmore. This one was not addressed to the Premier. This one was addressed to the Leader of the Opposition, and it says: `In the absence of concrete information to the contrary, we must assume an arrangement between Kodak and the Provincial Government will impact negatively on the local print industry. This impact will not necessarily be limited to the traditional offset printing, but will include competition with investment made in St. John's specifically within the last two years.'

So, here it is here; somebody is objecting. Again, I guess, we have to wonder why. There are other parts to this letter that certainly call into question this whole bill. For the life of me, I cannot understand; we really seem to be in a hurry to get this through. What about the thirty-odd people who work with printing here in Confederation Building? Are these people looked after? I wonder, are they looked after? Our source of information says that they are not, and that probably within the next three or four months, we will find all of these people, or most of them, on the street, and that, of course, is wrong.

It says here again: `Our biggest single concern is that government employees with little practical knowledge or experience with the printing industry will make a decision regarding the future of government printing and, in turn, potentially the future of the printing industry in St. John's specifically, and Newfoundland generally. The government printing, combined with a monopoly situation for some contract period, may create a major competitor in the local market funded by government printing, indirectly by tax dollars, and in all likelihood, this operation will compete with local industry.'

There seems to be here a mad rush to get this bill through. It is rather strange that we have a company such as Robinson-Blackmore, who have millions of dollars invested into the economy of this Province - they certainly have concerns, Mr. Chairman. According to the letter I have - I do not know which one the Premier has, but according to the letter I have, they certainly have concerns about where we are and where we are going with this particular bill.

It says here: `We trust the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will give this issue sufficient review and analysis to ensure current investment and employment is not put at risk by the government. Support of a competing operation in an already overburdened industry, Mr. Chairman. So we are going to create something else. We are going to bring somebody in here and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As the Premier said, we have the highest unemployment rate in Canada and any new industry we can bring into this Province, this member here and I am sure all the members on this side of the House are fully supportive of it. We are not supportive, Mr. Chairman, of the rush to get this bill through. The rush to call us back for an education bill and in the middle of it, throw this in. Just throw it in the middle and hopefully we will get it passed. We agreed, Mr. Chairman, and we still live by that commitment by the way - we fully support the education legislation with some very minor changes. I understand those changes were made yesterday. If that bill were on the Order Paper by itself, we would be out of here this afternoon. The House would be closed. We would have been gone yesterday afternoon. But for some reason, somebody wanted to throw this red herring in. Stick one in the middle and hopefully the Opposition will buy it, they will not ask any questions, and here we are.

Unfortunately, I could not be here last night, Mr. Chairman, I wish I could have been. I certainly would have spoken against this particular bill. I think it is wrong, radically wrong. I certainly did not expect closure. You would expect that, I suppose, if the House were in full session; then, you might expect it. But when you are called back to do one thing and you are asked to do something else, then there is something wrong here. This whole thing smells to me.

AN HON. MEMBER: Stinks.

MR. FRENCH: Stinks if you want, my hon. colleague, yes, it is not a word that I am opposed to. There is something wrong here, Mr. Chairman. I think somebody should go back to their -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh there is, the Government House Leader can be assured of that. There is something wrong here somewhere. It is called cost plus.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, get into the power and all of that, but I don't think we are here for that. I don't think we came here for that, Mr. Chairman, but if you would like to get into it, we can certainly do so. I am not opposed to getting into the subject of the power that is going out of this Province. There is not a problem with Churchill Falls for me at all. Trans City is certainly not a problem for me either. So while the Government House Leader is over there talking away, throws in a scattered laugh and gets up and has a walk around the House and keeps babbling on, that's fine, Mr. Chairman, but somewhere in the middle of this -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, maybe if you would be quiet I would be able to continue and then maybe I would get through it that much faster, but while you want to talk you keep going.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) provoke me, boy.

MR. FRENCH: Provoke you - I really don't care if I provoke you or not. I couldn't care less about that. What I am concerned about is the bill that he and the rest of them over there are trying to sneak through, this particular piece of legislation. There must be a big dark secret, Mr. Chairman. The Government House Leader is very concerned. He threw this in the middle of everything; we should get this done, get it done, get it done. Why did he not just come in with his education bill? Why didn't he just bring his education bill in? He would have gotten it passed. It would have been passed and he could have been gone last night, Mr. Chairman, but no, he didn't want to do that. He wanted to get this one in the middle, so that we could see exactly -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: That's right, and it is in the middle; and I tell you what, in the middle it will stay until you run us out, you can be sure of that.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a rush to this. We have been told that maybe the deal is already done. When somebody mentioned the meetings with the President of NAPE, I also had the opportunity to talk to the President of NAPE, and I am not so such that everything that has been said in relationship to the President of NAPE may be gospel. He might even go so far as to say that he probably thought that maybe this was a fait accompli, that in actual fact it was already done; and if that is the case then it is certainly morally wrong.

I go back again to the letter from Robinson-Blackmore which was addressed to the Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Speaker, they have grave concerns about this bill. They are very concerned about the loss of government jobs with the opportunity to do this in the Province; and as part of their proposal - they were part of the Kojak or the Xerox proposal. It goes on here to talk about other operators in the local market, including M5 Advertising Limited, MRI Printing Limited, Sterling Press, and Dicks and Company who also have high end digital imagery capability. They have the ability to do this work, they have the ability to get this work done.

It is rather strange that we are here again today debating this. We were here last night and we will probably be here tonight, I say to the Government House Leader, debating this particular bill.

MR. TULK: Want to put money on it?

MR. FRENCH: Oh, yes, it is a sure bet. I say to the Government House Leader, that's a sure bet that one could certainly win.

Again, to the minister, I think it is wrong. She should go back and negotiate this contract. If it takes thirty days or if it takes ninety days, what difference does it make? If it is worth doing then it is worth doing right; so regardless of how long we take to get this ready then let us do it and let us do it right. We do not need to circumvent the government tendering act; we do not need to do that. We have seen enough of that in the past; Trans City and other things. We do not need to go around the Public Tender Act.

What we should do here, Mr. Chairman, is delay this particular piece of legislation. The government should go on its way and negotiate its contract and hopefully bring it to a conclusion that will benefit all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and have no impact whatsoever on the other printing people in this Province who are capable of doing this particular type of work. We have to be fair to the other printers in this Province, and we have to protect the jobs which we have already created.

The HUB is certainly one good instance where they have told us there could be a loss of jobs. So I think it is time we took the second look, that we send this legislation back, and that the minister continue on with negotiations. In the end, let us bring it back to the House when it is finalized. To give us a sheet of paper to look at and say: well, here is what we want to do, we want to go around the Public Tender Act, that is wrong; so let us bring the legislation back here when it is concluded, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. When the negotiations are over let us bring it back in here, let us sit down, let us go over it clause by clause, piece by piece, and if it is good for this Province then this side of the House here will have no objections to supporting this bill. While it stays as it is, Mr. Chairman, I, for one, will certainly not vote to support it. I will certainly vote against it.

Whether I'm here tonight or tomorrow night, or the next night after, doesn't really matter to me. If we have to sit all night that really doesn't matter to me either. We are here to debate this particular piece of legislation. It is dead wrong and it should be corrected.

Thank you for your time, Sir.

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

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

I'm here today again to rise in my place and say a few words on Bill No. 19. As I stated yesterday, I don't think we should be discussing Bill No. 19. We were called back to discuss an education bill. That is what was stated in June before the House closed; but again, of course, the Premier of this Province, as the premier before him, is trying to pull a fast one and rush this legislation through the House when he figures everybody is here and doesn't really want to be here. Holidays are coming, people have holidays planned, bring this in and we will rush it through; according to his plan, but that is not what happened, Mr. Chairman. We were here till 11:30 last night discussing this bill and we will be here, I would say, this afternoon and this evening for quite some time also.

Mr. Chairman, this morning the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation was on the open line show trying to sell this piece of legislation to the public. From my perspective, she made quite a few comments that I think need to be contradicted and the actual facts told.

The minister was on this morning and she made a comment with respect to working a deal of five years with the Kodak people. Now, Mr. Chairman, there is no mention of five years in the contract or in the legislation in Bill No. 19. It isn't in the legislation. Why isn't it in the legislation? The Member for Topsail is completely confused as usual, mentioning thirty days. Thirty days is the time frame to come to an agreement, but if you would read the Hansard yesterday - and I will quote Hansard - what the minister said, "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."

That is in perpetuity, Mr. Chairman, for eternity. This could be for eternity, this contract; nothing to do with five years. There is nothing in this bill for five years. Once this deal is done - and that is one of the reasons why they want to rush this through the House - they won't have time to get public opinion up against it like we got public opinion up against the Newfoundland Hydro deal. We were told, from that side of the House, Mr. Chairman, that we were fear-mongering - and the likes of these few foolish comments from the premier of the day, from the Government House Leader and the various ministers. They got up and said that we were fear-mongering, and we are doing the same thing now.

We were proven to be right. There is nothing in this bill; one paragraph giving the government the authority to work a deal with a company. I don't care what company it is, it is wrong. A company -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) if you want, if it is not too much of a strain to read it.

MR. J. BYRNE: My name is not Tulk, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, you got that right.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is right. I can read, don't you worry about that, I say to the Government House Leader.

Again we get back to the five year thing. The minister was on the radio this morning - I don't know if it was (inaudible), I can't say it, but she was not giving the facts. She was saying it was a five-year deal. If it is a five-year deal, there is no deal worked; but she was talking about a five-year deal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation was talking about a five-year deal. It isn't in this bill. They are talking about going on to renew, Mr. Chairman, the agreement, so it could be renewed and renewed and renewed and renewed. So giving the people a false impression that it was only five years.

Again, as I said earlier, the reason why it is being rushed through this House is so public opinion won't be up against it. We don't know the facts, we haven't been given the facts, and we haven't been given answers to the questions that we have asked.

I'm going to quote again from Hansard, a comment that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation made yesterday. I will just take a minute to find it here now. Just listen to this comment from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. It is on page 1163, July 24, 1996, from Hansard. I think we can quote from Hansard. It is supposed to be a direct transcript of what was said in the House of Assembly. It says: 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 the legislation is being upheld by going through this process today.

Now, the intent of the Public Tender Act is being upheld by putting legislation through the House that circumvents the Public Tender Act. What a contradiction. What a contradiction in one sentence.

It was upheld when the original bid and call for the proposals was issued, where we went back to every individual company which had bid on the original management proposal. Now, we went back to every company - which was three companies - and they made changes to what was asked in the original proposal call, because they went out and asked for those people, the two companies, to come in. So, in actual fact, a number of companies within this Province could have bid on this work; but, no, because of the process that was followed, again in its very nature circumventing the Public Tender Act, companies in this Province, and companies within Canada and internationally, were forbidden to bid on this work, or were not allowed to bid on this work.

The minister and the Premier jump to their feet and talk about bringing work here. It looks like, from my perspective again, you are dealing with people you want to deal with. There could be all kinds of companies on the planet that might be interested in bidding on this work, but no, they -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible) solution?

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Topsail wants a solution. Follow the Public Tender Act, scrap this Bill 19, and work a deal and bring it back to the Legislature, like what was done with NewTel. That is what should be done, I say to the Member for Topsail, the legal beagle from Topsail. That is what should be done. There is no big deal about that. It is very simple, very easy to understand.

Why does the Premier and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation again need this to be put through the House now, and have thirty days to work a deal? Now, why is the figure thirty days? Why is it not twenty-nine, thirty-one, forty-five, ten? Why? Because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is it. Oh, there may be other reasons why. Other provinces may be involved here too, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. They are doing certain things to break the Public Tender Act when there is absolutely no need for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible). Other provinces would not take it.

MR. J. BYRNE: Other provinces probably would not break the Public Tender Act to get a deal, I would say to the Member for Topsail. No, Sir.

Again, the question is: Why do we need this legislation? We asked the Premier; the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier. He asked the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the only answers we get are basically the Premier jumping to his feet and ranting and raving. I really, actually thought that he was going to stand on the desk, on his head, and spit nickels; he was looking for attention that much yesterday and again today when questions were asked. The Premier stood on his feet and would not give any answers, and tried in his usual fashion to throw it back on this side of the House that we were being negative and that we were trying to stop progress, which is ludicrous. It is foolish, it is idiotic, I day to you, Mr. Chairman, that anybody would try to make those kinds of statements and try to deflect it to this side of the House when the members on the government side of the House are the ones who are doing wrong here, not the members of the Opposition.

The government expects the members of the Opposition over here, and the member of the NDP Party, to give a rubber stamp to this administration, and they are not going to get it from this. We saw what happened when the Public Tender Act was broken before, when the courts decided, the two courts - the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, the highest court in the Province, stated that the government on that side of the House, the previous administration - the front benches here are mostly full of the previous administration, and are members of the Cabinet now today - when they broke the Public Tender Act before, a couple of years ago with the Trans City scandal, it is going to cost this Province and the taxpayers of this Province untold millions of dollars. We really do not have a figure of that yet but it is certainly starting to climb up there now. We know it is going to cost at least $30 million, $40 million, maybe upwards of $50 million when it is all said and done, when the legal fees have been paid, and the extra money that was paid out for the highest price that came in on the three hospitals, when it could have been gone to another bidder for much less money, I say to you, Mr. Chairman. So the government is not going to get a rubber stamp from us and possibly do the same thing again.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood in her place yesterday and made a statement: if we can work out a better deal that is in the best interests of the people of this Province we will sign a deal within thirty days. Now we saw again what happened when this administration - again, I can't say this administration, but the previous Premier and most of the front benches worked a deal -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: - the Newfoundland Hydro deal; again, as I said before earlier, we opposed it and the people of this Province got up against it and it proved that we were right. The Trans City; again that is what happens when you try to work deals behind closed doors. The taxpayer of this Province is the one who is usually overexposed, not the government members, Mr. Chairman, although they should have paid the price for that one.

Two or three years ago, when the government tried to privatize NLCS Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services - and they did do that - they brought it to the House and we were told that it would be more efficient, that it would be more effective, there would be no job losses and that it would save the taxpayer of this Province millions and millions of dollars. What did we see, Mr. Chairman? We saw people let go from NLCS, we saw that the taxpayers of this Province are now paying much more, in the millions and millions of dollars, for the same services that have been given to the government. Now they are being supplied to the government by the new company, NewTel; millions and millions of dollars more for the same service that Memorial University used to receive. Departments like Government Services and Lands and the Department of Crown lands utilized the services of NLCS. They are now paying millions and millions of dollars more than they were supposed to; it was supposed to save money.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about those computers in Social Services?

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh well, the computers, that's an issue too. The computers were supposed to computerize - another brain wave of this administration, Mr. Chairman, was to computerize government. Technically speaking it should be a good move but I think it started out at $10 million and went up to $40 million and $50 million.

When we were doing the Government Services Estimates Committee hearings here earlier in the spring, after the Budget came down, Mr. Chairman, I noticed that in every government department there were untold thousands and thousands of dollars for computer services for each department. I had to ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation where was it going to end? Is there any time limit, any time frame? Is there any cap on the amount of money that they are going to spend, I asked the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and no answer. It could not be answered. No answers on why it cost $50 million basically, to computerize social services, up from $10 million. I will tell you why, because the people who were asking to be computerized did not know what they wanted, did not know what they needed. Then they went out and asked the company to come in and then it went from there. No proper planning again, Mr. Chairman, that is what is going on here; and they expect this side over here and the people of this Province to trust the government to work a good deal and give them a blank cheque, Mr. Chairman. Not so, it is not going to happen, not from my perspective or any stretch of the imagination.

Now again, we were called back here, Mr. Chairman, to discuss the education reform. We were called back in mid-July to put the bill through which was again, a situation where this administration made a complete schemozzle of the whole education reform. They called us back to discuss education. We had no problem with that. We were quite cooperative. We came here and we saw problems with the education bill and the Leader of the Opposition made an amendment, proposed an amendment and it was accepted, dealt with. Great cooperation, Mr. Chairman, went on in this House, but when it came to this Bill No. 19, no way were we going to let that slide, Mr. Chairman, not at all.

Then we saw last night at approximately 11:30 p.m., the Government House Leader standing in his place and bringing in closure on this bill. Again, a tactic that was utilized by the previous administration - he had a great teacher - more times in one year than it had been utilized from 1949, until that last year that we were sitting.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) try after that?

MR. J. BYRNE: Joey Smallwood, I suppose.

MR. TULK: No, no.

MR. J. BYRNE: Clyde Wells.

MR. TULK: Two, actually, one, Gerry Ottenheimer and one, Bill Marshall.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh yes, I would say; I would say. Well, you had good teachers.

Now, Mr. Chairman, we are discussing Bill 19. Again, the Premier stood in his place yesterday and he said - you have to listen to this Premier almost as carefully as you had to listen to the previous Premier, with respect to the words and the play on words, technicalities and semantics and the questions asked with respect to the number of employees, security of employees, pensions for the employees and broken contracts. After a lot of hassle from this side of the House, the Premier stood and said: Well, I would expect the majority of the workers to maintain their jobs either with Kodak or with the government.

Now, two key words here: `expect' is a big word in this situation. He expects, it is not definite, it is not something that is likely to happen; it is something that he expects might happen; and the `majority' - if there were 100 employees, the majority could be fifty-one, could be fifty-two, could be ninety-nine but could be fifty-one - but he `expects' the `majority'. In actual fact, was he expecting the majority to be fifty-one? But then again, it could be the minority because he is only expecting the majority to be taken care of. So that is where you have to listen very carefully to the answers that are given by the Premier, and again, I suppose, he must have had a lot of dealings with the previous Premier, because he certainly seems to be pulling the same tactics.

Now, again, this side of the House - and it was thrown from that side of the House that we were opposing progress and that we did not want to create jobs and what have you, malarkey, foolishness, Mr. Chairman. We, on this side of the House, certainly support privatization in situations where it makes sense, where it is more cost effective, Mr. Chairman, but, we are not going to support privatization of any - at least I am not going to support privatization of any part of government that is going to circumvent the Public Tender Act, to privatize a section of government, to put it out in the public domain, in private industry, when we don't know what the facts, the figures and the details are going to be of any deal, I say to you, Mr. Chairman.

You know, it is all well and good for the Premier to stand in his place and, as I said earlier, rant and rave and make all kinds of accusations, but the people of this Province expect more. Three or four months ago, during the election, the Premier of this Province went around and made a lot of promises; he built their hopes up, with the help of the national media, I might add, big time. The national media built him up big time, and he went around and built up the hopes of the people of this Province. And they expect more than for him to stand in his place and try to cast aspersions on this side of the House, that we are opposing progress.

Mr. Chairman, that is not what the people want, the people want action; the people want something done. They don't want to have an administration in here that is following in the footsteps of the previous Administration, who abused the power of the House of Assembly by bringing closure any time they wanted. They don't want that, they want an administration that is going to follow the rules and the procedures of the House, not to abuse the procedures and the rules of the House Assembly, and they do not want an administration that is going to break the Public Tender Act if and when they want to.

Now, it is all well and good to say that this is only a specific situation where we need to break or circumvent the Public Tender Act to get this deal. If they are going to do it now, how do you know they are not going to do it next week when some other company comes in and makes an offer to - anything, to run say, Crown lands over there or to run the - aha, now, that is something that just came to my mind. Crown lands in itself has a department over there, it is the photo lab. The photo lab in the Department of Crown Lands is a moneymaker for this government. People go in there, they have aerial photography done, they have all the photographs back from the 1930s on, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, they have all the mapping over there. So now, will this section of government go to Kodak?

Now, Mr. Chairman, is that a deal that is being worked? Is that being privatized? Are the people at Crown Lands now, in that section, in the photo lab and the photo library, going to be privatized? Is that something that we don't know about? How many other departments or sections of departments are going to be privatized? So, Mr. Chairman, the point to be made is that if they are going to do it once they will do it again and again and again, whenever the whim hits them. Whenever they have the brainwave, that is when they will do it.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just to clue up?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

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

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This is my first time rising on this Bill 19, and it is probably a very sad day for Newfoundland if this bill gets passed.

I would like to first talk about the fact that Kodak would have a monopoly for government business here in Newfoundland, and we have been told in the House today, and told by members of the government, that we are fearmongering, spreading rhetoric. This is not the case. We have correspondence from a number of different companies here in St. John's, and I will just give you an idea of Robinson-Blackmore. We read out the letter from Xerox last evening. Yes, you have a copy of Xerox. You are as informed as we are, so we are not fearmongering.

Just a couple of sentences out of the Robinson-Blackmore letter that we received today. They say that on June 27 of 1996, informal information began to trickle back to Robinson-Blackmore that stated that Kodak had their proposal and it had been accepted, and the process was now being put in place to finalize the deal. So, it is not rhetoric. We are not fearmongering. We have some legitimate concerns. If the deal is already put in place, why are we trying to ram this legislation through?

They go on to say that the government printing, combined with a monopoly situation for some contract period, may create a major competitor in the local market, funded by government printing indirectly by tax dollars. So if we are going to create a monopoly here, and a major competitor, to companies that have been long-standing companies in our community, companies such as Robinson-Blackmore, companies such as M5 Advertising Limited, companies such as MRI Printing, companies such as Sterling Press and Dicks and Company, these companies who have invested millions of dollars into our economy and employ thousands of people in our economy... Right now Kodak employs a grand total of four people in Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: Only four?

MR. OSBORNE: Only four people.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is all?

MR. OSBORNE: And we are going to give them a monopoly on government printing. I ask, are we fearmongering? I do not think so. I do not think so.

The letter goes on to state: Any high-end digital imaging operation will, however, compete with local business, and perhaps drive some of these companies out of business because they are funded by taxpayers' dollars; they have a monopoly on government printing. This is not fearmongering. These are some real, legitimate concerns we have here.

They go on to say that Robinson-Blackmore has an investment in Newfoundland of over $20 million. They have been a good corporate citizen to our Province. Do we want to risk driving this company, as well as several others, out of business because we are going to give a monopoly to Kodak?

Now, I have no problem with giving a monopoly to a company if it is done through the process, through the public tendering process, but to just go out and give them a monopoly because we seem to like the way they do business, or we seem to know somebody there, or whatever the situation may be, I do not know, but I think that this should go through the public tendering process. That is what it is set up to do. We do not want to set a bad precedent here, which is what is going to happen.

Robinson-Blackmore themselves employ over 250 people in Newfoundland. We got a letter from Xerox yesterday; they employ approximately forty people as compared to Kodak's four.

They also go on to say, in Robinson-Blackmore's letter: We understand that off-Island business is being targeted as one of Kodak's deliverabilities. They say that in reality, if paper has to be shipped into our Province and ink printed onto that paper, and then shipped out again, a definitive competitive disadvantage is taking place, therefore we fail to understand how Kodak is going to attract a substantial portion of off-Island business.

We are not fearmongering. These are legitimate concerns. We have some legitimate fears here. If this were all done through the public tendering process, we would have no problem with it. The only problem we have is that we are passing off a business, a monopoly on government printing, to a company, without going out and saying to our own local companies which have been good corporate citizens within our Province, without giving them the opportunity to bid on such a project. Kodak's money is going to go out of Newfoundland. Any excess profits that Kodak makes are going to go out of our Province, whereas if we were to set it up with a locally owned and operated business, the majority of that profit would stay here to benefit us.

That is what it is all about, keeping money here in Newfoundland. Why are we so eager to give a monopoly to Kodak and send our money off somewhere else? Like I said, if they were to win this process through the public tendering process, then that is fair. I have no problem with that; but we are setting up a monopoly with a company from the mainland that are going to take our taxpayers' dollars and any excess profits back to the mainland, as opposed to setting up businesses or keeping the money here in Newfoundland where it belongs.

We have to keep the door to fair competition open, and by going around the public tendering process, we are not, we are closing the door. This is not fair competition - it is no competition. It is a monopoly. I want to just go back to one other example, to Trans City, where we went around the public tending process.

AN HON. MEMBER: We never.

MR. OSBORNE: Well, we never, but the Liberal Government went around the public tendering process. And what happened? The government was sued. Now, they have to pay approximately $1.3 million, I believe it is, to the company that brought the government to court, and there is a possibility that they are going to have to pay the same settlement to the other company that lost out in the process, and there is a possibility of even more damages, over and above the fact that it cost our government, our taxpayers, the people of this Province untold dollars in legal fees to fight a wrong that this government created.

Not only did they fight the wrong, they have been proven wrong through the legal system, and now they want to take it higher, to another court again, only to be proven wrong again, costing even more taxpayer's dollars. This is crazy. It has been determined that this deal is going to cost the people of our Province approximately $30 million in interest over the course of the payback. Does this sound like going past or going around the public tendering process is good news for our Province? We are not fearmongering. We are bringing some legitimate concerns to light.

MR. WISEMAN: You are fearmongering.

MR. OSBORNE: Legitimate concerns, I say to the legal genius from Topsail. The legal beagle. Our money should stay right here in Newfoundland and Labrador where it belongs. That is all we are saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is it going?

MR. OSBORNE: Well, if we give a monopoly to Kodak, our money will be going to the mainland, and like I said, if they win it through fair competition, through the public tendering process, we have no problem with that. We are looking to give a lifetime contract to Kodak, or should I say the contract of a lifetime. That is probably more like it, the contract of a lifetime.

All we have to do is look back at the mistakes that the government of whatever day it was, be it Liberal or PC in our Province, the mistakes that they made by going around the public tendering process, and it will clearly state that this legislation was put in place for a reason and that is to open the doors to fair competition, to keep everything above board, to make it legitimate. By going around this process and making secretive deals with some company here or there or whatever, we are closing the door to fair competition. We are erasing any possibility of local companies here bidding and being accepted to perform this operation.

Now, what we are doing, as a matter of fact, in an effort to beat New Brunswick at a game that they seem to have perfected, we are willing to give away the shop to say, `Now, we beat New Brunswick. We won the contract. We got Kodak here.' I think it is more important to keep our money here. I think it is more important to have fair competition, and if Sterling Press, Robinson-Blackmore or Dicks and Company can do the work and they put in a bid and it is acceptable and they win the contract, well, then that's great. If not, if Kodak does, well, then that's great, too, but at least we have done it fairly through the public tendering process. There is nothing wrong with doing it fair and square.

If it is such a good deal that we have from Kodak, if this is such a fantastic deal that we should sign it today, pass this legislation through, ram it through, put a close on debate last night - in one day we opened debate and put a close on it the same day. I mean if it is such a good deal that we are getting from Kodak, let them win it through the public tendering process. I am sure they will win it if it is that great a deal. We are told by the hon. the Premier that this is a deal we cannot pass up. Then why are we so afraid to go through the public tendering process? Why are we afraid to go through the public tendering process if this is such a fantastic deal? I think we should open the door to competition, explore the public tendering process and see what other deals are out there.

In Robinson-Blackmore's letter - just to go back to that for a second - Robinson-Blackmore had put in a tender to manage the provincial printing shop and so did Xerox, and before they knew it, Kodak was given exclusive rights to take it over, not just manage it, to take it over. So, in an effort to win in competition, Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox joined forces, they got together. It says here, `Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox had individual proposals before the government to assume management of the printing operation. When information regarding the unsolicited bid from Kodak became known, Xerox and Robinson-Blackmore combined forces to submit a privatization plan to the government to operate the printing plant'- the same as what Kodak submitted to the government, and it seems that the deal was accepted before the public ever even knew about it, before it went to a public tendering process.

All we are asking here is that we be fair to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are asking to open up the public tendering process and give everybody a fair chance. I really don't think it is a good idea to go around the public tendering process and give a monopoly to one particular company and avoid competition. This is setting a very, very bad precedent here, and if we are going to start this now, what is next? What is next, another Quebec deal on the Lower Churchill Falls, maybe, a special deal cooked up on Voisey's Bay? What else are we going to give away? Have we not learned from our past mistakes? All we want is that we be fair to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Let us bring back the public tendering process and keep it in place on the Kodak bid. That is all we ask.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again I rise to voice opposition and concern to the legislation which is known as Bill No. 19, An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated.

We have heard many arguments again now for the second day, arguments which express concern and voice opposition to the procedure and the process which is being used which is envisaged in this legislation. I think it is quite clear to members opposite that the main bone of contention is clearly the explicit reference to the exclusion of the Public Tender Act. The Public Tender Act, as has been expressed by many of my colleagues, is sacred legislation in this Province which guarantees a sanctity and an integrity of the contracting process.

Above and beyond that point, and I will return to that point in a moment, another concern which I have and I am sure is shared by my colleagues, is the question of: Is this just the beginning? Is there more to come? Are there other government agencies and other funded services of government which will soon go down the same path as we find with the providing of services in printing, microfilming and electronic imaging?

For example, how long is it, perhaps, before the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, his office and the motor vehicle registry - like in this particular case with printing services in this Province, how long is it before there will be another secret deal worked out, there will be another party who will negotiate behind closed doors, to the exclusion of public tender legislation, to try to negotiate with government on the pretence that it is in the best interest of the people of this Province, and in so doing, evade the provisions of the Public Tender Act? How long is it before the motor vehicle registry comes under the same gun?

How long is it before the Registry of Deeds, which is located in this very building on the basement floor - how long is it before services which are provided by the Registrar of Deeds and his staff are again privatized to the point that there are secret negotiations, secret deals with interested third parties, again to the exclusion of the very important legislation known as the Public Tender Act? How long is it before that occurs?

How about the Registry of Chattel Mortgages and Conditional Sales? Again, an important registry which of course keeps record of all chattel mortgages and conditional sales and bills of sales when they are used as security documentation - how long is it before this registry, too, is negotiated, the workers' lives are put on hold, and the provisions and services rendered by this particular registry, the terms and the services provided, are again negotiated behind closed doors at the expense of the Public Tender Act?

It goes on and on. Because there are many other similar services which are provided by government which, if worked at, could easily be negotiated with private enterprise. For example, others may include the Crown Lands office. Like the printing offices, it is a government service. Civil servants are required to deal with affairs concerning land and properties in the Province; to help the public in dealing with issues and questions and leases and grants and land arrangements with respect to Crown property in the Province. I ask the question, Mr. Chairman: How long is it before an outside, secret, undisclosed party is asked to sit down and negotiate with government, again in denial of the particulars of the Public Tender Act?

The photo lab with Crown lands could be done the same way. The photo library with Crown lands, that could be done the same way; the mapping services provided by a couple of the provincial departments, that, too, could be negotiated secretly at the expense of public tender legislation, at the expense of, Mr. Chairman, other interested parties, local parties, who may be very well interested in at least having an opportunity to put their positions forward and to attempt to negotiate in good faith with government, to provide the very services which are required to aid the public of this Province. But no, if this precedent-setting legislation is in fact passed and becomes law in this Province, we will have unknown, undisclosed, hidden deals by parties who feel, Mr. Chairman, that because they are protected in the absence of public tender legislation, who feel that they can get away with it. Mr. Chairman, that is what is unfair and this is only the beginning, as I said.

In six months time or in twelve months time there may very well be a variety of agencies and services provided by government who will be found and caught in the same type of legislation that we see here before us this afternoon. But there is more. How about the registry, again contained within this building, the Registry of Vital Statistics? You know, the registry which grants birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates? That, too, it would seem to me, can be easily privatized. There can be secret deals, there can be secret discussions; there can be an attempt made very easily to again avoid the provisions of public tender legislation.

If one even wants to go far enough, the Sheriff's Office under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Sheriff of this Province, which deals with judgements and liens and encumbrances against properties and assets - why not? If government can feel it can deal with Printing Services in this manner, in this somewhat callous and unfair manner, why not? let us extend it to other government offices; maybe there is somebody out there who would like to negotiate with government knowing full well that they do not have to submit a bid; knowing full well that there is no equal playing field; knowing full well that if there are the right people, the right contacts, that a deal can be struck; a deal, Mr. Chairman, which can last forever! a sweetheart deal, a deal which anybody in his right mind would want to consider and would jump at when given the opportunity, so let us do the same with the Sheriff's Office.

It is a service provided by government to the public of this Province. Let us sit down with individuals to the exclusion of others who, in good faith would like to have the opportunity to do business with the representatives of the people of this Province, namely, the government of this Province. How about Wildlife, Mr. Chairman? The granting of licences - hunting licences and so on? It seems to me to be a type of service which the public will obviously rely on from time to time, and services are given by government to the benefit of the public, and that, too. I am sure there is an agency or an organization or group who may very well want to sit down with government representatives in an attempt, knowing full well that there will not be competition, that their discussions, if successful, will rule the day, and that they, too, will not be bound by the strict provisions of public tender legislation in the Province.

Maybe even a park permit, a provincial park permit, let us do the same there; let us hire a company that is prepared to issue permits for people who want to enjoy the facilities and the amenities that are offered by provincial parks and other recreational facilities throughout the Province.

The Assessment Division of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, why not? Why not? There is no difference in principle in terms of a service being provided to the public by government. Let us negotiate another secret deal. Let us avoid the strict provisions of public tender legislation when dealing with the assessment branch of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

You see, Mr. Chairman, this is the danger. It is printing today; what will it be tomorrow? The precedent in this legislation will have been set, the precedent will have been determined, and all government has to do, and, in fact, all anybody who wants to do business with government has to do, is point to a bill known as Bill 19, "An Act To Facilitate The Provision Of Printing, Microfilming And Electronic Imaging To The Government Of The Province By Kodak Canada Incorporated". There it is; there is the precedent. There is the legislation which paves the way.

Mr. Chairman, if you want to get your car registered, if you want to register any commercial or recreational vehicle, if you want to register your deed, or your mortgage, or a debenture, or any document relating to the transfer of property, if you want to register a chattel mortgage or a conditional sale document, if you need services provided by the offices of Crown lands in the photo lab, in the photo library, if you have dealings with the Assessment Division of Municipal and Provincial Affairs through mapping, if you want a birth certificate, a death certificate, a marriage certificate, if you want information provided by the Sheriff's Office in terms of what judgement may be held against a particular company or corporate entity or individual, or what property has a lien or incumbrance against it, if you want a hunting permit, any type of recreational permit, a park permit, this legislation makes it very easy to simply negotiate with government, work out a deal, do not include others, and a tidy little arrangement is made between a successful and preferred individual or agency or organization or company, again to the exclusion of anybody else who, all they ask is that they have a chance to participate. That is all they ask.

Mr. Chairman, that is why I am unable to support this legislation. It sets a pattern which I fear. It sets a precedent which others within this Province, and more particularly outside this Province, will jump at in an effort to show that: Listen, this is the way business is done in this Province. This is how you negotiate with government. We do not have to worry anymore about competition. We do not have to worry about other, perhaps even local Newfoundland companies, which may be interested in joining in negotiations and discussions. The reason why is because Bill 19 has set the way.

In conclusion, I join with my colleagues in opposition to this piece of legislation. The arguments have been well provided by the Leader and by my colleagues. Question Period in two days has brought out the concerns quite significantly. I feel that the Government of this Province has to rethink its position with respect to this particular piece of legislation, and to take into account the serious implications of the impact that this legislation may well have when dealing with other government services, other goods and services which are provided, other funded services.

My final point is, again, we see under section 3, it is clear 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 a government funded body, the government funded body shall invite tenders' - shall; it is a must, no discretion - `for the execution or the acquisition.'

It is a blatant disregard of legislation which was put in place to protect the interests of ordinary business people who, in a serious effort, want to do business with the government of the people of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I welcome the opportunity to say a few words on this piece of legislation at Committee stage. I want to thank the Government House Leader for his closure motion, for encouraging all hon. members, through his closure motion, to speak for a further twenty minutes on this issue.

Before I get into the details of my remarks, I just want to make sure that hon. members are aware that if there had not been any co-operation from the Opposition with respect to this piece of legislation, there would be no possibility, none, of having this legislation passed till at least Monday of next week. Given how the rules of the House operate, with no closure motion at all, and with full or limited debate by all parties on this bill, this legislation would not be able to be passed into law until next Monday without the co-operation of members on this side of the House.

Let me explain how that works. We came back in here on Tuesday to debate Bill No. 8, which had already been given notice of motion in the House. We came to the House. We could have debated Bill No. 8 on Tuesday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Wednesday with the co-operation of this side of the House. But in order to introduce any other new legislation the following would have to take place. Number one, on Bill 19, there would have to be a notice of motion given on Tuesday. Notice of motion was given. Wednesday would have come along and that would have been Private Members' Day and we would have had a debate on a private member's resolution. Thursday would have come along, and there would have been first reading; Friday, second reading, and Committee perhaps; Monday, third reading.

So it would have been next Monday when this legislation would have been passed, unless the members on this side of the House co-operated. They did. Members on this side of the House agreed, number one, to waive the requirement of a debate or a delay for first reading and to allow first reading on the same day as notice was given. Members also agreed to waive the requirement of Wednesday being a Private Members' Day and yet here we are on Thursday, closure having been introduced after only one day of debate on the bill, not even one day.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: There was other legislation debated yesterday, wasn't there? I am sure there was. Not even a full day.

So from the cooperation that was offered initially we are now at the point where the government is forcing the bill through when a sensible alternative has been proposed. Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, I offered a sensible alternative. I suggested to members opposite that what we should do is give this legislation second reading and close the House. Deal with Bill No. 8 - which is what we are here for in the first place - deal with Bill No. 8 while we are here, that's what we are here for, make sure that the school system in the fall is going to be operating under the new school boards and under the new regime, post-reform. Not only that, by approval in principle - having been passed in the House of Assembly which probably would have passed yesterday and we would not even be here today - the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the Premier could go off and talk to Kodak and say: we have thirty days to do a deal here. The House has approved, in principle, the waving of the Public Tender Act and we will go back to the House with a deal only if we think it is good enough for the House to pass it. We will bring it back and show it to the House of Assembly, show it to the elected representatives of the people and say: here is the deal that we got from Kodak. This is the deal on which we wish to wave and set aside the provisions of the Public Tender Act because we think it is so good that all members of the House of Assembly will easily recognize that there is nobody else who is going to provide the same deal.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that is what was offered yesterday as a sensible alternative to having the government being given a blank cheque to go and negotiate whatever it sees fit with Kodak, with the waiver of the Public Tender Act already held in their hands. I don't think it is appropriate, Mr. Chairman, for government to be given that kind of authority. The Public Tender Act was brought in; it took a long time getting the Public Tender Act in this Province. The first Liberal Government after Confederation did not really seem to be interested in public tendering. They did not seem to be interested in that at all. I have to give credit to the Tories. It was the Tories who brought in the Public Tender Act. The former, former, former Member for St. John's East, the hon. Bill Marshall, brought in the Public Tender Act.

Under the Public Tender Act, the principles of which are twofold - number one it is designed to try and avoid favouritism so that everybody would have a fair crack at government business. That is one purpose of public tendering, to avoid patronage, to avoid corruption, to avoid a government in power favouring its friends, rewarding its friends and punishing it's enemies. That is one reason but there is a second and equally important reason for a public tendering process to be put into effect, and that is to assure that the public interest is served when any services or products are being purchased by government, that the people, the taxpayers, obtain the lowest possible price in the competitive market. Those are the two purposes of the Public Tender Act and if we are going to set those aside, there has to be good reason to do it.

Now, there is another issue here that has not received all the attention, although the Member for St. John's East just highlighted one of the issues here, and that is the whole issue of privatization. I have to say that I was surprised to hear some of the comments by the Member for St. John's East, and I agree with all of them; but I am pleased to hear that the Conservative Party is full square against privatization and all the government services that were itemized, that this government has put on the list for privatization. They were, and they did a good job last year along with the New Democrats, along with the people of this Province in fighting against the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; a very good job. A lot of the reasons that were stated were very supportable, that privatization of government services results in a loss of control over the proper the expenditure of public dollars, in this case, money for Printing Services.

After Kodak gets its hands on the business, will they then become the broker for $3.6 million worth of business? Will they then be in a position which the government is not, will they be in a position of rewarding their friends and punishing their enemies because they have $3.6 million worth of business in their back pocket, and they don't have to abide by any Public Tender Act when they are passing out business? Well, they have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Topsail now, just listen to this, listen to this now. I say to the Member for Topsail, if I said to him: Now, Mr. Member for Topsail, here is $3.6 million worth of business. Now you can't do it all because you don't have the capacity, you don't have the ability, you don't have the equipment, you don't have the capital or you don't have the interest and you have $3.6 million worth of business to be done each and every year for five years; you are not going to do it all. Who are you going to give the business to, your friends or your enemies? Who are you going to give the business to, your friends or your enemies; and I am saying to you that you are not constrained by any Public Tender Act, you are not constrained, except by some business principles, you are not constrained by a Public Tender Act to ensure that you give it to certain people within the Province. You are not constrained by that. You may have business partners in other provinces or other countries which you feel you ought to give the business to. You may have competitors, major competitors, operating in the local market, maybe Xerox or somebody, and you would rather not have your competitors get too much of this business. What we are giving up here, Mr. Chairman, is some sort of governmental control over what happens to this business.

We are also taking thirty-four government workers and saying to them: either you go with Kodak under terms and conditions yet to be divulged, without any answers being given to the employees to the questions that they asked as to what happens to their pension, what happens to severance pay, what happens to redundancy, what happens to their collective agreement, what happens to job security? So, either go with them for an uncertain future or bump somebody else out of a job and put them on the street in the public service. Those are the choices that are being given to the employees.

So we have those things going on, and the only salvation, or the only way in which the public interest can be protected, is whatever is going to be contained in this contract that no one has seen and no one will see before government wants to pass this legislation giving them the right to ignore the Public Tender Act and to ignore the principles contained in the Public Tender Act to sign whatever deal they want.

As I said before, this agreement, or this potential agreement, has some possibilities; and, I must say, they are intriguing possibilities. I have had some discussions not only with one or two members opposite but with members of the public, people who are knowledgeable in this field, and they also see that there are some possibilities with a deal of this nature; but there would have to be some pre-conditions that I would have to be assured of before I could say: Yes, this is a deal that I can support. This is a deal that is more important than the long-term job security of twenty-five or thirty people and, in fact, may give them possibilities for longer and more security than they have right now. I would have to know that, and I would have to know what the level of commitment there was from Kodak in terms of capital investment, in terms of what kind of plans they would have for opening up similar facilities in other parts of Canada, on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States; I would have to know that. I would have to be assured that we were not going to be setting up some computer node, or whatever it is called, where all you are doing is setting up a piece of machinery that takes electronic information off the Internet style communication links through equipment here in St. John's and sends it off somewhere else.

Someone earlier mentioned: what is the cost-effectiveness of bringing paper here and printing it, and shipping it back again? They might get some work here, but we all know the Toronto Globe and Mail is printed in five different places in Canada. It is the same paper. It all comes out over the telephone lines and is printed in Halifax and in Toronto and in Vancouver and in Winnipeg, I think, four or five different places, because it is cheaper to do that than to ship the newsprint after being printed in one central location. So if we are talking about printing business, it is all very well to say you have the powerhouse of your data centre here in St. John's, but if you are using the fibre optic network to obtain information and to reorganize it and regurgitate it, then surely you can have it printed in New York or in Los Angeles or in Mexico, or wherever you can find the cheapest place to have it printed, through the same international network, through the same type of technology that allows you to bring the information here, allows you to send it somewhere else to a printing operation.

We would have to know not only that it was going to be profitable for Kodak to do business here, and maybe what they will do is some organization which will allow them to describe their profits as being in Newfoundland and Labrador so they can avoid the payment of taxes, because no doubt they will have tax-free status as well. I would expect that in addition to a $3.6 million a year contract they will be given tax-free status. They won't pay any income tax, they won't pay any sales tax, they won't pay any land tax, they will be given tax-free status.

AN HON. MEMBER: EDGE status.

MR. HARRIS: They will be given an extra EDGE, EDGE squared.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I dare say. The minister is shaking her head. Is the minister saying they won't be given EDGE status?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I imagine they will be given EDGE status, EDGE squared probably.

We would like to see exactly what performance guarantees the government thinks are required, performance guarantees in terms of what efforts they will make not just to bring business to themselves but to bring jobs to the Province. We haven't heard any projections. There was some suggestion that there might be more jobs through Kodak than there are now, than the thirty-four jobs that are now there, but we haven't gotten any idea of what the potential is or how many jobs they may be talking about, or what the quality of those jobs are.

I hope the minister can enlighten us on some of these points, because right now we are left to speculate about what exactly is motivating Kodak to have access to this work, and whether those motivations can also be harnessed and directed towards meeting some of the needs that we have in this Province for developing our own industrial potential and our own hi-tech potential, which is very real.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that this House do not adjourn at the appointed time, whether that time is deemed by Mr. Chairman to be 4:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m.

CHAIR: It has been moved and seconded that this House do not adjourn at the appointed time.

All in favour of the motion, "Aye". All those against the motion, "Nay". Motion carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to say a few words on Bill No. 19, I suppose the closure bill as we probably now know it, with the events that happened here last night and I guess happening here today.

I haven't been around this House for very long. I've been here for three short years, but I've seen some legislation -

MR. WISEMAN: Too long.

MR. FITZGERALD: Three short years, I say to the Member for Topsail. I've seen a fair amount of legislation introduced here, a fair amount of good legislation, Mr. Chairman, and some bad, but it was always introduced by ministers who believed in what they were doing. It was always introduced, I believe, by ministers who believed that what they were doing was right for their department, was right for the Province.

It appears that this piece of legislation, when it was brought about by the minister - I doubt if the minister had any knowledge of the legislation when she introduced it. I doubt if she had any knowledge of it whatsoever.

AN HON. MEMBER: She read a prepared statement.

MR. FITZGERALD: In fact, she read a prepared statement. The first time I've ever seen a minister get up in this House, introduce a piece of legislation, and have to read a prepared statement. First time I've seen it. I don't know about other members here, Mr. Chairman. Every other piece of legislation that has been introduced in this House since I've been here has been by members who have been well versed, believed in what they were doing; their legislation. It was their belief that it was good, not only for their district or for their people, but for the whole Province.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I believe, was handed a piece of legislation which said this falls under the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, you are the minister, here is what you read, now go and introduce it. I do not believe that she believes in this piece of legislation any more than the people over here. I can understand her taking the approach she did because she is the minister. She is part of government, she is part of Cabinet, Cabinet solidarity and everything else, but I can assure you that it was not her piece of legislation. It was brought about by a couple of people on the other side for some other reason, for some unknown reason, or reasons they do not want to talk about. They wanted this piece of legislation introduced to get it out of the way and to give them clear sailing to go and concoct a deal with a company that will give them a monopoly for government services right here in this Province - clear sailing, Mr. Chairman.

I think that is wrong, and I think it is wrong for every company out there today doing business. The Premier stands in his place and talks about us being negative-minded people over here. He says we are frightening away investors and we are frightening away economic opportunities. Well, I say if this type of thing is allowed to go on in this House, and if this type of legislation becomes the norm in this House here, then we will frighten away and we will drive away many of our own investors who are out there today, many of our own people, because it certainly will not be a place to do business. It certainly will not be a place to come and invest your money and take advantage of free enterprise as we know it today.

Then the Government House Leader has the gall to get up after seven hours of debate and introduce closure on the bill, after one day, brought about again at a time when he has everybody to his advantage again. The same thing I spoke about last night; every time you see a piece of legislation like this introduced in the House, it is always at Christmastime or at Easter time, or now, for example, when we are called back in the middle of the summer, supposed to be talking about something completely different from what we are talking about here today.

I have no problem with being here in July month and doing what the people elected me to do. I have no problem with that, but let us talk about job creation, let us talk about the out-migration of people from this Province, the like that was never seen here before, I say to the minister. In the first quarter of this year alone, 2000 people have left this Province to find a job, over 2000 people, the like of which has not been seen since back in 1960 and 1961.

We are seeing resettlement in rural Newfoundland like we have never seen it before. We are not seeing people floating houses across the bay from the islands to the communities around the coastline. We are not seeing that, Mr. Chairman, but we are seeing resettlement in a different way altogether. We are seeing new modern homes closed up, the windows boarded up, and people leaving this Province, the whole family, leaving this Province, not by choice but of necessity.

Those are the things we should be discussing here today. Those are the kinds of topics of which we should be standing on our feet and putting forward suggestions, opinions, and alternatives, to help those people, and not to bring about a piece of legislation like this that should never have seen the light of day, that should never have been introduced here. That is wrong, and I can assure you that nobody, even half the members over on the other side, I say, if they speak the truth outside this House today, other than some people that probably the government is about to do business with, would agree with this piece of legislation.

It is a piece of legislation that nobody knew about, nobody knew it was happening and nobody knew it was coming. The standing committees of this House where normally you push a piece of legislation through and ask them for their comments, or what their suggestions are, if they feel it is a contentious piece of legislation - none of that was done. It was brought in and tied up with the education bill, Bill 8, and I would suggest that if this thing did not get on the roll like it was that we would probably be tied into some kind of scheme by members opposite, saying we are trying to delay that particular bill rather than the Bill No. 19 that we are talking about here today. That was probably the intent of members opposite, but it did not work, I say to my colleagues here.

Mr. Chairman, this is a dark piece of legislation concocted up in the back rooms of this building by two or three people. It was handed to the Minister and they said: Go and present it to the House of Assembly. That is what was done, I suggest to the members opposite. That is what was done because, in conversation with some members opposite, we found they knew nothing more about this bill than we did.

Mr. Chairman, the Premier got up today and read part of a letter that he received from Robinson-Blackmore. More or less, I suppose, if you took him by the paragraphs and the parts that he read, he is saying that Robinson-Blackmore agreed to the whole process, agreed to what they were doing here. Mr. Chairman, that's a little bit of a different letter from what we have here. We did not write it ourselves. Reference has been made to a substantial investment being made in the Province. Robinson-Blackmore has an investment in excess of $20 million in this Province, including approximately $1 million within the past two years for pre-press equipment, targeting high-end digital imagining opportunities. If government supports the Kodak proposal, which competes with Robinson-Blackmore's substantial investment, the Province and the printing industry are exposed to a diluted market. Robinson-Blackmore employs 250 people in Newfoundland while Xerox employs forty. How many people does Kodak employ? Four people. Now that is not to say that this company is no good or they should not be given an opportunity. Sure they should be given an opportunity, an equal opportunity with everybody else. Put it out on public tender and let everybody have an equal opportunity.

The one that struck me closer than anything else that was brought up here today was when the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the jobs that will be lost down at the HUB. And everybody here knows what the HUB is. Everybody knows here the type of people that have been fortunate enough to get a job there. They are disabled people, they are people who are challenged, for the most part. And whenever I have printing to do that I feel the HUB can do it, I don't even go around to look for a price. I direct it to the HUB for those reasons. I know, Mr. Chairman, that they do good work, for one reason, and I know their hearts are in the things that they do, I say to the Member for Terra Nova. Those are the reasons why I go there.

If this piece of legislation is allowed to go through, the company admits itself, with the amount of work that they presently do for government, if it will be taken away from them then they will have to lay off five or six people who are presently employed. That is wrong, Mr. Chairman, as far as I am concerned.

If we allow Kodak, if we allow entry into this sweetheart deal with this particular company, where does it stop from there? We are not going to use the public tendering process anymore now. We are going to go out and we are going to secretly meet with somebody who is probably going to do all of the road work - and certainly there would not be very much if they were going to do all of the road work that the Province is putting forward, compared to $49 million in 1989 and $6 million today, but still it would be a very lucrative contract if somebody had a contract for $6 million-worth of work. What is to stop government from doing that, I ask members opposite? through the same type of legislation, come back and do exactly the same thing? bypass the Public Tender Act, say you have a good agreement. It is a reputable company, they are going to hire some people, so we need jobs, we are going to give it to this one company. That is wrong, Mr. Chairman, that's wrong no matter which way you look at it.

About water and sewer projects, I say to the Minister of Provincial and Municipal Affairs. We are going to go out now and we are going to say to some engineering company, we will only use you. We will only use one engineering company. We will only use one contractor for water and sewer. We will use one contractor for everything the government does. Is that right? Is that the right way to do business? Is that the right way to promote this Province? No, Mr. Chairman, it is not right. That is why the Public Tender Act was brought into this Legislature, that is why it was introduced here, to do away with things in the past.

I would suggest to members opposite that the Public Tender Act, the conflict of interest act, and the public service are probably three of the best things that ever happened in this Province; to do away with political patronage and giving jobs, I suppose, to our buddies and the people who support our parties and our interests, rather than allowing it to go out and letting everybody have equal opportunity. This is what we are returning to if we allow this to happen.

The Premier gets up and talks about the present employees who are working with the printing services now. They will be guaranteed a job. The employees know nothing about it, they haven't been offered anything. They know that what they can do is exercise their rights as public servants and bump down through the system. It is going to be there for them no matter where they work. But there is nobody over there aware of any opportunity that is going to exist with another company should they be given the monopoly to do this particular service. If the Premier knows this, I don't know why he didn't share it with the people most affected, keep people informed, consult people.

That is what is not being done here. Everybody should be treated right. Everybody should be given a fair opportunity. If it is government work, we have legislation in effect now that states that anything over $5,000 must go to public tender. What is the difference with allowing this particular company to go and be treated like everybody else? Let us not turn our backs on our own Newfoundlanders, like we did in some of the EDGE projects that we brought about, that we talked about, the EDGE legislation. A great idea - nothing wrong with the EDGE legislation; in fact, it should be expanded to include the Federal Government, too. But the one thing missing from it is our own local people, forgotten about again.

What is so bad about the man up the street creating four jobs, about the man down the street creating ten jobs? Why can that same business not be considered and given the opportunities that somebody else entering this Province or entering this country gets, being given all kinds of tax breaks, and in some cases having him to compete with the very same people that his taxes are going to support and help. It is wrong.

It is wrong, and we, on this side of the House, will do whatever we can to stop this piece of legislation. Even though we know we are limited as to what we can do, we will do whatever we can. I think we would fall short of people's expectations and we would fall short of why people elected us if we didn't do that. That is why we are here. If it was a good piece of legislation we would be here supporting it.

We have no problem with the education bill. The education bill was brought about. We saw a clause there that should have been changed, should have been deleted. It was spoken about. The reasons were given why that particular clause should have been deleted. The minister co-operated; a done deal. We will not stop and we will not stand in the way of seeing this piece of legislation go through because it is a piece of legislation that makes sense. Everybody might not be happy with it, but no matter what you do, you don't please everybody. If you try to please everybody, you please nobody. It is a decent piece of legislation, and the intent of government in trying to bring about some changes within the school system is certainly needed. The people have spoken, we accept that. We believe in the democratic process, and that is why we allow that to happen.

That is why we speak out against Bill 19, because this is not democracy. I don't know - the Government House Leader, I suppose, took a page out of his mentor's book, the former Government House Leader, `Eddie Escobar,' took a page out of his book, and brought about closure; a dark day for democracy, I say to the Government House Leader, a dark day for democracy when you have to resort to those kinds of tactics, to use those kinds of actions in order to muzzle the Opposition, muzzle the Royal Opposition and the Loyal Opposition, the people on this side of the House speaking out from the residence of Newfoundland and Labrador, and all the people out there today who do not want to see this kind of thing happen, because it is wrong.

Let us look at Trans City and see what has happened there, where the government of the day, including the Minister of Justice over there, sat in on the activity, took part in it, was part of it, got together in the back rooms and tried to pay off the people who were putting the money into the coffers of the Liberal Party, trying to give them a little bit of a boost to pay them off, I suggest. Well, they got their fingers rapped, they got caught, they got caught, Mr. Chairman, red-handed.

MR. TULK: Who is that?

MR. FITZGERALD: You know who they are, and I would say if you were sitting in the front benches you probably would have been part of it, but you were not, so we will give you the benefit of the doubt. But you have your buddies there who are into it right up to their necks. But the sad part about it is, I say to the Government House Leader: who is going to pay for it? Who is going to pay for it? It goes right back to the taxpayers, to the residents and to the people out there today on social services, to the people out there who are trying to make a living, trying to educate their children, those are the people who are going to pay for the mistakes of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and a couple more of them over there. Those are the people who are going to pay the price for that, I say to the Government House Leader, and that is wrong. That is wrong, Mr. Chairman, and this is probably what will happen here, if we allow this to happen.

So, Mr. Chairman, as much as this bill is going hurt those people, members on the opposite side are taking the attitude of `don't care, don't care'.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You can come out to Musgravetown any time you want, I say to the Government House Leader, come out any time you want, you might get some common sense pumped into you, where you would listen to the people if you talk to the people and when things like this happen you will speak up and be counted. Because you are going to be tarred with the same brush. You are trying to change, you are trying to be a different fellow from what you are, but you are being sucked in by some of your own colleagues; and the person that I pity most of all -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is me.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. She is the person -

AN HON. MEMBER: She is so straight.

MR. FITZGERALD: I believe that.

AN HON. MEMBER: She stays awake at nighttime (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I believe that, and I believe she stayed awake thinking about this piece of legislation, knowing how wrong it was. I believe that as well. I firmly believe that.

AN HON. MEMBER: If there is either person in this House who would not do something wrong, (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not know the minister very well, but I have go say that I respect her, and I have to say that I am convinced she has had no part in bringing about this Bill 19.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is expired.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: I was praising the minister. You should have let me go on for a few minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: She has had enough praise, she knows who she is.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. Member for Kilbride.

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

Well, I have no praise for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on this particular piece of legislation, none whatsoever.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) nasty.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not being nasty at all. No, not at all.

There are two fundamental questions that need to be answered when dealing with this legislation, the first one being: If the House of Assembly was not convened today, if we were to believe what government members, the minister herself, and what the Premier have told us, that if the House was not open at this particular time right now, then there would not even be a chance that government could deal with Kodak because they need this piece of legislation, they are telling us. That is what government would have us believe, but that is not necessarily correct.

If the House was not open this week, Cabinet, through the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and that ministry, would still be negotiating with Kodak, would still go ahead and sign the deal with Kodak. It would take place because inherent in government, by the very nature that they are government, they have the right to enter into agreements, enter into binding agreements, with individuals, groups, organizations, and private business. If we, subject to legislation of course, were to believe government, and if the House was not open, then this deal with Kodak would not even be considered because, by their own arguments, they need this legislation. It is not true.

The second fundamental question that has failed to be answered is: Why do we need a piece of legislation that gives the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation the ability to circumvent the public tendering process? Forget about all the other arguments which may be legitimate. Let's put aside for a moment that companies like Xerox, companies like Robinson-Blackmore, companies like the HUB, can do it. Forget about that. Let's just put that aside for a moment and say it doesn't exist. Let's put that aside for a moment.

Fundamentally the question has never been answered - it has been asked a number of times - why does the minister and government need a piece of legislation which says that specific to this contract and this possible deal that they need to circumvent the Public Tender Act?

AN HON. MEMBER: Public opinion; think about that.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I say to the minister, I've said it all before and I will say it all again. My twenty minutes are right here and they are my twenty minutes. What I am going to say in this House belongs to me, not to you. If you want to have the opportunity to stand and speak you certainly can.

Fundamentally, why do we need to circumvent the Public Tender Act? Nobody has answered that question. I will say it again. Two years ago the government of the day entered into an agreement, a very significant one, that gave Newtel seven years of government work, guaranteed. They privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, gave that new company, that new entity, seven years of guaranteed work, made the agreement, and said to Newtel: It is done, we will sign it, we will bring legislation into the House and we will pass it.

When government policy is made, by the fact that it is government policy, government by the sheer numbers it has on that side of the House is in absolutely no danger of legislation not being passed. For if that were ever to happen, if government policy was ever defeated in this House, the next day we would be on the street knocking on doors and an election would be called.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not necessarily.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes sir.

Mr. Chairman, fundamentally - I will read the minister's own comments: "The bill which is before you would exclude these services - which are printing, microfilming, electronic imaging - "from the provisions of the Public Tender Act for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewal of the agreement."

The minister yesterday introduced this in the House; very little information other than that. I was somewhat surprised this morning when I heard the minister on open line talking to the open line commentator saying: Really what we are talking about, the agreement is only going to be five years, and there will be opening clauses thereafter.

Why couldn't the minister articulate that in the House yesterday? Why couldn't she articulate that yesterday? She is willing to give the Government House Leader and the Opposition a briefing, but only under the conditions that there were certain things that she would not be able to answer in the House, publicly.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is a red herring, that five year thing. It is not in the bill.

MR. E. BYRNE: It is not in the bill. All the bill says -

MR. J. BYRNE: Renew it, renew it, and renew it.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is right. It is a good point I say to the Member for Cape St. Francis. There is nothing in the agreement, in the bill or in the legislation before us that only locks this contract in for five years. All it says is: 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 Inc. during the currency of those agreements or any renewals of those agreements.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I understand that something will be in the agreement but I do not understand what will be in the agreement.

MR. TULK: No way are we going to negotiate publicly.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not asking government to negotiate publicly. All I am asking government to do is to go ahead, negotiate, make the deal, put it in legislation and come back here. It is as simple as that.

MR. J. BYRNE: What are you hiding?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) come back and subject yourself to (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is not the process, I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Do you believe this, Mr. Chairman, that the Government House Leader has said that a member, in particular me, sits down every night and hopes that government fails and it is a bad deal for the people of the Province. Do not be so ridiculous.

MR. FITZGERALD: Did you do that when you were in Opposition, Mr. Minister?

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to my colleagues that I do not believe there is anybody who sits in this House who hopes that the people of this Province will not get ahead and that government will not do a good job. That is a frivolous argument. It is rubbish, a red herring, and has absolutely nothing to do with the spirit or intent of this legislation. The fact remains, I say to the Government House Leader, that you are asking this Legislature to breach the Public Tender Act, and I or the members on this side of the House will have no part of it. That is the fact of the matter. You know it, your colleagues know it, and everybody else knows it, that you and the government are asking this House, this Assembly, by passing Bill No. 19, to breach the Public Tender Act.

The bill applies only for this agreement, excluded from the Public Tender Act. It is pretty clear to me, Mr. Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have you ever seen a piece of legislation introduced like that?

MR. E. BYRNE: No I have not.

Mr. Speaker, we sat here, some of us, in the last sitting of the House, under the old government and some of the members last night got up and spoke. We heard the same old tired arguments, the same old sort of approach as when Newfoundland Hydro was going to be privatized and how off the rails opposition were about it, how we had no right to question, how we had no idea what was in the best interest of the Province; and the very same people who were making those arguments were the very same people six months later saying they were glad it did not happen.

The people who were making those arguments last night, and today - the Member for LaPoile is an example. He has no more idea of what this piece of legislation will be, he has no more idea of what is on the table between Cabinet and Kodak than I do. He does not. Taking by blind faith what is happening here and trusting this government to go ahead and act in our best interest, that may be his decision to do so, but it will not be mine.

Back in the spring Legislature we were told - we asked for the legislation act and we asked to put it on the table right now. And the Premier stood in this House and said unequivocally: We cannot bring any aspect of the Education Reform Act before this House until the Senate deals with it, and that meant in its entirety, until the Senate votes and deals with it. But the reason that it did not come before the House was because they did not want to muddy the waters before the Senate hearings. Once the Senate hearings were over, we came back here to discuss the Education Reform Act, which we have been very co-operative on, which we believe fundamentally has to be done, and we have acted in accordance with those beliefs.

MR. TULK: Poor Mr. Finn (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Poor Mr. Finn? Poor Mr. Finn is a lot better off with me representing him than you representing him, I can tell you that. The Government House Leader would not really subject Mr. Finn to a negative decision of his department because he may have some difference of opinion with this member? You would not do that would you? You would not really, as Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, in what is in the best interest of dairy farmers in the Province, throw an idle threat and barb across the House at me about one of my constituents - you would not do that, would you? You would certainly continue to act in the best interest of dairy farmers, wouldn't you? Regardless of what district they are in, wouldn't you?

MR. TULK: Absolutely (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am glad to hear that and I am sure that Mr. Finn will be glad to hear that, too, I say to the Government House Leader. I am sure that he will be glad to hear it, too. To bad he does not get it from the bureaucracy. I know he will get it from you. I am convinced he will get it from you. I mean, he has not been getting it from the bureaucracy that is under you.

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to belabour the point too much longer. Fundamentally, the question must be answered, it has not been answered yet: Why are we being asked to breach the Public Tender Act when there is no need to? Government has within its power to act and sign agreements that are binding and come back to the House and pass it. They have the sheer majority on that side.

The second part of it, Mr. Chairman, that must be answered is if this House were not open today, those arrangements and those agreements would have been made anyway. Before I sit down I have to say to the Government House Leader, this legislation, nobody had any knowledge about it in this Province. Two days ago the House opened -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on now, I am talking about the public, I say to the minister. Two days ago was the first time that I saw the legislation. Yesterday, after debate, closure was introduced, and closure -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I did not see it. The first time I saw the legislation was when it was put on my desk here in the Legislature. That was the first time I saw it.

For those people who are sitting in the gallery, what closure effectively means is that when government introduces that motion, that only gives me and every other member in this House twenty minutes to speak on it, and fundamentally, that is wrong. You know it is wrong. That smacks of practices of old.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Not at all. You inhibited and limited debate. You know it, I know it, and the people of the Province know it.

With that, thank you, Mr. Chairman.


 

July 25, 1996             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 34A


[Continuation of Sitting]

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

It surprises me how quickly the afternoon is going along. It is already just before the hour of 5:00 o'clock and we have been taking turns over here to stand in our places and tell the government for the umpteenth time that we cannot permit this particular piece of legislation to pass without all of the parliamentary procedures being followed. The Leader of the Opposition and the party on this side, both parties represented in the opposition benches, have been very, very strong in their opposition to the process, not necessarily to the concept. We are very strongly opposed to the process that is used, and in this particular case we do believe we have some justification.

Mr. Chairman, I want to make some general comments and while they will be somewhat similar to comments made by my colleagues, we certainly want to take the opportunity to put on record why today we are exercising our privileges to show our concern over the process used by the government in this particular case.

Comments have been made about the Public Tender Act. Mr. Chairman, we know that the Public Tender Act is one of the more sacred pieces of legislation that assures a level playing field. That is what it is for. It is was designed by the government of the day, and has been reviewed by governments since, as the appropriate way to assure that government revenues are spent according to the proper procedures. While we recognize that from time to time there will be emergencies arise that will cause the appropriate minister to make the appropriate exemptions, we know there will be, there have been, and there will continue to be exemptions to the Public Tender Act.

If you happen to have an emergency in the middle of the Winter and you have a snowstorm on the Great Northern Peninsula, or if you have flooding like occurred in the town of Bishop Falls some years ago, or if you have situations that cannot be predicted or cannot be controlled, then you need to have the power of the government to be able to go out and say: we have an emergency situation and we need to have the power to be able to make decisions quickly and to do them appropriately; therefore, there should be the power to the government to be able to make exemptions to the Public Tender Act, but they should be so rare that the report to the Legislature should be very, very small.

However, in recent times, in the past year or so, we have seen booklets prepared. Every single sitting of the Legislature, either the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation or some minister on that minister's behalf, will rise and present a monthly report of exemptions to the Public Tender Act. What we have seen in the last while are too many exemptions. We have seen exemptions that could have been easily foreseen if government had been doing its work and had a little foresight, because you have to anticipate that you are going to have a need for extra fuel in the wintertime and that kind of thing. There is no logical reason why some of these matters could not be foreseen. Also, there are occasions when there is only one supplier, so therefore negotiations would occur and there would be examinations by the appropriate officials and arrangements would be made as to cost.

Mr. Chairman, what is happening, though, is that we are going to legally say that Kodak is not going to be subject to the public tendering process and that is what is causing great concern.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I noted yesterday in my comments relative to the introductory words of the minister, she did say that in June of 1995 Works, Services and Transportation in accordance with The Public Tender Act issued a proposal call requesting services of a management company. Now we went through that. We know that there were three responses. We know that the three responses came in, they were analyzed and they were examined. From that, however, we jumped to having a contract issued to deliver the service. We want to note that the correspondence we have tells us that that particular jump meant that you were now going further than your proposal call indicated, you now have made a proposal call for one set of criteria and now you are going to a completely different set altogether.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that is why we cannot accept the words of the minister. She may believe this to be actually the correct process to follow. I don't doubt the words of the minister. Now she is wrong, absolutely wrong, she is incorrect, but she may actually believe that she is following the correct process. Obviously if she thought it was the wrong process then she would not be following it, or I trust she would not be following it.

So, Mr. Chairman, when we see the intent of those proposals and then we see what these proposals turned into, a special contract with Kodak, or the possibility of it, and the complete contracting out of the printing services that government has, we know that there is a wide gap between what the proposal called for and what actually happened.

Mr. Chairman, there were some comments yesterday to the effect that there have been great negotiations with other companies. That does not, shall we say, go along with the comments of the President of Robinson-Blackmore in a letter dated this July. It is `cc' to Harry Steele who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Newfoundland Capital Corporation and it was also `cc' to Steve Lesley, sales manager of Xerox Canada Limited. What these people are saying is that they were taken a little bit by surprise. They say that in June of 1995 the provincial government requested proposals to manage the government printing operation. We have all said that. We know that is consistent with what the minister said yesterday. These proposals were submitted with the idea to become effective in September 1, 1995. The minister did not say that yesterday. The minister did not say when those proposals were supposed to come into effect.

Well, what we were not told yesterday as well is why they did not come into effect. It said this process ground to a halt and an unsolicited bid for privatization of the printing operation was received from Kodak. So there is the little hook. It says that one of the proposals that came forward from the management was actually one from Kodak. True, from the months between July, when the proposal was requested, and sometime in September, there was a change in attitude and it came about because Kodak said we want to do a little more than that. We just don't want to manage your operations, we want to come in and be really a big part and a big player. So therefore there was an unsolicited bid that came in from Kodak - this is what it said here - and the whole thing stopped. Unbeknownst to Robinson-Blackmore, unbeknownst to Xerox of Canada the whole thing ground to a halt because it was an unsolicited bid that came in.

Now, what does that say about government's sincerity? What does it say about their intent? Because if you intend to do something you should be willing to follow it through. Government went out and solicited proposals for a management of the system and then when the process is halfway through and they have gotten their proposals, they change it. They say: Oh no, no. Look, we have this good deal, we think we have a really good deal here from Kodak. Then they stop talking to Robinson-Blackmore, stop talking to the others, and it is: who can we talk to at Kodak?

Now, Mr. Chairman, when the information about the unsolicited bid became known to Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox, they combined forces and they said: We will also submit, if that is the game they are going to play, a privatization bid to the government. Again, it was unsolicited, because they knew what really was happening with Kodak. So they, in their turn, put forward an unsolicited bid. Now, we have the government looking at two, completely unsolicited bids. Now that says something about other companies that might be interested, that had no knowledge at all, because they thought there were proposals asked for in July for management. Now we have Kodak with an unsolicited bid in and we have a combination of Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox with an unsolicited bid in.

Then in June of this year, informal information trickled back to Robinson-Blackmore that: We are not going to talk to you people anymore. We don't want to talk to Robinson-Blackmore, we don't want to talk to Xerox anymore, we are going to talk exclusively to Kodak.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have to make a comment. I am wondering what has been going on here because, you see, the Kodak company in this Province has had some difficult times in the last few months. We know that a particular company in this Province, that was a Kodak representative company, has had some difficulties; in fact the company went into receivership. The company, Tooton's Limited, went into receivership and they were the chief Kodak representative company in this Province. Some time in the last while, this government took into its employ a former person connected to that particular company. That person has every right to seek employment, but we want to know and I would want to know, that person who works in the Industry, Trade and Technology department, what role that person has had in this particular, whole process of negotiations, if any. Maybe the answer is there is no role, none at all, but, Mr. Chairman, we would want to know that this is not a case of where inappropriate actions and procedures are being followed.

Mr. Chairman, we want to know what happened. When we read the letter from Mr. Hiscock, the President of Robinson-Blackmore, he wants to know what happened. He wanted to know as well the answers to the questions and the concerns that they are raising about their investment in Newfoundland and Labrador. They say that Kodak has four people employed in this Province, Robinson-Blackmore has 250 people. We have forty people employed with Xerox, 290 people employed in this Province. We know that Robinson-Blackmore has an investment of over $20 million in this Province. You know, in our anxiousness to attract business, we have to be careful that we do not turn away and destroy jobs that are already here. We should remember what has happened with the Newfoundland Dockyard. I just make the point that, while I agree with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology going out and trying to find jobs, we have to remember that we have to do more to protect the jobs that we already have in this Province. Maybe we are not doing enough of that.

I want to reference, as other people have, that there are some really big concerns out there by the major players in the industry. Certainly Robinson-Blackmore is concerned that it might not have an opportunity to be playing on a level playing field, particularly if they have to complete with a company that is going to have absolute access to government printing, assurances that the prices they offer are going to be paid. Indirectly they argue that this particular company, Kodak, would in effect be a major competitor that would be indirectly funded by tax dollars. Therefore we have to wonder about these particular strategies. Mr. Chairman, as the letter says here: In all likelihood the new Kodak operation would compete with the local industry.

Mr. Chairman, as well we had reference made during the debate about the present workers who are employed by the government directly, thirty-four of them. We were told that we have thirty days to go and make some decisions. The government wants to have time to talk to Kodak. The truth of the matter is that all of these employees have already been talked to. This whole process has gone a lot further than the minister has admitted. The minister would have you think that nothing has happened, that tomorrow morning she or the Premier is going to call Kodak and say: By the way, the Legislature has now approved this procedure; now we can talk. That isn't the way that things are likely to happen at all.

We know that the employees have already bene talked to, but they haven't been given any guarantees. They haven't been told about the terms and conditions under which they will work in the future if they are transferred to Kodak of Canada. They haven't been told anything about their pension arrangements, anything about their severances, they haven't been told anything about their collective agreements and their benefits and their rights.

I was surprised today to hear, I believe it was the Premier, say that negotiations have gone on with representatives of the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees. That is news to us, because we certainly have no knowledge of that. We know that they are aware of what is happening, but the implication was that there had been agreement reached. That is not the information that we have.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to again refer to the job security of these employees, some of whom have forty years of employment with this Province. What job security do they have? They came here, worked with the government in good faith. They learned their skills either before they came here or since they have been employed with the government.

For these reasons we, on this side of the House, cannot give the government the long-term blank cheque, leap of faith, permission the government wants. Therefore we will be voting very strongly against this particular piece of legislation. We do intend to carry it to its climax here in the Legislature. Every single member on this side will be speaking in the closure debate. It is regrettable that it has come to a closure debate, but that is the government's right. The government does have that right, to introduce closure. It is regrettable that since 1989 the government has introduced closure more often than all of the years before 1989 and after Confederation in 1949. In something like forty years we had closure introduced three times. I do believe, and I have it on record somewhere, that we are now well into nearly a dozen times since 1989. That says something about the attitude of the government toward participatory democracy.

Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, we want to say that we are not against privatization, we are not against making arrangements to entice new business to this Province; not at all. We encourage it, but we are not going to give the government legal permission to be able to circumvent the laws of this Province, laws which were made in good faith, laws which we believe to be time tested and good for everybody. Now, suddenly, along comes Kodak and we are going to say: It's okay, we are going to bring in legislation which exempts you. Why would you do that for Kodak and not do it for anybody else?

What we are saying is that, this is not the right procedure, it is not what we should be doing, and therefore we will be voting very strongly against it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to rise today and make a few more comments in this debate. Right at the outset I would like to say that there are a lot of people sitting in this House of Assembly today at 5:17 p.m., July 25, the middle of summer, to debate a bill that nobody knew about until just a couple of days ago. I even talked to people throughout the building today and mentioned it, but they had no idea about it. I am wondering how many government members had no idea about it. So, if the truth be known, there were very few, the Cabinet and the Premier, who knew about this bill and the implications of this bill.

Again I say, as I said last night in my debate here, that we are not sure exactly the implications of the bill, but the indications we do have from other businesses that could be affected by the bill are negatives. It is as simple as that. The question and the principle still remains, and why the Leader of the Opposition and we as a caucus have put forward our arguments, is: Why have we circumvented the Public Tender Act? Everybody keeps talking about what a great deal it is. The Premier talks about what a great deal it is, and it might be. Maybe it is. Let's give the Premier the benefit of the doubt, that it is a good deal. So why the procedure? Why did we go through this process where we basically break the law of our own public tendering in this Province to bypass - because there is no other word that can be used; Xerox Canada used the same word. Other companies that we have talked to today have used the same word. The Hub have been talking about it the same way. You can put it in any terms you want, but we have bypassed the law of this Province when it comes to letting contracts. That is what we have done. We have made a bypass of that particular law.

The old question again is not what is being done. For the rhetoric to go back and forth across the House about: We don't want to see jobs in the Province, and we don't want to see new business; that is totally ridiculous. I don't care how much of an Opposition you are. Nobody in their right mind is going to get up and object to jobs coming to the Province. Nobody is going to object to new companies coming in and investing in the Province.

I wish the Premier were here today. When he made reference to me and what is going to happen in my district in the next little while, in the next few days, that the EDGE status which we have commented on and complimented in certain stages -

AN HON. MEMBER: And supported.

MR. SHELLEY: And supported in this very House, where we have gotten up and complimented the government on some of the EDGE status that went throughout the Province - he does not need to compare this particular situation to what is going to happen in my district in the next few days, actually. The EDGE status will be granted to secondary processing for products in the seal industry, and fish and so on; and it is a positive. When the minister, the Premier or whoever, comes to the district, whenever it is announced or whenever happens, I will be the first to compliment the government and the minister, or whoever is there, that it is positive. We went through the right procedure. The company went through the right procedure. They applied for the EDGE status through legislation, they are going to receive it, it is going to be a positive thing, and people are going to go to work. I will be the first one to stand on the soap box with them, compliment them, and say: Good!; if it is one job or 100 jobs.

This is like chalk and cheese, Mr. Chairman, when we talk about a situation like that and when we talk about the situation which has come with this Kodak legislation; the basic principle of bypassing a regulatory law in this Province when it comes to public tendering.

Mr. Chairman, whether we like it or not, as politicians, you are going to have to excuse us but there are not many people in this Province who trust politicians, believe it or not. Now, that is sort of a joke, isn't it, when we say it with tongue-in-cheek. They do not trust politicians and they do not trust governments. Therefore, this Opposition and the Leader of the NDP, came to this House in the middle of July with full intentions of being cooperative with the government, passing the education reform, as the Minister of Education sits behind me, to be cooperative, to stand on it, to do the right thing for the Province and to get on with education reform. We came here with those intentions and that is exactly what we plan to do, Mr. Chairman, and that is exactly what we are doing.

MR. J. BYRNE: People have a right to cynical

MR. SHELLEY: I agree with my colleague, the Member for Cape St. Francis, when he says that people have every right to be cynical of every single politician. They do, we know that. So when we see this, and when we had the intent of coming to this House in the middle of July to cooperate with the House Leader, to forego Private Members' Day and to make an amendment which the Minister of Education suggested - there was so much cooperation in this House over the last couple of days it was almost overwhelming. I almost fell out of my seat, I say to the Government House Leader, and he knows that is true. I am being very sincere; it was really good. There was even a decent rapport going in the House when we were talking back and forth and cooperating.

MR. TULK: All is sweetness and light (inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: All is not sweetness and light. I guess what we have done is circumvented the rapport in this House by the cooperation we have had during the last couple of days. It is such an historical piece of legislation, the education reform, the cooperation I think was good.

The Premier talked about how our leader and the NDP leader went to Ottawa with him and how they cooperated from day one, Mr. Chairman. Yes, we had concerns. They were raised by our Leader; and also some good concerns were raised by the education critic yesterday. He got good cooperation back from the Minister of Education. The Leader of the NDP asked questions of the minister and he answered those.

It was good to see because the truth is, the government is in place for the next four years and we have to have constructive criticism. Every now and then, we know in this House, when we get on the stage that the rhetoric starts and the show starts; but the truth is when we get to the bottom-line, government has to go on, you have to govern the Province as best you see fit. When it comes to something as important as education reform, we can stand together in this House and say we agree on it for the good of the people of this Province and we support it. But look at the irony of the situation, to cooperate on such an important historical bill and at the same time be surprised.

I am quite sincere when I say that, and so was our caucus when we first discussed it, when we started to read down through this Kodak bill. We said: Hold on a second now. Where is this coming from? Just to use another example, when we saw the public accountancy legislation that was brought in here, when we studied that with our critics and with the leader, we did not hold that up. We looked through that and said that was a good thing. We supported it. We made a few comments on it, and made sure our concerns were brought forward. That is what we did. We did not hold that up.

The principle was very strong when we discussed this Bill 19. There was a very strong feeling from the leader, and right throughout the entire caucus, that there was something fundamentally wrong with the principle of the procedure of this particular piece of legislation; and that was when we all joined together solidly on something that was very strong. Every single one of us feel very strongly about it, including the Leader of the NDP. We feel that if that law is in place to protect the people of this Province it should be that law that protects us from such an act as is going to happen shortly.

Mr. Chairman, the sad part about it is the introduction and the calling of closure in such a short time was shocking. The Government House Leader laughs when he stands in his place. I have not been here long but maybe some of the more veteran members of the House can tell us if that might have been the quickest time that closure was ever called on a piece of legislation. I do not know if that was a record. I might have to check with the Chair after to find out if that was a record, as to how quick closure was called on a bill in this House. It is the quickest since I have been here. I have seen where we had a couple of weeks of debate and so on. I would like to ask the Government House Leader if he knows that? Can the Government House Leader tell us if that was the fastest closure that was ever brought in on a bill since he has been here? Maybe he can answer that when he stands up to make a comment, or if he will even dare to make that comment because it was quick.

So, Mr. Chairman, to get back to the remark made by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes as to why people are cynical, when you see things like this happen, when we come to this House in the middle of summer to debate a very historical bill and we find this thrown in front of us. All of a sudden government calls closure, then we are wondering why people are suspicious or cynical? That is why they are cynical, Mr. Chairman, because of procedure. Because government after government, Tory, NDP, Liberal or whatever, do such things, take the power that the government of the day has and bypass a regulatory law in this Province. That's what the principle and the argument is for the Opposition and that is one we can stick to and talk about over and over and over.

Now, Mr. Chairman, let's be frank when we talk about jobs and opportunity. There is nobody in this House - we are probably even. We are probably all equal when I say this, because nobody more than I want more jobs in this Province, or to invite new business into this Province. I don't care how much we grandstand and say it, I would say and I would give credit to every member in this Legislature, the whole forty-eight of them, we all feel the same about that. So to use the rhetoric back and forth, that we are stopping this bill because we don't want to see jobs coming or because we don't want to see a new company coming, now let's be real, nobody really believes that.

The final thing, I guess, to the Minister of Environment and Labour, who made the comment yesterday: If this is such a good thing why would you obstruct it? Well, Mr. Chairman, I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour, let's close the House down, leave this piece of legislation where it is, put this great deal together that you are talking about and then bring the legislation to the House.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The Government House Leader has gone on the pill, Mr. Chairman, and I would say there are a few pills being taken by the Minister of Health too. I think it is too late for the Government House Leader.

Mr. Chairman, it is a very serious bill. It is something that has stuck with us very strongly as a Caucus, every time we discussed it. It is so ironic that we sit as a Caucus - and we are not letting any secrets out of Caucus. We talked about the education bill, how we were so supportive of it, where every one of us go out in our districts, including myself who had a strong no vote, I would say, Mr. Chairman. I will say to the Government House Leader that for myself, with a district that had a strong no vote, to stand in this House and support education reform because the majority in the Province in a referendum supported it, that is why we adhere to democracy and that is why we have supported that bill. It was great to sit with Caucus and say: Come into the House. Let's not play games with this, let's support the government, let's get on with it, let's do what is best for the people of the Province. It is not very often that happens, Mr. Chairman, that we can walk into the House in that frame of mind saying, we are going to cooperate with the government, we are going to do the right thing for the people in the Province, we are going to put our stripe aside and do the right thing. That is exactly what we did, I say to the Government House Leader, in this particular education reform.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, I am sorry. that's beyond my control. It is a different world through rose coloured glasses I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Through rose coloured glasses?

MR. SHELLEY: Through rose coloured glasses. Let me tell you, anything that can protect you from the brightness in here, Mr. Chairman - there is a lot of shine on the other side, a little bit over here. There is a lot over here.

Mr. Chairman, it is such irony - I say to the Government House Leader, to sit in Caucus, before we come into the House of Assembly and say, on education reform: We are going to go in, boys - the right thing to do is to cooperate and put through this piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, what I said to the Member for Topsail yesterday was he has enough lip for three rows of teeth.

Mr. Chairman, it is irony when we sit down to debate such legislation and then come back. So to make a comment again on what the Minister of Environment and Labour - because I always listen to the Minister of Environment and Labour, he makes a lot of sense. He uses a lot of logic a lot of the time; a very rational minister. I will use the Premier's line: With all due respect to the Minister of Environment and Labour, when he talked yesterday about, how can you obstruct new jobs and this is a good deal, how can you be negative at all? I say to the minister and to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: Okay, let's say we believe you. Let's close this House, leave it on the Order Paper and deal with the legislation at a different date. It is no good to close the barn door after the horses are out. You do it now. That is what our job was and that is why we brought the issue to the forefront.

With all due respect, we love the idea of jobs and new businesses in this Province as much as anybody does, the government, Opposition, Leader of the NDP, the independent member, or whatever. We also have to be frank and honest when we say that we cannot support a fundamental wrong which is happening with this piece of legislation, which is basically bypassing a regulatory law we have in this Province to protect the interests of the people of this Province, and that is called the Public Tender Act.

It is a wonderful thing. We should be praising it. I wonder if any other province is going to bypass - I wonder if Ontario is going to bypass its public tendering act in order to get people into the Province? I wonder if we could have done without it.

Then, Mr. Chairman, as my colleague for Bonavista South said earlier today, the one that strikes home is not the big multinational corporation. It wasn't Xerox so much, they have their concerns, or Robinson-Blackmore. The one that really strikes a chord with a lot of Newfoundlanders is the HUB, the people who work there, and the concerns they have about the negative implications of this particular piece of legislation. That is the thing that should strike home to a lot of Newfoundlanders. Can the Premier or the minister assure those people? Because I saw a quote in the paper by the Premier who said he expects the majority of the jobs to be protected. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you know what he said?

MR. SHELLEY: What was the exact -

MR. SULLIVAN: Here is what he said first, read it, page 1136. Here is what he said. That is what he said first.

MR. SHELLEY: Okay. First he said, it "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...."

MR. SULLIVAN: I contradicted him. Twenty minutes later I said, that is not factual, I have spoken to people, and then he changed his mind, he said a majority.

MR. SHELLEY: Then of course we flip-flopped on that and he changed his mind on that. Then I read in the paper that - and this is the quote now from the Premier who is going to secure these people, who is going to make the people at the HUB, people who work with Xerox, feel comfortable. This is what is going to make them feel comfortable: We expect the majority of the jobs to be saved, or be protected.

Mr. Chairman, what kind of security is that? We talk about bringing in new jobs and what a priority it is for us to bring - what we do as a government, or what government should do, is facilitate and create an atmosphere for jobs. The former premier always said: It is not our job to make jobs, it is our job to enhance and to facilitate. I believe that is what the government's job is. A lot of times we take over where business should be taking over. That is what we do. That has been a mistake of many governments in the past, Mr. Chairman, involving themselves in business when really they should be talking to the business people.

One very interesting comment I heard this morning on open line was somebody had suggested: was the Board of Trade, was the Chamber of Commerce, were the business people of this Province consulted and asked what their concerns would be on this particular piece of legislation? Mr. Chairman, the answer is clear. It is no, they have not been. That would have been too crazy, wouldn't it, for government to go out and ask the people who are involved in business what their concerns are.

That is a major mistake of government any time. When we talk about mining - I will just use that as an example - at least the Minister of Mines and Energy knows the industry insofar as his background in geology and so on. So we have a minister who knows the area. When we talk about business, why didn't we go talk to business people who know it best? When the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods - he goes and consults with the loggers. He just did it a little whole ago. That is what makes him more competent, when he gets the advice from people who are in the industry. When the Minister of Health makes decisions on health, he says anyway, he talks to the corporation and he talks to the people involved. Somehow I doubt that one, but still that is the way he should go.

When we come to this piece of legislation, we ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation in all sincerity: Have you talked to the Board of Trade, to the Chamber of Commerce, to successful business people in this Province, shown them this piece of legislation, gave them some time to give you feedback on concerns they may have of negative implications that this bill might have? I ask the minister that. Maybe she will answer that if she responds to it. How much consulting was done with the real business people?

I have had the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology say to me many times: You know, we have to talk to people who know it best. Government are not businessmen they are government, so we should talk to business people. So, I would ask a very frank question to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: Were the people in the business industry, the Board of Trade, the Chamber of Commerce, the successful business people in this Province, were they shown this piece of legislation? Were they given briefings like the Leader of the NDP was given? That was brief, Mr. Chairman, from what I can gather it was pretty brief.

Mr. Chairman, the point being, any minister who deals in health, mining, forestry or whatever - and a lot of ministers do. I know the Minister of Mines and Energy deals with a lot of people in the mining industry and gets advice from them, which he should. So the question is: If we are getting indications already from companies like Xerox Canada, the HUB, Robinson-Blackmore and so on, that they are concerned, you just sort of have to question yourself: Did the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the Premier, do their real homework and talk to business people who really know what the implications would be?

Mr. Chairman, I only have a minute left. What the fear of those people is, from what we have gathered since last night and today from business people, the fear that we have gathered from phone calls and letters that the Leader has gotten over the last forty-eight hours from business people, is that they are fearful that this will be a precedence-setting, dangerous move by government that may have long-term consequences for the future of business in this Province. Maybe they are wrong, maybe Xerox is wrong, maybe the HUB is wrong and so on; maybe they are all wrong. Mr. Chairman, there is nobody in this House who would rather stand, two or three months from now, and say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: No, you are right, it was a good deal, you did the right thing, there are 100 people working. We would commend you for it and apologize for holding up the House and filibustering on this particular bill. I hope we can do that for the sake of people in the Province -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: - not for the sake of the minister because I would be lying if I said that, but for the sake of the people in the Province that we did the right thing.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: So I hope we can congratulate the minister two or three or four months from now.

By leave, Mr. Chairman?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to voice my discontent with this closure motion that is being debated here today, a motion that should not be the case on the very day that a bill was opened for discussion here in this House. The government moved closure without giving the necessary time to look into aspects and to give opportunity to people out in the general public.

I want an opportunity now to put something on the record that the Premier said today, that I, unknowingly, made false statements in this House. In fact, that is far from the truth, I would say, Mr. Chairman, far from the truth. The Premier today, made inaccurate statements in the House when he said that, and by his other statements. In fact, he said in this House yesterday, and I quote: "The negotiations we are engaged in involve the unions, all of whom have been consulted and are being talked to." I quote: "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." The Premier said that, it is on page 1136 in Hansard; and that was wrong. There is no guarantee for workers of jobs.

I spoke with people and I know there was no guarantee. When I informed the Premier of that, he answered later on, fifteen minutes later - the Premier knew he was wrong in the House, he knew he had not told the truth in the House. Then he came back and he said: 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. TULK: On a point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I don't think the hon. gentleman would want it left on the record that the Premier didn't tell the truth. He may disagree with me but I don't think he would want it left on the record; so I would ask him to withdraw it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Is that a point of order, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: Yes. Would the hon. the Leader of the Opposition like to speak to the point of order?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all, not to the point of order.

CHAIR: It has been ruled in this hon. House many times that it is not unparliamentary to suggest that a member misled the House. It is unparliamentary to suggest that a member intentionally misled the House, but it is definitely, unquestionably, unparliamentary to suggest that a member lied. So if, in fact, the hon. member said that, I would ask him to withdraw it.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, I did not say that. I quoted the Premier. I never said that at all. I ask you to check with Hansard to see exactly what I said. I can assure you it was not what the Government House Leader has said. I will wait, if you wish, certainly to check it and confirm the statements I made here in the House.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, to that point of order. If the Chair wishes it can take it under advisement and check tomorrow, and then the hon. gentleman would know; but he clearly stated that the Premier did not tell the truth. Now, Mr. Chairman, if you do not tell the truth, you lie; there is no other alternative. You cannot do through the back door in this House what you are unable to do through the front door, I say to the hon. gentleman; and he did make the statement. If the Chair wants to wait until some other time and then he will withdraw it, that is fine with me, but I say to him that he did say the Premier did not tell the truth.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, the Premier made two statements in this House that are contradictory, so both of them cannot be the truth, and I quoted that statement. I am not sure - am I still speaking on the point of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, I don't wish to speak on the point of order because I don't advocate there is a point of order.

CHAIR: Well, the Chair is quite willing to check Hansard and rule on the point of order tomorrow. If, in fact, the hon. member made the statement that the Premier did not tell the truth, I would ask him to withdraw, but the Chair is quite prepared to check Hansard and rule on it tomorrow.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will let the record speak for itself. I will quote what the Premier said in two different sections in this House yesterday, and I will let the House here be the judge of whether it is the truth or whether it is not.

When I asked the question initially - it is in Hansard, 1136. I asked the Premier about job security, and he said, and I quote, "... involves a guarantee for all of the jobs that are currently in place either at Kodak or within government..."

In Question Period, when I brought it to his attention that that was not factual, here is what he said later in this House, "...we would expect that the majority, and a significant majority of the employees..." He said, "Listen to the answer, don't get too excited. A majority of the employees, a very significant majority, would go to work with Kodak..."

Earlier he said, "...would be offered a job with Kodak and I think a significant majority would want a job". I can read it all if you want me to. "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?"

Well, I can assure you, there is no guarantee within government that they will have jobs unless there are bumping provisions. Unless they can bump other people within the system, there is no guarantee, and they have to be able to move into a specific position. The Premier has not given a guarantee, Kodak has not given a guarantee. All it was was general discussions with people. I spoke with people who were interviewed and went through the process there, and that is not factual.

I would like to make reference to a few points that the Premier - I did not waste time reading a letter; I provided a copy, of what the President of Robinson-Blackmore, who I spoke with not too long ago, who is out of this Province - I reached him and spoke with the President - and here are some of the things that were stated here, and the Premier did not give this impression when he quoted parts of the letter today. He said: This process ground to a halt, on looking for submissions, it ground to a halt, and an unsolicited bid for privatization of the printing operation was received from Kodak. That is what the president said and he went on to state, "On June 27, 1996, informal information began to trickle back to Robinson-Blackmore that the Kodak proposal had in fact been accepted and the process was in place to finalize a contract."

I will quote some other interesting things in this letter. The president indicated, "We have concerns regarding potential industry exposure of this arrangement with Kodak..."

"The government printing, combined with a monopoly situation for some contract period may create a major competitor in the local market funded by government printing, indirectly by tax dollars. In all likelihood, this operation will compete with local industry."

He said, "Any high-end digital imaging operation will however compete with local business. Robinson-Blackmore has approximately $1 million invested in St. John's, with additional investments in Grand Falls - Windsor and Corner Brook for this specific business operation. Other operators in the local market include M-5 Advertising Limited, MRI Printing Limited, Sterling Press and Dicks & Company Limited, who also have high-end digital imaging capability."

He went on to say, "Therefore, we fail to understand..." - and he mentioned - the Premier talked about and I will put this on the record too and I will read a part after - the Premier said we are going to get volumes of government printing business. In fact, the government communications did not call for proposals until May 22 of this year, the federal government, when this deal was in the works for months and months long before this ever happened.

Here is what the President of Robinson-Blackmore said, "We also understand off-island business is being targeted as one of Kodak's deliverables. In reality, if paper has to be shipped into Newfoundland, ink printed on that paper and then shipped out again, a definite competitive disadvantage exists. Therefore, we fail to understand how Kodak is going to attract a substantial portion of off-island printing."

Doesn't this sound like something we heard in the election campaign when they said back in February, the announcement concerns a partnership between the Newfoundland Government and an unnamed US company in a natural gas conversion plan for Cow Head? The work at the facility will employ hundreds of workers, the source said, a multi-year deal that will translate into tens of millions of dollars in this Province. Where is the natural gas plant that is going to produce methanol? It was a lot of hot air, Mr. Chairman, a lot of hot air that did not materialize.

I might add for the record, if people don't know, they flew people by helicopter to Marystown and made a big do, at taxpayers expense. It came out of the taxpayers of this Province, those costs and the helicopter cost, to make a hullabaloo during the election campaign to try to tell the people down in Burin - Placentia West, the Burin Peninsula, that there is a major industry coming in with hundreds of millions of dollars, coming in here into this Province. That's the type of smoke screen that is being put out there in this instance.

I want to read some other points in this particular level that are very interesting. "Robinson-Blackmore has an investment in excess of $20 million in the Province, including approximately $1 million within the past two years for pre-press equipment targeting high-end digital imaging opportunities. If government supports the Kodak proposal, which competes with Robinson-Blackmore's substantial investment, the Province and the printing industry are being exposed to a diluted market. Robinson-Blackmore employs approximately 250 people in Newfoundland with Xerox adding an additional 40. Kodak currently employs four people in the Province. This leaves Kodak in a `no-lose' situation and the potential exists for transfer of jobs from Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox to the Kodak operation."

In other words, they are going to take jobs in a competitive industry and put them in an industry that has a monopoly creating greater inefficiencies within a free enterprise system. That is the potential that happened in this particular situation. They have a very fair request. "In the absence," he said, "of concrete information to the contrary, we must assume an arrangement between Kodak and the Provincial Government will impact negatively on the local print industry. This impact will not necessarily be limited to traditional offset printing but will include competition with investments made in St. John's specifically within the past two years."

He said, "To implement a long-term contract without consulting the local printing industry puts a valuable investment, long-term employment, and an otherwise efficient industry at risk. We agree with government's initiatives to privatize services which can be provided by private industry, however, any process which potentially exposes current jobs should be avoided."

In other words, do we want to take 200 jobs in the front door and sent 200 or more jobs out the back door to a monopoly that has a contract that can be renewed forever? That is what this legislation will do. It will allow renewal of a contract whenever the renewal comes up forever. Anybody in their right mind who would want to support that does not have the best interest of this Province at heart, I can assure you. It smells too much like other deals that have happened there. It isn't right, it isn't proper, and it shouldn't happen.

He said, "We trust the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will give this issue sufficient review and analysis to ensure current investment and employment is not put at risk by government support of a competing operation in an already overburdened industry."

There are just some of the highlights in this particular letter that the Premier didn't refer to today, the same letter the Premier received on July 17. I received a copy -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: July 17, I say to him, because the Premier had it. He acknowledged that. I asked him.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I got it today, but it is made out to me. I have a letter made out to me, July 17, the same text as the Premier received. I've made it available for anybody who wanted to see it, and if you want to see it I will let you see it.

AN HON. MEMBER: That came today.

MR. SULLIVAN: My letter came today. It is dated July 17 but I received it today. The Premier received his on July 17.

AN HON. MEMBER: No he didn't.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes he did. I had a copy of the Premier's letter before today. I have a copy. The Premier received his, he acknowledged today.

AN HON. MEMBER: He gave you a copy.

MR. SULLIVAN: No he didn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: You said he did.

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not. I said I had a copy, I didn't say he gave me a copy. I don't think the Premier is that generous to want to give me a copy of this letter on July 17.

AN HON. MEMBER: He gave you copies of (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He didn't give me a copy of the letter.

That is one interesting thing. I asked questions in the House today on the HUB. It has indicated that it does $100,000 to $120,000 worth of business with this government in a public tendering process that now they will not be able to have. With a minimum of two jobs, and possibly four, disabled people who are working at the HUB who could be able to avail of those jobs in the future.

Mr. Chairman, a letter here, I might add, from Xerox Canada. Our House Leader made reference to something very interesting earlier. Last year when they wanted to get companies - and that is in the letter here. I think it is made reference to. It is in the letter I received anyway from Robinson-Blackmore, but everybody knows the story. There is reference made in the minister's own statement that they asked what companies wanted to manage the printing services. Xerox, Kodak and Robinson-Blackmore came forward. The three of them said: We would be interested in managing the printing services.

Then one of these three, Kodak, said: We will give you a proposal on more than the printing services. Out of that proposal, unsolicited then, all they got was Xerox and Robinson-Blackmore together were going to look at putting in a proposal. They were shut out of it months ago. They narrowed it down to one and negotiated with one, and Robinson-Blackmore found out. In this letter it has indicated - he said: They found out. Information began to trickle back to them. They found out by the back door, found out by hearsay around the community, that Kodak had been entering into a deal. That isn't an honourable way to do business in the Province in dealing with proposals.

Then they took that one company and want to go out and strike a deal now to violate, to bypass the Public Tender Act. So what we are doing here today is we are legislating bringing in a law that allows us to be able to break the law of the Public Tender Act and not be challenged by the courts. It is a legal way to break the law of the Public Tender Act. That is what it is. That is a way to avoid it. If we want to give a company next year, to pave roads in Newfoundland - if there is $10 million worth of paving to be done, we can get proposals and we can bring in a bill and call it whatever you like, a bill to allow the Province to go around the Public Tender Act and give the paving contract to a patron company. Isn't that what we tried to get rid of in this Province? Isn't that what happened forty years ago and what happened before that?

We want companies out there working hard in this Province, striving to do business in a pretty tough business climate, to be able to have a level playing field around this Province to do business; and the Premier talks about not wanting business in this Province. This procedure here in this bill will do more to turn business away from this Province, to come in and set up, because they know they will not be in a free market enterprise, to be able to bid on such projects in the future. It is going to be negative; it is going to turn business out of this Province. There are other instances from people I have talked to, but I won't get into it today as my time is getting near its end.

This is not an acceptable process. For government to move on closure on a bill - they brought the House back under false pretences, back to deal with education legislation. We cooperated to the hilt which the minister can confirm. We went through second reading of this bill and when it was getting to a few minutes before five, which the Government House Leader could acknowledge, I intended to speak on Education but I didn't rise in my place because it was getting late and he wanted to adjourn at five. I didn't speak and I allowed -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he was speaking. I wouldn't rise to speak on the Education bill because they wanted to be out by five and I allowed the minister to conclude second reading on the bill. In Committee on that bill, I moved to make one amendment and the only person, to my knowledge on our side, who spoke was our Education Critic apart from the member, and I think that I moved. I am not sure if anybody else spoke -

MR. H. HODDER: I spoke for five minutes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. The House Leader had five minutes, he indicated, on the bill and that was it. We did not delay it. We did not delay the amendments the government proposed, two amendments. I am delighted they saw fit to support the amendment I proposed which was a fair one and we have done everything to expedite this educational legislation process. To bring us in under false pretences, knowing beforehand that this was going to come before the House - they knew that all along. The Premier made a call to me on Thursday to say their might be legislation, we don't know yet, but not to talk about it, keep it confidential, and I did. He stood in the House here and he told about a conversation he asked me to keep confidential, and I had not even talked on Thursday to my caucus about it because he asked me to keep it confidential. Then I released the full details of what was said and I released the details of what we were asked to get a briefing on. I didn't go. The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi went and he learned nothing in the briefing. He would have been as well-off as if he had stayed away from that briefing.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, the briefing was brief, I can assure you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, it is going to be a long night, we might as well break.

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave to continue?

MR. SULLIVAN: I adjourn debate on it and will resume after.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there was leave. Any leave that I might finish? No leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: I adjourn the debate, Mr. Chairman.

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).

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

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

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill Nos. 19 and 20 without amendment and Bill No. 8 with amendment, and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. We will do the bill with amendment first.

MR. TULK: Order 2, Bill No. 8.

On motion, report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again presently by leave.

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 8 read a first and second time, bill ordered read a third time presently by leave.

Motion, third reading a bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act."

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are on Bill No. 8, I understand.

MR. TULK: Bill No. 8, third reading.

MR. TULK: I wish to make some comments, Mr. Speaker, on Bill No. 8.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have an hour, have you?

MR. TULK: About an hour. I don't intend to take a full hour. Who knows; five or ten minutes, maybe an hour? I feel the education legislation has been a very important piece of legislation. While this legislation we see in the House, as such, is nothing of major proportions, the real, significant aspect will come when we see the federal legislation on viability boards, on the viability of schools and the amendments to that, what determines what a viable or a non-viable school is and how that will be restructured. That is certainly major legislation.

What we see here has not been any major issue. We know there has to be a transition period to take us from the system now into what was promised and proposed and what the Premier showed in this House to me before going to Ottawa, that they would deliver the five basic things that I want to see delivered. This aspect in this legislation is basically very much in line with what we have been seeing as a framework agreement. There is very little diversion from this in the framework agreement and I am quite sure people who followed that agreement and looked at this will see that this legislation patterns that very, very closely. We will enter this year into a period of time where interim boards will be selected on a certain basis, based on two-thirds according to particular denominations in those ten respective boards and then there will be the balance, the other one-third will come from those who have, we will say, a non-affiliation.

Overall, this education point has been a point of contention really, and has caused a great amount of concern in this Province over the past number of years. Back since, I think, 1992, since the Royal Commission put forth numerous recommendations there, we have seen a period where very little progress was made in dealing with the most important people in our school system, the students. We have seen reform held back and hampered in many ways that are outside the Constitutional authority. It was regrettable that we could not achieve the reforms that were necessary in this Province without a Constitutional amendment.

The preferred option certainly would have been - back in 1993, prior to that 1993 election, on March 12 in this Legislature, I sat across here and the Premier stood in the House and he looked up at the church leaders in the gallery and said to them: This government has no intention of changing the Constitution that would take away the protected rights of the class of people that they have. He did not and there was no mandate in 1993 and it should not have come, and it should not have been enacted, prior to the government seeking amendment on that.

One of the key points that I made in my representation to the Senate on behalf of our caucus - we discussed this at length and it was a very important consideration going into this election campaign in 1996. I did see it being a part of the mandate because the Premier of the Province did indicate that he would follow the same particular education reform of his predecessor, and the people of this Province certainly had an opportunity to have their say on that matter and it was a part of the mandate that the Premier and the government received in this election. I am willing to accept that because the people knew up front in this Province that, if they elected the government, it would proceed on education reform and that is fair game, but it was not fair game prior to that.

I said to the Senate Committee, I disliked this entire process from day one. The process was flawed. The people of this Legislature here today, and the people who were there at the time, did not have an opportunity to participate in the referendum question. We did not have an opportunity to discuss it, and as people representing this Province at the time, fifty-two members, we were denied that particular right. In fact, no government should put a fundamental question out to the people of the Province without giving the elected people the right to come in here, into this Legislature, and have an opportunity to debate that question that is going out to the public.

The process was flawed. The House closed abruptly on May 31 without notice. We expected the House to carry on much longer, at least days - certainly not weeks, but days - and it ended abruptly on May 31. I heard on the news the next day that the Premier had indicated there was a strong possibility of a referendum; there could be a referendum to decide this educational issue.

On June 23, I believe, just three weeks later, he announced that there would be a referendum on September 5, and a month later we found the question, and that was even changed slightly. It did not take away from the intent of the original, so it was not a big deal. There was a change made from the referendum on what really was proposed to go to the House of Commons and the Senate.

We still did not have an opportunity, and we had to make a decision in this House back in October. Some people look at the process and disagree with the process. Some people looked at the issues. Some people listened and followed constituents. Some said up front: Whatever my constituents do, I will do. It is very, very easy to take that position, and maybe it is the right position - no one questioned it - and maybe it is probably the only position; everybody do things for their own individual reasons, and we had a free vote. I did things for my reasons, and I am sure my colleagues for theirs, and members on the government side. When we had the vote it was thirty-one to twenty, and there were yeses and noes on both side of this House on that issue. We voted, and the Legislature accepted that, and it was no longer a proposal any more; it was the intention of this House to proceed.

That was one of the factors that we looked at as a caucus, that the Legislature did approve. Whether you voted with it or whether you voted against it, it is a fundamental part of our democratic system that when the House votes - the people elected the government, and even though in this instance it was not necessarily along party lines at all, we did find, I am sure, that the Cabinet had to vote along government lines; they are obligated to do that. The House made a decision. That was an important factor also in the final determination of supporting legislation.

Along with the belief that the climate for negotiations was poisoned along the way to such a degree that people holding rights entrenched dug in their heels, it would set education back so far that we would never have gotten where we would have wanted to be without going to a constitutional amendment. It became a necessity because the entrenched views to hang on to basic rights that they felt they should have was one of the fundamental things that was developed by the former Premier and the government of the day who drove it to that situation that we had hoped would be resolved.

I strongly felt at the time, last year, that we could have had, and we did have, tremendous progress in the reduction of schools, in sharing facilities, and moving at a fairly rapid pace in getting economies into the system. There were still lots of inefficiencies out there, and the fiscal times to make the wise decisions were all a part of the overall process. I can assure you, it was not an easy process for anybody. There was lots of animosity developed in certain areas, but as people here in the House we had to make a decision that would be best, really, for the future of the people in the Province. We co-operated as a caucus in moving us toward that particular point.

Certainly, I am pleased that legislation has gotten to this stage so quickly, with co-operation in the House from my colleagues, and I am sure the government has co-operated on this particular legislation here, and the process, to a fair degree. Still we want to see, in the final analysis, the right for people in this Province to be able to make that choice, of parents to be able to send their child to a neighbourhood school if they so desire and it fits within the context of what will be established as viability regulations. I would want to be able to make that choice rather than have to be told. If it is in the neighbourhood and I want to send my child to that school I should be permitted regardless of what that school is, whether it is going to be interdenominational or uni-denominational.

There are certain basic principles there that I will be looking forward to, I say to the minister, over the next several months, in the next year, and looking forward to seeing what the viability regulations have. It is easy to create stirs and say: because we agree with moving in the direction of the amendment does not mean we agree with every particular part of a bill that is brought in within the framework of that particular legislation.

Amendments: we made an amendment and one report was that we were delaying the process, going to vote against a particular bill. That was one thing I heard out there in the public forum, while people who work closer to the scene understood the situation and knew the intent. I must say the minister did call, did discuss it and did agree that that amendment should proceed. Amendments that they proposed: we did not see a problem with those amendments either. I think the process has to work that way or it should work that way on occasions; and on many occasions it does not work that way.

Certainly with Bill No. 19, we make reference to a process. It is not the way it worked. A bill was pushed on us on short notice. When the bill was printed here on Friday we also received a copy of the bill. I would have wanted to see this education legislation done back in June. I still say: Why didn't we do it in June? The Premier and the minister indicated that it must pass through the Senate before we can do it. It has not passed through the Senate. It is not going to pass through the Senate probably until September and we are back in this House, in the summer, to do something that we could have done in June. I am wondering if the real reason we are back in this House is to do Bill No. 19, not Bill No. 8, and that has been part of the reason why. That is why we are back here now to push it through under this disguise here when it could have been done before. The Senate has not dealt with it. Just because the Senate is recommending no changes, a 6-5 decision in the Senate, regardless they are recommending it, that is not really relevant now. It is what the Senate does that is the relevant thing in this; what the Senate does. I certainly hope they will pass it as is, whenever they meet and move forward.

We are moving forward on tentative legal grounds. I think government is aware and I hope there won't be challenges to it. I hope people in their right minds will look at the overall situation and not challenge it and try to frustrate the process because there are various things in this particular bill that are appeasing to various people who hold those rights, those classes of people in that. I don't think that will happen but it is on weak legal ground to proceed if challenged. There are numerous aspects within it that could be challenged on a legal basis, because Term 17 is the same today as it was last week and it is going to be the same on September 1, unless the Senate meets, the same basic Constitution we are operating under in this country in terms of education, until the Senate deals with this and it runs its course in September.

All the groups that have those rights, the holders, the classes of people who hold those rights, have the same basic rights tomorrow and next week. There is nothing in this legislation that can change that until it is dealt with and changed in the Constitution and that can be enacted. In Term 17, when school starts in September, we are going to be operating under - unless the Senate is reconvened before that. There are reasons probably why the Senate is not reconvened. We all know that there are two vacancies in the Senate, two Liberal seats are vacant. There is concern in the Senate among PC senators. There is concern among Liberal senators who have problems with the minority rights issue in there. We might add, when this was voted on in the House of Commons, 80-some per cent of the people who voted against this amendment were Liberal members of the House of Commons, 80-some per cent. We cannot say a vote was on a party line. Two PCs voted against it. The Block voted with it. The reform did not vote unanimously with it. The NDP I think did and a fair chunk of the Liberal people voted against it. Those are the facts. You count the numbers, the forty-five people, you can easily see where they were.

So it wasn't on a party line. If it was, there would have been significant numbers of people, except for a free vote, who would have gone against the party and would have had to be reprimanded and had action taken against them as happened when they had a very controversial one on, I think, the gay rights bill there, on party lines. Certainly it created a rift. That is one of the conditions under which they give a free vote, because people would have broken with party lines and it would have created a problem there.

Don't think that the vote in the House of Commons was strictly a party line, it was a free vote. Any time you have a free vote in the House, as we had here - and I might add too, the Government House Leader, when we had the vote in this House about unanimously getting the Senate to deal with it quickly, there were only thirty-three people in this House who voted. I can tell you all our nine caucus were here, and I noticed I think the independent and the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi were there. It was twenty-two out of thirty-seven - of course, except the Speaker - out of thirty-six were all who were present and voting on that side of the House.

We have supported this bill, we have supported this thrust here, unanimously with every member present and voting when only two-thirds of the government members were present and voting on this particular issue, back on May 23 when we wanted to get the Senate to deal with it quickly. We have done our share in doing this. We have expedited matters in this process to the nth degree. We have taken criticism over it from the Premier on many occasions. He wanted to espouse and get out and shout out and jump up and down and blame us for what the PC Senators might be doing, or Jean Charest might be doing, when they have two members in the House of Commons out of 295. The Liberals have a sweeping majority that can pass any legislation they want, the same as the government here can. In fact, they represented only a fraction, only about one-fiftieth of the whole House of Commons, far, far less than us as Opposition represent here in the House of Assembly.

A lot of grandstanding, a lot of political manoeuvring out there, a lot of media attention and trying to send a signal that wasn't the case, I can assure you. A lot of those things, they are hopefully over and done with. I would want to see it dealt with as quickly as possible, not for the sake of having it dealt with, not for that sake, but to be able to move forward and deal with the changes that we want to see in our system.

I'm not so convinced that the changes we are going to see in the system and the savings are going to stay within education. I haven't been convinced. I've seen tremendous changes, through the ministers, on a different issue. We have seen tremendous cutbacks and changes in education in our Province, in our whole delivery of the system here, in our college system and others, as they pertain to education. I think what we need to do is not just haphazardly cut and say: Here is a quota, you will get this, you are open, and so on. We need to have an overall outlook for education in the Province, an overall plan, with the shifting demographics of where we want our education system to be. Not next year, we want to see where we are going to be with trends over the next twenty years.

I mean, you build and you spend capital money for fifty years, probably. Your operational money and your current and so on can be shifted easily from year to year, but when you make decisions on dollars in our system they must be made in the long-term. We have seen a lot of mistakes overall on spending. We have seen a capital expenditure. We aren't saying it isn't a wise decision, but in the case where you have to stop building on an extension to a hospital that is needed - I understand they can't get specialists to come to Gander now because they can't be given operating room space, or a certain amount of space to conduct clinics; so they aren't getting specialists here because they need the space. I mean, there are things.

Those are some of the reasons, part of a plan. There are dollars in the system, there are numerous dollars and we need to look at education too in a long-term plan. We need to get on with it. I think it is important that we get the viability regulations as soon as possible, once it goes through the public process the minister and Premier have referred to, and we get a chance to look at those regulations. We did have them on Friday, I might add, and that certainly helped because it gave us a few days to be able to go through these and to be able to scrutinize the wording in the particular legislation. Hopefully we will get fair notice on it next time, because if we get something and we don't get an opportunity, we will use whatever means we have, if we don't have the opportunity to have sufficient time to deal with it. We have done it here, as one example, on Bill No. 19. I don't believe it is right to push something through without having previous discussion.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my comments here on third reading of Bill No. 8.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few comments as I participate in the concluding stages of this intriguing bill, Bill No. 8, a bill and legislation which of course has had a rocky road for considerable years. The thrust of this legislation is certainly one which has been hotly debated and discussed, and indeed disputed, by many individuals and groups throughout the past number of months and past number of years in this Province.

However, we have come to an end and we have stated all this before. I think we all agree that it is certainly in the best interests of stakeholders in education, and certainly the children of this Province, that we get on with dealing with what has to be done to protect their interests. From a structural point of view, at least, these particular changes can now be put in place.

However, I think, as has been alluded to by my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, it does not necessarily mean that there are not going to be tough choices down the road. Each of us represents a district in this Province. We are going to be confronted with serious issues and concerns as the viability issues are debated. As schools close in our respective districts, as busing routes change, as there is fall-out as a result as to whether or not schools are interdenominational or uni-denominational, these issues will present for us, as members of this House and as members of particular districts, some very tough and testing discussion, as our constituents will indeed have a variety of opinions and will want to make sure that their particular interests and concerns are brought forward.

My point is, Mr. Speaker, although from a structural point of view, in terms of the reduction of number of school boards, the formation of a construction board, the formation of a francophone school board, although these issues have come to a conclusion, that does not necessarily mean we will have an easy ride when we begin to discuss the viability issues in the fall and winter of this coming year.

I'm pleased that this matter at least has come to a conclusion. I have some concerns with respect to the possibility of challenge, and that is a real concern. I understand the minister said in debate yesterday that that is a risk he is prepared to take. We will only have to wait and see how serious the possibility or risk of legal challenge is. In any event, the law is about ready to come into effect. Change is now ready. This is significant, substantial structural change, and I support the view at least that we get on with it, that we keep in mind what is in the best interests of our young people. However, I caution all of us, as members, to keep in mind that the difficult decisions yet to be made are decisions that we are going to be faced with. We are going to be confronted with perhaps somewhat testy constituents. It will be interesting to see how the fall-out of this legislation in fact occurs in the fall and winter of the coming year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to say just a few words at this third reading of Bill No. 8, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act." I just want to comment on the fact that we are at the end of a long process which has been going on for quite some time in the Province in terms of the debate about the reform of the denominational system.

In the most recent past, Mr. Speaker, certainly since May of this year, there has been unprecedented and remarkable cooperation between all three parties represented in the House, and all members of this House, in terms of seeing the passage of the reform to the education system, once we had gone through the process of the referendum and the public debate.

I think it is historic in that we are getting to the action and beyond the debate, and it is also historic and unprecedented that after such a controversial issue has gone through the public domain that cooperation amongst members in this House has resulted in a piece of legislation being dealt with in an extraordinary session of the House in the summer, for which we were all called back.

We were here, Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday in a spirit of cooperation. In fact, during this extraordinary sitting of the House, something slightly in excess of two hours altogether were devoted to the passage of Bill No. 8, for which we came together here in July, in the middle, of the summer, to facilitate the passage of the legislation and the implementation of the reforms consequent on the amendment to Term 17.

Mr. Speaker, what that means to me is that if the spirit of cooperation had prevailed we would have been out of here on Tuesday before 6:00 p.m. We came together to pass Bill No. 8. We discussed it for a little over two hours. We went through the first reading, the second reading, the clause by clause. Concerns were raised, amendments were made. The Member for St. John's East had quite a few concerns that he raised and had dealt with. I had some concerns. Other members discussed the matter. In an unprecedented cooperation, a unanimous passage at second reading, a support in principle for the bill, support for the legislation, and I think there will be unanimous passage of the bill at third reading. I think that is a remarkable achievement after years of debate in this House.

It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that this cooperation was marred by the attempts of the Government House Leader to use the extraordinary powers of closure to deal with another piece of legislation that we didn't know anything about until the 11th hour. It is unfortunate. We could have been in and out of here on Tuesday to deal with Bill No. 8 as we had intended. Two hours of debate is what we spent on it, not counting the last half hour. We could have been out of here, but now we are here. We are probably going to be here tomorrow, and maybe for the next day, who knows, to try and deal with another piece of legislation which really could have been dealt with by an announcement by the Premier that we have within our grasp an excellent deal, an excellent contract, we have it within our grasp. A ministerial statement only was needed. When we get this deal, we will bring it to the House and we will ask you to pass it and we will ask you to exempt the Public Tender Act. That is what could have been done. Instead we are here in a prolonged session, perhaps going on for another several days, to try and deal with this legislation that is before us.

I digress. I was rising on third reading of Bill No. 8, the education act. I wanted to remark on the unprecedented and remarkable cooperation from all members of the House to see that this legislation is passed in order to bring into effect the reforms that are needed for education in the Province. I look forward to being able to say that the passage of this bill at third reading received the unanimous consent of members of this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 8)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I understand we have agreed to break half an hour for supper and then come back at it.

MR. SPEAKER: It is the Chair's understanding that there is a concurrence by all members that we will take leave for a moment, and we will return momentarily.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Order No. 3.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee of the Whole has considered the matters to them referred and has directed me to report Bill No. 20 without amendment and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted.

On motion the a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Accounting Act No. 2", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 20).

MR. TULK: Order No. 4.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole has considered the matters to him referred and has directed me to report Bill No. 19 without amendment and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again.

MR. TULK: Bill No. 19, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: When shall this bill be read a third time?

MR. TULK: Now, Mr. Speaker.

In moving that, Mr. Speaker, I would move that the question be now put.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

He is moving that the question be now put which means the debate on third reading.

Motion, third 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: For the information of members, we are in a debate of thirty minutes, no amendments to be made to the bill and at the conclusion of the debate, the question will be put. So, essentially what we have is thirty minutes per person.

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my understanding that on third reading of bills there are three possible amendments that can be moved in third reading: a three-month hoist, a six-month hoist and a referral to a committee, a reasoned amendment, and they can be done in second or third reading. It is my understanding - and I refer to page 200 in third reading. It says: the same amendments can be made in third reading that can be made in second reading and amendments in second reading are listed as No. 666. That states: There are three types of amendments that may be proposed at the second reading stage of a bill, and it is indicated that at third stage you can make the same ones: hoist, three months, six months, the reasoned amendment, the referral of the subject matter to a committee. So I contend that, that will be in order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: For the information of the hon. gentleman, I would refer him to Standing Order No. 40. The motion that was just passed by the House was that, this question be now put and that question is known, in parliamentary language, as the previous question. I say to the hon. gentleman, and I read him Standing Order No. 40: The previous question, until it is decided, shall preclude all amendments of the main question, and shall be in the following words, "That this question be now put." If the previous question be resolved in the affirmative the original question is to be put forthwith without any amendment or debate.

So you can debate the question, that this question be now put, for thirty minutes for each individual in this House, but at that point in time, debate ends.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, further to the point of order, it is in Beauchesne and it has been carried out in this House on numerous occasions before, that in second and third reading of a bill, there are three basic amendments that can be made. I refer to them and I bring it to Your Honour's attention, 666 refers specifically to what these may be, and I would certainly ask Your Honour to make a specific ruling as to whether that is in order.

MR. SPEAKER: My understanding of the previous question: the previous question not only refers to bills but refers to any motion before the House. In putting the previous question, it is a form of closure which limits the debate. It is not only in terms of third reading of bills, but could be for any motion before the House. So what the hon. Government House Leader has done is said that the motion be now put that we read the bill the third time.

The previous question, under our Standing Order 40, is in order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: The closure motion was made in committee, subject to committee, and it was not made subject to the third reading of this bill. We have moved out of committee and back in, so we -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no closure motion.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct; I am not saying there is. There is no closure motion. We are into a normal third reading of the bill, and under third reading if you want to limit amendments on a bill, or limit speaking on a bill in third reading without proposing amendments, you would need to propose a closure motion on third reading to prevent someone from speaking more than once except through an amendment.

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

MR. TULK: To that point of order, let me say to the hon. gentleman that this is a lesson I learned. He is now learning a lesson that I learned from another House Leader in this House, and it was none other than the person who is a present judge, Mr. William Marshall, and it is this. I refer him to Beauchesne, page 160, 521, "The previous question is moved when the original question is under debate in order to force a direct vote on it, thereby preventing any amendments to the original question to be proposed..." - and that includes a six-month hoist or any other form of amendment - "The form of the motion is "That the question be now put." Once it is proposed, the debate may continue on the original question."

I will take him to Section (2), "If the previous question be carried..." - in other words, the motion that the question be now put - "...the Speaker will immediately put the question without further debate. But, if the previous question is resolved in the negative, then the Speaker cannot put the main motion, which is consequently superseded, but which, however, may be revived on a future day, as the negative of the previous question merely binds the Speaker not to put the main question at that time."

Mr. Speaker, there is a parliamentary procedure called closure, there is a parliamentary procedure called a six-month hoist, and there is a parliamentary procedure called the previous question. There is also a parliamentary procedure called the reasoned amendment. I say to the hon. gentleman, once the previous question has been put you can debate the motion on the previous question, but there can be no other debate. You can stand all you like all night; that is it.

MR. SPEAKER: The previous question is that the question be put, and we are into debate. The precedence is that there is a thirty minute debate. Each member is permitted thirty minutes in debate, and at the end of the thirty minutes for each member the question is put.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That's about it; that is as close as it is going to be. You have to repeat a few things in this House a number of times for them to sink into the members on that side. So that is just what I am going to do, repeat almost word for word what I said here today and yesterday. So there it is; be prepared.

Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place again today to speak on this Bill No. 19, a bill which should not be before this House. As I said today in committee, this bill was brought in and was tried to be forced through this House, sneaked through this House.

When the House of Assembly closed in June the Premier made a statement that he would recall this House in July to deal with the education bill, and that is what was done. We were really quite co-operative with respect to the education bill, and that is why we are here. That is why we were called back, Mr. Speaker, to deal with The Education Bill. I have to say that members on this side of the House again were quite cooperative. Even members on that side of the House, the Minister of Education is quite cooperative with respect to The Education Bill.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you.

MR. J. BYRNE: When the Leader of the Opposition proposed an amendment to The Education Bill, Mr. Speaker, it was accepted unanimously because they saw the fault in a bill that was being put through this House. In actual fact the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi said today that we only had two hours debate in total on Bill 8. So in actual fact with the cooperation that was going on from this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, we could have been out of here on Tuesday Afternoon with that bill passed by the members of this House. It was passed, I think, tonight at approximately 5:30 this evening, because the Government House Leader would not bring that bill in for final reading. What they were trying to do, the members on that side of the House and the Government House Leader was trying to give people in the Province the impression that we were delaying The Education Bill, when in actual fact we helped speed up the process and the passing of Bill 8, Mr. Speaker. So why are we here on a Thursday night, the 25th. of July, when we should only have be here for a few hours or one day, no more than two days. Why are we here? Because Government is trying to put a bill through this House to basically put at risk the taxpayers in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

Again the members on this side of the House saw that this bill was not in the best interest of the people of this Province, and we decided to put up some opposition to this bill. We were here last night, Mr. Speaker, till approximately 11:30 when the Government House Leader and the Government decided that they would bring in closure and limit debate, which they did. They tried to limit debate on this bill, Mr. Speaker. Again, as I said earlier, this bill is a bad bill from my perspective. It puts at risk the taxpayers of this Province.

What did we see before in this Province, Mr. Speaker, when The Public Tender Act was circumvented, when the Trans-City scandal hit the papers, Mr. Speaker, when this party on this side of the House bought forward what had happened with the Trans-City? In actual fact there are members sitting on that side of the House that were quite vocal with respect to the opposition of Trans-City? The Member for Humber Valley was sitting on this side of the House when we were making it an issue, and he is over there now sitting and supporting this Government trying to put through a bill that is going to basically do the exact same thing, that is going to put at risk and possibly cost the people of this Province millions and millions of dollars, Mr. Speaker.

We do not know what this Government is asking. We have asked questions. We have asked why do they need legislation to circumvent The Public Tender Act? We have asked that question. In actual fact -

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say to the Member for Humber Valley, if he made that comment maybe he should be eating some of those Sprung cucumbers and get a bit of brain food. That is what I would say to the Member for Humber Valley.

The Minister herself said that the bill which is before you would exclude these services from the provision of The Public Tender Act for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewal of the agreement, Mr. Speaker.

What they are asking for, Mr. Speaker, is to give a company in this Province a blank cheque from the taxpayers of this Province, Mr. Speaker. What they are saying, Mr. Speaker, is that The Public Tender Act should be broken and that the company involved would have an agreement in perpetuity, Mr. Speaker, for eternity, to deal with the Government of this Province, Mr. Speaker. That is not right.

The Minister of Works Services and Transportation was on the Open Line Show today trying to sell this bill, this dark bill. What she said on the radio was that there was going to be a five-year agreement. I say to the Member for Humber Valley again, if he read this there is no indication in this bill for a five-year agreement. What it does say here is that the Public Tender Act does not apply to the acquisition of printing, microfilming and electronic imaging by the government of the Province during the currency of those agreements or any renewals of those agreements.

PREMIER TOBIN: Afraid of a few jobs.

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, the Premier says we are afraid of a few jobs. The Leader of the Opposition stood in his place on two days and asked the Premier a certain number of questions with respect to this bill, Mr. Speaker, but what did we get from the Premier? Nothing but rhetoric, as usual. He stood in his place and you could see the performance building and we were trying to see if we could get an academy award for the man. There used to be a show on TV called Star Search and I expect to see the Premier on that show anytime at all trying to get an academy award for acting.

In actual fact I was expecting at any time at all for him to stand on his head on his desk and spit nickels in order to get attention from the media, which he loves; he loves media attention. That is what I was expecting but he did not do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the third time you used that line.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, that is the third time I used that line.

The former Premier of the Province, Joey Smallwood, believed in repetition, repetition, because he believed when you were speaking to people that probably do not have the brain power as the Member for Humber Valley has, that you repeat, you repeat and you repeat until it finally sinks in.

MR. LUSH: He did not invent it.

MR. J. BYRNE: But he used it.

MR. LUSH: He didn't invent it, it was invented by a successful playwright, a great playwright.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, thank you for that lesson in history. The former Premier certainly believe it, he used it, and he utilized it. That is all I am saying to the Member for Terra Nova. Now, if you want to quote the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, on page 1163, here are the words.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, what did you have for supper.

MR. J. BYRNE: Energy food, lots of sugar. Now, Mr. Speaker, page 1163, the words of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation when she was speaking on this bill yesterday. This is incredible, Mr. Speaker. I say to members on both sides of the House, they should listen to this. "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 the process today." So in actual fact what the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is saying is that the intent of the Public Tender Act is being upheld by bringing in legislation to circumvent the Public Tender Act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, can you actually believe that a minister of the government opposite would make such a statement? It said, it was upheld when the original bid and call for proposals was issued. With respect to that issue, what had happened and what we were led to believe, and the minister tells us herself, is they went out and make a call for proposals for work to be done. She had three proposals come in and one was accepted, basically, I suppose, and Kodak came back with an unsolicited proposal to do even more work than had been requested. So the minister in her wisdom and the people in her department said: We cannot do this, we certainly have to give the appearance of being fair. So what did they do? They went out to the two companies that were not successful and asked them to make a proposal, and both companies got together and made a proposal. What the minister did not say, of course, was: What about all the other businesses in this Province? What about other businesses in Canada? What about other businesses international, in other countries, that may have been interested and may have come back with a better deal?

They dealt with one company and it very well could be a very good deal. That is not what we are opposing. It may be the best think since sliced bread, Mr. Speaker, but we do not know. The government is asking for a blank cheque for this administration to go out and sign a deal that the people of this Province do not know the circumstances of.

Two years ago when the previous Premier was trying to do the same thing with NLCS, Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, they went out, worked a deal, came back and dealt with it in this House and it was approved. That deal also promised that there would be more jobs, it would be more cost effective, it would be more efficient and more effective, and it would save the government millions of dollars.

What have we seen? Go get the budgets and the statements and you will see now that Memorial University is paying millions more, maybe, than it was paying for the same services from NLCS. Government departments are paying more for the same service they were receiving before the so-called privatized NLCS. That was for a seven-year deal. Seven years that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador made a deal -

AN HON. MEMBER: If the Conservative Party was elected would it undo that privatization? No!

MR. J. BYRNE: Not at all, but that is not what I'm saying. Listen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you hear him say that? I would say to the Premier, did you hear him say that? Don't try to put words in our mouths. You listen and you might learn something, I say to the Premier.

What I said was there was a seven-year deal worked out with the previous administration with NLCS. It was privatized to Newtel and the government is paying more money for the same services. That is what we are saying. The exact same thing could happen here, I say to the -

AN HON. MEMBER: There were seventy-five new jobs (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Seventy-five new jobs? We were led to believe there were going to be untold new jobs. How many were let go from NLCS, I would ask.

If the Premier wants to get to specifics, why doesn't he tell us how many new jobs are going to be created with this bill, which is what we are asking? What we are asking is why is the legislation needed. The government has the authority today, right now, to negotiate with anyone it so wishes. It has -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier wants to get into specifics -

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

I've recognized the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Premier would like to get into specifics, why doesn't he tell us how many new jobs this deal will create? Why doesn't he also tell us how many jobs will be lost within the civil service? We have a situation now where the employees of the Queen's Printer really don't know what their situation is going to be. The Premier was asked questions yesterday and he stood in his place first and said one thing, but when it was continued by the Leader of the Opposition he stood and said: Well, we expect the majority of the jobs within the Queen's Printer will be maintained either with Kodak or with the government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I know, I read it. I have repeated it three or four times. Okay, here is what he said: "...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...."

MR. SULLIVAN: Guaranteed, he said.

MR. J. BYRNE: He said guaranteed in one place.

MR. SULLIVAN: He changed over.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what I'm saying, that is what I'm getting to. The Premier said in the second part of it that: We expect that the majority of the jobs to either stay with Kodak or with government.

Again, you have to look at those two words. I said it earlier today, the two words are very important. We expect the majority, those two words, "expect" and "majority," Mr. Speaker; expect the majority to be maintained. We aren't sure, it is only expecting, it isn't guaranteed; we expect the majority. If there are forty jobs, for example, the majority of forty jobs would be twenty-one jobs, but he is only expecting twenty-one jobs to stay. If in fact it is the minority it could be anywhere from nineteen down to one. We really don't know what is going to happen. We really don't know if the jobs are going to be saved, if the people are going to get their severance and their pensions, or what will happen.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, we are receiving correspondence from private industry, businesses in this same category, that are very fearful that there will be a number of jobs lost within the private industry in this Province. In actual fact, are those jobs going to be offset by Kodak coming in here? If so, good for the new jobs, but for the people who are going to lose their positions it isn't too good, I would say to you.

What are going to be the benefits to the people of this Province? They could very well be great. The Premier and other members, the minister, stood and said that we are opposing the creation of jobs in this Province. That is so far from being accurate or the truth from our perspective that it is actually ludicrous. Anybody would welcome jobs in this Province. We would welcome one job. What we are saying is that it is not right to bring in legislation to circumvent The Public Tender Act when it is not necessary. It is not only not necessary it is wrong. If the government decided to do this now - and obviously they are going to do it, they brought in closure - if they are going to do that, what is the next step? Why are they going to bring in legislation to circumvent The Public Tender Act? What group or what other company next, Mr. Speaker?

There are a number of services within the government that could easily be privatized and rightly so. I would support that if the government put forward a plan, a cost benefit analysis, to show the benefits to the people of the Province, to show how much money the government would save, to show how much revenue the government could bring in in the form of GST, RST, income tax and what have you, Mr. Speaker, but they are not doing that. So are we going to see now maybe some company coming forward and looking for the air photo library or the air photo lab at the Howley Building here on the Higgins Line? Are we going to see government come forward? Or maybe that section of the Crown lands would automatically now go to Kodak since they are in the same business.

Mr. Speaker, that could be a very lucrative business for somebody. I am sure that section of the Crown lands does not cost this government money because what in actual fact is there is a library of air photos, aerial photos that have been taken since back in the '30s, pre-war days, during the war, in the '40s, in the '50s, in the '60s, '70s and '80s, and some years they were done twice in certain locations. There is a library there now and the negatives are there. We have people coming in for different purposes, it could be mining companies, it could be development companies, it could be any number of various companies coming in and asking for copies of the aerial photos. So now if that is privatized, revenue generates for the company and revenue is lost for the government. So that's a potential area of privatization.

We have the mapping section at the Howley building, is that going to be privatized?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: We are not against it but all for it. What we are asking is, show us the benefits. Show us the cost benefit analysis before you do it. Show what are going to be the benefits to the people of the Province. Show us the benefits to the government,. how much money they are going to save, how much revenues they are going to lose, what is the cost in salaries, what is the cost in job loss? That is the type of thing that we are asking for before this is done. We cannot support a bill going through this House that is asking for a blank cheque to do something of this nature when we are not getting the facts and the figures. We have been asking and asking and asking and most members on this side of the House have been asking: Why do you need the legislation? I can tell you, I will give you a little hint as to why you need the legislation and why you need it within thirty days, because it is a matter of public opinion.

When the Newfoundland Hydro issue was started in this Province, it started the exact same way and the government was accusing us of fearmongering and what have you, Mr. Speaker. In actual fact it was supposed to be a great deal for the people of the Province, it was going to save all kinds of money. What happened? Public opinion got up against it and it was stopped. Then what do we see in the next budget from this same administration? Actually taking millions of dollars from Hydro to help balance the Budget and that was something that they were going to give away. So that is what is going on here; and they expect us to give them a blank cheque.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: But you were saying we were wrong and you did it, but we were right. Talk about fearmongering here now: Here is a bill that is before this House and - I'm getting off my point - why has it got to be done within thirty days? I said, it is a matter of public opinion. What is going to happen now and is starting to happen, and why they want it done, is that the company they are dealing with probably wanted a deal in black and white, not something where they could say: Well, we will do this for you, we will bring it to the House, we have the majority and we will put it through. That is something that they could say but possibly there could be some fear. They are saying: Well we don't know that that is going to happen. Look at the same situation that happened with Hydro, that was supposed to be a good deal. That was going to go through the House of Assembly but it did not. Public opinion got up against it and it was stopped. That is the exact same thing that is happening here now, whatever is going on could be stopped if there is enough public opinion against it.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you ever read that, I say to the Minister of Education? Look, here, this is the recording, this is a transcript of what we were saying and what -

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it all.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, I am not reading it.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we cannot, and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it, support a bill that is going to go through this House, that is going to circumvent The Public Tender Act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what other areas in Government can be privatized? What other areas are there where a deal could be worked out, maybe with buddies? Now we can go back into the 1960s when if you were a friend of Government, well no problem, get what you want. Is that what we are going back to now? If a company comes forward or an individual has an idea and he can say to government, okay I am going to do this for you, I am going to do that for you type of thing, bring in a bill to circumvent The Public Tender Act, and it is a done deal. Is that what we are getting back to? Well I certainly hope not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: If that is the case, and I was not here in this House, and no one here on this side was in this House back in the 1980s, if that is the case, all I can say to that - if it is the case, a capital "IF" - is two wrongs do not make a right.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what we are here for. That is why we got elected, to protect the people of the Province today. What you guys did in the past and what the previous governments did in the past, we can point out the faults. That is what we are doing. We are pointing out the faults.

I was just a young kid back in the days of Churchill Falls but we can get back into that. That is our job. That is what we are getting paid to do; constructive criticism, I say to the members opposite. The only problem with it is that we have to repeat it so often for it to sink in.

Anyway back to my point, Mr. Speaker, -

MR. GRIMES: Your time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not likely. I say to the Minister of Education, my time is not up yet. We may be on our feet a few times yet.

What other areas in government can be privatized? Let's take Motor Vehicle Registration. Now, if we had an individual come in and say, maybe to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, that they would like to privatized Motor Vehicle Registration, and we have the photographs that have to be done and the drivers' licences and the actual recording and the maintaining and maintenance of the records over there. Someone comes in with a brain wave to the minister and says: We would like to do this for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and here are our plans and our ideas, and this is where the benefits are. All of a sudden we are called back into the House of Assembly again with another bill to deal specifically with that incidence to circumvent The Public Tender Act to deal with one company; it is wrong. There are no ifs, and or buts about that, Mr. Speaker; it is wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you going to say when you find this is a really good deal?

MR. J. BYRNE: We are saying this may be a very good deal, it may very well be, but we are not given the facts. At this point in time we cannot support something, if we do not have the facts. We have been asking questions and we are not getting the answers. If it is a good deal, I will say it is a good deal. I cannot see how you can circumvent The Public Tender Act to give a company a deal or a contract that is going to be renewed and renewed because it is within the bill to be able to do that. As a matter of fact it is worse probably than the deal with Churchill Falls because at least there is a time frame set on that, but this can go on and on and on. Thank God in three to four years time, there will be a new administration over there and then the problem will be dealt with, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said before: Why do we need this legislation? The time frame.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: The next election your time will be up, buddy.

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education is over there now trying to make light of this very serious situation here. We have been at this since, well yesterday afternoon, maybe around 2:30 or 3:00 o'clock, up to 11:30 last night, and we do not think this is a laughing matter, it is a joke. It is a very serious situation, that the government of today is actually considering bringing in legislation to break or circumvent the Public Tender Act. That is a very serious situation, I say to the Minister of Education. If he takes that to be a very light matter or not a serious concern, well then that says a lot for the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is possible. Give us the answers. The fact is that it may be a good deal. If it is such a good deal, as you are saying, why bring in the legislation now to circumvent the Public Tender Act? If it is such a good deal and they bring it back to the House of Assembly, well obviously it would pass. It would pass because for two reasons: We will either support it because it is such a great deal, and if it isn't a good deal for the Province, we will say so, and you guys will pass it anyway. In actual fact, you are really wasting the time of the House to have us here to 11:30 last night, and God knows how late tonight, I would say to you, Mr. Speaker.

There are other businesses in this Province that are having concerns with this. We had some conversations with The Hub, with Xerox Canada and Robinson-Blackmore. They are only three companies, just three, without even having to go out and look, that have approached us and we have been speaking to, that have major concerns with this bill. The Premier gets up and says this is the best thing since sliced bread, it is not going to impact on the companies here in the Province now, and yet we are getting calls from these companies saying it is negative, it will impact upon them, and it isn't a good deal for the Province. It isn't a good deal because you are creating a monopoly, basically, for services that this government will be requiring.

That in itself could lead to unfair competition, Mr. Speaker, because if the companies out there now are looking for work within the private industry of a similar nature, that the government would have them do, well then they will be competing with a company that has a contract in perpetuity with government for services. Basically what is happening is they will be getting subsidized by the taxpayer of this Province. They will have a constant cash flow coming in from government. The companies that are out there now in private industry will have to compete with that. Is that fair in itself? That is a question that should be answered, that needs to be answered.

As we go on with respect to this discussion, it is obvious that if the members opposite - and I know there are members opposite who have genuine concerns with this. I can name them, because some of them are sitting on that side of the House, who, if they were over here would be standing on their feet -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Here we go again. The Member for Topsail over there yapping away again. The legal beagle from Topsail yakking away. I will say - I have to use a line, I have to use it - I have to say to the Member for Topsail, listen: He has enough lip for three rows of teeth. I would suggest you keep quiet, sit in your place like you do all the time. You don't rise to speak to any legislation. I haven't seen you stand to speak to any legislation since you came here.

There you go, Mr. Speaker, a member on the opposite side of the House hiding away over in his corner, afraid to stand and speak, making little jabs here, little jabs there, which really don't accomplish anything.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, his time has to be up.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, we have another ten minutes, I would say to the Minister of Education. Look, I just got the note.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you the official speaker? Do you have an hour or what?

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh yes, first time, yes. I do have an hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I'm still waiting for the white flags, I say to the Minister of Education. If we are here standing in our place and we are making good legitimate points and they are upsetting the Minister of Education -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: - obviously we are doing our job.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. J. BYRNE: In conclusion -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, not even that.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't think I can be as good as my colleague.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's going to be tough.

MR. FRENCH: I will certainly try. Yes, he is going to be a tough man to match.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to be as long?

MR. FRENCH: I will probably be as long, yes. I will try to be, minister, if I can, even longer. I am sure the Government House Leader will certainly give me leave.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we are here again tonight and I guess we are now into the `Evening Show', if you want to call it that. What else would you be doing on a Thursday night toward the end of July, what other things would you have better to do than to be in this House, talking about a bill that is unnecessary?

I guess, Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Kilbride said this afternoon: Where would this bill be if we weren't back here talking about education? Where would this bill be? Would it be here? It wouldn't be, because we wouldn't be here. The government would have been off running around, doing their thing and certainly, Mr. Speaker, negotiating this particular agreement with Kodak and there would have been none of this; no discussion, no nothing. They would have been off, Mr. Speaker, doing their own thing. Yet, somewhere along the line - and this is the part that really bothers me, Mr. Speaker, is that we try to sneak this one in the middle, as I said this afternoon.

I cannot understand, for the life of me, why. Why? I hope the Minister of Education hears me. He probably should have been the Premier, he would have made a good Premier. I know him and I know him well, he certainly would have been a good Premier. Mr. Speaker, for some reason or other, we had to have this legislation; we have to go around the Public Tender Act. This letter here again: I quoted some of it this afternoon and I will quote more of it tonight. It is from Robinson-Blackmore and it says: In July, 1995, the provincial government requested proposals to manage the Government Printing Service. The proposals were to be submitted with a take-over management effective September 1, 1995. This process ground to a halt and an unsolicited bid for privatization of the printing operation was received from Kodak. All of a sudden we are going along and we are talking to Robinson-Blackmore and all of a sudden Kodak appears on the scene and negotiations and everything else ground to a halt.

Robinson- Blackmore and Xerox had individual proposals before government to assume management of the printing operations, Mr. Speaker, but information regarding the unsolicited bid from Kojak became known -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Kojak?

MR. FRENCH: Kojak, that is pretty good. It probably should have been Kojak, we should have had Kojak investigating this.

Xerox and Robinson-Blackmore combined forces to submit a privatization plan for the government printing operation. On June 27, 1996 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Kojak was a detective, we should have had Kojak here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh yes, handy about the same size anyway.

On June 27, 1996 informal information began to trickle back to Robinson-Blackmore that Kodak's proposal had been in fact accepted and the process was in place to finalize the contract. In other words, we are negotiating with Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox and all of a sudden, this proposal -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh no, that is the Lieutenant-Governor. This proposal appears on the table and everything else, Mr. Speaker comes to a halt. Again, to me, there is something wrong.

All of this could have been done. No Education bill, we would not be sitting here tonight; we could all be out doing something else. Not that I mind because if we are here all night then we are here all night and if we are here tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, we are here tomorrow.

What really happens here, Mr. Speaker - again I go back to the jobs, and again I go back to the Newfoundland Dockyard which has about six days left to survive, when Newfoundlanders are again not being treated properly, when people who are used to working, and working full time, are now going to be out on their butt with little or no compensation. Nobody seems to care about that, Mr. Speaker, that we can treat our people, our Newfoundland people, differently than we can treat people in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia and P.E.I. We can take the organization and jack it around from pillar to post until nobody really knows who owns it. Are we going to do the same thing with our workers who work in the printing within government? Have the jobs been guaranteed?

If this Kodak proposal is accepted, how many new jobs are we going to create? Are we going to create one? Are we going to create two? What happens to the 250 or 240 people who are already employed between Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox? What happens to the capital investment of Robinson-Blackmore into this Province? What happens to the people at the HUB if they lose the printing service that they get from this Province? What happens to those people? Where do they go, I ask the minister?

The HUB has a real concern, by the way. I don't know if anybody on that side is aware of it, but we certainly are on this side. The HUB has a real concern about the number of jobs that they are going to lose, have a real concern that some of their people are going to be laid off, and that they are not going to get the work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: It is very interesting. What happens to the people from the HUB, what happens to the people from Robinson-Blackmore, and what happens to the other five or six companies that are named in this letter who have the capabilities to do this work? We could have been in here, we could have done the education bill when it came this evening in a matter of twenty minutes - it was approved - and on we went, no opposition from this side, no opposition from the Leader of the NDP, none.

This bill would never be here, I say to the Government House Leader - he knows it would not have been here, even better than I do, he knows that this bill would not have been here.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, I say to the Government House Leader, if we were not here today he would have been back here in the fall, probably with this deal negotiated, and I hope it is a good deal. I hope it is. I hope it creates employment for ordinary Newfoundlanders. I hope it does create employment.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. FRENCH: This bill. I hope it does create employment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: That is your opinion, and you are certainly entitled to that, and I am certainly entitled to mine. Anything that we can do here to create employment I am all in favour of.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Sure I am.

AN HON. MEMBER: I didn't say that. I said what you are doing is only assuming.

MR. FRENCH: Only assuming, right, and you know what you do when you assume something, don't you? You make a so-and-so of you and me.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know why, for the life of me, we are here debating this tonight when the Government House Leader knows full well that without the education bill the government would have gone out, would have done its thing, would have negotiated. If there is a contract to be negotiated, the minister would have negotiated it. I honestly and truly believe that it is probably not the minister's bill. I am not so sure if the minister knew what was in the bill. I am not so sure that she really knew, but we are here tonight debating this particular bill when it really was not necessary. We are going around and around and around the Public Tender Act, and that is wrong.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the minister should go back. This should certainly have been referred to a committee if this bill is so necessary and everybody is so interested in getting it passed. I'm not so sure - as a matter of fact, I'm positive - that it isn't necessary, that it doesn't need to be here tonight. We don't need to be here tonight. We could have been gone this afternoon on education. The fact remains that we are here tonight debating a bill we really don't need, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to be here tonight debating a bill that we really don't need.

Again, I say to the government, as I said two days ago, that I didn't support the bill, I can't support the bill, and I won't support the bill. We are all for employment in this Province, Mr. Speaker, but we aren't for this particular bill. We won't vote to pass this particular bill because this particular bill is not necessary. It is a waste of all of our time, a complete and utter waste. It is a useless bill, a useless piece of paper that we have been given. I think the bill should have been withdrawn, we should have been out of here with the education bill and the few minor - we had the accountancy one and that would have been it.

We are here tonight, we are debating this, and I don't care if we are here till daylight. Unfortunately I guess we will run out of time, but it is another way to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Keep her going.

MR. FRENCH: I wish I could, I wish I had some way to keep it going. I wouldn't lose her. I certainly wouldn't run her aground.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it is a useless bill, a waste of all our time. It is a bill that doesn't need to be here. When the time comes, sometime tonight, if it is tonight, to vote for this particular piece of legislation, this member here will certainly not vote in favour of the bill. Thank you.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again to speak on Bill No. 19. Again I draw attention to the fact that we are creating a monopoly here in which Kodak will have a monopoly on government printing. Again we go around the public tendering process.

This, as I've mentioned earlier, is a very frustrating day for many business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador because of the fact that they have been told by the provincial government they aren't going to be given a chance to bid on this work. They aren't going to be given a chance to submit a tender on this work. We were told all day yesterday, we have been told all day today, that we are trying to create rhetoric and we are getting on with foolishness here, that this is a good piece of legislation, and it is a good deal with Kodak.

Again I will draw attention to Robinson-Blackmore's letter that they sent to us today. We have received correspondence from a number of companies now, from The HUB, Xerox, Robinson-Blackmore and so on. Robinson-Blackmore says that it has been receiving information that says the deal with Kodak is all but finalized, and it is only to go through the red tape here now in the House of Assembly to finalize it. It goes on to say: "The government printing, combined with a monopoly situation for some contract period may create a major competitor in the local market funded by government printing, indirectly by tax dollars." If we create this monopoly it will be the same situation we have with Wal-Mart drugstores and Dominion drugstores, where they can undercut their prices and do the work much less expensively than can be done at local Newfoundland companies, because they are a huge international conglomerate.

This raises some genuine fears in that, if Kodak gets this and they undercut their prices to put some of the local businesses out of business, then the seventy-five jobs or so that are created by bringing Kodak here are going to be far outnumbered by the number of jobs that are lost by local companies being put out of business. This is just one of the fears that we see.

As I have said, if we go through the public tendering process and Kodak is awarded the work, then they have done it fairly and we have no reason to complain; but that is not the case. The case here is that we are giving Kodak the exclusive right to the work and in essence we are saying to the local companies right here in Newfoundland and Labrador that are owned by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians: You are not qualified, we don't want to deal with you or I am sorry, you are not good enough to deal with the government.

The letter that I got from Robinson-Blackmore goes on to say, "Any high-end digital imaging operation will compete with local business." Not only will they compete with local business but they will destroy some of the local business. Robinson-Blackmore has approximately $1 million invested in St. John's, approximately $20 million invested in Newfoundland and Labrador and they are just one of the companies. You have M-5 Advertising, MRI Printing, the HUB, Dicks & Company, Sterling Press; there are a number of companies here that are qualified companies with a long history of a good reputation, and we are overlooking these companies. We are overlooking them, saying that they are not good enough to compete for this work. We are saying to these companies, that we are going to give this work to Kodak and they are going to compete with you. We all know what large international companies, large international conglomerates, can do to a small local operation. Seventy-five jobs will be petty compared to the jobs that will be lost, if this is the case.

Robinson-Blackmore have also indicated - as we all know, we have been told here in the House of Assembly - that Kodak is going to bid on work off the island, on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the Atlantic Provinces and maybe even for the Government of Canada work, all across Canada. If we think about this logically how can we truly believe that Kodak is going to be able to compete fairly for this work off the island? In this case they are not trying to undercut local businesses, they are competing with operations all across Canada. They have to bring the paper into Newfoundland, they have to print the paper here and then they have to send it out again. Logic will tell you that this is not viable. How can a local company here bring paper in, bring the raw material into Newfoundland, print it and then send it back out again and compete with large international conglomerates that are located on the mainland?

Robinson-Blackmore employs 250 people in Newfoundland. There are dozens of people employed with the HUB and there are dozens of people employed with Xerox. Kodak employs four people right now in Newfoundland. We are closing the doors to fair competition with this piece of legislation. We are closing the doors to companies that are located here in Newfoundland and Labrador and saying that we are not going to allow them to bid on government work. We are giving a contract to Kodak that, in essence, could be a lifetime contract. It could be a contract that will go on for heaven knows how long, an indefinite period of time.

As has been mentioned here in the House on a number of occasions, yesterday and again today, we will bring you back and ask you to recall Trans City, which is another example of where we went around the public tendering process. The provincial government was sued by the companies that lost out on that bid, by the lowest bidder. It is going to cost the provincial government now over $1 million in a settlement to them, and perhaps again over $1 million in a settlement to the second company that bid, in addition to the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that the Province had to pay. We are also told that it is going to cost the Province approximately $30 million in interest payments over the course of paying off the Trans City hospitals. So that is an example of how circumventing the public tendering process costs our Province and our taxpayers, our people, a lot of money; and this may do it as well, with Kodak.

Our hon. Premier has told us here in this House, this is such a good deal we cannot afford to pass it up. If this was such a good deal, why are we afraid, or why is Kodak afraid, to go through the public tendering process? If they are giving us such a great deal, and it is going to pay great dividends to Newfoundland, then we have no worry; they are going to win the tender. So why don't we put it out and give local companies, Newfoundland companies, a chance to bid on this work?

We have several qualified companies here in Newfoundland, such as Robinson-Blackmore, that say they are offended that they are not given the opportunity to bid on this work. As a matter of fact, they put in a tender and were basically told that Kodak already has the work; they are wasting their time.

How many new jobs is Kodak going to create? We are told roughly seventy-five. How many are going to be lost due to that process? That is something that once this legislation is rammed through we are going to find out. Again we may look back at it as we did with Churchill Falls or as we are doing with Trans City, and saying: Oh, well I guess they made a mistake. This warrants some extra consideration, some extra thought.

Why, if we can pay so much attention to an international company like Kodak, and bid for their business which, in my opinion, we are doing just to beat New Brunswick at the game that they have been doing so well with for years, we are doing it to underbid New Brunswick, to take a job away from New Brunswick - and I have no problem with that; I am all for that, but are we giving away the shop to say to New Brunswick: Yes, our Premier is as competitive as yours. Is that what we are doing?

MR. TULK: Is that what you are afraid of?

MR. OSBORNE: If it is going to cost jobs, if it is going to cost our Province money, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) generate jobs.

MR. OSBORNE: Is it going to lose more jobs than it is going to generate? Are we going to drive local companies out of business as a result? Why, if we can give Kodak such consideration, can't we do the same for the Newfoundland Dockyard, when we are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of 400 to 800 jobs? Why haven't we put such emphasis into keeping the dockyard alive? We are told that it is because Marine Atlantic and the federal government are negotiating and it is none of our business, but when it means 400 jobs to Newfoundland, I think it is our business.

I think there is a little more we can do to save the Dockyard. The Provincial Government here has done virtually nothing; a lot of lip service, a lot of rhetoric. There is very little done. I wonder has the Premier spoken to the federal minister on this? There has been very, very little done to save the Newfoundland Dockyard.

We hear rumours that there is someone else waiting in the wings to buy the Dockyard, perhaps an international company, perhaps someone like Irving, somebody who is going to take the money out of Newfoundland as is Kodak.

AN HON. MEMBER: So you are opposed to the Kodak deal?

MR. OSBORNE: I am opposed to giving the deal to Kodak without going through the public tendering process. Why are we throwing away the public tendering process I ask the Premier?

PREMIER TOBIN: We are exempting it for development opportunities.

MR. OSBORNE: We are going around the public tendering process. I ask the hon. Premier, if we are putting this aside for this deal with Kodak?

PREMIER TOBIN: It is not the same, you do not want to hear the difference.

MR. OSBORNE: What I am asking you, Mr. Premier, is if we are going to circumvent the public tendering process -

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Premier, I will just ask you a question. If we are going to circumvent the public tendering process, are you telling me that the Newfoundland companies are not capable of doing this, that we should not pay due consideration to Newfoundland companies?

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Ignore him. Ignore him.

MR. OSBORNE: I will ask the hon. the Premier again, and if you would honour me by giving me an answer: If we are going to circumvent the public tendering process for Kodak, are you telling us that the Newfoundland companies that are based and owned and operated by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not capable of formulating a bid on this, not capable of producing the work?

PREMIER TOBIN: If you would allow me.

MR. OSBORNE: My pleasure.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question because I think it is a good question and I want to thank him for giving me an opportunity, from his time, to answer.

Mr. Speaker, the question is: If we are going to put government services out to public tender, why aren't we putting them out and giving everybody a chance to compete - in essence, that is the question - and should Newfoundland companies have an opportunity to bid on that work? I would agree totally with the member, if the objective that the government is following is merely to take all of the work that is currently done in-house, within government, in printing, and to privatize it, then there should be a public tender that gives everybody, including, most particularly, all of the companies of Newfoundland, a chance to bid to take that work. But I say to the hon. member - and perhaps we have not communicated this well - that is not what is going on now. We are not merely privatizing government printing. What we are doing is marrying the opportunity to look at a privatization of government printing with an offer from an international company, that if they are able to get an anchor amount of work, which is now being done in-house by government, they are prepared in turn, in addition to getting that work, to invest millions of dollars which otherwise -

MR. SULLIVAN: Have they done it?

PREMIER TOBIN: Excuse me! May I finish, I ask the Leader of the Opposition - which otherwise would not be invested. Specifically what Kodak is looking at is bidding for work outside the Province, work that will be done for other provinces, work that will be done for the federal government, for example, and done in Newfoundland -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: May I finish? - as a consequence create jobs in Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Speaker, not to take too much of the member's time, I would say to the member, if those kinds of conditions, if that kind of outcome is not the result, and if, by the way, there isn't an environment that protects local printers also part of that arrangement, we won't do the deal; and I give the member that assurance.

I will go further and say to the member, give us an opportunity to negotiate it in an atmosphere that is calm and reasoned and afterwards -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Loyola, if you would let me address the member before you coach him, because I know him to be an intelligent fellow. He can come to his own conclusions. I say to the member, give us a chance to negotiate a deal that will create jobs in the Province, and if the kind of criteria that he seeks and that I seek isn't present, first of all, there will not be a deal, and secondly, if there were a deal that is the time to judge it. For now, what the government is trying to do is create jobs and bring new investment to the Province. It is not simply procurement, and that is the point I'm trying to explain to the member.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Premier for his answer. I realize this is not question period, but if he would honour me with another answer I would take great pleasure from it.

MR. TOBIN: As long as it is coming from your time.

MR. OSBORNE: Oh, I don't mind.

MR. TOBIN: Okay.

MR. OSBORNE: The question that I have is: Do you feel, first of all, that local companies are not capable of investing the same type of money in our economy and performing the same type of work? That is one question.

A second question I ask the hon. Premier. This from the Robinson-Blackmore letter: "Any high-end digital imaging operation will however compete with local business." Now, local businesses such as Robinson-Blackmore were told that they have been given assurances by representatives of government that Kodak's proposal does not invade on their traditional offset printing. These companies feel they have the capability to do high-end digital imaging, the same as Kodak is going to do. They are afraid this is going to compete with them and it will probably drive them out of business.

What I'm saying is, if we are going to create seventy-five or eighty jobs by bringing Kodak in, are we also going to put companies out of business, and in essence, lose more jobs than what we are creating, because of the fact that we are bringing a company in that is going to have a monopoly on government work, over and above the ability to go and bid for work outside of government work here in the local marketplace? Are we going to drive local businesses out of work and destroy more jobs than we are creating?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the member for his question, because the member is asking questions and giving government a chance to respond, versus coming to conclusions in the absence of information.

The member has asked a couple of important questions. The first question he asked: Do we believe that local entrepreneurs have an opportunity, or should have an opportunity, or an ability, more importantly, to compete with anybody else? The answer is absolutely yes, we can compete and we can win.

Secondly, have we talked, was the question you put, to local companies? In fact I should say to the member - the minister could talk more about it when she speaks - we talked to Robinson-Blackmore as well. We talked to Robinson-Blackmore who came and saw us, in a similar discussion to that with Kodak, with Xerox as its partner. There was a discussion and -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Again, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, he should let the member listen to the answer -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) contrary to what you are saying!

PREMIER TOBIN: - listen to the answer to the questions he has raised, good questions that have been raised.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: When the Leader of the Opposition is finished I will carry on.

We did talk with Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox who came to see me as Premier, as did Kodak; both of those groups. The proposals they put on the table, were assessed, not by any member of the House of Assembly, and not even assessed in the first instance by any member of the Cabinet, but rather assessed by officials. Both those companies, by the way, were seeking the same kind of arrangement, and we talked with both. That is the second question: Yes, we have talked with local companies.

Thirdly, if there had been an offer equivalent to the one that is on the table, we would be talking to Robinson-Blackmore today.

Finally, the member says local companies are concerned that the structure of the agreement occur in such a way that they are not disadvantaged in terms of either offset printing or even high-end work, there could be no unfair advantage. I think that is a legitimate point the member raises. That is why tomorrow the minister, the minister's staff and the senior officials associated with this negotiation will sit down with members of the printers association, with Robinson-Blackmore, and with others.

I would make one other comment, because I know that members have been in the House through the normal supper hour and news hour. I just saw a statement on CBC that Robinson-Blackmore has accepted the government's commitment, the government's position, that we want to work with them, has accepted that it isn't the intent to dislocate local printers, and are coming to work constructively with us tomorrow.

With those comments, I thank the member for his questions.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have not yet seen this news broadcast. However, I direct another comment to the Premier. Right here Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox have said they have teamed up and put in a proposal to the government. I would consider this - and maybe I am naive in my consideration - a blind proposal due to the fact that they have put in a proposal to the government as did Kodak. Kodak put a proposal in to the government without the government actually putting out a public tender. So the proposal, in my view, that Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox formulated, was probably substantially different from the proposal that was put forth by Kodak. Who knows if they actually bid on the same, or put in the same, type of proposal? How do we know that these proposals were both equitable?

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I don't mind that Loyola, we will get an answer from him. So basically, what I have asked the Premier - you have heard the question?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

PREMIER TOBIN: Sorry?

MR. OSBORNE: I said, you have heard the question?

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible) ten seconds.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: I am responding to questions from the member and I do so with the indulgence of the member, Mr. Speaker, and if that is not desirable, I won't do so.

The member asked: How do we know that all of this was done on an equal basis so that all parties had an opportunity to participate? A very good question and again I thank the member for it because, Mr. Speaker, there was a call for proposals put out by government last June on management of facilities, and it was on the basis of that call for proposals that I met, after I became Premier, with both Xerox, Robinson-Blackmore and Kodak. On the basis of that call initially, Mr. Speaker, Kodak came forward with really quite a large add-on to the proposal that was there. That was the thought that Kodak was prepared to make a very substantial investment, new technology, new jobs and an ability to compete outside the Province.

Mr. Speaker, that is where the process began. So the notion that there was a private conversation somewhere that nobody else was aware of, or a process that nobody else had heard of, if that is being misunderstood, is not correct. I say to the member, we can make available to him a summary of events from last June to this point, if it helps him better follow or understand this process.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My concern, as a representative of the people because that is basically what our jobs are, -

PREMIER TOBIN: You ask good questions.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you.

My concern here is that: Yes, Kodak had responded with substantially more in their bid than what the tender had called for.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I am saying that Kodak had responded to the initial tender with substantially more -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, I understand that. I realize what you are saying. Kodak responded to the government offering substantially more than what was asked of them. At this point, if the government saw fit that this was worthy of consideration, why was it not then put out for public tendering through the public tendering process, so that local businesses would have the opportunity to bid?

I understand what you have said, that Kodak has come back and offered the Province substantially more than what was initially asked for in the tender, but what I am saying is that Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox, when they learned of this - as an example, when Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox learned of this, they tried to formulate a similar proposal but they were submitting a blind proposal because they didn't even know exactly what Kodak proposed to the government.

PREMIER TOBIN: Yes, they did, we told them. We told them all about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OSBORNE: Okay. Still, you are narrowed to Kodak and perhaps Robinson-Blackmore.

PREMIER TOBIN: After the fact.

MR. OSBORNE: After the fact. Why, at that point, once the government realized, okay, this is a great idea, instead of tendering it for management we will tender it so that they have the full operation, why did we not put it out for full public tendering at that point in time, to secure the work here in Newfoundland?

PREMIER TOBIN: I will answer that, if I may.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, again, the member asks a question, it is a good question and it deserves an answer.

The member asked: Why would we not have taken the idea that Kodak brought to the table and put it out to full public tender? The reason is, we could not put it out to full public tender.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I would ask, for a moment, to keep the member's attention because he asked a good question. Why wouldn't the government, once Kodak put a proposal to government on the table, then take that whole idea of Kodak's and tender it? Because the government was not asking somebody to build at government expense an imaging centre. We were not saying that we want someone to invest millions, that we were going to put the millions up for a new imaging centre. All we were looking at initially was the most efficient way we could provide for government printing. One of the players came and said: In addition to that we are prepared to make an investment in Newfoundland and Labrador and bring new technology and new jobs to Newfoundland and Labrador. Surely it wouldn't be appropriate or responsible for government then to turn around and say: Well, we are now in the imaging business. We are going to build our own imaging centre and we are going to put a tender call out. We will pay the millions for it, we will have somebody managing it. We are not interested in being in the imaging business, but we are interested in having a world class company, with a world class marketing expertise, contacts, connections and capacity all over the world, establish one of its major centres in this Province, to service the market place of the world to the extent it is possible from this Province. And that is why we have gone that route.

One last comment, and I apologize to the member. The process we are following here, and this will be dealt with by the minister, is identical to the process that was followed in putting together the NISL privatization which has created new jobs and new investment in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This, I say to the Premier, is exactly why I cannot support Bill No. 19 because we are going around the public tendering process. By bringing Kodak into Newfoundland without going through the public tendering process, in my opinion, we are taking in a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying we should put out to public tender and ask any local company if they are interested in building an imaging centre, the same as Kodak would do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for St. John's South, by leave!

MR. OSBORNE: I am saying, we should put out to public tender so that all local companies, and international, have the opportunity to bid on building an imaging centre, as will Kodak, if that is what their intention is. We should put out the public tender and ask that anybody who is interested in performing this work and building an imaging centre, and taking on government work - it would be open to free enterprise as opposed to just giving it to one company.

My fear with just giving a monopoly to Kodak, giving them all government work and still allowing them to bid on private work as well, is creating the same type of atmosphere as we have with the Walmart Pharmacy in that they have the ability to undercut small local operations and drive them out of business. So the seventy-five or so new jobs that are created may be far less than the jobs that are lost, if this is the approach that Kodak - and they may not take it - but if this is the approach that Kodak will take once they have come and set up. That is what my concern is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are numerous differences, I would say, between this and Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. During the course of my debate I will get an opportunity to address some of them. Initially I want to make it clear how private companies in this Province were prevented from participating in a part of this process on an equal footing with Kodak Canada Incorporated.

The minister has tabled information in this House that will confirm that last year the government wanted to have someone run or manage the Printing Services Division. They called for proposals. I ask the Premier - the Premier was not here at the time but I am quite sure he is familiar with it. Over a year ago government decided that they wanted - well certainly they wanted to have it running efficiently, that is important for any aspect of government or business, to run efficiently, and they asked for proposals to manage the printing services.

They received three proposals, to my knowledge and I am not sure if there were any others. I think there were three, if the minister could confirm that? They were Kodak, Xerox and Robinson-Blackmore, three separate and independent proposals to manage the printing service division here in government, three companies. Then as a result Kodak decided: We will present an opportunity, we will call it, an economic development opportunity. So we would like to get into doing other things in the high-end of the digital aspect, microfilming and any other basic service that would not normally be provided by the printing service division.

Then government, approached by Kodak, because Kodak was going to broaden the scope, decided to ask the other companies if they were interested and to put in a proposal. Xerox and Robinson-Blackmore combined on the proposal, and no other company in this Province was permitted other than the Robinson-Blackmore, Xerox combination and Kodak, to entertain any other proposals or suggestions or enter with similar proposals in this Province. The door was closed to prevent any other company from doing that business. Long ago the other company found out, by the back door - and it is in a letter here from the President of Robinson-Blackmore who is out of this Province, and I spoke with him today I might add. I heard, I think, the vice-president on the news this evening and I spoke with the president today after Question Period in the House of Assembly. I had several questions I asked the president. They expressed concern this evening on a news story. It was the main story on the evening news and they expressed concern about what is happening.

What about other companies out there? This is not only the printing services government has. We are looking at broadening the scope for other businesses and other competitors. There were five identified in the high-end of the digital processing aspect that are capable of doing such business. Robinson-Blackmore invested $1 million in the last two years into that aspect, $20 million into this Province in that aspect. MRI Printing Limited, Sterling Press, Dicks & Company, M-5 Advertising, were other companies listed that can compete for some of this business now that you are making exclusive to Kodak without having any other companies compete. They are worried and they should be worried because they are not given an opportunity to hand pick a company, to have an exclusive bid and come back here to the House of Assembly.

The Premier had the gall to get up in this House and state yesterday that every job is guaranteed. That is what he stated. I will read his words again. He said: This involves a guarantee for all of the jobs that are currently in place either at Kodak or within government. That's what he said. Later on in Question Period, when I challenged him on that, the Premier came back and made a different statement the next time round. He said: I just said to the Leader of the Opposition that we would expect the majority, and a significant majority of the employees...' That is what he indicated.

PREMIER TOBIN: No, no. Read it all.

MR. SULLIVAN: I read it all. I read it today and I will tell you what is there again.

PREMIER TOBIN: Read it all.

MR. SULLIVAN: Premier, if you want to speak you have an opportunity -

PREMIER TOBIN: On a point of order.

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

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with respect, because I know that the Leader of the Opposition and I had a good discussion today and came to the conclusion that the Leader of the Opposition never deliberately misleads the House and that he is an honourable man. He should read the full quote. I talked about a substantial majority of individuals going with Kodak and said that the remainder who don't take up an offer, have the recourse of the collective bargaining agreement which requires that they be offered a job. So if you only read half a sentence you create a false impression, which I know the Leader of the Opposition would never deliberately do. So I invite him to read all of my words.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: No point or order, Mr. Speaker, none at all. The Premier is just trying to take away time - it is very sensitive - he is trying to take time away from me, and trying to take time away from dealing with the issue.

The only guarantee, I say to the Premier, that people have on their jobs is that they can go into the normal process of bumping, on right-sizing as you call it with this government, which is downsizing, eliminating jobs. They have to bump and get into a regular fight for a job with other people within the public service. That is the only guarantee they have if they do not go with Kodak. If they go with Kodak, they could be out the door. There is no agreement, and this Province - is the Premier going to tell me, are you going to enter into an agreement that guarantees that Kodak will keep these employee on until retirement? Is that what you are saying? The safest guarantee these workers will have -

PREMIER TOBIN: I can't guarantee my job or your job until we retire. We could be tossed out in three or four years' time.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct. So why did you make, in the House of Assembly, this following statement, and I quote the full sentence.

PREMIER TOBIN: I will answer that.

MR. SULLIVAN: When you use your own time, you can stand up and answer questions.

Why did you say: This deal with Kodak involves a guarantee for all of the jobs that are currently in place either at Kodak or within government, when you are now saying that you cannot -

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

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

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, for greater certainty, is the Leader of the Opposition asking me to answer?

MR. SULLIVAN: No.

PREMIER TOBIN: Oh, okay, I understand. Yes, okay.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to hear his answer on his time, and not running out the clock on my time. He can certainly make note of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) on your time alright.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct.

MR. TULK: There is no doubt about it, the clock is running out on your time.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure it is, no doubt about it, I will agree. In fact, the clock is running out on everybody's time.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is true.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct. I will agree. I will take my chances with time any day at all, I say to the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) relevant.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, it is quite relevant.

The Premier indicated, and gave the impression - he said, the government is going to be putting out to the Canada Communications Group all this business of printing for the federal government, and here is a company that is going to come in and set up, and it is going to be able to bid on it. Sure, there is no guarantee we will get one single penny of work on this bid. We are going to have to compete. Kodak will compete with anybody else. In fact, here is what the President of Robinson-Blackmore says about that. He goes on to mention: We also understand off-Island business is being targeted as one of Kodak's deliverables. He said: In reality, if paper has to be shipped into Newfoundland, ink printed on that paper and then shipped out again, a definite competitive disadvantage exists. In other words, the chance of having a competitive bid to win that is not very great. He said: Therefore, we fail to understand how Kodak is going to attract a substantial portion of off-Island printing.

That is like the Premier's statements back on February 14 and 15, when the Premier went down to the Burin Peninsula and the big headline stated: A major announcement is expected to be made today on the future of Marystown Shipyard. The announcement concerns a partnership between the Newfoundland government and an unnamed U.S. company in a natural gas conversion plant for the Cow Head fabrication facility' - for the fabrication facility. A `fabrication' facility is what it was, an unnamed source told The Evening Telegram.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It was the day before.

The work at the facility, part of the Marystown Shipyard, will employ hundreds of workers - not tens and twenties - hundreds of workers, he said as he stood on a piece of steel down in Marystown. `And if I don't deliver it, you can take me and the steel and throw it out in the harbour,' the Premier said - hundreds of jobs for Marystown, knocking down their doors to get jobs.

It went on to say -

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

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

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Leader of the Opposition is enjoying the story he is telling the House, and it may come to him as something to lull us all to sleep, some kind of a lullaby, but the fact of the matter is that I was not in Marystown; I was not standing on a piece of steel. I was in the Hotel Newfoundland with the principals of the company. Now, the Leader of the Opposition has to get at least some part of the story correct instead of having every part of the story wrong, of course, inadvertently once again.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I am not to the real story yet, Premier. You are a day ahead of me. You are a little bit ahead of me now.

PREMIER TOBIN: I would agree with that.

MR. SULLIVAN: Don't try to do that. You are a little bit ahead, and sometimes, I would say, jumping in feet first gets you in a lot of trouble, getting in too quick. It depends what you are jumping into, I would say, whether it is good to be first or good to be last.

It went on to say - I think I will repeat this because I'm still trying to find the jobs there: The work at the facility, part of the Marystown Shipyard, will employ hundreds of workers, the source said; unnamed source. A front page story on February 14, Valentine's Day. What a Valentine's gift for the Burin Peninsula, I would say: It involves a multi-year dear - multi-year, like Kodak - that could translate into tens of millions of dollars in provincial revenue. Premier Tobin was to make the announcement this morning in St. John's. That was back on February 14.

I will get to Marystown where you were too and who went to Marystown. I'm getting to that, so don't rush me. Stick around and you will hear.

Meanwhile it went on to make some other general comments. Then the next day -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is this the unnamed source?

MR. SULLIVAN: Now we are getting to a named source, the next day. Meanwhile, Thursday, February 15, 1996, Marystown, Newfoundland: Shipyard workers have welcomed the news they have first crack at building chemical reactors for a Newfoundland and U.S.-based joint venture. Just imagine, Mr. Speaker, we are into chemical warfare now, the Premier is. It says: Labrador-based Northern Gas and Liquids Incorporated and (inaudible) Energy Group of Houston, Texas, and the Marystown Shipyard, signed a partnership agreement Wednesday that could see the Cow Head fabrication facility build reactors to convert liquid natural gas into methanol.

That liquid natural gas, it evaporated, instead of going to methanol, into hot air, I would say to the Speaker. It evaporated, that is what happened.

Then he went on to say - and on that day, yes, the Premier did go down to Hotel Newfoundland. Premier, you had the day wrong. When I said February 14, February 15 you went down to Hotel Newfoundland. We had the major announcement. Then, at government expense, out of the dollars of taxpayers of this Province, helicopters flew people down, those people here, to Marystown to have another celebration on the Burin Peninsula to really let them see what this great news was all about.

`Methanol can be further developed into such things as non-polluting substitutes for gasoline and diesel products. We are moving rapidly into the modern age. Under the agreement the Marystown Shipyard has the first right of refusal,' - first right to refuse these hundreds of jobs - `meaning the facility will have eighty days to come up with an acceptable proposal. There will be no open bidding until that time has elapsed.'

Mr. Speaker, what a fantastic agreement; eighty days. Didn't somebody go around the world in eighty days? Didn't that happen some time back? I think the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has gone around the world twenty-five times in the last eighty days, and we hope he is going to land soon.

Let's see what the private sector said about this great deal. We know what they are saying about Bill No. 19. We heard it on the news. We have letters here. I will get to a few more of these letters, I will get there at my speed.

PREMIER TOBIN: I can see you don't want to talk about Kodak any more.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get back to Kodak. I just like to do little comparisons. I am going to do a comparison on NLCS in a minute for the Premier too. You wait around anxiously.

The private sector is saying: If you want to build these methanol plants we are going to put you in front of the line up, and if your costs are in order we will build it at Marystown. The government today is saying to Kodak: We are going to put you in the front of the line up, and even if your costs are not better, we are still going to give it to you. That is what the Premier is saying, that is a comparison. That is actually what you are saying, because you are taking away the rights of companies to bid on this particular legislation.

I would like to go back and make some reference to the bill that privatized NLCS, "An Act Respecting Newfoundland And Labrador Computer Services Limited." There are numerous aspects in this. The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan was amended and so on; that was one aspect of it. There are numerous other particular aspects in the bill. They talked about The Public Sector Restraint Act. The Public Tender Act is amended by only deleting the following: the Schedule, the reference to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited -

PREMIER TOBIN: Read it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I have read it.

PREMIER TOBIN: Read No. 10.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am reading No. 10, very shortly. Here is what it said in No. 10.

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible) read the bill today.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you want me to read all of it?

PREMIER TOBIN: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is exactly what I am going to do, and I am going to compare it to the Bill today, I say to the Premier. That is exactly my intention.

PREMIER TOBIN: Read No. 10.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you want me to read all of it? In case you might feel that I have misquoted or given the wrong context, I will read all of it.

It says: Where in conjunction with the sale of all of the issued and outstanding shares of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services an agreement is entered into between Her Majesty in the Right of the Province as represented by the President of Treasury Board and the corporation called the Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited for the provision by Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited of goods and services as provided for in the agreement to the Government of the Province and the agencies of the Government during the currency of the agreement, The Public Tender Act does not apply to the acquisition of those goods and services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I will give you the explanation in the House.

PREMIER TOBIN: Keep reading it.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is it. That is all. I will let you see it, if you want to come over. Come over! I will get the Page to take a photo copy.

PREMIER TOBIN: Now read the new one.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I am going to do that right now.

PREMIER TOBIN: They are exactly (inaudible) the first one.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, no they are not. I tell the Premier, they wanted to give in this House a ten year agreement; and what happened? We amended it and brought it back and the former Minister of Finance, Mr. Baker, amended it to bring it back to seven years. Here is what the new bill says. Here is the difference in the new bill. Here is what it says. It says: Where within thirty days following the day this Act comes into force agreements with approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council are entered into with Kodak Canada Incorporated for the provision of printing, microfilming and electronic imaging to the government, some of these are outside of what was provided by the company that had this contract.

PREMIER TOBIN: Read it.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am getting to it. Some of these have broadened the services this government was providing. We have not broadened the service with Newfoundland and Labrador Computer - they moved into the same service as they were providing, without it. We have opened up -

PREMIER TOBIN: Read the bill with no comments.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I will read the rest of the bill. Everybody can read it. They have it in front of them. It is Bill No. 19, if anyone wants to refer to it. It is there.

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible) because it is the same as (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not the same, Mr. Premier. You have given to Kodak the services in the Printing Services Division. You have broadened the base, the minister has stated here, and the bill states it, to allow them to have a monopoly on other services (inaudible) with other companies competing, other than what the Printing Services we are providing here in the first place. That is what they were doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I will read the rest of it, and the rest of it is very interesting. It says: 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 - the printing was primarily done here, it was out in the public forum before, many of these - microfilming and electronic imaging to the Government of the Province from Kodak Canada Inc. during the currency of those agreements or any renewals of those agreements.

AN HON. MEMBER: They can be renewed.

MR. SULLIVAN: They can be renewed forever, with a monopoly for the rest of our lives that we cannot negate, if the Premier so chooses and the Government so chooses to do that. That is a major difference in these agreements, and anybody who wants to read it and get the legal interpretations of the comparisons of those agreements, it is there. I tell the Premier it is far, far different. We took the time to make an effort.

PREMIER TOBIN: It is the same exemption in both.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not the same exemption. What? The Premier thinks it is the same exemption. When he stands, tell us what new services were given to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services before they became Newfoundland Information Solutions, tell us what new services were given to them that were out in the public forum before. There were none.

Under this deal, Kodak is getting access to compete against the high end of the digital processing, not only getting the printing aspects but getting other areas. I might add, only the companies -

PREMIER TOBIN: The deal is not even negotiated yet.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is even more serious. If the deal is not negotiated, here is what will happen - you come back into this House if you have a deal, and let's deal with it on the facts, not on speculation.

You are asking us to give you a blank cheque to go out into the market and give a company that you hand picked, and that wants to do the business of government here forever - it is a very poor business decision.

I hope there will be many jobs brought to this Province; we need them. We need jobs in our Province. The Premier talks about jobs he is going to bring in. Not only is he going to - and I will get some of these quotes again by some companies. I have letters from companies here that are doing a lot of this government business who feel they are in jeopardy, and indicated that jobs could go in the front door with Kodak and out the back door. In addition to that, it sends a very dangerous signal to the business community around this country and around this world who want to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador. It sends a signal that, if you are not a friend of government, if you are not a company they can hand select from unsolicited proposals, you are not going to be able to do business in this Province. If they do set up millions of dollars, like Robinson-Blackmore set up, to get into the high-end digital aspect, this investment could be in jeopardy. That is a poor business decision, and shareholders in companies are not going to want to subject their shareholders, their business and so on, to a very suspect future, back to the days when public tendering meant nothing, and when people could hand pick who they wanted for a contract. That is a dangerous signal to a business community, and it is going to turn business investment out of this Province, not open the door and bring it in.

We can have, in this Province, four or five major corporations and give them everything, and have some business, or we can have a level playing field for everybody, have a level playing field for all businesses, and let them go out and compete. Because it will happen whenever you have protected. We saw it in free trade. People jumped up and down on free trade, and I said from the beginning that I believed in free trade because you can only put on the shackles for so long and keep the inevitable from happening. There are too many negatives in doing business. We are moving into a global market, and tariffs from exporting from one country to another are going to be detrimental.

The Premier was part of the government that fought and disagreed with that. They fought tooth and nail and got elected, and after the free trade agreement they could not move fast enough to get a North American free trade agreement. They talked with Mexico and Chili, and everybody else, as fast as they could bring people in, because they knew that you can only put up the wall that prevents progress from happening, and that prevents the inevitable from happening, for so long. It is fundamental that water is going to seek its own level. You might dam it for awhile, you might do other things to it, you can do what you want, the inevitable is going to happen and follow its normal course. We could stymie that process for so long, or we can work to try to make opportunities out of that flow that we are moving with, and try to stay ahead of the game.

Companies out there today are trying to stay ahead of the game. It is tough in the marketplace, and if you can get a monopoly to do that, you are ahead of the game. We do have regulated monopolies out there today, and they are operating and thriving. Their shareholders will always get a rate of return that is decent. When you get outside of regulated monopolies, and you have other people having to compete for the same business, it becomes tough, and it becomes tougher. Even in regulated monopolies now, they are coming under much more attack. They have to justify the competitive aspects of their business and they cannot use one part of a business to subsidize another part of a business; that creates an imbalance out in the marketplace today.

The realities and the implications of this bill are enormous. I have very, very great concern that we are setting some dangerous precedents here that could be detrimental to the future of business development here in our Province, and can send a bad signal out to the business community that this Province is open for business; we are in the fire sale business. That is what we are. We are open for business, but we are not a fire sale, and we should not be a fire sale because we are open for business. We should be open for business that can compete on an equal footing. I don't have to tell anybody, before the Public Tender Act this opportunity was not there. People did not have any confidence.

If you look at other countries in the world and the confiscation of properties, building up assets that were confiscated, the same as building up investment in a business. I spoke recently with an individual on another issue that perhaps I may address later, but I make reference to it now. A company that was given EDGE legislation in this Province, and another company have told me - and another individual substantiated this - that they are out now lowering their price in the marketplace substantially where they are competing with others locally, and they are using the EDGE status on another part to do it all within the one building and all the one work, to compete and force me out of business when every cent I used was out of my own money. Every cent of my own money he said, went into that business and I am working to survive, and we have EDGE status there to do a little section there, that is now going out and competing against that.

Well, that sends a bad signal out to the business communities in this Province, because if we are going to have legislation in place here, EDGE legislation - and there are people within the department who have been contacted about it. I know some of their feelings about it, the people there, but the political process stymies the process of decency and normal business climate in the Province. That is unfortunate, because I sincerely believe that politics should never stymie what is right and the business process in the Province. I don't agree with that.

I think we need to be looking very closely at all types. If we are going to bring new investment in, in a non-competing product that is going to start a business going in this Province, that is possible. But if you are going to bring in something that is going to compete against others in this Province, and have an opportunity to force others out of business, you are turning people away from this Province, people who have lived here all their lives and have been working in this Province all their lives.

I have seen people in business - I spoke with one family about two years ago, who had to leave this Province because of a competitiveness that was put there, an unfair competitive advantage. A whole family moved and are now up in the Northwest Territories. I have seen a lot of people in this Province leave and go to other parts of this country, families broken up and spread over the entire country. Whole families have moved as units. For a lot of the young people coming out today in this Province, an opportunity to establish and do business will be hampered severely if we don't look at things in a very impartial sense and look carefully before giving approval for EDGE status. Look at the regulations, make sure every compliance of that is in line with it, not just approve it but monitor it. If it does not happen it is not getting done. There are not enough people out there hardly to answer the telephone or respond next day (inaudible).

We are putting regulations in place all over. We are doing it in ever aspect of government operations, not just provincial governments but federal, and people have been doing. We are getting increased regulations out there but we are not getting enforcement in the monitoring process to ensure that they are being kept. So we are dealing with a whole bureaucracy and structure out there. Maybe it is better to slice the whole regulations out; let everybody go out and compete then -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: So what? If you can't survive in a free market, maybe you shouldn't be able to survive, unless you are providing a service to the people of the Province that must be provided as an essential service and has to have a degree of protection to it. That is the whole, basic philosophy, that we will never, in this Province, become a have Province, if we follow the mentality that we have here for so many years.

We have geographical disadvantages in this Province to doing business and we have to be real. One of the advantages in a business - and we are fortunate in one aspect, in the Voisey's Bay and minerals and so on, we are fortunate that we have a resource here and we can demand to have the work done close to the resource. That is economical.

If you have to ship the raw materials to your factory and then you have to ship it out to the marketplace again that is far removed from the place of production, it is costly to do business; it is very costly. If the raw material is a high-cost factor, getting it to market is a high-cost factor and you have to have a very efficient operation to be able to survive. We have to work on our advantages in this Province, and our advantages in this Province are our resources, a strong advantage. In the high tech industry, the cutting edge of technology, we have opportunities out there but we have to look realistically at certain aspects of our operation and don't give away the shop to get people in because it seems like a great idea.

I am not sure whether the idea with the natural gas plant in Marystown was a political ploy or whether it could become a reality. I hope it becomes a reality, whether it is next year or the year after. I don't know what is happening with that now, whether it has gone up in smoke instead of liquifying it. We probably formed a gaseous product that went up in the air in the process and nothing has been heard from it since, I don't know. We have to approach the Province with a different mentality if we are going to have long term jobs. We have been seeing an exodus of people from this Province.

I would like to make reference to some of the key points that businesses have made on this bill, some of the concerns they have and what have you. I will just refer to a few. In other words, it said: this process ground to a halt, the process of getting companies to manage printing services ground to a halt. An unsolicited bid for privatization of printing operations was received from Kodak. In fact, the Premier has indicated ongoing discussions. Why would the president of a very reputable company in this Province state, I say to the Premier, in a letter to you: To implement a long term contract without consulting the local printing industry, puts a valuable investment, long term employment and an otherwise efficient industry at risk? I would like to know, when the Premier stands, what companies did you consult with in the printing industry? Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox were combined on a management aspect proposal that was ignored way back. They found out, just out in the public gossip basically; that is how they found out. They said information trickled back to them that the Kodak proposal had been accepted and the process was in place to finalize a contract back in June.

The Premier could tell us the real intentions of calling this House together; the real intentions, I say to the Premier. He knew back in June that we could have dealt with education legislation but we are dealing with it today. We have dealt with it. We passed it expeditiously. We could have done it in June. The Senate is no farther advanced, in terms of making a decision other than having gone through a committee, and that's an important process that was denied other people. We still don't have a response from the Senate on education and here we are dealing with legislation that the Premier told me could not be dealt with until the Senate dealt with it. Now that is a flip-flop, I say to the Premier, a flip-flop. Why can't we deal with it now? Why are we dealing with it now when we could have done it last month? Because you wanted to get this House opened, you wanted to have a little lever there to have to bring this House back so you can try to run through a bill here, Bill No. 19, that you told nothing to anybody about. You called me as a strategy on Thursday, as a strategy in advance, to put it out to me -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's a Lynn Verge line. (Inaudible) education reform so we can open the House to advance Kodak.

MR. SULLIVAN: - and to put out the strategy. He called me on Thursday to give me some indication so it would not be a complete surprise, and the minister then called on Friday. They were not prepared to open up and discuss the particulars. I am not prepared, Mr. Speaker, to support something when I have not seen it and to be asked to take the government on their word, to put faith in Cabinet to make the decision, when they excluded other companies in this Province from participating in the process, other capable companies.

So there are several particular aspects of this. I must say, what the minister put forward in the introduction of the bill there - she made some statements of fact on issue and proposals and I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem with only allowing Kodak and the Robinson-Blackmore Xerox combination, only those two, to have participation into the process. I know from sources, and they will eventually come out in a public forum, it will eventually happen, that the door was closed on the bid from these other companies a good while ago. If the door were only left open - and the minister may not be completely aware of that. It is her responsibility to introduce the bill. Maybe she was not privy to what happened over the past few months, the past while. Maybe that will come out in the future too, but this was a foregone conclusion and this was a deal that was struck and a deal that was going to be going ahead. As the minister responsible for this, it is your responsibility to bring it to the House, deal with it and take some of the flak over that, and to present it.

I do hope you know all the facts and the background behind it, on what developed, because there are businesses out there competing that have been privy to discussions and so on that I have talked to, I have met with. I have a letter here from Xerox Canada. You have a letter also from Xerox Canada on that. There are a lot of things that have been happening along the way. I can't see that some of the things that were said here, that I feel were said in sincerity, if you knew many of the things I was told in the process.

Certainly the minister will have an opportunity to rise if she so desires and be able to indicate that to the House. Certainly it is something I have a lot of concern with. It isn't something I take lightly. I am very serious about this bill because I believe in the future of this Province and I want to ensure that appropriate decisions are made. I'm not grandstanding on a bill for political purposes, I can assure you. I'm not doing it. I wouldn't go to this extent to do it and follow the avenues, and I wouldn't want my caucus to do it because this precedent here we are setting can be enormous and can have implications to set us back twenty-five years in the Province or more, when we look at having no Public Tender Act. Who is going to be protected without a Public Tender Act? People didn't get protected.

I heard the Minister of Justice today say: The Supreme Court of Appeal made a decision that reduced the settlement by half, to $1.6 million. What that Supreme Court of Appeal judgement did was open up the door. The reason they only gave it half of what the Supreme Court of Newfoundland did is because they felt that someone else had been wronged in the process and there was grounds for a claim for another bidder in that process. That is why they reduced it by that amount. Now that other person has the option to go and seek a settlement with the government, that they are working on now, I'm sure, the settlement that they are trying to negotiate now, not to have to bring it out, go to the Supreme Court of Canada and find they have lost it again for the third time, costing us millions of dollars.

Who do you think is paying the bill for the legal work, the days, the preparations, the costs associated with these decisions? You and I are paying, the people of this Province, and many of the people who have left this Province.

When you look at a decision, when you have been told by a Supreme Court, `You were wrong, you broke the laws of this Province on tendering.' and when you are told by the highest court in this Province by three judges that you were wrong, isn't there a time out there when you should wake up and realize you are wrong, and cut the losses of the taxpayers of our Province, and not ask us to keep forking out more money? Get real, put it away, admit you were wrong. Stand up and say: We were wrong, it cost dollars, let's not spend any more money, and move on with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. If you are wrong, you are wrong. It is as simple as that. If the Supreme Court, the highest court in this Province, tells us we are wrong, unless there is a higher court - I haven't passed judgement on whether you are right or whether you are wrong on anything other than what the Supreme Court stated. I would take the highest court in this Province and accept it on its word. These people are learned individuals who know the law, who have studied it, who have listened to representation. The Supreme Court of Appeal, I'm sure, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, based it on fact. That is what they did. To imply that these people would base it on anything other than that I think would be inappropriate, and it would be an insult to the people and the individuals and the integrity of our court system. Hopefully, in their wisdom, they will realize that and come to that conclusion. Possibly that is why they are waiting.

The minister made some reference today in question period. I heard him say: We are negotiating. They are out negotiating with people, the door was opened up to have a claim, possibly $1.6 million, and somebody who was awarded $1.6 million. Three point two million dollars is only a part of that process that got us into trouble, circumventing an act that was brought in to protect people in this Province and allow people to do business on a level playing field.

It wasn't appropriate. There were bids made. If you had given it to the lowest bidder it would have saved $19 million on the original bid; to the preferred bidder it would have saved $12 million. The financing cost on all these now, when you look at the total cost, amount to over $30 million more, almost $100 million.

Here is what the minister will try to tell you. What they did in the selection process and the screening process, they eliminated some of the lower bids and only looked at the higher ones and narrowed it down and eliminated ones that the court said should not have been eliminated. Then you looked at how much you saved. You have to look at the people you excluded, I say to the Minister of Education, the companies you excluded from that screening process that should have been in there. You have to look at the cost of their bids and what it cost the people of this Province.

MR. GRIMES: No, we didn't do anything at all like that.

MR. SULLIVAN: I would not want the responsibility, over $30 million of the taxpayers dollars. After the contract, after the decision was made they changed the rules. We were going to get the facilities back in Burgeo, Port Saunders and St. Lawrence for one dollar. For one dollar we were going to get them back. Now we have to pay the fair market value for these upon the exploration of this lease back. That is what we have to pay. So we are not finished with this yet and we are paying a debt on it.

In Burgeo we are talking about approximately $8,000 a facility to build it and there were talks there of shutting it down from what was a hospital to just a clinic. There are some long care patients there. A clinic: To build a clinic where you can go in and see a doctor, you can build one for $100,000, build basically only a shell, $100,000 or so. To put $8 million into a facility, and then you are going to shut it down, to put $12 million into a hospital that you are not going to proceed with - are you going to put it on hold? To make those decisions out there, they are not sound and they are not rational decisions with taxpayers money in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I mean would you do it? If your house was going to cost $80 million and you couldn't get a mortgage, but you had $15 million, would you go out and put up so much for $15 million and leave it there not knowing whether you ever would be able to afford to finish it? I mean when you make a long term plan, it should be done with a certain goal in mind. We know what the revenues are coming into the Province. We have a reasonable expectation of what the revenues are. We have control over expenditures to a certain extent. We can have some degree of control of revenues in the Province. There are certain things we do not have as much control over. Sometimes when we increase taxes so much to get revenues, you get diminishing returns and you get to the point where you get no return dollar, and that point is probably reached now. We look at retail sales tax this year. There is a projected substantial drop in the retail sales tax this year.

I ask the Premier too - I will throw out this point. Maybe a lot of people do not know. On harmonization, one aspect. It is a good concept to have one tax. It is excellent for business. It is easy for business and so on. It is another aspect we have to look at in this Province. The Minister of Finance admitted - and I will ask this of the Premier because it could save us some money. I would have indicated this to the Minister of Finance, to make sure we use the base year ending on March 31, 1996 because our retail sales tax is going to be down substantially this year, and if they judge our losses over the next four years, they are going to start with a lower base year and we are going to lose several millions of dollars this year. We are going to have to take in less RST this year. If we use the lower base year we are (inaudible) up to $7 million to $10 million in taxes each year to the Federal Government on that basic. So it is important the base year we use to calculate.

The minister admitted we will lose $105 million in retail sales tax by harmonization. Upon questioning further, he indicated: Well, it could be more like $185 million we will lose under harmonization. Now, under that agreement, they have indicated we are going to get over $300 million plus the agreement, but the agreement states: In year one, any losses over 5 per cent on retail sales tax, the federal government will pickup in year one. In year two, any losses over 5 per cent they will pickup in years one and two. We are still going to lose 5 per cent, the total loss we are going to suffer, in addition to the loss on the lower base. In year three, they are going to pick up 50 per cent of the cost outside of 5 per cent. So if we are losing on 100 million, outside of 5 that will be 95; 50 per cent of that is 47.5 million out of 100, that they will only pickup in year three. So we will lose 52.5 million out of 100. If it is 185 we are going to lose $80-some million in year three. In year four, the clincher, is that, outside the 5 per cent, they are only going to pickup 25 per cent. So take 5 per cent and then 25 per cent of that, it comes out to about 23 per cent of the dollars. That is all we are going to get; we are going to lose about $130-some million in year four.

Then to tell us that we have to go out and look in four years time - well that will be beyond the next election so that is staggered. It won't impact until after the year 2000. The last impact will be in the year 2001. That is what we are going to have to find to fill a hole of $135 million in revenues in this Province on one particular item.

Not only that, a downside too, we have compromised our ability to control our own taxation. I read in the newspaper, last week I think it was. One of the ministers made a statement that: Well, if we want to change something in this Province, we can't do it. I think it was probably the Premier who made that statement. We have to consult other provinces now and the federal government if we enter into this harmonization agreement with them. So we have given up the flexibility to control our own taxation because we can't put any taxes or reduce taxes to any group we want to, because it is locked into deals that take in two other provinces and the federal government.

These are some of the downsides but there are upsides too. I made a reference to the upside, the positive part of that, and I think we have to look at that in detail and weigh that. The downside is a substantial revenue loss to our Province, and that is a major consideration from a taxation perspective and for the ability of our Province to be able to meet its needs.

Here is what a company, a very reputable company in this Province, said about this bill in a letter I received: We have great concerns regarding potential industry exposure of this arrangement with Kodak. It said: the government printing combined with a monopoly situation for some contract period may create a major competitor in the local market funded by government printing indirectly by tax dollars. In all likelihood, the operation will compete with local industry. They mentioned that any high end digital imaging operation will, however, compete with local businesses.

I am sure the government did not realize, when they looked at this, the impact that it will have on the high end digital aspect; not aware of what this Province is capable of producing in the high end digital aspect of the operation. I think it is very important.

There are businesses out there today that are going to suffer as a result. It may not seem significant when you are bowled over by a big train coming down from Rochester, New York; you have a giant train coming down the tracks all the way from Rochester that is going to come in here, set up and have a fantastic Province in which to create employment, something like we have never seen before. We are going to be much better off because of this but we will see Newfoundland people lay off employees.

As a person told me who is competing as an EDGE company: They are offering my people bonuses to come with them. They are offering bonuses to my people competing. Is that the type of fair, level playing field? There will be more heard on this one a little later. I don't want to go into specific names and discussion on the public record on that, but they are out there in the marketplace today.

He said: We fail to understand how Kodak is going to attract a substantial portion of off-Island printing; and I made the reference to it, how are they going to do it? Are they going to do something to create profit in a business? There are a lot of factors to creating a profit in a business, with the cost of materials, your resources, what it costs in getting it to market, and how efficiently you can perform the work among staff and labour, and your productivity.

There are other companies out there, I can assure you, that have productivity levels that rate up there with Kodak - some less and some higher - and if Kodak successful in doing it, I compliment them. I would like to see any particular business out there that is going to bring employment into our Province that is not going to be to the detriment of other companies out there doing business today.

We have seen it happen, and it is a free market and it is fair game, when a company, Sobeys, Loblaws, or any chain, comes in and sets up and a local store goes out of business; that is competitive business. It is tough on the local people, but it is competitive business, and it is not regulated; it is not a monopoly.

When the same thing happens, to see companies struggle and having to downsize because of restrictive -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I would say when the Premier stands up to speak they will probably all leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I must say, I have been speaking for forty or forty-five minutes and they have not left yet.

MR. TULK: That is why they are gone to sleep.

MR. SULLIVAN: It could be. Didn't you ever hear tell of walking in your sleep, I say to the Government House Leader? Have you ever walked in your sleep? I am sure that when the Government House Leader gets up they will all leave and go home because they will have heard it all by then, I would say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) still awake.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, don't worry. I keep late hours, late nights and early mornings. I only need four or five hours' sleep a night. In fact, I can go two days without any if the need arises.

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible) very, very good Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, even the Premier compliments me. I can assure the Premier I will do what I can to make his life uncomfortable, as much as I can.

Maybe I should get back to some of the Premier's quotes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Going to end with a bang.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, far from ending. How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Eight minutes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I have not dealt with the real substance of the discussion yet; I had better get to it quickly.

When a person tells you in the House on July 24, when he says it involves a guarantee of all of the jobs that are currently in place either with Kodak or with government, and then he tells you they can guarantee a majority of jobs, a significant majority of jobs, all in the one breath, when he stood in the House today and said: I have consulted the printing business...

I would like to ask him, other than the proposals from Kodak, Robinson-Blackmore and Xerox, over the last month what printing businesses have you consulted with? Robinson-Blackmore said -

PREMIER TOBIN: Do you want me to answer it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, when you get up shortly; I am almost finished. Here, from the President of Robinson-Blackmore: ...to implement a long-term contract without consulting the local printing industry.

Who are we to believe? The Premier says he consulted with people out there, and the businesses out there say, `They did not consult with us'. Did you consult with -

I will ask the Premier, the five companies in this Province that are in the high end of digital operations, can you stand here and tell us that the five companies - the President of Robinson-Blackmore says you have not. The other four: Have you consulted M5 Advertising, MRI Printing, Sterling Press, Dicks and Company, the other four that have high-end digital imaging capability? There are five identified. Have you consulted with all of these on business that they are competing on now that they will not be able to compete on in an open tendering process after this bill goes into effect?

There are serious problems when the company may not shut down its business. That is probably not going to happen with successful businesses there - they adjust - but they downsize and lay off. The Premier calls it rightsizing. I guess it depends what end is up, whether it is rightsizing or downsizing or whatever. What happens is that they lose five, six and seven employees, and as Kodak provides those services and needs this expertise people will leave a company where they got laid off and go to another company. You will transfer jobs, you will shuffle jobs around. That is basically what you will do, shuffle jobs around.

When you have a monopoly, you do one of two things, you either make big profits or you can run inefficient operations and still get your markets; one of two things, when you are not under control and regulated and you are given contracts without being out in a competitive place. I think that is unfair. It is unfair to the companies out there doing business. I am every bit as interested in preserving jobs in this Province as I am in creating jobs. Ten jobs gained and ten jobs lost is not a gain to this Province. This legislation does not do anything that tells me we are going to open up any new doors to opportunity, that we are going to make us any more competitive, other than spreading the work that is here, the rest of the work, thinner among the companies that are trying to survive here. Some will hang on and some will hang on with less employees there in the industry. That is not what we want to do to create a healthy economy in the Province.

We want to be able to create decent paying jobs, more taxes and so on to government. What will happen when you get a monopoly, when you create a monopoly there, you will create inefficiency in a system. If there is a problem, where the printing can be done cheaper, nobody expects government to pay out money when they can get it done cheaper. If something is inefficient, you correct it, you improve it. If you can get it done better somewhere else - we have never opposed the privatization concept. We are a strong believer in privatization and free enterprise. We believe that if something can be done cheaper that is an opportunity we have to pursue, but we do not agree in hand-picking a company and putting everything out to that company.

We saw what happened when we hand-picked the Trans-City tender. That got hand-picked and hand-picked and finally it violated The Public Tender Act. Who is going to pay the price? Who paid the price for the over $30 million more it is costing us? Who is paying the millions of dollars in court and related costs? The taxpayers of the Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a tremendous cost on the taxpayers for inept governments, governments that make poor decisions, a government that has no regard for the people of the Province who are paying taxes. They should be more concerned with preserving and providing the best possible service to the Province.

It is ironic that during all of this process we have not seen much change in the way that members in the House of Assembly function. We have seen, in a time of fiscal restraint, the Cabinet increased in size. We have seen more $100,000 jobs here. They wouldn't follow a recommendation, by an independent judge who was hired, to reduce the House of Assembly. They did not like his report. They got rid of him and asked another judge, went judge shopping and got somebody to come back, but they still did not accept it, they made their own number of seats in the Province. That should be left completely to an independent system there and we should accept the recommendations here in this House of Assembly on decisions of that nature. So we are not getting appropriate decisions. There is too much gerrymandering and no regard for the people who are paying our salaries in here to represent them, who are getting very poorly represented for the greater part here in this Province, very poorly represented; not much regard for the people who are electing us.

We have to be more conscience of performing, maybe televised House of Assembly debates may be the way to do it. The government has not agreed to that in the past; we have. Maybe if the public saw what is happening in here they would be a lot more alert, to be able to watch and understand and know how seriously we are treating the problems and the concerns of the Province. I think it is important that we get better representation, more cognizant of overall concerns here in the Province, and representing the entire people of the Province.

Now, the Premier and the Cabinet have a responsibility not only to their own constituents but to the Province. They are entrusted with making decisions that represent all of us and sometimes they are not popular with the constituents. That is possible and that is accepted. I accept that. I admire that, somebody who can stand up and, contrary to what the crowd is pushing to do, does something different. I mean that takes courage -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave?

MR. SULLIVAN: Just a half hour to finish up, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

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

PREMIER TOBIN: You have had an hour. I think (inaudible), Mr. Speaker, assuming he is coming to a conclusion, we would want to hear the conclusion, but we assume it is within a minute or two, given that we have listened to him enraptured for an hour.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, by leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the generosity of the Premier and the government to give me the half hour leave to come to a conclusion. I will just finish up in thirty seconds.

I didn't want to raise the blood pressure unduly of the Premier here in the House tonight. I'm sure he is very eager to get this bill through. He is much more concerned -

PREMIER TOBIN: I'm afraid Beaton will turn the air-conditioning off again.

MR. SULLIVAN: It didn't affect me. In fact, I was just starting to get re-invigorated, Mr. Speaker. I was hoping I had another hour.

Anyhow, I had made the points that I wanted to make. I didn't get to make them twice. I would have loved to have an opportunity to make them twice, if not three times. My time is up. I thank you for the few extra seconds of overtime, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lest hon. members think that I'm going to prolong debate, I will tell you in advance that I'm not going to do that. I just want to make a few remarks.

I have to say I was quite surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that he stays up late at night and gets up early in the morning. I always thought that the saying was: Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. I wonder whether the opposite of that is true as well.

The debate, though, has to be getting a little bit ragged. I was speaking to the Opposition House Leader and I asked him just what digital imaging was, and he started looking at his fingers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about some of this hi-tech industry and the rhetorical flights that we get on, we may get a little bit carried away beyond some of our knowledge in exactly how a particular industry operates. I won't try to analyze all the permutations and combinations that might occur if the government were to enter into a deal. I do want to state for the record, in a few brief moments, to summarize my concerns about the passage of this legislation.

First of all, I don't have a lot of confidence in what this government understands to be the needs of workers. When I heard the Minister of Health in the House today try to convince or try to have us believe that the government has nothing to do with the wage rates of home care workers in the Province of Newfoundland, and to suggest that this was a matter between the employer, the home care agency set up by the government, and the employees, and that their only role was through the Department of Environment and Labour, I have a lot of concern about this government's concern for the working conditions of people in this Province. I have a lot of concerns about what kind of performance guarantees are going to go into that contract. So I have that concern.

The second concern I have is that the minister has told the House that there is $3.7 million worth of business at stake, but has also tried to assure us, and given us a figure, that $1.7 million of that is already contracted out and will likely stay contracted out or stay being done by someone other than Kodak. Right now that contracted out work is subject to the Public Tender Act, is likely still going to be done, according to the minister and the Premier, by the smaller St. John's or Newfoundland contractors or printers. The passing out of that work is now going to be out of the hands of the public tendering process, which is designed to be fair and to get the lowest price, and to be put in the hands of a single company, Kodak.

I have some concerns about how that is going to operate. Are we going to be giving this international company which is coming to town the power to broker this type of work within the local community? What kind of controls are there going to be on that?

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that my concerns are not well founded, but I'm afraid that they are, and we are being asked to give the government a great deal of authority and power in negotiating a contract, even though it was within thirty days. I would have preferred, and I still prefer, Mr. Speaker, and why I have opposed the thrust of this legislation, that - let us pass second reading, let us leave it at second reading, approval in principle of a deal, approval in principle of exempting the tendering act, if the government comes back with a deal to this House and says: Here is a deal we have negotiated. You need not be worried about your concerns because they have been looked after in the contract. Here it is, and here is the contract on the Table of the House of Assembly.

In those circumstances I would have more comfort. Right now the comfort is based on a track record that we have not been impressed with in terms of the government's concerns for the affects on ordinary people of it's actions. We have seen, since the Budget came down, the affects on social assistance recipients, the cutbacks, the callousness, I think, at times with which government has dealt with those in this Province who are hardest hurt by the economy and by the lack of opportunity.

I respect the Premier's desire to make something positive out of this project. I think he is sincere in his desire to achieve something positive for the people of this Province, but we have had too many examples of premiers or governments with this kind of mission - and I'm not going to dwell on Sprung, I am not even going to mention Sprung. I'm talking about pet projects or projects of government that have a commitment to success, and then we go and get involved in a deal that provides too many concessions to an organization.

I hope the Premier has not committed himself politically to a deal of any kind with Kodak. I know he has said the opposite. I for one, if he comes back in thirty days' time and says that Kodak has not put something worth signing on the table, will not be here to criticize the Premier for having tried. I don't want the Premier or the government to feel that it has to come back with a deal. I don't want to see a deal. I don't want the Premier to feel or think that because he has had this bill passed in this House that he has to have a deal.

Mr. Speaker, I've made my concerns known, I've left them on the table. I would prefer to have the deal before the Table of this House before we vote on it. I would prefer to have second reading, and leave second reading until the deal, if there is one, is signed. Then we can see whether the concerns that have not yet been answered, to the employees, to the union involved, the concerns about collective bargaining and the attitude towards employees that this company may have, that these concerns could be on the table and hopefully laid to rest.

I reiterate my objection to this part of the process, but I do say that I do not wish the Premier or the government to think that because they have gone this far they must go the extra mile.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I rise now to conclude the debate for my colleagues on this side of the House. I do so because we have felt that we have brought to the public attention our concerns. We have tried to communicate both in the House, in question period and in the debate, and through the public press the concerns that we have about the process that has been followed.

We do have a responsibility to reflect the concerns that the public have about the manner in which the government proposes to enter into a contractual arrangement with Kodak. We take great pride in the Public Tender Act. It has served this Province well. We know that the government is asking for permission to be exempted from that in their dealings with Kodak for thirty days.

We acknowledge that the government is sincere, as the Leader of the New Democratic Party just said. We have asked for time for public reflection, we have asked for time for the members of the community to speak to the government. We have asked for time for the local business groups to have a chance to have a dialogue with the government. However, the government in its wisdom or in its eagerness to move forward, has said it is now talking exclusively to Kodak, and we have concerns with that.

We note yesterday that when the minister gave her introductory comments she used expressions like `in the best interest of the Province.' In her first paragraph she said, "that such an agreement serves the best interest of this Province." We -

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible) former Mayors of Mount Pearl and try to make a good contribution to the public life of the Province.

MR. H. HODDER: We certainly do, and there have been six or seven of us. You know two well, but there were others before that. The immediate past Mayor of Mount Pearl knows exactly how long I can go on if the need arises and others are gaining knowledge as time goes on.

Mr. Speaker, we do hope that the government is successful. We have expressed our concerns and I suppose in a way, we could never fault the government for trying. We, on this side, share the comments made by my colleague to the right when he said that: we believe that the Premier and his government are sincere in their efforts to bring jobs to this Province. We only ask them to be careful of the process that is used, be careful that we do not give away more than we gain, try to protect the jobs that are here in this Province, try to make sure that we gain more jobs than we lose, look after the employees who have been good to this government, an honest and sincere hard-working people, that they are not just bumped out of the system, gone and forgotten about.

So, Mr. Speaker, we want to again say to the Premier and to the government, that we disagree with the process. We hope it is successful, however, the negotiations with Kodak. We look forward to coming back in the autumn and having the agreement placed here before the House, so that we can have further reflection on it, Mr. Speaker. When that happens we will again ask questions about this contract with Kodak. So when the House opens in the autumn, the government can expect the hard-hitting questions that will be asked.

Now that the House is cluing up, I see that the members are coming in because they want to hear the end of this debate. It has been going on for days and days.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) amendment they wouldn't be rushing in, tell them.

MR. H. HODDER: If we had not been headed off at the pass by the Government House Leader, and we could have gotten our amendment process going earlier in the evening, then we would have been here probably a lot later; but the Government House Leader, as he likes to do, if he wishes to do it, uses the Standing Orders to call the debate to come to an end. We disagree with the process however.

Mr. Speaker, with that I conclude my comments. I am not sure whether any other hon. member over here is - hon. members on this side are still tempted to get up but we are trying to keep them down. I want to thank all hon. members and I ask the minister and the Premier if they would take our objections under consideration. We will, however, be voting against the bill.

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: I thought you were going to (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, we changed our minds, we got everybody back.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has no control over you.

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, he has all kinds of control over me.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In view of the fact that we do not have much time left because of the hobnailed boot type of style of the Government House Leader who, only after one day of debate on this particular bill, invokes closure, the question I have to ask is: Why the need to invoke closure, what was so intimidating? What was so intimidating by the comments from the Opposition?

We got more information this morning listening to Open Line, when the minister was speaking with Bas Jamieson, than she gave in the House of Assembly yesterday. That is the reality when it comes to this piece of legislation.

What was more interesting, Mr. Speaker, what was more interesting about this debate are those who lack or those who chose not to participate in it.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who are they? Name them.

MR. E. BYRNE: Most of the front benches. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, for example, chose not to participate in this debate, but, Mr. Speaker, he can be excused because he spent most of the debate sitting in the Chair and a great job he did too.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: The Member for Virginia Waters, he did not speak. A man normally who invokes conviction, who has respect amongst the population, who is known to speak his mind, he is somewhat a renegade and a rebel, and I appreciate that in him, but where was his voice on this piece of legislation? I did not hear it. What about the Member for Carbonear - Harbour Grace, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs? I did not hear anything, not a thing. You would think, Mr. Speaker, that if this was such a great piece of legislation that there would not even be one Opposition member who would be able to get up with the numbers rising on the government side to get up and tout how good government is and tout how wonderful this piece of legislation is; but that is not true, it did not happen.

The only member of the back bench who got up and spoke - there were a few that yapped from their seats and a few that yapped from other people's seats but the only member who got up and spoke about this piece of legislation was the Member for LaPoile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I talked about the back-benchers - he is a minister. The speech that he gave I am after hearing thirty-four times in this Legislature since I was elected in 1993. The reality is that there is no way, you can explain it all you want, but when you circumvent The Public Tender Act and you ask people in this Legislature to condone that activity, it is our right as an Opposition to say: No, we will not condone that activity.

The Minister of Education who, as the Member for Bonavista South said last night, is a changed man since this sitting and he is.

MR. J. BYRNE: Why?

MR. E. BYRNE: I have no idea, but for whatever reason he is a changed man. He confessed to me earlier that he misses the former Premier, the style and the leadership of the former Premier; and do you know why? He said: Because if he were still here he would be in tourism and he would not be in education and have the awful task to do what he is about to do in education. He would still be in tourism. He may even have the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology's job, is what he said to me. That is why he misses the former Premier, I can tell you that. That is why he misses the former Premier, there is no question about that.

Mr. Speaker, I will make a prediction, that if the present minister is still the Minister of Education by this time next year then this is his last term in politics. He won't be out campaigning about getting re-elected, he will be out on the golf course practising and lowering his handicap. That is what he will be doing. His voice was silent when it came to government asking this Legislature to breach The Public Tender Act; it was.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I spoke to the Premier earlier this evening and we talked about -

PREMIER TOBIN: We had a meeting in your office.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it was your office, because you know what hangs out in there Premier. I'm only joking.

We spoke earlier and we had a bit of a frank conversation. He said: This is exactly like Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services; it is the same thing. Now I went up in the Legislative Library and took out Bill 24, which was passed in '94, dug out the Hansard and it was not the same thing. What government did then is that they had the intestinal fortitude to say what they were doing was a good deal. They outlined in detail what was going to happen to the Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, what was going to happen to the collective agreement with respect to the employees and what arrangements were made at that time for employees to be transferred.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation that we have before us outlines absolutely nothing. It asks for a blank cheque, it asks for a commitment, it asks for blind faith and trust, and this member, and the Opposition on this side, refuse to do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Labour stood up and gave a very eloquent speech last night about how we are trying to drive investment outside the Province, how we don't want jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, how our attitude is going to drive Kodak and other large firms outside the Province. The reality is that if this Legislature were not open right now, the Premier and the Cabinet and government would still be negotiating with Kodak and they still would be signing a deal and when we came to the Legislature in the fall, if the Premier so chooses to call the Legislature back in the fall - we have not seen that yet - then we would debate, probably, a bill of more substance. We would debate a bill of probably more substance. If this House were not open, this deal with Kodak would not go down the stream; it would not. Negotiations would still take place. More negotiations would still take place.

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to the Premier, I was asked. The House Leader and the Leader of the Opposition asked if I wanted to get up and make a few comments. I said: If you want me to. They said: Absolutely!

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go through every member who did not participate in the debate, but I want to say this before sitting down, and I want to be on the record as saying this:

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: It is a sad day when we stand up in the House as legislators and the government asks each and every member in this House to condone an activity which is contrary to the Public Tender Act. There is no reason why government, which has the right, which has the power to negotiate agreements with individuals, groups, organizations, businesses or whatever - inherently by their very nature of being government and by the size they have they have the right to do that, and I don't question that. I do question government coming before this House and asking members in this House to breach the Public Tender Act and give government a blank cheque to go away, to do whatever they want on this particular issue forever and a day. I will not stand by and condone that activity.

I wanted to stand tonight, before this debate closes and ends, and make my few parting comments about Bill No. 19 and the impact I think it will have on the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I thought with the forbearance and the patience of my colleagues, I would simply like to take a few minutes at the end of this very lengthy debate to conclude, and also to try and clarify some of the misconceptions that have been put forward here, some of the mistakes that we have heard through this very lengthy debate over the past two days.

There is a fair bit of imagination that has gone into the debate over the last two days, a large amount of negativity. I think it is important, as we conclude, for the record that we clarify some of this and establish once again, as we have in the beginning, the purpose for this legislation, the reason why we, as a Province, are so interested in doing this right, in enabling this government to be able to go out and promote economic development, to provide business for this Province, to increase employment.

Members opposite would sit here and say that is wrong, we are doing things wrong; and that is just wrong, that is the first mistake.

MR. E. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

I guess it is important - I am sure the minister did not deliberately mislead the House. No member on this side would think that attracting business to this Province is wrong, nobody. What we do believe is wrong, and we point out clearly and unequivocally, is the breach of the Public Tender Act. Attracting business to this Province and creating jobs is something we compliment government for, but do not break the law in the process of doing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, just responding to the last speaker, the hon. member, he put forward here yesterday and again today that the deal that was done in June of 1994 respecting NLCS was different; it was so widely different from the deal that is being proposed, in the way that we are handling this process with this piece of legislation. I would say to you, that that is not correct. If you look at the piece of legislation that dealt with this act, The Act Respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited, and you look at all of the detail that the member refers to - let's just examine that detail.

We have, first of all, the title of the act and how it can be cited, quite similar to the other. Item No. 2, simply says, `The Conflict of Interest Act is going to be amended by deleting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited from this Act.' It goes down to cite six more acts that Computer Services Limited is going to be deleted from. Then it comes to the salient point here, in No. 10, where it says, `where in conjunction with the sale of all the issued and outstanding shares of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services' - now listen this is the important part `agreements are entered into with the corporation called Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited for the provision of goods and services as provided for in the agreements to the government of the provinces, agencies of the government and Memorial University, The Public Tender Act does not apply to the acquisition of those goods and services during the currency of those agreements and in any case not to exceed eight years.' That is the full picture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: The last item in this legislation, No. 11, says, `This act or a section of this act comes into force on a day or days to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.' Now that is the level of detail that was contained in The Act Respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Leader of the Opposition on a Point of Order.

PREMIER TOBIN: Eight hours of debate by the Opposition, and you cannot take eight minutes of intelligent debate by the Minister of -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

I have recognized the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier interrupted me on points of order, several points, when he thought I was not accurate. I want to point out for the record, in fact, that what the minister said, `Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services provided a unique service not provided by others,' other people in this Province provide printing, microfilming and electronic imaging. What she said is not correct. They were providing an exclusive service and this service is provided by other businesses out around the province, Mr. Speaker. That statement was not accurate, and I ask the Minister to withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The hon. member is using the opportunity to participate in the debate.

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, when you look back on the comments and the way that The Computer Services Act was handled on June 6, 1994, you can see at that time some strange and striking similarities between the debate that we heard over the last two days. I have to say in speaking, some of the members' comments were very much the same as what they are saying today. They have not changed their position as have some other members of the House.

In quoting one member, he says: What are we being asked in this legislation is basically to give government a carte blanche, an open book. Does that sound familiar? Does that have any familiarity?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS BETTNEY: I will say it again. I am reading from June 7, 1994, the day before the act was voted on and proclaimed. What we are being asked in this legislation is basically to give government a carte blanche, an open book.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said it?

MS BETTNEY: Here we have nothing other than a carte blanche to the government to go ahead and negotiate whatever deal they want. And by the time we come back here in September or October or November, whenever they choose to open the House, NCLS will be gone. Whatever the deal government makes will be made.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said it?

MS BETTNEY: That comment was made by Mr. Simms.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, the Leader of the Opposition.

MS BETTNEY: Now just so that we know that we are talking the same kind of deal here. But this is different.

AN HON. MEMBER: This is different, yes.

MS BETTNEY: The minister, who was introducing the bill at the time indicated -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS BETTNEY: Just listen again. The minister who was introducing bill also indicated the main purpose of what the bill was, and then said: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the negotiations have not been completed yet. Does that ring a bell? Upon the completion of the negotiations, this House will be given full information as to the amount of business, the guarantee of new jobs, the guarantees of contracting out, the development of the industry, and so on and so on, after the negotiations are completed. This is the identical process being introduced for this, as was introduced.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, the comments that have been made repeatedly both here in the House and outside the House have tried to suggest that something is being hidden, that something is trying to be done here that would be kept secret from the members of this House or from the public. I would say to you that that is wrong.

The whole purpose in bringing forward this legislation is to bring to the public our intentions as a government to pursue this deal, to save money for government, to increase jobs, to increase employment, and to get investment in this Province. We are doing it up front so that in three months' time, when and if we have this deal, members of the House cannot come back in here and say: You contravened the act, you contracted the printing services of this government, and you did not have the authority to do it under the Public Tender Act. The process that we are following here today is the right process to give the authority for government to continue with the negotiations and to complete this deal if it is a good deal for this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: There have been many comments and many fears raised around the impact on local business and on the impact on our employees. Let me say to you, once again the process that was followed invited proposals from the private sector. It involved discussions, it involved proposals being submitted on two occasions from private sector companies to access this particular large economic development proposal. They were objectively and fairly evaluated, and at the end of the day government determined that the best proposal, the one that offers the most potential for this Province, is the one that we will be pursuing from this point, which is the Kodak proposal.

We have over the past months, and as late as over the past days, extended an open door to the business community to discuss this. We are as of tomorrow, as the Premier indicated, meeting with the printing industry to discuss with them what their concerns are. The biggest mistake that members have been saying here, is leaving the impression that somehow this is closed, there is a deal, that we have done something that will harm local business in this Province. That is not the case, and I think most people would realize that. What we are doing here is enabling a deal to be reached which could benefit this Province. That is precisely what we are doing. The Leader of the NDP recognized that in his concluding comments as he had throughout this debate.

Even the industry, which I have spoken with today, recognize that. When I said to them: Come in, tell me what your concerns are - because one of the principles, as I stated to this House, is that we will ensure that the local printing industry in this Province retains the share of business from this government that it had previously. We are committed to the principle that business in this Province will not suffer. They are quite agreeable to coming in and addressing their concerns so that we can ensure that safeguards are incorporated into this agreement to protect the interests of other business and to provide for a good deal for this Province. We will achieve that.

I would like to say, and conclude, because I know the time is getting on and I know members of the House have put in a lot of time on this debate, some of it in some very high temperatures due to efficiencies around the air-conditioning. One of the comments which members of the Opposition have repeatedly made today - I didn't hear too many of them yesterday, actually, when I was listening, and I tried very hard to listen throughout much of the debate. I put in most of the time here. I listened to some. It was a bit difficult at times, but I did try to listen to most.

Some members yesterday commented on my forthrightness in my dealings with the House in the past, and they have made those comments on many occasions, and the way that I deal with matters. Today in the comments I have to say that I was certainly surprised at the tenor of some of the comments made by a number of the members of the Opposition when they talked about the fact that I would come in here and somehow be so misinformed, and to stand here and to bring forward something that I would have to read because I knew so little about.

Let me tell you, gentlemen, that those of you who know me well know that when I stand to speak I will know what I'm talking about. There are members on the other side of this House who can speak to that, and let me tell you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MS BETTNEY: I don't want your sympathy. When I stand to bring in legislation it will be as a fully informed minister of this House.

Mr. Speaker, this agreement with this legislation, we are providing government with the authority to enter into quite properly, has the potential to be very good for this Province.

Let me conclude my comments were I started, which is to repeat and to say once again, if we are not successful in negotiating an agreement that protects the interests of this Province, that protects local business, that provides employment, that protects the employees who are currently involved in printing services, then there will be no agreement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: And the provision that this enables will be meaningless.

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

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

I want to clarify something the minister indicated with Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, that I consider wasn't factual in this House. I think, for the record, we opposed that on the basis, even though they were giving an exclusive, that this company was giving other services that were not exclusive and only provided by Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. We opposed that. The Minister of Finance of he day agreed to reduce the period, even though no other company in the Province is doing it, agreed to reduce the period down to a shorter period in case it became a competitive business in the future, in that instance. In this instance here - she is giving a comparison impression that we went along with it. The Member for Humber Valley was here at the time and he can vouch for that too: We agreed to negotiating the number of years down to protect other businesses who in the future might be able to bid. Here we are giving an exclusive, not for the printing, we are giving it for microfilming -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is using the rules of the House to engage in a debate. There is no point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do what the Premier just did.

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

For the benefit of members to my left, the Chair has to listen to see what the member is saying before he can rule on a point of order. So I do not take direction from the hon. members.

Is the House ready for the question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: The question is: Third reading of the bill. All those in favour, "Aye."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, "Nay."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Division?

Call in the members.

Division

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the bill now being read a third time, please stand:

The hon. the Premier; the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods; the hon. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General; the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Lush; Mr. Penney; Mr. Langdon; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Noel; Mr. Oldford; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Whelan; Ms. Hodder; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Ms. Thistle; Mr. Sparrow; Mr. Wiseman.

MR. SPEAKER: All those members against, please stand:

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition; Mr. Hodder; Mr. Shelley; Mr. Edward Byrne; Mr. Fitzgerald; Mr. Jack Byrne; Mr. Osborne; Mr. French; Mr. Harris.

DEPUTY CLERK: Mr. Speaker, twenty-seven for, nine against.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

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 third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 19)

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment, it is normal that we would bring in the Lieutenant-Governor or his representative to sign the bills. Given the fact that we didn't know what time we were going to get through the debate, what we have decided to do, and it is perfectly legitimate, is to have the Speaker and the Clerk visit His Honour tomorrow morning to sign the bills into Royal Assent.

Having said that, I would -

PREMIER TOBIN: Are you going to move the adjournment of the debate?

MR. TULK: Yes. Do you want to -

PREMIER TOBIN: One word.

MR. TULK: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: With leave, Mr. Speaker, just a brief comment, and that is to recognize that although we have spent most of our time in the last few days debating the Kodak legislation with some energy and vigour on both sides of the House, let me just, as Premier of the Province, thank members on all sides for being able to come and participate in the middle of what was summer travel to their constituencies and time with their families. I know that is not easy to do on short notice, but nevertheless we have had very good representation on all sides of the House.

Let me note as well, Mr. Speaker, that notwithstanding the controversy over the matter we have just dealt with, nevertheless this House has dealt, I think, in a unanimous, constructive and cooperative fashion with an historic bill, and that is the legislation required to get education reform underway. Let me thank again the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the NDP and all members for their cooperation in facilitating the bill brought forward - and I know all members in the House would join me - and the excellent way in which it has been piloted by the Minister of Education on all of our behalf.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly I too, on behalf of the Official Opposition, wish all the members well during the remainder of this summer. We felt an obligation to do our responsibility. I guess I probably could sum it up best by saying that we dealt with education legislation in a flash, and hopefully we gave proper exposure to the Kodak bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to echo some of the words of the Premier and partially repeat what I said at third reading, on the Bill No. 8 debate tonight. I think it is certainly an historic occasion to bring about the changes implemented - implementation, rather, flowing from the passage of the new Term 17. It is rather perhaps unprecedented that this type of legislation to implement that would be given unanimous consent of this House.

It is a matter which has been one of great controversy within the Province, and I think it is a hopeful note on which to end the controversy, by having the unanimous support of all members of the House for the legislation itself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I hope that is a note on which good will can follow in the community, and that when some of the tough decisions have to be made a little bit down the road that that good will allow proper decisions to be made at that time so that we do not get involved in further controversy of a sectarian nature or anything like that. I think it is historic, and I think it is unprecedented. I think the Minister of Education is to be congratulated for bringing this bill to its conclusion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that when this House adjourns today it stands adjourned until the call of the Chair. The Speaker, or in his absence from the Province, the Deputy Speaker, may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time and date stated by the notice of the proposed sitting.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I put the motion for adjournment, I would like to thank hon. members for their co-operation for the last couple of days in my filling in as temporary Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to express the appreciation of the Chair to the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island for filling in. He did quite a good job.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of all staff of the Speaker's office, we wish everybody a very happy and prosperous summer, and trust that we may not be back until the fall.

On motion, the House at it rising adjourned until the call of the Chair.