November 25, 1996         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 39


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin today's proceedings, I would like to welcome to the gallery, on behalf of all members, thirty Level 11 French Immersion students from Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts in the district of Port de Grave. They are accompanied by teachers, Mr. Ed Wilding and Ms. Corinne Ellsworth, along with teacher assistant, Ms. Marlene Clarke and bus driver, Don Sullivan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the hon. members of the House of Assembly of the progress being made by the School Milk Program to encourage the consumption of milk by children in schools all across the Province. I am sure that many of the members are aware of this program and can appreciate the value placed on it by educators and parents alike.

Mr. Speaker, prior to the establishment of this program in 1991 only 90,000 litres of milk were consumed in schools in this Province. Mr. Speaker, in 1996, school mild consumption was over 1 million litres, an 1100 per cent increase.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the accomplishments of the School Milk Program for the benefit of the children of this Province. For the 1996-97 school year there are 399 schools enroled in this program. There are approximately 102,970 students registered in the School Milk Program which represents 96 per cent of all the students in the Province. The rate of school milk consumption by individual students is up again this Fall. Therefore, despite declining enrolments, milk consumption continues to rise.

Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland & Labrador School Milk Foundation was happy to announce that the 1996-97 price of school milk will remain unchanged from last year with 200 millilitres of 2 per cent white and chocolate milk retailing for thirty-five cents and 500 millilitres of 2 per cent white and chocolate milk retailing for seventy cents. Mr. Speaker, this price represent savings of approximately 60 per cent from normal retail prices.

Mr. Speaker, making milk available at this affordable price is only possible through the continued support of the dairy farmers, milk processors and this government. In 1995-96 the fifty-seven farmers in the Province contributed approximately $500,000 to the program in cash and reduced prices. The two milk processors, Central Dairies and Brookfield Dairy Group, contributed approximately $500,000 through subsidized milk, for a total contribution from the industry of $1 million. Mr. Speaker, I would like to personally congratulate them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I ask all my hon. colleagues to join me in commending all the dairy farmers and Central Dairies and Brookfield Dairy Group for the tremendous support and contribution to the school children of this Province. As well, Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Newfoundland and Labrador School Milk Foundation, it's volunteer directors and employees, on their contribution and tremendous effort they put into their program.

Mr. Speaker, in 1995-96, this government contributed $200,000 towards the School Milk Program, and I am very glad to announce that this same level of commitment continues in the 1996-97 school year. This government is very pleased to make a contribution of this significance to such a worthwhile program.

Mr. Speaker, this contribution was recently complemented by another initiative announced by my colleagues, the hon. Joan Marie Aylward, representing the Department of Social Services, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health. Last week, on National Child Day, this government announced a contribution of $125,000 to help establish a child food program in the schools. This program is coordinated with the School Children's Food Foundation, much like the school milk program. Mr. Speaker, I would like to emphasize the extent of government's commitment to assist and foster these initiatives to address nutrition for our school-aged children by making it possible for each and every child to access at least one nutritious meal and affordable milk, each and every school day.

Mr. Speaker, the benefits of this program to our school-aged children, in terms of health and nutrition and, as recent research confirms, the children's academic performance are countless. I am pleased that this government is able to contribute to the program in a meaningful way.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of this ministerial statement before the House opened.

Mr. Speaker, we on this side, would join with the minister in complimenting and passing our congratulations out to the participants, namely the dairy farmers of this Province and the two milk processors, Central Dairies and the Brookfield Dairy Group, and also, Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland and Labrador School Milk Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, it seems passing strange that those three particular groups of people would come forward and recognize a need in our schools and bring forward $1 million when the government of the day sees fit to put in $200,000. I would say, Mr. Speaker, that at least the government should match dollar for dollar the money that is coming in from the three participants of this group.

The minister in his statement, Mr. Speaker, says: Therefore despite declining enrolments, milk consumption continues to rise. That should not be any surprise to any of us here. The reason why milk consumption continues to rise is because poverty continues to rise in this Province. We are living in a Province where just about one-half of all our school children will underachieve because of poverty, Mr. Speaker. One in every four people going to school in this Province today is going to school without getting the proper nutritious meals in their stomachs.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at what the government is supplying to this particular program, it is only a little more than twice the amount they have already taken away. Just last year, this government put $135,000 into a School Lunch Program, only to have 46 per cent, just about 50 per cent, Mr. Speaker, taken away in a budgetary process. Now they come back and say, because we are putting $125,000 -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - back in that we should be commended.

So I ask the government to match the dollars being put forward -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - by the participants here, and then they will have something to get up and stick their chests out about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we move to questions, I just want to tell the Opposition that the Premier is out doing some work that is very significant to this Province, signing some contracts, announcements and things, and he will probably be about twenty or twenty-five minutes late. He has asked me to inform the Leader of the Opposition that, if he is in the mood to ask him questions after last week, he will be available when he comes back this afternoon.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question Period only lasts thirty minutes, I say to the Government House Leader.

My questions today will be to the Minister of Health.

Having had several days to catch up on what is happening in his department, does the minister now know if the administrator of the peninsula's health care board is on vacation or forced leave?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I answered that question in the House last week and the answer remains unchanged. He is on two weeks vacation.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would say the Minister of Health is the person who was on vacation here and he is still on vacation. I wonder why the minister does not know. I am sure the minister has a copy of correspondence as I do. Numerous other people know the reason why, and the minister has not been informed. That disturbs me, Mr. Speaker. That really concerns me.

I ask the Minister of Health: Does he know why hundreds of pieces of equipment in these hospitals were not serviced, including twenty-four pieces in the operating rooms of one hospital alone? And who is responsible?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me start with the final part of the hon. member's question. The responsibility for running our total health care system at the operational level throughout the Province is the responsibility of the eight regional health boards and the four community health care boards that we have in place.

In terms of the institutional side, the hospitals of course, the institutional boards, have responsibilities; so to that extent the administration of the hospital, as is responsible to the board, has the responsibility to ensure that all operational matters are taken care of in a timely and appropriate manner.

I indicated to the hon. member last week that I became aware that some equipment at one specific site was not serviced, apparently, in as timely a fashion as it could, and with that concern came a couple of other concerns of a contractual nature that were brought forward. Immediately as I became aware of that, within twenty-four hours, as a matter of fact, we put in place a process, a committee as being represented by officials from the health care board on the peninsula, the Department of Health, the medical staff who raised some of these concerns, and some independent doctors who agreed to participate in that committee, to look at the issues that were raised at that point. That work commenced over the weekend. I anticipate having a full report by not later than Thursday or Friday of this week, and all of the issues that have come to my attention, plus other issues that may arise out of the work of that committee, will be addressed and reported to the board and to me before the end of the week.

So, to the issue of whether or not there is more than one piece or pieces of equipment that were not serviced, that will become abundantly clear to me in a factual manner as opposed to a rumoured manner, which at this point I have been operating on. I have not seen anything that says there is any more than one or two pieces of equipment in one site that was not serviced properly, but if there are more than that, it is an additional concern and we are addressing it through the committee in place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am amazed that the minister is so far removed from what is happening with health care in this area. There are 250 pieces of equipment in the Burin hospital alone whose contracts to service were not renewed, of which twenty-four were in the two operating rooms, I say to the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, I ask the minister, is he aware that at the Bonavista hospital, ambulance operators frequently have to assist physicians in the operating room because of a lack of nurses and other staff - the same hospital that was left just a little while ago without even one doctor because there was a dispute between the medical people and the administrator. Is the minister aware of that?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To my knowledge, in every aspect of every part of the operation of every hospital, the appropriate professional or support personnel is carrying out a function that is appropriate for him or her to carry out. We are not using, as far as I am aware, anybody in our health care system to perform any duty, chore, task of any nature that would be inappropriate to the training that they have received. If there is one incident, again I ask the hon. member to give me the facts and I will address it. I should say to the hon. member that I have a meeting scheduled, I think it is tomorrow morning, with some people from the Bonavista Peninsula, to deal with some health care issues. That is not one of the issues that I have seen on the agenda, but if it is a concern, I am sure it will be addressed. I have no knowledge that it is at the moment.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the minister prepared today to assign an administrator on an emergency basis to the peninsula's health care board?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: The peninsula's health care board has a CEO who is on a couple of weeks vacation. There is a person who is acting administrator. The name of that person is Ms Pat Coish, and she is carrying out the duties in an appropriate manner, as would be normal in any situation where anybody is absent, be it for vacation or for any other type of leave.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the minister aware - and I am, up to an hour ago - that contracts for hundreds of pieces of equipment have still not been renewed, some, life-saving equipment that is in operating rooms, I ask the minister? Now, what do you say to the spouse of a man who was brought to the Burin hospital and was transferred to Clarenville where he died that night? What do you say to the daughter of a man who was waiting for surgery in that hospital and it had to be delayed because of equipment not functioning? To a person who waited the same day -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: - for a gall bladder operation -

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

I ask the hon. member to

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: what does he say to the families of these people, dozens of people, many who called me since last Thursday, in situations where life-and-death was at stake in some instances here, because equipment wasn't functioning. The administrator or somebody failed to do it, and the minister ignores those problems in the system when there are today hundreds of pieces of equipment not serviced in the hospitals.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I reported to the House last week in response to questions, that equipment reported as being unserviced, outside of the time frame that it should have been serviced, had been addressed. The equipment in question has been serviced; that is at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre. If there are other pieces of equipment that have not been serviced in a timely fashion, I am not specifically aware of them but I can assure you that they will be if they have not already. My knowledge is that there are none.

The committee that is in place reviewing the equipment and other issues will be reporting to me, in the meantime, by the end of the week and all of these things will be taken care of. I say again that if the hon. member is making an allegation that there is a -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: If the hon. member would be quiet - if the hon. member is making an allegation that there is a connection in any of our facilities between equipment failure that was not appropriate and the either inappropriate treatment of a patient or the non-treatment of a patient or even the death of a patient, I would ask the hon. member, in fairness to the families involved that he alleges has made these representations, to bring the information forward to the department, to the minister, and I will, in the most timely and expeditious manner ensure that the thing is reviewed and addressed. I think the fact that we have put a committee in place to address the issues that were brought forward last Sunday, the committee being put in place on Monday, reporting by Wednesday, tells me that we are operating and running the health care system efficiently, effectively, on balance and that we are addressing concerns that come forward of any nature in a timely fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his place.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: One final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I offered here last day to give you names and I asked the minister.

Now, will the minister take it upon himself today to restore confidence in the system? I had numerous calls from the Burin Peninsula that people are concerned to use the services because of faulty equipment. I made a call one hour ago to see was the equipment serviced. I talked to several people and I was informed that only a fraction of the 250 pieces that were not working there are functioning. There is about 80 per cent to 90 per cent still not working. I ask the minister, will he take it upon himself today to do something about it immediately?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the hon. member, if he is aware of one piece of equipment, not 250, if he is aware of one piece of equipment that is specifically malfunctioning, not functioning today because of not being serviced, or for any other reason, I would ask him to bring the information forward to me. I have no such information and we operate, on this side of the House, on the basis of facts. We do not operate on this side of the House on the basis of fiction, supposition, allegation, innuendo or any such type of contrived or concocted proposition that cannot be substantiated. Bring the information forward and the minister, this government and the officials will address the concerns that you raise. Otherwise, I have no basis on which to respond to that type of a suggestion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: I will bring his attention to the 1996 Economy book which shows the economic indicators. Gross domestic product is down; personal income for people in the Province is down; retail trade is down; capital investment, which is directly related to the EDGE program, is down significantly; the labour force is down; employment is down and the unemployment rate is up significantly, not to mention the out-migration of people from the Province. With government's own economic forecast showing a struggling economy, an unemployment rate of almost 20 per cent, which would be even higher if not for the vast out-migration, will the minister confirm that even before the changes to the HST, the EDGE program was not doing what it was designed to do?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, just with reference to the hon. member's use of figures, he is being very selective. He does not say that the IT sector has grown by 8.5 per cent this year, last year the last three years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: He has not told the House that the manufacturing sector has grown by 6.5 per cent last year, the best in the country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, he also has not said that there are forty-one corporations that have accessed EDGE. They have created 368 full-time jobs, and invested $28 million into the economy this year. He has not told us that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, it also has the potential, if these business plans reach fruition, to reach some 1,350 full-time jobs with an investment of $171 million. So when he deals with statistics, he is being quite selective, and he is choosing them to paint a negative picture. We on this side want to be positive. We see the economy growing. We have highlighted three sectors: aquaculture, information technologies, and adventure tourism, and we think we are on the right path.

With respect to revamping, I think he asked me what is happening with respect to the EDGE legislation, vis--vis the HST and harmonization. The board of the EDGE corporation is currently looking at new and innovative ideas. Job training will probably be part of it, and market development funds to get our products out onto the world stage. So, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member to be a little more positive.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Atlantic region's economic performance has been positive, much stronger than that of Newfoundland. New Brunswick has been performing exceptionally well. They have the third best credit rating in Canada. From 1992 through to 1995 inclusive they have experienced a decline in the unemployment rate as well as a growing population. They have a strong economy. Their tourism is up; ours is down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that he is on a supplementary; he should get to his question.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the minister is confident that he has been performing well, his department has been performing well, and the EDGE program has been performing well, he must be telling us that the government has been failing miserably. I ask the minister: Who deserves the failing grade, himself, or the Liberal Government of which he is a minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, again the hon. member is being very selective. He is choosing statistics to paint a negative picture. What he does not say is that there was not a collapse of the groundfish fishery in New Brunswick, there was not a collapse of the groundfish fishery in Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia was hit in a very minor way. Which government controlled and had total jurisdiction of the groundfish fishery in 1992? It was his political cousins in Ottawa who collapsed and shut down the entire fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we have been operating under tremendous and almost insurmountable odds to rebuild the economy. We have taken a positive attitude, we have taken a three-pronged approach. The Premier this morning was at Hotel Newfoundland announcing $10 million for operation on line, which could lead to 1,000 jobs over the next three years, to implement a plan that has been put in place not by the government but by the private sector. Those people involved in the IT sector developed this plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the Premier also announced that $36 million would be targeted to the information technology sector. We ought to be proud of tele-medicine and Distance Education. We are world leaders, and we are going to start exporting it all around the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: The space program, the STEAR initiative - the Premier just came from announcing another joint initiative which will help along those lines.

There are some positive things happening. We cannot be running around hanging our heads and being negative all the time, and despondent, and saying, `Life is no good, the economy is no good'. There are a lot of good things happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, a supplementary.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We ought to be proud of the Liberal Government, too, but we are not. The negative numbers that I am painting are the ones that your government painted. These figures are down since last year. If the only thing the minister can boast about is the fact that he probably has more airline points than any other minister in Canada, and he has created 364 full-and-part-time jobs through the EDGE program, he should be ashamed.

I ask the minister: What is he going to do to make sure that the EDGE program works and that it does what it was designed to do in the first place?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, because I know that the hon. member is a new member to the House, and because I know he wants to do a good job and an effective job of representing the concerns of his constituents, I want to tell the hon. member that it is because of the effective and hard work and, on many occasions, the visionary work of the minister who has just responded to a number of his questions that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is poised to see substantial economic growth because of good planning and because of hard work.

We are about to see built in this Province the largest nickel smelter refinery complex anywhere in the world, being built in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the fact.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that while the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada want, as an objective, to have schools in Canada and the U.S. on the Internet by the year 2000, two years ago every school in this Province already was on the Internet because of the work of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the officials of his department.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we just came from a press conference where three Newfoundland companies have been given a contract by the Canadian space agency to develop technology applicable to the space program. We are leading edge.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is time for the member opposite to reflect less upon the size of our problem and to acknowledge the size of our potential and our ability to succeed, and to give thanks to this minister who has done a good job for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask: Is it the potential we have and the hard work on behalf of the Liberal Government that have driven 7,000 people out of our Province so far this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to tell you what has driven people out of this Province this year and last year and the year before. It is the collapse of the groundfishery. The groundfishery collapsed because the member opposite belongs to a party that said - when foreign trawlers were overfishing, were indiscriminately raping the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, he belonged to a party that said: It could not be stopped, we couldn't go beyond the 200-mile limit!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: He belongs to a party whose Leader says we cannot do anything about the Churchill Falls contract!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: He belongs to a party that believes that Newfoundland and Labrador is defined only by its problems and not by its potential, and thank goodness, he does not belong to this party, which believes the opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

My questions are for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

During the February election, the local Mount Pearl Liberal candidates both acknowledged that Southlands had been wrongly taken from Mount Pearl on January 1 1992, and that if elected they would ensure their best and immediate efforts to return to Mount Pearl all of Southlands. The Premier, in a speech on February 20 to the Mount Pearl Chamber of Commerce, just two days before the election, gave a similar commitment to revisit the Southlands issue. When, Madam Minister, can the people of Mount Pearl expect the return of Southlands to its rightful municipal jurisdiction?

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

MR. A. REID: Let me -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the loop.

MR. A. REID: Well, apparently I must be back in the loop, so give me a.... Let me tell my hon. colleague across the way, when the Premier looks over and says: `You answer the question,' that means you are back in the loop.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: Let us be fair here, Mr. Speaker. I want to try to be as fair as I possibly can. At the present time, Southlands sits in the boundaries of the City of St. John's. The hon. member representing Mount Pearl and the Premier have had numerous meetings discussing the possibility and I guess, not only the question of Southlands, but the whole question of where Newfoundland and Labrador Housing will be in the program review, what we will actually be doing with Southlands at the end of the day and whether we will be privatizing it as far as Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is concerned, where it will go, what we are going to do with Southlands; and not only Southlands. We have a serious problem in Kilbride that all of you know about as it relates to water and sewer services. So the whole question and the whole area is being discussed, we are looking at it through the program review, and I can assure the people of Mount Pearl and the Member for Mount Pearl, that the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, is working on a daily basis -

AN HON. MEMBER: You were right the first time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. REID: There are times, Mr. Speaker, that I wish she was. She is working with the Premier, she is working with me, she is working with the Cabinet Committee on program review and hopefully, some time in the very near future - how near I don't know - we will be able to give the people of Mount Pearl and St. John's an answer on what is going to ultimately happen to the area that we refer to as Southlands.

We apologize to the hon. minister for getting her title wrong.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In the July 28 edition of The Evening Telegram, the minister indicated and I quote: The die has been cast and Southlands will stay part of St. John's. His colleague, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said: No, no. That is not right, he doesn't know what he is talking about. There are discussions ongoing but he is just not part of them. I am pleased to know that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is now in the loop, he is part of the discussions and I want to know -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: - Mr. Minister, when will you involve the City Council in Mount Pearl in those discussions? When will they get in the loop?

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

MR. A. REID: I have no intention of asking the Council at Mount Pearl or the City Council of St. John's to get involved in these discussions. You know what these discussions entail.

AN HON. MEMBER: I have been there.

MR. A. REID: Yes, you have been there, and I tell you quite honestly that we are going through a process right now of program review. That is part of the program review and the whole issue of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is part of the program review. I do not think we are ready at this particular point in time and I guess the Premier, ultimately, will have to decide whom he calls in under the program review and when he calls in, other people other than Cabinet and government officials.

So I am not in any position to say to Mount Pearl City Council: yes, you can come in and discuss this question. The answer is no. But I will make this comment to you. You quoted me from an article in The Evening Telegram. Let me say categorically to the member and to this House, Mr. Speaker, I did not make that comment.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, he is not allowed to be quoting newspapers. He knows that or he should know that.

MR. H. HODDER: I did not quote the newspaper, I summarized the article, paraphrased it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, shortly after the election, the good Mayor of St. John's, a known Liberal, wrote the Premier and he talked about the whole issue of Southlands. He drew into question the sincerity of the Premier's commitment. He said and I quote: We realize that you had to indicate to them that you would review the argument put forward by Mount Pearl. I ask the Premier: Were you serious about this review or were you just simply giving a pledge when you spoke to the Chamber of Commerce two days before the election, so that you could give your candidates in Mount Pearl the best possible advantage?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member really wants to be careful when he is quoting from letters that have been written to people. Was that a public letter? Because you know, I have received many letters over the years from individuals, even some from the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, I can't say, Mr. Speaker, I can't say, but I do recall receiving a letter years ago from the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

PREMIER TOBIN: Oh, expressing an interest in the public process, the political process.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to correct the record so that we don't have any misperceptions. There are no letters on record. Maybe from other Hodders but not from this Hodder.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier, I will give him a few seconds to finish up.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has spoken so well on the subject, so eloquently and so clearly, that I am confused as to why the member would even ask another question on the subject.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I would like to ask the minister if he consulted with the stakeholders, and I think about the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador which represents fish processors in this Province, as it relates to the amendment of Bill 21 which he brought forward in this House on Thursday. If so, what was their suggestion and what was the advice they passed back to the minister?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, that is right. The fact is that the minister did not consult with the fishing industry on which this bill will so greatly impact. His lack of consultation is an omen of things to come. If this act goes through and he gets the new powers to circumvent, not only the House of Assembly, but -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary and there ought to be no preamble, so I ask him to get to his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would like to ask the minister, how he can justify asking the House to give him great new undisclosed discretionary powers to act behind closed doors making crucial decisions which will affect the jobs in hundreds of communities and thousands of people around this Province today?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the hon. member just said in this House is a misleading statement to the House. What I just did to the amendments to the Fisheries Inspection Act was on the advice of the Department of Justice because of court proceedings there just recently that did not give the minister of the department or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council the authority to put conditions on license other than quality. It was just a clarification of the act. In other words, give the minister authority so that the conditions would be more than in quality, would be in processing and economic and social conditions within the fisheries responsibility.

There was no misunderstanding and there was no consultation needed. FANL is clearly aware of that, FFAW is clearly aware of it. It was on the advice of the Department of Justice and it was simply to give the minister authority to do what he or she have always been able to do. It is just to clarify a recent court decision.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

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

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

MR. TULK: I would not raise it while we were in Question Period because I did not want to take up the time of Question Period.

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the Opposition House Leader to Section 31(4) in his question to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: "Oral questions must not be prefaced by the reading of letters, telegrams, newspaper extracts or preambles of any kind." Certainly if he didn't quote directly, but I believe that he did, he certainly read from an article in The Evening Telegram. I have to remind him again, as His Honour has done on several occasions, that that is not appropriate in this Legislature.

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

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

I remind the hon. House Leader that the whole article is quite extensive. I paraphrased some of the intent of the language here. I did not read from it because I would have been a long time. Given how slow I talk, we would have been here for an extensive length of time. I didn't quote from it, but I did certainly give the substance of the article.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point raised by the hon. Government House Leader, the hon. minister makes a valid point. Question period is again, as I said before, for members to call the government to account. In doing so, questions of an urgent nature should be asked, not frivolous questions at any time, and the members should not have long preambles. I guess in the initial question they are permitted a preamble, but beyond that point, for supplementaries there ought to be no preamble. In any event, quotations from papers and extracts from articles in the newspaper should not be used.

I again ask hon. members to bear this in mind when they are preparing their questions, and likewise answers, of course. The longer the question, the longer the preamble, that tends to elicit a longer response, and we tend to get into debate. So again I ask hon. members, please, for question period, to follow the Standing Orders that we have, and to keep these in mind when preparing for question period.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MS BETTNEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would like to present the report of the exceptions to the Public Tender Act for the months of June, July, August and September.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Today I am pleased to rise in my place and present a petition from a number of people from Bauline, Pouch Cove, Foxtrap and other areas. The wording of the petition - I will read this for the Minister of Education because he usually questions the wording:

To the hon. the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We, the undersigned inshore fisherpeople of this Province, feel we have been discriminated against in meeting the CORE criteria.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the decline in fish stocks was a major factor in determining the income for fisherpeople in Newfoundland. As it stands now, only Skippers qualify as CORE fishers and the rest of us are classed as `Level II Professional,' which means nothing. Therefore we, the undersigned Level II Professionals, feel that we should also qualify as CORE fishers and be treated fairly.

Mr. Speaker, the people who signed this petition have genuine concerns with respect to their qualifying for the CORE fishery. As they said, there are a number of them. Many people have not qualified, and they have appealed their classification. There are a number of appeals ongoing at the present time, I believe. Actually I made presentation to the appeal board for a number of these people. As I said, they are genuinely concerned that in the future the people who are classified as the core fishers will, in due course, be the only people who will have licenses. We all know that the fishery is in a state of flux in the Province.

The Minister of Fisheries has been on his feet a number of times in this House talking about the future of the fishery and I do not believe that anyone in the Province really knows what is coming down the tubes with respect to the future fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

These people, Mr. Speaker, have worked in the fishery for many, many years and many of them have qualified for TAGS and are now not qualifying for the CORE. From my perspective, I think that basically anyone who has qualified for TAGS should qualify for the CORE and everyone basically should be treated the same. Now granted, the people who are qualifying for CORE, which are the head of the enterprises and have been over the years, Mr. Speaker, may not have that view and so be it. The problem that many of these people have is that if they are now a crew member, and have been in the past and they fished for ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years or whatever the case may be, and they fished with someone, if the skipper or the person who has been classified as a CORE fisherperson, in the future decides to sell his or her licence or decides to get out of the fishery, the crew members with that person may, in fact, in the future be left out in the cold, Mr. Speaker, and may not be able to earn a decent living from the sea as they have in the past.

Another point that was made to me during these appeals, and I have to agree with it, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the years that are being used to qualify people for the fishery - and you had to have had a certain amount of income, depending on the size of the boat -in those years the fishery was down. We had a collapse in the fishery and that is why the moratorium was brought on in 1992. Therefore, to use those years to have people qualify - in fact, some of the people who fished their lifetime may have had to go outside the fishery on occasion, during those years, to earn a living. These people who had the initiative and wanted to supply food, heat and light or whatever the case may be, for the needs of their families, Mr. Speaker, went outside the fishery. Often times these people seem to be discriminated against because they did go outside the fishery to earn a living, when in fact they were forced to go outside the fishery because of the collapse in the ground fishery.

Now as I said before, the appeals - I have to say this, some of the people who spoke to me, who went on appeals, and I went on their behalf, felt that they were begging for their future, Mr. Speaker, and that the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture had put regulations in place, basically, to disqualify certain amounts of people. We all know that there were too many people in the fishery in this Province, Mr. Speaker. We know that these qualifications or the criteria that was put in place was certainly to eliminate a certain number of people in the fishery, and the appeals seem to be doing that.

There for a while, Mr. Speaker, the appeals that were heard, we were told that they would be responded to in thirty days. Of course, a number of people did not get their responses back and they were fearful that they were just going to hold all the responses, all the decisions until all the appeals were done.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would just like to say I support the petition of these fisherpeople in the Province, and maybe the Government House Leader should support it also.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand to support the petition as put forward by my colleague.

When this CORE designation was first brought about, Mr. Speaker, it was a situation where it was a follow up to the SEC designation, if I recall. When the moratorium was brought in there was x number of dollars put forward when the TAGS program was introduced whereby the government of the day had expected to take so many people - I forget what the number is but I think it was something like 2,500 people - out of the fishery, that would take part in licensed retirement. Mr. Speaker, in actual fact the number of people that took part in licensed retirement was something like less than 500 people, whereby the program fell short by over 2,000 people.

Then, all of a sudden, when the dollars were taken away from this particular program, the buy-out program, and they justified it by saying they were going to put the dollars back into the fishermen's and fish plant workers' pockets, where it should have been right from the very beginning, they came out and said, now we will bring in another new designation and we will call it CORE, and this will be a way where we will eventually force people - because that is what it is, it is forcing people to probably relieve themselves from the fishery, if you would. Because in essence what is going to happen is, if you are not designated as a CORE eligible fisherman, you may not be entitled to licenses in the future, you may not be entitled to a quota in the future, you may not even be entitled to fish the quota as we know it today and as those people have been probably given in order to carry out and exercise their right in this particular industry.

Mr. Speaker, government continually comes forward and says, do not worry about the CORE designation, do not worry about that because it will not effect you. You will be alright because you already have your license. Well, I say to the government opposite that the CORE designation has already affected a lot of people, and we only have to think back and refer to the designation of a crab, a queen crab, the snow crab quota that we have seen these last two years. Part of that particular criteria was that in order to qualify for a permit you had to be eligible for CORE, you had to meet the rules and regulations which government had put forward in order to qualify as a CORE fisher.

Then we bring in professionalization, a good piece of legislation, a good board has been put in place, and I compliment the government for doing that, but they should take it a step further and give this CORE designation the flick. They should take it one step further and -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's federal, boy.

MR. FITZGERALD: Talk to your cousins up in Ottawa, I say to the member. Take it one step further and allow those people who are designated as professionalized fishermen, and professionalized fisher people to be eligible to go and apply for licenses, apply for quotas, upgrade their boats and be able to carry on with an occupation that they have grown up in and provided for their families over this past number of years.

I have one particular fisherman in my district who owns outright a forty-two foot longliner. He has, I guess, well in excess of $100,000 worth of fishing gear, has taken part in the fishery all his adult life, and because he had the initiative to take a season off back in 1991 when there was pretty well no fishery in the district because of the depletion of stocks, because he saw fit to go to work at the Come by Chance oil refinery in that particular year and not go to the Department of Social Services to get a hand out he has been ineligible to quality for the CORE program. He does not quality because he had the initiative to go to work.

Now, are those the kinds of rules and regulations that we are going to expect the minister of the day to support? Are those the kinds of rules and regulations we are going to put forward to decide who is eligible to be a fisher of the future and who is not? Those types of people should not have to go and appeal the process. They should not even have to apply. It should be shown by their past performances, it should be shown by their history of fish sales, it should be shown by their past activity in this particular industry, that they are designated fishers and they are professionalized fishermen. I think it is about time that we threw out some of these foolish rules and regulations that we have in existence today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

Before I recognize the hon. member I would like to take the opportunity to welcome to the House today a delegation from the Town Council of Roddickton, Mayor Ross Decker, Councillor Ray Norman, and Town Manager, Art Locke. They are from the district of the Straits, White Bay North.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, on a petition.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition of 4000 names from not only my district but from the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas. It may not be in order with the way petitions are structured in order to be brought forward to the House, but the spirit of the petition is certainly there, and the wording is quite clear. It says:

We, the citizens of rural Newfoundland, who do not live in a city, are being charged for automobile insurance at the same rate as drivers in the cities of Mount Pearl and St. John's. The undersigned petition the government and the insurance companies to reclassify rural Newfoundland from Zone 1 to Zone 2.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that is not new to the House of Assembly. It was brought forward by myself on previous occasions. It is a situation whereby somebody in their wisdom, quite some time ago - nobody seems to remember when, and nobody seems to remember who did it - divided Newfoundland and Labrador into three territories as it relates to automobile insurance. They have taken from St. John's, from the Avalon Peninsula, all points west to Port Blandford, and they said: We are going to call this Territory 1. The rest of Newfoundland has been designated as Territory 2. Labrador has been designated as Territory 3.

When you go to buy automobile insurance today, this is one of the factors built into deciding what you pay when you go to insure your vehicle. Part of insuring your vehicle is a reflection of your driving activity, how far you drive your car or truck to and from work, what your driving experience is, what your claims are as far as collections through the insurance industry is concerned, and the fourth one is where you live in Newfoundland and Labrador. And there is a vast difference in what people pay. There is a vast difference in what they pay, and it is a shame that the people on the Bonavista and Burin Peninsulas have to pay the same rate as the people living in the urban areas.

I am not convinced that somebody driving from Bonavista to Port Union, or from Port Union to Clarenville, is at any greater risk than somebody getting into their vehicle in Glovertown and driving as far as Traytown, or driving as far as Salvage. What they have to pay is a vast difference as it relates to auto insurance.

I have taken the initiative just to check out a couple of rating guides that have been provided to me by a particular insurance company, just to tell you why people are unhappy. Let us look at a seventeen-year-old male driver, driving a 1988 Tempo, which is by no means a classy sports car. If he went to buy insurance today, and if he purchased $500,000 in public liability - in section D, and section 44 - all we are talking about is the compulsory insurance that this young driver would need to purchase, that would give him the right to drive his car on the highways of Newfoundland and Labrador. If he lived in Territory 1, it would cost him $3,735 plus tax; if he lived in Territory 2, it would cost him $2,079 plus tax, a difference of $1,854.72. That is a vast difference, I say to members opposite.

Mr. Speaker, I can fully understand why the people in St. John's and the people in Mount Pearl are put in Territory 1. I get up every morning, when the House is open especially, and drive my vehicle to and from work in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way when you come in, say, between 7:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. I have also driven to and from work from my hometown in Musgrave Town, and to places like Charleston and Clarenville many, many times, and if you meet half-a-dozen cars that is all you meet, and that is all you will see going to and from work. I fail to see the rationale of having those two peninsulas in particular lumped in with urban areas.

I think if you talk to insurance companies you will also find out that the claims as well in those particular areas are reflective of the risk, when I talk about Territory 1 in the urban areas. The claims that have been brought forward by the rural areas, which are the Bonavista and Burin Peninsulas that I am referring to, Mr. Speaker, you will find that the claims are certainly not indicative of the amount of money that they are paying for their insurance premiums.

Mr. Speaker, this is a concern that is building and needs to be addressed immediately. I suppose the reason it has come to light and it is only the last couple of years that people are really seeing, you know, that this is unfair and it is about time that we upgrade our territories and look at doing something that makes sense. It is a situation whereby some of the insurance companies themselves, saw the unfairness and started to charge people the Territory 2 rating rather than the Territory 1.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just to clue up, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, some of the insurance companies saw the injustice that was being done here and they said, well what we will do is, we will start charging those people Territory 2 rates. That was unfair to the other insurance companies that were out there involved in the same business because the rules and regulations said they must be classed in Territory 1. So then the big uproar started where people started calling the Superintendent of Insurance, the utility board and then the proclamation was issued that if you live in an area from St. John's West to Port Blandford you must be classed in Territory 1.

Well, I just gave you one simple illustration of what the unfairness is. Mr. Speaker, I have many more listed here which I will get into later because there are other petitions being brought forward, I understand, and I will put forward 4,000 today, Mr. Speaker, and I call on the House to chat with the Superintendent of insurance, chat with the Public Utilities Board and whatever department of government that is responsible for bringing about this change, to get it done and get on and serve those people in a way that they should be served as it relates to insurance today.

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

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

I rise today to support the petition so ably put forward by my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition is self-explanatory. Many people in rural Newfoundland today, particularly those on the Bonavista Peninsula and the Burin Peninsula, feel that they are being unfairly treated. They look at the rates that have been charged in Zone 1 and compare them to Zone 2, and they ask the question, why? When we had discussions a few days ago, with a representative of the insurance industry, that person also brought this matter - or we brought it to his attention, and I do not believe we got a very satisfactory answer. Surely, you could talk about the accident rate and that kind of thing; however, you have to look at some other factors.

When you are talking about a difference of $1,800 for a seventeen-year-old to insure his or her car - in this case his car - in Bonavista as compared to some other part of the Province -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Just to speak briefly to the Government House Leader, I do believe it will be and I will get to that in a second. That is why, Mr. Speaker, these people feel a great deal of distress. And while all of these people welcome the initiative that has been put forward by the government, and I refer to the Select Committee of the House on Insurance, we know that it will be 1998 before that report comes back, in all probability. There will not be much that will occur before the year 2000 in terms of actual change; therefore, between now and then, there is a substantial number of months and even years, so these people are saying we should have some changes now.

What is happening out there is that we have large numbers of young people who are not buying any insurance at all. In fact, we were told the other day that 10 to 15 per cent of young people are driving without insurance and when the rates are that high and the fees are that high, this is a real cause for concern. So, Mr. Speaker, I rise to support my hon. colleague. We have knowledge that there will be further petitions coming like this and we refer them to the committee on Insurance and ask them if they would consider them in their discussions.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the petition that the member has presented, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, and also the Member for Grand Bank and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, had brought this to our attention earlier in the year. We are taking a look at it by two means.

In the long term we will be dealing with it with the Select Committee of the House being given added responsibilities to deal with these issues. But in the short term, we are going to bring a Cabinet paper forward with a temporary solution to this particular situation. I would remind the hon. House that we have been dealing with this for a period of time on the request of the two members I have mentioned.

I think the further thing to that is that the temporary solution will be brought forward in a very short period of time and that will be only to respond immediately to it. The longer term solution will come when the report of the Select Committee of the House is brought forward, probably in the Fall session.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. McLEAN: This has to go through Cabinet as a Cabinet paper, and at that particular time it will be brought to the House for a solution.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again to present yet another petition to voice opposition to the changes to the City of St. John's Act. I will read the prayer of the petition:

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, wish to petition the House of Assembly to voice our opposition to the changes to the City of St. John's Act, Section 284, which will repeal the funding of $10,000 in funding for Bowring Park and $10,000 in funding for road repair. While this funding repeal may not seem significant, it is our understanding that the Liberal Government has cut millions from the municipal budget over the past three to four years and the overall cuts are quite dramatic.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I have plenty of these, I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I am sure you have. There are three or four names on each one of them!

MR. OSBORNE: That is enough, that is quite valid. I hope that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs will take note that these petitions are coming in and we will have plenty more.

MR. TULK: Huge numbers of names on each one of them.

MR. OSBORNE: Huge numbers of names on the ones to follow.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) important.

MR. OSBORNE: Everybody is important. We are quite concerned, while it is only $10,000 cut to Bowring Park, it is a regional park. It is a park that is used by all regions of the Avalon Peninsula, and indeed the tourism trade and other areas of the Province. It is an area of concern that the government is cutting this funding. But what is most alarming is the amount of money that the Provincial Government has cut to the municipalities over the last three or four years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to support the petition of my colleague with respect to -

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

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

MR. TULK: I don't wish to take - as a matter of fact, the amount of time that I take I will give leave to the hon. gentleman to continue.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read Section 92 of our Standing Orders and get His Honour's ruling. It says: "Every Member offering a petition to the House shall confine himself or herself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations it contains."

There are a number of petitions being presented in this House, and I suspect that they have three and four names on them and they are being rotated. I would point out -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) on the one I just presented.

MR. TULK: You said yours. I am not referring to yours. Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Member for St. John's South, and I think other members of this House should be asked in future - and it was a custom in this House. I can remember, and the Member for Bonavista South did it quite well, that when you stood in your place, you also announced the number of signatures that were attached to a petition. Now, we only require three to make it legal, but I think it is also part of our Standing Orders that when you stand in your place you are to confine yourself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it, and the material allegations it contains.

So I would like for Your Honour perhaps, if not today, to maybe make a ruling on where he sees that petition going in regard to that: whether indeed we have, as members of this House when we stand, to say how many names are attached to the petition or not.

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

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

In reading section 91, I find the minimum requirement is three signatures "...must appear on the page containing the prayer of the petition". It "...must be written in English or be accompanied by a translation." You must confine yourself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it. Nothing says, however, that you have to state the number of signatures attached, as long as the minimum number is reached. It could be three, it could be thirty-three, it could be 4,000. If we have to read the names then we will go back and my colleague from Bonavista South will read his 4,000.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to say that we have to state the number of names, or we have to do anything of that sort. We should confine ourselves to the prayer of the petition and to the plea of it. What we are doing now, what the hon. Government House Leader wants, is not contained within the rules.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, further to that point of order.

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

MR. TULK: That is a neat twist of tongue that the hon. gentleman just used in regard to the Member for Bonavista South. Nowhere in the Standing Orders does it say that you have to read out the names, I say to the hon. gentleman. For him to stand and say that the Member for Bonavista South will stand and read out the names, and that is what I am asking, is just pure, utter nonsense.

The truth of the matter is, I am saying to him - we all know that you have to have at least three; I said that when I opened, but for him to stand there and say that because you have to - I repeat Standing Order 92: Every member shall confine himself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of names attached to the petition - not read off the 4,000 names, but if there are 4,000 names on it to say there are 4,000 names.

I am asking Your Honour if he would give us a ruling on that, whether indeed, as members of the House, we should state when we rise to present petitions, that there are a certain number of names on a petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the Chair is ready to rule. We are engaging in a debate now. I will hear from the Member for Cape St. Francis. He may have some new information to add, but I think I have heard from both House Leaders.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

What it says in section 92 is, "Every member offering a petition to the House shall confine himself or herself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations..." Confine himself to it; it does not say he `has' to say it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The Chair is ready to rule.

Petitions to the House have to be in the right format, and they have to contain at least three signatures, one of which must be that of the member presenting the petition.

My interpretation of section 92 is: It does say, "...the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it..." In other words, if there are 4,000 or 5,000 signatures, the person presenting the petition will say: Attached, too, are the signatures of 4,000 people, as the Member for Bonavista South just did.

Also, the rules on petitions in this House have been sort of very liberal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

Normally in presenting a petition you are supposed to confine yourself only to the material content of the petition. I have seen cases in this House where we have gotten into debate on petitions, and that is not acceptable.

The Government House Leader is right, you should read the statement of the petition, the number of signatures that are on the petition and the petition should be cleared with the Clerk of the House before it is presented.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I think it is agreed that your five minutes will start from now?

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the Government House Leader, it is my understanding that in the second last petition there were some 4,000 names and the present petition some four names. So, Mr. Speaker, we have an average of the last two petitions being presented by this side of the House of 2,002 names for a petition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say, Mr. Speaker, that -

MR. TULK: I think you are (inaudible) on two different topics.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the Member for St. John's East that we are just getting into the kind of debate that has sort of been customary in this House. You are starting to engage in debate on the petitions. I ask you to confine yourself to the material content of the petition which I think is about Bowring Park.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, I will confine my few comments to the subject matter of the petition which, as a member of this House for a constituency within the city of St. John's, is an issue which is of some importance and some concern.

Mr. Speaker, the thrust of the petition, which was presented by my colleague the Member for St. John's South, is with respect to government's intention to repeal Section 284 of the city act which requires the Province to pay certain grants. The amount that we are talking about, Mr. Speaker, in the scheme of things, may not appear to be terribly significant but when we look at the specific purpose for which this grant is designed it is indeed very significant. We are talking about a $10,000 grant which has paid for Bowring Park, services the needs of the people who frequent the park and also deals with maintenance costs, upkeep costs and so on.

What we have to keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, is that although this park is physically and geographically situated within the boundaries of the city of St. John's, it offers a service and it is a place of recreation for people throughout the whole region. People from various regions of the Avalon Peninsula, whether it be Conception Bay South, the east extern area of St. John's, the Southern Shore area or indeed the whole Province, many people who visit our city, Mr. Speaker, take advantage of the freedom, the fresh air, the amenities and what Bowring Park has to offer. It is a special place and it is visited, Mr. Speaker, by literally thousands of people who come to our city above and beyond the residents of the city of St. John's who take advantage of the park on a regular basis.

I would submit also, Mr. Speaker, that the park offers a place of refuge, not only to people from this Province but indeed as well for tourists to our Province, who come to this city and indeed are intrigued and fascinated by the natural beauty of Bowring Park. Again, Mr. Speaker, $10,000 in the scheme of things may not appear to be a significant amount of money, however it shows a trend, an unfortunate trend, in that what this government appears to be doing is now once again to reduce this municipal operating grant, although albeit only $10,000, but in the scheme of things, Mr. Speaker, and with respect to this particular facility, an important amount.

What this petition attempts to do, Mr. Speaker, is try to nip this in the bud. This must stop. The citizens of St. John's demand more, the citizens of this region demand more, tourists who come to this Province, Mr. Speaker, demand more and they want to see the natural beauty and the amenities of this park preserved by a long time to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: Introduction and First Readings:

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce the following bills, carried:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act". (Bill No. 25)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Assessment Act And The St. John's Assessment Act". (Bill No. 36)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The St. John's Municipal Elections Act". (Bill No. 37)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act". (Bill No. 42)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Mount Pearl Act". (Bill No.41)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act". (Bill No. 40)

A bill, "An Act To Provide Firefighters With Protection From Personal Liability". (Bill No. 43)

On motion, Bill Nos. 25, 36, 37, 42, 41, 40 and 43 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow, by leave.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 2.

MR. SPEAKER: It is adjourned debate on second reading of the bill, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act". (Bill No. 21)

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I believe on the last day we began debate, I had about fourteen minutes into it, and I will take the remainder of my time to speak about Bill 21.

Essential what Bill 21, The Fish Inspection Act, deals with is the quality of fish that is being exported, the ability of government to license persons, to license establishments, to license vehicles that are charged or maybe involved with the transportation of our fish or fish products, to cancel or suspend licenses, and the present act deals also with charging a fee for certain licenses.

Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing in this piece of legislation, or the amendments that are being called for, are broad discretionary powers being given to the minister that are subject to conditions that the minister may or may not see fit, and that really and essentially go against what we as a Province should be talking about in the fishery of the future.

The bill essentially has two amendments, Mr. Speaker. The first one deals with Section 4 (f) giving Cabinet a new power to make regulations on three essential areas. One, the regional distribution of processing licenses. Therefore, what we are talking about is that the minister will have discretionary power to decide what regions of the province may receive a license and what communities, in essence, will remain alive to the extent they are now if there is a processing capability or a plant in their area. The second aspect of this regulation deals with the development of the fishing industry of the Province and other matters that are not directly related to fish quality.

Mr. Speaker, essentially, as I see it, these amendments really have nothing to do with the inspection or "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act", but have more to do with enshrining power to the minister that does not exist. It is clear in reading the legislation that this is exactly what will be the case. Essentially it is open-ended. The legislation is open-ended to the extent that I read it, that the minister may issue licenses in this Province under this act subject to the condition that the minister, not the House of Assembly, not the forty-eight members in it, not Cabinet, not in consultation with the industry, whether it be the FFAW or the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, but what the minister considers to be appropriate, including conditions which relate to the matter set out in Section 4.

So, the minister now has complete control. He is not subject to debate in the House, he is not subject to make regulations in the House, he is not subject per se for members whose districts or many parts of their districts, or certain parts of their districts, depend entirely and almost completely upon a vibrant fishing industry, or depend completely upon a plant in operation for the remainder of the fishing season that may employ several hundred to a couple of thousand people. The minister now has discretion, as he sees fit, to impose conditions, upon his will or what he sees fit to impose those conditions.

Mr. Speaker, frankly, what government is looking for in this Fish Inspection Act is a blank cheque. Where are the questions that have to answered? They were asked by my colleague for Bonavista South today, when he asked the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture during Question Period: Did he consult with anybody in the industry? Did he consult with the FFAW on this issue? Did he consult with the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, which effectively represents processors? He stood up in his place and boldly and proudly, it looked like to me, said: No, I did not.

Where is the accountability, I ask government, in terms of when we enter into a debate about the fishery of the future? We all know there is overcapacity in the industry, in the Province. If nothing else, certainly the last twenty years in the fishing industry has taught us that we have to be more conservative in our approaches in dealing with the industry, and more realistic in how we do it.

At the same time, that doesn't mean that when we downscale our capacity in this industry that there should not be accountability in what we do as elected officials. There is essentially no transparency, that the minister, outside of the Cabinet, outside of the process of the House, can make decisions that not only he sees fit, but any other minister in the future. It could be five years from now, it could be five days from now, it could be fifteen years from now. Whatever minister sits in the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, as it now exists, will have that power enshrined if we pass this piece of legislation.

The question, Mr. Speaker, is this: Where is the open discussion about the fishery of the future? What is sadly lacking is, where is the public consultation on this very important piece of legislation?

MR. TULK: That is done.

MR. E. BYRNE: The consultation has been done.

MR. TULK: Yes. Look, I have heard more consultation on licensing and that kind of thing in the Province than you can shake a stick at.

MR. J. BYRNE: Shake a fish at?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible). John Efford is the best minister that this Province has ever had and will ever have. (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Government House Leader that he may be right, that John Efford, or the minister, may be - I can't refer to him - but the present minister may be the best fishery minister ever. He may be right that there has been a lot of consultation on renewal boards, et cetera, but the issue that we are talking about here is different, I say to the Government House Leader. You ask any fisherman or person involved in the fishery today this question: Would you want to see one man or one person control your industry? Would you want to see one man or one person decide where a plant will go or will not go? Will you want to see one man or one person decide what communities will live or die? They will say to you Mr. Minister, no they do not. What they want, minister, to know from government is where the accountability is. Will the plant remain open at Harbour Breton or will it not? Will the plant remain open at Bonavista or will it not? Will people who are involved in the fishing industry, who should get licences, will they get them, or will it be the political friends of the government? That is what this legislation will enshrine. That is what people want to know.

Let me repeat, I do not believe there is anybody - and we talk about consultation, Mr. Speaker. Let's talk about consultation. The type of consultation that the Government House Leader is referring to is when they brought in HST, they signed the agreement on it, and when asked about consultation the Minister of Finance said: The people of the Province can consult and let us know what they are feeling about it during the next budgetary discussions. Simply like saying that the executioner comes to the House today and says: I hung three people yesterday, and now I'm going out around the Province to discuss if my decision was right or wrong.

That is not the way to do it, Mr. Speaker. Consultation does not involve making a decision first and then consulting after. That isn't consultation, that is dictatorship, and people in this industry want something a little bit better than that.

Do you, or do members in this House, fundamentally believe that we should enshrine in one person such an important issue as the fishery of the future, our processing capability, our processing capacity, on where that processing capacity will take place, and as a result, on what communities will be involved in that decision making? The reality is that we are not.

Mr. Speaker, what is lacking in this initiative is exactly what the minister said today, that he consulted with neither the organization or group that represents processors, or those people who are represented by the associated union.

There is no reference, for example, that this piece of legislation should have gone to the Legislation Review Committee dealing with resources; not such a big thing. I do not think, if we sent this piece of legislation before the Resource Committee, that it would develop and begin an open and frank discussion on the fishery of the future and where it will exist and, more importantly to some people, where it will not exist, and what areas of the Province or the fishery will be opened up shortly. That is something that has been sadly lacking.

MR. TULK: Three Tories got hung in the House today.

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that right?

MR. TULK: Yes, (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What Tories got hung in the House today?

MR. TULK: The Leader -

MR. E. BYRNE: We will see, I say to the Government House Leader, who got hung and who did not get hung.

The reality is, when we talk about the capacity of the fishing industry, I do not believe that any of us truly want to see one person have so much broad sweeping power, so much discretionary power, without talking with anybody, or consulting with anybody on what regions of the Province will have a plant or not have a plant; because that is essentially what you are asking. The minister solely and exclusively -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It says right here, I say to the Government House Leader. Section 2 reads, "Section 5 of the act is amended by renumbering the section as subsection 5(1) and by adding the following immediately after that subsection:

"(2) The minister may issue licences under this Act subject to the conditions that the minister considers to be appropriate..." - not even the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, but that the minister considers appropriate - "...including conditions which relate to the matter set out in section 4."

Section 4 of the act deals specifically with the inspection, which deals with (a) to license people; (b) to license establishments; (c) to license vehicles; (d) to cancel or suspend licences; and (e) to charge fees for licences.

MR. TULK: You have read it wrong. Spend the night home now and I will tell you where you read it wrong tomorrow when you come back.

MR. E. BYRNE: Tell me now and we can forego all of this debate. If I am wrong on this issue -

MR. TULK: You are being led astray again.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I am willing to give the Government House Leader just a few moments to let me know where I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will sit down and I will not debate this piece of legislation any further.

MR. TULK: How many more times do I have to tell you that you are wrong?

MR. E. BYRNE: As I said, if I am, I will give you leave right now to tell me where.

MR. TULK: I will tell you tomorrow.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that what we are talking about in terms of consultation, the lack of consultation on this issue, is quickly becoming a reality and the hallmark of government.

We started debate on this issue back on Thursday, I believe. The Minister of Fisheries was in his place, introduced the bill, did not say very much. But he gave more information today in Question Period when asked a question about it, that he felt that Justice felt there was a hole in the legislation in the present act, and that the minister needed to be given more authority, or his authority needed to be confirmed, that indeed he is the Minister of Fisheries. That is essentially what he said, that his authority needed to be confirmed and that this is just a standard housekeeping piece of legislation. I disagree.

There is other legislation here that I wholly support, but the reality is that no stakeholders were involved in this discussion, unlike, say, the Registered Nurses Act, for example. The stakeholders in the industry support it, from what I understand. As a result, we see that it is a good piece of legislation and we will not hold up time. We will see.

The reality is that on this piece of legislation FANL, and the organization again which I say represents processors, was not consulted. The minister confirmed, when asked in the House today, `Would they be consulted?' No. Did he feel a need to consult them? Obviously not. Will he consult them in the future? What degree of assurance or level of assurance do they have that that will take place? They do not have one. They have no degree of assurance that that will take place at all, because if it were going to, it would have already taken place before that bill was presented here in the House, and it was not.

MR. TULK: I let you get away with asking questions (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

MR. TULK: I will let you get away with asking question on it for today.

MR. E. BYRNE: I was wondering if you were going to stand up on a point of order or not, but you did not.

MR. TULK: Oh, I (inaudible) stop it.

MR. E. BYRNE: You didn't.

MR. TULK: No, I was (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is too nice as a House Leader; we have to bring back Roberts.

MR. E. BYRNE: Bring back Ed.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, no, I would have to say (inaudible), although Roberts would have (inaudible) better.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not so sure.

MR. J. BYRNE: Roberts' rules of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, you got them all mixed up.

MR. J. BYRNE: He got them mixed up.

MR. LUSH: Give up this charade.

MR. E. BYRNE: We have heard from the dean of the House that we have to give up this charade. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, I will not belabour the point too much longer. What does the Government House Leader have there that he wants me to read?

MR. TULK: I wanted you to read about when your (inaudible) when it gets to your question I will let you go for today but if you are told today (inaudible) on Question Period. You got away with it today for the last time.

MR. E. BYRNE: So you are going to bring down the legislative hammer are you, I say to the Government House Leader? The legislative hammer is going to come down, the voice of the people will be stymied. That is what he is saying. Is that what you are saying? Mr. Speaker, it does not surprise me because what the Government House Leader says he is going to do from here on in is exactly what this piece of legislation is going to say. I mean, why even have the House open at all? Why even bother to open the House? Why even bother to open the House if we cannot sit down and have a clear and concise debate about legislation?

MR. TULK: You can have all the debate you want.

MR. E. BYRNE: Why can't we?

MR. TULK: Oh no problem. You are just not going to be asking questions about (inaudible) because the Speaker said you cannot do it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, people in the Province, especially in those regions of the Province that depend upon the fishing industry primarily for the economic activity that exists in their region, are worried about this piece of legislation. And as time goes on, as this week goes on, people become more aware of what government's initiative on Bill 21 is going to do and what discretionary powers it is going to give to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. They are going to be more aware and they will become more concerned because people of this Province, especially in regions which depend primarily upon the capacity or depend upon an operation -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) somebody over there ask me (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Forester Creek is out today, back in Wednesday.

MR. J. BYRNE: Why don't you write your questions and send them over?

MR. E. BYRNE: That is a good idea, `Jack'. Write up the questions you want to ask and we will see - pardon me?

MR. TULK: I often did that because (inaudible) seventy-five bucks a shot if you want to take me up on it.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is when the incredible Tulk was threatened, would he be part of Caucus or would he not be part of Caucus? He was not sure, Mr. Speaker. That is when the Government House Leader was in the back bench wondering, threatening and bullying the former administration, would he be in Caucus or would he not be in Caucus? Mr. Liberal himself, noted Mr. Liberal of the Province from one end to the other - rolled the dice and won. He won, Mr. Speaker. He won, no doubt about it, and if there is any evidence that he won, it is because he went from the furthest seat back to the seat next to the power, the Government House Leader. If that is not winning, I don't know what is, Mr. Speaker, but he did it. He did it and he did it well, behind the scenes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a few minutes today to talk about the same bill that my colleague just spoke about and on Thursday the rest of my colleagues spoke about.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I will carry on and every once in awhile I will give the Government House Leader a chance to throw in a few words but I would like to take some time today to discuss this bill. Well, I guess, Mr. Speaker, if we ask positive questions we should expect positive answers. In this government's case there are no answers. But I guess today, Mr. Speaker, there are several concerns about sections of this bill which we wish to change. It bothers me that we are going to give one man, one person, the complete authority to decide on our fishery of the future, whether that be Liberal, Conservative or NDP really does not matter. I do not think that anybody should have that much power. There should be nobody on either side of this House have that much power, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that even the Government House Leader would agree with that, especially if he took the time to go through the legislation that has been presented here over the last day or so and listened to the comments. I hope he takes them well under advisement.

Mr. Speaker, a while ago we had education reform, we still have education reform and we are probably going to have education reform for quite some time to come. At least in that particular incidence, Mr. Speaker, we took the time to go around this Province to listen to some of the stakeholders in education to see exactly where they were, what they were doing, what comments these people would like to make. In this instance here we seem to have consulted with nobody. We have really consulted with nobody.

I guess the bill has two amendments. One adds subsection 4(1)(f) giving Cabinet the new power to make regulations. Then it goes on to say for the "regional distribution of processing licences, the development of the fishing industry of the province and other matters that are not directly related to fish quality."

That seems to me to be extremely broad. It is a new kind of power to regulate under section 4(1). That is different from the other powers laid out in the act in this section. The other powers are to make regulations. It says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Let him alone now, he just got up.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three minutes.

MR. FRENCH: Oh no, my goodness, Mr. Minister, no, I am up for a while yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I will, if you sit down and listen. I might be saying something. I hope you would sit and listen. You might learn.

The other powers are to make regulations to licence persons, to licence establishments, to licence vehicles, Mr. Speaker. To cancel or suspend licences, or to charge fees for licences. Again, this is different. Cabinet can make regulations without bringing the matter back to the House of Assembly for approval. Could these regulations say where plants can go, where they can't go? How many plants can go in a given area?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, do I have the floor or does the Government House Leader have the floor? Because he has been -if he wants it I will sit down. I will give him leave to get up and he can go on for half an hour or whatever he wants. If not then I will just carry on.

Could these regulations say where plants can go, can't go? How many plants can go in a given area? What kinds of plants can go? Where they can go? Where their licence can transfer, and so forth? Who knows? It is so open-ended it is a blank cheque.

Should they do this in Cabinet behind closed doors rather than in the House? I guess that is a question that has to be raised. Where is the accountability? Where is the voice of the people or the vote of the people's representatives on these matters? I guess they aren't present, and they won't be present. Where is the open discussion on the fishery of the future? Not around.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Which? Mr. Speaker, I see we are getting the member for Labrador now chiming in. That is good. Because we realize that in any debate he isn't allowed to speak. He must sit in the back bench and toe the party line, and that is fine. I accept that he is not allowed to speak. That is quite alright, I can accept that, that is grand.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FRENCH: The Government House Leader is still going, Mr. Speaker. Somebody has wound him up today. He is like the jukebox. One time you would get three tunes for a quarter. This afternoon somebody must be after putting about $5 in him because he is still going. Anyway, I might as well keep going. He is in a good mood today, I say, the Government House Leader.

The fishery of the future, where is open discussion? There is no open discussion. There has not been any open discussion. The people we have met with say there has been no discussion on any part of this bill with them. Again, I think that is totally wrong.

How can we be sure that the minister here will not regulate the industry to death, or draft bad regulations? If we are going to give him this authority, he has a free hand to do whatever he likes. Where is the fish processing sector task force involved in all this? Is it involved, is it not involved?

The second amendment, Mr. Speaker, adds subsection 5(2) giving the minister new powers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Cabinet.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, well I have gone through Cabinet, yes, and I mean I certainly cannot agree there.

Now we are going to give the minister new powers to make a lot of these regulations totally on his own, without consulting with anybody. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that is scary, very scary.

It says, "The minister may issue licences under this Act subject to the conditions that the minister considers to be appropriate, including conditions which relate to a matter set out in section 4." The minister will have the power to determine whether section 4 should be applied, Mr. Speaker. The term `appropriate' is left undefined. The phrase, `subject to the conditions that the minister considers to be appropriate', is left undefined. What tremendous discretionary powers, Mr. Speaker, for one man! For one man, Mr. Speaker! I think it is a shame that one man would even want this much power, without bringing it back here to this House of Assembly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, where did the bill come from? Why is it here today, Mr. Speaker? There was no reference of this bill to the Legislation Review Committee, none whatsoever. Why, I wonder? There was no consultation with the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, nor other stakeholders in the fishing industry; no, consultation, Mr. Speaker, none whatsoever.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there seems to be an unwillingness to consult. Yet, earlier this year, the hon. Minister of Education went around the Province, took some time.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was a farce.

MR. FRENCH: Whether good or bad, at least he did it. At least he took the time to go and do it, to consult with some of the stakeholders in education in this Province. In this case, Mr. Speaker, we see absolutely none of this.

Now, with the health care restructuring, Mr. Speaker, there has been no public consultation. There are major changes affecting the Grace, The Janeway and the Children's Rehab., nursing home access or fees, personal care home funding, et cetera; unwillingness to consult.

Dispensing fees, Mr. Speaker, I should certainly know about dispensing fees. The pharmacies were not consulted prior to the cut in the dispensing fee. I have a letter that I received this morning that I am sure has gone to the Minister of Health, and I know it has gone to several other ministers, as well as to myself, talking about how he and his business in his part of Newfoundland and Labrador has had to layoff a twenty-year employee. Another person who has been with him for seven years has to be laid off. The scholarship that was given every year to a high school in the area has now been cancelled because, Mr. Speaker, of what has happened to the pharmacies in this Province. They were not consulted prior to the cut in the dispensing fees which has driven many of them out of business and forced others essentially to subsidize the government's social assistance program. Of course, when we phone the government, when we phone the department, we are told to go to multi-nationals, Mr. Speaker.

Social Services, Mr. Speaker, the government did not consult before eliminating regulation 8 in assistance. Education Reform, the former administration failed to consult. I must say my colleague this time, at least, did change some of that. So, you know, we seem to go in areas where maybe it suits us sometimes and other areas where it really does not.

The Public Exams, Mr. Speaker, no consultation. Tax harmonization, absolutely no consultation whatsoever on tax harmonization, and we are going to find out. The minister likes to tell us that if we buy a new car, if we buy a new house, if we buy a new fridge or if we buy a new stove it is going to be cheaper. Well, he is probably right, but how often do we buy a new car, do we buy a new house, do we buy a new stove, and do we buy a new washer?

MR. MATTHEWS: All of the above.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, the hon. gentleman does. He probably buys one every so often. In this case, Mr. Speaker, what about clothes, what about our light bill, what about our phone bill, because these bills we pay every single month, every single month?

So, when we talk about things being cheaper we will see over the next months as this thing unfolds, and as we get more and more into the new year, exactly what tax harmonization is going to do for this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FRENCH: I must say he looks good there in the front row, does he not?

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, he looks a lot better than some of the other

MR. FRENCH: Now, Mr. Speaker, The Mining And Mineral Rights Tax Act which the previous government failed to consult about before making any changes in 1994, and then, of course, before proposing amendments in 1995. Of course, these amendments they later let die on the Order Paper. This particular government is set on doing nothing in the next while as it is not consulting with anyone.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible) before when nobody consulted what happened (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, we are going to pay it again now.

The Crown lands and the cabins, Mr. Speaker; now, here is a good one. Government consulted with nobody, the cabin owners or anybody else, before changing this policy. Now, they were not going to raise taxes, and we were not going to do anything to get more revenue.

MR. TULK: Look what you said about the road across Labrador.

MR. FRENCH: What did I say? Check Hansard, I say to the Government House Leader. Your problem is you are not listening. You should be listening. The Premier should not be flying because it has affected his hearing. He is not listening. This Opposition over here fully supports the highways in Labrador, and fully supports the hospitals in Labrador. Yet your Premier, not ours, yours, comes and out and says -

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

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

MR. TULK: You cannot mislead this House. In a reply to the ministerial statement made by the Minister of Government Services and Lands, the Member for Conception Bay South said, I see that back around February 22, somebody campaigned for a better tomorrow but we have not seen it yet and we certainly do not see it in what has been presented here this afternoon. In other words, the road across Labrador was not a promise for a better tomorrow. You did not want to see it. Mr.Speaker, that is terrible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South wish to address the point of order?

MR. FRENCH: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader took advantage of the opportunity for clarification.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My grandfather, God rest his soul, he is dead and gone now, on my mother's side of the family, used to cut his own wood. I am sure the hon. gentleman will enjoy this. He used to cut his own wood, him and his poor old jackass and his cart, and he lived to be up into his eighties. When he got up around seventy-nine years old the family kind of got after him and said: Pop, you should give up going in the woods by yourself, and he did. I know for a fact, Mr. Speaker, that he cut up his old cart and burned it for firewood, and until this afternoon I never did find out what he did with the jackass.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, he can sit there and quote all he likes, the hon. gentleman for Labrador knows well what I said, but again he is government, you see. As I talk about consultation, the only thing I can say here is if the shoe fits, wear it. This government does not listen, has not listened on this bill and has not listened on other bills. My friend for Labrador has not listened on other bills.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look at this, boy, look. (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Looks good, looks wonderful.

My friend for Labrador certainly knows what I said, certainly knows I support the highway. He can twist it however he would like, but the bottom line is that I support it. I meant what I said then, and I mean what I say today. I fully support that, and fully support the hospital as well, Mr. Speaker.

I will carry on now, Mr. Speaker. Concentrating powers in the ministry: Other legislation in this session has given powers to ministers. The Expropriation Act amendment for one, which we are going to get into hopefully down the road, and of course, the Kodak bill that gave the government the power to override the Public Tender Act.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think we have made a very clear case that no minister, regardless of what side of the House he or she should sit on, no one minister should certainly be given this approval. No one minister should be given this amount of power. I think my colleague for Bonavista South put it quite eloquently the other day when he was speaking -

AN HON. MEMBER: Never knows what he is talking about.

MR. FRENCH: I think on this one, Mr. Minister, he does. He spoke quite eloquently on this particular act, spoke quite well on this act of what we should have here. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, down the road there will certainly be amendments to this particular bill, there will be changes to this particular bill, so that when we get into this bill, hopefully people on the government side will realize what we are saying and they will vote accordingly.

We have seen all these changes and they have not been good. They certainly have not been what the people of this Province voted for, and I don't think in the future -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you believe in the changes?

MR. FRENCH: No, not all of them. I don't believe in the cut to dispensing fees, I don't believe in taking away the $61, I don't believe in taking away the sanitary gloves and sanitary napkins from the people who certainly need it. I don't agree with any of that. No, I certainly don't, Mr. Minister. I certainly don't agree with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: He asked me a question, Mr. Speaker, I answered him.

Mr. Speaker, today I can't support this bill. I have three fish plants in my own riding which may be adversely affected by this. When you give one man this much power, he shouldn't be there, he shouldn't have that power, and I don't care if it is on their side or our side. No one minister deserves that much power, no one minister should be trusted to have that much power. I guess when we have heard some of the comments coming out of the minister, that if you aren't of a certain political persuasion then you aren't covered, or you shouldn't get the right to a hearing, or anything else, when that happens, that is wrong.

So, I guess he scares me. He scares me, Mr. Speaker, in that regard. We should never give the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that much power. I'm sure that when the gentleman opposite was sitting in the back benches he would have been dancing a jig to see this. This would never have passed if he had been sitting in the back benches. If he wasn't in the front row today this would never have passed.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your time this afternoon. Unfortunately, I cannot support this particular piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Labrador West, just as I stood on my feet, said, "Hear, hear!" I really don't want to get going on the Member for Labrador West because we are starting to nickname him over here now as the preacher. He preaches the Gospel. I won't tell you the story on that, unless he wants me to later on.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand in my place and speak to this bill, Bill 21, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act". The first thing I am going to refer to, of course, is the Explanatory Notes. "Clause 1 of this bill would broaden the scope of the Fish Inspection Act to enable the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to make regulations for non-quality related purposes."

Mr. Speaker, that seems all well and good, and you would think it would make sense to do that.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. TULK: You want a question? Here is the ideal question.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, boy, throw it over. What is it?

MR. TULK: Will you pay for it?

MR. J. BYRNE: How much?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You said $75. The Government House Leader wants to send a question over to me to ask the government tomorrow, and he wants me to pay him $75. Is that what you are saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, send it over and I will give you seventy-five cents, because I am sure that is all it is worth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis and asks that he get on with debating the particular bill.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you for that ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I would have to say that the person interrupting me is the one who should be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, I don't want it, not at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, if it was just the first clause that was the full intent of the bill maybe it would not be a big problem, but there would be some concerns. The big problem with this is clause 2 of the bill. "Clause 2 of the bill would confirm the minister's authority to impose conditions on licences issued under the act."

"Confirm the minister's authority..." Basically, from what I can see of section 2, "Section 5 of the act is amended by renumbering the section as subsection 5(1) and by adding the following immediately after that subsection:

"(2) The minister may issue licences under this act subject to the conditions that the minister considers to be appropriate, including conditions which relate to a matter set out in section 4."

Mr. Speaker, this to me is all encompassing. It gives the minister too much authority, by any stretch of the imagination. The minister can basically now overrule the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, Cabinet in other words, and the people of the Province now are subject to the opinion, the views and the whims, basically, of one person, one individual.

At the present time the Minister of Fisheries may be full of good intentions, and he may be able to implement these good intentions, but the question remains: What about the next minister, or the minister after, whoever he or she may be? Of course, we can always bring in legislation, Mr. Speaker, to amend this amendment and go on to further amendments, but then why don't we do it right in the first place and not permit the Minister of Fisheries at this point in time, or any Minister of Fisheries, to rule with an iron hand if he so desires?

The present Minister of Fisheries has been on his feet many times in this House, and he is all the time trying to promote his views, and often times I have to agree that the Minister of Fisheries makes sense every now and then - not too often, but once in awhile. One issue that he has stood on in this House, with respect to the fishery, I suppose, is the seal fishery. I have to agree with him on that, with respect to what we should be doing with respect to the seal fishery. He has stated in the past, I think, and I stand to be corrected on this figure, but I believe he said there are approximately 10 million seals out there - those are from his figures - and if 10 million seals eat one pound of codfish a day, that is 10 million pounds of fish a day. Now, if they eat one pound obviously they are destroying how many fish, if they just take a big bite out of the fish, the gut of the fish, and go on? That fish dies, and then they go on and take a bite out of another one, or what have you. So we are looking at millions of pounds of fish being destroyed daily.

I wanted to bring this up -

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you see that on the news last night?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is exactly why I was bringing it up. I turned on the television last night on CBC and I think it was Patrick Conlon and Patrick Watson was on with him and Earl McCurdy - pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, I cannot comment on that because I only saw about the last fifteen minutes of the show. I hope he made a lot of statements prior to the last fifteen minutes of the show. But Patrick Watson was on there and, of course, previous to him there was the Green Peace, and they destroyed the seal fishery.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the history of the seal fishery in Newfoundland, we all know that. A lot of people died because of the seal fishery in this Province. We have a book written by Cassie Brown, a very good book, Death on the Ice. I remember reading that book, Mr. Speaker, and you can almost picture yourself being there with these people. Our heritage, our traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador have a close link with the seal fishery. Back in the 60s and 70s, Green Peace -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: See that is what you get. When the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is walking in the House and you are paying him a compliment, you are telling him that he finally said something that you agree with, and he tries to interject and be smart, what that goes to show is just the reverse. It does not show how smart he is, it is showing just the reverse of that. Maybe I should not pay the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture any compliments any more and we would get along much better.

MR. EFFORD: I don't want any compliments from Tories.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, you don't get that many, let me tell you. I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, you don't get too many compliments from Tories and you don't get too many compliments from anybody in the Province. I may as well push it out and say it, Mr. Speaker.

Green Peace, people like that and Patrick Watson - oh, he got more credit when he was in the Opposition; oh, by far, going around through the grass with his flashlight. He made a name for himself down around, I think it was, the White Hills with the boys' home? That is where he made his name. What has he done since he became Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the meantime, really? Sit back and think about it.

This government has been in power over six years now, and all we heard from them is talk, talk, talk. Two or three years ago we brought it up in this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, what is going to happen to the fishery of the future in Newfoundland and Labrador? What is going to happen to all the fish plants in this Province? The minister himself was on his feet Thursday, I believe it was, saying that there were something like 220 fish plants in this Province. I will take him at his word. Say there are 220 fish plants, how many fish plants are going to be there in the future, in the fishery of the future?

Now, I want to put this on record because I think the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture will agree - and I think you may get a copy of it in Hansard somewhere - that he made a statement the other day that the main criteria for the fish plants to remain operating in the future of this Province, the main criteria is a big `L', meaning of course a Liberal. They have to be in a Liberal district if it is going to remain. He is shaking his head in agreement right now, Mr. Speaker, that in the future fishery of this Province, for any fish plant the main criteria would be a Liberal district. He is making a sign over there now, `L'. So that is in Hansard, on record and the minister is shaking his head in agreement. So, Mr. Speaker, this will probably have to be sent out to a few people in his district, even though it is a Liberal district. They will probably get a plant or two to remain open.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue. The fishery of tomorrow is a very serious issue. We want criteria put in place, and the people of this Province want criteria put in place, that makes sense. To put that in the hands of one individual, who is now the present Minister of Fisheries, to be all powerful in anything that relates to the fishery - the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture will now have the power to decide what will and will not happen in the future.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that during the last provincial election, back in February, the media had the Premier built up. He was not Premier at the time but they had him built up to the point, I suppose, where most people actually thought he would not have to fly into Newfoundland, he would be able to just walk across the Straits. Now we have a second individual in the Province, a minister who is elevating himself, with this legislation, to the point where he thinks he can walk on water, and that is not correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, take it easy. Sit back, take it easy and relax.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the politics of it.

MR. J. BYRNE: The politics of it. (Inaudible).

Now, Mr. Speaker, with respect -

MR. EFFORD: If you were the Minister of Fisheries and a Liberal came to your office, would you talk to him?

MR. J. BYRNE: Most definitely. I treat everybody in my district the same. Mr. Speaker, from my district I have people coming to my office who campaigned full-time against me in the last election; Liberals, of course. They have been in my office and, yes, I helped them as much as I helped the person who worked on my campaign. I cannot say that is the same thing for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He wouldn't. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has publicly stated in this House: If you are a Tory, forget it, don't even bother to talk to me.

MR. TULK: That is only joking.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is only joking, yes, I know. The Government House Leader says that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is only joking. I say to the Government House Leader, is he joking about this legislation? He is quite serious about this legislation, I bet you. I tell you, we are right back to the point again, where he is elevating himself to the point where he probably thinks he can walk on water, Mr. Speaker.

Back to Patrick Watson last night. That man was trying to point -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Good minister? The Member for Labrador West says that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is a good minister. With respect to that, the Member for Bonavista South was up the other day, I believe it was, saying that all the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture ever wanted to be when he grew up was the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He didn't want a fire truck, he didn't want to be a fireman, he didn't want to be a policeman, he wanted to be the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

He didn't go all the way. He really wanted to be premier of the Province, but he called a news conference to announce that he never had the guts to run against the present Premier. He really wanted to be the premier of the Province, but really ended up as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He hasn't reached his - what, over-achievers and under-achievers? There is an overachiever right there, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, a big time overachiever.

MR. TULK: I suppose now you are looking for a sawmill (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I wouldn't say anything negative to you until I get my sawmill licence, I say to the Government House Leader and the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

Mr. Speaker, Patrick Watson last night was trying to push the fact that - and he got on this thing about seal penises again. I mean, it is utterly disgusting what this man is trying to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you hear that man say last night that there are 8 million seals off this coast (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, that is the point I was going to get to. Eight million - that is right, really shocking.

The thing that amazed me, and I noticed this too, that there were people phoning in, and the people who were being interviewed really didn't understand the issue. So we shall have to say now that that begs this question. Because when you are talking about the fishery, and this is an amendment to the fishery, it all impacts upon the fishery; the number of pounds of fish that the seals eat. Obviously we aren't doing a good job of getting the real facts out there. We have the present Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - how long has he been Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture now?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That long? Whatever. So he has been there eight months. Now we have the federal government - the Premier of this Province was in Ottawa for, what, fifteen or sixteen years as a member. He was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He was out there saving the turbot last year, the Premier. Yet the biggest impact on the fishery of this Province are probably the seals and the amount of fish that the seals eat, and nothing from the Premier to date. He is going across the country now trying to sell the hydro deal and to try to renegotiate that. Hopefully, he will do a good job and get something back on it. Maybe he will.

The thing is, the fishery of this Province is the reason why we settled here. There are thousands upon thousands of people unemployed now because of the close down of the fishery, I say to you, Mr. Speaker. We have the Premier in this Province really saying nothing about it. We have seven Liberal members in Ottawa, and what do we hear from those people? The silent seven saying nothing on the seal fishery in Ottawa. We have people on the streets in Ottawa who were interviewed with Patrick Conlon last night saying that the government should not have a second look at the seal fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, because they aren't informed.

Obviously, our federal members are not doing the job to represent the people of this Province that they were elected to do. And I have to go back to the Premier again, Mr. Speaker, because he was in there for fifteen years and what did he do while he was there? Nothing, with respect to the seal fishery in this Province. So that is an issue that has to be addressed, and addressed very quickly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, changes are needed, of course, in the new fishery, definitely. We need to know who is going to be in the fishery, and the people of this Province want to know. The people of this Province want to know what fish plants will remain open, what communities will remain open and I think that they deserve nothing less than that. The old fishery - and I do not claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that in the past there was fish being wasted, different species of fish being wasted. I remember, as a young guy growing up in Torbay, going down to Tapper's Cove to get a couple of fish to carry home to cook up for supper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It was not me, I say to him; I am no fisherman and do not claim to be. But, Mr. Speaker, I remember going down there, and there were large fish that I would have to drag up over the hill in Torbay, home to my house, and I used to see untold amounts of fish overboard, small fish, what they considered small fish at that point in time, but today, they probably would be considered fairly average fish. That needs to be addressed. They have to be utilized more. I cannot really speak to the details of that but the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is all-knowing on this issue and he could certainly address it I would imagine. So that is one thing.

Another thing that I often wondered about as just a layperson, not being a fisherman, is the number of fish plants. Granted, it is a major issue and a major concern that has to be addressed. Drive up the Southern Shore and you will see a fish plant in almost every community. You see in Pouch Cove there is one, one in Flatrock, one in St. John's, one in Bay Bulls, one in Witless Bay, one in Tors Cove and those are just the areas with which I am familiar. I mean, go all over this Province, Mr. Speaker, and there are fish plants everywhere. This has to be addressed and some kind of system put in place.

I don't know if the minister is planning to address that in this bill, because he is talking about licensing and what have you, but my concern here is that one man having that authority is scary, to say the least, Mr. Speaker, scary, nothing less.

MR. EFFORD: What?

MR. J. BYRNE: Scary, that is the word - especially when you look at the minister and his attitude, his confessed attitude in this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker. You know, that is the scary part of it. He has no qualms or no embarrassment about saying it, therefore wouldn't I be concerned, and wouldn't every member of this House of Assembly be concerned, Mr. Speaker? Wouldn't every individual in this Province be concerned when they are trying to put legislation through the House of Assembly, that is going to give the minister full authority, all authority, to overrule Cabinet?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what to say to him other than to say that, there should be a sober second thought given to this one. The Senate looking at Term 17 - and rightly so. Maybe we should give some sober second thought in this House of Assembly to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The minister was on his feet the other day saying that the Justice department brought this forward for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Now, can you believe that, that the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Government House Leader: What are you asking?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is asking (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Who?

AN HON. MEMBER: You.

MR. J. BYRNE: I have thirty minutes to speak. I suppose I am permitted to speak my thirty minutes, I am only following the normal House procedure in speaking my thirty minutes on a bill. That is all I am doing.

Now, if the Government House Leader is threatening night sittings, if he is doing that, which he has done in the past, to force legislation through the House of Assembly, sobeit. He has the control, his side of the House has control, but we have legislation before us, a number of bills that they are talking about putting through the House, over twenty bills, and we want to give due consideration to each and every bill.

Now, I have to address something. The other day the Government House Leader was asking for leave to introduce bills on first reading and I wouldn't give it to him. I will explain that. I am amazed that the Government House Leader does not understand why I would not give it to him. Now, sit back and think about it. You have been here a lot longer than I have.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay. That was on a Monday, I believe, so if we had given leave that day, the bill would have been introduced that day, Monday, and it could have been debated the next day. We would have had the bill for twenty-four hours, but by delaying and refusing to give leave, what happened was that we ended up having the bill the following day, it would not be debated until Thursday instead of Wednesday, so we had forty-eight hours to study the bill and see that everything was properly in place.

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

MR. TULK: I do not care if he read the bill. I just asked his House Leader if he would ask him, and obviously his House Leader agreed again but he would not go along with him. The bully, bullying his own House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, no point of order. Now, I believe that is something like three times today that the Government House Leader - just listen to this now, the Government House Leader - here, do you want one of these? The Government House Leader stood in his place today on a point of order and there was no point of order. You would think that that man would know more about the rules of the House than that, but, no, he consistently does it. He wastes the time of the House, wastes my time. As a matter of fact, he has been up in Question Period on a point of order -

MR. TULK: No, I was not, I waited until after Question Period.

MR. J. BYRNE: Once you did. Not today, but at other times.

As I was saying, the reason I refused leave the other day to introduce first reading, was to give us forty-eight hours to look at a bill rather than twenty-four hours, quite reasonable and quite logical.

AN HON. MEMBER: You were sure miserable toward the other Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: He is a Jack of a different colour.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) out of Torbay bog area because you want as many ATVs (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I know that the Government House Leader is now trying to get me going on his buddy who is sitting next to him, the legal beagle from Topsail, with the ATV regulations, but I will just shy away from that today and let the Member for Topsail -

MR. TULK: Is that true?

MR. J. BYRNE: What's that?

MR. TULK: That you are called the bog killer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, back to the legislation again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you reading from that?

AN HON. MEMBER: You know he can.

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say I can read -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You know the answer to that one, don't you?

Mr. Speaker, this bill is about the licensing of different plants. The minister has been on his feet a number of times talking about the underutilization of different species. Now, that in the past has itself been a major concern, I suppose, to the people of the Province and the minister, give him credit, is bringing it to light, that the people in the fishery have underutilized certain species and we should be looking to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: What do you want?

MR. TULK: The hon. member says he does not understand a word you are saying.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who does not understand a word I am saying?

MR. TULK: The Member for Topsail.

MR. J. BYRNE: He does not? Well, I do not know what his problem might be. If he thinks I am speaking too fast maybe he should listen faster.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the members on the other side of the House obviously do not take this issue very seriously. I see a few member at the back, the Member for Labrador West, the Minister of Government Services and Lands, who are obviously taking it all in and obviously learning something, and are pretty appreciative. What district are you from? I will get you in Hansard anyway, because you are never up. What is your district?

MR. G. REID: Twillingate - Fogo.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Twillingate - Fogo put his hand up and wanted to be recognized and let the people know he was taking this seriously. Maybe he is.

The people on the other side of the House wanted me to get a little bit of debate going back and forth between myself and the Minister of Fisheries. Well, I have too much respect for the man.

MR. TULK: That's no debate sure. In order to have debate you have to have two people and you will only have the Minister of Fisheries then.

MR. J. BYRNE: This is not a proper debate anyway, this type of sitting in the House of Assembly, when you get up to say a few words and what have you, and then someone else gets up and says a few words. A proper debate would be back and forth, like myself and the Government House Leader are doing now. Every now and then he butts in and says something not all that intelligent, but he does butt in once in awhile to say something. We have to recognize him because you never know what you might want from the man some time.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You never know what I might want from you some time. Maybe I might want a sawmill permit or something; you never know.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this legislation again goes right to the heart of this Province, the fishery of the past and the fishery of the future. The fishery of the past of this Province was the heart - what do you want?

MR. TULK: I want to ask you a question.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, seriously now, a serious question.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Government House Leader puts on record, the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods wants to know that if I ask him a question on silviculture he will give me a sawmill permit for -

MR. TULK: I never said that. I said, if I give you (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The question was, if he gives me a sawmill permit, would I ask him a question on silviculture?

I think the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods should be a bit more responsible than that. I think what the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods should do, if this is an issue - and I know it is an issue in this Province with the sawmill operators, and we are not talking about commercial sawmill operators; we are talking about people who want a permit to saw logs for another individual who brings them forward. I had a meeting with the minister on this, and there are other members in this House of Assembly who have the same issue, and it should be on the merit of those permits themselves. It should not be deals worked back and forth in the House of Assembly.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible). Good enough.

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister agrees with that, and he is going to issue a permit -

MR. TULK: I never said that.

MR. J. BYRNE: You just said, yes, alright.

MR. TULK: You just asked me to be responsible. (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left? Do you have any idea?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Four minutes, that is all?

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this is a very serious issue. The fishery of the past in Newfoundland and Labrador was the reason why people settled in this Province, why they settled in every community around this Province. The people earned a living from it. They caught fish, they salted it -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) the cucumber book (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, I am glad you brought that up, the cucumber book. The only member sitting in this House of Assembly today who was involved with the cucumbers is sitting on the other side of the House. And who was the member? The Member for Humber Valley. And he was minister at the time. I wonder, is his recipe in that book, the pickle book? Not one member on this side of the House had anything to do with that. They were not in the party, were not involved, were not elected at the time, all new members on this side of the House. But who is over there? We have the Member for Humber Valley, who was a minister at the time, who probably had a recipe in that pickle book.

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible) giving away the shop.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs talks about giving away the shop. Can you believe that, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs making that statement, when only last week this government gave out $2 million to Trans City, to a person who sued this government because of Trans City, because they broke the Public Tender Act, and they won, and the government admitted guilt. And now the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: At least we got something to show for it. (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Justice stood in this House of Assembly and would not talk about this. He says it is not in the public interest to put out the information with respect to a third person who is going to be suing; and he has the gall to bring this up when they spent $11 million on the privatization of Hydro - $11 million - not one job created. At least Sprung created 300 jobs for two years, but this crowd over there spent $11 million on the privatization of Hydro, not one job created, $40 million by the time it was all said and done, going out to Trans City and to the bidders of Trans City, over and above what the taxpayers should have paid. Forty million dollars is what we are talking about.

Before I sit down I want to thank the Government House Leader, because when I got up to speak, I was planning on speaking for maybe ten minutes, but he interjected enough to keep me going for half-an-hour, and if you want me to keep going, no problem at all, by leave.

Now, again, Mr. Speaker, another issue with respect to the fishery, the major problem in the fishery over the years and something that has to be addressed - and I think the Minister of Fisheries may address it, he may, hopefully he will - is the draggers. Now, this is my personal view. My personal view is that the draggers, big draggers out destroying the environment, dragging the ocean floor, destroying the habitat, Mr. Speaker, is something that has to be addressed. I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, seriously, is he planning on addressing that issue with respect to the fishery of the future?

MR. EFFORD: Am I planning on telling you? No.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Speaker, just said he is not planning on telling me. So he is planning on keeping it secret. That goes right back to the very concerns that we have with this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up. Is it the understanding of the Chair that the hon. member has been granted leave?

MR. TULK: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis, by leave.

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

In cluing up, Mr. Speaker, this problem goes back to the bill itself and the concerns that we have on this side of the House about one man having the authority to do what he wants to do in the future of the fishery.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, and that is what you are trying to do. You are trying to give the man all-encompassing, all-powerful authority.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this concern we have here is a real concern. I have had people in my district talk to me about the concerns of having the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture say that - and he laughs at this. He makes a joke of this, that you have to be in a Liberal district to get licensing in the future. Mr. Speaker, that is not right. That is not even right to joke about. I have to come back to it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: - and in cluing up, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for your time. I thank the Government House Leader for his input and I thank the Government House Leader for leave.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. H. HODDER: A point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity now to close debate on -

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, we have no objection to the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture speaking if he is not going to close debate, if he wants to participate as any other hon. member, but if he is closing debate, then we would take exception because we have other speakers who wish to speak to this particular bill in second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture wish to just engage in the debate without closing the debate?

AN HON. MEMBER: He cannot do that.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would point out that Your Honour did recognize and I guess it is - you cannot sit in your seat forever, I say to the member. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was recognized in the House, but I think, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is gentleman enough to give him leave, at least for a few minutes to speak. But he was recognized in this House and as such, when he stood and started to speak - he was recognized by the Speaker. It is a well known thing that if you are recognized by the Speaker somebody cannot stand up -

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not start speaking.

MR. EFFORD: I did so.

MR. TULK: Oh, yes he did. Not ten seconds, not five seconds, not one second, not ten minutes after the hon. gentleman starts to speak, he is dead on his feet and he has the right to conclude the debate. So I have to tell the hon. gentleman that if he is going to speak he will be speaking by leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is standard procedure in the House that when the minister who introduced the bill stands, the Speaker has to say, `If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.' The Chair in this case did not do that. The hon. minister was interjecting across the House on a number of occasions that he wanted to reply to some of the concerns and questions that were asked by the minister who was speaking at the time. The Chair assumed that that was what he was doing. He was taking advantage of the opportunity to address some of the questions raised.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could, and I am not going to question the Speaker, I would not dare -

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

MR. TULK: To that point of order, the truth is that when the hon. gentleman started to speak he was concluding the debate. If Your Honour wishes to say that that was not his intention that is fine.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, no, I said if Your Honour wishes to say that is the case, that is fine, but he knows when the minister is recognized and he starts to speak, he is concluding the debate. Your Honour obviously misunderstood what the hon. gentleman was doing.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney) : As I said earlier, that was not the intent when I recognized the minister, and the fact that the hon. the minister has taken his seat gives the Chair the reassurance that he wishes the debate to continue, and the Chair thanks the minister for his indulgence.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take this opportunity just to speak for a few minutes on this intriguing piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act", is a piece of legislation which goes far beyond the mere wording of the legislation which is found in sections 1 and 2. We see in subsection 4 (1), that this piece of legislation gives Cabinet a new power to make regulations on the regional distribution of processing licences, the development of a fishing industry in this Province and other matters that are not directly related to fish quality.

Mr. Speaker, what concerns the members on this side of the House about this anticipated piece of legislation, is the unfettered and unrestricted power which such legislation gives Cabinet without the opportunity of the people of this Province having any input. So it is not particularly the wording of the legislation that troubles members on this side of the House, it is the intent of the legislation.

This legislation and indeed other legislation which attempts to do what is being done here, denies the people of this Province an opportunity for input, for say, and to partake in the ordinary debate across the House of Assembly. Debate is an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, for members of this honourable House who represent the constituents of the people of the Province of Newfoundland, the constituents of this Province as their representatives, to participate in debate on an ongoing basis. But what this legislation does, Mr. Speaker, is it prevents the people of this Province from engaging in debate by virtue of the fact that their duly elected representatives, regardless of which side of the House they represent and on which side of the House they sit, it denies their opportunity from participating, because this legislation gives unrestricted discretion to Cabinet through its ministry, in this case, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to make decisions with respect to processing licences and generally, to the development of the fishing industry in our Province and other matters not directly related to fish quality.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is the intent of this legislation and it is the danger that this legislation presents to the people of this Province in that, there is no opportunity for the people to participate. It is very broad legislation. The other powers, through the regulatory arrangement pursuant to this legislation, the other powers given as a result of its regulatory authority, is to licence persons, to licence establishments, to licence vehicles, to cancel or suspend licences and to charge fees for licences. Again, a regulatory result or consequence of the legislation and in and of itself, sweeping and broad, and again, I want to repeat, because this is relevant to the democratic process, you know, that we all participate in, that we, as members of this House, who represent the people who elected us in an open and free election, that we as members of this House, are denied from participating in open and free debate on issues which directly affect the people of this Province.

Cabinet makes regulations according to this legislation, Mr. Speaker, without bringing the matter back to this House of Assembly for its approval, and that is why we object to the wording of this legislation. If the government feel they can get away with such procedure this time, they will continue to do so, and not necessarily restrict it to fisheries matters but indeed any piece of legislation. Where government feel they ought to have the unrestricted authority to deal without giving the people of this Province an opportunity to participate the government will indeed attempt to do so, so what we do as an Opposition is make it clear to members opposite that they cannot get away with it without being challenged. That is why we object to the wording and that is why each of us, as members of the Opposition Party, will challenge this legislation because it denies us, as duly elected representatives, the opportunity to speak on behalf of our constituents and participate in the course of general debate.

Mr. Speaker, we see in this government throughout the past several months a track record of attempting to do things without having the people of this Province join in, without having the people of this Province be willing participants. In most cases, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that when government has attempted to force issues down the throats of the people of this Province, the attempt generally has a tendency to backfire. We see it with respect to health care restructuring. The many questions that have been asked by the people of this Province who oppose, for example, the closure of the Janeway Children's Hospital, the closure of the Salvation Army Grace Hospital, these were decisions that were made in the past without adequate consultation and without adequate input by the people of this Province.

What was the result? The result, Mr. Speaker, was a public outcry by people in the Province who felt that their voices were not being heard, that their input was not being considered, that their position was not being regarded by the duly elected government of the people. We have seen it in health care. We saw it most recently on the issue of the dispensing fees, when pharmacists sat here in dozens, day after day, when they were denied the opportunity to be part of the consultative process, and I say to the hon. minister that is what this legislation is all about. I repeat for the hon. minister that it is a denial of the consultative process, which is what is troublesome and problematic about this legislation.

Getting back to the issue of the pharmacists, Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that they were restricted and prevented from participating, they objected. They sat here in the galleries of the House of Assembly and listened to petition after petition. Why? Because they were not invited to become part of the decision-making process. What the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is attempting to do in this legislation is to make decisions affecting the day-to-day activities and the day-to-day procedures of our fishing industry in this Province, again without adequate consultation and input by the public. So in the health example that I gave a little while ago, the people opposed it.

On the issue of the dispensing fees, the pharmacists, because they were denied the opportunity to participate, they opposed; and you will notice the trend. The trend, as I mentioned earlier, when people feel left out they object. People want to feel a part of the process which directly affects their lives on a day-to-day basis.

The issue of education reform is a classic example where government felt it could make decisions without inviting the public to participate. Yes, it is true that recently we see attempts being made by the Minister of Education, at least, in having the public of this Province participate in the consultative process as was going on for several weeks throughout nineteen or twenty public meetings, but originally the people were left out. I would submit to this House, the reason why education reform is such a fiasco, and is in such turmoil today, is because originally the people were not consulted. Had the people been consulted, and all the parties invited to participate to work out a solution, this would have been done, I would suggest, years ago, at minimal cost to the people of this Province, at minimal divisiveness at the expense of the people of this Province, and we would now, I would suggest - yes, now, in the Fall of 1996 - we would have been enjoying the benefits of true education reform, a reform that was negotiated and accepted by everybody. But no, the previous government chose an alternate route. The previous government decided to impose answers. The previous government decided to tell the people of this Province the way it was going to be. And you see, Mr. Speaker, we have that as another example of why imposing decisions do not work; why telling people what the answers to their problems are do not work.

Government is there to direct, to guide and to work with the people, not to tell people what the answers are. When people feel a part of the solution, when people feel they have been invited to be active participants, and in fact do so, regardless of the conclusion or the decision, it is readily accepted. And had the situation with respect to education reform, a couple of years ago, been dealt with, with complete openness and honesty and welcoming the people for their input, we would not be in the situation that we find ourselves in today.

So, Mr. Speaker, the government ought to learn a lesson when dealing with legislation and when dealing with input by the people of this Province, that people have to be willing and active participants. This legislation today does not accomplish that. It blocks people out. It says to people, no, you will not be a part of the decision-making process. We, as a Cabinet, will make the decisions for you. We know what is best for you. We know how your lives should be lived. That is what this legislation says in fact, and that is why, Mr. Speaker, this legislation is offensive to us on this side of this House, and that is why we will continue to debate this legislation, because the people of the Province are not being invited to participate on an issue as important to them and we have tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders who are active participants and who want to be active participants in the fishing industry. The tradition and the daily procedures and the lifestyle is something, Mr. Speaker, which the people want to have some say in, and this legislation prevents that.

Another example and hopefully through example after example we will see why consultation and willing participation is so critical. An example which comes to mind very quickly is on the issue of Public Examinations. Mr. Speaker, without any contact and without any input and without any invitation to the public of this Province, without discussion with teachers, without discussion and input from other educators and school board personnel, from students, from parents, from those professionals at our University, from the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, again for the second straight year, public examinations in this Province were cancelled for no apparent good reason.

The University now, since the decision has been made by this hon. government to cancel public examinations, has since reintroduced the idea of an entrance exam. Why? Because the University, as our post-secondary institution of higher learning in this Province, felt that it was necessary to have a standard entrance examination. Without it the University felt that it could not adequately deal with students and first-time entrants at our University. This was in response to the fact that the government refused to listen to the people of the Province. The government did not want to include - it was not politics of inclusion, it was politics of exclusion.

That is what this government's legislation is attempting to do, when we carefully scrutinize Bill No. 21. It prevents the people of this Province from participating. The public exam example is a good one, because it clearly recognizes that people want to have their say. When their say is not respected, people will respond accordingly.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you finished?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, we have a similar issue, and a couple of more themes which I think, on the topic of education, are relevant, because it just re-emphasizes the need for public input. It is the issue of - and I say to the hon. minister, no, I am not finished. The other issue I would like to deal with is the issue of school busing.

School busing was a topic this summer which was very problematic, for government officials I am sure, but particularly for the parents and the young people of our Province. Because unilateral decisions were made by powers in authority, by those people in authority, namely the Department of Education, the Minister of Education and his officials, unilateral decisions were made which directly affected the people of our Province. For example, parts of this city during the months of June, July and August were affected this way, when the Minister of Education said - presumably because of his ability through the regulatory regime to do so - the Minister of Education said, `there will be no longer the required subsidies given to the various school boards and therefore busing, for certain areas in this city, will be discontinued.' No decision, there was no invitation for input. The people of this Province were caught off guard and as a result, Mr. Speaker, we all know what happened; there was demonstration after demonstration, there was protest after protest. People lined the Prince Philip Parkway. People lined Columbus Drive. On the East End of St. John's, parents groups met night after night during hot summer evenings, trying to resolve the problem of how their children would get to school from their home. And, Mr. Speaker, what happened? People objected, people objected loudly. Why? The primary reason is because the government refused to have the people of this Province, the people who are directly affected by this decision, have their say.

What I find somewhat amusing is that when the hon. the Minister of Education was involved in this consultation process, there was debate, for example, on whether or not the public examination regime would continue for Level III students in our Province. He invited discussion, and I find this somewhat amusing because in that particular case, there was an invitation to participate and the majority - because I, with some of my colleagues, attended some of these public meetings - the majority of people who responded on this topic voted to have a standardized exam, but yet, the decision was made by the minister to just arbitrarily cease the continuation of the public exam regime.

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of other examples which I wish to make on a couple of other topics. I notice that we are at the closing time. I do wish to continue tomorrow but at this time I seek leave to adjourn debate.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment of the House until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, November 26, but before doing so I would like to inform the Opposition - I do not know if I should even tell them or not - that when they are finished with "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act", unless the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice have passed away from old age, we will next do "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act", and "An Act To Amend The Jury Act".

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.

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