December 17, 1996         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLIII  No. 55

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The members will have noted by now that there has been placed on each member's desk a personalized copy of the Bible, and this is presented by Gideons International, along with a letter which outlines the work that the Gideons International have been doing throughout the world.

In that regard the Chair would like to welcome a delegation to the Speaker's Gallery today, led by Mr. Laurie Chaulk, who is the field representative from Atlantic Canada, and Hazel Chaulk, the national president of the Ladies Auxiliary, and a number of representatives from the St. John's and Mount Pearl chapters of Gideon International.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted today to be joined in the Speaker's Gallery by a number of friends and colleagues from the Gideon organization, an organization with which I have had some association, and continue to, for the past twenty years.

For those of you who may not be familiar, in the unlikelihood that there is anybody who is not familiar with the organization known as Gideons International, I might just refresh your memory and mind by saying that it is an interdenominational group of business people and lay people who over the past seventy odd years have worked together across denominational lines to provide Scriptures to people in at least 172 countries of the world.

Mr. Speaker, the aim and objective of the organization is to ensure that individuals, to the greatest extent possible, have access to the Holy Scriptures for their personal use, and to that extent the Gideons have a long and historic record of programming that sees that happen in Grade V classes in all of our schools in the country where access is available, and that includes most of the schools of this Province.

In addition to that, of course, you will be familiar with the Gideon Bible as being something that is readily seen in hotel rooms, and in prisons and hospitals and other areas.

I am delighted as being one of the Gideon brethren that is here today to say on behalf of all members, I believe, of this Legislature, thank you to them for their consideration, for their diligence in not only ensuring that we have available to us in this Chamber and this House, as legislators, a copy of the Holy Scriptures, but also in the broader endeavour in which they work, and that is providing Scriptures generally around the world.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Gideons.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I wish to join with my colleague, the Minister of Health, to share his comments relative to the work of the Gideons not just in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the country, indeed, throughout the world.

I wish to welcome to the Speaker's gallery some of the people whom I've known for many years, particularly Laurie and Hazel Chaulk and Sid Stacey. These are teacher colleagues of mine who have made it a point in their lives to live exemplary Christian lives and to lead our young people in this Province in their teaching profession in directions that follow the Judaeo-Christian philosophy.

Mr. Speaker, I share with my colleague the Minister of Health as well his compliments to the Gideons on their outreach ministry to those people who are in hospitals, to people who are in prisons, and people who have need for the consolation and wisdom that we find in the holy Scriptures. I want to thank the Gideons for their presentation, reminding all of us of our heritage and how we as people have a role to play in making sure that our society reflects the values that are contained in the Scriptures and are to be there as examples to all of us in our daily lives. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would also like to welcome to the gallery today thirty democracy class students from Booth Memorial High School in the District of St. John's Centre. They are accompanied by their teachers Bill Dowdon and Ian Sparkes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would also like to welcome to the gallery today Mayor Ray Pollet from the City of Corner Brook.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Premier. The Premier indicated yesterday he was going to speak with Prime Minister Chrétien regarding transfers to this Province. I ask the Premier if he could tell us what specific areas of concern he addressed with the Prime Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. Basically all I've raised with the Prime Minister is the question that arises as a result of what we anticipate will be an increase in revenues to the Province once the Hibernia oil field comes on stream in 1997, and once, in addition to the Hibernia oil field coming on stream, the Terra Nova oil field comes on stream a few years subsequent to that event. In addition to that, there will be additional revenues flowing to the Province as a consequence of Voisey Bay coming on stream. All of these things of and by themselves are good and they will bring a revenue stream to the Province, but there is a consequence. The consequence is that as revenue flows into the Province from royalties there will be a decline in revenues in our revenue stream from equalization. All that we have indicated to the Federal Government is that we would like to explore ways in which we could keep a larger share of the revenue stream from resource development in the Province rather than seeing an outflow as a consequence of a reduction in equalization. What the Prime Minister has indicated on a number of occasions, I should say to the Leader of the Opposition, is that the Federal Government is open to a discussion of the issue.

There certainly is no agreement or discussion concluded at this stage but it is something we are going to pursue to see if Newfoundland can have a period of catch-up, if that is possible. I know this is something that both Premier McKenna and Premier Savage are interested in as well. We have collectively at one point discussed it with the Prime Minister so we will be exploring this in the new year to see if there is some additional benefit to be brought to the people and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: The Premier said he discussed basic revenues, or lack thereof, because of increased prosperity in the Province. I ask the Premier if he discussed the drastic cut this year of $87 million that we receive in the Canada health and social transfer for health, education and social services, a cut that was decided when he was our federal minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, no, I did not discuss that with the Prime Minister.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: With reference to cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, which I know are a concern certainly to our Province and our fiscal situation, I ask the Premier if he discussed with the Prime Minister or any of his federal colleagues, or members in his Cabinet, about the further $60 million over and above the $87 million we are going to get under Canada Health and Social Transfers this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows that there is a formula put in place with respect to the fiscal transfer to the Province. We know what the numbers are upfront. The formula is national in scope. The Leader of the Opposition now is attempting to score political points by getting up and asking specific questions about specific programs. It is fairly transparent what he is trying to do. I tell the Leader of the Opposition that what the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is doing is working in collaboration and in co-operation with the Federal Government to go about the business of growing this economy.

One of the things I have discussed with the Prime Minister is the delivery of a $100 million economic development program for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador that is unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. I discussed that with the Prime Minister. I discussed with the Prime Minister the ways in which the Federal Government and the Provincial Government can work together through a joint environmental assessment, the first of its kind in Canada, to facilitate the development of Voisey's Bay, the development of Terra Nova, the development of a transshipment facility, and the development of the largest and most technologically advanced smelter refinery complex in the world.

These and many other subjects I have discussed with the Prime Minister because I believe, Mr. Speaker, there is much to be positive about in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and I believe that we will make progress when we focus on the size of our potential instead of always being overwhelmed, as is the Leader of the Opposition, by the so-called size of our problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier stated yesterday that the Federal Government could not scrap the GST because it needed the money to reduce its deficit. Now, I say to the Premier, our Province is going to lose over $100 million by the Minister of Finance's admission on this BS tax that you and two other Liberal Premiers entered into in order to disguise the GST. Now, I say to the Premier, you are not in Ottawa now. Are you more concerned with saving money for the Federal Government or with looking after the affairs of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am in St. John's, Newfoundland. I know exactly where I am. I am proud to be in St. John's, Newfoundland, proud to be in Newfoundland and Labrador and I am confident about the future of this Province. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to lose a nickel. I do not know what the Leader of the Opposition is talking about. Clearly, he believes that if you leave $105 million in the pockets of the people, that is money lost. I happen to think that is a gain for the taxpayers, and God bless them!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If it were going into the pockets of the consumers in this Province, I would not be worrying, I say to the Premier, but that is not where it is going.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary, I ask him to get to his question.

MR. SULLIVAN: In Question Period I will tell the Premier where it is going. Will you confirm, Premier, that our Province gave up $190 million in direct taxes to get the transshipment facility?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition regularly stands up in the House, makes a statement which cannot absolutely be substantiated, then he sits down and says: `I will talk about it later.' Mr. Speaker, we have had the Leader of the Opposition stand here and talk about secret meetings that occurred, supposedly, in the last election campaign. He named Gerald Fallon, who has denied it. He named my brother - because he thought there was some political mileage in that - who has denied it. It turned out to be totally false. He has now stood up and said there is $105 million going to be lost in the Province and, Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely untrue. There is no money going to be lost in Newfoundland and Labrador. There will be less money flowing to government coffers and more money staying in the pockets of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, if the Leader of the Opposition is going to stand and say that it is going to disappear, Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Opposition, he at least has an obligation to give us some plausible explanation as to where he thinks this money is going to disappear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is easy to know when the Premier is on the defensive - easy to know. I spoke for one hour on harmonization in this House when you were not here, and I said where it went. I will not take time in Question Period to repeat it but I will immediately after Question Period, I say to the Premier. I challenged you to a public debate on the issue and you refused. I will give you that chance again, Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier: Will he confirm that in the transshipment facility, our Province gave up $190 million in direct taxes on that deal?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition - and this I find amusing - keeps challenging us to public debates. I have to tell him, this is the people's House, it is a public House and if he has an answer to give, give it here and now with leave of members on this side of the House.

The Leader of the Opposition's notion of public debate, Mr. Speaker, of public policy discussion, is to make an accusation, then, having made the accusation, run for the hills. There is no need to run for the hills. We are here in the people's House and if he is going to say something, he should substantiate it. And on his latest accusation about a $190 million transfer, or giveaway, or money vaporising, Mr. Speaker, that statement is also false.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In a meeting with the deputy minister and the assistant deputies, I was informed, with members of my staff, that we forfeited $190 million in revenues on taxation on the transshipment facility.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which deputy minister -

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I will tell you, I will tell you in due course.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: We all want to see prosperity but we also ask the Premier: Will you come clean and lay the facts on the table and not be hiding them, so we can all make a determination what is best for the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, you know, the Leader of the Opposition has been, on every occasion in this House, standing up in the face of every single positive, constructive development that has gone on in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and has searched diligently, Mr. Speaker, to find a bit of crisis and a bit of bad news to drag onto the floor of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to say something to the Leader of the Opposition: I am so confident that his politics of bleakness, his politics of defeat, his politics of misery, his politics of defeatism and pessimism, are so unacceptable to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that I am going to leave him to stew in his own juice. Because I believe in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1996, and I believe in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997. I believe we are making progress. We are making progress because the fundamentals in terms of our resource industry are right. We are making progress primarily, I say to the Leader of the Opposition -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - and I will conclude, Mr. Speaker; the people of this Province believe in themselves and believe in their own abilities, and believe in their own strengths, and I say to the leader: Not even Scrooge, let alone the Leader of the Opposition, can steal this Christmas spirit in Newfoundland and Labrador!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You wouldn't know but the Premier had a monopoly on the interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Where were you when I worked in this Province, employing up to 200 jobs and reinvesting in the future of this Province? I believe strongly in the future of this Province, I say to the Premier.

I want to see transshipment. I want to see the facts on the table so we can see the merits, we can see the demerits, and we can render a judgement on what is best and what is not, not take it from political connivery by the Premier in documents that he will not table in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe the hon. member just made a comment that is certainly unparliamentary - political connivery - and I ask him to withdraw that statement.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I withdraw the word `connivery' if it is used in -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

That is all the hon. member -

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, fine.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier now: Will you lay on the Table of this House, letters of intent and the specific details of the benefits accrued from the transshipment facility so the public can see it and render a decision? Will you do that, Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I can only say to the Leader of the Opposition, he should save some of his ammunition for the next election. It is still four years away.

We had an announcement of a transshipment facility for Newfoundland and Labrador. We had an analysis done by the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, showing half-a-billion dollars of net economic benefit to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and that information was given to the Leader of the Opposition and given to anybody else who asked for it, and the Leader of the Opposition said: Bah, humbug!.

Mr. Speaker, we had an attempt to try - and we are in the middle of it - to try and renegotiate the Churchill Falls power contract. We had a resolution put by a private member to the floor of the House to say that we stand behind the attempt to renegotiate the contract, and the Leader of the Opposition says: Bah, humbug!.

Mr. Speaker, we had an announcement by Inco that they are going to spend a billion dollars in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The people of Argentia started a spontaneous parade -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - celebrating the announcement, and the Leader of the Opposition said -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Bah, humbug!

PREMIER TOBIN: Bah, humbug!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Leader of the Opposition: Bah, and humbug!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, when the Premier cannot answer a question, he puts on a show for everybody. We all know how he acts, a little show by the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: All I want Premier is an answer to a simple little question -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Will you let the people of this Province see the details on the transshipment so we can draw a conclusion whether the decision you made in secret is best for this Province? If it is, I will support it, I say to the Premier. Will you do it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I should say to the House that we made arrangements to provide a full and comprehensive presentation to the Leader of the Opposition over a month and a half ago. It showed 300 construction jobs at this terminal, 300 at peak; it showed forty full-time jobs in the aftermath. What we talked about was 4 per cent RST exemption on Hibernia transshipped at crude. It talked about fuel tax exemptions, and then it went on, in this presentation, to talk about a positive net economic benefit to the Province over the life of the Hibernia field of $500 million to the economy of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has such a great interest, I've requested from your department on several occasions the letter of intent pertaining to transshipment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: In fact, I faxed to the minister today a written request for that. I haven't received it. Will you see, I say to the minister, that I will receive letters of intent and information pertaining to it? I have been denied it for the past two to three months, Mr. Speaker. Will you ensure that I now receive it?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition is in dreamland. This was negotiated and made public three months ago. All of the information was made public. It was made public at a press conference. There were literally hundreds of people there. We didn't just stop there. We heard the fuss the hon. member made in the public media trying to grandstand, so we invited him to my department. We sat him down, we made a presentation, and when the numbers got complicated we showed him pictures.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the Premier said at a news conference he would provide it. I called and asked for it. His ADM told me: We don't have it. He said: But we can do an overhead presentation of the generalities. I want to see, minister - you've been denying it for three months, your department. I ask to see the specifics on this deal so we can draw conclusions in the best interest of the people of this Province.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we have given every single detail. We have explained the 4 per cent RST exemption on Hibernia-related crude. We mapped out and traced for him the fuel tax exemptions which were conceded by the Province. We showed the benefits on the construction side. We showed the benefits of the 100 Newfoundlanders who will take jobs on the two supertankers. What is the hon. member saying? That he wanted this to go to Nova Scotia? We worked very hard for this for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: It is getting very interesting, Mr. Speaker. In fact, on the overheads there are some of the pages they removed and had to get permission from the Premier before they could send it to us, I would say to you, on generalities.

Will the minister and the Premier admit that their department is hiding the specifics of this deal, keeping it from the people of this Province? I haven't rendered a judgement whether it is good or bad, but I think I have a right, I will say to the Premier and the minister, to be able to see the details so we can render an informed decision on what is best for the people of this Province. Will you provide those specifics?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member came over for the presentation which lasted for a couple of hours I'm told by the Assistant Deputy Minister Mr. Spracklin, who is a very good economist, that the hon. Leader of the Opposition thanked him, thought it was a very comprehensive presentation, thought all the questions were answered honourably and straightforwardly, and all of the details and all of the numbers were given to him. So I can only go by what these senior civil servants who were hired by the former government that are still in our government gave. They gave full and straight and comprehensive answers. I think the hon. member is just fishing. He is on a great fishing expedition.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I feel compelled to stand here in this House on inaccuracies by this minister when the DM is not there now - in fact, he is not even there, the one I met with - there is a new DM, I say to him, and I have thanked him for the meeting which I requested and scheduled.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: One more time, a final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I will just ask the minister: If you and the Premier have nothing to hide, let us put it out in a public forum. Let us see the benefits and let us see the areas where we made compromises and let us see if it is an overall good deal. I want to see that and I will support it if it is. Will you provide to us those figures so we can render that judgement, not an outline or sketch of overheads that do not go into any specifics?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, all of the elements of the arrangement that was reached on the transshipment facility were made public at the time the facility was announced. The Leader of the Opposition knows that. The 500 people who were there at the press conference know that and, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, I have no idea what he is doing. I mean, he is spending his time trying to tear down every bit of positive development in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, and I ask him to reflect upon what I am saying: there will come a time for us, three or four years hence, to look at another election campaign. In the meantime, all of us in this place - and the obligation is on me as well him - have an obligation on occasion to put aside the partisanship a bit and to try and build Newfoundland and Labrador. We cannot build up the Province if we try to tear down our potential as a way of trying to score political points on each other. I say to the Leader of the Opposition, we saw in the last election campaign an announcement, Sir, by your party, that the transshipment facility after the election was going to be announced for Nova Scotia. That was the major declaration of the Conservative Party. The major reality is, it has been announced for Newfoundland and Labrador and you should try to get used to it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Some fourteen months ago, a working group was put together to work towards a better labour relations climate in the Province. Recently, they tabled in the House a document containing forty-eight recommendations called, `New Centuries, New Realities.' Now that the minister has had some time to look at those recommendations and what is contained within the covers of the document, can he tell the House when he sees government acting upon those recommendations? And will it be a comprehensive action on the part of government in terms of whether they will implement all of the recommendations contained in this very comprehensive plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for his question.

A presentation has been made to government of the documents, that has been developed by the working group on labour relations. They have done a very good job of putting together a report which the government is now considering and over the next few weeks we will take our time to look at the document carefully. We will examine the recommendations carefully. We are also going to discuss further with the working group and also other groups who have an interest both in labour and in management, on a go-forward basis to see where we can move ahead, to make sure that we have a proper labour relations climate.

Mr. Speaker, we are going to need a good labour relations climate in the Province for all of the new industry that the Premier is attracting to the Province. We are going to work towards ensuring that we do have a proper labour relations climate, Mr. Speaker, because of all of the great, great work that is being done in this Province to attract business. And as we create those new opportunities, we want to make sure that workers in the Province are going to have a good labour relations climate. We are also going to ensure that employers who come to the Province have a good labour relations climate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Let me say to the minister, that will work towards a better labour relations climate, based upon our natural advantages, which seem to me, are our resources and are not necessarily contained on the other side of the House.

In the report, Mr. Speaker, the working group clearly says to the minister that the recommendations contained here have been arrived at as a result of compromise and trade-offs based upon both business and labour and that implementing these recommendations on a piecemeal sort of approach, or only some of the recommendations, would be harmful and would place in jeopardy - or would provide balance to one group over another.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Will the minister make a commitment that the recommendations contained within this report are very worthwhile, Mr. Speaker, which outline a framework for a labour relations climate heading into the next century? Will he make a commitment today that all of these recommendations from one to forty-eight will be implemented? Can he inform the House, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, again, I thank the member for his question. I want to say that the report was well put together. The facilitator, Mr. Austin Thorne, did a great job of putting it together.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: We are going to look at the report in a comprehensive fashion. I will not say we are going to accept it carte blanche. We will look at the total report and we will examine all the recommendations. We are going to also have further consultation with business, industry, and labour to ensure that as we evaluate the options that we put in place a proper and very much a positive labour relations climate for all the new business activity that government is now creating.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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. Yesterday, I asked the Premier to confirm reports that Spanish and Portuguese fishing activity has increased dramatically since 1995. In fact, it has increased by 500 per cent in spite of the statement to the House by the Premier a couple of weeks ago. The Premier stated that he could not confirm those reports since he was not aware of any increased fishing activity. I now ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture if he is aware of this serious situation, and if so, what is he doing to correct it?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite is assuming there is a serious situation out there. What we know is that there are more boats fishing this year than last year, but there are observers on all the boats and that is a major improvement over past history. Assuming there is something happening and finding out is another thing. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada has said very clearly that he is going to check into it and monitor it on a day-to-day basis, and I have the confidence he will do that.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are no assumptions, Mr. Speaker, we know the fishing activity that is out there. It has been clearly reported. Minister, you must have made time last night to speak with your cousins during the expensive love-in down at Hotel Newfoundland. I ask the minister: When will Minister Mifflin act to stop this raping of our turbot stocks, since the allowable quota for this particular year has already been taken?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, prior to 1985 when I decided to run for politics, I wanted to know how many family members I had in the great district of Port de Grave, and I found out I had 250, mostly cousins. I was not in Port de Grave last night. I was at Hotel Newfoundland, so my cousins are in Port de Grave, they were not at Hotel Newfoundland. Let the hon. member gets his relationships correct.

Now, I would be honoured if the Prime Minister of Canada saw fit in his busy schedule to sit down and meet with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland, and if he called me his cousin I would be very honoured. Minister Mifflin and myself are in continuous dialogue on a regular basis, on all activities in the fishing industry of Newfoundland and Labrador, inside and outside the 200 mile limit.

I have never heard the hon. member stand up once in this House and ask a question or do something about the 10 million seals that are out there in the ocean eating fish. If a boat turns up in our direction that is the issue. We are concerned about all activities, inside and outside the 200 mile limit.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I agree with the minister that probably there were not too many of his cousins down at Hotel Newfoundland, because they are probably like my cousins, they could not afford to pay $500.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister, I call on you to admit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador right here today, that the turbot war was a farce. It was an expensive spectacle put forward to showcase the federal minister at that time, and the real reason that the Spaniards and Portuguese temporarily vacated the Nose and Tail of the Grands Banks -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the hon. member has asked his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: I am asking the question, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that the Spanish and Portuguese vacating the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks was really for economic reasons and not the intimidation created by the now Premier?

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

MR. EFFORD: First of all, let me tell the hon. member, my cousins can afford to go to dinner. Now, make no mistake about that. Let me tell the hon. member something else. Let me get on a serious point here. Prior to the Spanish War, there were in excess of eighty vessels fishing 365 days a year on the Grand Banks with no observers, with all the fishing activity that could take place with undersized mesh and everything that they could possibly do wrong. Today, there are less than thirty vessels fishing on the Grand Banks. We know there are observers on each and every vessel. We know that there is a controlled fishery, that there is co-operation between the EU and Canada, and we know that there are major gains being made.

Is he also saying that we would like to revert to the way it was, that we take all observers off the boats? Get your act together and let us talk some sense in this House!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to take his seat.

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 Justice.

The Justice minister was the head of a Cabinet committee charged with an in-depth total review of the industry department. I ask the Minister of Justice: Has this review been concluded, and when can we expect to see it tabled?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member is talking about. Is he talking about the program review?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: The program review is an internal study which is being carried out by ministers. It will be dealt with by Cabinet in due course. Until then, it would not be proper to discuss the issue, before Cabinet has had an opportunity to deal with it.

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

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Order No. 26, Bill No. 45. Motion No. 3, the closure motion, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader is moving, pursuant to Standing Order 50, is it, the motion on closure.

MR. TULK: Yes, closure on Bill No. 45.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the motion, `aye.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Against.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

We are now dealing with Order No. 26. We are on second reading of the bill.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier was wondering what is going to happen to the $105 million, or the $150 million I advocate, in there, so I am going to explain to him now basically what might happen there.

I asked the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board yesterday, and I would like the minister to clarify this for me, if it is at all possible. When we look at the GST revenue base we had in the Province last year, according to the figures I received provincially and federally, it has ranged from $279 million to $283 million depending on what month you took. It varied. According to that, there will be a shortfall of $240 million when you take the GST that was collected last year and take that 7 per cent and convert it to an 8 per cent equivalent to what our Province is going to get. When you look at that, there is a $240 million shortfall.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board indicated that there is an insurance tax. I think he said the insurance tax is going to bring us in around...$35 million, he said, roughly - or $25 million was the figure he used the first time. He came back after and made a correction. I think he said $35 million the second time. The private sale of vehicles, I think he indicated, is going to be $25 million, and then he indicated, by freezing the tax on tobacco and liquor it is going to be another in the $25 million range, for a total, he said, of about $75 million on those three specific areas.

Now, he said there is going to be another $15 million -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get to the Premier's question in a minute, now. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board could check this out in the meantime. There were some other taxes of minor ones, and other taxes he said, that would bring it up to $90 million. So when you subtract $90 million from $240 million, you get $150 million. The minister has not provided information that shows basically where the difference is. Unless the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board can provide to me figures that show it is $105 million, I advocate it is $150 million. Based on the mathematics used in his Budget, based on the answers to his questions in the House of Assembly, there is going to be a $150 million shortfall. In year three, all our money is going to be used up and we will be stuck with a $150-million hole in the Budget.

We all know what happened on the GST. We are all well aware of the Finance minister coming out and admitting he was wrong, saying that they promised to scrap it and abolish it, and he admitted that. Sheila Copps did a poll that showed she could get re-elected in Hamilton East and then she admitted it and went out and got re-elected, as everybody expected. There were no surprises. Now the Prime Minister of Canada will not admit it. He will not admit that he told us the GST would be abolished. The Prime Minister tries to skate around the issue. The Premier of this Province also was one of those who was going to scrap and abolish the GST.

Now, what he has done - and I am in the process of explaining where the $105 million - he wanted so eagerly to know in Question Period. I am getting to that very shortly, I am sure he will be eager to find out and now, he decides to cover up to give the impression that the GST is eliminated when actually it is hidden now by the only three Liberal governments out of ten in this country and the federal government, it is hidden into a tax, with tax-inclusive pricing, and in the tax-inclusive pricing, it is detrimental and now I am getting to answer the Premier's question in Question Period, the reason why it is not going into the pockets of consumers is because the tax-inclusive pricing increases the base cost of the goods.

Anybody out there in business today will tell you, and in accounting out in the fields, that when you add extra costs on to the base price of the goods, whether it is transportation, repackaging, remarking, extra costs of converting cash registers and ongoing costs, is going to be negative and is not going to bite into the profits of businesses, it is going to be absorbed in the cost of the goods and will be a profit margin on top of that. Here is the example I used the last day: I said a hundred-dollar item today at 7 per cent GST and 12 per cent RST, will cost $119.84. With a hundred-dollar item, after tax-in pricing, other related costs, some retailers could be charging $104, it might be $102, it might be 105 depending on the item and the cost of change over in your business, when you put your 15 per cent on top of that basic cost, you are back up to $120. So, what has happened?

What happened with GST and some experts will tell you, GST was supposed to put money back into the pockets of consumers but it became an inflationary tax. Inflationary, because the cost incurred in that tax did not go into the pockets and the profits, did not filter out and go back to the consumer to increase consumer spending but reduced consumer spending, and was absorbed into the basic cost of the goods. I made that point yesterday on an Open Line show.

I had a call from a person who told me he has over thirty years in business. You are absolutely right, he said. I have been in that business in retail and dealing with (inaudible), what you are saying is exactly correct. He said the cost, I have seen it happen there, business does not pass on increased costs of doing business, and let us look at an example: In Ontario, they are shipping goods down, a lot of produce come into this Province from Ontario and right across the country from non-harmonized areas. When you ship in a pre-price, those major corporations on their products, what do they do? If it comes into Newfoundland, you have to have your tax-in pricing. It is going on the shelf, tax-in pricing. When you have tax-in pricing, not only the extra cost of that labelling the wholesale, warehousing aspects here, you also have - just look at a small business person.

A small business person, or large whatever the case may be, you have to reprogram your cash registers, reticketing of these items and you have increased costs. Here is what one company said: A Quebec based company, called MMG Management Group, announced the closure of its stores in New Brunswick and here is what they said: Like the metropolitan Greenberg red apple, they indicated the new tax is going to cost $695,000 to implement, that is a one-time cost and it is going to cost $563,000 annually to manage. I mean, who, do you think pays out this $563,000? I mean, is it that the business is going to absorb that? No.

It is always great to see a reduction in taxes for the consumer, but I don't see the logic in reducing taxes to a consumer and adding up the cost price which brings it back to where it was. That does not make sense, and when that happens, the consumer does not gain, but our Province loses over $100 million in revenue. One hundred million dollars in revenue, so I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Where is our Province going to make up over $100 million in revenue that he said we are going to be short? Are there going to be cutbacks in Education further? Are we going to cut back health care further, or social services or are we going to increase other taxes to make up for that shortfall of $100-and some million? He said the economy is going to grow. Well, let us look at it two ways, let us look at both sides of that. If the economy was going to grow, we would get those taxes anyway in extra corporate, extra income tax, and other taxes. If it grows because of harmonization there could be some residual benefits come back, but if it is going to grow anyway we have forfeited future taxes to our Province. What happens if it does not increase?

The Minister of Social Services just released a Strategic Social Plan that said that between now and 2016 the economic prospects in this Province will not be good - released by this government - and that there will be less people working, paying more taxes. There will be more people to support because of an aging population, and we will have a problem with being able to deliver the social programs of the future. That is what the Minister of Social Services said in that government document that was carefully put together, that went out around this Province to people, in dealing with the future problems we are going to have here in our Province.

I have a grave concern when we do not do responsible planning. It looks great in the short term. There is too much of this short term, to hell with the future, look after today, and don't worry about your children of tomorrow, because we are in a rut in this Province because previous governments - no matter what their political stripe - did not see the need to be able to maintain their debt as a percentage of their GDP.

I said before, I do not think we should go out and start trying to pay off a $5.8 billion direct debt. What I have been saying is important is that we have to be able to, during a mandate of government, maintain the debt levels, and as the economy grows, as the GDP increases - inflation would drive up a GDP number - as it grows, and you keep the debt similar, it comes more insignificant with each passing year. But we do not need to incur more debt on top of what we have, to pass that on to future generations.

We are at a unique time in our history. This past year or two has been very positive on the budgets of provinces of Canada because we have had some of the lowest borrowing rates we have ever had. Much of the saving in the federal budget has been because of abnormally low interest rates. Now, while the low interest rates did not stimulate economic growth in other areas, it did drastically reduce the borrowing costs, and when we have to borrow at high costs, and we have a lot of debt on our books, at 11 per cent and higher, and when you can borrow on the market today in half of that, it is a considerable saving. How many people want to see hundreds of millions of dollars going out of the treasury of this Province to pay down on debt? It bothers me that that number increases, and I feel we must look at the future of this Province in delivering the programs we need to deliver, the social programs, our health and education and social services, but we have to have a revenue on this side to be able to sustain those programs.

We have made a decision on harmonization, or they are in the process of making a decision, that is going to siphon $150 million - based on figures I received from the minister's response and from federal and provincial departments - out of this economy, badly needed, $150 million, that is not going to do anything to stimulate growth because it is not going back into the pockets of consumers to increase consumer spending.

If it would do that I could applaud that, but that is not happening. I want to see a single harmonized tax in this entire country because I think it is good, and I do not think tax-inclusive pricing is bad if all the provinces of Canada buy into the deal, because then you have the level playing field. You do not have certain areas incurring increased cost to the basic price of goods because of that, and you have advantages that are going to filter back.

Now, when 6.6 per cent of this country buys into a harmonized tax, and 93.4 per cent of the country does not, you have the big majority of the country outside this harmonized tax area and there is inherent cost built into the system. Everything you read will tell you, right through numerous people, consumer groups out there, chambers of commerce, businesses, and it is not only... Businesses are there to make money. You cannot put all your faith in what they tell you, but when you have gone through it you know that when goods get marked up - if the tax goes up on gasoline, for example, let's say five cents a gallon, do they keep the same profit by retailers? Or if the price of goods goes up by 5 per cent? No, you have to increase your profits in proportion with the cost of the goods. Profits are generally a percent of that cost of goods, percent of business, look at a profit line. So a 20 per cent profit on a ten dollar item is a big difference from a 20 per cent profit on a one dollar item. So as we increase cost of goods we proportionately increase our profit margins on goods. That is why increasing the basic cost of a good, even if the extra 4 per cent does not all go on the cost, there is some that is going to go into the profit and that is not going to go into consumer pockets. That is going to go into the price that the consumer is going to pay at the cash register.

The Government of Quebec, in 1993, looked at this tax inclusive pricing. They did an analysis. They came back this year and did another one and they came to the conclusion that it is not an option; a major province, the second largest in this country. Here we don't do an analysis, we don't look at it, the minister can't provide it. We don't look at the impact it is going to have, what he did. Nobody can complain dropping the price of cars from 12 per cent to 8 per cent. You can't complain about that. But the minister saw it as an avenue, that in this Province we are going to lose a lot of revenue, and because it was coming in April 1, decided it is better to act now and give that break. Car dealers are going to benefit and it is fantastic to see it happen but we were going to lose revenues anyway, and they were going to hold off. So, why not get the revenues now and at least help the car industry in the process?

Now, there are people out there too who were not too excited. There are people who may want that new fridge, stove or furniture. In Labrador, Northern Newfoundland - I mean a mode of transportation, the ski-doo, is a major method of transportation in many parts of Labrador. It is their main method of transportation. Even if vehicles that are used in Labrador, or areas of the Province that do not have the same access to transportation, were afforded similar things, it would be considered to be fair. In other words, we would be accelerating the date on which we are bringing in harmonization, when we have not even had a chance to debate it in the House. These decisions were made before the bill was called here for second reading in the House.

There are numerous fundamental problems with this harmonization. What is wrong with a bill when the price of a fur coat goes down - you can go out and buy a mink coat or a fur coat cheaper after April 1 then you could on March 31, but you go in and you pay an extra 8 per cent in taxes on children's clothing or school supplies, or your light bill is going to go up.

The Minister of Social Services - I asked a question, made a reference yesterday: What happened with the $51 supplement to add to people during the wintertime, for people on social assistance to heat their homes? They need that extra money in the winter because $50 extra spending in the winter is not very much compared to summer spending. Are you now going to increase that supplement out to those marginal income people, well below the poverty line? Are you going to increase that? Are there extra costs we are going to be incurring because of that? I mean, they are decisions the minister is going to have to make in the future. Is it now that this increase is going to chew up some of that cost? Is it going to chew it up in clothing, in heating, electricity.

Basic personal services are gone up. Less disposable income for the social services people, which means even their standard is going to be down. Other marginal people, the people out there today working for $200 a week and less, who are just above the level for social assistance, are some of the hardest hit people out there. They are just above that line where they can get assistance. These people now with young kids - and many of them have young kids - who have to spend a significant portion of their income, right now, on clothing, on shelter, with heat and electricity and the basic necessities, are now going to see an increase from 7 per cent to 15 per cent. There is something radically wrong with a system that takes $100-odd million out of our economy and benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. It is not a balanced system of taxation in the Province and it is not moral, I say; it is not.

There have to be avenues when you have harmonization. First of all, I oppose it on the grounds of tax inclusive pricing. There are ways to deal with rectifying this. If you move tax inclusive pricing, if you look at a distribution of the taxation levels, there are numerous ways that would completely restructure this particular bill and certainly would make it palatable to the federal government. What we have done here is we have bent over to the federal government on an initiative that grew out of a desire to get rid of the GST, that failed in every other province in Canada that has an NDP or a PC or a Bloc leader in this country. Every single one said no. The only ones that said yes are some of the poorest provinces in the country: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Why? Where are the benefits?

New Brunswick said: We will rebate to those people that I'm just talking about now. We will give some money back to them. Nova Scotia, I think. are talking about - what? - $8 million to send back, and they are saying it isn't enough. They are talking about that now. The Premier said in answers to questions during question period yesterday: We will look at things and we will see how it will impact. You don't go through with a significant piece of legislation and wander in the dark and feel your way. You do your analysis. You look at how it impacts on people. How many millions more are on the bills of low-income people below $10,000, or below $20,000, or $30,000?

MR. E. BYRNE: But that doesn't matter in the long run. That isn't why the deal was signed. That doesn't matter to them. That has nothing to do with why the deal was signed.

MR. SULLIVAN: That has relevance. It should be based on basic economics and retaining revenues, that we have discretionary income to spend for the people in our Province. We have forfeited over $100 million in extra revenues, and we now do not have discretion over where it is spent in this Province. That takes away a great degree of autonomy over taxation and to be able to regulate levels in the future.

If it is a two-way street, you might live with the autonomy part. But when the federal government can up its taxes under this agreement twice - it can up it twice without consent of the provinces. It can unilaterally increase it twice. But this Province, if it wants to increase it, must get a majority. If it wants to decrease it, if it is as prosperous as the Premier is telling us when he rants and raves about prosperity on the horizon, and we all hope it is, if it is as prosperous, wouldn't we want to give a break to our low-income people and the people on these necessities?

We have to get unanimous approval. New Brunswick has to say yes, Nova Scotia has to say yes, and the federal government has to say yes. In other words, Frank McKenna has to say yes for us to be able to give a break to people here in our Province; or John Savage, or whoever is going to replace him, whatever PC leader is going to replace him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: They are refunding money back to these people. That is what they are doing. They are saying: These people, the low-income people who have to pay extra on clothing, who have extra heat and light, will now have a rebate system like the federal does on GST, to go back in the pockets of these people. We are the only province now that does not.

The Premier answered yesterday in question period, I would say to the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island: We will look at things next year and tell you how it is going. It is there in Hansard. You will see it in yesterday's Hansard in his response to me. I mean, that isn't -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm saying it hasn't even gotten to the legislature in New Brunswick and it has made a decision. The legislature went to what is called a public hearing in a legislative process in Nova Scotia where the public had an input. I have said here from day 1, this wasn't in the red book. It wasn't an election campaign, it wasn't a part of the platform. It was signed very shortly after. They knew it was coming down the pipe. They wouldn't let the public discuss it.

I challenge the Premier to public debates on it. Anywhere, any time, any place, at his convenience, morning, noon or night, any time in a twenty-four hour period, I will be available, and I will discuss the merits and demerits of this; and the Premier wouldn't do it. Because the Premier knows he can't base it on fact, the Premier knows he can't stand on that. It is only a smoke screen to buy time with a $348 million pay off to get us by the next election, and then to hell with the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That is a very poor attitude to have, political decisions in the Province here. We have to make decisions that are based on a solid premise here for the betterment of us all.

I said before, I hope to live here in this Province the rest of my life; and my children. I'm genuinely interested in the future of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian. The Premier talks as if he has a monopoly on the future, on the interests of people in this Province. There are people here in the Legislature who are very genuinely interested. People ran in politics so they can get involved in a way that can help shape and improve the prospects of people in the Province. How can we do it when the public can't have input?

We went around the Province on committees, I can tell you. You would laugh at it, if you knew some of the things committees went around this Province on. Here we have a major taxation scheme and he won't allow it? He wouldn't allow it to go out in the public? He won't allow it to go to a committee of the House?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member doesn't have leave.

MR. TULK: Take a minute, Loyola, to clue up, take a minute.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, a minute won't -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, thank you, I will just take a minute.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, by leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I won't abuse the time. I will just finish what I'm saying. There are some very valid points, I say to the Member of the House of Assembly, on harmonization. It is not an area on which the Opposition is stalling. I have asked simple things: Put it out; let us hear what the people have to say; let us hear what experts out there have to say. Come on, let us deal with this on a rational level, not on a political level, and let us see what is best for the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I will judge anything on its merit. I stood on education legislation; numerous things we supported. We expedited processes there, and we have not unduly delayed. I can say we have moved education rapidly through this House, and other issues and other bills, up to twelve in a day. We are not going to resist in areas where we feel there is no need, but when there is a genuine concern that is going to affect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians... We cannot turn the clock back on this deal when it is done and gone too far, because on basic principle they will not do it.

I will leave you with one single question. Has this government looked at what happens with other provinces, if this deal falls apart? What happens with the $348 million? What contingencies has our Province built in to deal with this when it falls flat overall in Canada and we do not get this Blended Sales Tax, or this BS tax, right across the country?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to say again a few words on the tax harmonization and especially, of course, the motion on closure on this particular bill.

I think that this bill has a great deal of importance for the people of this Province. Some of it, over the next hour or so, will probably be repeated. I do not know how people on the other side of this House feel, but the phone calls that I get clearly indicate that all is not well with this particular piece of legislation, and most of the calls that I get - or all of the calls I get, concerning this particular piece of legislation are certainly not in favour of it but are, indeed, opposed to it.

I guess, over the last several weeks, or certainly since December 13, there is quite a move on, certainly by the federal Liberal Government, to backtrack, to cover up, to do whatever they can, to say that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Be nice, Bob.

MR. FRENCH: I have difficulty being nice on this; I really do. I will be quite honest about that. When they made a promise to the people of Canada to do away with this particular bill, I do not know how the Minister of Health, or any other minister, can sit there and say it was a great thing that they did and now we are not going to do away with it; we are going to leave it into being.

AN HON. MEMBER: They should never have brought it in.

MR. FRENCH: I agree, it should never have been brought in. As a matter of fact, if this member here had sat in the House of Commons when it came up, he would be sitting by himself today because this member here would have had his convictions and would have stood on his own two feet and would have voted against this piece of legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Let me tell you that today, I would have stood on my own two feet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) support us (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, Sir, I certainly did not on this particular piece of legislation. I certainly did not support it.

AN HON. MEMBER: This man supported it.

MR. FRENCH: He probably did.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Lloyd' is a member of the 500 Club.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I see. I was not aware of that. Oh, I see; he was a member of the 500 Club.

As a matter of fact, during the campaign back in February when I walked through Holyrood, I knocked on a gentleman's door and he told me he could not support me because of Brian Mulroney.

AN HON. MEMBER: He would not?

MR. FRENCH: He would not.

MR. SULLIVAN: `Bob', he ran for us in 1989.

MR. FRENCH: Did he? He ran for us in 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: Thank God, he did not get elected.

MR. FRENCH: Thank goodness, then, he did not make it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is a member of both 500 Clubs.

MR. FRENCH: So he is a member of both 500 Clubs? He ran for the nomination and still did not make it.

Mr. Speaker, I, as one member of this House, will not be supporting this legislation. I think my colleagues on this side of the House know me well enough, and I guess, respect my opinion, what I think about it. I, for one, supposing I stand alone here later on tonight or tomorrow, will certainly not be voting for this piece of legislation.

Now, it is great that the minister could bring in the news on Friday to reduce the taxation on cars, and that is great for the motor vehicle industry in this Province, and I have no problem with anyone who is capable of buying a new car, to be able to save.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, they are suffering and will continue to suffer. I would much sooner, if something had to come today or come last Friday, I would much sooner have talked about children's clothing or talked about our light bills. That is what I would much sooner have seen.

It is very interesting, and I made it a point to get some things from the Nova Scotia Legislature as it relates to this particular piece of business. It is called the BST tax and I have my own interpretation of that, of course, Mr. Speaker, which I certainly will not repeat here. A lot of questions were asked in the House in Nova Scotia: Who is this deal really for? Are the young people of Nova Scotia - and this is what went on in their Legislature as it related to this piece of business. It is certainly not for the young, it is certainly not for the old, and it is certainly not, as in this Province, for the working poor of the Province. It goes on and on into great detail and so on, which I will not bother to get into today, but those are just some notes out of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

I would like to read here from the Globe and Mail of December 13. It says: Of particular importance this week has been a clip played on the CBC radio. This was an August 1993 call-in show on a Toronto radio station, CFRB, in which Mr. Chrétien was asked about the GST: `So will you abolish it?' `Yes, I will abolish it,' he replied. Of course, now, he and some of his cohorts in Ottawa are saying this was taken out of context. Well, if you are asked a direct question and you give a direct answer, how in the name of goodness is it taken out of context? He was asked, and he answered, `Yes, I will abolish it,' and then his cohorts say, `Well, it was taken out of context.' Well, I would really like to know how we can interpret that as taking the Prime Minister of this country out of context? Although I do understand that in the last day or so, he certainly tried to cover his tracks, but I do not know if he is doing it very successfully or not.

Privately, of course, the Liberal strategists agree that for this GST there will be a heavy toll to pay, and if anybody thinks it is going to go away before the next election, then they are sadly mistaken. The people are not going to forget a promise to abolish this tax when this tax did not get abolished. Now, in this Province, I guess, we sold out. We got short-term gain for long-term pain, and this pain, Mr. Speaker, will be long-term. I find it interesting that we do not even have the right, if we want to increase or decrease. We do not even have the right to do that on our own. We do not have that right.

The compensation package, as we see it today - and I will not get into that, because I think our leader has done an eloquent job in talking about the figures and what we will owe once this program runs out, what we are going to be short on. It is very interesting to note that his figures came from the Department of Finance and yet in this House he cannot get answers to his questions. Tax harmonization in this Province, certainly back in February, was not an election issue, but was signed in principle by the Premier soon after the election, that (inaudible) a pending deal was hidden from the people.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Good.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

MR. FRENCH: You are welcome. I enjoyed yours, thank you. Thank you, I say to the Minister of Health.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I will put that in especially for you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sympathy cards (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Sympathy cards, yes.

MR. E. BYRNE: One week the Minister of Health says he has nothing to do with hospital boards (inaudible) hospital board.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, and next day he does.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible), yesterday he had everything to do with them.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, it depends on what suits him. It depends what day of the week he is on.

Now, the three Liberal Premiers gave a pre-election gift to Mr. Chrétien, who is nervous as people remind him of his broken promise to get rid of the GST. I say to the Government House Leader, this will have an impact and the people across this country will not forget Mr. Chrétien for not abolishing this tax. This will not go away, it has not gone away and it will not go away and I believe there is even some talk of maybe getting the federal election - I saw that somewhere today in print - of actually getting the federal election off the ground much sooner, before Canadians, we, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick have a chance to see exactly what this tax is going to do to us and to the people of this Province. We will have an opportunity to see how this unfolds and how it presents itself to the people of this Province.

Now, when I look back, earlier this year, the calls I had, Mr. Speaker, from people on social assistance who lost out on the sixty-one dollars, who lost out on the drugs, who lost all of this and now, if they have small children, Mr. Speaker, and a lot of them do, they are going to pay more for children's clothing. If we are going to pay a light bill that goes up every month - some of the calls I have had, and I am sure every member of this House has had them, from people who are about to lose their electricity. And how we have all worked - I say this to both sides of the House - how we have all worked to try to help in having people's power reconnected. We have all talked to Social Services, or most of us have, about what these people have to do to try to pay off the debt.

I mean, an individual who called me would have actually had to pay out almost as much, Mr. Speaker, or more than he was taking in. He certainly would not have enough left for food or clothing or anything else. And now, we are going to raise the cost of electricity in this Province to consumers, Mr. Speaker. I think that that is totally, totally, totally wrong.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I have to question British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, who did not, would not sign on to this particular agreement. Certainly, all have been asked but none of them have signed on. Why? It must be because the agreement is no good for those particular provinces, and I say that it will turn out to be no good for this Province either.

Mr. Speaker, the poor in this Province spend a greater percentage of their income on essentials that will cease to be tax exempt. Heating fuel, as I said, electricity, children's clothing, even funerals, Mr. Speaker, haircuts, legal fees, books, the tax rate on basic necessities will more than double because of this HST. Again, I say to you, Sir, that is totally wrong.

Of course, between now and the next federal election, the people in this country of ours will remember exactly what happened with this. It just blows me away to see that you will pay less for a fur coat and more for children's clothing. As a matter of fact, I believe one of the radio stations quoted last night at the Liberal dinner: There was more mink at the Liberal dinner last night than there was on a farm. There was more mink at the Liberal dinner last night, that walked through the doors, than there would be on a farm.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I am just quoting now. I do not know if it is true or false. I would say the Government House Leader would know more about that than I do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FRENCH: Go on!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) `Beaton Tulks' (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Go on! I have some difficulty with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do not be so ridiculous! The reality is that this tax will, in effect, increase children's (inaudible) to buy a fur coat.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I doubt that somehow. I really doubt that, I say to the Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, we are going to lose our autonomy to set tax rates under this deal, as I said the other day. Ottawa can raise the taxes unilaterally. Any province can veto a tax decrease. If our revenue needs increase, what will we do to get the extra revenue? If our revenue needs decrease, how will we give a sales tax break? We will not give a sales tax break because we cannot do it without the permission of the rest of them. So how are we going to do it? We cannot do it.

The Finance minister tells glowing stories about the economy growing to make up for the loss of the revenue under the HST. But the government's Social Advisory Committee document says that the next few years will bring an economic downturn because of fewer workers, fewer paying taxes, more seniors with needs, and smaller populations and declining transfers. Both cannot be true. The Finance minister is painting a rosy picture, I say, just to sell the tax harmonization bill to the people of this Province. It will not work in this Province.

The government is breaking its promise to put education reform savings back into education because the HST deal will leave it in a revenue crisis. The government rushed into a bad deal without considering the consequences and is desperately selling the deal, not because it is good for the Province, but because they think it is good for the Liberal Party of Canada. That is my assessment of this particular piece of legislation. There should be more to this than just trying to build a very clear and clean road for the Prime Minister of Canada who, like I said earlier, in the last three or four days has done more backtracking - if we could run forward in the Olympics like he has backtracked in the last three or four days, we probably would have won twenty more medals.

The new tax means duplication in tax processing. The cost of this - this new tax will cost this Province jobs. Again, when I spoke on this, I think it was on Friday, I mentioned people in the government departments here who have gone out and met with the revenue people from the Government of Canada, only when they came back to be none the wiser than when they left this building to go. They have been told little or nothing, which to me is a disgrace to be going forward, especially at this time of the year, not knowing once we come back after Christmas: Are you going to get your notice, am I going to get my notice?

I believe, Mr. Speaker, and believe most sincerely, that this is wrong. I think the people of our Province and our employees deserve much better than what we have been getting and what we have been given. We have seen that when the Premier said nobody in Newfoundland need worry any more in 1996 about employment. No more lay offs. The next day when he went to Ottawa we started getting ready to march 143 out of health care, and over the next year or two years we are going to march another 100 out right along with them. That is a shame. Now, under this here, we are going to drive more people away than we are going to employ. That is wrong, I say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Just let me say to the Minister of Health, if we were in charge we would certainly look at ways to do it, and we certainly would be doing it differently. We wouldn't have the Premier of our Province coming out, standing up to the local press and to everybody else saying: We aren't going to lay off anybody else! The next day, and even the minister probably knew this, I don't know if he did or not, 143 - if he doesn't he shouldn't be minister, I say to him.

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

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member by leave.

MR. FRENCH: I just want to, in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, on that particular point I was talking about, to say that we can't afford to lose any more jobs. If the Minister of Health thinks I'm kidding I will tell him another story, because he believes so much in health care in this Province. On the fifth floor of the Health Sciences Centre one room in there has been cleaned once in the last three days -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. FRENCH: - stuff wasted on the floors, Mr. Speaker, not cleaned up -

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

MR. FRENCH: - and the Minister of Health can sit there and (inaudible) your life, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time leave has been withdrawn.

MR. FRENCH: He knows what I'm saying!

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to take his seat.

MR. FRENCH: He knows what I'm saying is true. Thank you.

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

MR. TULK: If he was going to stay on the bill, sure we would give him leave to conclude.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It has been moved and seconded that this House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All in favour of the motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Opposed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased once again to participate in this debate on the proposed HST legislation. Just a couple of days ago we had an opportunity during second reading to explore some of the arguments against the proposed legislation. It is clear that the provinces in Atlantic Canada, which represent a region which entered into this somewhat secret deal, this memorandum of agreement, or whatever it is called, between this region of Canada and the federal government, that the opposition parties in these three parties in these three provinces in this one region, and indeed many of the citizens of each province, have voiced their objection to this legislation which is now before this particular Legislature, has come before another provincial legislature, and is due to be finalized in another in the not-too-distant future.

There is significant debate I would suggest amongst individuals and groups and associations, and indeed political parties, opposition parties, which have great difficulty with the legislation which has been entered into secretly between, I would suggest, a federal Liberal government and three provincial Liberal governments. That sounds to me to be somewhat suspicious and has to be assessed very carefully before the legislation reaches its conclusion.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to review, in a discussion on tax harmonization, the actual specifics as it relates to actual dollars and cents and what this act will mean to the people of this Province. It is careful, Mr. Speaker, that we review in detail the actual figures and with some projections as to the shortfall that this Province will realize after year five. We have to ask certain questions and I will begin with, how much is earned now in sales tax revenues? When we look at the budget and we look at the estimates, Mr. Speaker, we see that in 1995-96 the sales tax revenue from RST in this Province totalled some $565 million. The federal sales tax or GST from Newfoundland, in the most recent twelve month period, totals $283 million for a total sales tax revenue from this Province, from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in this twelve month period, a grand total of $848 million. So that is the figure, Mr. Speaker, that we begin with in our assessment of where we are today and it is important that we carry this discussion along to see exactly where we will be in year five. When we get to that figure it will be clear, I suggest to the members opposite, it will be clear why the members on this side of the House have serious objections to the provisions of this bill.

The question then has to be asked, how much will be earned under the new sales tax, the new envisaged tax? We have to remember that the current GST rate is 7 per cent. The new value added tax rate will be increased to 15 per cent and everything now taxed with GST will be taxed with the new value added tax. So the total revenue should increase by a factor of 15/7. So let's take the figure that we have already suggested will be the federal sales tax figure, which is $283 million. We multiply that, Mr. Speaker, by the 15 per cent, which is the value added tax over the 7 per cent GST tax rate and we end up with a result of $606 million. Now we have that figure, Mr. Speaker, we have to do an analysis by asking ourselves the following question, how much will Newfoundland get under the new tax act because this is our own provincial legislation which is subsequent to this secretive agreement entered into between this Province and the federal Government of Canada.

How much will Newfoundland realize under this new tax? We have a total value added tax revenue of $606 million, which is calculated, Mr. Speaker, by the formula which I just referred to. We now subtract Ottawa's share and when we do that we have a figure of $283 million which has to be subtracted from the $606 million. So Newfoundland's share, Mr. Speaker, of the value added tax revenue now totals $323 million and these are reliable figures obviously, Mr. Speaker, that we have retrieved from our own internal documentation, public documentation which is released by this Province and factors into these figures, the figures revealed by the federal government as well.

How much will Newfoundland be short compared to what it gets now? Again, the current RST revenues in Newfoundland total $565 million. Newfoundland's share of the value added tax revenue, the figure which we just addressed a moment ago, $323 million. So Newfoundland will be short - I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that Newfoundland will be short in sales tax revenue to the tune of $242 million a year. When the calculations are complete that is the bottom line. So the question has to be asked, is this a good deal for this Province? Upon careful review, Mr. Speaker, is this arrangement, this secret deal, this arrangement between Newfoundland and other provinces within this region and the Federal Government of Canada, is this an arrangement which is in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians? The clear answer to that question must be `no', and the people must stand up and be counted, and raise objections to the proposed legislation.

What about the federal compensation? Federal compensation starts in year one, and it decreases each year, so it sounds good right now. The immediate benefit sounds very attractive, but it whittles itself away. We see a diminishing effect as we continue from year one to two to three to four and finally five, to the point that the benefit which this Province appears to receive at this point is virtually eliminated completely upon the expiry of five years. As I have indicated, it starts in year one, and this now decreases each year over four years.

Mr. Speaker, it is now important, in my view, to do an assessment of this five-year period. Let's try to project exactly what each year means, and how this shortfall will directly impact upon this Province in terms of the tax revenues of this Province. How much will we be short in years one and two?

Mr. Speaker, we have Newfoundland being short $242 million, and we now have to subtract the Newfoundland percentage of 5 per cent, which is $12 million, so the difference Ottawa pays, which is 100 per cent of the difference in years one and two, will be $230 million. So Newfoundland is short $12 million in each of years one and two.

How much are we short in year three? Again, we have the beginning figure of $242 million. Again we subtract the 5 per cent, again the same amount of $12 million. The difference is $230 million, which we arrived at earlier, and Ottawa pays 50 per cent of this difference, because in year three it is now 50 per cent of this difference, and that would be deducting or subtracting $115 million from the $230 million. Newfoundland will then be requested to pay the additional 50 per cent, so again one-half of $230 million equals $115 million. We add again the 5 per cent subtracted value, which is $12 million, so Newfoundland's shortfall using these figures is $127 million. So, after year three we see a shortfall of $127 million.

Let's now move to year four. It is the same figure. Newfoundland will be short $242 million. We subtract 5 per cent, which Newfoundland pays, which is $12 million; the difference, $230 million. Ottawa will now pay 25 per cent of the difference, not 50 per cent, and not 100 per cent, which are the amounts that we started with in years one, two and three. Ottawa now only pays 25 per cent of the difference, equalling $58 million. Newfoundland pays the other 75 per cent, which equals $172 million, and again we have to add the 5 per cent which we subtracted above, for another $12 million, so Newfoundland's shortfall in year four is $184 million.

You can see that the shortfall increases. It is an escalating shortfall. That is what this tax is all about. As time goes on, our shortfall increases, the Federal Government contribution decreases, and the obligation on the people of this Province reaches a point which is almost unmanageable; it is almost out of control.

Mr. Speaker, there has to be careful review of what the bottom line is with respect to this piece of legislation. Newfoundlanders are not being given the truth. Newfoundlanders are not being given the facts. The reality of this harmonization tax bill is that after a period of time Newfoundlanders will be called upon, through this legislation, to dig deeper in their pockets to get funds to compensate the Federal Government of this country simply because this act allows it. I say, Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. The people of this Province deserve and demand better.

Let us have a look at year five, how much we are short in year five and every year from then on. Newfoundland will be short again. We have our commencement figure of $242 million. In year five and thereafter Ottawa pays us nothing to compensate for our loss in revenue, absolutely nothing. There is no contribution by the federal government after year five, and that is what is frightful about this act, and that is why the people of this Province have to be given the reality, have to be given the details, so that they can then truly assess the impact of this legislation.

After year five Ottawa does not pay this Province one red cent so let us review what Newfoundland is short. In year one we are short $12 million, in year two we are short $12 million, in year three, using those figures and using those calculations, a deficit of $127 million, in year four a deficit of $184 million, and in year five and each subsequent year, in year five and each year thereafter a deficit of $242 million. That is the end result. That is what this legislation means to the people of this Province, and that is why I would argue that individuals who in the past supported this position, and I am referring very specifically to Mr. Nunziata, basically challenged the Prime Minister several days ago and issued rationale as to why he could no longer support what was being done over GST.

As recently as last night, Mr. Speaker, we saw the Prime Minister of this country attempting to give some form of an apology to the people of this country, an apology, which I would suggest, is not being bought by the people of this country. It is half-hearted, it is qualified, it is conditional, and that is not an apology. An apology, Mr. Speaker, has to be complete. It has to be unconditional, it has to be genuine, and these particular qualities did not accompany the alleged apology or explanation as given by the Prime Minister last night here in our city, and the people of this country will not accept a conditional apology. The message was loud and clear with respect to what the federal Liberal Party of this country stood for with respect to GST.

It was a faint effort, I would suggest, to the people of this country, and the people, as I indicated earlier, simply will not buy it. There have been questions raised, there have been challenges raised, and we see in this Province, for example, a group in our own city, the St. John's Board of Trade, who say that a hidden tax will make our prices appear to be far higher than they would pay at home and this could, at first glance, discourage buying and goods being sold on the open market. People simply will not know what it is they are being taxed for. What is the true tax amount? What is real? What is hidden? It is a feature of this tax regime which is not being accepted by the many critics and many simply commentators, not necessarily critics, but commentators of this tax regime.

The only way government will find it can hope to make up for that shortfall, and let us keep in mind that after year five and each subsequent year we have a shortfall of $242 million, so how does the federal government and indeed this government, the provincial government, plan to cope with this deficit and shortfall? There are several options which are available. Increase other taxes which obviously would be income tax, property tax, or service assessments that are offered by the government. They can ask the people of this Province, when faced with this deficit, to dig in once again, to dig deeper to find solutions to the tax revenue woes of the provincial government of the day. It can create new taxes. It can be creative. Insurance, for example, they can put taxes on insurance. They find new ways to ask the consumers of this Province to deal with the deficit, to deal with the consequences of, to put it simply, poor legislation. It can ask it to have the people of this Province again experience more cuts, closing of hospital beds, reduced spending in health care, reduced benefits in social services, reduced expenses in education, closure of schools. All of these social programs, Mr. Speaker, will be further reduced. The people of this Province will be asked once again to tighten where obviously it is simply impossible to do so. That is how the government, Mr. Speaker, will have to deal with the shortfall which is anticipated after year five.

It can generally, Mr. Speaker, generate more revenues through economic growth but I would suggest that is a positive thing if it can generate economic growth, Mr. Speaker, that is a positive thing as my colleague just indicated, if it can be done and if the government has the wherewithal to find the ways and to find the mechanisms, Mr. Speaker, to generate economic growth. So the government is being forced, now it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, to try and find ways to compensate for a deficit which it, in and of itself has caused. These are projections, Mr. Speaker, these figures which I have used in this assessment appear to be very reliable. They are figures which we collect from provincial government documentation, from the federal government documentation and we see in a summary that the impact of this legislation after year five, is such that ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be called upon to, as I have stated, dig deeper in their pockets to find ways, Mr. Speaker, to correct the mistakes, to correct the concealment and to correct the truth of this legislation.

So in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we look very closely at this legislation. It is essential that there be a very careful analysis made of the revenues, of the impact of these revenues vis-à-vis the federal government and the provincial government. It is essential that we do a careful analysis of the impact of this legislation after years one through to year five and only then, will we be able to see, Mr. Speaker, only then will we be able to see what the true impact of harmonized sales tax, this legislation will be on the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am glad to rise today to make a few more comments on this ludicrous bill that is before the House today. It is amazing, here we are, just a few days before the Christmas break and this type of legislation is before the House that we have to debate. I don't think it should even be here at this point, Mr. Speaker. Where it should be is at public debate so that people can get the pros and cons, and if the government is saying all these positive things and they have nothing to worry about, well let us let people see it up front, Mr. Speaker, so let us just talk about it specifically for a few minutes on the positives and negatives.

Yes, there are positives. There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that there are positives and one of the positives is that, as of now, you can go out and buy a new car and, Mr. Speaker, if you have the intentions of buying a new car and if you have the money to buy a new car, that is great, I am glad for those people. I wish I was about to buy a new car now, there is a good savings on cars and that is fine, I agree with that, Mr. Speaker. Now, let us look at, maybe some of the negatives of it. How many people in this Province are ready to go out to buy a new car next week or next month, or, are they really going to buy a second-hand car or, are they going to buy a cheaper car or really, are they going to buy a car at all? That is what we have to ask ourselves and if you start to weigh out, and I ask all members in the House to take the pros and cons, as we should do because there are positives to it, one positive is the harmonizing of sales tax of any kind, I agree with harmonizing of the sales tax, it makes it clearer we hope but, Mr. Speaker, the negatives outweigh the positives, I say to the members of the House and if you really get down to it, you find out where the negatives are and whom they affect.

Whom do they affect, Mr. Speaker? They affect the lower income people in the Province and, Mr. Speaker, the middle income people in the Province, more. Day after day, I hear it all over the Province, all over my district and throughout the Province, about the middle income people. I will come back to the lower income in a second. The middle income people, the people who just scrape by, the people who pay their bills, the people who can send their children to college, the people who can do all of the normal things, or the average things, who have kids in college, who have a car, not a great car, have a decent house, not a super rich house; it is the middle of the road person that this also affects, because the truth is, the negatives that we talk about are the necessities of life. They are not whether you are going to get a fur coat, or if you are going to get a $25,000 car. They are about paying for your light bill. They are about paying your electricity bill. They are about putting gas in the car every second or third day if you have kids that you bring to school, or because of the travel that you have to do. Those are two of the negatives.

Mr. Speaker, let's just talk about this particular so-called break that we gave the car dealers. I am glad for the car dealers, too, because hopefully that will add jobs to the economy in some small way, and that is a positive, but let's talk about who really saves in this.

The truth is that the more money you have, the richer you are, the bigger and more expensive car you are going to buy, and therefore the bigger break. On the other hand, the poorer you are, and the less you are going to pay for your car, the less you are going to save. So this great, big benefit for the car dealer has to be put in perspective of who is the richest down to the poorest.

I think the example was already given of a $20,000 car - that is average for a new car - 4 per cent which you would save on that would be something like $800. So you are going to save $800 when you buy that car. But when you go to a $30,000 car you are talking about a $1,200 saving. So the point is that the richer you are, the more expensive car you buy, the better break you get with this deal on the car tax. But the lower income you have, and the cheaper the car you buy, the less advantage you have from this.

What this deal does with the cars is really show what this whole bill is all about. For the richer people, the people who spend more money, there is a bigger break, and for the people on lower income, the less break you get. That is a fact. That is not made up. There is nothing fictitious about it. It is plain and simple. The more -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am being specific to the car dealership situation. The more that you spend on a car, the more money you have, the bigger break you get. The less money you have to buy a car, the lesser break you get.

Mr. Speaker, the people who are on lower incomes have no intention of going out and buying a new car this year. If they are lucky they will trade in their old one and get another secondhand one, or they will keep the old bomb that they have and try to keep it on the road. That is the reality for a lot of people in the Province, so this was no great news to them.

Also with this particular issue on the car dealership are the people who raised a legitimate concern of other businesses, snowmobilers. If you go somewhere in Labrador, pretty quickly they will tell you that a snowmobile to them is as important, as essential, as a car, I say to the Member for Labrador, and I am sure he agrees. If you go to the people in Nain, Goose Bay, Labrador City... I lived in Labrador City. In Goose Bay there are at least two ski-doos in every driveway, sometimes three, and they do not just use them for recreational purposes. The Members for Labrador know this. For the people in Labrador City and Goose Bay, especially up and down the Coast, the ski-doo becomes a very essential part of their way of life. They use their ski-doo more than a car, especially in the winter months. They jump on their ski-doo because there are paths all through. I do not know what it is like in Goose Bay - maybe the member can tell me - but in Labrador City there are all kinds of paths through the houses and roadways, and everything else. They use their ski-doo to go to the store. They use it to go to the stadium. They use it for all of those things, not just for recreational use of going ice fishing or whatever. Mr. Speaker, those people who talked about their situation with the ski-doos have a legitimate beef with all of this. Why not them, if cars were considered essential?

Of course, I also heard some comment from a furniture store that thought the same thing. They said furniture was essential. Why not them?

Mr. Speaker, it seems what happened here, when it comes to the car dealership, the truth is it was similar to the situation with the smelter with Labrador. Just before they announced the smelter for Argentia, all of a sudden the government started throwing all kinds of little goodies, a motor registration office for Labrador City. Then they talked about $20,000 for a heritage fund somewhere in Labrador. All of this was thrown out. The same thing with this tax; we use the analogy. Just before the HST comes into being, the government is going to throw out a couple of little goodies to calm people down. That is what they are doing, throwing out a couple of little goodies to calm people down, saying (inaudible) tax. Look what we can do for you. We can bring down the price of a car for you.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it hasn't worked. It hasn't worked, it isn't working, it isn't going to work. Because the simple blatant politics of this is that there was a lie told about the GST during the last federal election, admitted to that, and continuous every day. Now we get apologies from the Prime Minister, finally.

It was a funny thing how he apologized. He apologized, but then in the same breath he said how he didn't want to leave an impression. That is how the Prime Minister rebutted on this. He didn't want to leave a full apology, but he said; Okay, I will apologize anyway because it was an honest mistake. That is what he said: I will apologize anyway because it is an honest mistake. But at the same time he said: But I hope I didn't leave the impression with people that we were going to scrap the GST.

You can twist it any way you want, but the recording from this CFRB radio station back in August 1993 - and it is recorded, it is there for anybody to listen to, and you can't change the words around. You can't change the context of that. The question was directly to the Prime Minister: So, Mr. Chrétien, will you abolish it? They were talking about the GST. The reply, and this is the reply by the Prime Minister of the country: Yes, I will abolish it.

How can you twist that or turn it so that you leave a wrong impression like the Prime Minister said? It isn't the wrong impression. What it is is an impression that got him elected in the last federal election. It was plain and simple. You go around anywhere in this Province during the last federal election, and what was the big plank of the red book? We are going to scrap the GST. Sheila Copps admitted it. She called a by-election on it because she knew she had made a mistake, she knew she didn't tell the truth about the GST, and what happened? She called a by-election. What happens a little while later? Paul Martin, the finance minister, apologizes for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister kept denying it, and lo and behold, he comes to Newfoundland just last night and finally apologizes.

But as he was apologizing he took it right back. Because he said: I apologize, but I still maintain that I did not leave that kind of impression. It is so ridiculous. Then we have `Sheila Flops' who decides that she is going to call a by-election, have the democratic fiasco of the century, and move back. All of a sudden Sheila decides that she is going to prove to Canadians that she can get elected again. Who is going to believe that Sheila Copps didn't have her poll done and have her soldiers in order to win her by-election?

That by-election proved absolutely nothing. Sheila Copps, she decided to do her poll and then she was going to run. Nice safe seat. `Sheila Flops,' the Deputy Prime Minister of the country, Proved it on a by-election, she says. She didn't prove it to Canadians. All she did was prove it to her own district who has a lot of support for her in her own district, and why wouldn't she? The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, government in power. Why would they go against her? Because they would be threatened. They would lose their Deputy Prime Minister, that is what they were afraid of. Then Paul Martin, out of respect for the Prime Minister, stands up in front of national media and apologizes for the Prime Minister. Then the Prime Minister ends up back in Newfoundland just yesterday apologizing, but in the same breath saying: I didn't mean to leave the wrong impression.

What kind of wrong impression was it? Then: Privately, Liberal strategists agreed that they will have a heavy GST toll to pay, and quote, from a Liberal strategist: If anybody thinks this is going away before the next election they are sadly mistaken, said one. This is our Achilles' heel.

The only way to get any respect back from the people across this country from the Prime Minister is to unequivocally announce that he did mislead the people of this country during the election so they would become the governing party of this country. That is exactly what it was. It was the main plank throughout this Province, throughout every province in Canada, that the GST would be scrapped, the bad GST, the Mulroney GST.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does scrap mean?

MR. SHELLEY: Scrap, abolish. Mr. Speaker, there is no definition to it, I say to my colleague, because when he said abolish it I would abolish it. The context of the sentence is there, twist it as you may.

The bottom line is that this is very political. It is, you can't deny that.

MR. E. BYRNE: Paul, who is the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi?

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, Mr. Speaker, was here for about ten minutes after Question Period to see if there was any - oh, that is right, I can't talk about it. I won't mention, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi is not here.

MR. H. HODDER: Talk about Jean Payne and the soup kitchen.

MR. SHELLEY: I won't mention that, Mr. Speaker. I won't mention the fact that he is not here and that he is probably still drinking soup with the hon. Jean Payne, Mr. Speaker. She is not here either.

MR. H. HODDER: Jean Payne was inquiring of all hon. members yesterday whether they had their soup or not.

MR. SHELLEY: I thought it only applied to ministers too. The least he could have done was have a bowl of soup before he had the caribou and the steelhead trout.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has raised its ugly head in this country and we are about to head into a federal election. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, the three Liberal premiers of Canada, in three Atlantic provinces are the only ones that supported this, Mr. Speaker. They did it for a simple reason and that is the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada and the GST coverup. The GST in disguise, the BST. You name it, it is there.

MR. J. BYRNE: Blended.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the Blended Sales Tax, the BST but that is what it all came down to. It is three provinces - this whole issue comes down to the politics of the GST coverup from the last federal election. The second point is that the poorest people, the most vulnerable people in today's society in this Province, the poorest and the middle income people will be mostly negatively impacted by this. There is no doubt about that. You can see it in the very example of buying a car that the disposable income of the lower income people - and if you sit down with any low income or middle income person in this Province today and just quickly, in about twenty minutes, go over their budget with them and you ask them where they spend most of their disposal income, from 70 per cent to 80 per cent of it is on essentials, if not more, Mr. Speaker. That is a conservative amount. That 70 per cent to 80 per cent of their disposal income for a monthly budget goes to necessities such as fuel, electricity, children's clothes and so on, Mr. Speaker, the necessities, that is what it is.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you a little story about coming in here on Monday. While I was driving to Deer Lake to fly into St. John's I was listening to the Open Line and they were talking about the HST and right in the middle of the Open Line Show, Fillatre's Funeral Home on the West Coast were advertising for prearranged funerals because they said by April 1, when the HST comes in, it is going to cost more to die. So it is best to get your prearranged funerals done now before the tax comes in. Now, Mr. Speaker, can you imagine? Funeral home companies are going around this Province advertising to get your funeral arranged now so that it is cheaper because it is going to double. It is going to more than double. It is going to go from 7 per cent to 15 per cent, funeral taxes. There is no exaggeration, well I would consider looking into it.

MR. H. HODDER: The Liberals were all in a line-up.

MR. SHELLEY: It is pretty bad when a nineteen or twenty year old is driving around and hears that you had better make prearrangement for your funeral now because the taxes are going to go up on it. That is an awful way to trick people into it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. H. HODDER: Clothes have gone up, the cost of living has gone up and the cost of dying has gone up.

MR. SHELLEY: The cost of living, the cost of dying, Mr. Speaker, so where do you go? The only way out of it is not to be born. So, Mr. Speaker, those are the three main things that I would like to raise in this debate. It is the whole idea of the GST and the coverup and the root of this problem, which started with the last federal election. Now lo and behold our Premier, the boy of the Prime Minister of Canada, his mentor has decided, along with Mr. McKenna and Mr. Savage, that they are going to appease their Liberal Prime Minister and make sure that they help him out. What Mr. Chrétien said is: Boys, you got to help me out. Somebody has to harmonize the tax because we got it in our red book. I can't go around saying I was going to scrap it but I did say we were going to harmonize it in the red book. He is right to that extent. In the red book he did say harmonization but he did, on many occasions, as was quoted here, he did say he was going to abolish it. He was going to harmonize it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, what about what a man says in public? Mr. Chrétien was asked: So will you abolish it? Mr. Chrétien says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I quote, `Mr. Chrétien: so will you abolish it?' `Yes, I will abolish it.' Now how can you judge that? Oh he did harmonize it but he also says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is right but like the lady, Mr. Speaker, like Joanne Savoie, the Montreal waitress who turned to the Prime Minister the other night at the Town Hall and pointed at him and said: Sir, I voted for you and I voted for you because you said you would scrap the GST, and he said: I did not say that, you should have read the red book. She said: Sir, I did not need to read the red book because I believed you. That is what she said to him, she said: Sir, I believed you that is why I voted for you, I did not want to read the red book, I should not have to read the red book if I could believe you, so she said: I did not.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is what I say to the Government House Leader, that this lady, along with millions of people across this country, that lady was an example of the rest of the country, Mr. Speaker, I heard it in my own district, I heard it throughout when the now Premier was running as our MP in my district, he was also saying the same thing: The GST will be gone when we take over. Mr. Speaker, I suppose that is about true as my colleague for Kilbride said, it is about as true as the Spanish will be gone, 500 per cent increase, Mr. Speaker, Spanish, and the Spanish war is on, according to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Spanish war is on, Mr. Speaker. I thought it was over. Somebody should mention to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that the Gulf war is over too. The Gulf war is over, somebody should tell him about that, that is over, the Spanish war, the Gulf war.

But, Mr. Speaker, you talk about misleading people and the whole extravagance of what happened with the Spanish war, about how the Spanish were all forced into the harbour of St. John's, how they were arrested for illegal nets, illegal everything, no licences, you name it, it was illegal, guaranteed all proven but, were they put in prison, Mr. Speaker, were they interrogated? No, Mr. Speaker, they were put up in accommodations and taken very good care of and then what happened? We gave them back their frozen fish, made sure it was not spoiled so we froze it for them. We borrowed their nets for $40,000 or $50,000, brought that to New York City and held up a little turbot and stored it all, we wouldn't want the prisoners' fish to spoil while they were incarcerated, put them up in a nice hotel, took care of them, the best of grub - I wonder if the Spanish fishermen were in the St. John's lock-up, Mr. Speaker? When they were arrested, I wonder, did they go to the St. John's lock-up, I wonder, Mr. Speaker? Then the great, big net down in New York and at the United Nations, and the Premier holding up the Spanish turbot and we had all the problems solved.

The Member for Bonavista South, made it clear today, he described it to a `T', the farce, what is the end result -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, a minute to clue up?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SHELLEY: One minute to clue up, I appreciate that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, so I will get off that for a second just to conclude on a couple of comments on the GST.

Three-pronged, I say to the Government House Leader, three reasons why I will not support this bill, this tax. One, and most formidable is that, it was a commitment, not even a promise, it is stronger than a promise, it was a commitment by the federal government to abolish the GST and they never followed through. Two, because it will negatively impact the poorest and the most vulnerable people in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and three, although I would like to believe, I do not believe when the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board says we are going to have a boom in two years, that we will not miss the $105 million once the three or four years run out, I do not believe that is going to happen, Mr. Speaker. I would like to believe it, but we have to start doing some things for the long-term in this Province, not short-term gain for long-term pain. I will have a few more comments to make later on.

Thank you.

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

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

I rise to make a twenty-minute commentary on the HST, GST. Only twenty minutes because government has introduced a closure motion on this particular issue. Three members on this side of the House have not even had a chance to debate the main motion. I have been in the House since 1993 and I have seen closure introduced on a number of occasions but not before appropriate debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, at the core of this issue on HST, is government's spin and the Premier's spin, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board's spin that what we are doing in essence is passing on $105 million savings to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, that is what has been said publicly, That is what the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board said.

In their initial press release the minister said: Well, I mean, consultation is still open. In our next budgetary review process we can still consult. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, the deal is done. Now, who is for this deal? Who will save $105 million? Will it be the people who have three and four kids in their family? Will they save $105 million? They will have to buy a lot of new cars, they will have to buy a lot of new washers and dryers, they will have to get a lot of new haircuts, in order to compensate for the cost of increase in children's clothing.

It is a sad commentary on any government, and in particular on all members, I think, when we pass legislation in this House which allows for the sale of a fur coat to become less expensive, and on taxes on children's clothing to become absolutely more expensive. Average people, people who make $80,000 and less in this Province, will be the big losers if this tax regime comes into play on April 1. Mark it down. Why will they become the big losers? That is the question we have to ask, and that is the question I hope to answer today.

Lower middle income Canadians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will on average pay more for electricity, for home heating fuel, for children's clothes, will pay more to buy goods and services. The reality in terms of what this legislation will do to the average home owner and the average taxpayer and the average ratepayer, who are all the same person, will have far more detrimental affects on that end than it will in terms of the average cost that will be paid to us.

What about new home owners or new home builders? The cost of building a new home today compared to what it will be after April 1 will rise dramatically as a result of HST. The other question, in terms of legal services. What will be the cost of legal services as a result of HST? Will they go down? No they won't. They will increase. The cost of real estate fees will increase, These are legitimate, everyday costs that consumers and people in this Province must buy.

The biggest arguments I've seen forthcoming have been on a sort of fairy tale level, a level that says any time we reduce taxes to the people of the Province, that we reduce taxes from a 19 per cent regime to a 15 per cent regime in this case, it will automatically produce positive results for the people of this Province. I don't think so. While that is a laudable goal, the details, as in much of what we do here, legislation that is passed in the House, the details and regulations tell the story. While it is something that every government should aim for in reducing taxes, at the same time the reduction in taxes, whose back will bear the brunt of it?

The reality is that we don't have as many horses pulling the economy along today as we used to. We have far fewer horses pulling along and trying to support far more people. That is the reality of it. Socially, each and every year since 1989 the amount of people who are on Social Services have increased dramatically, and there is no expected decrease within the next five to seven years. In government's own Strategic Social Plan, that is indicated. Our labour force is shrinking tremendously, so our ability to generate more revenue and more taxes at this point in time is also shrinking. While there are exciting resource developments on the horizon, some on the immediate horizon, some in the long term, we have no guarantee yet that as a result of increasing revenue coming in from those resource developments the federal government on the same hand will not reduce dollar for dollar off equalization transfer payments. But yet, HST is going to be a good thing.

The real story, if you look at what the federal government did in the HST zone, if it truly believed that HST would be good, then why didn't it pass on, or why didn't it inherit, the same philosophy for something it does itself? When it came to Canada Post and postage and HST the federal government on the one hand made postage exempt, because it would cost far too much in their own estimates, far too much, and this is the telltale sign. When it came to government's own corporation they exempted it from the HST zone because it would cost too much to produce another issue of postage, but yet when it comes to the business sector of our economy what happened? They did not apply the same standard. They did not apply the same standard, Mr. Speaker, simply because this deal has nothing to do with passing on savings to consumers. It has nothing to do at all with passing on savings above and beyond what we would normally expect to consumers and people in this Province.

It has everything to do with saving face. That is what it has to do with, a deal signed so shortly after the election, a Memorandum of Understanding, negotiated, not talked about in public. No Memorandum of Understanding was released to the general public. It was negotiated over the summer and early October the Minister of Finance stands up, calls a press conference, and tells how wonderful it will be, and admits in the press conference that they have some concern over the impact of the HST on lower and middle class incomes.

The Minister of Finance knows that lower and middle class incomes make up the bulk of our Province. They make up the bulk of the people who are supporting the economy in this Province today. The Member for Port au Port has certainly to ask himself a question, like all members, how many people in his district make $80,000 a year or plus? He lives in a district where, probably more than any other district, depends more greatly upon social services and government programs than any other, and there are many other regions in the Province in the same boat. Will his district, and people in his district, be better served by the HST? No, they will not. What about the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's? What about the constituents in his district? Will they be better served by HST? Not likely.

MR. SPARROW: Yes, they will.

MR. E. BYRNE: They will be? Well, I look forward to the opportunity, when these members I just referred to, actually stand up in the House and enlighten us, in their normal eloquent fashion, on how the constituents in their districts will be better served.

The reality, Mr. Speaker, is this is how it works. The Premier made a deal. He tells Cabinet it is going to happen and he expects twenty puppets on the back bench to support it no matter what takes place. That is exactly what is happening here.

April 1 will mark a different sort of approach afterwards. When people wake up on May 1 and see that insurance rates have gone up, see that electricity rates have gone up, see that gas has gone up, and see that home heating fuel has gone up, will they be phoning people and saying, what a great initiative, what a tremendous initiative by government this HST is. It is a tremendous initiative and has done so well for us. The fact is we are all going to have to buy new cars to be able to afford to put gas in them. That is what is going to have to happen. We are all going to have to buy new cars to realize savings, to be able to afford to put gas in the car, to be able to get insurance on our cars, and our homes, etc.

Do we think for one minute that input tax credits back to contractors is going to be passed on to each and every consumer? It will never happen. Government has said what they want to do is deregulate. They want to reduce taxes, that government does not have the ability to get involved in regulation. It does so, we regulate the economy now. We prescribe hours of work, we prescribe minimum labour standards. We prescribe the amount that people should get paid at a minimum level. What is happening here now is not right and it will not produce any net economic benefits for the people of the Province.

At the end of the day where will this Province make up $105 million? Even if there is a deal on equalization and transfer, even if there are thousands of new jobs in our economy, our gross domestic product will have to grow tremendously if we want to make up a shortfall of $105 million, and if we cannot make up that shortfall what will suffer at the end of the day? What services will suffer at the end of the day because we do not have $105 million in our revenue pot for budgetary purposes?

The Member for Twillingate & Fogo knows what will suffer because the same things will suffer in his district as will suffer in mine. That is the bottom line. Will help the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology?

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it's a folder my daughter gave to me this morning. She gave me a box of them actually.

AN HON. MEMBER: How old is she?

MR. E. BYRNE: She is three-and-a-half. She really likes Barney, but I told her I couldn't take that philosophy into the House today because the Liberals are not really in a caring, sharing mood. They are not really in a cooperative mood, like many of the kids' programs we see.

HST, closure, is going to come to Committee stage. The House Leader is in a predicament. He is in a jam. We are going to see closure on Committee on HST; and I would say that if he wants every piece of legislation before Friday, closure will be introduced in this House between now and Friday, in a matter of three days - he will have to introduce closure in a matter of three days - more than any other time since Confederation, if he wants it, because that is what it is going to take.

There was no need for closure to be brought in this particular issue. The House of Assembly should be called back in late January or early February. There is a lot of legislation on the books. The government does not need this legislation until April 1. We can debate it two weeks after Christmas. Let's move on with every other piece of legislation if he wants, but that is not what is going to happen. A high-handed, uneven approach existed today.

Minister of Environment and Labour, what will HST do to the labour relations climate? Will it have any impact? What will it do to business investment? Will it be more attractive to businesses? Will it cost businesses more to adjust to the new HST reality, the new HST regulations? It certainly will.

The reality is that this piece of legislation is a result of an agreement between a Premier, a new Premier and a new Cabinet, and an old and tired Prime Minister and an old and tired Federal Cabinet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: All the crowd will show for supper tonight but they will not come in the House, will they? Only the stalwarts will stick around.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hearing is always very good. The Jack attack is on the way. You can send up the white flags after.

Ultimately businesses within the HST zone, in terms of tourism, will HST be applied within the zone as we, or any person, travels within the zone? Yes, it will. What about when we travel outside of Atlantic Canada? Will HST apply if we book tickets here, or will it apply for people who are booking tickets to fly in? No, it will not.

It is beyond comprehension how the Federal Government can get involved with taxation initiatives, that one standard applies to a particular region while another standard does not apply to another region, and in the Western region of Canada it does not apply at all. It is beyond belief, really.

The Province of P.E.I. opted out. Why did they opt out of the agreement? If this is such a good deal, is the new government of P.E.I. looking seriously at opting into the HST zone in their regulation? No, they are not, because it does not work. It will not produce benefits to the people of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am always nice to the Government House Leader. I am always nice to him. He is not always nice to me, but I am always nice to him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I could not let myself down, not to be nice to you or any one of you over there. I would not let myself down.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. E. BYRNE: I said, I would not let myself down not to be nice to any one of you over there, even though you are not nice to me. That is irrelevant. That really has nothing to do with the issue at all.

Mr. Speaker, HST is a bad deal, period. It was signed for one reason and one reason only, so the Prime Minister of Canada could, in an attempt, save some face. What do we get? We have a $348 million cheque in the bank right now collecting interest. We can't use it until April 1 and it will continue to collect interest. It sounds good.

MR. J. BYRNE: How much?

MR. E. BYRNE: $33,000 a day.

MR. J. BYRNE: How much money did they give us?

MR. E. BYRNE: $348 million. The reality is, how is it that $348 million - this is a legitimate question - how is it that $348 million is only collecting for us, $33,000 a day? What type of interest rate has it been invested in? Think about it, 2.5 per cent, 3 per cent?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: My god, 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent. I spoke to officials in the Department of Finance and asked the same question. We have a $348 million cheque in one hand, we deposit it so it collects interest for us on the other hand at less than 3 per cent.

MR. J. BYRNE: What bank?

MR. E. BYRNE: Who are we dealing with? That's a fact, less than 3 per cent. $33,000 a day and change is what that $348 million is collecting for us and it is about 3 per cent or a little less than 3 per cent today it is collecting. I could take $5,000 now, bring it to a bank and get 7.5 per cent to 8 per cent interest.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No they are not, no. Not according to the officials of the Department of Finance. If you do the math on it, $348 million collecting $33,000 a day, is not 8 per cent. Think about it, it is not 8 per cent. On $348 million, that is what we are collecting. You will end up with, I think, in a year about $40 million to $50 million surplus on the $348 million. I am just trying to think. I am just trying to recall the information that was given to me from the Department of Finance dealing with the cheque that you got for HST, the $348 million, even though you cannot use it right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is what I understand. Do the times table on it, 365 days a year. You can't use it at the moment is what I am saying. Not until April 1, that is part of the agreement. You should know that, you are in the Cabinet, sacred heart! You should know that, you are in the Cabinet. That is why it is collecting daily interest, you can't use it right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Education, they don't tell him anything.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't tell the Minister of Education anything.

MR. E. BYRNE: That's right, because one week - that's exactly right. We have seen an example of that. Last week parents were going to decide and this week, well they don't have the ultimate say, the boards are going to decide. Well that is a question that will become evident in time but the information - the Government House Leader is doing some calculations on it but the information came from the Department of Finance.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, we have a one lump payment that at the end of the day will not cover our losses. People of the Province are going to be worse off as a result of it. We are going to pay more for basic necessities of living and that is the reality that this HST will bring upon the people of this Province. I can't use my colleagues line, he said even the Clerk thinks I am doing a good job but he has already used that line. I can't use that.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has the potential to be Steve Neary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, he is the Steve Neary in the Caucus.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: People in the Province on education are asking the same question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister. Is this minister ever going to be relevant or not? All the talk about me being relevant.

Mr. Speaker, I will sit down. I said my bit and piece on it. I wish I had more time but I don't, with that, thank you very much.

AN HON. MEMBER: Steve is going to be quiet today.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can't say that I am happy to stand here today and take part in this debate, Mr. Speaker, because when you see the activities of this House being crunched, being walked on and trampled on by members of the opposite side, when you see the hobnailed boots and hear them clicking up across this floor, Mr. Speaker, then you know that democracy is not at work.

When my colleague from Kilbride talked about the possibility of setting a record here in this House with the number of closures that will have been brought in within the next two or three days, I think he might be 100 per cent right. I think the Government House Leader might be able to set a record but I am not so sure if it is a record that he will be proud of but it will be a record that I would think that he might set within the next two to three days, the numbers of closures that he will be seen to be bringing to this House in order to get some legislation through in the time frames that he talked about.

But, Mr. Speaker, there is no need of that. All we are asking for, and there are dozens of pieces of legislation there, that can pass through this House without debate. Some of it is just a matter of it going through the first reading, second reading, Committee then to be proclaimed in law, but instead, the minister comes forward or the government of the day comes forward and brings in this HST, Bill 45 and say we want it now, we want it before Christmas. You do not need it until April 1, I say to members opposite, it is a very, very substantive piece of legislation that should be taken out for consultation and let the people of this Province know exactly what they can expect when we implement this blended sales tax or harmonized sales tax.

It is something that everybody in this Province should know what we are getting into because it was not an election issue. It was not brought up at all during the last election. We heard of all the positive things that happened, how the economy of this Province was going to be revitalized, the wonderful things that the Premier was going to do, the now Premier, when he returned to Newfoundland, after we got over the charade that happened for the leadership and the Premier was anointed, the Minister of Education chickened out and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture chickened out and the old chicken plucker himself, where is he? He is not here. The first time I ever saw two news conferences called to tell somebody they were doing something. First time, and it was a record, to tell people they never had the guts to run.

The Minister of Education, did it in a little bit of a different fashion. He just threw out a little bit of bait and baited people along, wanted people to prod him and build him up because, if you realize, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education needed that in order to win his district because he was not a real popular person that year. The Education Bill could have had the minister into big trouble so he threw out his name, he was smart. He may have had his picture in the (inaudible) when he played hockey but he will never get it, Mr. Speaker, in the history books of this Province, I can guarantee him that because he did not have the guts to come forward. He may have had his picture in the (inaudible) when he played hockey but he will never get his name in the history books of this Province. He will never have the guts to run for the leadership, Mr. Speaker, and he missed his chance. You can see him, you can see the Adam's apple going up and down in his throat every time the Premier gets up to speak and gets soft with the shaking and the rattling there in his seat, shake, rattle and roll and he says to himself: If only I had run; and I believe the Minister of Education could have been the Premier today. I firmly believe that, I don't say that to offer praise or to make him feel bad but I honestly believe that had he run, he would have been the Premier of this Province today. I firmly believe that but he has missed his call in life, missed the boat that will never come his way again. Opportunity only knocks once.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, never had a chance, no way. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board looks good, Mr. Speaker, and is in love with himself but does not have a chance of going any farther than he has gone in this government today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: There is a lot over there on that side like that. The Member for Labrador West is going to be the one-term wonder of this government. I tell you right now, and I shout it out loud enough for everybody to hear: The Member for Labrador West, a wonderful fellow - I am not the fellow who is going to put him out - he is a likeable guy, a nice fellow, but he will never, ever win his seat again. It is too bad. He is history unless he sheds the frock and sheds the red coat, and sits - we do not want him here - sits down there. That is the only place he will win his seat the next time around, and he had better take heed or he will be back putting marrettes on the wires down with IOC again. He had better take heed or that is where he will end up.

The Member for Labrador West, I understand, is being called home, not representing his people, the same thing as happened to the Member for Eagle River, and I am not going to get into that because everybody knows what the Member for Eagle River did. Everybody knows how he took on everybody -

MR. E. BYRNE: The Salt Fish Corporation.

MR. FITZGERALD: - including the Salt Fish Corporation -

MR. E. BYRNE: John Crosbie.

MR. FITZGERALD: - John Crosbie, Morrisey Johnson, every Tory that was up in Ottawa.

MR. E. BYRNE: Then he took on his constituents.

MR. FITZGERALD: But he made the one mistake of taking on his constituents. That is the mistake he made. Finally, when he had to go to ask forgiveness, the people came out and turned their backs on him. That is what is going to happen to the Member for Labrador West. Once you lose sight of your people, you are lost.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: `Chuck Furey'? `Chuck' does not care anymore. `Chuck' is financially independent. He will not run anymore, will not stay any longer than this term, and I doubt if he will hang around that long.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Justice?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Justice, gone.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Does not have a chance, will not be there anymore, even if he wanted to. He is gone.

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows it.

MR. FITZGERALD: He knows it, but he has enough sense to realize it and he will not go back looking to the people anymore. A lot of them there in that front bench will not be there anymore. In fact, I said, when the House opened, that if I were in charge of the seating plan, I would have the front row back in the third row, and the second row up in the front row, and some of the people in the third row moved up in the middle row, if you can follow that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: That is probably the reason why. It is a good idea.

Here he is now, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island went down in my district during the election to organize the district.

AN HON. MEMBER: He never?

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, he did, he and the Member for Terra Nova were down there. They were knocking on doors. I know they were talking to people down there. They did such a wonderful job in organizing the Liberal Party there, and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the Member for Terra Nova. He fooled me up.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it wasn't the Member for Terra Nova. Yes, it was the former Member for Terra Nova who fooled you up, no doubt about that. She said to one of the members: Roger Fitzgerald is going to be hard to beat because he does all of those silly things. He goes into people's houses to have coffee.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean, you talk to your constituents.

MR. FITZGERALD: In other words, I talk to my constituents and listen to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: All those silly things.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) silly things. You know them all by name?

MR. FITZGERALD: And I know them all by name - most of them. Most of them might know me.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: He is from my district. He knows what is happening down there, and he knows the hurt that is going to be brought about by this piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did his aunts vote (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: His aunts probably did. They are good people. I know them quite well. And he has been a good minister. I say, the Minister of Environment and Labour has been a good minister, no doubt about that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: In fact, he came down to my district to help solve a problem, and it was a problem that had been there for the last twenty years. Finally, this minister was one of the people who stepped in and said: We have to do something about this. This is wrong. No matter which district it is in, it is wrong and has to be corrected; and it was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, but he did come down and help solve the problem there, and that is what should be done. If you are a Minister of the Crown, you are a Minister of the Crown for Newfoundland and Labrador, not just Liberal districts or Tory districts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods has been a good man since he has been the Government House Leader. He is a changed man, and I do not know how he could sit back there. In fact, it is the first time I got a good look at the minister, because all of the last term he used to sit like this. He could not look at anybody. He could not look over here, he could not look at his own people, and he could not look at his own leader, but it is all completely different now.

MR. OSBORNE: Give us your synopsis on Roger Grimes.

MR. FITZGERALD: I just did that.

That is the difference, but he is doing a good job now that he is there. I must say, the few times I have had occasion to call him, he has been very accommodating.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that we are debating An Act To Implement The Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement Between The Government Of Canada And The Government Of Newfoundland And Labrador. I ask the member to be relevant.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, those are the people who brought in the Act and if I cannot refer to the authors, then how can I refer to the Act? Those are the authors of the Act, so I would suggest when I speak to the authors that I am being relevant, not to overshadow your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

This is certainly a bill brought before this House that can do nothing but hurt people. It can do nothing but create hardship for most of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador today. I guess, the first thing that comes in our minds is the 15 per cent that is going to be stuck on our hydro bills. The Minister of ITT does not care much about that because what is another 8 per cent on his hydro bill? It does not matter, Mr. Speaker. The cheque will be written, somebody will take it, and that will be it, it will be paid, but I can assure you that there are a lot of people out in my district who will be hurt when they have to go and probably witness another $20 or $30 a week stuck on their hydro bills. It is money they cannot afford.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture just rolled in and interrupted in his usual fashion. He had the Spanish War going there in Question Period. The next thing was the Spanish Armada. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture knows very well what is happening out there today, and he knows very well that there are a lot of people out there today who cannot afford to go out and buy fur coats, and spend another 8 per cent on their hydro bill, on their haircuts, legal fees, funerals, and the list goes on.

If members went to their constituencies and asked their constituents what they thought of allowing this particular bill to be brought forward, knowing they would have an increase of 7 per cent or 8 per cent on some of the necessities in their lives today, how many people out there would go and give it their blessing, Mr. Speaker? There have been enough bankruptcies in this Province already. There have been enough businesses close shop. There have been enough layoffs, and that is all I can see happening with this piece of legislation.

Let us go back to the Prime Minister. At least one or two people in the Prime Minister's office have enough guts to speak out and say it is wrong, and that is more than we find on the other side here. I can understand the Cabinet ministers not wanting to speak out, or not wanting to speak up, because they have to go along with their leader. They have been sworn to secrecy. They have been sworn to uphold the thoughts of the leader, and they have been sworn to have Cabinet solidarity. I can understand the Cabinet ministers but I cannot understand people who sit in the back benches of this government today, if they are representing their constituents, staying quiet when they see hardship brought on each and every one of them. I cannot understand that.

All we are doing here as Opposition, Mr. Speaker, is saying, slow down the process. Take this particular bill, Bill 45, out to the people. Use the consultation process, use the committees of the House that former Premier Wells had seen a need for and put together. That is the reason why the House committees, Mr. Speaker, were implemented; that is why they were put in place.

AN HON. MEMBER: The great Democrat.

MR. FITZGERALD: The great Democrat, Mr. Wells and Mr. `Eddie Escobar,' the former Government House Leader, was even more democratic than this House Leader here. At least, Mr. Speaker, it was only after everybody in the House had time to debate an issue that he brought in closure.

I would say, never before in the history of democracy has such a hobnailed, hard-nosed boot style of politics ever been introduced in the Legislature. This is the order of the day. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, if you talk to him privately, will tell you that he disagrees with that bill. He will tell you that he disagrees with that bill. He will not say it in public because of Cabinet solidarity, but you talk to him privately and he will tell you: You are going a good job, keep it up, because I do not want to see any hurt brought to my people.

People in the back benches - the Member for Terra Nova, if he were to speak honestly, he would stand here today and say that this bill should go to the people, because he believes in the democratic process.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: God bless him, I wish he were. He believes in the democratic process and it should be taken to the people to have input. That is all we are asking, Mr. Speaker. The committee reports back to the Clerk if the House is not in session, they report back to the Government House Leader if we are sitting, and after we have had hearings, after the committee reports back, and if people out there, if Newfoundlanders and Labradorians agree that this is a good piece of legislation, there would be no need for closure. There would be no need for any more debate. It will pass through the House.

I say to the Government House Leader, there are lots of bills here. That is what he should be dealing with at this time. Not introducing closure on a bill that should be gone before committee and a bill he does not need until April 1 of next year. He does not need it. But it is the same old tactic - bring everybody back two weeks before Christmas, sit every night, let them speak out, wear them down, and we will introduce closure. By 1:00 a.m. they will be talked out and they will go home.

That is not the way the democratic process works. This is the people's House and this is where people's opinions and people's views should be brought to the floor. But it is being stifled by members opposite, and that is wrong.

MR. EFFORD: That is only your opinion.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is my opinion, and that is the opinion of 90 per cent of the people in this House, I say to the Member for Port de Grave.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the hurt that is out there today, when you look at the people who are unable to find a job and the people out there who struggle every day, whether they are getting a TAGS cheque, an unemployment cheque, a social services cheque or a government cheque, Mr. Speaker, and some of those have gotten very scarce. When you see those people who struggle every day to keep body and soul together, when you see them have to struggle every day to put bread and butter on the table, and you go out and tell them that now you are going to tax their hydro... Mr. Speaker, you are going to give them a break on new cars, you are going to give them a break on new furniture but you are going to attack children's clothing, you are going to attack school books, you are going to attack everything that those people require as necessities and which they now cannot afford. To me, that is wrong; that is not representing your people.

It is one thing, Mr. Speaker, to come in here and get lost in the crowd. It is another to come in here and stand for the people who sent you here. Because they certainly did not send the Member for Labrador West into this House to represent the Premier or to go along with the Premier's wishes. Nobody sent me here, Mr. Speaker, to go along with the opinions and the views of my leader if it were going to hurt them, nobody, and I will never do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: I will never do that. If there is anything ever brought into this House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: If there is anything ever brought into this House that is detrimental to the people I represent, I will stand and be counted.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member does not have leave. I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

MR. FITZGERALD: In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I will sit and allow somebody else to take part in this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au-Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise today and have a few words on the harmonized sales tax. First of all, I guess I would like to say that I certainly support any tax reductions for consumers of the Province and any tax reductions that are going to apply across the board and help them make savings in everyday aspects of their lives.

What I would like to do is just talk a little bit about how the sales tax is going to affect the people of my district. It is certainly not going to mean any savings for the people of Coastal Labrador when we talk about hydro-electricity. I have a part of this Province which is still on diesel electricity. They are paying the highest rates of most people in the Province when it comes to electricity and it is through no fault of their own. But what we are doing today is, we are saying to these people, we are going to charge you another 8 per cent increase on what you are already paying, and that is not fair, Mr. Speaker. It is not fair to the people who have to live in the coastal areas of this Province, to the people who are already paying the high prices of diesel electricity.

When we talk about savings for consumers and savings for people, I have to revert to the exemption that was placed on building materials, on taxes on building materials, going to the people of Labrador. For years that has been one program that has allowed us to correct the inequity within this Province. It has given the people in Labrador an opportunity to buy building materials from the Island, and the cost reduction in taxes has allowed them to subsidize the transportation on getting those building materials in. With this sales tax we are saying to them: We are going to charge you an extra 15 per cent taxes on these building materials. We are no longer going to give you the claw-back on GST, but rather we are going to up the price. That, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support. It is unfair to the people who live there.

This tax affects a lot of small items that consumers use in their everyday lives. It affects small ticket items that a lot of low-income families are dependent upon, people in my district as well. There has been a lot of talk about the taxes that are going to be placed on children's clothing. I would just like to tell you a story about how this works in my district. We do not shop for clothing in stores in our communities, we shop by catalogue. So we are not only paying an 8 per cent increase on the tax of the item, we are also paying a 15 per cent increase on the postage charged to get that item to the consumer. So there are two taxes for parents in communities where I live.

This is very unfair. When we look at harmonizing taxes or making tax reductions in the Province, I agree that it be done for the benefit of everyone, and in this case it is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Not bad at all, boy. If you could all be as good as Chrétien, we would not have any problems, I suppose. But that is not the case, I say to the hon. member, unfortunately.

AN HON. MEMBER: Come on! You and Harvey, come on over!

MS JONES: I cannot come over.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: The only reason why I would cross is if you scrapped this tax program right now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: I am just telling you about the implications that this is going to have in my district. I say to the Government House Leader, stand up and scrap the program and I will be right over!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: I enjoyed the trout.

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we are implementing a tax here that, yes, is going to cause some savings to consumers, but the savings are on high ticket items. The savings are going to be for a select group of people in this Province. The people I represent live in a part of this Province that are already going through one of the highest cost of living.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair. If other members wish to debate, they will have to wait until she is finished. If they wish to engage in conversation, they will have to do so outside the Chamber.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is nice to know that you all have an opinion on this Harmonized Sales Tax, and I am sure you are just agreeing with me.

I was saying that the people this tax is going to harm the most are the lower income people in this Province. The people in my district have just gone through a tremendous downsizing in their economic base. We are trying to build it back up. We are doing so with the highest cost of living in this Province, but we are doing it with a positive attitude. We are looking at the right avenues, and we are trying to pull it together. All of a sudden today we are saying to these people who are coming off TAGS and going on social assistance programs, these people who are trying to build new industries, that we are going to slap you with another 8 per cent increase on your diesel/hydro bill, that we are going to slap you with a 15 per cent tax increase on building materials, a tax increase from which you have been exempt for a number of years. We are going to slap you with an 8 per cent increase on your gasoline and your diesel. That is not acceptable to me, and it is not acceptable to the people I represent in my district.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: As I said earlier, yes, we have to reform the tax base of this Province and, yes, we have to look at implementing taxes that are going to help people get off social assistance, going to help people to increase their standard of living, help low income families provide a better living for themselves and the communities in which they live, but we are not going to be doing it by taxing the everyday services that they depend upon and that they use.

Mr. Speaker, I have no other choice but to vote against the Harmonized Sales Tax, as it will not benefit the people of my district.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Could we have quiet here, please, while we put the amendment? I assume that members have spoken and we are now ready for the question on the amendment.

All those in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, `nay'.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Division?

AN HON. MEMBER: Division. Call in the members.

MR. SPEAKER: Call in the members.

Is the House ready? Are members ready?

Division

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the amendment please rise.

Mr. Edward Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Mr. French, Ms. Jones.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion please stand.

The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Education, Mr. Lush, Mr. Penney, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, Mr. Noel, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

CLERK: Mr. Speaker, ten `ayes' and twenty-three `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the amendment defeated.


 

December 17, 1996         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS       Vol. XLIII  No. 55A

 


[Continuation of sitting.]

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I presume the next order of business is to call the main motion and then we vote on that after people have spoken. Is that it?

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): We are back to the main motion now, yes.

MR. TULK: Yes.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I cannot say I am pleased to stand in my place today.

MR. EFFORD: The man who won the poll.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is at it again. I do not want to hurt his feelings or get him too upset here tonight, Mr. Speaker, so I will just try to ignore him for now.

In the meantime, Bill No. 45. One thing I did not mention the other day when I was on my feet with respect to Bill 45 is closure. I do not know it escaped me that I did not say a few words on that. At least I do not remember saying a few words about closure. I did not think that the Government House Leader would be following in the footsteps of the previous Government House Leader who brought in closure more times in the matter of a week, I think - in the matter of one week they brought in closure more times than it had been brought in since 1949.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: In one week? I believe it was something like four or five times in one week.

MR. TULK: It was the former Government House Leader?

MR. J. BYRNE: I think so.

MR. TULK: Bad man.

MR. J. BYRNE: Bad man. The Government House Leader who is sitting in his place today, Mr. Speaker, says the previous Government House Leader was a bad man. I would not necessarily agree with that. I think he was doing his job, but he just got carried away with it.

Closure on Bill No. 45 was brought in on Friday the thirteenth. And I referred to it the other day. In the bill itself, in one of the formulas, it refers to NUMDAYS. So, on Friday the thirteenth they brought in this legislation. Anybody who is superstitious would think that this may not be a good thing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The closure bill to be brought in, does not give the people of the Province enough time to have a say on this bill, through the members of the House of Assembly. It does not give them enough time to have their say and to properly study, review and have a look at the bill and all the clauses in it.

I have not, to this point in time, seen any members on the opposite side of the House speak to this bill, other than the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. I think there may be one other member planning to get to his feet and say a few words. The Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island was on his feet - and I have to give him credit, every now and then the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island gets to his feet, more so than other members on the opposite side. The only member on the opposite side, I think, who probably got up more often than the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island was the former Member for Eagle River. He was up all the time. On anything that went on in the House, he was up doing the performance for the then-premier, Mr. Clyde Wells.

The Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island made a couple of points. One of them was that there is going to be $105 million put back into the economy of the Province with this tax harmonization. What he neglected to say was that we are going to be short in revenues by $242 million. In due course, that is what is coming down when this bill is fully implemented. At this time, I believe they have $348 million in the bank garnering interest and what have you.

I ask: What is that telling the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador? Obviously, the government has been bought off: `Listen, you put this through for us now and we will give you X amount of money up front' - an attempt at a short-term fix, Mr. Speaker. In other words, short-term gain for long-term pain, as I think someone referred to it.

Now, the Minister of Finance has been on his feet talking about all the positive things that are happening in the Province. And I agree with him, there are a number of positive things happening in this Province. The transshipment site is great for Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Argentia smelter, and Voisey's Bay and some other smaller things ongoing in the Province, but will that turn the economy around? I sincerely hope so, Mr. Speaker. I sincerely hope that will turn the economy around because that is what this government is depending upon.

The Minister of Finance says that the shortfalls will be made up when the economy begins to boom and expand in the next two or three years, and hopefully, it will happen, but it is a lot to put your faith on. We heard it before, Mr. Speaker, with Come by Chance, with Churchill Falls, with the oil refinery in Holyrood, with Long Harbour and, of course, with Hibernia. Now, Hibernia, Mr. Speaker, was a great thing for Newfoundland and Labrador, great when it came along, great timing, because only for that, many more people would have been leaving this Province, a lot more than have left over the past few years; and that is an issue, in itself. The Minister of Finance is talking about the economy expanding, yet, our population is decreasing. So, if our population is decreasing, obviously, there are fewer people paying income tax, fewer people paying retail sales tax and fewer people paying property taxes. All over the Province, there are homes being abandoned and left. So, to say that this is going to be a good thing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I believe is really, really, really stretching it, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the amount of taxes that the people of the Province pay all the time - I am going to get into that in a little while, Mr. Speaker. But this bill itself, I say in all sincerity, will hurt the lower-income people in the Province, people who are on the lower end of the scale, on the working income scale, not to mention the people on social assistance. But take, for example, the working poor, the people who are making $5, $6, $7 or $8 dollars an hour and less. These are the people who are going to be hit hard when they have to pay extra money for their heating bills, for their electricity, for their oil, for their school supplies, for their clothing, Mr. Speaker. When families now, with three or four children, have to come up with extra money in the Fall of the year, each year when their children are being sent off to school, to clothe them, when they have to buy their winter clothing, their heavy coats and their heavy pants, and so on, for the Winter. An extra 8 per cent is quite a burden on these individuals and it is not something that we should be taking lightly.

Now, when this bill was brought before the House, we knew it was at a time when it would be rushed. Closure would be brought in, Mr. Speaker, we knew that. There was no doubt about that, because it was a time of restraint on the number of pieces of legislation before this House. So we know that the government brought this in at a time when there would be very little debate on this bill, where the people in the Province really could not organize and get up against this bill like they are doing in other provinces. So that is something that the people of the Province should be well aware of, and know the tactics of this Administration.

Now, the bill, itself, is before this House and there are only three provinces in Canada that have agreed to go along with this tax harmonization. It is strange - the only common denominator with respect to this bill, in the other two provinces, is that they have a Liberal Administration.

We all know here, it has been said here before, of course by people on this side of the House, not so much by people on that side of the House, but we all know that in the last federal election the Prime Minister made promises that he could not keep. He knew when he was making them he could not keep them. As a matter of fact, he is in the media these past couple of days saying that he could not keep that promise. Even if made the promise he knew, being realistic, it was something he could not keep. Because $16 billion taken out of the economy, how could he promise such a thing? Yet, he promised it verbally, and he promised it in black-and-white.

Now, he has the Minister of Finance, Mr. Martin, on television, through the news media, trying to sweep it aside, saying that it really could not make sense to do that, and he apologized for it. But that is not going to wipe the slate clean. The Prime Minister, as I said, has been in the media twice, I believe, trying to get around it, saying it was something they really could not do, and maybe it was an honest mistake, and so on. An honest mistake? That is like the Minister of Education right here in this Province getting in the media the past few days saying: We never promised that we would redirect the savings in education. In actual fact, we all know what really went on. We know the money was geared to go into the classroom. It was supposed to. We know that the people in the Province voted on that. They were told that. We were told that was going to happen.

The Prime Minister went around this country and said they would abolish the GST, Mr. Speaker. Abolish does not mean harmonize, it does not mean bring together with something. It means to get rid of, to scrap, the GST. The Deputy Prime Minister, Sheila Copps, publicly stated during the election, if they did not get rid of the GST, she would resign. What happened with the Deputy Prime Minister? She was refusing to resign until such time as she had that much pressure on her, and there was probably a poll done -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who's that?

MR. J. BYRNE: The Deputy Prime Minister. Then she went to the Prime Minister and said: If you call a quick by-election now, I will resign and we will try to make it look good, and the people will forgive us. Sure enough, she resigned - crocodile tears all over the place, and she got re-elected. It was supposed to wipe the plate clean, but it did not. It is only these past weeks, Mr. Speaker, maybe last week, I was watching television and I saw the Prime Minister on one of those town hall meetings. The Prime Minister was there taking questions. Well, Mr. Speaker, I was totally amazed, shocked. The Prime Minister was there sitting back taking questions, and it was put to him point-blank: `You promised to abolish the GST.' He replied: `I did not promise that - you should have read the Red Book.' Mr. Speaker, how arrogant can an individual be? That is the first sign that an administration is in trouble. Now we have five or six months, maybe, to a general election and they are backtracking head over tail, trying to work the GST around.

That is why they got three Liberal premiers to agree to a tax harmonization which is going to do nothing for the people in their provinces, but which is doing something for the Federal Government and the Prime Minister of the country, to try to make him look good. The Minister of Education is over there making some kinds of weird noises and statements.

MR. GRIMES: You should talk a bit faster. I know you only have so much to say.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I have so much to say. I can speak a lot faster, I say to the minister, but then, I can talk a lot slower, too. Now, which would you prefer, I ask the Minister of Education?

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of this country made all kinds of promises. The people who ran for him in all the districts in this country made all kinds of promises with respect to the GST and they have not been fulfilled to this day.

Now, getting back to the HST, which is what we are talking about here. It is all a combination, it all goes hand in hand like a hand in a glove. The Premier of this Province has agreed to help get the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and his whole Administration out of trouble. On the backs of whom, Mr. Speaker? On the backs of the people of this Province - that is what the Premier is doing and it is not right. It is not fair to the people of the Province - and I do not mind saying so, Mr. Speaker, in this House - that the Premier will be one of the three agreeing to blend the GST and the provincial sales tax.

The Premier stands in his place, every opportunity he gets, and says: Well, you guys, the Opposition, why are you against reducing the taxes from 20 per cent down to 15 per cent? Now, Mr. Speaker, that is twisting, that is why the Premier is now getting the name ` Tornado' - `Tornado', the twister, Mr. Speaker. He is twisting, twisting, twisting; that is all they ever do on that side of the House. Ask a question of any of them, Mr. Speaker, and you get twisting, twisting, twisting and they try to throw it back to this side of the House, that we are at fault - when we do not agree with something that we are simply asking questions. But leave no doubt here, Mr. Speaker, on this one. The questions we are asking here are leading to the fact that we are against tax harmonization and Bill 45.

The Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair stood in her place a few minutes ago, and she is opposing it. She is opposing this bill because she knows that it is going to hurt the people in her district, the people who put her in this seat in the House of Assembly. And there are members on that side of the House who, if they sit back and think about it and look at it, will know that it is going to hurt, in the long term, the people of their districts.

Now, apparently, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has stated it is something they are looking at and maybe in three years time - that this is like a pilot project, and I stand to be corrected on that. But, if this is a pilot project, Mr. Speaker, it can be a very, very expensive pilot project for the people of this Province, let me tell you that. What happens when we have all the businesses in this Province putting untold dollars, untold fortunes into converting their equipment, and all of a sudden the system falls apart? And let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, more than likely it will, because it is going to become too costly.

Three or four years down the road when we feel the full impact of it, when the government has to start making up for monies they are planning on getting, but have lost, what are they going to do? Are they going to increase taxes? I hope not, because, I say, it will be to their detriment. Are they going to cut services more than they have cut them already? Is it possible that the government can cut services more than they have over the past five or six years? I cannot see it. I have been speaking to the people in my district and to people all over the Province. The services in this Province -

MR. EFFORD: What would you suggest we do?

AN HON. MEMBER: Get rid of the Cabinet.

MR. J. BYRNE: That should be a good move.

Mr. Speaker, I have to laugh at this, too - I really do. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is over there asking: What would you do? Whenever a question is asked of the Premier, the response is: What would you do? Whenever a question is asked of the Minister of Health: What would you do? I mean, all of them, Mr. Speaker, ask: What would you do? What would you do? They are the government, Mr. Speaker, and they want us to tell them what their job is! You figure it out, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, that is what you are being paid for. We are not going to do your job for you. We will do it - when we are on that side of the House, we will do the job, and do it right. And it is coming soon, very soon. Keep on the trail you are on today, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and we will do it soon - very, very soon.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is interrupting again. I tell the minister not to get too lippy, because I have some pictures we can show him that were recently taken -

MR. EFFORD: At least they are worth looking at.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, there is no doubt about that, they are worth looking at, I can guarantee you. They are worth looking at - yes, sir! Do you want to see them?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, I will show you. In due course, everything in due course, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Losing track? No, I like this going back and forth because it gives me a break, Mr. Speaker.

The Prime Minister of the country was in Newfoundland last night, trying to talk to the Liberal members opposite, and the people of the Province, trying to tell them how good the HST is. And I imagine, Mr. Speaker, that some of those people, some of those members, and some of the ministers, too, came away believing that this is a good thing for the Province. They actually do believe it - but I know there are some over there who do not. When they were trying to push through the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, when the people got up against it and the opposition rose, there are some over there who backed off it.

The Government House Leader sitting here today - I say to him: You pulled a faster one than the previous Government House Leader, because you are a little bit smarter. Believe that, if that is a possibility.

MR. TULK: What?

MR. J. BYRNE: You are a little bit smarter than the previous Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Why?

MR. J. BYRNE: Because of the way you are putting this bill through the House. If the previous Government House Leader had done the same thing with the Hydro bill, if he had sneaked it through, people would not know a thing about it. Now, we are getting this one pushed through and the people are being crucified.

MR. TULK: If you do not want Ed Roberts to have a stroke, you call (inaudible) a copy of Hansard for us and he will have (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay.

So, what are they doing now, Mr. Speaker? They are taking this bill and sneaking it through, as I said, a couple of days before Christmas.

MR. EFFORD: You topped the polls, did you not, `Jack'?

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. EFFORD: You topped the polls over there for the best Opposition -

MR. J. BYRNE: On this side of the House, we are all equal, we are all as one, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which one?

MR. J. BYRNE: Which one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: We do not have what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am not talking about money.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just in conclusion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I apologize (inaudible) Tory, Mr. Speaker. That is the only way I can get out of it.

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader is talking about apologies. I say to the Government House Leader, the Prime Minister, his federal cousin, was watching TV last Friday and saw me apologize, and said, `Now, there's a smart man.' And he would not apologize, himself, on Friday for the GST.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to do it.

MR. OSBORNE: That is right. He would not apologize on Saturday. He would not apologize on Sunday. Mr. Speaker, he waited until Monday when he could be in St. John's, closer to me, to apologize for the GST. Look at the precedent that I set right here. The Prime Minister of Canada took my lead and apologized. It is about time the Prime Minister realized that he made a mistake, and apologized. At least I did it right away.

MR. EFFORD: Did you tell the Prime Minister you are the last man to let him down?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OSBORNE: You are the first one I would let down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for calming down the jungle on the other side, the rabbling panthers.

Mr. Speaker, I am up to talk about a very important issue here, the GST and the HST, and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture over there - it is almost your anniversary, is it not? It was almost a year ago today that you called a press conference yourself to apologize for not having the guts to run against Tobin.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: That was a rough day for him.

MR. OSBORNE: That was a rough day for him.

Mr. Speaker, we are here to talk about an important issue, an issue in which this government is going to subject the people of our Province, the working poor and the welfare class, to tougher taxes than what they are presently endured to pay.

Mr. Speaker, under the HST -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: You are in conflict, buddy!

MR. J. BYRNE: You are not in your seat.

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I am not the only one here who is in conflict. Not only is the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture generally out of order, he is truly out of order now because he is not even in his seat.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask for protection from the Speaker. He will drive him back into his seat. You ask the Speaker, he will take care of him.

MR. OSBORNE: He is being driven out of the House now.

Mr. Speaker, the HST -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I drove him back further than he ever was before. One of these days he will be a backbencher, for sure. He belongs back there, `the minister of wan-a-bees'.

Mr. Speaker, I was just handed something out of the Globe and Mail. It says, `Rock On'. Did you see this? Rock On. It said: `Newfoundlanders will travel to the ends of the earth for a good party, so why not Ottawa?' Did you read this?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: `And why not the Liberal caucus Christmas bash, the site where, this week, two members of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, Chuck Furey, Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and Jim Walsh, a former minister in Clyde Wells' Cabinet, had tongues waging. The buzz at the bar was that the pair might be trying' -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that we are now debating the main motion on Bill 45.

MR. OSBORNE: I am getting to an important issue.

MR. SPEAKER: We are debating the principle of the bill and I ask him to make his comments relevant.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was getting to the fact that if the hon. ministers went to Ottawa, they would further impose items on Newfoundlanders such as the HST and subject us to hardship.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of issues in the tax harmonization that we would like to talk about. We, on this side of the House, I think all Opposition members, including the Independent member and the NDP member, realize that this HST deal is not a good deal for Newfoundland. I believe that all Opposition members feel strongly enough about this HST deal that we are all going to vote against this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it does not surprise me that all government members will vote in favour of this. I feel that they are almost Tobin automatons, they will do whatever they are told to do by the Premier. The three Liberal premiers, Mr. Speaker, gave a pre-election promise to Mr. Chrétien who is still nervous about the GST and is looking for a way to mask it. He is looking for a way to cover up the GST so that he can come back in the next election and say that he delivered on his promise. But we all know that this is not delivering on his promise, this is just masking the GST.

The Federal Government are still going to get their 7 per cent. They are still getting their GST, Mr. Speaker, by putting this HST through, and this HST will cause the poor to spend a greater percentage of their income on essentials that will cease to be tax exempt. It will cause home heating fuels and electricity to increase in price because of the extra tax burden. By doing this, the working poor and people who are subject to having to resort to social assistance will have to pay more out of pocket. It will cost them more in taxes to heat their homes, for gasoline, for children's clothing, for haircuts and so on.

We have been told over the past number of days that the HST deal is going to put $105 million back into the economy. Mr. Speaker, I find this hard to accept because of the fact that while it is taking $105 million out of our tax revenue on the RST, the government are going to impose a levy on insurances which is going to take away from that $105 million that is going back into the economy. They are going to impose levies on the sale of used cars, the taxes on used cars, which will take money out of that $105 million. So it is not actually $105 million into the economy as we are told, as we are led to believe by government members.

The working class poor and the social assistance recipients in our Province are already going through tough enough times. We do not have to impose the HST on these people and subject them to higher taxes on a number of essential items.

Mr. Speaker, if we truly want our economy to rebound, we cannot impose an HST which is going to cause our housing industry to slow down. We cannot impose an HST which is going to drive the working class poor and the recipients of social assistance out of the Province and increase the rate of out-migration, because these people just cannot afford to stay, and provide a means for themselves to live in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are taxing people out of the Province.

It is quite clear that most people in Atlantic Canada do not want the HST. Nova Scotians do not want it. As a matter of fact, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the HST is referred to as the BS Tax. I would say that that is probably a very accurate statement, the BS Tax. Here it has already been dubbed as the HST, the `horrible sales tax'. When this tax is actually imposed and people are subject to higher taxes on basic essentials, they are going to realize that this tax is not a good tax for Newfoundland and Labrador. As the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair said, it is not a good tax for her constituents. I am saying it is not a good tax for my constituents. My hon. colleagues on this side of the House have all said it is not a good tax for their constituents.

I would say, Mr. Speaker, it is not a good tax for the constituents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, with the exception of the upper class, who will be the only people really to truly benefit from the HST. The upper class are the people who can afford to buy big ticket items. They are the people who are purchasing new vehicles every couple of years, purchasing big ticket items like skiddoos and so on. So, the HST is for a certain class, and it is going to further draw apart the two classes of people who live in this Province, the wealthy and the not wealthy.

Mr. Speaker, this HST is not a good deal. It places less tax on fur coats and more on children's clothing. Who is really benefitting from this tax? It is not the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The Retail Council of Canada says that the cost of conversion will exceed the savings from harmonization. Most businesses cannot absorb the costs without increasing their prices or laying off employees, so how will this improve our economy? How will this spur our economy? You are looking at a potential of further out-migration because of the tax, you are looking at a potential of further lay-offs because businesses have to absorb the cost of implementing the tax, you are looking at a slowdown in the housing industry. It does not add up. How is this going to benefit our economy? How is this going to improve our economy?

The $105 million that we are promised is being put back into the economy is actually being taken away in dribs and drabs, such as the levy on insurances, the taxes on used cars, and I am sure the government will find many other ways to impose levies and further taxes on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and take that $105 million back in taxes.

Mr. Speaker, the HST will drive up the price of electricity when thousands of consumers have just finished telling the government and the Public Utilities Board and Newfoundland Power that they do not want an increase in utility rates.

The tax harmonization was not an election issue, but it is designed to mask an election promise made by the Prime Minister to scrap the GST. The St. John's Board of Trade says that a hidden tax will make our prices appear too high to tourists who come to spend their tourism dollars to visit our Province, to see our unique way of life here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most tourists will go home, I would say, having bought fewer items than they initially intended to buy, because with this hidden tax, the tax is marked into the price. The prices of products in Bangor, Maine, the prices in New Hampshire and the prices in Houston are going to appear to be only 50 per cent of what they are here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The sticker price shock will actually cause a lot of tourists not to buy as much as they intended to buy when they first came to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, this tax is not a good tax for Newfoundland and Labrador. This tax will not create great benefit as was promised by the many members on the government side of the House. We will lose our autonomy to set tax rates under this new deal. Ottawa can raise taxes unilaterally. We do not have that option. Any province can veto a tax decrease. We alone do not have the option of decreasing taxes. If our revenue needs increase, we will not be able to get the extra tax revenue from the sales tax, and if our revenue needs decrease, we will not be able to offer a tax break. We will lose our autonomy under the HST.

The finance minister tells of glowing stories about the economy growing to make up for the lost revenue under the HST but the Government Social Advisory Council Committee document says that the next few years are going to bring an economic downturn in Newfoundland and Labrador because of fewer workers, because of fewer people paying taxes, because of more seniors with needs, because of out-migration, a smaller population and because of declining transfers. Both cannot be true. I ask, who is telling the truth here? Both cannot be true. The finance minister is painting a rosy picture to sell this tax harmonization to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a horrible sales tax. The government is breaking its promise, as an example, to put money saved from education reform back into education and part of the reason, Mr. Speaker, one would suggest, is because the HST is going to leave the Province with a tax revenue crisis.

Mr. Speaker, not only has the Prime Minister of Canada broken the promise to scrap the GST but the education minister and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have broken their promise to redirect education savings because of the reform back into education.

Mr. Speaker, to make up for lost revenue, the government is going to have to introduce new taxes on insurance rates and the private sale of vehicles with higher rates than people are now paying. There is no benefit in this tax, Mr. Speaker. This is a rosy painted picture for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not an accurate picture, it is not a true picture. This tax is a BS tax.

Mr. Speaker, the cost of the extra jobs that is going to be borne by this Province because of the implementation of the tax is a further reason for us not to accept the HST. There are going to be jobs lost. The people who are now working with RST, some of those jobs are going to be lost and Newfoundland is not one of the provinces that are going to pick up jobs because of the new HST deal. Does it not seem ironic? We are signing on to the deal, but the jobs created because of the HST deal will not be coming to Newfoundland. Mr. Speaker, this picture stinks. This tax stinks. This is truly the BS Tax.

We will lose tax processing jobs because of tax harmonization. There is going to be out-migration because of tax harmonization. There is no contingency plan put in place in case the economic and revenue growth that is painted by the members of the government does not occur to the levels projected by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Mr. Speaker, blind faith does not open hospital beds or better our education.

This tax, Mr. Speaker, is not acceptable to most people in this Province. If the government feel that they can introduce this tax, that they can bring it in and put it in place and that most people are going to forget about it, if they think that most people are going to forget that this tax is taking extra money out of their pockets, the working poor and the people on social assistance - if people do not realize right now that this tax is going to cost them more money, they will realize it once it is implemented.

The Chrétien Government in Ottawa had three years to try to get people to forget about their promise to scrap the GST and it did not work. People remember the GST is not gone. The people of this Province will not forget that this tax is going to cost them more money. The Provincial Government may think that by bringing this tax in now they have plenty of time for the people in the Province to forget about the tax, they have plenty of time for the people of the Province to forget that the tax was put in place, by the next election. But as the people of Canada remember, the GST is not scrapped. The people of our Province will remember that this HST is a horrible sales tax. The people of our Province do not want this tax, and come the next election, they are going to remember that this tax is not acceptable, and it will come back to haunt the Liberal Government of today, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

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

MR. OSBORNE: A minute to clue up, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, who is away doing business On Her Majesty's Service, and doing his master's duty, to move second reading of Bill No. 45.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a second time?

All those in favour, say `Aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, `Nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Division.

Division

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

All those in favour of the motion, please stand.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Lush; Mr. Penney; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Oldford; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Ms Hodder; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Mr. Reid; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow; Mr. Wiseman.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, please stand.

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition; Mr. Hodder; Mr. Shelley; Mr. Edward Byrne; Mr. Fitzgerald; Mr. Jack Byrne; Mr. Osborne; Mr. Ottenheimer; Mr. French; Ms Jones.

Mr. Speaker, twenty-five `ayes' and ten `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Implement The Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement Between The Government Of Canada And The Government Of Newfoundland And Labrador," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 45)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I understand we are going to break for supper at 6:00 p.m. but I would like, before we do that, to call second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits". (Bill No. 46)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits". (Bill No. 46)

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: I rise to introduce second reading to a new Act called the Pensions Benefits Act. This Act was originally initiated by the Department of Finance back through the reform process and, Mr. Speaker, the new Act has many positive aspects. It brings our provincial legislation in line with that of other Canadian jurisdictions and provides for the affordability of pensions within the Province and within Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I will just read off a few of the notes from the new Act so that if there is any further discussion and questions we could do it in Committee or third reading - Committee, I guess.

It provides fair and consistent treatment to employees and enhances benefits for members of pension plans. It promotes increased security of pension benefits and assists Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in preparation for retirement.

This Act provides, among other benefits, protection of spouses, including recognition of common-law spouses upon death of a member, and a framework for a division of benefits upon marriage breakdown.

This new bill enables employees to be members of pension plans earlier than previously permitted. It now enables part-time employees to be members of pension plans, as well.

Mr. Speaker, I am just highlighting a few of the items that are brought forward in this new pensions Act. It enables employees to receive benefits under a pension plan after two years of membership.

AN HON. MEMBER: How tall are you, `Ernie'?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of shoes do you wear?

MR. McLEAN: I say to the member opposite, I am tall enough and I wear a man-sized shoe.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, this new bill also increases provisions to enable terminating plan members to transfer pension benefits upon termination of employment. These are new sections of this Act that were not in the previous one.

This new bill increases spousal protection upon death of a member before and after retirement. It introduces an earlier retirement option at age fifty-five. It recognizes common-law spouses for survivor benefits. This new bill also provides for spouses, following divorce or legal separation, to sever ties with the member and to receive their own pension covering the marriage period.

AN HON. MEMBER: Uh-oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: He is getting married on New Year's Day, hey? You should have got married last week.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also ensures that benefits be equally cost-shared by employees and employers. It is called a 50 per cent rule, which will be part of the new benefits of this Act.

The new Pension Benefits Act addresses various pension issues in accordance with a national consensus on pension reform, and will serve to encourage employee participation in pension plans in the Province. This new Act brings it in line, certainly, with the other jurisdictions in Canada.

Pension plans are a vital part of the retirement income system for the Province and for Canada. The intent of the Pension Benefits Act is to provide minimum standards for all employer-sponsored pension plans in the Province, and to ensure monies that are allocated by employers and employees for retirement purposes are remitted on time, invested wisely, and used to provide retirement income.

Canada has three pillars in its retirement income system: Old age security, Canada Pension Plan, and employer-sponsored pension plans and personal retirement savings plans. The change in this portion of the population aged sixty-five and over will have a dramatic impact on the ability of government to fund the social security programs now in place. Employer-sponsored pension plans and personal retirement savings plans will continue to play a major role in assisting working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families in preparing for retirement.

Mr. Speaker, the Pension Benefits Act regulates all employer-sponsored pension plans and ensures that monies contributed by both employers and employees are utilized for the purpose of providing retirement incomes.

While the Pension Benefits Act governs approximately 90,000 persons and 240 registered pension plans, the public sector plans, including MHAs, uniformed services, teacher and public service pension plans, will be exempt from the major provisions of the Act because of the funded liability.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to introduce to second reading this legislation, which will provide increased pension benefits for workers in the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place today and say a few words with respect to this Bill 46.

MR. EFFORD: That is a note (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I just made a few notes as the minister was speaking, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: The `Jack' attack.

MR. J. BYRNE: You should always pray that you never have a `Jack' attack, my son.

Mr. Speaker, the minister stood in his place and introduced this bill, and he talked about a lot of positive things coming from this bill, a lot of positive steps and amendments and so on.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: There is no point in your talking to me across the House when I am talking because I cannot hear you, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, unless you speak up.

Mr. Speaker, he talked about many positive aspects of this proposed legislation. He says now that it is going to be in line with other Canadian jurisdictions, and that very well, in itself, may be a good thing. But it appears to me, this Administration seems to think anything that is good on the mainland, or anything that is operating on the mainland of Canada, is automatically a good thing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In actual fact, in most instances it is a matter of fact that you have to wait and see whether, indeed, it is a good thing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, when they are putting in legislation that is comparable to other provinces in the country.

The minister talked about the portability of pensions. Obviously, that can be a good thing for people who are in the pension plans, that they can transfer -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I can adjourn the debate at any time at all, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, if he wants.

The portability of pensions can certainly be a good item. It can be a positive thing for the people who are involved in the various pensions that this bill covers and applies to.

The explanatory note of this bill - it is a very thick bill; it is something like the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. This bill would revise the law respecting pension benefits. It is a very short explanation but a very thick, thick bill.

The minister did not go into a lot of detail with respect to the - he said it enhances the benefits.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) clause-by-clause.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, we will be getting into it clause-by-clause. It may come sooner than you think, and you may be sorry you said that. Every member on this side of the House will probably be speaking to it clause-by-clause. I do not think that the members on the other side of the House will speak to it clause-by-clause, because there are quite a few clauses in this bill. Looking at it now, there are eighty-one clauses, Mr. Speaker. Can you imagine nine people - well nine, for sure, on this side of the House - getting up and speaking? Nine times eighty-one, Mr. Speaker, that would be quite a few speeches, I would say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, they may have a calculator on that side of the House who can sit down and figure it out - well, sobeit.

MR. CANNING: You are turning red.

MR. J. BYRNE: Red? Well, it will be the first time I turned red here. The Member for Labrador West would not turn me red, I tell you that, Mr. Speaker.

You saw a prime example yesterday of what I thought of the colour red, especially when it is in print. I wiped off the desk, just like that, the red Liberal book. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance -

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I do not know where it went. It may have crawled away somewhere, I say to the Member for Waterford Valley.

The minister was quite sincere in introducing this bill, no doubt about it, and he believes that everything is in it, no doubt in my mind. I am wondering, though, if the minister has actually sat down and read this clause-by-clause. I do not know whether he did or not, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the Minister of Fisheries -

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Three times? Well, now, I have to put that on record, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Government Services and Lands just said he read this bill three times. I have to compliment him. Now, if the Government House Leader is in agreement, I will adjourn debate and come back later and finish off my few words at 7:00 p.m.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am not going to do it yet. Now, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - you can thank him. He is the one who had to butt in then and say something.

MR. TULK: `Jack', are you going to adjourn the debate or what?

MR. J. BYRNE: Not yet, no.

MR. TULK: Well, you said you would.

MR. J. BYRNE: I said, if the minister was in agreement I would.

MR. TULK: Well, I am ready.

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, Mr. Speaker, seeing it is 5:57, I will adjourn debate. I will pick up on the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology later.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we have agreement that we will have supper and be back at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is the agreement that we recess until 7:00 p.m.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I will just continue on with a few words, as I adjourned debate on Bill 46, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits". As I said before, when the minister was on his feet introducing the bill he mentioned a number of points. He did not go into a lot of detail with respect to the bill, itself, but going through it, there are some good things. The minister referred to a few of them. He did not say a lot about them, but he did refer to them.

He talked about clauses in the bill with respect to preparation for retirement. Now, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits" would be dealing with people's retirement, there is no doubt there. The one factor in the bill, not to get into clause-by-clause at this point - it is only second reading; but there is a clause there that deals with the definition of spouses and common-law spouses. What will happen in due course - there is nothing in the existing legislation, I believe, to actually define spouses or common-law spouses - in actual fact, the pensions now will be, I suppose, if a couple are living together for a certain period of time - I think it may be three years - they could be entitled to a percentage of a person's pension. That is probably a positive thing. I would imagine if a couple wants to spend three years or five years of their time together, they go through a lot of different events in their lives over that period of time and certainly, they should be entitled to that as if they were married. A married couple, of course, if they decide to split up, divorce, or what have you, this bill also addresses the situation with respect to divorce.

The bill also deals with the situation where, if a person is involved in a pension for over two years, I think the minister said, they would be entitled to refunds on the pensions if they decide to end their employment, I would imagine.

Back to divorce, the minister made a few comments on that. The pension covers marriage - well, I cannot read my own writing now, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: But you are making a lot of sense.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am making a lot of sense.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has a lot of potential. The point that the minister made with respect to the situation within Canada itself now, and how the future generations who are going to be requiring their pensions - for example, my parents were entitled to the Canada Pension, the old age pension, and the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your parents are entitled to Canada Pension?

MR. J. BYRNE: The old age pension, and my father with respect to his own employment pension when he worked with the Federal Government. The way things are going in this day and age, with the way the economy is, and with the `baby boomers', as they are referred to, what is going to happen in the future with pensions in this country? I do not know if there are too many people who can answer that question at this point in time, but it certainly seems that people will have to basically fend for themselves. There is some doubt, too, as to whether the pensions - the Federal Government pensions, the old age pension, or what have you - will be sufficient in the future to cover all of the people who will be making claims on pensions, in particular, I suppose, the `baby boomers'. The `baby boomers' were, and are now at the present stage, Mr. Speaker, paying into pensions - they are paying into all the Federal Government pensions if they are employed, of course. And they will take advantage, hopefully, of drawing on those pensions.

The problem is, now, with the population decrease, certainly the population of Canada. In certain provinces, of course, the population is increasing, but we wonder at this time if, in the future, there will be enough people in the workforce to actually put sufficient money into it to cover the drastic drain on pension schemes in the future.

The minister mentioned about people having to put money aside for their own pensions in registered retirement savings plans. I imagine that is what he was referring to. Of course, there are a lot of private industry pensions out there also, but it seems to be getting harder and harder all the time now to contribute to registered retirement savings plans. In order to survive these hard times, people seem to be drawing more and more upon their registered retirement savings plans.

The experts will tell you that is not a good thing to do, because, of course, when you withdraw from your registered retirement savings plans, you pay a heavy tax at that time. Also, it adds to your income for the year - if you are lucky enough to have registered retirement savings plans. It adds it to your income, so in actual fact, you may wind up paying higher income tax at the end of the year. You may be having to put a lot more money into the system than you took out to get over the hump. That is the sad part about registered retirement savings plans and the present state of the economy.

The minister spoke on a number of points. He talked about the transfer of pensions on the termination of employment. Now, I think that is a good move, that once a person is employed and wants to transfer his contributions to his pension plan, then he can transfer it. Of course, he would be able to carry the pension money with him. In actual fact, when I worked with the government back in 1983, after seven years - I left in 1983 - I transferred my pension, what little money I had coming to me, into a registered retirement savings plan. That was a good move for me at the time. Obviously, that type of thing is a positive step.

The other point that the minister mentioned was the 50 per cent rule. If I understand him correctly and read this right, the employer now will be required to contribute 50 per cent on any given pension plan. I am not quite familiar with that, but I would take it to say that in the old Act, from what I know, there was no actual definition of what an employer was required to contribute. This now will require employers to contribute 50 per cent.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say what? I ask the Minister of industry, Trade and Technology. What did he say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I do not know what he said either - he is usually not that intelligent anyway. Mr. Speaker, I will continue on. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is trying to say a few smart words over there. He very seldom gets on his feet to speak to bills. Only when he gets into Question Period, if he is asked questions, he tries to answer them; but he very seldom answers - he twists it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) only when he is told.

MR. J. BYRNE: Only when he is told. Do you have that much control? I ask the Government House Leader. Do you have much control over the Minister of -

MR. OSBORNE: `Jack', I have to correct you on that. He is one of the better ones for giving answers - most of them over there will not.

MR. J. BYRNE: You think now that is what I wanted to say? The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, if he gives an answer well, let us just say they are long-winded answers, for sure. He is very long-winded. He gets up to give an answer and you would not know but he is giving a speech. But at least he is on his feet every now and then speaking to whatever concerns that are presented.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) my member.

MR. J. BYRNE: Your member. I listened to what the member had to say. I do not necessarily agree with it, but I listened to what he had to say.

MR. FUREY: You disagree with your colleague, then?

MR. J. BYRNE: We disagree all the time on points of issue. It is a free, open party. We have our own opinions.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What can I say? Well, I would not want you to be going up in that poll too often, I say to the Minister of industry, Trade and Technology, it puts too much pressure on you to stay there.

MR. TULK: Where is that brown envelope we carried over to you?

MR. J. BYRNE: The what?

MR. TULK: That brown envelope. `Roger' pulled that off on me some fast.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who?

MR. TULK: `Grimes'.

MR. J. BYRNE: I have no clue as to what you are talking about. The Government House Leader is trying to accuse his colleague over there now of doing something that I am not quite sure is very professional. But I know there was something that landed on my desk in a white envelope. I opened it up. God knows what was in it, I say to the Government House Leader. I do not know of what he is trying to accuse the Minister of Education, but he is accusing him of something.

Mr. Speaker, back to the 50 per cent rule - before, we got off the topic.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tickets to the Chrétien dinner last night, boy (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Tickets to the -

MR. FUREY: Do you have those notes read out yet, or what?

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh yes, Mr. Chrétien - the Prime Minister's dinner last night. I just saw him on the news and he said: `Well, I apologize for thinking. I made a mistake about thinking. I made a mistake if I was thinking.' Now, that is the statement the Prime Minister made. So he made a mistake if he were thinking. Thinking - now there you go.

MR. CANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: You are likely to go up on an air bus there now.

MR. J. BYRNE: The only time, I say to the Member for Labrador West, that I am not thinking, is when I am asleep.

MR. TULK: We will ship you out on an air bus come Christmas.

MR. J. BYRNE: On a what?

MR. TULK: On an air bus.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Government House Leader, he has a lot of bills before this House that he is trying to get through, Mr. Speaker, trying to rush through this House, and he is over there now, trying to prolong my debate, when, here I was, coming in to sit down and not to say too much.

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

I ask the hon. member to restrict himself to the contents of the bill.

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

I shall restrict myself to the bill.

Now, just to reiterate what I had said earlier, Mr. Speaker, on the minister's comments with respect to this bill, I would imagine what the minister had to say -

MR. SPEAKER: I also ask all hon. members to stop interrupting.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a very good ruling. Thank you very much.

To reiterate what the minister said with respect to this bill. Of course, what he said would have to be relevant, I would think, Mr. Speaker, and as I said earlier, he talked about the bill being in line with other jurisdictions within Canada. And maybe so, maybe it will be in line with other jurisdictions within Canada. But that does not necessarily mean it is a good thing.

Now, I am starting to speak a little bit slower, because the Minister of Education just came in and he likes me to speak slow so that he can understand what I am saying, Mr. Speaker. So the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Seventy-eight on a thirty-three speed.

MR. J. BYRNE: There you go.

MR. TULK: Bring that (inaudible) relevant.

MR. J. BYRNE: I have to stick to relevance on this, Mr. Speaker.

In relevance, with respect to this bill, what the Government House Leader is saying is, if I do a good job on the bill, by the results of a certain poll that was done not long ago, I will rise even higher in the polls. That is what he is saying, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, the relevancy is there and I shall try to do my best.

MR. TULK: Could I get a copy of that speech?

MR. J. BYRNE: You can have 1,000 copies, you can have 10,000 copies of this speech, you can have 50,000 copies of this speech, you can have 100,000 copies of this speech, you can have 200,000 copies of this speech, you can have what you want. All you have to do is go outside to Hansard and ask them for X number of copies. Mr. Speaker, the number of copies that the Government House Leader wants of this speech is completely and totally up to himself. He can request it from Hansard and I am sure they will be only too glad to run them off for him; they would even deliver them to his office.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) a white Christmas.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, a white Christmas, everyone wants a white Christmas. They were trying to find out if there was a Santa Claus and the post office delivered thousands and thousands of letters to the judge. Well, the Government House Leader can have thousands and thousands and thousands of copies of this speech. And I am doing a good job, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I am going to skip over a few notes that I have here, Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much time I have left.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Notes, look, look, I say just look. My son, we are only getting warmed up here now.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits", is subject to the approval of the minister. Now, the superintendent is subject to the approval of the minister - or anything that he does. In other bills that went through this House, Mr. Speaker, since we came here, the Expropriation bill, the Thorburn Road Planning Act, a number of other bills, gives him a lot more authority, more authority all the time to the minister of that department. Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill is doing the exact same thing again.

It is getting to the point that a superintendent who is going to be, of course, under the jurisdiction of the minister, cannot do too much without the approval of the minister. Section 6.(2) "The superintendent, subject to the approval of the minister, has the control and supervision of the administration of this Act, and has the following powers and duties: (a) to examine all pension plans and all amendments to those plans that are filed for registration under this Act;" The superintendent has the power to do that, and rightly so, but, it is subject to what the minister says, and if the minister tells him to do one thing or not to do another, well, then, accordingly, he has to dance to the minister's tune.

MR. TULK: Say that again - I did not hear.

MR. J. BYRNE: Say it again? I will say it again. There are some people, Mr. Speaker, who did not hear what I had to say. There are a few points which have to be read out, that the people of the Province should know: what authority the superintendent has, under this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I will get into that in a few minutes.

One of the superintendent's duties is (b) "to register and issue certificates of registration in respect of all pension plans that are filed for registration under this Act and comply with the standards for registration;" Now, Mr. Speaker, that is just what you would expect a superintendent of registration for this Act to be responsible for; that is not a problem. I think most people would agree, that is a regular duty, a common duty of an individual in that position.

Also, he or she has the right (c) "to refuse to register a pension plan that does not comply with this Act;" Now, Mr. Speaker, he/she has the right to refuse a plan that does not comply with this Act, but where are the regulations? What regulations, Mr. Speaker, would be in place to say if the pension plan complies or does not comply with this Act? Will the minister have the authority to say: yes, that it does comply with the Act or it does not comply with the conditions of the Act? Will the minister have the sole authority to say yes, to X company or to whomever, that it complies, or no, it does not comply with the Act? So, Mr. Speaker, will the superintendent have the authority? Will there be regulations in place for the superintendent to make that decision or will the superintendent's decision be overridden by the minister to say, no, it does not comply or, yes, it does comply. So maybe we will have to put in place some regulations to deal with that specific incident.

Also, the superintendent has the right (d) "to carry out periodic or other inspections and audits of registered pension plans;" Quite rightly, that should be within the authority or the jurisdiction of the superintendent - no problem at all, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that has happened a few times; I know it happened a few times to me. I almost said something that time. I would say it but it will be taken wrong and negative comments would be made.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) a few times like that.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, like that. That is the truth, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Mr. Speaker, the superintendent has the right (e) "to revoke the registration and cancel" -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your voice is cracking `Jack'.

AN HON. MEMBER: He loses his voice a scattered time.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I have at least another six or seven speeches to make tonight on various bills so I had better - I will speak more quietly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is coming. The superintendent has the right, (e), "to revoke the registration and cancel the certificate of registration for a pension plan that ceases to comply with the requirements of this Act;"

Now, back to the previous point I was making: will it be left completely up to the superintendent to make that decision, Mr. Speaker, or will it be up to the minister to make that decision, and/or will there be regulations put in place - or are there regulations in place now - I do not believe there are - but will there be regulations put in place that will guide the superintendent of registration with respect to this Act? Or will there be regulations put in place that will guide the minister to determine if the pension plan should be cancelled? ..."the certificate of registration for a pension plan that ceases to comply with the requirements of this Act;" So who is going to make that decision? another weakness in this bill.

As I said earlier, the minister can have a lot of authority here, too much authority, as do ministers in other departments. Now, the minister or the superintendent has the right, (g) "to assess and collect fees for the registration and annual supervision of pension plans; and" (h) "to perform other functions and duties that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may assign."

Now, Mr. Speaker, "to assess and collect fees": The question is, what fees? For what services? How much would these fees be? Will there be a certain scale of fees that will be in the regulations, or there will be regulations? Will the minister have the authority to tell the superintendent what fees should be charged, how much the fees should be, when the fees should change? Will it be a yearly change? Will it be like an annual increase automatically to these fees? The minister can have a lot of authority with respect to this bill.

Also, in section 6(4), "The superintendent may place a pension plan under trusteeship and appoint one or more persons to act as trustee of the plan where, in the opinion of the superintendent, it is necessary to do so." In the opinion of the superintendent: Would you not believe again that there should be regulations in place that the superintendent would be required to follow? There is no mention of it here, not that I know of. As I said, what are the guidelines the superintendent will refer to when forming such an opinion? Now, that can be pretty - what would be the right word? -lackadaisical, or it could be pretty well open to his own discretion, or opinion, that these regulations would be put in place; a bit too loose for me, Mr. Speaker.

Also, the superintendent, under section 6(5)(b), can decide where "special circumstances exist." Special circumstances exist: again open to the discretion, to the opinion of the superintendent. Again, as I said earlier, it is under the control of the minister, and the minister can be the god, the minister can be the overruling factor in anything that happens within this bill. We see that in a lot of bills. There is no doubt about it that the minister has a lot of authority. I have no major concern with that, as long as the minister has someone to answer to, and some regulations to guide him. Now, we still do not know what the special circumstances will be.

Again, just to repeat, the minister has the authority to set the special circumstances through the superintendent. So, in actual fact, if you really want to sit back and think about it, something like this could become political. I am not saying it would - that would depend, of course, on the minister in the position at the time, or it could actually depend on the person who is filling the position of superintendent.

Here, also, is a very important point, Mr. Speaker: Section 8.(1) "The minister may" (b) "authorize the Canadian association of pension supervisory authorities to exercise or perform powers and functions of the superintendent".

Now, I say to the minister, this is a very important point and he should be listening to this one. Is this what the minister intends, that in actual fact, the Canadian association of pension supervisory authorities could exercise and perform powers and functions of the superintendent? In actual fact, the powers of the superintendent could be going outside the Province to guide the enforcement of this Act. So, actually, we could have someone from outside the Province controlling what is going on inside the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it does not make sense to me. Is that what is supposed to happen? I expect, in Committee, we will address that. The minister will probably have to take a look at it. Is the government planning to transfer control over provincial pensions to another pension authority? That is the question I ask the Minister of Government Services and Lands with respect to that section.

Now also, as I mentioned earlier, in Section 10, "The minister may set fees for the administration of this Act." The question, of course, is, what types of fees, the amount of these fees, as I mentioned earlier, and what guidelines are in place for the determination of these fees? Mr. Speaker, these are a few of the concerns, a few of the questions that I have with respect to this bill. I am sure there are people on this side of the House who have more to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: Make it mistake-free.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mistake-free? Who? No one is perfect. There is only one man who is going to walk on water around here and he is - How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that is a good one. It certainly applied to you, no doubt about it. I wish that I had the opportunity that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has had in the past little while - and I am not talking about his winnings either, Mr. Speaker, with the Lotto 649. But he is busy - a busy man all the time.

I may as well continue, Mr. Speaker. This bill allows the pension fund to be maintained by a board, agency, commission or corporation made responsible by an act of Legislature and the administration of the pension fund. Now, why is this clause so broad, I ask you, Mr. Minister? Who knows who will be responsible for a pension fund? What guidelines would the government employ in their determination of what body would be eligible to administer a pension fund? Now that is the point that I have brought up on a number of occasions with respect to the guidelines. It is prevalent throughout this bill, Mr. Speaker, that there are no guidelines for many of these clauses in this bill. There are no guidelines, there are no conditions put forward, with respect to this bill. I think that is something that needs to be addressed, and the minister should address it in Committee.

Also, Mr. Speaker, in section 19(3), "the superintendent may register a pension plan if the superintendent is of the opinion that registration is justified in the circumstances of the plan and the members." Now, what does that say to you? Just what written guidelines are in place for the superintendent when formulating his opinion? Every time I get to anything in this bill it always comes back to guidelines and regulations, of which there are none from my perspective.

I'm going to sit down for a few minutes and see what other members have to say on this bill.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

How do you follow an act like that? How do you step into the shoes of the Member for Cape St. Francis after at least his 120th soliloquy and speech in this House in the last three and a half weeks? I was reading Hansard last week and from page 1 to page 15 the Member for Cape St. Francis, on and on and on.

I won't belabour the issue too much. I stand to make a few reference points to the bill, An Act Respecting Pension Benefits, more to what I don't see in the Pension Benefits Act and what I think government should contemplate seriously over the coming years, and even over the coming weeks. Program review: It is an opportune time. The Minister of Justice is chairing a program review committee that is looking at ways in which we can save government money. I have some suggestions.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier saved some last week, didn't he.

MR. E. BYRNE: He saved some, yes. No doubt about it. I have another suggestion for you on how to save some more. I think, Mr. Speaker, what we should be looking at, what isn't in this particular piece of legislation, is reform to the MHA pension act. That is what we need to talk about. Yes we do, indeed we do need to have a chat about reform of the pension act of government members in this House.

Maybe we should start considering a way in which all of can look at limiting liability, forever and a day, of the taxpayer of the Province. Some reforms of pension plans that have gone on across the country have looked at a notion of portability of pension plans or a portable RRSP type of option. When members leave, if they are eligible for pension, no matter if they are eligible or not, whatever contributions are made up until a period of time, personal contributions matched by government, when the day is done, when they are finished sitting in this House and their day is over, that they take that portable RRSP with them; and the taxpayer of the Province is, forever and a day, not on the hook. That is a topic that -

MR. DICKS: Good idea, let's see how it works.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

MR. DICKS: Good idea. Let's start with (inaudible) and see how it works.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, you can start with me. I would have to serve eighteen years consecutively. Let's start with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and see how it works. We can start with the Government House Leader and see how it works. We can start with other ministers who are weeks away from reform pension plan and see how it works.

The truth is, Mr. Speaker, there are other areas in terms of pension reform we should look at. The government has control over this, government has the ability to handle it. I had representation from a group of iron workers not so long ago, I think it was back in August or November. About fifty of them came in. In total they represented about 700 to 800 people who worked at the Hibernia site who contributed to a pension plan but who right now - they were permanent workers, they left the site when the type of work that they were scheduled to do was completed, it was over, it was done. Not one of those workers can take their pension plan with them, dealing with one of the particular unions.

It is an important point, because there is a lot of money, a lot of investment, leaving this Province in terms of the administration of pension funds. We aren't talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

In one particular case, which I want to just bring to the attention of the House, these forty or fifty people - about forty-five I think came to see me and we met for over an hour-and-a-half - they worked in excess of twelve to eighteen months at the Hibernia site. They were permit workers so to speak. They were part of the union while they were on site. Once their job was completed, their task was completed, the job that they were hired for was completed, they left. But their contributions to the international pension plan that were made here, made possible by jobs here, made possible by the exploration of a resource here, their contributions were made into an international fund that crossed the straits and ended up being administered in Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago and places like that. That is exactly where those funds ended up.

As I said, we are not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, we are talking about hundreds of millions. In one particular case, one worker had worked, I think, seventeen-and-a-half months. His contributions alone for that period were about $24,000 to that pension fund, to the local union which in turn sent most of it to the international union for administration. He is not entitled to get any of that back. He cannot access it right now, he cannot access it in the future, and when he turns sixty or sixty-five, when according to the plan he should be able to get it, he cannot because he is not a member of the local. Now there were 700 people in that position at least - that's with one local - 700 people in that position who contributed significantly, anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 each over a period of time; a significant amount of money.

Pension reform, Mr. Speaker, is important. The administration of pensions is important. Affordability of pensions is important. A pension is a right that was achieved through collective bargaining, through pressure upon governments to introduce them, pressure upon management, the corporate world of Newfoundland and Labrador and certainly corporate Canada some fifty years ago; but there are institutions like this that are in trouble right now. If the strain and pressure continues on them, we have to look for other ways. If that particular issue with that one local union were resolved, as an example, those people, if they paid into a pension plan, would be able to get that money back. But nobody seems to be sticking up for them, Mr. Speaker, nobody.

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I didn't say that. It seems as if nobody is sticking up for them. It seems like that, I said. I am not saying that the Member for Carbonear, for example, has not gone to bat on this issue. I am not saying that any member on the government side or on the Opposition side has not either. What I am saying is, to this point in time I have made several representations to the international union and to the local down there, because they are governed by their own administration, they are governed by their own constitution. It is something that each and every union in Newfoundland and Labrador -

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't have to (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Go ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). What we have to make sure of, before Terra Nova starts and all the other work starts in all of those places, is that there has to be something written in the law that (inaudible). You are absolutely right.

MR. E. BYRNE: Dead on. That is what has to happen. What we are talking about - I mean, this has gone on in excess of thirty years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, exactly. We are talking about multi-billion dollar investment funds, pension funds being administered by people outside of, not only the Province but outside of Canada, that are maintaining satellite offices in Canada just to create the appearance and perception that there is administration of the fund in Canada. That is not true.

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is dead on. What needs to happen is a legislative change, a regulatory change, to ensure that that money that has been made or contributed to pension plans as a result of resource exploitation in this Province, as a result of people working in this Province by people in this Province, stays in this Province. I mean, the pooling of resources and the capital that can be made by pooling of resources is an area that we have to really, really think about. We aren't doing enough right now to ensure that.

The administration of pension funds in this particular issue is in trouble. Pension funds across the country are in trouble. It represents the unfunded liability portion with respect to pensions. The teachers' pension plan specifically represents a significant and major problem for this Province, for the teachers, but ultimately for the people of this Province; not just the group that it represents, but our reliability as a government to be able to deal with that problem in the future, to be able to deal with that problem effectively, is really in question. Time is ticking. That is one thing that I don't see in this piece of legislation, or any, I guess, negotiations the Minister of Education is involved in, ongoing, or rolling negotiations with the NLTA over the pension fund contributions.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the issue raised specifically with the construction industry, there are significant reforms that could be achieved there if government has the will to do it. It certainly has the power to do it. Much more of the administration of pension funds should be able to stay in this Province so we can realize more benefits.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will make a few comments here pertaining to this particular bill on pension benefits. There are a few particular points here. I was just actually going through some of the details there and looking at a few of the specific notes, and certainly listening to the minister when he introduced the bill.

There are some aspects to it here, I think, that are certainly positive and bring it to light. For example, in the past, under various pension plans, upon termination especially too, there hasn't always been - there have been surpluses in particular plans, I think, and opportunity now to be able to relegate this for the individual into an annuity or whatever avenue is open is an option that is available there. Any surpluses there could be allocated to the specific individual or directed as we see fit. It said it requires an employer to fund at least 50 per cent of the value of the pension benefits upon the member's termination, which is certainly appropriate.

Traditionally, there had to be long periods of time in which members could be vested into a specific plan. Certainly now, whether you are working two, eight, ten, twenty or thirty years, whatever, when you work a certain period of time shouldn't you have the opportunity - and the minimum level set here in reference to this is a two-year period, in which you can contribute. It is only appropriate, if the opportunity is there, that you should have certain benefits accrued. You might work for ten employers for three years each for thirty years and not be eligible for any particular type of pension. At least under this legislation now there is an opportunity, under that provision, that you could have benefits that could accrue to you because you change employers.

Today in society, it isn't uncommon at all to have many different employers. In fact, years ago you probably had one employer for life. Now with the job situation, and certainly working for this government too, as members know too well, there is a good chance you are going to need to be looking for another employer. We have seen a fair number, even in large corporations today. It is not just government. Large corporations today, major corporations in this country, have gone through substantial downsizing, rightsizing I guess, as government likes to call it. What it results in is a lot less people out there working, whether it is for government or larger corporations.

IBM, for example, went through a massive change when thousands and thousands of employees went out the door. To go to another employer for only two or three years, then to another one and maybe there is an opportunity with another company, and you keep jumping companies to take on different jobs, to have the opportunity under pension to be able to carry these and to do transfers to these particular funds, has to be perceived as being fully positive. It is not an age where when you go to work you spend thirty years with the one employer and then retire. That does not happen.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology knows full well, when you are working for him or working for government here, they are going to ensure that your employment is going to be of a short duration, I can tell you. Then the minister who is in charge of this program review is going to ensure that at least another 1,000 people will be out looking for another employer, and they would like to be able to carry their pension benefits over from one to another.

I asked, I think, the Minister of Mines and Energy one day here in the House, and the Premier, and he did not know - I am not sure if he checked on it since - whether people who are retired can take that income that is in the plan due to them and buy annuity for them outside, shall we say, a particular plan. He said: No, he does not know what I am talking about. I mean, the minister has said that so often: He does not know what I am talking about.

DR. GIBBONS: I don't want to know anything.

MR. SULLIVAN: He is not even interested in knowing anything about it.

DR. GIBBONS: That's right.

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked him one day and he said: No, I am not interfering with Hydro. He said: Arm's length, not interfering. A little chat with the minister: Well, I just told them, he said, don't go collect your money until we have a meeting with you. He told Hydro not to collect it. Now, if that is not arm's length - then I came back and asked him and he said: Well, yes, I asked them to do that. So you are either at arm's length or you are not.

We have seen the Minister of Health, I can tell you, regarding arm's length. He is head first in some areas and the next one, he is arm's length. He has his own standards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, if he had ten arms I would say he would have his tentacles everywhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is an octopus.

MR. SULLIVAN: He is an octopus, yes. He has his own ADM involved in writing reports. Can you imagine? And this relates to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the hon. member just made an unparliamentary remark.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that? Which one?

MR. SPEAKER: I think it is unparliamentary to refer to an hon. member as an octopus.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. Instead of using a metaphor, Mr. Speaker, I will use a simile, is it? The minister, sometimes acts like he is an octopus. I think that would be acceptable. He just acts like he is and that means -

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw.

MR. SULLIVAN: - he is well-armed, he comes prepared.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to withdraw.

MR. SULLIVAN: I withdraw, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw the remark. It is unparliamentary. I certainly did not intend to call the minister one of those eight-tentacle creatures, is it? They have eight tentacles. I would never call the Minister of Health that, not at all. I can tell you, the Minister of Health was probably called worse than what I called him before, but there are better terms. I think he is out trying to do an honest hard-working job to ensure that people under his employ benefit from the pensions that they are hoping to receive in twenty or thirty years' time.

MR. H. HODDER: He's trying?

MR. SULLIVAN: I said, I think.

MR. H. HODDER: Oh, you think, oh.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I would never want to say anything too definitive about the minister.

MR. H. HODDER: I thought you were going to cross to the other side or something.

MR. SULLIVAN: Not at all. I'm trying to keep this relevant to pensions here. I wouldn't dare want to move too far away from the subject at hand, because there are some important aspects here in this that I feel certainly deserve some merit, and those are the minimum requirements established to qualify pensions and to be able to carry that pension forward. I mean, the portability and movement of pensions, I think, is essential in a changing society. That minister, yes, the Minister of Health, the very minister, has seen to it that hundreds and hundreds of people would love to avail of the opportunities provided here in Bill No. 46. Yes, they would love to be able to do it.

More so, Mr. Speaker, a lot of people would prefer that they never have to use some of the provisions here in this act. So, is the minister preparing, and are they preparing, for people now to get out of this pension plan, to move it out into a private area?

In fact, I think section 15, when I look through it, if I remember correctly - I think it is section 15. I have to find this. Section 15 says: "A pension fund shall be maintained by one or a combination of the following: (a) a government" - okay, that is one option - a public service pension plan." While we are on that topic, before I get any farther, the Hydro pension. I understand, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board - maybe I could ask him tomorrow in question period. The bill we approved about a year ago, I say to the minister, that was going to set up a Hydro pension plan, I understand that isn't done yet. You only had a year. So you haven't done anything with that yet?

AN HON. MEMBER: Officials are working on it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Working on it, okay. They are working on it. A year to set up a pension plan and they are still working on it. Are they going to be here next year, or are you going to have new people?

AN HON. MEMBER: We have dedicated officials working on it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I would say to the minister, if they are a year working on it and we don't know where we are heading, I think you should look for really dedicated officials to work on it, if you could, because we want to see that.

Under section 15(b) it says it can be maintained by "an insurance company under a contract of insurance." That is possible. We can have pension plans. So maybe all this big debt the Premier talks about, who ever heard tell last February of a $9 billion debt in this Province? Anyone ever hear tell of that? No. We have a $5.9 billion direct debt. We only have actually a $6.9 billion debt, excluding unfunded liabilities, when you consider the $1.5 billion sinking fund surpluses that we have there to apply against that debt. So I mean, we get figures out there in the public view that have never been used before. We never heard tell of this back last year and last spring.

It also states under section 15(c) that "a trust in Canada governed by a written trust agreement under which the trustees are (i) a trust corporation referred under the Trust and Loan Corporations Licensing Act" is referred to; and in (ii), "3 or more individuals, at least 3 of whom reside in Canada and at least one of whom is independent of any employer contributing to the pension fund, to the extent the individual is neither a significant shareholder, partner, proprietor..." and so on.

It goes on to say - and I'm just wondering what the intention is in this particular act - in 15(d): "a board, agency, commission or corporation made responsible... for the administration of the pension fund." Are we looking at making major changes, I ask the minister, in the particular pension fund and the administration of the public sector pension plan? Of course if we do, the employer on an unfunded liability would be responsible for half the unfunded liabilities in that fund, I would assume.

If we apply that to - let's take the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association fund. My understanding is that the employer would be responsible for more than 50 per cent in this case, which is the government of this Province, because there was an unfunded liability directly applied and committed to be put there of about $250 million by this government initially. Then, after that amount, once the government's share is put in to match what the teachers had put in, that was spent in the general treasury of the Province, then it should be on a shared basis.

Nobody expects government to fund fully. We expect it to be shared on an equal basis, and that is a basic understanding, I think, in those pension plans. It does reiterate here, and it does hold government responsible. There was one, I think, payment made. I'm sure the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board might know this. I think there was one payment made of $20 million or $25 million, I'm not sure, $20 million dollars I think, that was put in that out of $250 million, which means there is another $200-and some million to go in. The unfunded liability in that fund is about $1.5 billion, which means the other $1.25 billion must be shared equally between the government and the employees, or the teachers, retired, current or future teachers, whatever the case may be.

The same with the public service pension plan. The liabilities that are in that plan now would have to be borne equally by, even if you farm it out and sell it out to some other particular third party or corporation, would have to be done in a similar manner. So I think it is important that we look closely at this bill, because there are various provisions. It does give the superintendent - that is in clause 6(2) - control and supervision of the act. The minister can exercise his powers under this act without any written guidelines to that affect under section 6(2) in this act. Very, very extensive powers are given in that particular section.

Mr. Speaker, we do have in this Province a considerable unfunded liability under our pensions. Of course, we get the pension fund tabled here in the House on an annual basis, that highlights really the importance of contributing, and ensure that we get back on a healthy basis in the Province. Because the Minister of Social Services and the government tell us that we are going to have less people working, tell us we are going to have less paying into the plan, we are going to have more people to support, so we are going to need to do something.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board tells us that isn't going to happen. He tells us that isn't going to happen. We are going to grow so much, this economy is going to rebound and be so prosperous here, that we are going to have all this extra money we are going to make up, over $150 million on the harmonization, that we will have to make the Province healthy and to be able to contribute and ensure that provisions in Bill No. 46 here, the pension plan act, are carried out in compliance with specific sections of this act.

I received many calls on this issue. I guess I've received five or six, if that is many, over the past year, from people who are into a plan and want to get their pension out and they can't do it because it is locked in and because of the age restrictions. I guess that has advantages, but sometimes there are various areas where the individuals might want to have certain flexibilities in their particular plan. We don't see flexibilities in that end of it, but we do see the vesting and the locking in provisions here under clause 43 which the minister referred to in the particular act. It has locking in provisions there, and they do set minimum standards.

Different plans now have minimum standards, I think, of vesting there. MHAs about five years, I think. What is it in some other plans generally? I think five years now, generally speaking, in most areas. It is down to five. Now this is going to have a provision here, overall, under that aspect, to have a minimum of two years within the plan to give flexibility to move from one area of the plan to the other.

There are a few points there, I say to the minister, on eligibility and vesting. The 50 per cent rule, for example, on contributions is to be expected.

AN HON. MEMBER: The galleries are filling up.

MR. SULLIVAN: If I keep on speaking here, we are going to have a full House here tonight, I say to the Speaker. They are really starting to move here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) public meeting in LaPoile.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there have been meetings there.

There is also reference too in clause 47 right on down to clause 56. It talks about opportunities and benefits. Under the heading of marriage breakdown it says, when a pension plan has to be divvied up - nobody wants to deal with that provision but there is some provision that, when a spouse has an entitlement the opportunity to be able to reap at least some of the benefits accrued or, as being a contributor, I guess, in some way, shape or form, as determined by the courts, there is an opportunity now to be able to have that amount taken out, relegated and used for that purpose, rather than just being draw from the plan on an ongoing basis. It gives an advantage to individuals who want to get rid of the shackles that they are held on, who have to depend on an ongoing plan without flexibility. It does give flexibility between the spouse and the member now, an opportunity to sort of segregate those and make independent decisions as opposed to one being done under the general heading.

Of course, under clause 57, there is surplus entitlement, an ongoing plan upon termination. If there are certain particular surpluses, it outlines in clause 57(2) an opportunity to be able make some provisions to do something about the transfer of those surpluses there upon termination of the plan. That is important, to be able to make those specific provisions. That is number - let me find it here for a moment now.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you looking for, 46?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, clause 56. I had a little comment there I was going to make on clause 56. No, it is not clause 56, clause 57.

It says: No part of the surplus may be paid by the employer unless (a) the payment is permitted by regulations; and (b) the superintendent consents in writing to the payment.

Basically, that gives permission because sometimes pension plans can be in surplus and there are others, of course - Unfortunately, the Public Service Pension Plan, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association and the Members of the House of Assembly plans and other plans are not in the situation now where we have tremendous surplus, I say to my colleagues here. I don't think we will have to deal with that situation in our lifetime. I am sure there are pension plans out there that are fully funded and there is more of an emphasis today upon getting a fully-funded plan because for many years we failed to realize the importance of contributing to a plan.

We do not want future generations to have to make up the difference and pay the price for what we do today. We would like to move in the direction and we have, in certain areas, made up that gap by increasing premiums or by the allocations of per cent. I think in the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association it was reduced from 2.2 per cent down to 2 per cent basically. In addition, with increasing premiums, to be able to be allowed to make up some of that unfunded liability, at least stop the slide. We are going to get into a period now in the next while - and there are undergoing similar problems in the Canada Pension Plan - where there have to be significant increases in premiums to be able to make up the shortfall that is occurring.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are some points here certainly of concern. I am sure overall there are some positive elements here and I am sure when we get an opportunity to get to committee we will take a closer look at it. It gives us time to have a more detailed analysis. There are a lot of bills coming on us at one time, very lengthy, and we are getting through them all. These are just some of the points we wanted to make now and any others we can certainly make in due course.

Thank you.

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

The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few notes to close off second reading of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, some of the points that have been made on the bill itself and the areas I think of importance are - certainly the portability of pensions is one of the key issues that we need to deal with. A number of other issues that have been brought forward, compared to the last pension benefits act, are the areas of eligibility for memberships, early retirement, spousal benefits and the division of benefits upon marriage break downs, as some of the hon. members have mentioned. The portability of pension benefits and the surplus distribution are all new items for this particular act and certainly such reform issues have served to encourage employee participation in pension plans.

Mr. Speaker, I would also say that the difference between the publicly funded pension plans and this private one, is that the private sector pension plans are required to operate on a fully funded basis. If unfunded liabilities occur, the public benefits bill provides strick payment procedures to eliminate any unfunded liabilities. As a result, a new bill will not impose financial difficulties to private plans since the plans are and have always been required to continually maintain assets in the fund to cover any incurred liabilities.

Mr. Speaker, this act certainly secures the future for people in the Province who are looking to obtain funds from a pension. This act provides enhanced pension benefit coverage for the people of the Province through the increased payments, procedures and conditions, as well as improved investment regulations and monitoring requirements, and the act promotes increased security of pension benefits promised.

Mr. Speaker, in response to the Member for Cape St. Francis, the previous act required that employees pay 9 per cent and the employer pay 1 per cent. In this new bill, it is 50/50. It is a 50 per cent rule.

Mr. Speaker, I would now move second reading of this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Pension Benefits," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 46)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am going to move to Order No. 30, Bill No. 30, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food," second reading of a bill. Once Your Honour has read it, I will introduce the bill.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food". (Bill No. 30)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me very quickly say, as the Premier said the other day, that really, I guess, this bill is a result of - and I say this in a totally non-partisan fashion - the efforts of the Member for Bonavista South and, of course, the agreement of the Premier and the total agreement on this side, that we should move this bill and move quickly on it.

I think we were prepared, and I think the hon. member will say this is correct when he stands up to speak to this bill, as I suspect he will, that indeed the government was prepared to move fairly quickly to see that this bill was made into law, but we found ourselves at the mercy of the single NDP member in this House who felt that we would in some way be distributing substandard food to people in the Province, and promptly went out and moved that kind of feeling in the public.

I have to say to the Member for Bonavista South, that I wish tonight, really, I could move through this bill, do it by unanimous consent, and put it right through to third reading. Unfortunately, I have to say to him that in the past four or five days I have had a number of calls. I think this afternoon the Member for Virginia Waters distributed a petition from some people who have concerns about what this bill might indeed do. I suspect, and I do not want to second-guess anything here, but I suspect it is largely a result of the kind of stuff that was in the paper over the weekend from the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

What I am proposing to do, what we are proposing to do as a government, is to move second reading of this bill, send it to Committee, let the Social Services Committee of the House deal with it, and when we come back in the spring hopefully we will be in a position that we will have satisfied - and I believe that is all it is, at this point in time - the fears of people out there that we are somehow going to treat other people less than we would treat our own.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) our conversation.

MR. TULK: Don't get uptight, now. I am doing something that I do not have to do, so don't get too uptight about it.

Mr. Speaker, having said that -

MR. REID: Withdraw the bill if they don't go along with it.

MR. TULK: No. I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that I cannot be that partisan, that I will not do that, that I will not follow the Leader of the Opposition and withdraw this bill because we are in dispute on another bill. I will not do that. I will not make his own member suffer for, shall we say, the sookieness of the Leader of the Opposition. I will not do that. I will try to act above the partisan level of the hon. gentlemen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, having said that, let me say to the Member for Bonavista South, that I believe he wants to speak on this bill, and when he does I am going to move it into committee - I show him the motion today - and that the Social Services Committee report to the House before March 31, 1997, or in case the House is not open they deposit their report with the Clerk of the Legislature.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Government House Leader for allowing this bill to be introduced into the Legislature, and I thank the Premier as well. It was a bill that was brought forward by me some eighteen months ago. It was a bill that I believed in at that time, and I thought it would be providing a great service to many of the people in this Province who have no other choice but to use food banks in order to access food and, I suppose, to fulfil a need, when their pay cheque, whether it is from Social Services, unemployment insurance or a TAGS cheque, doesn't allow them enough money to go out and buy food for their families.

MR. E. BYRNE: You are in agreement with the bill, are you?

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I say to the member, I'm in total agreement. I would rather see the bill introduced here and go to Committee and be passed. That is what I would like to see done, Mr. Speaker. In that way we would allow this piece of legislation to become active. It would go through, be proclaimed, and become a piece of legislation that would go on the books and allow people to donate food and, I suppose, to provide a need there now rather than later.

I understand where the member is coming from, I understand the minister's concerns. I know the actions of my wealthy socialist friend who sits to my far right there. I'm aware of the actions of that particular gentleman. It was only the other day, when I was out in the corridors of the House there having a scrum, when the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi walked around behind the reporters saying: I won't support that bill, I don't believe in double standards, I don't believe in serving rotten food, I don't believe in doing any of this.

It might be unfair to stand her and talk about somebody when they aren't present, but what I had intended to say I'm going to say anyway, Mr. Speaker, and I'm going to say it here right now. If that same member believes this is such a bad piece of legislation, and if that same member believes we in this House believe in double standards, I suggest that he probably change his double standard. We are sitting here with a member in this House -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: - collecting a full pay cheque from this Assembly by working here as a part-time member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: What I say to that same member - and I wish he were here - is let him take his T4 slips at the end of the year and lay them on the Clerk's Table, and I will take mine, Mr. Speaker. Everything that I make over and above the salary that I make as a representative of the people I will donate to the food banks, and what he makes over and above the salary that he makes in this House of Assembly I suggest that he donate to the food bank.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Maybe we wouldn't need a piece of legislation like this. It is nothing but shameful for that man to get on with such bull. Nothing but shameful, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: The champion of the poor and downtrodden.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is exactly what he professes to be, Mr. Speaker. Then he goes out on the airwaves and he talks about how the Opposition will not allow him to respond to ministerial statements. Where is he today? Where is the man today?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Gone! Gone!

MR. FITZGERALD: Gone! He came in here the other day, and when the Government House Leader passed this bill through first reading he came in and he got all upset again. He said: How come you didn't wait for me to come back? You wouldn't know but the whole House of Assembly revolves around the wealthy socialist to my right. It is ridiculous! Ridiculous!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island, on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I think it is probably alright for us to have some fun here this evening, but it is probably somewhat unfair for us to be here tonight speaking of a member who is not here, who may very well be out spending some of the $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 that he made this past week. I don't think it should be done. You should leave the member alone; he is not here to defend himself.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat for a moment.

To that point of order, it has been ruled in this House on numerous occasions that it is unparliamentary to refer to any hon. member for his presence or absence in the House. The Chair was paying very close attention to what the hon. Member for Bonavista South was saying. He was making reference to a member to his right. He was making reference to a member, a particular member, this other member, but he did not refer specifically to any member by name or by district. So the Chair cannot rule him out of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that has received a fair amount of debate in this House already. It received a full evening of debate back eighteen months ago. Things have not changed from that particular time, other than the need for this bill is probably worse now than it was eighteen months ago. It is a bill that is not going to serve rotten food, or adulterated food, to the poor or to the people who are using food banks. It is a bill where we can stand up and say that we do not believe in food banks and we do not believe that this particular bill has any place in the Legislature of this Province.

Well, I do not believe in unemployment insurance, and I do not believe in social services, and I do not believe in food banks, but, Mr. Speaker, the thing is, that we have to deal with reality. We do have food banks, we do have unemployment, and we do have social services.

This is a bill that would simply relieve the liability from grocery stores, from any donors of food to food banks, if it is done in a way that if some litigation appears and it was not intended to intentionally hurt or maim or kill somebody. That is what this bill does. We are not talking about food that is outdated. We are talking about food that probably does not appear in a cosmetic fashion in order to be able to be put on supermarket shelves for marketable purposes. That is all we are talking about. We are not talking about food where the expiry date has disappeared. We are talking about food that may be able to be taken from the supermarket shelves and taken to a food bank and distributed before the `best before' date has expired. That is what we are talking about here, nothing more than that. In fact, we are probably talking about better food than most of us here in this House eat, or the food that we are eating every day. That is what it is.

I have talked to people who are very familiar with this piece of legislation in other jurisdictions in this country. Similar legislation exists in five other provinces; it exists in fifty states south of the border, and there is no reason why we cannot introduce it here. I think when it does become effective, and when it is proclaimed into law, that the giving to our food banks, and the response that we will see, will certainly increase many, many fold to what we are experiencing today.

Mr. Speaker, that is all it is. It is a bill that would provide that and only that, and the great fears and concerns out there are certainly unwarranted.

Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly congratulate the Member for Bonavista South who attempted to get this through the House in the last session and it died on the Order Paper. I say now, by referring this to Committee and bringing it back next spring in a new session, with the House being prorogued, it will die on the Order Paper and will have to be reintroduced again. That is my understanding, that it will die on the Order Paper, which means it will not come up. I say to the Government House Leader, if this goes to Committee and next spring is to be brought back with a new session of the House, the House is prorogued, we would have to bring it back again?

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

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

MR. TULK: Let me just say to the hon. gentleman, that when this House closes for Christmas the House is not prorogued.

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't say that.

MR. TULK: No, no. The House is not prorogued; let me say that to him. We could be here for two weeks before - I know that in most cases most governments prorogue the House, come back one day in February or March and prorogue the House, and then we start a new session.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: In this particular case this is not necessary. Let me just say to him, that if the Committee report is back here, as soon as the Committee report is back, I think we will move the bill at least close to unanimously, regardless of whether it is a new session or whether it is a continuation of this one. There will be no hesitation at all, whatsoever.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not to the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The Government House Leader took advantage of the opportunity for further clarification.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I respond in reference to the Government House Leader when he mentioned that it would come back next spring.

MR. TULK: It will come back, as soon as the committee reports (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know.

The Government House Leader said last spring - that is why I felt it was necessary to indicate that when the House prorogues, which would normally be in March, as an example, and a new session of the House would start with a new Throne Speech, I indicated it would be the second time it would die on the Order Paper and would come back again. I accept the Government House Leader's word that it will come back again.

He did make a point, and I think it is worthy of note, he did indicate that it should go to Committee because the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi had a concern, and to give it adequate time. He made some reference to it and some petitions -

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman can twist and move this around all he likes; I don't care. He can stay there all night at it. The truth of the matter is that I had several representations this weekend after the stuff appeared in the paper from this gentleman over here. I had several representations from people, people I know very well, who are in charitable organizations here in this town that feed people. As a matter of fact, I believe - what is the name of the guy who you used as -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Yes, I think there might even be some doubt in his mind now, although he did not call me himself, but having talked to some other people I think there might even -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no doubt that he is for it.

MR. TULK: Okay, but I know that some of the other people who talked to him have doubt in their mind as to whether we are doing what he said, what the gentleman from Quidi Vidi said. I did commit to those people. I said: We will go back and do this in Committee to allay your fears, and that is what we are doing.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: No.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Again, the Government House Leader is using the opportunity for further clarification.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly do not criticize going to Committee at all, I say to the Government House Leader. In fact, I think it is a process that we could utilize a lot more. If there are concerns out there - I heard Mr. Walters on yesterday. He was very emphatic. He looked at it. He fully endorses it. He represents the Community Food Sharing Association. But there may be other people who are not fully informed and I respect that. I think the Committee is a time to deal with that, and I certainly am very much in favour of bills coming into this House getting put to Committee.

Back to the bill, certainly my colleague from Bonavista South has indicated, and I think, it is a well-intentioned bill. I think at the time he was social services critic and he certainly was dealing with many, many cases. People who he is aware of, as a representative, many of his constituents, too, in situations like all of our constituents, have an opportunity and may benefit from this specific bill.

Some of the concerns out there may be that we may be giving a second-class type of food to people, and that is not the intention. I think anybody who looks at the bill, if someone knowingly does that, or it is not fit for human consumption, there are provisions here to ensure that these people would be liable if they did so. It is there to assist. It will have an opportunity, certainly, over the next while, and if it does not have an opportunity to get back in this session then certainly in the next session, or whenever it happens. I say that the sooner it happens, the better, I think, and that more people can benefit from this.

One of the reasons, I think, my colleague brought it back is that it is coming on the Christmas season and it is an opportunity in a lot of these areas. There are a lot of people out there hurting today, and to have something at this time of the year may entice supermarkets and other large chains to be able to dump some of this extra food on people's tables, to put it out there so that they could have this opportunity.

This is a good time of the year to look at that in a giving spirit, without them having to have the legal repercussions that may be put upon them for putting forth something that they consider - one of the examples used: maybe the fork of a forklift may go through part of a whole pallet but might only damage but one or two items. These might be discarded, and the rest could be put to good use well within the expiry date.

There are many opportunities there. They use discretion. The Community Food Sharing Association has indicated that. They use discretion. They would never put out food that they do not consider meets the standard there. I felt, with the time of the year - now, anytime it happens is good, but certainly the faster the better. It is an opportunity.

I do certainly congratulate the Premier and the Government House Leader for bringing this bill into the House. I have to congratulate them on that. It is something that my colleague had tried before, but it did not work. It just got put aside. Now they see the need for it, and hopefully we can expedite it in the future as fast as possible so people can benefit from it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just wanted to rise for a couple of minutes to compliment my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South, and to say to him, through the House, that we appreciate his efforts. I know that he has done a great deal of research on this particular matter. He has consulted with a number of jurisdictions in the United States at the state level and he has consulted with every province in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say to the House, that the intent of this bill is not that we would ever, ever, offer food that was of any tainted quality. That is not what this bill is about. This bill is about making donations possible, making sure that food that goes to waste in this country is made available to those who need it. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the bill, it makes it quite clear. It says that if any of the food is adulterated, rotten or otherwise unfit for human consumption, it is not to be distributed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know some of the corporate people in this Province very well, and I have been associated with food banks through my church and other agencies for a long time. I can assure you that these people will not cause anything to happen that would in any way jeopardise the health or safety of anyone. Mr. Speaker, we also know from all the reports, how extensive poverty is in our country and in our Province. We know that there are more children in Canada today who are hungry than there were five years ago. There are more children in Newfoundland and Labrador today who are hungry than there were five years ago.

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is that this bill enables us to be able to address this issue, not in a way that would exonerate the Department of Social Services from its responsibilities nor will it preclude the Department of Health from ensuring that food is monitored correctly and that all of the health care concerns are addressed.

So, Mr. Speaker, we commend our colleague from Bonavista South. We say to the government and to the Government House Leader, that this is appreciated, not for me or for members in this House, but appreciated by the children and parents in Newfoundland and Labrador who have genuine needs and know what the real face of poverty is all about, and are happy to be able to address their concerns in this kind of a way.

So, Mr. Speaker, again I want to say to all hon. members, if you read all the literature - I have in front of me here, The Royal Commission on Education, Our Children Our Future, and there is a lot of literature there. I won't get into reading it all nor do I intend to reference it, but it is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it, boy. Read it all.

MR. H. HODDER: My colleagues here are encouraging me to keep speaking, but I do think that we want to note some of the reports, and commend the government and the Premier, as head of the government, in making this particular piece of legislation possible, and commend them for sending it off to the Social Services Committee for further review.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: Nice move. I would have stood up, said five words and sit down.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker -

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

If the minister speaks now, he will close the debate.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I believe - and I will ask the clerks for clarification - I believe that once we pass this bill in second reading, I am supposed to move a motion.

So, Mr. Speaker, having said that, I too, like the Member for Bonavista South, would wish that we could do this in the spirit of Christmas. I wish that we had had the discussion that we had on Friday, maybe in the first part of November. We would have put it out for ten days to committee and then come back. Unfortunately, we are going to have to bypass this Christmas season, but hopefully next Christmas season this will be in effect to help the people of this Province, especially the children of this Province.

So I will, on that basis, move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food", read a second time. (Bill No. 30).

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move, pursuant to Standing Order 54.2(1), that the bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food," (Bill No. 30), having received second reading, be referred to the Standing Committee on Social Services, and the report of the Committee be tabled in the House before March 31, 1997, or be deposited with the Clerk of the House before that date if the House is not in session.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the said bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Social Services pursuant to Order 54.2(1).

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food," referred to the Standing Committee on Social Services pursuant to Standing Order 54.2(1). (Bill No. 30)

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 28 - to long for me to read - Bill No. 51.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Automobile Dealers Act, The Insurance Adjusters, Agents and Brokers Act, The Insurance Companies Act, The Real Estate Trading Act And The Trust And Loan Corporation Licensing Act". (Bill No. 51)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is introduced to cut out some red tape. Simply put, it is to do with licensing procedures. In keeping with our regulatory reform initiative, the government will only license individuals and companies when it is considered necessary for protection of the consumer. In future, government will only require that individuals be licensed when there is a qualifying examination required to enter an industry. As a result, government will no longer be licensing individual collectors and automobile sales persons. However, we will continue to license companies in these industries and the companies will be held accountable for the actions of their employees and representatives. Mr. Speaker, we are moving into a more streamlined approach to licensing procedures.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the requirement to issue an annual license under the acts mentioned will be changed so that a one time license will be issued with annual reporting requirements. We have determined that the expiration of a license in these industries at the end of each year serves no purpose for consumer protection. It is also considered a waste of time and money to be printing new licenses every year. It is more important to receive information on the companies and individuals which we license and to expend more effort in monitoring their compliance with legislation.

Mr. Speaker, we are confident that these initiatives will improve consumer protection and result in a more efficient licensing system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: One hour, Jack, one hour.

MR. J. BYRNE: One hour. I don't think, Mr. Speaker, my voice will last for one hour without a break. Maybe fifty-eight minutes or so.

Mr. Speaker, I will state the name of the bill that the Government House Leader couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't or whatever, Mr. Speaker. Bill 51, "An Act To Amend The Automobile Dealers Act, The Insurance Adjusters, Agents And Brokers Act, The Insurance Companies Act, The Real Estate Trading Act And The Trust And Loan Corporation Licensing Act." Well, Mr. Speaker, just in case somebody didn't get that I probably should repeat it.

Mr. Speaker, basically - I have to agree with the minister - a lot of this bill was addressed in the regulatory reform review that happened under the previous administration, I do believe. The minister mentioned that there is going to be a reduction in red tape. We heard that story before, just the same, when they were talking about the one-stop shopping, when the previous administration talked about consolidating the branch offices of different departments and what have you. They would cut red tape and it would be to the benefit of the public in every way, shape and form. In actual fact, Mr. Speaker, that did not occur. It was not of benefit to the public. As a matter of fact, from what I understand, in some of the centres that were put together by Government Services and Lands there was staff put in those centres and they were actually sent back to the offices where they came from. The situation with respect to cutting red tape never occurred by any stretch of the imagination.

Mr. Speaker, if an individual went in and applied for a piece of land, a building lot approval or what have you, he still had to go to the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, if it was required, he still had to go to the Department of Environment and Lands, and he still had to go to the Department of Health. So the fact that the minister states that this will cut red tape doesn't necessarily mean that it will cut red tape. I just thought I would mention that.

The minister talked about regulatory reform, and I already mentioned that, Mr. Speaker. In actual fact, it was addressed somewhat, and this probably consolidates or helps to bring about the regulatory reform that he was talking about. It remains to be seen, as I said earlier, if it will be of benefit to the public.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also talks about the licensing and the protection of the consumer. Of course, that is the responsibility of any government department on any government level, municipal, provincial and/or federal. The protection of the consumer is all-important. Of course, there have to be steps and measures put in place to protect the consumer at all times. Hopefully this bill will help address the concerns of consumers with respect to the bills, and the actions that are controlled in the bill, or the pieces of legislation that this bill hopes to address.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also deals with the licensing of companies, not individuals. That is, I believe, getting to the point now where, say in the automobile industry, if an individual makes application, through the department, to be licensed to be an automobile sales person he is licensed and goes to work in any given company within the Province, I would assume. This bill now licences the companies and not necessarily the individual. Therefore, when an individual goes to work for the company, the company itself is responsible for the actions of the employee.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is normal procedure in most any business. If I have a company and I have an individual working for me, and that person goes out and breaks the law when he is working for me, when he is doing the work of my company - well actually, the company can be held liable anyway,. So in actual fact I would say that this section or this portion of the bill could actually be cutting red tape, so I could actually agree with the minister on that point.

Also, the minister talks about the licensing and the annual reporting. Now that they are getting away from actually licensing individuals with respect to automobile dealerships and, I suppose, automobile salespersons, the company now would have to report each year. Therefore, the actual licensing of a company wouldn't have to take place each year. The minister may want to address that. I am not quite sure on that point.

Also, when the minister was up on his feet he talked about the fact that licensing people each year, every year, is a waste of time. I suppose, if it is a waste of time it can be a drain on the resources of the department and of the government in general. So, this piece of legislation, although it deals with so many acts, is possibly a positive piece of legislation.

The minister told me that the last bill he put through, or Bill 46, he read three times. I wonder how much he studied this bill, Mr. Speaker. If he is introducing it into the House I am sure he is well informed. He indicates he read it once, so if he read it once I assume he has a peripheral knowledge of what is going on here. I am sure that his staff keep him well informed, give him good notes to inform him of what is going on with respect to this bill.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the primary focus of this bill is to eliminate the annual licensing requirements under these acts, all the acts that were mentioned here, in favour of a one-time licence, except where step progression is required for licensing. I think the minister may want to address that when he gets on his feet, what he meant by step progression with respect to the registration being maintained.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also would eliminate licences for direct sellers and automobile persons, and I already addressed that. With respect to the Automobile Dealers Act, this bill removes the definition of a salesperson from the act and subsequent amendments remove all references to salespersons, and deals mostly with the dealerships themselves, the companies and what have you, and that has been addressed.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go on for a long time on this bill. I think that the minister has covered it somewhat; he did not get into a lot of detail. There are a few points I will continue to make.

The present act stipulates, when a salesperson ceases to be an employee of a particular dealership, the dealer shall notify the registrar, who upon receipt of this notification, shall terminate the registration of the salesperson. Also, the present act indicates that an automobile dealer shall not retain the services of a salesperson who is not registered under this act. This bill now repeals those sections, and they have already been addressed.

Another area of the bill, Mr. Speaker, repeals subsection 2(f) of the Direct Sellers Act and, through a subsequent clause, changes the definition of `licence' to mean a licence issued to a vendor by eliminating any reference to an individual or a salesperson, and that is basically the same thing that has been going on in the Automobile Dealers Act.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are a few people on this side of the House who may wish to speak to this, hopefully -

MR. OSBORNE: What do you think about the (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is up to the individual, Mr. Speaker.

This bill also has a provision which indicates that the acts of any individual under the vendor's employ who is acting on the vendor's behalf are considered not only to be the individual's acts but also the acts of the vendor. Basically what they are talking about here I think, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that anybody who is acting on behalf of a company or a vendor - the same thing is done under the Automobile Dealership Act - not only the person is liable but the company itself may be held liable for the actions of the individuals in it's employ.

Basically, there is not much more to say on this, Mr. Speaker. I think what I will do is give the Member for St. John's East an opportunity to say a few words.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This piece of legislation attempts to consolidate many of the provisions of other acts, as we can see by the name, An Act To Amend The Automobile Dealers Act, The Direct Sellers Act, The Insurance Adjusters, Agents And Brokers Act, The Insurance Companies Act, The Real Estate Trading Act And The Trust And Loan Corporations Licensing Act.

Essentially, Mr. Speaker, the legislation attempts to have a one-time licensing provision with, of course, the provision that there be an annual fee paid by each registrant. So it eliminates the annual licensing requirements under these acts in favour of a one-time license, "except where step progression is required for licensing with registration to be maintained, subject to the filing of annual reports and payment of an annual fee."

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is fair to say that this legislation is really consumer protection oriented. It protects the consumer to ensure that individuals are appropriately registered, that the fees have been paid, and that there is a registry in place so the government at all times is aware of who is acting as an automobile dealer and salesman, who is acting as a direct seller under the direct act, who is an insurance adjuster, an insurance agent, an insurance broker. There will now be a full-fledged registration system on insurance agents, real estate brokers and real estate agents. Essentially, it is a registration program for all these individuals. There is the protection of the consumer, and there is the fact that, I would think, and I guess the minister will agree with me, there is now no longer any need for an annual registration. It is a one-shot deal, on the understanding, of course, that the fee for registration is paid on an annual basis.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Okay.

Mr. Speaker, under the Automobile Dealers Act, section 1(2) removes the definition of salespersons from the act, and subsequent amendments remove all references to salespersons as well. Section 4(1) repeals section 8 of the existing act, and it was this section which provided for the necessity of a salesperson to be registered. So according to section 8(4) of the present act, an application for registration as a salesperson in the former registration had to be accompanied by a written notice given by a registered automobile dealer stating that the applicant, if granted the licence, is authorized to act as a salesperson representing that automobile dealer. Section 4(2) of this bill repeals this provision.

With respect to the Direct Sellers Act, section 17 of the bill repeals section 2(f) of the Direct Sellers Act, and through a substitute clause changes the definition of licence to mean a licence issued to a vendor by eliminating any reference to a salesperson. So in some ways it broadens the definition of certain provisions and terminology in the act.

Mr. Speaker, a few points on the Insurance Adjusters, Agents and Brokers Act. Section 40 of this bill repeals section 12 of the act which prescribed a specific date on which the licence expired. In its place section 12.(1) is substituted, which allows a licence to remain in effect "subject to the filing of annual reports and payment of an annual fee as prescribed by the minister, and subject to the qualifications and the requirements of the Act and regulations until it is either suspended, revoked or cancelled under this Act."

Also, under the Insurance Companies Act there is the appropriate registration for insurance agents and brokers. Under the Real Estate Trading Act there are essentially housekeeping changes, Mr. Speaker, and many of the same changes referred to previously in the other bills.

So, Mr. Speaker, other than the title which the minister referred to earlier, it is legislation which is housekeeping. I support the fact that it is an effort to protect the consumer more and more. It has a unified system of registration for individuals who wish to act as sellers, direct sellers, agents, brokers or traders in this Province. Perhaps what is the most disconcerting thing about this piece of legislation is indeed the title itself.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, if he speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a couple of points. I guess the point of this particular piece of legislation is to try and reform some of the cumbersome procedures that we have been having all along in terms of the licensing of sales persons. Our feeling is that the companies who employ these sales persons should have the responsibility to certainly ensure that the sales persons follow through with the proper procedures in terms of being the employees.

Just a couple of other points, Mr. Speaker. I think the government has to get away from micro-managing these types of companies and stick to the regulatory process and ensure that the companies are acting in the appropriate manner and fashion. We feel that this particular piece of legislation will certainly do that and enhance that.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Automobile Dealers Act, The Direct Sellers Act, The Insurance Adjusters, Agents And Brokers Act, The Insurance Companies Act, The Real Estate Trading Act And The Trust And Loan Corporation Licensing Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 51)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 29, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Volunteer Service Medal," Bill No. 29. I would ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to open the debate.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Volunteer Service Medal." (Bill No. 29)

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, for new members who were elected in the last election in February to the House of Assembly, they are probably not aware of this particular bill, but some of us older types remember the Speech from the Throne, 1995. This House announced that it would create a volunteer service medal for people in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a question of us proceeding then into a new government in February and we agreed, and it was mentioned also in this Speech from the Throne when we opened the House in the spring.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I need to go into a long dissertation about this volunteer service medal. This is open to anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador and I think if you read the bill you will see that it will be controlled by an independent panel of people in the Province. It won't be a matter that will be taken very lightly. It will be a medal that will have to be deserved and, of course, none of us sitting in the House of Assembly or any politician in the Senate or in the House of Commons will be eligible for it, at least while we are sitting.

I will say that our idea of a medal back some three or four years ago, when we talked about it, at the time Premier Wells had a discussion with a number of people in the Province who had been asking for this and we felt there was a need. There are a number of people who have done exemplary service to the Province, both in the Province and outside, and we are really the only province in Canada that doesn't have some sort of recognition that we can bestow upon Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for special services that they provide to mankind, I guess, both inside the Province and outside.

Mr. Speaker, this shouldn't cause any amount of debate. If I remember correctly, those sitting on the opposite side two years ago, when we first talked about this first, also suggested - I think the Opposition party was in on the discussions with the then-premier, and I think at that particular time we had agreed to do this.

Mr. Speaker, with that said, I leave it open to anyone else who needs to discuss the proposed bill.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to take a couple of minutes here on this particular piece of legislation. First of all, to compliment the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs for bringing in such a piece of legislation. I agree, Mr. Speaker, that this particular piece of legislation is long overdue, and is something, I guess, that this Province should have had a long time ago.

I guess, from my own background, having been involved with a sporting group for ten years as a provincial president, I saw lots of people who have been involved around this Province, from St. John's right to Labrador, who were not only involved with my particular sport but were involved with everything that took place in their communities; people who would be very deserving of such a medal, Mr. Speaker, who gave freely of their time. A lot of them travelled parts of this Province, not only into the City of St. John's but also to different parts of the mainland, of course always at an expense to themselves, to make their communities and their part of Newfoundland and Labrador a better place in which to live for the people of this Province.

I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I certainly won't have any problem supporting such a bill. It will be very interesting to see the medal. I suggest that it be designed as quickly as possible so that we in this House can have the opportunity, of course, to look at it, and the different groups throughout this Province. Off the top of my head I can think of two or three people who, certainly, it won't take me long to do up resumés and put forth recommendations for; when I think of the people in this Province who are in all kinds of sports halls of fames, right throughout this Province and right throughout Canada.

I say that this is long overdue. I'm glad to see it is here. The quicker we can get a suitable medal designed, get it out, get the committee in place, and get on with honouring some of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador, men and women who both deserve such an award, the better.

Thank you.

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

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

I rise to speak on this particular matter because this matter was addressed in the Throne Speech and we recognize that volunteers in Newfoundland and Labrador perform exemplary services. As the slogan said, on one or two occasions when we had Volunteer Week, `Volunteers indeed are the heart of the community.'

Mr. Speaker, it is an occasion where -

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I say to the Minister of Education, if he is interested in prolonging the debate, then maybe he should continue with the trend of thought and the attempt at intimidation that he is doing. I did not intend to speak very long but with encouragement like that I could go on for half an hour very easily, and I do have a half hour. So, I say to the Government House Leader, if he will control his folks over there, then we can get through this particular act, do it properly and show that we truly value the volunteers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying, the volunteers in our community: What would our communities be if we did not have the volunteers? In the City of Mount Pearl we have a long tradition of recognizing our volunteers. When I occupied the Chair of Mayor, and my successor, we tried our best to make sure that the volunteers in the community were recognized in a variety of ways and so, we organized such things as citizen-of-the-year functions.

Mr. Speaker, every year in Mount Pearl we have people who go out and find those in the community who have performed services that are outstanding. What I like about that kind of function is, very often it is not the political person, it is not the person who is out there on the frontline, but it is often that person, that lady or that gentleman, who spends hours and hours and hours going throughout the community, probably campaigning for the Heart Fund or doing something that makes the community tick.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that many people in Mount Pearl today are pleased that somebody cared enough to nominated them for recognition in their own community. I can tell you that when you are nominated and you find yourself receiving a plaque, even if you are not named as the citizen of the year, just to be nominated in itself is a very distinct honour.

So, Mr. Speaker, I say to the government, it is about time that Newfoundland and Labrador come up with the rest of Canada, that we bring in this kind of award and recognize the unsung heroes of our community who are not paid.

I do have a couple of things that I want to note. I wanted to note in section 6, for the minister's attention, if he could direct his attention to section 6 - I just have one little problem with that section, and that is where it says, "Where a person who would be eligible to receive a medal under this Act has died since the recommendation for an award was made public, a medal may be awarded to a relative of the volunteer as prescribed by the regulations." I have a little difficulty with the words `may be awarded'. That indicates that the medal may indeed be received by a person who did not perform the service. I have no difficulty with posthumous awards. In many cases we should look at being able to have awards given posthumously, but that is not what it says. It says that, "... a medal may be awarded to a relative." It may be received by the relative, I say to the minister, but the award should be distinctive to the person to whom the honour is given. I do have a little difficulty with that.

I will be proposing, at Committee stage, an amendment there to make clear that the medal is not to be awarded to somebody other than the person who is being honoured, or in the case of where a person has died, that it is awarded in that person's name posthumously. I would ask him if he would make note of that, and maybe that could be cleared up so that there would be clear language in clause no. 6.

AN HON. MEMBER: Repeat that again. I haven't got it all.

MR. H. HODDER: I do not have it here, but I can certainly consult with the minister on a more adequate sentence, because the language that is here does not lend itself to good legislation and it can be misinterpreted. So I would say to the minister, maybe at Committee stage we might be able to come forward with a change of wording there to more clearly say what is intended. I know what the minister intends, but it does not quite say that here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, made note of the work that is done with the sports community in the Province. We would like to see some way in which we could, in this Province, have somewhere where we could go, one of the archives, and see little write-ups on the people who have been awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Service Medal. For example, if we are going to recognize some person, say in Carbonear, it might be interesting to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to have a little write-up on that person so we could share that person's contribution to his or her community, and to the Province, have it written down so that everybody could know why that person has been honoured. That kind of literature should be made available and maybe, for example, shared on the internet, on the government's internet page.

We might be able to have a category there for the Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Service Medals, and anybody who wanted to find out why a person in Happy Valley - Goose Bay or Marystown or Carbonear had received an award, there would be a little write-up on that person to indicate that this is why it happened. Or the minister might want to consider something like they do in the Sports Hall of Fame. There can be somewhere where we can have these things preserved.

One of the things that we do not want to have happen with this medal is that it be given out to people who, shall we say, have not made substantial contributions. Those who have made substantial contributions, we want to see that they are properly recognized, not only in their own communities but throughout the entire Province. Maybe the minister could consider some ways in which that might be facilitated, because these people and their contributions are the property not just of themselves but the property of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I think it would be incumbent upon the minister, if he could, to have some way of preserving the contributions, so that when someone is recognized, we can follow it up and then have it appropriately shared with all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I will just make one suggestion of maybe having an internet page which might simply be called, `Newfoundland and Labrador Medals', that kind of thing, so then we could have little write-ups on people. You might be very impressed, Mr. Minister, as to how many people would find that very interesting. For those people who are recipients, they themselves would feel a great deal of honour to be recognized in a public manner, not just on one particular day but have their contribution preserved for all posterity.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak and I certainly support the initiative put forward by the hon. the Premier on behalf of the government.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I will get you some after. I need a favour done from you too.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise tonight to speak on Bill No. 29, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Volunteer Service Medal," and I compliment the minister for bringing this bill forward. It is the Premier's bill but the minister introduced it. The minister has done a very good job in this session of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has done a very good job. He has brought forward many, many good pieces of legislation. It almost seems like he is house cleaning. He is getting ready to go somewhere, Mr. Speaker, taking care of business. Working overtime, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what he is doing. I don't know where he is going or who is going to decide where he goes or anything like that, but he is doing a good job with those pieces of legislation that are being brought before this House.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) St. John's, Mount Pearl area.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, that's a big one. That is a very contentious one, I say to the Member for Kilbride. He is probably not willing to bring that forward because he doesn't want to bring anything forward that would make him any lesser in the eyes of many people who sit in the front benches here. I can understand that; and for obvious reasons, I suppose.

This piece of legislation that is in the Premier's name, Mr. Speaker, is an excellent piece of legislation. There is nobody, I suppose, who knows better than some of us who sit in this House the value of volunteers on this Island and in Labrador today. Far too often our volunteers are criticized, overlooked and taken for granted by the very people who should reach out and tap them on the shoulder and say thank you. Many people don't get involved in doing volunteer work for pats on the back, for thank you letters or letters of recognition but it sure feels good when you are a volunteer, you do something and somebody comes up and just touches you on the shoulder and says thank you. Much as you are not doing it for those two simple words, it certainly feels good, Mr. Speaker.

When we look at these services that volunteers are providing in our fire departments, in our town councils, our Lions Clubs, our Kinsmen Clubs and every other organization right across this Province today, when you look at the services, Mr. Speaker, that those men and women are performing and you consider what it would cost if we had to pay somebody to do even parts of it, it would certainly be a burden on this government. Well, it wouldn't be a burden on the government because there is no way it could afford to pay for such services.

When we think of town councils, Mr. Speaker, not all councils out there today pay their town council members. Not all firemen out there today even get a simple stipend at the end of the year, or a turkey for Christmas, because most municipalities can't afford to bring forward such small gifts, if you would. This is a situation whereby somebody in their wisdom decided they were going to introduce a volunteer service medal. Somebody, Mr. Speaker, decided it was high time that we recognize the services of some of those volunteers, and we provide them with something they can wear to distinguish them, and show they are good community minded people out performing a service that was badly needed in the community.

I compliment the minister for doing that, and it is something that should be done. The minister didn't say if there was a limit as to how many medals were going to be struck, or if there was a limit as to how many medals would be allowed to be distributed, or awarded I guess is the word, each year. That isn't stated. I would imagine that people will submit. There will be a suitable application and there will be an address, and some community leaders or some community organization will probably have to nominate and put forward the reasons as to why that particular person is to be nominated and why they think he should be entitled to receive this honourary award. Mr. Speaker, that is the way it should be done.

We should be very careful in doing some kinds of those things. I was a volunteer firemen for eleven years in my community, and we started out -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you looking for a medal?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I'm not looking for a medal. In fact, I was a volunteer all my adult life. This is the only job I've had where I've been doing something to help people and getting paid for it; it is the only job. Up until now I've been a volunteer in my community and in my area for all of my adult life. In fact, I was recognized as the citizen of the year in the area where I lived back in, I think, 1984. I was very proud of that, to be recognized for the things that I enjoy doing, because I did enjoy doing those types of things, and the recognition certainly felt good when somebody came out and bestowed the honour of citizen of the year upon me, Mr. Speaker.

Going back to my fire department days, I say to members who are gathered, we used to select a fireman of the year. Every year somebody would be selected as fireman of the year. You could only pick one. Sometimes there would be seven or eight or nine or ten people, but you could only pick one, and I always had a real problem with that. I always had a real problem with picking somebody out and saying: You are the best. Because to me it seemed like you were belittling or you weren't showing the proper recognition for somebody else who was doing as much as they could, but because of certain circumstances somebody did a little bit more or shone a little bit brighter than somebody else. I had a real problem with that, but I know that isn't the intent here, because we can recognize as many people as we can. We are talking about a much bigger group rather than a close-knit organization where you only pick one person out and nobody else gets recognized. I know that isn't the intent.

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a good piece of legislation, and it is certainly time that we stood in our place and recognized volunteers for the things that they do, because it hasn't been done before. It has never been done before, Mr. Speaker, other than, as I said, in small groups. When you look at the things that have been acquired - and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs probably knows more about this than anybody else here in the House, being the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. When he sees the number of town council offices, the number of fire departments, the number of fire trucks and the amount of equipment, the Lions Clubs, the Kinsmen clubs and the Knights of Columbus clubs that have been built by people coming to his office and his department looking for funding for this and funding for something else - they all come with one thing in mind. They all come for the betterment of their community and to provide a service.

The minister knows full well, when we talk about volunteers, what it means. I think it isn't only in rural Newfoundland. You see volunteers in St. John's or in Kilbride. Wherever you go you see troops of volunteers working and doing good jobs. The Minister of Health should certainly be aware of them as well. In fact, it was only last Thursday night that I left here after question period and drove down to Bonavista to attend a seniors' function there. The Lions Club in Bonavista every year provides a supper for the seniors in the area there. I would suggest there were probably 300 people. There were volunteers that bought the supper and prepared the supper. They went out and asked for donations in order to get the vegetables and the roast beef and all that kind of thing.

That particular night, in addition, Mr. Speaker, to providing a supper for the seniors in the area, there was one lady recognized there by the Lions Club as being the volunteer of the year. It was a young lady who was in Level III this year, and she was recognized for all the time and effort that she is spending at the Golden Heights Manor, in serving meals, in feeding the residents there, in playing games with them and this kind of thing. That to me is not unbelievable, because it happens, but it is certainly exceptional when you see a young lady in Level III, grade XII, going out and donating so much of her time.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where was this, Roger?

MR. FITZGERALD: Down in Bonavista on Thursday night, a Level III student. That is what she was recognized for. Lots of times people get involved in organizations and that because it brings some benefit to them as well as providing a volunteer service. But this one lady, and her name was Susan Russel, she had put in in excess of 700 hours this year doing volunteer work. When you consider somebody who goes to work every day, forty hours a week, a normal working year is probably 2,000 hours. This young lady, in addition to her studies, in addition to going to school and taking part in all the school programs, had spent 700 hours at the Golden Heights Manor doing volunteer work. I doubt very much if the Minister of Health ever sent her a letter of congratulations. I doubt it very much. At least the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is saying now we are going to recognize some of those people.

I say to the Minister of Health, that down in Bonavista on Thursday night - I travelled down to attend a seniors' function. The Lions Club down in Bonavista provided its annual supper to the seniors there whereby they gathered them all - there were quite a few there from the Golden Heights Manor, and from the Alzheimer's unit from the hospital. This one young lady, Susan Russel, was recognized by the Lions Club there. She is a Level III student at Discovery Collegiate. She was recognized and provided with a little certificate for volunteer services of over 700 hours at the Golden Heights Manor.

AN HON. MEMBER: From Bonavista?

MR. FITZGERALD: She is from Bonavista. Over 700 hours, minister, at the Golden Heights Manor. That is in addition to going to school. That is almost one-half the normal working time that you and I would work by getting up every morning and going to work at a regular job, and working from eight to five every day. That is certainly commendable, to see a young person spend that kind of time with seniors in the community.

AN HON. MEMBER: Susan Russel?

MR. FITZGERALD: Her name is Susan Russel and she is from Bonavista. It is only today, in fact, that I wrote her a little note, but it would be nice if the Minister of Health could recognize her as well, because that is what it takes. We may not be able to go out and pin medals on everyone who does those kinds of things, but the least we can do is recognize their activity in the communities and say thank you. Mr. Speaker, without those people I can assure you that many of the seniors in places like the Golden Heights Manor or The Greenwood Rest Home or the Seaside Lodge or Shirley's Haven, without them, I am afraid they would have to wait a lot longer sometimes for their meals. They would not have the luxury of being able to go and play bingo games and take part in other games, and have outings, Mr. Speaker.

Lots of times they have a bus there in Bonavista and the patients can board the bus and travel up and down the area visiting communities, and it is all done by volunteers, for the most part, coming in and donating their time. We see them here in the hospitals here in St. John's; we see the candy stripers. It goes all the way down the line, or up the line if you would, to counsellors, fire-department members and other service clubs right across this Province. That is what makes a community, Mr. Speaker. It is not the paved roads or the government wharf or the slipway, Mr. Speaker, it is community-minded volunteers who take some pride in where they live, who see a need for a service and come out and offer themselves and provide it. That is what makes the community tick, that is why we are proud to be Newfoundlanders, and that is why, when you talk to people who have to leave this Province to find a job, they leave with a knot in their hearts because they want to come back again and enjoy living in the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador, for this kind of service that is performed by volunteers in our committees.

I compliment the minister for bringing forward this piece of legislation. The Premier's name is on it but I know that the minister fully supports it, as he brought it forward. As I said, minister, when those awards are put forward, lets not say we are only going to strike two this year, let us do it and recognize the people who deserve those awards and be proud to recognize them.

Mr. Speaker, I understand there are other people here who want to speak on this particular bill. I say once again, thank you for such a bill. It is about time that we start recognizing those people. Being a volunteer myself, I know what it would have meant to me if somebody had written me a letter, the minister, or if I had gotten something that I could put here and say: This is in recognition of some of the things I have done.

The Member for Marystown, I am aware of the things with which she has been involved and the many hours of work she has put into her community, from knowing other people down there and hearing from her. I am sure she wouldn't mind standing in her place and speaking for a bill such as this. Mr. Speaker, it is something that should be done and once again, it is time that we recognize those people who are helping our communities and allowing us to live and survive here in Newfoundland.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do not adjourn at ten o'clock.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at ten o'clock.

All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Against, `Nay'.

Carried.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to rise to make a few comments on this bill. In the Throne Speech, back last winter I guess, I made a few brief comments at the time and the Premier made reference to it also. My colleague for Bonavista South certainly did, I guess, a tremendous job of indicating why and how important it is to have such a volunteer service medal.

My colleague for Waterford Valley did make reference to it, and I'm sure the minister will probably take a look at this in the wording, I think, so I won't beat that point to death there. It states in an earlier section, just to put it in -

MR. TULK: As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, just -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I will stand up on a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: Just to tell the hon. gentleman, I've just asked the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs if he would get together with the Member for Waterford Valley and see if they can work out something before we move into Committee.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly I won't comment further there, other than to say that in the context - and I'm sure the Member for Waterford Valley has duly noted. In section 3, it says the government shall award a medal to each person who meets certain qualifications. Then it mentions in another section it can award it to a relative of a person who has met the qualifications. For consistency, I'm sure that an appropriate amendment will me made.

Mr. Speaker, there are many people out in our communities today who are certainly worthy of honour and recognition. I think it is important in this bill that it be reserved for people who exemplify a high level of service, not just meeting, of course, the minimum requirements here, which are: a long-standing resident of the Province, a Canadian citizen, and who has contributed a minimum of ten years above and beyond the call of duty. Every community out there has these people. I'm sure many of my colleagues here in the House are people who have been involved very heavily in community service, in many organizations, giving of their time. People who generally run for political office are people who have been fairly prominent in their community. I know members on both sides of this House have been distinguished in many ways in the community.

I know some of my colleagues, and I'm sure on both sides - I know my colleague from Conception Bay South was citizen of the year, and I'm sure there are other people. I had the opportunity to be the recipient of a Canadian volunteer award, and I know what an honour it was to receive the Canada volunteer award for service in the health care field, bestowed by the federal Department of Health.

It is important, I think, that people who have long-standing service in the community - and in my capacity in the past as being president of a Canadian service organization I had an opportunity to present many particular plaques to people recognizing their long distinguished career, some of those requiring a minimum of ten years of service.

Especially today in times of government cutbacks, it has been said that the volunteer sector is what enables people to be able to get the level of service they can. For many years people expected governments to provide them any service, but today it is more important than ever before to have a strong volunteer sector out in the community. As the motto suggests, Non sibi sed omnibus, or Not for yourself but for others, is an important part in being unselfish, doing it not for your own gain but in the service of others.

We know many people out there today get involved in volunteer organizations because a family member needed that service or because they have kids involved in organizations. But many other people, because of their nature and their community spirit, because they want to see their communities as a better place to live, get involved in such basic volunteer service work, whether it be the hospitals or to visit the seniors homes. It is a typical visit.

I know many individuals make regular visits to the seniors' homes. Many people without families or whose families live far away, they need someone to come in and assist, even for companionship, and an opportunity to provide service there where it is not possible to have a staff that can man those levels and so on with sufficient numbers of people to be able to provide an optimum level of service. Many people just have the opportunity to function with an adequate level of service. So that is very important.

The committee, which is going to be composed of seven members, certainly is well represented here by people who have an understanding. By having a Chairperson who is there for a maximum of three years, up to that limit, it allows a person to be able to set a certain standard of excellence in receiving a medal, that it is not going to be passed out without having the greatest amount of concern and the greatest amount of discretion in the presentation of such a medal. It is not something that we want to become commonplace. We want it to be reserved for those who have a distinguished service, not just those who meet the requirements of a minimum of ten years. It says: ... in an area, who have given service to his or her community beyond his or her normal duties or responsibilities. That can be interpreted to be very general. It can apply probably to 90 per cent of volunteers almost. There has to be a method in which a committee sets its own criteria and standards, within the confines of this legislation, to ensure that people who are recipients of this are people that are very deserving.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Minister of Education is quite entertained there and I think is starting to feel the effects of the hour. It is not my intention to bore him to death.

With that, I will make just a few closing comments. Mr. Speaker, I trust that the appropriate regulations and standards will follow, to ensure that the responsibilities are not lightly discharged, and will duly recognize people who don't normally get recognized within their specific group. Because there are many people out there who are recognized by their own organizations on an ongoing basis. Sometimes many people out there, giving volunteer service, do not have an opportunity to be recognized by any particular organization. I know of people who have received life memberships within various associations and numerous service organizations, but there are many people out there, as my colleague from Bonavista South mentioned, who give a considerable amount of time and there is no one there to recognize them with such a medal.

A Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Service Medal is one that can be used especially for those who are out working, as it says, in the motto, `Not for yourself but in the service of others.'

With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks on this reading of the bill.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill 29, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Volunteer Service Medal."

MR. MATTHEWS: It is no pleasure (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I am thoroughly pleased, if it is no pleasure for the Minister of Health to listen to me. I will say that to you.

MR. MATTHEWS: I'll suffer through it.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, suffer through it. Don't get too sick, I say to the Minister of Health, don't get too sick. You might have problems getting a bit of health care in the Province. You may get into a bit of trouble trying to get a bit of health care, I say to the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a good bill. It is a bill that is going to show appreciation to the people in the Province, the volunteers in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have stood in this place many times, Mr. Speaker, and spoken of volunteers in this Province, the volunteers that make the world go round, that make this Province spin. I expect that this medal, this award, will be a very prestigious award. It should be a prestigious award. I expect there are going to be people seeking this medal and hoping to get it. It will mean something.

The medal itself will be given to people who have been chosen by a selection committee, which is a very good move, I would say to the minister who is putting this bill forward on behalf of the Premier. It is going to go to a volunteer who has served at least ten years, I suppose, above and beyond the call of duty with respect to his own job, and dealing with volunteers within the Province.

Mr. Speaker, some of the people, I suppose, who would be considered for this award would be the people who served on town councils for over ten years, and there are many of them out there. There are many, many people out there who served on town councils for over ten years. There are people who served as fire chiefs in volunteer fire departments for many years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) keep speaking (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, speak on Jack.

Mr. Speaker, we have volunteers in the fire departments who have been there for over ten years, fifteen or twenty years. So I say to the Minister of Health -

MR. MATTHEWS: I had to come over and listen, Jack, because I love it.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am afraid to say, the Minister of Health said he loves me. I don't know what he means by that. I won't comment on that at all.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of volunteer organizations within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. There are sports organizations in which we have men and women, and young men and young women, serving on these volunteer sports organizations, such as the minor hockey associations all over the Province. With the minor hockey associations we have coaches who volunteer their time every year, for years and years and years. We have the Hockey Moms, an association that contributed for years to the well-being of the young people in the Province. We have the organizations themselves. We have the minor hockey organizations and the people on the executive, like the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, these people; people on the executive of the Northeast Minor Hockey Association in my district.

AN HON. MEMBER: What bill are you speaking on?

MR. J. BYRNE: Bill 29.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: For awhile.

We have other sports organizations, such as the softball organizations throughout the Province, that people serve on for years and years and years, and volunteer their time.

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is not? It is not for that? The Minister of Education said it is for those individuals. We are talking about volunteers, now, who go on for years to serve the public of this Province.

We have the various Lions Clubs in the Province. For instance, in Pouch Cove there is a Lions Club, and actually a former president of that club, who is now the district governor, Clayton King, was serving for fourteen years in the Lions Club. In actual fact, he is a former Mayor of Pouch Cove also.

AN HON. MEMBER: Served in every position.

MR. J. BYRNE: Served in every position, too.

AN HON. MEMBER: On the local executive.

MR. J. BYRNE: On the local executive of the Lions Club. He had the Lionesses in Pouch Cove. Also, we have the Kinsmen Clubs in the Province, all over the Province, in a great number of communities. We have a Kinsmen Club in Torbay that just a few years ago was very active and got together and built a senior citizen's complex in Torbay, and there are a number of seniors at that complex at this very moment. That was a great, great success on behalf of the Kinsmen. We have all the volunteers who deal with the Scouts, the Cubs, the Beavers, and those organizations. As I said before, this is a medal that is going to be well appreciated and much sought after, I expect.

Many of these volunteers over the years used their own money and paid their own expenses. Often times they try to operate on fund raising, which most of the volunteer clubs do, of course, but they often times put their own money into these organizations, especially with respect to travel. They put untold hours, days, nights, weeks, months and years into their chosen volunteer organization, and it means a lot to them. I'm sure this bill and the Volunteer Service Medal are going to be well appreciated. It is nice to see that the Premier is a man of his word. I think this was mentioned in the Throne Speech last spring.

It is a good bill, I would say again, Mr. Speaker. What is going to be printed on the medal, Not for yourself but for others, is very good wording to go on the bill. I think the people who receive this will think it is good wording, that they will appreciate it. I know the individuals who will be honoured to be presented with this medal will hang it in a place of honour in their homes, and they will certainly promote this medal; not in the fact that they will be praising themselves, but in the fact that the Province has decided to put forth such a medal to honour the volunteers within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I am going to sit down and see if anyone else would like to say a few words.

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

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

I will make a few brief remarks. I won't belabour the issue too much, probably five or six minutes. This is a piece of legislation that I think every member endorses and supports, because it recognizes achievement and it recognizes sacrifice by community people. The Member for Bonavista South, I believe, summed it all up when he talked about how communities, in rural Newfoundland in particular, were built on voluntarism.

Certainly in my district there are many individuals who have participated in the volunteer sector, who have contributed greatly and left some long-standing achievements. The Goulds Lions Club comes to mind; people who have been involved with that, Barb Howlett, Lioness, Eugene Howlett, who some members on the opposite side know very well, Ron Whitten, Derek Rideout, people who have left a lot with the community. For example, the volunteer fire department in the Goulds. All of its equipment, a vast majority of the equipment that is in it today, is there because of the Lions Club. It is there because of the money it raised, it is there because of the community spirit it demonstrated in building the community.

Recently, as the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would acknowledge and know, in terms of the arena that went into the Goulds, it was done in large part, or was able to be done largely due to the fact that the Lions Club wrote a $75,000 cheque right off the bat as a contribution to what it believes was a recognized and long-standing need in the community. It took out its checkbook and wrote a $75,000 cheque for that initiative.

In Kilbride, Mr. Speaker, people have been involved with Kinsmen, Lions Clubs, and in particular the recreation commission. People come to mind, like Ed Power who, for over the past twenty years, has been a member of the recreation commission, and has contributed greatly to the development of young people in the area in sporting activities, recreational activities, and many, many more.

I think it is a piece of legislation that we all can endorse and we all can support. I look forward to the speedy delivery of this piece of legislation and to the medals being received and put out by government.

Thank you.

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

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the House for the comments they made.

I will make two final comments and say that I agree with the hon. Member for Waterford Valley, that the word `awarded' should be moved out of Section 6. I am hoping that he is going to come back in committee and make an amendment to that.

I will make a final comment and say to you that this medal is not intended to be struck for thousands of people in the Province. It is going to be a unique medal for only the people who the committee think truly deserve such a distinction. I hope that at the end of the day this does not become something that everybody expects to obtain, Mr. Speaker, like the federal medal that was struck some two years ago which has lost its value in a lot of cases to a lot of people because so many people, at the end of the day, ended up with the medal.

The other question would be, of course, the cost of producing a large number of medals like this. I hope when the Premier and the Executive Council, at the end of the day, appoint the committee that they do consider His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor now ready to retire, Lieutenant-Governor Russell, because he was another one of the people who convinced the ex-Premier with going ahead with this bill.

With that, I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Volunteer Service Medal," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 29)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 32, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Heritage Animals."

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Heritage Animals". (Bill No. 32)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to dwell too long on this. Again I am sorry that my -

AN HON. MEMBER: Learned colleague.

MR. TULK: No, he is not my learned colleague. The last fellow used to stand here and say that.

The member who introduced this bill is not here to participate in the debate and I have done it all now tonight. I got up and moved a bill put forward by the Tory Opposition in this House. I am now getting up and moving a bill that was really pushed by a group that is not even a party in this House, not even considered to be a parliamentary group. I can't mention the fact that he is not here, I can't do that; I am not allowed. I am not allowed to do that. Mr. Speaker, here I am moving a bill - now there is only one thing left in this world for me to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, no. That is to move something for that so-called - I am not sure if she calls herself an Independent Liberal or what she calls herself - but that Independent who is sitting down there south of Jack. I am sorry, south of the Member for -

AN HON. MEMBER: Cartwright - L'Anse au-Clair.

MR. TULK: Yes, that's where she is from, Cartwright - L'Anse au-Clair.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, I think, has an interest group in this Province. I think it says something for all of us really, although some people will probably belittle the bill somewhat. I say to you that it has been moved because of the - the resolution, I think, had unanimous consent.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is designed to protect certain animals in the Province. If you read clause 3 of the bill it says, "The purpose of this Act is to provide the means for the recognition and protection of heritage animals within the province." In this particular case, Mr. Speaker, what is being proposed here is that we put in place this heritage act to protect animals such as, in this case, the Newfoundland pony.

I also want to say to the House, Mr. Speaker, that it is my intention to include as the first - if the hon. gentlemen opposite would like to hear this. It is not in the bill. I thought there would be some reference to it in the note but there is not. Besides declaring the Newfoundland pony a heritage animal, it is also the intention of the government, after speaking with the minister and the members for Labrador, to declare the Labrador Husky a heritage animal as well over the next little while.

Mr. Speaker, I can say to hon. members that there is a great deal of interest in this bill. As a matter of fact, I am breaking a little bit of a promise to a fellow from out in Gambo who wanted to drive in, I say to the Member for Terra Nova, to see this bill presented in the House. A Mr. Collins - what's his first name?

MR. LUSH: I don't know because there are several.

MR. TULK: There are several. There is a Mr. Collins out there who was going to drive in to see when this bill was read in the House for a second time. So when we get to committee I am going to have to call him and tell him. Maybe what I will do, when we get to third reading, is say: Come in now. I don't know if he is going to be able to come in on Sunday or not, but if he is able to come in on Sunday I think, Mr. Speaker, I will have to call him and say: Third reading of this bill should occur on Sunday and we would appreciate your coming in to see the bill passed into law.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to dwell on this bill much longer. Everybody in this House knows what it is about.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. TULK: Oh, no, I do not need any leave. I have an hour, I say to the hon. gentleman. I know my rights here. I have an hour to go on with this bill but I think it is totally unnecessary. I think everybody in this House understands what we are trying to do here, and I want to just reiterate -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Well, you guys can do what you like. That is up to you.

I just want to reiterate, that this bill is intended to protect certain animals in the Province, and shortly there will be a paper go to Cabinet, once this bill is passed, to make the Newfoundland pony and the Labrador husky heritage animals.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think it is important that I have a few comments.

MR. MATTHEWS: It is not important for us.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, but I wish the Minister of Health would pony up and we would get our health care system back on track. I do not want to get back to that tentacle approach again, I say to the minister, but there are times when he is head first into it and there are other times when he is arm's length. I cannot find out where the minister is going, backing in, sideways. He is in or he is out. He is in all directions. But I did want to have a few brief comments.

MR. H. HODDER: But there is a part of the pony that reminds you of the minister.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there is so, no doubt about it. There is some resemblance between certain parts of the anatomy of the pony, I say, and somebody responsible for the preservation of the standards in this Province and the health of individuals. I would not dare make direct references other than those of great generalities. I have too much respect for the Minister of Health, as much as I like to taunt him, to make any particular accusations.

MR. H. HODDER: He would make a good tail twister.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it is possible he would.

AN HON. MEMBER: Talking about the back end of the (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I made no reference - I did not use the word `back', I did not use the word `posterior', but I do say to the minister, it does say under the definition of animal, all non-human vertebrates, so we are not dealing with humans. We are dealing with the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, but it excludes humans in that category, I say to the Minister of Health.

I did want to have a few comments and I will keep them brief. I do not want to beat this one to death, as much as people like me.

One of my constituents has several Newfoundland ponies, lives up in Burnt Cove.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name them.

MR. SULLIVAN: There was Donner and Blitzen and Comet - but seriously, if you -

MR. TULK: If you do what you are doing now, it will not do you any good. Don't get carried away. (Inaudible) to your constituents.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will not get carried away. I can say, my constituents know me a lot better than they know the Government House Leader.

I will extend this invitation. Last winter it was not possible because in Bowring Park there was no snow, but the year before in Bowring Parking, in the winter, one of my constituents had sleigh rides with the Newfoundland pony. In the summertime they had those carriage rides. They do weddings there, and they have the carriages and the sleigh in the winter. They have pony rides up in my district in Bay Bulls. They usually set up at the various fairs and folk festivals. He goes to any sports days or special events around and has little Newfoundland pony rides for the young kids especially, and even for the bigger kids, adults and so on. There is an opportunity for horseback riding. He has a whole group of Newfoundland ponies that he treasures, I can tell you, probably every bit as much as he values humans, even though we are dealing with non-human vertebrates in this instance. They are cared for, they are looked after, they are fed on a prescribed schedule. His kids are involved in the process, this man and his wife. In fact, he has gone to great lengths to preserve and contribute to certainly the preservation of the Newfoundland pony, and to use it as a good working pony there. He has established a long reputation.

I say to the minister, it is certainly admirable to see this. We aren't going to do like we did about three, four years ago when we spent two weeks in the House with no legislation and we had talked about, I think, the puffin when we brought in that bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: That is back about four years ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. We had another Government House Leader who wasn't too good at getting business through the House. I must say I'm delighted in this session that we have an assistant to the Government House Leader, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, who is tremendous at expediting the business of this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: I will tell you, he is (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes sirree. He made sure that the Government House Leader ponied up, I can tell you. He made sure he did his job, and he did a good job of doing that.

With that, I'm certainly supportive of the preservation of the Newfoundland pony. It has served a long particular use in this Province. In my district there are still several Newfoundland ponies. That is just one of the species identified here. This could be the designation of any heritage animal. I think the Government House Leader referred to the husky -

MR. TULK: The Labrador husky.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Labrador husky. He made reference also to -

MR. TULK: What I would like to do with that is consult with the minister. There is a great deal of talk about the Newfoundland pony, there is no doubt about that. What I want to do is, through the minister and the members for Labrador, consult with the people of Labrador, with the (inaudible) society up there (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure. Because it has played a very important role in life in Labrador, the Newfoundland pony, certainly, more so on the Island portion of this Province. They have had -

MR. TULK: The Newfoundland pony (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, they have distinctive roles. It was a real workhorse there, pardon the pun. It, I must say, is one that Newfoundlanders are proud of. It is a very dependable animal and one that certainly has earned the right to ensure that it is preserved, and that people, for future generations, will be able to understand and treasure and have access to the history of this pony and the role it played in the development of this Province.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks on this bill.

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

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

I too want to join with the Leader of the Opposition. I thank the Minister of Health for his encouragement. I'm delighted when he sidetracks me because I just add on to the minutes. I thought the Minister of Health was interested in getting us out of here tonight. But it is a case of where the Minister of Health is giving us all kinds of encouragement to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. H. HODDER: I thank the Minister of Health for his encouragement, and the Minister of Education for his encouragement. With that encouragement I will probably be - I was going to be about a minute and a half, but I think now I will take three or five or maybe ten minutes. I've got thirty.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the Government House Leader, and it is relative to section 5 -

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I want to just say to the hon. gentleman, on a point of order -

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

MR. TULK: I took some advice one time from the brother of the Member for St. John's Centre. South? Centre?

AN HON. MEMBER: East.

MR. TULK: Whatever.

MR. SULLIVAN: Somewhere down there.

MR. TULK: Somewhere down there. He is a senator now. His advice to me one time, when I was over there as Opposition House Leader and I was trying to get a member over there to sit down - he was sat down next to me and it was late, about 3:00 a.m., you know what was on the go - he said to me: He has a right to speak, and he has a right to speak as long as he wants to speak. You know that, even though I am the Government House Leader. So speak on; three minutes, thirty minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: What a point of order, Mr. Speaker, as the clock ticks, and now the Government House Leader has taken up two minutes. Now I am going to have to speak a little bit longer.

I want to say to the Government House Leader, though, that the Chair has ruled on the point of order.

Section 5.(1) states, "A person shall not, except with the consent of the minister or his or her designate, destroy, interfere with, or dispose of a heritage animal". I want to ask: Does this mean that different heritage animals will enjoy different levels of protection?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: It says here, "A person shall not, except with the consent of the minister or his or her designate, destroy, interfere with, or dispose of a heritage animal". I was wondering what we mean by, "...with the consent of the minister...". Certainly the minister would not be giving his consent to interfere with, to destroy, or to dispose of a heritage animal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: If you say, "...except with the consent of the minister...", it might indicate that the minister may, at times, give consent to destroy, interfere with, or dispose of a heritage animal, and therefore different heritage animals might enjoy different levels of protection.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could just...

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

MR. TULK: I will not take the hon. gentleman's time, if he needs the thirty minutes, but I just want to say to him that if a minister designated a heritage animal - the Newfoundland Pony Society, in the case of the Newfoundland pony, are the people who are going to see that this animal is protected. It is under their umbrella.

I think if you did anything out of the way with those people, once you had done that, you would be hard put to explain what you are doing. I would not want to be the minister to do it. I think I would be in an awful state politically. I think those people would hammer me politically for having done something with a heritage animal which ought not to be done.

So I suspect what would happen here is that the level of protection, or the level of non-interference that an animal would enjoy, would be protected by the society themselves as opposed to what the minister might or might not want to do.

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

MR. H. HODDER: What I wanted to ask the minister was: Supposing, for example, we were to designate a particular animal, let's say the Pine Marten, as a heritage animal, and then we were to look at the Pine Marten's habitat, now that we have designated it as a heritage animal, does that mean that there are certain areas of the Province that we would then have to designate to protect that animal? I know it is under endangered species.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) type of agreement with the society that you would set up before you did it.

MR. H. HODDER: Okay.

MR. TULK: As the minister, I don't think you can (inaudible) to Newfoundland.

MR. H. HODDER: I also wanted to look at the section that talks about the penalties. The penalties for non-compliance, or for interfering with a heritage animal, are quite steep.

MR. TULK: And so they should be.

MR. H. HODDER: And so they should be. There is no provision, though, for something that happens accidentally. Is there some way in which - I suppose, you have to show some wilfulness or some intent? I'm wondering if the provision for accidentally hurting or destroying a heritage animal is adequately provided for.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if you look at clause 9: "The minister may prescribe regulations (a) for the preservation, promotion and protection of heritage animals including (i) the terms and conditions under which a heritage animal may be disposed of or destroyed...." (Inaudible) an animal is killed by (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Yes. So there is some leeway built in. Section 9 does permit that to be carried forward, I would agree, under regulations.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Opposition House Leader that we are in second reading of the bill which is approval in principle. The Committee of the Whole House is the place to get into specifics of the bill and the exchange across the House.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

The end result of our discussion back and forth would mean we would facilitate matters more expeditiously when we come to Committee of the Whole House on the bill, if it is agreeable to the Government House Leader and to the Chair.

I just have one other concern. That is in, I believe, it is section 6(1)(a). You are talking here about designating "a society to act in the preservation of heritage animals." Reading through it there, that society shall define the characteristics of the class, of the breed, and also prescribe methods for establishing a breed book and all that kind of thing. I wanted to ask the minister: There isn't anything here, though, which says that the government would offer any funding to this heritage society. Without any funding provisions, these societies may be purely voluntary, and I'm wondering if that is the intent of the Ministry, to establish the society and then have it operate purely on a voluntary basis.

MR. TULK: Do you want an answer to that in closing debate?

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

MR. TULK: Close the debate?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do it now.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. minister is closing the debate?

MR. TULK: Yes. I understand you want me to answer that question while I'm closing the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Okay. Well, I will answer it by leave then, if you will.

Mr. Speaker, if you talk about the Newfoundland Pony Society, for example, that particular group of people, I've had a fair amount of discussion with them, and the truth of the matter is that at this point in time they don't want us. I don't know if I should say, don't want us, but they have never requested that we give funding to them. I would suspect that you would deal with each one on its own merits. I think the important first step is to get the legislation in place, and to see that indeed there is such an act that you can act under.

What we are doing here, what you always do I guess when you put those pieces of legislation in place, is you are opening up government - it doesn't matter about the party - to the, shall I say, upward pressure of people to do certain things about animals. This is a step forward, and I've no doubt that somewhere down the road some government, some minister, will have to deal with a society. I don't know what the society might be; it might be the `Partridge Forever Society,' if you declare that animal a heritage animal. Some society will come forward to a government and say: Look, in order for us to be able to protect this animal - for example, we are helping the Newfoundland Pony Society with community pastures. We have given them, I think, it is - don't hold me to this - I think it is two that we have turned over to them to put the Newfoundland pony into. That is, I guess, a form of help. Even though it isn't financial dollars, it is a form of help.

I have no doubt that when other people come forward it will have to be worked out on an individual basis with each group of people. What you are doing here is opening up the government and saying: Alright, yes, we now have this heritage bill. Once a society is established, then you come and sit down and negotiate with us.

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

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

I just wanted to note one other final comment. In section 5 where it says: the minister may, by order, exempt a heritage animal from the application of subsection (1): Again we are talking about the phrase which says: Except with the consent of the minister or his or her designate. For example, section 5, reading clauses (1) and (3) together, does this mean that if you had, for example, a Newfoundland pony that was old and, you know, had obviously major health problems that you would have to apply to the minister to have the animal put down?

MR. TULK: No. What would happen, I would suspect, is that somebody would contact (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Okay. So the provisions of the humane society would still apply and there would be no more bureaucracy than is necessary?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible). The minister would have tremendous pressure (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the dialogue back and forth. I am not sure if any of my colleagues wish to have a few more comments. If not, then the minister will close the debate.

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

MR. TULK: I am not going to take any more time of the House. I will just move second reading of this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Heritage Animals", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill No. 32).

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider certain bills starting with Bill No. 44, "An Act Respecting Judgement Enforcement."

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order No. 16, Bill No. 44, Committee of the Whole on a bill, "An Act Respecting Judgement Enforcement", the Minister of Justice.

CHAIR: Bill No.44, "An Act Respecting Judgement Enforcement."

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: I would like to propose an amendment to this bill, Mr. Chairman, Bill No. 44.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Yes. As a result of the Social Services Committee, this amendment was put forward and it is an amendment which I am quite pleased to agree to, Mr. Chairman.

The bill would be amended by renumbering clause 204 as clause 205, and by adding immediately after clause 203 the following: After the expiration of not more than three years after the coming into force of this act, the minister shall refer this act to a Committee for the purpose of undertaking a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this act. I so move.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I wish to speak to this amendment and just indicate, as the minister correctly points out, this is the result of hearings before the Social Services Committee, where it was agreed to by all members of that committee that this amendment would be appropriate to deal effectively with the legislation known as Bill No. 44, the Judgement Enforcement Act.

Mr. Chairman, the reason why this amendment was put forward, and as indicated agreed to by all parties, was that, as can be seen by the legislation, Bill 44, it is comprehensive legislation. It, in fact, unifies and codifies execution law in this Province, and it is the result of many years of effort by what was originally referred to as the Law Reform Commission. The work was finalized presumably by various interest groups including officials from the Department of Justice.

Mr. Chairman, it was felt that where the rights of creditors and debtors are affected, to the extent that they are, in this legislation that really we had to have a mechanism in place whereby a review of the legislation, and the impact that the legislation had on both creditors and debtors, had to be established. It was felt by the committee, upon discussion of the various components of the bill, and having heard some representations as well, it was felt that the minister ought to be in a position, after a period of no greater than three years. that this committee be struck to review the impact and the consequences of the legislation.

The act, as I have indicated, is comprehensive. It contains some 200 clauses, and to deal effectively with it would be perhaps a very difficult task. Therefore, the review committee which will be set, and the review mechanism which is really the subject matter of this amendment, it was felt would be the most appropriate way to deal with the impact of this legislation.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes, and I might add, to the Government House Leader and also to the minister, that this was done with the recommendation as well of the High Sheriff who was present at the committee meetings.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: That, too. The solicitors from the minister's department, who worked diligently in the preparation of this legislation, felt that this review component was appropriate.

I have no difficulty whatsoever in seconding the amendment as put forward by the hon. minister.

On motion, Causes 1 through to 203, carried.

On motion, amendment carried

On motion, Clause 204, as amended, carried.

On motion, Clause 205, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed Bill No. 44, with amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the next bill I want to call is Bill No. 26, "An Act To Amend The Labour Standards Act."

CHAIR: Do you want to wait for the minister?

MR. TULK: If you do not mind, Mr. Chairman, I have one minister here. I could move, with the permission of the House, to "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act."

CHAIR: Order, please!

If the hon. Government House Leader would be so kind as to cooperate with the Chair by calling the orders by order number?

MR. TULK: Order No. 19, Bill No. 35, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act." I believe there is an amendment to that.

CHAIR: Bill No. 35, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act."

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Chairman, I move an amendment to clause 2 of the bill. The bill is amended by striking out the phrase "by the applicant" and by striking out the words "that applicant" and substituting the words "the appellant" in the proposed section 8.1(3). This amendment will ensure that the proposed subsection refers not to the applicant but to the appellant, and is consistent with section 8 of the Act to which the proposed subsection refers.

This was brought forward in second reading and the Clerk at the Table reviewed it, and our legal opinion is that this would follow along the lines of what was put forward by a member of the Opposition. We submit this amendment to Bill No. 35.

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

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

I don't have any problem with that amendment being put forward by the minister but I have a couple of amendments that I would like to put forward myself, Mr. Chairman, with respect to Bill No. 35.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment that I would like to put forward is, that Bill No. 35, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act", which is now before the House, be amended by deleting in clause 4, the figure "14" and substituting therefore the figure "21".

AN HON. MEMBER: I would like to have a copy.

MR. J. BYRNE: Sure. There are all kinds of copies.

The current act says: the town shall publish notice of a municipal plan hearing at least four weeks beforehand. It also says: the minister has to inform the town of the hearing date at least one month beforehand. This gives the town a week to get the notice in the paper. The bill reduces the four weeks to two weeks and it also reduces the one month to two weeks. That could lead to an impossible situation. If the minister gives the town the minimum notice of two weeks, the town is bound by law to have the notice published in the local paper on the same day. The Act itself says the notice to the town has to be sufficiently far in advance to allow the council a reasonable time to arrange the first publication of the notice required.

This amendment gives the town an extra week's minimum notice, since most (inaudible) weekly.

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: I just wanted to ask: I understand that we do have the amendment by the hon. the minister now before the Table. We also have, I think, an amendment put forward by my colleague here. Are we going to handle all of the amendments right now, before the Table, and then go through them in sequence at the end, or shall we deal with them in the order which they are passed in? I wanted to address the question to my hon. colleague opposite?

CHAIR: We will call them in the order that they appear in the bill.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Okay.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I certainly have no problem with that. Does the minister understand what I have been saying with respect to that amendment?

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, sure. We are in Committee, yes.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Just to speak on the hon. member's comment, Mr. Chairman, not to close.

You municipal people, pay attention to what I am saying. The Federation of Municipalities, the administrators and the town councils have asked for the fourteen days. What happens in a local area where there is a local - right now we have to gazette this. This has to be gazetted under the old act. The changes here will allow a council in an area to publish it themselves in their local paper. We have done a survey around the Province and seven days is ample time. We could have gone to seven days - seven days is ample time to publish - but we moved it up to fourteen, which would give them two weeks. All the communities said: Two weeks are plenty for us. You have to remember that a lot of these will not be challenged and they will not be heard, so there is really no need.

The approval process will be speeded up by reducing from one month down to fourteen days the notice period required for the proposed public hearing. This is for public hearings, now, only for public hearings. The notice will now only have to appear in a local newspaper and not in The Newfoundland Gazette which, in itself, would reduce costs to communities, number one, and time because of the long lead period required to have a notice inserted in that publication. The long lead time to get it in the Gazette means it could mean as much as two or three months, the way the system operates now.

If the hearing does not have to proceed because no representations are being made, cancellation can be carried out by the staff in consultation with the municipality, so avoiding any ministerial approval on a routine matter.

What I say to the hon. member - and I can understand and appreciate where he is coming from with moving it to twenty-one - but if you do this, if you move this to twenty-one, you will be going against the wishes of rural municipalities, especially rural municipalities in the Province that have no problem. Anybody living in Baie Verte or Carbonear, or in rural Newfoundland, knows that all we need is a couple of days to give notice to the newspaper and the next week then it is in the paper. So I plead with the hon. member to at least take my word for it tonight and he can check it himself. If he finds out that I am misleading the House, then come back and say that. But the municipalities and the Federation of Municipalities have recommended the fourteen days so we can speed it up.

I will just give the hon. member an example. We had a problem in Bay Roberts with the town council, who recommended against a permit. It took seven months to get a resolution on that particular problem, and I think that is much too long. All I am saying here, in this particular act, is to give the municipalities themselves the authority and the amount of time they need to do the work themselves rather than have me, as a minister, or my department, tangled up in it, in the bureaucracy, which means at the end of the day it is probably going to take six or seven months to do it.

I ask the member, just think about the fourteen days. Think about the local papers, and how easy it is to get things into the local papers, and I think you will agree then, at the end of the day, that what I am saying is probably the best course of action.

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

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

The minister may be very well correct in what he is saying, but just for point of clarification for myself, if the minister only gives two weeks notice to the town, and the town is required to give two weeks notice, how can that be done?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: For the notice of the public hearing?

MR. A. REID: I don't give notice to the towns now, the towns have to give notice themselves.

CHAIR: Order, please!

For the sake of Hansard, I would ask that the microphone be turned on in front of the minister.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: I am not sure what the hon. member is referring to, whether I take a month to give notice. I do not give notice.

AN HON. MEMBER: Councils gives it.

MR. A. REID: Yes, councils gives notice themselves. If there is an appeal registered then it is up to the town council, in this particular act then, to make notices available to the local paper, okay? If there is a change to their plan then it is not a question of me giving notice to the town. The town, then, will have the responsibility themselves to make it known to the public, and they have fourteen days to do that, that there is going to be a change.

We are talking about planning here.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. A. REID: So why would I give a town a month's notice or need a month to give a town notice? If someone from a town comes into my office and says: We are proposing a change to our plan, and there is a motion of council to change the plan, then I will immediately - I won't, because I'm hoping it won't even come back to me - my department will immediately tell the town to advertize that there is a change to the town plan. Anyone wishing to make a representation to the town plan can come to a hearing. They have fourteen days then to advertize that that hearing is going on. Okay?

MR. J. BYRNE: Fine.

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

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

I take the minister at his word and assume that what he says is correct, and so be it. If the municipalities have no problem with it, I certainly don't have any problem with it. I just wanted to bring that point forth.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you withdrawing the amendment?

MR. J. BYRNE: I withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, another amendment to Bill No. 35 is with respect to clause 9. I wish to move the following amendment: That clause 9 of Bill No. 35, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act," which is now before the House, be amended by inserting in paragraph 124(4)(d) immediately after the word "notice" the words "but only if a condition defined in this act for the rejecting of purchase notice holds."

The bill says, in section 9(1)124.(3)(d), one of the options of a minister is to "reject the purchase notice." There are no qualifications on that phrase in that subsection. The minister's ability to reject a purchase notice must be limited by conditions set out in the act. This amendment says exactly that: The minister shall reject a purchase notice only for conditions spelled out in the act.

To me, it is that the minister just has too much discretion.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Chairman, I'm trying to be nice to this gentleman and I'm having difficulty in accepting - I don't know what he is talking about here. I haven't the foggiest idea.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. A. REID: I apologize to the hon. member, but I just don't know what you are talking about. Maybe the Member for Waterford Valley can explain it to me.

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

MR. GRIMES: Explain it again. Never mind reading off the sheet, explain it to him.

MR. E. BYRNE: Listen to him.

MR. J. BYRNE: Take your time now.

Mr. Chairman, I said - did you get a copy of the amendment?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay. It says here: Immediately after the word "notice" the words "but only if a condition defined in this act for rejecting the purchase notice holds."

What we are saying to the minister is that the bill says one of the options of the minister is to reject a purchase notice. There are no qualifications on that phrase in the subsection, and the minister's ability to reject a purchase notice must be limited by conditions set out in the act; not just the complete discretion of the minister.

MR. A. REID: Where are the conditions set out in the act?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what we asking for, to put conditions in the act.

MR. A. REID: Yes, but I would have to set conditions then and put them in the act.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, you would have to.

MR. A. REID: I can't accept that, not tonight. If, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member wishes to change the act as such to accommodate his - he is asking me to change the total act to accommodate this particular section. What I suggest to the hon. member is let me work on this for him, and if we feel we need to change the act to accommodate this then I would propose that we will bring the act back in the spring and do it.

For the time being, I would have to provide the conditions in the act for this particular section to apply. I would have to list the conditions in the original act for this to apply.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Basically what we are saying to the minister is that at this point in time the minister can reject a purchase notice for whatever reason he wants. There is nothing in the act to say that he has to follow these guidelines.

What we are saying to the minister is that if there is going to be this clause in the act, that they reject a purchase notice only for a condition that will be spelled out in the act. It is not there now. So the minister, if somebody comes forward for a purchase notice, if I want a purchase notice, can say no, and that is it. I want something in the act that is going to say: You are saying no for this reason.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Chairman, I think what the hon. member basically is trying to do is take away the authority, I suppose, under the act, that the minister has.

MR. J. BYRNE: No.

MR. A. REID: For the record, I will read the explanatory note that was provided to me.

The proposed amendments to this particular section, 124, are designed only to clarify the present wording of the section. It is only to clarify what is in the act right now.

What the hon. member is proposing is a change to the act, a complete change to the act. The major change to the act has nothing to do with clarifying at least what is in the act right now. So I am suggesting to the hon. member that if you feel strongly about this, please bring this to me, and the amendment to me, and I will deal with this, and if it is feasible we will change it in the next session. But I cannot stand here tonight and argue back and forth on this particular point and say at the end of the day that I am going to reject this. The municipalities have been waiting for this for years and, as far as I am concerned, this is probably one of the freest pieces of legislation that has come out of the Urban and Rural Planning Act since it was incorporated some thirty years ago. So I think I am being free.

I would suggest to the hon. member that he speak to me tomorrow and that I arrange a meeting with my staff, and I will provide him with the opportunity to change the act come next spring. Let's do that if we think it is worthwhile doing.

Other than that, I am not going to vote in favour of the amendment.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, just to be clear on it, clause 9.(3)(d) of the bill says the minister may reject the purchase notice. It is right in this bill; he may reject the purchase notice, not for any given reasons. He may do it. So that is all this is addressing, not the act but this amendment to this bill itself. Can you see that, on page 6 (d)?

AN HON. MEMBER: I know what you are saying.

MR. J. BYRNE: So that can be amended; there is no problem here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

Would the hon. the Government House Leader like to be recognized?

MR. TULK: No, I am sorry.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: I am trying to read (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: And you need to read it, I would say.

To the minister, with respect to this, if the minister is prepared - and he has stated already that he would meet with myself and members of the department to address this concern for the winter session or next spring, I can let that go at this point in time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You will?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: You understand the point I am making, and you will address it?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: I will certainly address it, Mr. Chairman. Through experience, I have found that without somebody at the end of the day having the authority to judge whether you should or you shouldn't - and there is nothing in the Urban and Rural Planning Act that gives anyone that authority other than the minister. On several occasions, since I have been minister, even though it has been recommended by commissioners to do things, I have rejected the commissioners' reports and gone contrary to the commissioners' reports for various reasons.

Now I will say quite honestly to the member: You cannot do that unless you have some backing from your staff, and somebody has to have authority to accept or reject the purchase notice, and in this particular case, it is the minister. Now if it is not going to be the minister, then somewhere in the Act it will have to identify someone who will have the authority.

AN HON. MEMBER: Designate somebody.

MR. A. REID: Yes, designate somebody to either reject or accept the purchase notice. So, if it is not the minister who is going to be?

MR. J. BYRNE: There have to be reasons. You just can't say no.

MR. A. REID: Why not?

AN HON. MEMBER: Based on what, Art?

MR. J. BYRNE: Based on what, what criteria?

MR. A. REID: Well, always based on recommendations from the urban and rural planning people in your department and in most cases from your town council, in most cases -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Shouldn't it set out in a general way what those conditions or criteria would be?

MR. A. REID: It is pretty difficult when you are talking of purchase notices. Now, you are talking about purchasing a piece of property. Councils have a tendency sometimes to want to purchase pieces of property around this Province for no legitimate reason. I had one last year who wanted to purchase a piece of property because they wanted to dig a well in the middle of the piece of property, and I had no other choice, even though everybody recommended that I do it, I had no other choice but to turn it down because it did not make any sense.

Now, I could have taken that, I suppose, and asked the magistrate to decide on it, or a judge, but then the community that is doing this, it would cost them a fortune. So, at the end of the day, somebody is going to have to have the authority to make that decision. Let me go back and say, just to stop the argument on it, that I will address it and I will provide the opportunity for the hon. member to come with me and we will sit down with the urban and rural planning people, discuss it and get it ready for the spring.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, the minister referred to the purchase notice of a municipality wanting to buy a piece of land to put a well on it. Isn't this also the reverse situation if there is a piece of land zoned -

MR. A. REID: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: - and the individual cannot utilize that land for the purposes he or she wants to utilize it? Then he goes to the municipality and requires those people to purchase it,and the minister can say no to it? That is the point I am trying to make, that you can then say no outright, without any reason. That is what I want addressed and if you are going to address that for me I withdraw it at this point in time.

CHAIR: Has the hon. member withdrawn his amendment?

MR. J. BYRNE: For now, yes, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

MR. J. BYRNE: I would like to say a few words, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, with respect to Bill No. 35, amendment to the Urban And Rural Planning Act, there are three basic problems. We addressed them somewhat previously but I want to say a few more words about this bill, Bill No. 35.

It gives the minister new power to impose fees for appeals, Mr. Chairman. Now, that is not something that was there before, that if an individual wants to appeal a decision of a municipality or what have you, that a fee could be set out to that individual. Now, Mr. Chairman, what would that appeal be, and how much would the appeal be, Mr. Chairman? Is there a maximum and a minimum?

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Is that in the bill, I say to the minister?

MR. A. REID: No, it is in the regulations.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is in the regulations. So the $100, that is the maximum? I say to the minister, would that be the maximum?

MR. A. REID: That is the fee.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is the fee.

MR. A. REID: There is no maximum and no minimum. The proposed fee is $100 per appeal.

MR. J. BYRNE: Per appeal. I didn't see that in the bill anywhere when I -

MR. A. REID: No, it is in regulations, it isn't in the bill.

MR. J. BYRNE: In regulations. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs says it is $100 for an appeal. That isn't something I thought was there.

It also gives the minister power to set an even shorter period of notice for public hearings. You have already dealt with that, Mr. Chairman, so we are going to address that over the winter months and maybe bring it back in the spring sitting. It gives the minister new power to use his own discretion in deciding whether to purchase land, and that is the point that we were just on about.

There are a number of other concerns that I'm going to try and highlight here now, Mr. Chairman. The new act says that someone appealing a decision of an authorized administrator under this act must also now submit a fee. Who is the authorized administrator? I expect the authorized administrator is going to be the municipality, as one would expect, but not necessarily so. Also, the authorized council is also empowered to establish fees that may be charged to a person who makes an appeal. Mr. Minister, is that also set out in the regulations that it is just $100 for the municipality also?

MR. A. REID: Yes, it will include both the appellant and the municipality or vice versa.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, clauses 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this bill reduce the time of notice for public hearings. We have also addressed that, so that should be okay in due course.

The minister may reject the purchase notice. Again, that is something I addressed earlier, so I'm not going to get into it.

I don't know if anybody else wants to speak to this bill, but I will tell you, I've said what I'm going to say on it at this point in time.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act." (Bill No. 35)

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 2 carry?

There was an amendment to clause 2.

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, clause 2 as amended, carried.

On motion, clauses 3 through 9, carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, my absent friend has returned. Bill No. 26, "An Act To Amend The Labour Standards Act."

CHAIR: Order No. 18, Bill No. 26, "An Act To Amend The Labour Standards Act."

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We introduced the bill a few days ago. The bill is a follow-up to the Labour Standards Act which made some recommendations the past year to the Department of Environment and Labour. Part of those recommendations included an increase to the minimum wage which we carried out earlier in the fall.

The two amendments we are talking about here would see a section added to increase paid vacation leave up to three weeks after fifteen years of service, recognizing seniority of workers in a workplace. Presently two weeks and 4 per cent entitlement is what a worker is entitled to. This would expand it to three weeks vacation, or six weeks vacation pay after fifteen years. So, it is an expansion of that benefit for workers.

Clause 4 would expand entitlement to bereavement leave to include –

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is an unacceptable level of noise in the chamber. The Chair is having some difficulty hearing what the minister is saying. I ask for cooperation from all members.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Clause 4 would expand entitlement to bereavement leave to include leave upon the death of a grandchild. Right now that clause does not include leave upon the death of a grandchild. This is an expansion of that definition of bereavement leave.

So those are two amendments to the Labour Standards Act we are proposing there today, and we are looking at some further recommendations to look forward to in the Spring session. Again, it is a follow-up to the increase in the minimum wage.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, as was noted in debate in second reading on Bill 26, we have no serious problems with this piece of legislation. It expands benefits to workers and expands the notion of bereavement to grandparents.

I move that we move this piece of legislation through committee.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Labour Standards Act." (Bill No.26)

On motion, clauses 1 through 4, carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the next order I gave to the Opposition House Leader today was Committee of the Whole on a bill, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act." (Bill No. 49). I think there was an amendment that was proposed to that by - who was it? It was the health critic. I think the minister is going to explain why it is not necessary to accept the amendment anyway.

CHAIR: Bill No. 49, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act."

The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We discussed Bill 49 briefly when we went through second reading. This bill and the structure of the amendments that are put forward in this bill have been on the basis of extensive consultation with the physiotherapists in the Province, and it would be, in my judgement, inappropriate to amend it in any fashion without going back to them for appropriate consultations. I am not at all certain that the amendment would represent their points of view or represent a position they would want to have incorporated in it.

For that reason I would move, Mr. Chairman, that the bill be moved through committee without the amendment having been put, and if it has been put not be passed.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

With regard to Bill No. 49, the Physiotherapy Act, there was some discussion, I say to the hon. minister, a few days ago when the bill was first introduced. It was indicated by the Government House Leader that there would be some consultation and we on this side agreed to withdraw the amendment and to have further consultation with the physiotherapy society. We have done that and we are now satisfied that the bill, as written, represents the view points of the physiotherapists and their society in the Province, and we recommend that the bill be passed in Committee as written, or the amendment to the bill be passed as written.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act." (Bill No. 49)

On motion, clause 1, carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Bill No. 50 - there is no need of getting the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in here.

CHAIR: Bill No. 50, Order No. 25, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act."

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, we on this side believe we can proceed with this. I do understand the Leader of the Opposition has a few comments he wishes to make, but I don't believe (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: They said it would never be done! They said it would never be done!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I know it is a rare occasion when you see the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on the other side of the House, but we are trying to do something here, so I would ask if you would call order. I'm trying to hear the hon. gentleman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I agree that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is out of order more often than he is in order.

To the Government House Leader, we believe we can proceed with this act without the necessity of having the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board present in the Chamber.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to preface it by saying, I can see that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is getting pretty comfortable on our side of the House. That started last Wednesday night. He got so comfortable last Wednesday, he enjoyed our company so much, he makes more than frequent visits to our side of the House. I have to say it again, we do have proof, we do have photographs.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) watch your back.

MR. SULLIVAN: Don't worry, this is the last job he wants as leader. He had his chance in January, I say to him, and he didn't want it. Don't you worry!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I won't have to worry about my back from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I can assure you. No sir! In fact, I don't have to worry about anybody. If anybody wants to sneak up behind me, come right ahead, I would say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I might be gone in a week, but I'm not one who looks over my shoulder, I say to the minister. I only look back if I want to go that way, so I keep focusing, looking ahead, I would say to the Government House Leader.

I don't really feel comfortable with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture here, I say, Mr. Chairman, but there are a couple of points I wanted to make on this bill. I made reference to it before, and I'm sure the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is aware of these. There is concern over what happens under a privatized liquor commission with the same particular act, the same responsibility now, people are going to have in the licensing, the inspection, grants, possession, sale, delivery of alcoholic beverages, which is under the control aspect; and the corporation act that has profiting, marketing, the business plans, the regulating their stores, and so on.

We have liquor sales, liquor marketing, and we have liquor controls, all under the one. The same people we have out going to regulate, to promote it and market it, are going to be asked to control it and to enforce it. Wouldn't that be basically - it says in the Explanatory Notes: "Clause 1 of this Bill would amend the definition of `board' in the Liquor Control Act to reflect the creation of a single board to administer both the Liquor Control Act and the Liquor Corporation Act." In other words, the same people now who are governed under two separate Acts. The corporation, as I mentioned, whose job is to promote and market the set business plan to ensure that we get certain profits, and considerable ones at that, I might add, well up in the tens of millions, $70-some million, I believe, back to this Province, and then, we are going to have the one board that is going to go out and put controls on it. What kinds of controls are we going to get? Are we going to have a lack of control? More profits? More promotion? Less enforcement? More sales? Is there a potential conflict in the responsibilities of putting this under the one? Is it a step forward to reaching privatization, basically, in this? And are the interests of the public going to be protected sufficiently under the specifics there, when we have all of these grouped under the one?

If not - if they are, is there going to be some agency of the Crown that is going to be able to have responsibility for the control aspect of this, that is going to be separate? Of course, government and the corporation, under the Act, has a responsibility to set out its plan, in fact, to earmark what profit it wants returned to the government, and set its prices in accordance with that, and its level of taxation - and then turn around to the same board? So there must be, if there is privatization of the liquor commission - which the minister is pursuing, and for which he is going to great lengths, I might add, sending people across the country, to Alberta - I understand they have a contingency in Alberta, finding out how they do things there.

Has the minister - and maybe he can get back to me, certainly, at another time - looked at that aspect of it, how that is done in Alberta, how those controls and marketing aspects are being regulated there? Is there going to be a free-for-all with unlimited controls on the sale and enforcement aspect? And the same people who are out enforcing it and trying to ensure that the rules are adhered to, and that consumption is within a specified period, are they out pushing it and marketing?

That is very similar to a piece of legislation I saw here in the House before - that the now Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture brought in - the .05, which, while it promotes responsible driving, the police officer becomes a judge and a jury. That is one of the few pieces of legislation I am aware of - I do not know if there are any others - in which a single piece of legislation in this Province is without an appeal mechanism. When the police officer says, `You are at .05' you have no right of appeal. You are convicted on the spot. You pay your money, you lose your licence for twenty-four hours, and there is not a court in the land to which you can appeal to have this corrected. That is a very regressive piece of legislation. The .05 is not the point I would be debating. The point I would be debating is no mechanism to appeal and say: Look, at least there could be something wrong. It might not be calibrated properly. The machine might have been off, and you should not have been .05, and now there is not an appeal in the land, and that is wrong. That is basically wrong. It is an infringement on the rights of individuals to defence through appeal within the system.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Highway Traffic Act?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, under the Highway Traffic Act, I say to the minister, you can go to court. You can go to a court on a ticket, and challenge that in court, and have your day in court, but on .05 you do not have your day in court. The police officer is the judge and the jury. I would like to know, and maybe the minister can point it out, what other legislation is there in that area under which we do not have the right at least to say: I want my day in court.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am talking about the control of liquor now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, but it is on the topic and that is not -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not. I wandered off a little bit, I admit that, but when I talked about the control of liquor being under the same board as the marketing of liquor, that particular aspect does raise a concern for people.

Now, this legislation would not normally be in question. If privatization is the avenue taken, the legislation could be bad. If it is not, it may not, in itself, be harmful. But the potential is there for that, and when the government is pursuing it, enough to go to great lengths to send a delegation to other provinces to look at how they privatized their liquor corporations, it must be the intent of government to be looking in that direction, I say to the minister. Once again, I say, the Liquor Control Division is responsible for licensing. It does inspections of facilities to see that they adhere to the regulations: Are you operating at the proper hours? Do you have the proper facilities there for dispensing of alcoholic beverages in your facility, whether it may be in store, that has a beer license, whether -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, at least there is one person being entertained here. I cannot guarantee there is a second one, I say to the minister.

Now, maybe while the Premier is here, it may be an opportunity, I say to the minister - the Premier's party was so bad the other night, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture came back to our party and had a tremendous time.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, I had a good time wherever.

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you, he livened up our party, and the Minister of Government Services and Lands and the Member for Torngat Mountains, I think, can attest to that. They saw him with their own eyes, I can tell you and -

MR. ANDERSEN: Can you remember?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh yes, I sure can. I have a long memory, I say to the member. How good, I am not so sure, but a long memory. Even if I had a bad memory, I say to the Member for Torngat Mountains, I would remember the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; and everybody else in the room would, even if they had a bad memory. And just in case our memory fail, we do have some photographs in case the need arises. Now, I do not intend to put them on public display, I say to the minister, but I intend every now and then to show them to the minister just to ensure he stays in check and he does -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) show him how to have a good party!

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he sure did, and Premier, he said to me in the House last week: `I had to come back. Your party was so dull I had to come back and liven it up.' `You sure did that!' I said to the minister. He really had a rousing party. Nobody went home very early. I know when I went at a quarter-to-one, I looked over my shoulder, one of the few times I do, I say to the minister - and that is because the minister was at the party - and he was still there. I am not sure if he locked up, I cannot say, but we -

MR. H. HODDER: No, no, but this year we did not have to change the locks like we did before.

MR. SULLIVAN: Back to Bill No. 50, I say to the minister. Sometimes I just stray off the topic and -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: No, `the legal beagle' from Topsail -

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not think we should get into that legal aspect now - the beagle. Everybody needs a beagle, I suppose - not everybody needs a legal beagle, I say to the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: What member?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am glad you asked that, I say to the member. I have been asking the same question since the House started. And the people of Topsail were asking: What member?

Seriously, back to the bill and the point I want to reiterate because I think it is important. I want to reiterate: In the specific bill, how is the same board supposed to regulate - especially if it is a privatized liquor corporation - the inspection, the licensing, the standards you have for dispensing alcoholic beverages, the regulation of it in your stores - and the same board is going to come out and govern? Without government control, out in a privatized state, basically, there have to be some mechanisms. Then, the marketing aspect and the business plan, the promotion, the return back to government, how is that going to be done under the one board?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am talking about clause 1 of the bill, which says: "Paragraph 2(d) of the Liquor Control Act...", and so on. I say to the minister, from the Explanatory Notes, `Clause 1 of this Bill would amend the definition of "board"....' The board will be defined in the Liquor Control Act to reflect the creation of a single board to administer both the Liquor Control Act and the Liquor Corporation Act. Now, we are going to have the same board. And he was asking which section I was referring to.

The point I am making is: Does the minister have a concern that in a privatized corporation, the board that would be responsible for marketing - I think the Minister of Government Services and Lands, with whom I have been speaking, he was asking the question there and has been following.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know.

MR. TULK: Oh, he was asking you (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Maybe he will discuss it with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. The same board responsible now to market the product, to push the sales of the product, to get it out in the public to try to increase sales as much as possible, get a return - that is the job of marketing a product - is the same board now that is going to put the clamps on operating hours, on licenses, inspections, and those specific areas. Is there a potential conflict in the operations there, and how does government intend to deal with those specific areas?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) regulation (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) by regulation (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, then, you would deal with regulation, but regulations certainly follow from the enactment here. But still the regulations are being governed under one specific act or board as dealing with it in a private setting. What happens if it is privatized and out in the private domain, the public? How can government get its teeth and claws into regulation? Would it set up sort of a Crown agency then, I ask the minister, that is going to have a degree of control over that? Would they have an agency to deal with that?

These are just some of the potential concerns, not necessarily ones that would be evident under the current structure, but they are concerns where, when you move it away from government control, there are certain public interests that would need to be served. I think we need to ensure that is addressed. Maybe the minister has plans and mechanisms to deal with that, but I feel it sufficient to air those particular points here and to hopefully, during the course of the bill, have them addressed in some manner.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

On motion, clauses 1 through 12, carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Bill No. 39, entitled, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act".

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

With respect to Bill No. 39, An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act, I wish to propose amendments. I can give copies to the Clerk. I have two amendments here.

Mr. Chairman, I have provided copies to the hon. the minister and the Government House Leader. Basically, what these amendments do, is they set up a regime for both Acts, both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act. It obviously amends both section 1 which deals with the Freedom of Information Act and section 2 which deals with the Privacy Act. Both are worded almost identically, so I will not repeat the two, but I wish to review one in some detail by simply indicating as follows:

The Freedom of Information Act is amended by adding immediately after section 10 the following section:

Section 10.1(1) will now become: "The Minister of Justice shall appoint three members of the public who together shall constitute a committee, and

(a) this committee shall be the same as a committee convened under the Privacy Act to consider the release of information regarding the criminal history of an individual."

Subsection (b), Mr. Chairman: "This committee shall convene from time to time as directed by the minister."

Subsection (c): "A committee member shall be bound by an oath or affirmation not to reveal any action or negligence to any person or group, any part or the whole of the contents of the information that is the prescribed subject matter for the deliberations of the committee, except to provide a report referred to in subsection 3 to the minister."

Under subsection (d): "A committee member shall ensure any notes on the deliberations on a matter are destroyed in a secure manner forthwith upon the completion of those deliberations."

Subsection 2 in the amendment: Where,

(a) "a person referred to in section 4 requests in writing of the appropriate minister the release of information regarding the criminal history of an individual;" or (b) "the request referred to in (a):

(i) identifies to the exclusion of all others the individual regarding whom the information is being sought,

(ii) states the nature of the criminal activity regarding which the information is being sought, and

(iii) states the reason or reasons that, in the opinion of the person making the request, it is in the public interest to disclose to the public the information being requested;

(c) the criminal activity stated in the request is of a nature that, in the opinion of the minister, it is in the public interest to disclose, and disclosing such information is consistent with the intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol."

I say to members opposite, Mr. Chairman, that is the basis of the amendment, that there is consistency with the High Risk Offender Information Protocol.

And (d) "the information is not currently at the disposal of the public after having been disclosed by the minister under subsection (5),

the minister shall obtain by secure means the requested criminal history and shall cause to be convened a meeting of the committee referred to in subsection (1) and shall provide to the committee by secure means copies of the request and the criminal history."

Subsection (3) states: "The committee, after being called together and provided with a request and a criminal history referred to in subsection 2 by the minister,

(a) shall meet in a secure place to review and discuss the contents of the request and the criminal history, the copies of which shall be secured at all times between deliberations and after the last deliberation returned to the minister;"

Subsection (b): shall be bound in the deliberations and decision by the terms and intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol;"

And (c): "shall decide by majority vote whether it is reasonable to conclude, based on the criminal history, that the individual poses a danger to the public and whether to release to the public any or all of the criminal history of the individual is consistent with the release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol; and the decisions of the committee on these matters shall be binding on the actions of the minister in this regard;"

Under section (d) in the amendment: "shall, after having made a decision, provide forthwith by secure means to the minister

(i) the request and the criminal history provided by the minister to the committee, and

(ii) the details of the criminal history that shall be released to the public."

Under subsection 4: "Forthwith after receiving a decision of the committee on a matter and at least two days prior to the release of any information by a minister regarding the criminal history of an individual and forthwith after the minister receives the report of the decision of the committee on this matter, the minister shall inform or shall make every reasonable effort to inform that individual of the nature of the information regarding that individual that shall be released and the date on which the information shall be released."

Section 5: "The minister shall release all of and only that information that the committee provides to the minister for release, and shall distribute that information in a reasonable manner, and the information so released shall be considered public information."

Subsection 6: "A minister shall not release information under this Act regarding the criminal history of an individual except where the conditions of this section are satisfied and except where the release of this information is consistent with the terms and intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol."

We see here, Mr. Chairman, an attempt in this legislation being consistent with the federal legislation which, of course, is the intent of this provincial legislation to begin with. But what is important here, under subsection (7): "Subsection 10(1) does not apply in respect of the release of information under section 10.1."

Section 8: "The Minister shall, subject to the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, fix the fees to be paid to the members of each board."

Subsection 9: "Where the terms of this Act are satisfied, no action lies against the minister or a member of the committee or the committee as a whole as a result of

(a) the provision by the minister to the committee of information,

(b) the deliberations of the committee,

(c) the decision of the committee,

(d) the report of the committee, or

(e) the disclosure of information regarding the criminal history of an individual that follows upon the release of information by the minister.

Mr. Chairman, that is subsection 1, and it deals specifically with an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act. Subsection 2 is the specific reference to the Privacy Act, and is essentially the same wording as what was read earlier with respect to the Freedom of Information Act.

The purpose of this amendment, Mr. Chairman, is to take all of the decision-making power, all of the authority, all of the discretion, from the minister. It sets up an independent committee which can deal with these features with respect to the release of names of individuals being consistent with and in accordance with the release of the High Risk Offender Information Protocol, the information which was released some while ago by the Minister of Justice.

I would ask that these amendments be given due consideration. I understand that my colleague, the Member for Waterford Valley, is going to speak to this amendment, as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just had some comments pertaining to this and my colleague just went thorough the Freedom Of Information Act amendment and also the amendment to the Privacy Act. They are parallel amendments and they have a great degree of merit, I say, Mr. Chairman, because they are taking decisions, basically, from the minister and putting them with three members of the public who form a committee. I think it is important that this three-member committee would be able to take a look at the release of this information regarding the criminal history of an individual. It is very important, Mr. Chairman, and a very serious matter as that information can be very confidential. Great discretion should be used in putting this out in the public forum. Of course, the minister would have the authority to convene this committee from time to time at the minister's discretion, to ensure that information can be duly looked at by an independent committee where they could then make a decision, rather than the minister being empowered to make such a decision.

The members of the committee in this responsible position, of course, would be bound by an oath or an affirmation not to reveal by action or negligence, any of the contents that that member has been privy to in reaching a decision. I think it is important to ensure that somebody other than the minister would have an opportunity to assess this information. It gives it sort of an independent aspect, still called at the convenience of the minister. In subsection 10.1(1) subsection (d), it says: the member "shall ensure any notes on the deliberations on a matter are destroyed in a secure manner forthwith upon the completion of those deliberations." Because, when decisions are made, it is important that this information that was privy to that committee should stay in the committee and should be destroyed forthwith when a decision is rendered.

If the committee should at such time again have to deal with other individuals, they would be disposed in similar manner to see that all steps are taken to ensure that the privacy of individuals is adhered to. It is important that all the information is requested - this is part of subsection 2 - whereas the person referred to in section 4, request in writing, the appropriate minister, the release of information regarding the history, the request referred to must identify to the exclusion of all others, the individual, regarding whom the information is being sought, the nature of the activity that is being sought, of course, in rendering its decision and the reason or reasons that, in the opinion of the person who makes that request, it is in the public interest to disclose information being requested. It is not every instance that is important, that information be disclosed to the public and confidential information - I think it is something that should be looked at in a committee because many decisions and particular aspects of government are referred to a committee.

In fact, there is a police complaints commission set up to look at specific complaints not just to be determined by the minister or by the Chief of Police or by other committees, but by somebody who is independent and can assess these. In this case, we do have in the police complaints commissioner, an independent person who could render that. This committee, which would function similarly, basically a three person committee, would be assembled when the need arises to deal with this specific request. It is not something that should be just left to the whim of a minister. We think it is very, very important and it should be carefully weighed with as much discussion and thought as possible in rendering a decision. It is consistent with the intent of the release, it says, of High Risk Offender Information Protocol, and this cannot be at the disposal of the public after having been disclosed by the minister under Subsection 5.

Mr. Chairman, it is very important that utmost care be used in releasing because somebody's reputation and the right as an individual to be able to pursue a livelihood after a period of time or when they have served a particular period of time, whether it be incarceration or whatever, for a particular offence. There is such a thing as rehabilitation and the right of individuals not to release to the public such information. There are occasions, too, where the release of this information is important and that is why the minister should not, at his whim or disposal, be able to make decisions. I know the minister may have advice within his or her department, but it is important, I think, that a committee be out there that would look in great detail at the repercussions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct, he does, but when you have three people out there in the community in the court of public opinion - well, if we look at how the Police Complaints Commission works, I mean, that is effective, that has an arm's length process, and that enables decisions to be made on complaints. We can still have one made here on the release of information. When we talk about arm's length we have seen examples with the Minister of Health and how in parallel situations we have had head-first involvement and then we had arm's length when dealing with one board. We have seen ministers in one board being head-first, and then in others they are at arm's length.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: When it is convenient for a minister to do so, but at least a committee that is appointed, that is taken from the public out there, and can weigh the pros and cons of releasing information that is very important to ensure the integrity of the system and the individual, and important, too, I say to the minister, very important, to protect the public. And if they are going to be advantaged by the release of information - information that is confidential - sometimes it is in the public interest to release that information. At other times it is important to weigh the information, and sometimes it is not in the best interest of the individual and is not going to, in ways, unduly put the public at any risk. Then there has to be great discretion used, because we do not want to see cases where the public are put at risk. So we have a responsibility to look at it in a very non-partisan manner to ensure that these particular rights are preserved and there is an opportunity to do so.

My colleague, the Member for St. John's East, opposed these amendments to the Freedom of Information Act And The Privacy Act. It is a very good amendment and it does not in any way change. It does not in any way take away from the intent of this legislation. In fact, it strengthens this legislation, I say to my colleague. It does not take from it, it does not detract. In fact it would build extra public confidence out there and put extra teeth in this legislation by enabling a committee to exercise this.

If it were something that was going to deviate from the intent of this Act it would be something different, but these amendments are directly in line with the intent of the legislation, and amendments that I think are important and that members of this House should seriously look at supporting because they are only going to ensure that there is a greater discretion used by a committee over which the minister has control of the time and placement.

The Minister of Education must have the most head nods, I would say, in this House in its history. He does about 150 a day. When he nods this way I assume he has gone to sleep but he is still going lateral. He is still nodding laterally, so he is still alert and listening. When he gets into a vertical nod I will sit down, I say to the minister, and conclude my remarks. While he is still smiling he must be really enjoying it. I assume that you are going to support this proposed legislation.

I am sure the Minister of Justice would support anything that would add public credibility to decision-making, something that goes a little bit deeper than the minister went in his legislation, to give certain rights to a committee to make decisions that are, after all - amendments by my colleague, the critic for Justice - going to ensure that the best interests of the public are protected, and also the individuals, and the right of that particular person to have someone use the utmost discretion in determining whether information should be revealed to the public.

That is a very serious issue, that you can never go to extreme limits to use good judgement. Sometimes by giving a minister powers to do something - many times I have seen ministers use their discretion that has not been very good discretion and judgement. We do not have to go too far -

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is an agreement here that we would limit the debate at this stage to ten minutes. The hon. member can speak as many times as he wishes but there must be an intervening speaker, and your ten minutes are up.

MR. SULLIVAN: With leave for a minute, maybe I will not get up anymore.

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, someone else is waiting to speak, so I will sit down, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Chairman, I thank hon. members for the time they put into considering this amendment.

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

This is Committee stage and -

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible) you do not close debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Of course, you do not close debate.

CHAIR: That happens in second reading only, I point out to the hon. member.

MR. DECKER: Will someone take the hon. the Opposition House Leader outside and teach him the rules of the House, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: I recognize the sincerity of hon. members opposite who put forward this amendment; however, the reason we are amending these Acts has to do with releasing information when high-risk offenders are being released from prison. What this amendment would do is put in place a very complicated, convoluted system which would delay getting information to the committee.

If I could just explain to members what happens: the word comes down that John Doe is about to be released from prison and there is a good chance that John Doe will re-offend. Now, there is no time to waste. We have to have a system where we can move quickly. We have put the protocol committee in place which is given the information that John Doe is being released, and given the information of what John Doe has done, and then the committee decides whether or not to make this information available to the public.

If we were to accept this amendment, we would have to put another committee in place, Mr. Chairman, and then there is, I think, a two-day waiting period for the committee to report back to the minister and so on and so forth. By that time, the high-risk offender could be out and there could be another victim. So, you know, notwithstanding the fact that I recognize the sincerity of members opposite, it is just not practical for us at this time to accept this amendment; therefore, I will be asking my colleagues to vote against it.

However, I will tell hon. members opposite that over the winter, I will review some of the things they have put forward and we will consider it, but in the meantime, we do not have time to waste, Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: You could be gone then.

MR. DECKER: If I am gone then, Mr. Chairman, my successor will do it. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. FITZGERALD: `Decker', you will be driving the big, white limousine, retired after this.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

First of all, I want to compliment my colleague, the Member for St. John's East on his research and his knowledge of these matters. The Minister of Justice, when someone gets a chance to read it to him - he has admitted that he does not have time to read it now, and it will take him a couple months to read it, and then, of course, he will have to get someone else to explain it to him. Our problem is that we have no guarantee the Minister of Justice is even going to be here when the next session opens. All kinds of rumours abound that the Minister of Justice may be - or there might be a new Minister of Justice by that time.

Mr. Chairman, what the amendment basically says is that we believe the issue of the release of information is so important that the minister should consult with three members of the public who shall form a committee. We are not talking about people who are untrained in these matters, we are talking about people who have extensive knowledge of the legal system and who have the proper background to be able to render decisions relative to the release of information on any particular person.

Mr. Chairman, the general thrust of this amendment put forward to the government, I do believe finds support in the population and it is certainly, you know, the correct thing to do because none of us want to run the risk of having our young people, or anybody for that matter, particularly our young people, potentially exposed to risks that we can prevent. Therefore, knowledge within the community is essential if we are going to ensure that people who have a tendency to, shall we say, be involved in violent crime - yes, they have a right to be released to society if they have served their time, and all prisoners do get out of prison unless they happen to be criminally insane or whatever. Consequently, what we are doing is trying to have a system in place which gives both the people in the community and the prisoner, shall we say, respectful rights of each other. Therefore, this particular amendment would assure that there would not be any arbitrary decisions on the part of the minister, we would have the community at large to be participants in the decision-making.

I accept the fact that the Minister of Justice said that he is going to look at these matters. I know that he has to consult with the legal people within his department and the people who would write the legislation for the government. That is to be expected. We do not put forward these amendments, and, in particular, this amendment, you know, in haste. There has been a great deal of thought and some consultation has occurred, and we are certainly saying that we believe we could have a little different approach that would not take away from the substance of the government's initiative but would again, leave the decision-making not so much exclusively with the minister but would allow for more of a collective decision by people within the community. That is the intent and, of course, as the member has said, it would apply to both the Freedom of Information Act And The Privacy Act.

We commend this information to the minister and ask him, if he cannot support it today, whether he would take it under advisement and then, potentially, if there is some way, you might want to come back for amendments later on after giving it consideration. We would ask members again today, when the vote is called, if they will support the amendment put forward by my colleague. Again, we will be understanding, given the nature of how amendments are put forward in the House, to the position that is taken by the hon. the Minister of Justice.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we have one more speaker from this side, so I will yield to my colleague if he wishes to make a further comment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I stand to support the amendment put forward by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East. Certainly, his background, not only as a lawyer, certainly brings added credibility and weight to what the member has asked for. The minister's explanation frankly does not - that over the next little while, maybe over Christmas, he will have his officials have a look at it and report back. There are some legitimate concerns that have been raised by the member. I do not think the minister has answered them correctly.

The Freedom Of Information Act, the proposed amendment, for example, just to read it for the record, as is done: that "The Minister of Justice shall appoint three members of the public who together shall constitute a committee...' It goes on, Mr. Chairman, to say: 10.1(1)(a) "this committee shall be the same as a committee convened under the Privacy Act to consider the release of information regarding the criminal history of an individual," - a very legitimate amendment, I would suggest to government and to the Minister of Justice. There does not seem to be anything wrong with that. The minister can, at any time, if accepting this amendment, could appoint a committee of his choosing that would deal at arm's length with such information.

It goes on to say, (b) "this committee shall convene from time to time as directed by the minister," so the minister will direct the committee. There may be a number of requests before the committee for the release of information. The committee, at the discretion of the minister, will be called to deal with matters that the minister sets forth. So the minister is in control certainly of when the committee meets, who sits on the committee but not necessarily deciding what information will or will not be released. It is a very detailed amendment. It goes on to say, (c) "a committee member shall be bound by an oath or affirmation not to reveal by action or negligence to any person or group any part or the whole of the contents of the information that is prescribed subject matter for the deliberations of the committee, except to provide a report referred to in subsection (3) to the minister." (d) " a committee member shall ensure any notes on the deliberations on a matter are destroyed in a secure manner forthwith upon the completion of those deliberations." That can be done right with the minister. It can be done right after the committee deliberates, because what we are talking about, Mr. Chairman, is the freedom of information and what we are allowed to have access to or not to have access to.

The amendment goes on to say, Mr. Chairman - and it is very detailed again, but it is important that we reiterate it, discuss it further - it goes on to say that (2) "Where," (a) "a person referred to in section (4) requests in writing of the appropriate minister the release of information regarding the criminal history of an individual, the request referred to in (a) identifies to the exclusion of all others the individual regarding whom the information is being sought.

I would suggest to my colleagues in the House that would be, I guess, a basic principle upon which the law refers in this matter and something that would be absolutely required. It states the nature of the criminal activity regarding which the information is being sought. It states the reason or reasons that, in the opinion of the person making the request, it is in the public interest to disclose to the public the information being requested.

There have been times, Mr. Chairman, certainly within the last several months -

MR. EFFORD: The Chairman is not even listening.

MR. E. BYRNE: Neither is the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: You have that right.

MR. E. BYRNE: And the Member for Kilbride really does not care if the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is listening or not, or if the Chairman is listening or not. I have a few minutes to say a few words and I will continue to say them.

As I was going to say, Mr. Chairman, there have been many occasions, not many, but certainly some more high-profile situations, where information was not released possibly that should have been released, or information was released that should not have been released to the public. Many communities have been affected by certainly criminal activity, all communities, by criminals coming back in, and that maybe information on re-entry of some people should have been outlined in a more detailed fashion to the community.

It goes on to say: The minister shall obtain by secure means the requested criminal history, and shall cause to be convened a meeting of the committee referred to in subsection (1) and shall provide to the committee by secure means copies of the requested criminal history. That is pretty standard. The committee, after being called together and provided with a request and a criminal history referred to in subsection (2) by the minister - and this is very important - (a) shall meet in a secure place - fair enough - shall be bound in their deliberations and decision by the terms and intent of the release of high-risk offender information protocol.

It goes on to say: The committee shall decide by majority vote whether it is reasonable to conclude, based on the criminal history, that the individual poses a danger to the public, and whether the release to the public of any or all of the criminal history of the individual is consistent with the release of high-risk offender information protocol, and the decisions of the committee on these matters shall be binding on the actions of the minister and in this regard shall, after having made the decision, provide forthwith by secure means to the minister.

This is where this amendment makes sense, that it removes from the minister the actual decision-making process relating to this. It removes from the minister, and ultimately through government, any notion, whether perceived or real, of political tampering. It sets out clearly for a committee to decide. The minister has the obligation and the right to appoint; the minister has the obligation and the right to call the meetings, when they will occur, but the minister and government will be bound by the decisions of this committee.

It is a very common-sense approach, a very realistic approach and, I would say to the government, a very inclusive approach, because the minister and government have an opportunity to bring forward people from the community who have experience, tangible experience - not political experience but tangible experience - relating to this matter. It could be individuals from the John Howard Society, I would suggest. It could be a respected member from the Bar. It could be a respected member from rehabilitative services. But the reality is that it sets in motion a process by which government has to, and the minister in particular, live by the decisions set forth by that committee.

Mr. Chairman, I contend that the minister's response is really nothing more than saying: We will have a look at it. The reality is we can move this amendment now, the House can pass it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Go ahead. What one are you referring to?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: In terms of it being too rushed?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, let's compare apples (audible) -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Good point. If we were comparing apples to apples. I mean, this is - we moved, yes, to some extent.

Mr. Chairman, I believe that the amendment put forward has been put forward by somebody with credibility, somebody who has a tremendous legal experience, and somebody who has given some thought to this, somebody who in a profession has dealt with this on a day-to-day basis. I would suggest that the amendment is more than reasonable.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will sit down. Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to add a few words to Bill No. 39, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act."

Here again we are seeing the situation whereby there is an amendment brought forward, and the Government House Leader seems like he is afraid to entertain an amendment because he might find himself back here again saying that the amendment that was brought forward is wrong or it isn't written in legislative terms or whatever. It makes you wonder why we go through this process by sitting here in the House and rushing a piece of legislation through. You see amendments brought forward, good amendments from reputable people. We aren't talking about some layman who wrote up a resolution to a legal bill. We are seeing an amendment brought forward by somebody who is quite familiar with the legalities of bringing forward amendments. In fact, probably much more familiar than the minister who introduced it.

The Government House Leader seems to be reluctant to entertain it in case, Mr. Chairman, we find ourselves back here having to make changes again. I say that isn't the way it should be. If there is a piece of legislation brought forward in this House, and if there is an amendment to be brought forward, and if it makes more sense than the bill the way it is presented here, then why shouldn't we entertain an amendment?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a week ago (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: Because it wasn't called, Mr. Chairman. This is the process that we go through. We come here 2:00 in the afternoon and sometimes we know what is being called, and other times we don't. We don't decide on the operation of this House, I say to members opposite. Members opposite decide the operation of the House, members opposite decide what pieces of legislation are going to be introduced, how it is going to be introduced, what the debate is going to be, and when the House closes. This is all done by members opposite. When we bring forward an amendment to a piece of legislation, then it seems that the whole thing is stifled for the simple reason that we don't have time to deal with it. I'm not so sure that is the way this Legislature should work.

The bill, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act," is amended by adding immediately after section 12 the following section: That the Minister of Justice shall appoint three members of the public who together shall constitute a committee. Mr. Chairman, what the Member for St. John's East is asking for here, what his suggestion is, is that we not put all the powers of deciding what information is to be released and what information is to be made available only with the Minister of Justice.

What he is saying is that the Minister of Justice should put forward a committee. The committee should be the same as a committee convened under the Freedom Of Information Act, to consider the release of information regarding the criminal history of an individual. Mr. Chairman, those three people can be appointed by the Minister of Justice. It is a situation whereby three reputable people will be making a decision on what information is released regarding a person who is released from incarceration into the community, and the people in the community deserve to know exactly that. What they are doing, Mr. Chairman, is taking some of the power I suppose away from the minister again, and putting it into the hands of a committee; and I don't think that is too much to ask.

This is being put forward, Mr. Chairman, because we have some concerns that this power will be bestowed on some of the members opposite, especially the ministers opposite.

This committee shall convene from time to time as directed by the minister. Here again, the minister is in control. He will decide when the committee is convened and he will decide the times that they meet, which is the way that it should be. That is exactly what we are suggesting, that is what the amendment states, that is what we are saying, and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture agrees with it as he shouts across the House.

A committee member shall be bound by an oath, by affirmation not to reveal, by action or negligence, to any person or group, any part or the whole of the contents of the information that is prescribed subject matter for the deliberations of the committee, except to provide a report referred to in subsection 3 to the minister, and a committee member shall insure any notes on the deliberations on a matter described in a source manner forthwith upon the completion of those deliberations.

Mr. Chairman, maybe it is the situation that this particular amendment is probably twenty times longer than the bill. Maybe, that is why the Government House Leader decides that it is too much to deal with at this particular time. It might be too cumbersome to deal with at twelve o'clock at night. Mr. Chairman, as I said, it is not our wish to be sitting here at this time but it is our responsibility to bring forward an amendment such as this because we think that it makes sense.

Where, in the opinion of the Minister of Justice, the disclosure of information regarding the criminal history of an individual is in the public interest, the minister shall make in writing a request for the release of information. Not too much to ask for, Mr. Chairman. If there is a good committee in place, then what is wrong with the minister, if he needs information, to request that information by writing? The request referred to in (a) shall: 1, Identify to the exclusion of all others, the individual regarding whom the information is being sought, state the nature of the criminal activity regarding which the information is being sought; and 3, state the reason or reasons, that in the opinion of the minister, if it is in the public's interest to disclose to the public the information being requested and explain how disclosing such information is consistent with the intent of the release of high-risk offender information protocol.

The minister shall obtain by secure means the requested criminal history and shall cause to be convened a meeting of the committee referred to in subsection 1, and shall provide to the committee by secure means copies of the request and a criminal history. The committee, after being called together and provided with the request and the criminal history referred to in subsection 2 by the minister - 3(a) clearly states - shall meet in a secure place to review and discuss the contents of the request and the criminal history. Copies of which shall be secured at all times between deliberations and after the last deliberation returned to the minister. Mr. Chairman, once again all the information that is obtained by the committee will go back to the minister and be at the minister's disposal.

Mr. Chairman, 3(b): shall be bound in their deliberations and decisions by the terms and intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol.

Subsection 3(c), Mr. Chairman: shall decide by majority vote whether it is reasonable to conclude, based on the criminal history, that the individual poses a danger to the public and whether to release to the public any or all of the criminal history of the individual is consistent with the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol; and the decisions of the committee on these matters shall be binding on the actions of the minister in this regard.

Mr. Chairman, 3(d): shall, after having made a decision, provide forthwith by secure means to the minister (i) the request and the criminal history provided by the minister to the committee, and (ii) the details of the criminal history that shall be released to the public.

Mr. Chairman, this committee will certainly worked through the direction of the Minister of Justice, but what it will do will be include three individuals who will be putting forward those suggestions, putting forward the information, making the information available to the people in the community, whatever they deem fit rather than just what the Minister of Justice wants them to hear or what he decides to put forward.

Mr. Chairman, (4): Forthwith after receiving a decision of the committee on a matter and at least two days prior to the release of any information by a minister regarding the criminal history of an individual and forthwith after the minister receives the report of the decision of the committee on this matter, the minister shall inform or shall make every reasonable effort to inform that individual of the nature of the information regarding that individual that shall be released and the date on which the information shall be released.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, I am certainly pleased to stand in my place again tonight to support the amendment put forward by the Member for St. John's East. The strange thing about Bill 39 - well it is not really strange at all, I would say. It is commonplace now in this Legislature, in this sitting of the House, that we give more authority to the minister. We saw it given to the Minister of Fisheries.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It used to be. Actually, I could tell you a good story about that. My hair used to be as white as the driven snow, but I can't tell you about it because you will only make fun and it is a very serious story.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have it dyed, Jack? Do you dye it?

MR. J. BYRNE: Dye it? I don't dye it.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment that has been put forward by the Member for St. John's East, as I said earlier. The minister is trying to get more authority in this bill, Bill 39, just as the Minister of Fisheries tried to get more authority in the Fish Inspection Act, just as the Minister of Government, Services and Lands is trying to get more authority. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is at it again. I have to say this, I was trying not to say it, I was trying to keep it back and not say it, but I have to say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture: You know something, if he woke up this morning and he had two clues, the people of the Province would realize that he had doubled his intelligence overnight; doubled his intelligence overnight, with two clues.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture can count to ten? You are doing a good job. You can count to ten.

MR. EFFORD: Backwards.

MR. E. BYRNE: And he can manage it backwards, I say, Minister.

Mr. Chairman, Bill No. 39 tries to do a number of things. The Member for St. John's East is trying to address some of the authority that has been given to the minister. Of course, one of the things that the bill does is allow someone to make a freedom of information request for information on a criminal history of any person. Anybody can go in and ask for the freedom of information and look for information on the criminal history of any given individual. Presumably, upon the request the minister or designate would review the criminal history documents and form an opinion about the merits of releasing it. Can you imagine, Mr. Chairman, one individual having the authority to do that?

The amendment that was being put forward by the Member for St. John's East certainly addresses that. The member is proposing that government appoint a committee, I think it is a three-member committee, to address that, to look at the request, to study the request of the individual or groups who are looking for the criminal history of an individual.

The three-member committee - of course, three minds are better than one. Certainly, Mr. Chairman, when we speak of certain ministers, I suppose - and we never know who is going to be the minister. The present minister may very well be capable of deciding if the information should be released, to review the information, to look at the individuals who are requesting the information, and to make a decision if it should or should not be released. That doesn't necessarily mean to say that any future minister may be of the same type or of the same stature, whatever the case may be. The Member for St. John's East is trying to address that concern.

Mr. Chairman, something else that this bill is trying to do is allow the minister and any and all of his or her designates to have access to the criminal histories of individuals. Not a very good idea, I don't think. Why should the Minister of Justice have the authority to look at anybody's file, say, without a proper review by a proper committee?

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is right, I say to the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is like this, I say to the Government House Leader, he is wondering if I work at an airport, or if I've ever worked at an airport. Mr. Chairman, on a night like tonight, when we are sitting at 11:46 in the evening discussing legislation that should have been brought forth back in October, when there would have been lots of time given to all members of the House to properly discuss the matters that are being put forward, rather than being rammed and forced and pushed through the House of Assembly at 11:46 p.m., a few days before Christmas Eve, the minister is talking about me working elsewhere. Maybe sometimes I would like to work elsewhere, but I'm doing the job that I'm here to do.

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What is the Minister of Government Services and Lands' problem?

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible) in your hands.

MR. J. BYRNE: In my hands? Copious notes. I thank God for copious notes, Mr. Chairman.

The bill that is being put forward in this House, Bill 39, puts no limitations on the searches for criminal history information. Therefore, the minister and his designate can go and look for the criminal history of any individual. The question which begs to be answered is: Why would the minister want it? Now, often times it could be quite legitimate and he should have access to it, Mr. Chairman, but it should have to go before a committee first, as the Member for St. John's East proposes. We may have an individual looking for this information for negative reasons, to put it bluntly. He may be wanting the information to use against an individual. I do not think that one individual, such as the minister or his designate, should have the authority to do that.

Mr. Chairman, this bill puts no limits on the release of criminal history information other than if, in the opinion of the minister or his or her designate, it is in the public interest to disclose it. So, we have here again a person within the Department of Justice, and it may not even be within the Department of Justice, the minister or his designate, who may say it is okay to release such information. Again, the amendment that is being put forward by the Member for St. John's East certainly addresses that concern with respect to putting a three member committee in place.

Also, Mr. Chairman, this bill, Bill 39, puts no limits on the kinds of criminal history and information a minister or designate can release. So in actual fact the information that could be released, or in the opinion of the minister or his or her designate should be released, there is no limit on it. There is no limit to the type of information that can be released.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: A great way to get attention in the House of Assembly is to just stop talking then everybody listens. I will just stand for ten minutes and let everybody listen.

Mr. Chairman, as I said earlier, the bill puts no limits on how - here is a very good point - the criminal history of information is released. An individual can request the information on the criminal history of any individual and you might see it plastered on the internet, you might see it plastered on the television, you might see it on posters, anywhere, Mr. Chairman. You might see it on a poster in a town hall somewhere. So again the amendment of the Member for St. John's East will address that.

The Minister of Justice says that maybe we could review this. Let us have it and we will look at it over the Winter months and come back in the Spring session and address it. I heard that before. I heard it here, I think, twice tonight, the same reply to an amendment: Well, we will look at it over the Winter months. Of course, the reason why we get that answer is to speed up the passage of this legislation, so that we will not have to deal with the amendment and admit, I suppose, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment that is being put forward is a good amendment, a legitimate amendment, a logical amendment, and it makes sense. It certainly makes sense when you get people on this side of the House standing up and speaking to it.

Another point that the bill addresses, Mr. Chairman -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

CHAIR: The hon. member does not have leave.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have two amendments on Bill No. 39, Mr. Chairman, that I would like to submit. To move the following: that Clause 1 of Bill 39, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And the Privacy Act," which is now before the House be amended by adding in Paragraph 10(2)(f) immediately after the word "disclose" the words - and I open the quotation - "however a minister shall not release information regarding the criminal history of an individual except where the release of this information is consistent with the terms and the intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol."

Mr. Chairman, what this amendment does is make sure that the provincial legislation is consistent with the federal legislation with respect to the high risk offender information protocol. That is the purpose of this legislation.

When this bill was introduced, Mr. Chairman, by the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General some while ago, it was being done to allow provincial legislation to run concurrent with federal legislation. So all this amendment is saying is that it be consistent with the terms and the intent of the release of high risk offender information protocol.

Clause 2 of Bill 39, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act", which is now before the House, be amended by renumbering section 13 as subsection 13(1) and adding immediately thereafter the following subsection: "(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a minister shall not release information regarding the criminal history of an individual except where the release of this information is consistent with the terms and intent of the release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol."

So this section essentially accomplishes the same thing, Mr. Chairman. It ensures that information being released be consistent with the federal legislation concerning the release of information and the identity of high-risk offenders.

Mr. Chairman, it is important that the identity of individuals and that civil rights and civil liberties protection be uppermost in the minds of government and government officials, through the minister and the minister's office, at all times.

The first amendment that is being submitted puts in place a committee which is independent, which acts outside of the power of the minister. What these amendments do is ensure that any information be consistent with the protocol which was outlined earlier by the Minister of Justice. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that these amendments be given due consideration.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Shall the amendment to clause 1 carry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Before I recognize the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, my understanding is that we are debating an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act. There are two amendments. Is it the intent that the amendment be voted on first, and then if that is defeated that the second one - we need some clarification at the Chair.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, when the first amendment is passed, the second one becomes redundant.

CHAIR: Okay.

MR. SULLIVAN: In the unfortunate incident that number one is not passed, number two then would be the one that -

CHAIR: We have two amendments on the go right now.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

I would like, if I could -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is trying to -

MR. TULK: I am on a point of order on the amendments.

CHAIR: I am not talking about the hon. member; I am talking about his colleagues.

I said, "Order, please!" to your hon. colleagues, not to you.

MR. TULK: As I understood it, he just moved another amendment.

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Yes, that is what I am saying. You are on a point of order, but I am asking your hon. members to be quiet so I can hear what the hon. member is saying.

MR. TULK: Oh, this crowd?

CHAIR: Yes.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order. I understand that we -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. TULK: I'm having problems keeping track of the amendments here.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have that much paper on the go, it is wonder you can see it.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

Can we hear what the hon. Government House Leader has to say.

MR. TULK: There was a four-page amendment that was proposed to a bill that was two paragraphs long. Now I understand we have a couple of more here somewhere, another amendment here somewhere. Are we saying if we defeat this one, the first one, that the second one then comes into play, or are we saying that if we pass the first one the second one is redundant? A redundant amendment?

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The purpose of the -

CHAIR: On the point of order?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes. Just to respond to the hon. Government House Leader. The first two amendments, if in fact the amendments are defeated, we would then go to the second two amendments. If the first two amendments are accepted, the second two amendments are withdrawn; as simple as that.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, if I could, to that point of order?

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I would suggest to the Chair - and I think I'm correct - that before we can entertain the second one, if that is the case, then we will have to defeat or pass, whatever we are going to do as a Legislature, the first one. The hon. gentleman has already proposed a second one. How do you know what the House is going to do?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair just wants to clarify. The Chair interrupted the hon. Member for St. John's East because the Chair wanted to clarify the intent of the amendments, and the Chair would like to see that we would dispose of the first amendment before we debate the second amendment. As the night draws on it is going to be much more difficult to keep these things clear, and the Chair has to keep it clear in terms of what we are doing here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

I think we should vote on this first amendment and then we can go on and debate the second amendment. Or if the first amendment is passed, of course we will pass the clause of the bill and move on.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Chairman. The -

MR. SHELLEY: We can't help it if they can't keep up with us.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member for Baie Verte - I would like to hear what the Opposition House Leader has to say.

MR. H. HODDER: If I could, what I would propose would be that we would move to the amendment, have the vote, and then we will see what the House decides. Then, when you call clause 1 again for approval, the Member for St. John's East can then stand in his place and move a further amendment if that is necessary. I think that was what was generally discussed with the Chair a few moments ago when the Member for Lewisporte was in the Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, may I make a suggestion? We have agreed to break at 12:00 or 12:30 p.m. Perhaps the Chair would like, during the recess period, to go out and then come back and give us some clear direction as to what we should do?

CHAIR: The Chair is clear what he wants to do right now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: The truth of the matter is, that you now have in front of you two amendments that have been moved.

CHAIR: Yes.

MR. TULK: They have been moved. One, I say to you, is out of order because the first amendment has not been dealt with.

CHAIR: That is what the Chair is interrupting about.

MR. TULK: So it is out of order.

CHAIR: The Chair is clear and wants to vote on the first amendments.

MR. TULK: Is the first one out of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. TULK: Is the second one out of order?

CHAIR: No, the second one is not out of order but will get rid of the first one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is not prepared to argue the points with hon. members.

All those in favour of the amendment to clause 1, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Amendment to clause 2.

All those in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendments defeated.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East will propose his amendments.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I have to say to you that we just defeated two amendments?

CHAIR: Yes.

MR. TULK: Go on, Mr. Chairman, go on.

CHAIR: Order, please!

As has been directed by the Government House Leader, the agreement was that we break at 12:00 midnight now that the Chair is clear.

Recess

CHAIR: Order, please!

Clause 1.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just continuing on with the second pair, I guess, of amendments with respect -

MR. GRIMES: One at a time. Don't confuse us.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: There are two pairs, I say to the Minister of Education, and that is why there is confusion. There are two amendments to section one -

AN HON. MEMBER: The first pair was defeated.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: That is right, they are gone. Now we are dealing with the second pair, I say to the minister, Mr. Chairman.

Again the wording is identical because we are dealing with two different acts. We are dealing with the Freedom of Information Act and we are dealing with the Privacy Act: "Notwithstanding subsection (1), a minister shall not release information regarding the criminal history of an individual except where the release of this information is consistent with the terms and intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol."

Mr. Chairman, I've already discussed the relevance of these amendments and why these amendments are being put forward. Again, just for clarification, being put forward to allow any release of information or any release of a person's identity to be consistent with the federal regulation with respect to the release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, we again want to draw the attention of the hon. House to the amendments put forward by my colleague. Again, the intent is that we would give, I guess you could call it, greater clarity to the powers of the minister. We wanted again to go and say to the government that it should be reconsidering some of those matters. Because in clause 1 what the amendment is saying is: "a minister shall not release information regarding the criminal history of an individual except where the release of this information is consistent with the terms and intent of the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol," which is a federal piece of information.

Mr. Chairman, we highly commend this matter to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, knowing that he doesn't understand it, and that he probably isn't following the matter.

The same thing is true with clause 2 of Bill No. 39. Again we are asking the government to consider this kind of a constraint on the powers of the minister, saying that the information be released would be only when it was consistent with the intent and the terms contained in the Release of High Risk Offender Information Protocol.

Again, we are cognizant of the rights of the community to know, and we are cognizant as well of the rights of the individual who is the offender. We believe we should say to the government that we should be very careful about releasing information. We agree with the thrust of what the government is doing. We are simply saying that the minister should have some constraints on him or her as to the manner in which the information is released to the public.

The prior amendments which the government members did not accept talk about having a committee that would guide the minister in that matter. For whatever reason the members of the House said no, and that is their right. I mean, parliament means that we bring forward our suggestions as an Opposition, and it is a right of the government to say: No, thank you, we don't want to do that. That is all part of democracy. Anyway, we have a right to bring forward those amendments and we shall continue to bring forward amendments to all pieces of legislation as the evening unfolds and as the day unfolds or tomorrow unfolds, whatever.

So, Mr. Chairman, we do want to again say to the members of the House that we are supporting the intent. We want to have some restraint on the power of the minister.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will sum up in case my colleagues want to have a word.

CHAIR: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I rise to express my support for the initiative being put forward by the government. I have just a brief presentation and that is to pay tribute to the Table officers, Mr. Chairman, including yourself, who have sat here with such quiet dignity and such close and scrupulous attention to every word being uttered. Mr. Chairman, we know that there is an obligation by those who sit around the Table to that.

What I really wanted to do is to draw the attention of the House to the presence in the press gallery of the best journalist who has ever covered -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: - the workings of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Chairman, I have taken note that Mr. Scott Chafe of VOCM has carefully and scrupulously covered every single word uttered by the Opposition House Leader. Now this is clearly a tribute to the elegance of the Opposition House Leader, but more importantly, a tribute to the diligence in the sense of responsibility of Mr. Scott Chafe. Mr. Chairman, let the House show its appreciation for this extraordinary service for the people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: All those in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clause 1, carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, there is some confusion with that vote. When it was called, there were all kinds of ayes and nays. I am not sure of your decision but I do accept it.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair declared the amendment defeated and has passed clause 1.

Amendment to clause 2.

All those in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Against, `Nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clause 2, carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act And The Privacy Act." (Bill No. 39)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order 21, Bill No. 38, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act (No.2)."

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I want to say a few words on Bill 38, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act."

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What's you problem over there now? Are you looking forward to the amendments, I say to the Minister of Education?

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I do.

MR. GRIMES: Well, get on with it then.

MR. J. BYRNE: In due course.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Go home, boy. You don't have to stay here.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Education is very testy. You will not be missed very much if you decide to leave, I say to the Minister of Education. You can leave any time you feel like it. So be it, and goodbye.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind hon members that we are debating the clause by clause study of the bill and I ask hon. members to restrain from shouting across the House. I would like to listen to the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I propose to move the following amendment: That Clause 2 of Bill 38 - I am going to read this slow because the Minister of Education has a hard time understanding - "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act (No. 2)," which is now before the House be amended by (1) deleting in subsection 402.3(4) the word "Fees" and substituting therefor the following: "Subject to Subsection 402.3(4.1), fees"; and (2) adding immediately after subsection (4) the following subsection: "(4.1) -

CHAIR: Order, please!

Are all these amendments to Clause 2?

MR. J. BYRNE: This is just an amendment.

CHAIR: Is it an amendment to Clause 2?

MR. J. BYRNE: It is an amendment to -

CHAIR: All the amendments are here?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

CHAIR: All to clause 2?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

CHAIR: Okay.

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway: "(4.1) A municipal authority in a municipality that is or has at any time been served by the regional fire service of this region of the Province may inform the regional fire service committee and the city and the minister of (a) its intent to be served by the regional fire service; and (b) its dissatisfaction with the fee rate determined by the regional fire service committee, and the minister shall forthwith appoint an arbitrator who shall consult with the municipal authority and the city and the committee for a period of one month after which the arbitrator shall determine a fee rate for the municipal authority and the period of time during which the fee structure shall apply, and the decision of the arbitrator shall be binding on the municipal authority and on the city and on the committee, and shall constitute the contract referred to in subsection (3) between the municipal authority and the city." It is seconded by the hon. Member for Bonavista South.

CHAIR: The Chair would like to have a copy of the amendment.

MR. J. BYRNE: I passed the copies.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment deals with the municipality that is or has been associated with the regional fire committee and intends for the same municipalities who use the services of the regional fire committee and who have dissatisfaction with the rate determined - those are any municipalities that were previously involved that are not now involved with the St. John's Regional Fire Committee. I just want to know if that is in order and then we will continue to debate it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, Mr. Chairman.

This has been a situation with the St. John's Regional Fire Authority, Mr. Chairman, for a number of years with a few of the municipalities in and around St. John's. I have spoken to it many times in the House of Assembly. It is a situation which I have tried to get straightened out on numerous occasions, and the various municipalities have been quite concerned.

I should start at the beginning, I suppose. It is going to take some time to actually explain everything that went on over the years, Mr. Chairman. Basically, the most recent history is that the Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, myself, the minister and a member from the Premier's office had a meeting to discuss the situation. At that meeting it was basically discussed that if we could get an arbitrator put in place to set the rates that would be charged to the small Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, it would be a positive thing for that town.

Mr. Chairman, the minister agreed that he would be interested in receiving a letter from the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove and, on December 5, the Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove wrote to the minister and proposed -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: This is a very serious situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What did he say?

MR. E. BYRNE: Is there any truth (inaudible) you took a Dale Carnegie course (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am not sure who made that statement.

MR. EFFORD: I did!

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, if the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture made it, I don't see him on his feet too often. I am sure he did not take any Dale Carnegie course; I can guarantee you that. I can guarantee you that he did not take any Dale Carnegie course.

AN HON. MEMBER: He took it and failed it.

MR. J. BYRNE: He took it and failed it. That is what happened.

Mr. Chairman, the Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible). We have the pictures of the Christmas party. If he takes out that book (inaudible), you take out the pictures from the Christmas party. Tell him. Take out the pictures, Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: We have some fine pictures of the minister; I can guarantee you that. The minister made a comment the other day that he would not bring that book out any more, but we will produce the pictures in due course. I am being sidetracked now from this very serious situation.

The Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove wrote to the minister on the concerns that we talked about, and he again addressed the opportunity, if there was a possibility that we could have an arbitrator. Then, of course, on December 10, I was dropped off a letter, I think by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, which was signed by the Mayor of St. John's and signed by the Mayor of Mount Pearl, basically rejecting the idea of an arbitrator.

Now the City of St. John's, of course, from the beginning were opposed to the idea of an arbitrator. The Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, on a number of occasions, Mr. Chairman, proposed that an arbitrator be appointed, but the City of St. John's opposed that and it was a (inaudible) thing for them. The rates for fire-fighting services in the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove increased from $15,000 a year to $130,000 a year, and that seemed to be an abnormally high rate to pay for fire-fighting services.

Now, back in 1992, Mr. Chairman, the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove made a presentation to the regional committee on fire fighting and they brought up a lot of points with respect to the rate that was being charged. Some of the concerns, again, that were addressed at that point in time were the services that would be provided. The cost recovery formula was a factor that the municipalities, at that time, were having a problem with, Mr. Chairman.

Now, Mr. Chairman, one of the factors that was involved with respect to the municipalities in the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, of course, is the fact that they are so far away from a fire hydrant. There is no water and sewer within the town, Mr. Chairman, and the closest fire department -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. EFFORD: No leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, give him leave, give him leave.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I don't necessarily share the same viewpoint but -

CHAIR: Before the hon. member speaks, the amendment is in order.

MR. H. HODDER: - I would enjoy the opportunity to be convinced and I give the member a chance to say all over again, in the next ten minutes, exactly what he said in the last ten minutes.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. members about repetition.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, you don't have to worry about repetition in the next ten minutes because I have about a good fifty or sixty minutes of straightforward facts with no repetition.

Now again, Mr. Chairman, the cost recovery formula was a very important factor that the towns disagreed with. Another factor that the towns had a problem with was the business tax. The city of St. John's has large amounts of revenues from the businesses within the city of St. John's. The question at that point in time, Mr. Chairman, was if in fact the businesses were paying their fair share for the fire fighting services, when you compare it to what the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove was receiving?

Now the five towns involved at the time, Mr. Chairman, were the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, the Town of Paradise, the Town of Portugal Cove - St. Phillips, the Town of Petty Harbour, the City of St. John's and the City of Mount Pearl. Of course the new formula that was brought in, Mr. Chairman, that was never approved by Cabinet, that never became a legal formula because it was not approved by Cabinet, was based on the assessed value of properties within the municipalities. Mr. Chairman, when the assessed values were put in place the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove went from $15,000 to $130,000. Again, the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove felt that the service they were getting was not equivalent to the amount of money that they were paying.

Now, the Town of Portugal Cove - St. Phillips - all of us, all five towns, had a meeting with the then Premier and I remember sitting at the table and the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: You fellows should never have told him that.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's your mistake. It's your own fault. We haven't been able to get him to shut up since.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am speaking, Mr. Chairman, to this bill because it has been a pet peeve of mine from the beginning, since this was introduced. The St. John's Regional Fire Department and the five towns had a meeting back in '92, I believe it was, with the then Premier, Mr. Wells. The Premier, at that meeting, turned to me and asked: Why should the cost recovery formula not be based on assessed value only? I explained to him, Mr. Chairman, as I explained to the minister, as I explained in this House before, why the cost recovery formula should not be based on assessed value. He turned to his minister - there is no point of the Minister of Fisheries trying to yap across the House because I am not listening to him. I cannot hear him above my own voice so he might as well sit down, be quite, pay attention, and be ready to hear a lot more from this side of the House tonight.

Mr. Chairman, the five towns met with the Premier. He turned to his minister and said: Mr. Minister, if that is the case tell the mayor it is not going to happen, that the formula will not be based on the assessed value.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Minister of Fisheries -

AN HON. MEMBER: Name him, Mr. Chairman, name him.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis to take his seat until we have established order in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: That could take a while, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

Now, when you look at the cost recovery formula, Mr. Chairman, based on assessed value, within the City of St. John's there are all the federal and provincial government buildings that I think are not really taken into consideration to the extent that they should be when you are looking at the assessed value within the Town of Logy Bay -Middle Cove - Outer Cove. Apparently a deduction of 15 per cent of the total operating cost is applied for the Province's contribution to cover fire protection; 15 per cent, when you look at the cost of the assessed value of the buildings in the City of St. John's.

If you look at the Confederation Buildings, if you look at the hospitals within the city, if you look at what used to be the Philip Building down there which is now a government building, when all of these buildings within the City of St. John's are taken into consideration certainly it should reduce the amount that the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove should have to pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I saw that. I have that letter here and I referred to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is it?

MR. J. BYRNE: A letter from both cities.

Now, Mr. Chairman, with respect to the potential for major fires. Why the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove has a problem with this is because of the simple fact that they still do not have the same potential for major fires as the City of St. John's and the City of Mount Pearl have. In the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, as with the other municipalities that were involved, the smaller towns, there is no row housing, there is no –

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: I am trying to do something for the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, I say to the Minister of Health. I am trying to get a fair rate charged to the municipality of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove for fire fighting services. That is all I am trying to do, and that is all I have ever done, I say to the Minister of Health. I have not even gotten into the study that was done for the volunteer fire department yet. I have not even gotten into that, Mr. Chairman.

The potential for major fires within the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove is not nearly as great as in both cities. Therefore, there is certain equipment that is on standby all the time for major fires that could occur within the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl. That is not a major potential in the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, therefore they should not have to pay the same percentage based on the assessed value, Mr. Chairman. Now, that is one point, but there is another aspect.

MR. MATTHEWS: Are you certain?

MR. J. BYRNE: Big time serious. Yes, I am serious.

MR. MATTHEWS: Are you certain? I did not say serious.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, certain. Definitely certain. Sure I'm certain.

In Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, or in the smaller municipalities, we don't have multi-storey buildings such as the various hotels in the city. We don't have row housing, like we saw a major fire in on, was it Military Road, where one house caught fire and probably a dozen burned. We had the CLB Armoury -

MR. MATTHEWS: Show some leadership and move a motion to include it all in the City of St. John's. Then Harvey will second it and he will add Mount Pearl to it. That will solve all your problems.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Health, you must live in the City of St. John's, do you? That was tried. I mean, the previous Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs tried to put forward regional fire-fighting on the northeast Avalon. What they did was they named four or five towns within the legislation, and the cities of Mount Pearl and St. John's. It was explained at that point in time, Mr. Chairman, that it could not work, that it would not work.

I remember attending a meeting, Mr. Chairman, in the City of St. John's. I was, as a mayor, chairman. I was a chairman, a committee member. All the mayors were members. We were at the City of St. John's committee discussing fire-fighting and the services. We were discussing the services, and what happened? The then-deputy mayor made a statement that what would happen is we would discuss the concerns of the smaller municipalities and then we would do what was best for the City of St. John's. Therefore, that is what the problem was, and that was inherent in the St. John's regional fire-fighting.

I've disagreed with the mayor of St. John's on this, I disagreed with the previous mayor on this. I can't stand up here now in the House of Assembly and agree to something that I disagreed with before I became an MHA. That would be hypocritical. I'm only saying the same thing today as I said back in 1992, and I'm going to continue to say it, and I'm saying it. I'm putting a motion forth.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Education, if that one is not adopted I have another one I'm going to speak to, Mr. Chairman.

Also, Mr. Chairman, with respect to the City of St. John's, if you look at the dangerous materials that are stored within the boundaries of the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, have they got a fire department out there now?

MR. J. BYRNE: No.

Mr. Chairman, dangerous materials within -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are they looking for a fire department?

MR. J. BYRNE: I am getting into that.

With respect to dangerous materials, Mr. Chairman, there are dangerous materials stored within the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl. There may be some within -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: - the smaller municipalities but not near the quantity that will be stored within -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. EFFORD: No leave!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Chairman recognized the Member for Kilbride.

MR. A. REID: The custom is that you go back and forth across the House.

MR. E. BYRNE: I'm sorry. If you would like to speak to it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: I have no intention of -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair apologizes, but hon. members sometimes stand, and they stand not to speak. In this case, we will recognize the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Chairman, I guess I will have to concede to my hon. colleague for Cape St. Francis. I will have to give in to him once and for all, I suppose, and let him feel like he is winning the battle. Because he is standing alone in this House tonight with no support in his own caucus, and certainly no support on this side of the House, as it relates to the fire-fighting service.

What I will do is I will give in and I will make a statement here tonight that if Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove doesn't want to be part of the fire service of St. John's and Mount Pearl, then they can create their own. If they want to go off on their own and buy their own fire truck, and have their own service, I think I will give in and let them do it. Now, don't you think that is the gracious thing for us to do as a department?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: If Logy Bay doesn't want to be part of the service, then I say: Do what everyone else did, except Mount Pearl and St. John's, and back out. Buy your own fire truck and look after your own fire fighting. Now, I cannot do much more than that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs just stood in his place and said something that he knows -

AN HON. MEMBER: That you cannot accept.

MR. J. BYRNE: We can't accept the very great cost to the people of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, that was heaped upon them by this administration and the previous administration.

The minister knows that the Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove met with him last week, or a couple of weeks ago, and talked about a volunteer fire department. He has already done that with respect to the legislation. The fact of the matter is that when he changed the legislation to allow the municipalities to withdraw from the St. John's Regional Fire Department, that Portugal Cove - St. Phillips had their own fire hall down there and are well on their way to having a fire department, that Paradise out there, with the population they have, could afford a volunteer fire department. He knows that. He knows that in Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, with 2,000 people, the rate jumped from $15,000 to $130,000 a year for a service that was the same service given to them for an amount of money that was being asked for by municipal affairs. They increased it from $15,000 to $30,000. They went from $30,000 to $45,000 on their own, without a cost recovery formula in place, a legal cost recovery formula.

So for the minister to stand in his place here now and make those statements is being a bit - I will not say the word. He is trying to be a bit smart at this point in time, and this is a very serious issue for 2,000 people.

The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove has had a person come in and study the cost of putting in a volunteer fire department, and the minister has already given them permission in writing to borrow over $300,000 to put in their own volunteer fire department. What he is not telling you is how much it is costing the people of the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, that it is increasing from $15,000 to $130,000.

The City of St. John's made an offer that they would reduce it by $30,000 a year. This is based on the assessed value, Mr. Chairman, and what happened in the last assessment is that the assessments within the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove went up from 40 per cent to 60 per cent because municipal affairs had waited ten years to do an assessment on the properties within the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. So, in actual fact, the bill can be anywhere, up to $150,000, for the same service they were getting ten years ago. We do not have a fire hydrant in the town. Kent's Pond is the closest fire department. If Kent's Pond is out, Kenmount has to respond to a fire in Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove.

I had a meeting with the Premier and told him that if we had a fire in Doran's Lane in Outer Cove, if a house caught fire down there, it would burn to the ground; and within months we had a fire down there and the house burned to the ground. That is how serious this situation is. The minister can get up and be as smart as he wants to be, but it is not fun. This is a serious situation. I am tired of talking to the minister and trying to do something with this legislation. The answer we get when we send it off to the minister is a letter dropped off to me, signed by the two mayors of the cities that are going to be responsible for the fire-fighting service within the area. What do you expect them to sign, I say to the minister? There are 2000 people in the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove.

MR. A. REID: Well, talk to the two mayors instead of talking to us and (inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: It was the government that brought this legislation in. It was the government that gave the service to both cities, and they did not ask for it, I say to the minister. It was given to them. They were told to take it. So it is not the City of Mount Pearl and the City of St. John's. They were put in a situation where they had no choice. So it is up to the minister and this government to address and resolve the situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Put the question.

MR. J. BYRNE: Put the question! I am not near finished on this yet, Mr. Chairman. I will keep it going all night.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the situation is this, again, that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: Unless you are deaf you certainly heard it before, I can guarantee you that.

MR. FITZGERALD: You are doing a good job, Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: When I got sidetracked, Mr. Chairman, I was on dangerous materials.

MR. A. REID: Why did they agree with it? Why (inaudible) signed an agreement to do this the way we have done it, exactly the way we have done it?

MR. J. BYRNE: Who signed it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Logy Bay, he said.

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible) fire fighting since last January. Not one (inaudible) since last January.

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, you have to be accurate with respect to what you are saying, Mr. Chairman. What happened was that the towns agreed upon a formula to pay back to the City of St. John's the arrears that were based upon a cost recovery formula. The towns did agree on that, the arrears, how much they would pay back, and the towns have been paying that, but they have not been paying the rate that has been charged for 1996 which is the same basically as was for the cost recovery formula. That was never changed. We can talk about an agreement being signed but the agreement that was signed was for arrears. That is what was agreed upon, Mr. Chairman, nothing more, nothing less. So therefore, Mr. Chairman, that will address that point.

Now, to get back to the dangerous materials, Mr. Chairman. As I said, in the City of St. John's there is a much larger quantity of dangerous materials stored and there has to be certain equipment on standby in case there is a fire because of certain gases that could come forward, I suppose, Mr. Chairman. It is not likely to happen in the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. It is not likely to happen in Torbay. It is possible but not probable. It is more probable within the City of St. John's and the City of Mount Pearl. That is something we are paying for that maybe we should not have to pay for.

Also, Mr. Chairman, there are the rescue units. Based on an assessed study of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove we are utilizing the rescue units 1.18 per cent of the actual responses. So we feel that that is not a case to be made for the city, that we would have to pay for the standby cost for the rescue units.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, what do you want?

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Health, all we want is a reasonable rate. The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove agreed, all the towns agreed to binding arbitration. Let's put something in place and put binding arbitration there, and we will agree to it. If it is $50,000 or $150,000, we would be forced to pay it. But, who said no to that? The City of St. John's said no binding arbitration. How much more reasonable can a group get, I say to the Minister of Health? We agreed to binding arbitration.

Another factor is the response time. We all know how important it is for a response time for fire-fighting equipment to get to a fire. The response time, Mr. Chairman, of course within the far reaches of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, is much longer than in most areas of the City of St. John's. If a fire happens, and hopefully it doesn't, the response time, say, to Elizabeth Avenue - because where all the fire departments are situated the response time within the city is quicker than the response time into Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. Hopefully, Mr. Chairman -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. MATTHEWS: Bonavista is going to pay for it now, Jack.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

No, I say to the hon. Minister of Health, Bonavista is not going to pay for it, but what the member is asking for here I don't think is unreasonable. What he is asking for, Mr. Chairman, is a fair charge for fire-fighting. He is talking about 2,000 people living in Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove and he is witnessing a bill that went from $15,000 a year to well in excess of $100,000 a year. That isn't acceptable, I say to the Minister of Health, in Bonavista, it isn't acceptable in Twillingate, and it certainly isn't acceptable in Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove.

Mr. Chairman, it is another situation where you see the big Cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl, laying the heavy hand on the smaller communities in the outlying area. It is another example where you see the big city coming forward and saying: Yes, we will provide you with fire protection but we won't charge you -

AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible!

MR. E. BYRNE: I will tell you in a few minutes what St. John's loses. I am going to tell you all about a new part of St. John's and what it hasn't got since amalgamation, and we will see if you are so smart then with your tongue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) looking after the crowd down there.

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely not! Don't be ridiculous, boy! We will talk about it in a few minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible.

MR. E. BYRNE: We will talk about it in a few minutes.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is the so-called crowd, Minister, that keeps your city going.

MR. E. BYRNE: Paid for by the community, I say to the Member for Twillingate & Fogo, paid for by the community.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is the so-called crowd, Mr. Chairman, who keep the City of St. John's going. Those are the people you find at the shopping centres. Those are the people who come here and spend their money. Those are the people who keep your fair city going today.

What those people are asking for, what the 2,000 residents are asking for, is a fair charge for fire-fighting services. It isn't enough that there is no fire department located in this particular area. The response has now to come from St. John's. We are going to be going out there now, if the minister allows this piece of legislation to go through, and charge them almost 500 per cent to what they were charged last year, and that isn't right in anybody's books, Mr. Chairman. If we are going to go there and charge this particular town for fire-fighting services, then let's charge them a rate they can afford, let's charge them a rate which is acceptable to the people there.

They know, Mr. Chairman, what the service is worth. They know, and I don't think they objected to paying the fee that was there before. They probably wouldn't object to paying twice the amount they were paying before, but it is certainly unreasonable to expect to charge 2,000 people, living outside city limits, without any responding fire department in close vicinity of their particular area, $120,000 a year. Mr. Chairman, that is unreasonable and I certainly concur with the member when he expresses his concerns.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will pass it back to the member again. I did want to express a view on this particular piece of legislation and I commend the member for speaking out for his constituents and putting their concerns forward in this House. That is why he was sent here and he will do nothing less than that tonight, and I am sure that before the night is over, that at least the minister will know the feelings of those people out there and know how wrong this piece of legislation is.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Don't be ridiculous, I say to the Minister of Health. If you want to sit down and learn something, sit down and keep your mouth shut for ten minutes, you might learn something.

The reality of what this member is saying here right now is that he should be supportive. What he is asking for, on behalf of the people in the towns affected, is a fair and legitimate service; that's all. He has talked about binding arbitration. Why did the rest of the city involved in the regional fire services plan opt out? I know as a member who represents a "new part of this city", the fighting and scratching that we had to do just to get a composite crew in the Goulds. We had fire insurance companies come in and say that they would not provide fire insurance to parts of the district because there wasn't a reasonable fire service available, yet it was part of the City of St. John's. The minister knows that, it was part of the City of St. John's. We had fire insurance companies come in and say they would not and could not provide fire insurance because if a house burned down, they did not have a certain degree of comfort that a legitimate fire service will be able to respond in time. That, sir, happened to people who pay taxes to the City of St. John's -

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you want your constituents to pay for fire fighting? I will send a copy of Hansard.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, what I support, I say to the minister - send a copy of Hansard to my constituents?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. E. BYRNE: I will pay for the postage if you send it and anything that comes from you to my constituents, I am sure they are going to take a second look.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Your money and my time (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: My money and your time. The problem is, that with your money, you spend no time in the Province minister, that is half the problem.

The reality is, Mr. Chairman, what people are asking for is fair and legitimate services. The Minister of Health says: You want the people of St. John's to pay for your services. No. This member has indicated clearly, up front, openly and honestly, that what the people in the affected area said is that they would be part of the agreement. If consensus or agreement could not be reached amongst all the partners to that agreement, send it to binding arbitration. It is a fair process, a process each and every one of us has to live by.

I support the member in his efforts to try to get a fair and legitimate fire service for the people in his town. I went through it for the last three years and the people of the Goulds did too.

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

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

Now, the Minister of Health is over there yapping away. Let me tell you something: From the comments that he has made, I would say he knows as little about fire-fighting within the northeast Avalon region as he does about the Department of Health, what is going on in the Department of Health and what is going on within hospitals in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows more about fire-fighting in St. Petersburg, Florida than he knows what is going on here.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, that is right. He knows more about fire-fighting in St. Petersburg, Florida than he knows about what is going on here.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, that is right. He knows more about fire-fighting in St. Petersburg, Florida, than about what goes on around here, Mr. Chairman. He has made a statement with respect to the services, and wants the members and the people of St. John's to pay for the services down there. It is because of them that the area is going broke. I will let him know that the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove is in the black, have been in the black since they started, and the minister can confirm it. They have been in the black. They owe no money. The only money they owe is on the principle that they are being charged too much -

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, they do not owe any money.

MR. MATTHEWS: What do you expect? You cannot but owe money if you do not pay your bills.

MR. J. BYRNE: Here he is trying to be smart instead of listening to reason. Listen now. The situation and reality of it is that what money they owe - they pay for everything they have, Mr. Chairman. They have buildings down there that they built, a small town of 2,000. They pay their bills. They owe no money to Municipal and Provincial Affairs. All the money they owe, they owe on principle and they refuse to pay it until they get something worked out. Not only that, I would not doubt but that they have the money set aside. But on principle alone they have a good point.

With respect, the Minister of Health asked the question: Why do they not set up their own? The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove went to Torbay, which has a volunteer fire department, and asked Torbay would it respond. They would actually buy a fully-equipped fire truck for the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. That is that they offered it, but the Town of Torbay came back and said they could not do it, it could not respond because it was a volunteer department, and because of the topography of the area it would take too long for them to respond. That is the point we are bringing up with respect to the City of St. John's. It may take too long for the City of St. John's to respond.

Now, Mr. Chairman, when the City of St. John's responds, hopefully, when they are called upon, they would respond from Kent's Pond and not have to respond from Kenmount. If that is the case, once they get to the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove there are no fire hydrants in that area for them to access. So we are not getting the same service as the people in the cities of Mount Pearl and St. John's. Therefore, how can you expect us to pay the same rate, I ask the ministers opposite?

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not being charged the same rate! You are misleading this House. You are not being charged the same rate!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, the minister says I am misleading the House and they are not being charged the same rate. They are being charged the rate on the assessed value of the property within the town.

AN HON. MEMBER: Less 20 per cent!

MR. J. BYRNE: I already addressed that, if the minister had been listening.

AN HON. MEMBER: You had better address it again.

MR. J. BYRNE: Quite clearly, the Town agreed they would drop it by 20 per cent, which worked out to be $30,000 a year, on the $130,000 that was being charged. But when you look at the new assessments that were done last year, the rates increased up to 40 per cent to 50 per cent, the assessed value, so it went up from $130,000 to $150,000 again, Mr. Chairman. Let us be quite clear on that. They are still being charged the same total amount. In the budget for 1992, the rate for fire-fighting went up by 850 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am getting him convinced, yes.

Now, Mr. Chairman, for the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove to pay that rate, an increase of 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the mill rate would have to be implemented to cover the cost of fire-fighting. Mr. Chairman, that seems to be quite high. The actual cost of fire-fighting for our town would take - now, there is a factor. The actual cost of fire-fighting for the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove would be 25 per cent of the budget. I wonder does 25 per cent of the budget for the city of Mount Pearl and the city of St. John's go for fire-fighting costs within the cities? I think not, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The level of noise in the House is absolutely unacceptable. If it does not stop, I will ask the member to take his seat until such time as the level of decorum is acceptable to the Chair.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Now, for the town to cover the cost of fire-fighting, their mil rate would have to be eight to nine mils. That does not sound too high, really, when you compare it to some of the other rates in the city of St. John's, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Nine mils.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, but - the Minister of Health is at it again - the town does not have water and sewer, does not have sidewalks, does not have engineering services, does not have the same fire-fighting, so the Town pay their way on everything they have down there, I say to the minister. I would say it has been the attitude of this Administration and the previous Administration, that the towns not take on things they cannot afford. However, we have many municipalities in this Province in the situation today where they are overloaded and their debt is too high. The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove was acting quite reasonably and quite responsibly in not taking on things they could not handle, and things they do not need.

Let us do some comparative costs on the similar-sized towns in the Northeast Avalon. This is based on the 1992 figure. Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove are asked to pay $130,000. For the Town of Witless Bay, in 1992, it was $10,000. The Town of Bay Bulls is hardly worth mentioning, but they were paying $2,500 to Witless Bay for protection. The Town of Flatrock was paying $9,000 to the Town of Torbay. We approached Torbay but they could not service us because they were servicing Flatrock and the Town of Torbay; $9,000 as compared to $130,000. The Town of Pouch Cove, with a population of 2,000, back in 1992 paid $30,000; and the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove had a population of l,800, which is closer to 2,000 now. That $30,000 is the figure they quoted me in 1992, compared to $130,000 for the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. Again, is that reasonable? Is it fair? Bauline, $4,500; the Town of Torbay, back in 1992 - when our cost would have been $130,000, which was being charged by the regional fire-fighting committee - with a population of over twice the population of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, was paying $33,000. They now tell me that is up to $60,000 to $70,000 for 1992. The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, I am sure, would not have a problem with $60,000 or $70,000, even with half the population of Torbay. I am sure they would not have a problem with $80,000. I am sure they would go along with that, but to go with $130,000 is just not reasonable to expect.

Mr. Chairman, those are some of the things that the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove has been saying over the past four years. The point, too, of course, is that the cost recovery formula was never approved by Cabinet. Now, the minister has changed legislation and allowed the municipalities to go out on their own and set up their own fire departments. The Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove have taken a look at that, Mr. Chairman, and this is what they have come up with.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I am glad to get up to support my colleague and make a point simply to the Minister of Health who keeps blabbering across the House all night. My colleague right now, Mr. Chairman, is speaking on behalf of his constituents, I say to the minister. That is what he is doing exactly and he is looking for a bit of fairness and balance. Let binding arbitration settle the whole case so that it is done through a proper procedure. People in his district hear this member speak on their behalf and ask for what they think is rightfully theirs, that is what they are doing. And I would say that it could be worked out, I say to the minister, if he would only give it the opportunity.

The member has made some very legitimate points. He has obviously thought this out. Not just today, Mr. Chairman, but over the months, even the last couple of years, the member has continued to raise these points and he has made some good, fair and reasonable points. He does not say that it has to be all settled in one clump, but he does say it is something that could be worked out so that his constituents do get fair service and have fair input as to who pays what bills. But, Mr. Chairman, for the minister to blabber across the House about rural Newfoundland and how the City of St. John's are carrying rural Newfoundlanders - I think it is exactly the opposite. And for the minister to say - and we can check Hansard later when we get copies of it - that the member's constituents are not paying their bills. Did the minister say that the member's constituents in Outer Cover were not paying their bills? How does he know what their finances are? The member has made some legitimate points, so I say I support -

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) muzzle the Minister of Health now, it is about time.

MR. SHELLEY: I think the muzzle has started in the House and it is a smart thing for the House Leader to do that, Mr. Chairman.

I agree with the Member for Cape St. Francis. He made some very legitimate points, raising concerns on behalf of his constituents, and I think he should continue to do so.

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to speak on this bill at all. As a matter of fact, I was going to let my colleague go, but after listening to the Minister of Health for the past twenty minutes sit there and refer to rural communities and who should pay whose bill - the minister knows absolutely nothing, zilch, zilch, about volunteer fire departments. If we ran over him in CBS with the fire truck he would not know what hit him. If we ran over him at high noon with our fire truck, he would not know what struck him because he knows absolutely nothing about volunteer fire departments. Now, I will not get into volunteer fire departments with him tonight because if I did I would keep him here for the next two weeks and he would never get a chance to pay his taxes in Florida because he would be still here going around my district with me with the volunteer fire department in Conception Bay South and a volunteer fire department in the town of Holyrood.

Now, Mr. Chairman, who should pay for this? I think that this member has a right to stand in this House of Assembly and fight for the rights of his constituents. I believe, as my first time being in here, that it was the constituents of my district who put me in here, it will be my constituents who can take me out. I believe that the member has a right to stand in here and if it is a 500 per cent increase that they are looking for, then I think that is morally wrong. I believe that the town should pay for their fire protection. I have absolutely no problem with that, and I do not think the member has any problem with that, none whatsoever, but I think there has to be some fairness and some balance to this so that these people can work out a formula whereby everybody comes to a suitable conclusion on the amount of money that should be paid, and I am not so sure we are doing it here.

I disagree with my colleague here, who was at one time the mayor of Mount Pearl, and I disagree with my colleague across the House who was also the mayor of Mount Pearl. You have to remember that there was a time when both of these municipalities, when they were going to go in with St. John's or Mount Pearl, they screamed murder, and now they are out on their own and, of course, large municipalities like to swallow up the smaller ones. When I was a municipal councillor in my district and they were going to put us in with the City of St. John's, I was running around to these meetings screaming blue murder, as well.

I believe that the member has a right to come here. I think it is wrong, the percentage of increase they are trying to put on Logy Bay - Outer Cove - Middle Cove. I think there has to be a solution and there should be a solution. I think they should pay for fire protection the same as we all have to pay for fire protection but I do not agree with the amount and the increases that have gone on.

Thank you.

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

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

Now, to continue. I want to make it quite clear, and I have said it before in the House of Assembly, that in no way, by any stretch of the imagination would I be questioning the abilities and the professionalism of the fire department itself. That is not the question. The debate is with the cities, the service being supplied, and the amount being charged. Simply put, that is it, Mr. Chairman.

With respect to volunteer fire departments for the town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, the Town recently had a study done by a person who was quite capable of doing this. It was November 5 that it was given to the Town, and some of the things it dealt with was the geography of the area, the training, the recruitment for the volunteer fire department, the fire prevention program, capital expenditures and estimates of the fire station, the annual operating expenditures, communications, and the conclusion, Mr. Chairman. Of course, the amounts that would be set aside to do this, the budget itself worked out to be, the fire department, the facility itself, would cost a total of $431,320.

Now, some of the equipment that would be required would be a 625-gallon-per-minute pumper and equipment, $158,000, a four-wheel drive $35,000, breathing apparatus, portable pumps, nozzles, all this equipment would cost $276,700. They had an estimate of $100,000 to build the fire station itself. Communications would be another $46,000, training aids and what have you, $6,120 for a total of $431,000. To operate that facility for a year would cost approximately $36,700. Now, that may be a bit low and some people are questioning that, but the description and the budget involved Mr. Chairman, is quite detailed and covers everything from fund-raising to mileage, license fees, gasoline, electricity, first-aid supplies and what have you, so, Mr. Chairman, that is what it will cost the Town.

Now, the Town could go ahead, I suppose, and borrow half-a-million dollars on the authority of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and pay it off over a ten-year period and have a volunteer fire department but, the people in the town are wondering, you know, if in fact it would make sense to do that. We had a public meeting and there were a lot of questions and concerns raised, so the Town is planning on getting back with a more detailed breakdown of the cost of putting in a volunteer fire department. So, Mr. Chairman, the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove -Outer Cove did look at a volunteer fire department. They also did a response time and the total responses in 1994 and 1995, and responses from January to September of 1996 - and this is very interesting, Mr. Chairman - the total responses in 1994 was thirteen responses and the cost per response would have been $10,769. Now, what did they respond to? Because, that may not seem to be outrageous if there were major fires, $10,769, Mr. Chairman. But they responded to one chimney fire, one garbage fire, one rescue, a false alarm, a forest and brush fire, a vehicle, one of a smell of smoke, three medical and two structure fires, and the total would have been $140,000 for that. Now, is that logical and reasonable, I ask you, Mr. Chairman? I do not think so.

In 1995, they had twenty-three responses at a cost of $6,068 per response. They had three chimney fires, three alarm bells, two rescues, six medical where the ambulance went out or whatever and took someone to the hospital, a forest brush fire, two; one vehicle fire, structure, four, and a motor vehicle accident, one. Now, Mr. Chairman, that is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination. With respect to January 1 to September 23, 1996, Mr. Chairman, they had twelve responses, at basically $8,750 per response. In that period, they had one chimney fire, one garbage fire, two rescues, one false alarm, two structure fires, a motor vehicle accident and a forest and brush fire, and that was to the end of September, 1996 and, Mr. Chairman, that is the type of thing that has been happening in the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove.

This report that was done for the Town is quite detailed and certainly gives you some comparisons as to what a volunteer fire department can do for the Town and at what cost. Mr. Chairman, as I said earlier, I have spoken a number of times in this House on this. I have had meetings with various ministers, I had meetings with the previous Premier, and I honestly believe that the Town is not being treated fairly with respect to the amount of money they would have to pay for fire-fighting costs. I want to reiterate that the Town are willing to go to binding arbitration and are willing to pay their bills, Mr. Chairman, always have been. There is not a bill owed by the Town for anything else other than for fire-fighting. So, Mr. Chairman, this is only a reasonable request. I do not know how the minister could address it. I think he has responded - I have not seen the letter to the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. I would imagine it is along the lines of the letter that was distributed here tonight, signed by the mayors of St. John's and Mount Pearl.

This is an opportunity, Mr. Chairman, in which I wanted to get up again and say what had happened with respect to fire-fighting in the Northeast Avalon. Hopefully, the minister can do something to resolve the situation. I do not know what his closing comments will be, and I do not know if I can add any more. I have pretty well said what I had to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You are looking good over there. It is a good seat for you, I say to the....

Yes. I think I have said what I am going to say on this bill, and hopefully, in the near future, we can have this resolved to the benefit of everybody concerned.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CHAIR: Shall the amendment to clause 2 carry?

All in favour, please say `Aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

CHAIR: Opposed, nay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

AN HON. MEMBER: Division, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Call in the members.

Division

CHAIR: Is the House ready for the question?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

CHAIR: All in favour of the amendment, signify by standing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Edward Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. French.

CHAIR: All against the amendment, please stand.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Education, Mr. Lush, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Langdon, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Ms Jones.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring back Harvey now. We want Harvey back.

CLERK: Mr. Chair, six ayes and thirty-one nays.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clauses 2 and 3, carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 38)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order No. 17, Committee of the Whole on a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act," Bill No. 33.

CHAIR: Bill No. 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act".

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Sit back, John, and relax. I am relaxed tonight, boy; two big pieces of pizza. Tim Horton's donuts make the Minister of Health happy. I am full now and ready to roll; good now for another couple of hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: A small drink.

MR. FRENCH: A small drink will keep you going for tonight.

I must say, Mr. Chairman, I would like to congratulate my two members. They certainly showed some backbone which I cannot say about some on the other side.

Anyway, I will now get into the -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: It is just as well for me to resign now, isn't it? Just as well for me to resign right now.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

The Chair will recognize the hon. Member for Conception Bay South when there is a level of decorum in the Chamber that is acceptable.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to take the time tonight, Mr. Chairman, to discuss the bill on Expropriation, Bill No. 33. As well, Mr. Chairman, as I go through tonight I will probably need a bit of direction from the Chair. Under clause 2 I have some amendments to move. So, if it is in order -

MR. GRIMES: Don't feel obligated.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I don't feel obligated, Minister of Education, not in the least. I have a sleeping bag for you; so when you get a little bit tired let me know. I will make sure you are covered over and tucked in for an hour or so. We will be doing Education about six o'clock, you will be well-rested by then.

AN HON. MEMBER: That early?

MR. FRENCH: Well maybe. It might be eight or it might be nine.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, if I could haul it over his head, maybe we would not find him anymore.

I would like to move some amendments here, Mr. Chairman. Clause 2 of Bill No. 33 -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I hope this does not go into my ten minutes, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

MR. TULK: We just had a very important piece of legislation that passed through this Legislature and some of his hon. colleagues stood up and voted against their colleagues, which they had a right to do. We were led to believe that when the hon. gentleman came back, we should give him a chance to put himself on the record, where he stood on that amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I want to say to the hon. gentleman, now that he is back in the House, we are willing to give him leave to stand up and say: Here I stand, four square, either for or against this amendment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, to that point of order. On the condition that we begin the debate all over again, then I will make a decision (inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair has not recognized the member yet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

I will ask the hon. member to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. Does he wish to speak to the point of order?

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible), Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Chairman, what the Government House Leader is suggesting is not without precedent in this House of Assembly. As a matter of fact, the then-government, who are the people on that side, were sitting on this side when the hon. Leo Barry, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, was unable to return to the Chamber in time for a division vote, and in actual fact was given permission by leave of his own request to cast his vote so that the House would know for posterity's sake how he voted. So precedent has been set, and the hon. Member for Waterford Valley could certainly take advantage of that precedent.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

CHAIR: Do you wish to speak to this point of order?

MR. H. HODDER: I don't want to get dragged into this kind of situation, but I remember very important bills here on education reform, on Term 17, when certain members were absent from the House, and when they came back they never asked to vote. There is no rule here that says that a member should or is obliged to vote. If I had been here I would have voted, but the vote is called, it is over with, let's get on with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

If hon. members will allow, the Chair will rule on the point of order, but the Chair is not prepared to rule until such time as it can be heard.

The Standing Orders of the House require that everybody who is present in the Chamber at the time that the vote is called must vote. Nobody can abstain from voting. The hon. Opposition House Leader has been extended the courtesy of having his vote recorded if he so wishes, but the Chamber and the Chair cannot require him to do so.

The Chair has already recognized the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I hope all of that wrangling didn't come out of my ten minutes. If it did, I'm up.

Now then, I would like to move some amendments.

CHAIR: I would remind the hon. member that he can speak to the debate as often as he wishes.

MR. FRENCH: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to move some amendments: That Clause 2 of Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act, which is now before the House be amended by adding in subsection 19(2) immediately following the word "minister" the words "or -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair is having some difficulty. The hon. member is trying to present an amendment to the House. If other members are not interested in hearing what the amendment is, maybe they could leave the Chamber so that the Chair could hear.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

That Clause 2 of Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act, which is now before the House be amended by adding in subsection 19(2) immediately following the word "minister" the words "or by the owner of land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation".

Would you want the explanations now or after? You want them now, I guess.

CHAIR: Is this amendment all to the same clause?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Most of them are to clause 2. There are several to clause 2, so I would like to move them first.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, I have three, Mr. Chairman, to clause 2.

CHAIR: The hon. member can continue. The Chair will rule on the admissibility of the amendment when he sees it in print.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As well, Mr. Chairman: That clause 2 of Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act, which is now before the House be amended by adding immediately following subsection 19(2), the following subsection: "(3) Where the circumstances in either paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b) hold, the minister shall make an application under subsection (2) forthwith."

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair must ask for clarification. Is this amendment to clause 2?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, Sir.

CHAIR: Clause 2?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, Mr. Chairman, yes.

CHAIR: I would repeat the question and ask the hon. member one more time. Is he absolutely certain this is to clause 2?

MR. FRENCH: Yes they are, yes, both to clause 2.

CHAIR: Very well. I would ask the hon. member to continue.

MR. FRENCH: So I have two amendments, Mr. Chairman, for clause 2.

AN HON. MEMBER: Excuse me for a second. You are going through all these. I am going to give them a copy now. Where are you at right now?

MR. FRENCH: But there are only two amendments.

AN HON. MEMBER: Clause 5.

MR. FRENCH: No, it says clause 2.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is clause 5 in the bill.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, clause 5 in the bill?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No she didn't. No, boy, not on this one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you want me to give him a copy of all the amendments?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, give him a copy of those.

AN HON. MEMBER: Every one of them, is what I'm asking you.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, give them all to him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Explanation and everything.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, give them all.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

I will ask the hon. member one more time if he would like to have a look at the bill and look at his amendment, and ask him one more time if it is, in fact, clause 2 or clause 5 that he is reading the amendment to.

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman seems to have so many pages over there in his hand that he doesn't know what he has. If he wants to take a minute, we are going to be very lenient and give him one minute to clear up the confusion over there. We know they are all gone tizzy over there, gone here, there and everywhere, as a result of their House Leader pulling the carpet out from under them, leaving them, running away from a vote. Just imagine, a House Leader running away from a vote. So, Mr. Chairman, we are prepared to give them a minute. Now, it is 2:04 a.m. We are prepared to give them a minute.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order. If the hon. member needs a minute to get his notes in order, that is fine; he can have that by leave.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: The numbers I have here are different. So those two amendments that I moved are to clause 5.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) clause 2?

MR. FRENCH: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Harvey, do you want to do that? Because I also have some amendments to what I consider to be clause 11, John. You had better make sure it is clause 11.

Do you want to let those two go?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You might even agree, you know. You might give them a chance.

CHAIR: Order, please!

It really does not matter. The Chair will call the clauses in numerical order anyway.

MR. TULK: Yes, when we get to clause 5 you move the amendment.

MR. FRENCH: Okay.

MR. TULK: Call clause 2, 3 or 4, whatever it is.

On motion, clauses 1 through to 4, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 5 carry?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you.

Do you now have copies? Do you wish me to read those again, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: If the hon. member wishes to read them into the record, that is fine.

MR. FRENCH: The first one is: "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", which is now before the House be amended in subsection 19(2) immediately following the word "minister" the words "or by the owner of land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation".

As well: That clause 5 of the bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", which is now before the House be amended by adding immediately following subsection 19(2), the following subsection: "(3) Where the circumstances in either paragraph 1(a) or paragraph 1(b) hold, the minister shall make an application under subsection (2) forthwith."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is rapidly losing patience. If nobody else in this hon. Chamber wants to hear the amendments that the hon. member is presenting, the Chair does.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The first one there amends clause 5 and adds reference to the owner of the land to be expropriated. The bill says only the minister can refer a disputed expropriation to the Public Utilities Board for a decision. This amendment also gives the owner the right so that the owner, he or she, can refer the matter to the PUB for a decision.

If, Mr. Chairman, we are going to go to the Public Utilities Board to have expropriations determined, then this particular clause, clause 5, with 19(2) that we have added, will now give the land owner the opportunity which is not in the act, the opportunity, if they so desire, to send the expropriation to the Public Utilities Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to vote.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I don't care how you are voting. You are going to be here for another couple of hours anyway. Sit back, relax, take it easy.

As well, Mr. Chairman, in clause 5 we have added subsection (3). The bill does not say the minister has to refer a disputed matter to the PUB right away. He or she could delay that particular purpose, and that would leave the land owner exposed, of course. This amendment says the minister must immediately refer the matter forthwith to the Public Utilities Board for discussion. We would like to put in these two particular amendments, so that when we do, we at least give the landowner some protection. We also give the landowner the right to refer the matter to the Public Utilities Board, because before we could set up a board under this particular piece of legislation. We are not going to do that any more. We are going to allow the minister only to refer to the Public Utilities Board and we think that is wrong, Mr. Chairman, and that in actual fact this clause here gives the landowner the same right I guess, as it would give the minister. If the minister can refer then why can't the owner of the land?

Again, the same thing –

MR. FITZGERALD: I can't hear a word here, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

It has been several times, since the hon. Member for Conception Bay South stood to address the amendments, that the Chair has asked for order in the House. The ruling of the Chair seems to be adhered to for not more than about two or three seconds. So I am going to ask one more time that we have quiet, silence, in the House so that the Chair can at least hear what the hon. member is saying. If other members are not interested, I will ask them to leave and if they will not leave because I asked them, then I will see to it that they leave.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

So that is why, Mr. Chairman, I move these two particular amendments, to give protection to the owner of the land. I hope the minister has a copy so that she can review this. I don't think it makes such a great difference but I think it should be added for the protection of the landowner, to cover him or her under this particular piece of legislation.

Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I will sit down and will allow one of my colleagues to go next.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I am glad to rise on this particular bill, Mr. Chairman. As a matter of fact, I have been waiting all night to get to a very substantial bill in this House this evening. I would say to most hon. members in the House, this is one of the most substantial bills that have come to this House this evening. There are some very good points, as a matter of fact, Mr. Chairman, although there was a mistake with the number, as to what clause it was. Overall it is a very important bill. There are a lot of good points and there has been a lot of good research done on this particular one. We are going to make a couple of points on this particular bill. Mr. Chairman there was some good research done by my colleague, by the critic.

Mr. Chairman, the stated intention of the bill is basically to have the PUB and not the arbitration board determine the compensation paid to the landowner. Right away this caused them to question some very important things as far as the landowner is concerned and how he can be covered. Under the old act, failure of the minister and the landowner to agree on the compensation of the expropriated land meant an arbitration board was appointed in that particular case. Under this bill the board is the PUB and the PUB is more likely to do that. What it does is it takes away from and intimidates the landowner in this particular situation. It moves it into the hands of the PUB. So, Mr. Chairman, that is one of the points.

The second point to be made, and my colleague has already alluded to it a couple of times now, is that the minister decides whether it is referred to the board or not. What has happened here is all of a sudden the minister is dictating and there is no more arbitration. There is no more using an arbitrator and using fairness and balance. It now seems as if the minister takes over everything. The minister decides, in this particular bill, whether to refer it to the board or not. The landowner no longer has a rep on the decision-making board. That is another point brought out in this bill that sort of strikes you. There is no rep when the land is in dispute.

Mr. Chairman, this bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates the landowner. What landowner is going to come forward if he knows he has to spend a undue amount? The expenses now are not just a small amount, but we are now talking about increased charges to the landowner that are obviously going to intimidate that person to begin with, so that the minister has the upper hand. The fairness and balance, arbitration, using both sides, and cooperating, all those things that did go on are now out the window, Mr. Chairman. That is what happens in this bill. There are some very serious concerns that have been put together by my colleagues here.

Of course, there is intimidation of landowners when the minister offers nothing. If the minister has made no award offer prior to referring a claim to the PUB for a decision, the PUB decides which party pays the cost. The minister has the power to send the matter to the PUB without first offering any compensation whatsoever. Mr. Chairman, that is not fairness.

I know the minister has made comments to the fact that this may be an archaic system and something that should be changed. I think it is only PEI and Newfoundland now that have this particular system. I could be corrected on that, but I think it is only PEI and Newfoundland now that have this particular system, our old act. Mr. Chairman, there may be changes that are possible. Nobody disputes that and improvements can certainly be made.

My point is: Are these the right ways to change this, Mr. Chairman? It seems as if the minister dictates exactly who goes where. If the landowner, as is his right, decides that the compensation is not fair, what happens? The minister decides if it goes to the PUB or not. He is the one who can refer it to the PUB for recommendations, and that is not fair. What is happening now is a dictatorship.

Not only that, but as we have already mentioned, the bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates landowners into accepting the minister's offer. In Section 34 - and it is still the case - if the board does not award the landowner more than the minister offered, the landowner must pay all costs, expenses and fees incurred in the award process, Mr. Chairman. While the old process involved three arbitrators and one scenographer this bill will drive up the cost.

Section 34.2, specifics: The expenses include the cost of councils, engineers, evaluators, stenographers, accountants and other assistants employed by the board, as well as salaries and expenses of the members of the board while employed at that hearing. I do not know what the exact cost is. I do not know if we done some calculations on that, but it is somewhere in the area of $15,000. Now, what landowner is not going to be intimidated by that and turned off from even trying to raise his case, if he has to pay that cost to start with? So, the intimidation factor is there and it is also the factor that is going to make him shy away from this process, that he has to foot the bill for God knows how much, according to the bill now, Mr. Chairman.

So, while I agree that the system we now have is archaic and that some changes that can be made, are they made in the right direction? I would ask the minister to look at some of the suggestions and the amendments made. There may be some very good ones there that the minister might want to accept. I say to the Government House Leader, there are some very good points. There are five major ones and they mostly deal with clauses 5 and 11 in this bill. I think they can be addressed and maybe even worked out by the minister if he is -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh! I say to the Government House Leader, I have heard this said several times tonight. Mr. Chairman, I had no intention of being here tonight and I don't think any member did. This should have been addressed in the House today, maybe, and debated. Maybe tomorrow it could be debated or maybe the House should have been brought back in October so that we could deal with, Mr. Chairman. Instead, what are we doing? Instead, we are here at the last minute, just a week before Christmas, trying to rush these bills through. We have not even gotten into HST and the education reform, and here we are trying to rush through, Mr. Chairman.

I make note to the minister, the Minister of Education and the people that have criticized this tonight, that, yes, there was some trash legislation, as the Government House Leader said the other night. That is what he said.

MR. TULK: A real charade, my son.

MR. SHELLEY: I agree with you, it is a real charade. You are absolutely right, it is a charade. We should not be dealing with this very serious piece of legislation at 2:19 a.m.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: But the homework is done on it, Mr. Chairman. It is too bad -

MR. TULK: No, the homework is not done on it (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes it was, I say to the Government House Leader, it certainly was. The homework was done on it and the points are there. Now whether they came to the floor tonight or whether they came 2:00 this afternoon is up to the Government House Leader. We should have been back here in October dealing with these bills, the HST and so on, instead of waiting until the last minute to bring them in.

Mr. Chairman, we can stand here and argue all night or until the wee hours of the morning with the minister. The truth is, the House should have been opened in October. I had no problem sitting back when some of my colleagues made some good points tonight on some other minor legislation.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, who has the floor? I will get a point in as soon as the Government House Leader quiets down a little bit.

Mr. Chairman, I say to the minister now, who is responsible for this bill, the truth is this is one of the most substantive pieces of legislation to come before this House today. It is. It is certainly a lot more substantive than all the foolishness that went on with the bill just before that - I can say that - the one that the Member for Cape St. Francis

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am talking about substantive in comparison to this.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask that the hon. member be afforded the opportunity to make his case without interruption.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it.

I will say, in seriousness - and it is hard to be serious at 2:20 a.m. but I am serious about this - this is one of the bills, one of the pieces of legislation, that we studied, all of us as a Caucus, and brought up five or six points on. I still say, if the minister looks at them, they are legitimate points. Out of all the bills that we discussed here tonight I would say that it is the most substantive piece of legislation offered here in this session.

Mr. Chairman, when you talk about expropriation of land and the ability of the landowner to put forward a fair case and to have his case heard, I think it is a fair thing. The six points brought forward are something that I would ask the minister - although it is the wee hours of the morning and it is hard to be serious, I suppose, at this time, when people are getting edgy and so on. We can't rush this piece of legislation. I think that every member in this House owes it to themselves -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. SHELLEY: Who's bill is it? Judy's bill. The minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I know. It is 2:20 a.m., so you can miss that too. The Minister for Development and Rural Renewal.

This particular bill is very important. There are some very serious concerns. Every member in the House should, Mr. Chairman, take notice of the amendments that we put forward, take them very seriously, consider some of the suggestions made by my colleague. There was some very good homework done on this particular bill, and it is very serious.

I would just read through, very briefly, some of the points we made. They mostly involve clauses 5 and 11. Those were the biggest - we believe, anyway, some of the most important points are made in clauses 5 and 11. Quite simply, Mr. Chairman -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Okay, Mr. Chairman. I will get a chance to make a few more points again in a second.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just a few brief words I would like to say regarding "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act". I guess the stated intention of the bill was to have the Public Utilities Board and not an arbitration board determine the compensation paid to landowners when property is to be expropriated. If you look closely at clauses 5 and 11 of this bill, as my hon. colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South mentioned a little earlier - and he is submitting amendments to these - we find some flaws that we would like to address.

First of all, compensation is set by the Public Utilities Board and not an arbitration board. Under the old Act, a failure of the minister and landlord to agree on compensation for the expropriated land means that an arbitration board would be appointed in that particular case. The minister would appoint an arbitrator, the landlord would appoint an arbitrator, and there would be a third arbitrator, or trial judge, appointed as well. In addition, there would be a stenographer.

Under the new Act the board will be the Public Utilities Board, and the Public Utilities Board is probably more costly and less swift, since it is already bogged down with other responsibilities. So, Mr. Chairman, we see that this is one major flaw under "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act".

Another is the fact that the minister would decide whether to refer to the Board. The decision is up to the minister on whether or not the minister would decide at all to refer to the Public Utilities Board. Under the old Act, if the minister and landlord could not agree on compensation, then the appointment of an arbitration board becomes automatic. Under the bill, the minister is given the power to make the application to the Board, and it therefore stands to reason that he will have a choice of whether or not, and when, to refer the matter to the Public Utilities Board. The landowner has no such power to apply to the Public Utilities Board, only the minister.

This, I believe, is another serious flaw. It leaves the landowner at a disadvantage and gives the minister more powers. The minister can decide whether or not he is going to send it, and actually when he would send it, to the Public Utilities Board. There is no power of that nature given to the landowner.

Mr. Chairman, those are a couple of the flaws. A third one: the landowner no longer has a rep on the decision-making board. This is a very serious concern that we, on this side of the House, have. It seems like the new bill is taking powers away from the landowner and giving more powers to the minister. And, in this particular case, the landowners have nobody else to turn to, other than the minister, in the event of a dispute.

Under the old Act, one of the three members of the decision-making board is on the board at the landowner's request. He is a landowner's arbitrator. The landowner's arbitrator can veto the minister's choice of the third arbitrator, and the award decision of any two arbitrators is final.

Mr. Chairman, under this bill, the Public Utilities Board decides, and the landowner has no say in the composition of the board, which can be as small as one commissioner, nor does the landowner have a rep on that board. He must hire and pay for independent legal counsel.

Mr. Chairman, in the event of a disagreement between the landowner and the minister, it can become very costly to the landowner now to fight the decision by the minister on what compensation is, whereas in the previous bill, there was certain protection set out for the landowner. That is not the case under the new bill.

There is no rep when land is in dispute. Under the old Act, when the ownership of land is in dispute, or the owner cannot be found, the minister is obliged to appoint an arbitrator to represent the missing landowner. There is no one on the Public Utilities Board to represent the missing landowner, so who, in this case, will make a case and defend the rights of the missing or disputed landowner now?

All throughout the new bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", every point in clauses 5 and 11 basically abolishes the landowner's rights and gives further rights to the minister. As I have mentioned, if there is a dispute between the landowner and the minister, the landowner would have absolutely no recourse other than to hire legal counsel and go to the Public Utilities Board. It is a very serious matter, actually.

This bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates landowners into accepting the minister's offer, and that is a very true fear that landowners will face. In the event of the smelter or by-pass roads and so on, landowners almost have no choice but to accept the offer of the minister because it would be so costly to hire legal counsel and go through the Public Utilities Board to fight the decision of the minister. As a result, landowners who do not have the financial resources to fight the decision of the minister are therefore intimidated by this new process.

It is still the case that if the board does not award the landowner more than the minister offered, the landowner must pay all costs. Expenses and fees incurred in the award process must be paid by the landowner. While the old process involved just three arbitrators and a stenographer, this bill will drive up costs.

Section 32 (2) specifies that expenses include, "...costs of counsel, engineers, valuators, stenographers, accountants and other assistants employed by the board, as well as the salaries and expenses of the members of the board while employed in and about the hearing."

Mr. Chairman, this new bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", has several flaws, as far as I can see; not flaws in the printing or the way the intended legislation is written, but flaws in the fact that the landowner has far fewer rights. There is nobody to stand up for or to represent the landowner on the Public Utilities Board, and the cost of the landowner fighting his case becomes much more expensive. The Public Utilities Board could be frivolous in commissioning more input than is warranted.

Mr. Chairman, the government could be mean-spirited, commissioning expensive input to increase costs and intimidating landowners who fear they will not get an increase and would have to pay costs, and this is basically the full impact of the new bill, the fact that the landowner is going to incur much more cost in order to fight for his rights.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: By leaver, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I can see, in the wee hours of the morning, the government is becoming very compassionate to our causes.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are worn down.

MR. OSBORNE: They are worn down.

The government may spare no expense in beefing up council to convince the Public Utilities Board not to increase the award while the landowner may not be able to afford to compete. Mr. Chairman, we, on this side of the House, are very compassionate towards the landowner. We feel that the landowner here has fewer rights than under the old Act. And the cost of fighting to get a fair market evaluation, in some cases, for land that is being expropriated, that cost would probably intimidate some landowners to just accept the minister's offer. I am sure that this is, in a nutshell, what the minister is looking for here.

The bill intimidates landowners even when the minister offers nothing. The minister has made no award offer prior to referring a claim to the Public Utilities Board for decision. The Public Utilities Board decides which party pays the costs. The minister has the power to send the matter to the Public Utilities Board without first offering any compensation. I cannot imagine it, but that is a fact.

The landowner, Mr. Chairman, knows the Public Utilities Board could award all costs to him and he could end up with no compensation from the government to offset the expenses. The landowner might be persuaded to accept nothing for the land rather than face the risk of paying the Public Utilities Board costs and get nothing.

You can call this, Mr. Chairman, persuasion by implicit threat. The stark reality here is that the landowner has far fewer rights while the minister has more rights. The landowner in this particular case, has very few rights as far as fighting the minister's decision on an award is concerned, and, Mr. Chairman, the stark reality, unfortunately, is that in many cases the landowner will feel intimidated into accepting the minister's offer without going to the Public Utilities Board. The landowner will feel intimidated, even if it is a very low offer, even if the government are just expropriating without any reimbursement to the landowner.

Mr. Chairman, many landowners will feel intimidated to just accept the minister's offer as opposed to the threat of having to bear all the costs of the Public Utilities Board.

MR. GRIMES: Tell us a few jokes now.

MR. OSBORNE: I cannot, I say to the Minister of Education, because the Minister of Fisheries is not here.

Mr. Chairman, I guess the stark reality is that we, on this side of the House, feel very compassionate towards the landowners, and this new bill is going to take away the rights of the landowners and, in fact, give more powers to the minister. The minister will have more rights. The minister can actually expropriate land, with little or no compensation to the landowner.

MR. TULK: There is only one way to (inaudible) gets up and states his position on that and then we will close her down.

MR. OSBORNE: Then, otherwise, I will be here until six o'clock.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, we, on this side of the House, feel that there is a need to introduce amendments to this Act in order to protect landowners. Mr. Chairman, under almost every Act that is being introduced, the ministers of this present Administration are requiring more power for themselves. In many cases, I think the present Administration is giving ministers too many powers and too much control.

Mr. Chairman, unfortunately, the rights of the landowner in many cases, in this particular bill, are not looked after. The rights of the landowner are not taken into consideration. This gives so much power to the minister and his department that they can expropriate land and the landowners are almost powerless. That is the reality under this new bill. And, unfortunately, if this bill gets passed in its present form, what are we going to do to protect the rights of the landowners? The minister is empowered here with too much control, the landowners have very few rights, and may be faced with all costs.

Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I will pass to one of my colleagues because I know we all want to speak on this particular bill.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I feel I have an obligation to comment on those amendments moved by my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South. In fact, I think they are very sensible amendments, and if the minister pays attention he will see why. I just want to outline that clause 5, section 19.(1) of the Act, says that the minister - and I think it is a very, very important amendment, and I will tell you why, but first I will put it into the proper context.

It says: "Where (a) the minister and the owner of land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation cannot agree on the amount of compensation to be paid for the expropriated land or on account of being detrimentally affected;

(b) the owner cannot be found or there is a doubt as to the ownership of the land; or

(c) for another reason the minister considers it expedient

the amount of compensation to be paid shall be fixed by the board."

It goes on to mention, and here is where the amendment is:

"(2) An application to fix compensation under subsection (1) shall be made by the minister."

So an application to fix compensation can be made by the minister. Why could it not - and this is what the amendment says - Why could it not be made by the owner of the land that is being expropriated or that is detrimentally affected by the expropriation? Now, if it is going to the Board, why should the minister, if a person feels he is unduly affected by that expropriation, should not that individual out there be allowed to put it to the Board, also, to render a decision? That is all the amendment states and I think that is fair game.

Where the circumstances in either paragraph 1 (a) if somebody is detrimentally affected or in 1(b) where the owner cannot be found or there is doubt as to who owns the land, it says: "The minister shall make an application under subsection 2 forthwith." We are saying: If it is in doubt, the minister `shall', not has the choice to do it, he shall make it, because it is only fair that if people are affected by this, they should have an opportunity to have their day in court. Why should they be subjected - and this is referring to other clauses - to a very expensive process where they will have to pay the full cost of it?

Some of the other amendments that will be coming up, in clause 11, for example, that we will be dealing with, I am sure my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, has some very sensible ones to put forth and they are not outlandish by any stretch of the imagination, they are just saying: Why should the minister be the only person who can refer it to the Public Utilities Board to render a decision? If you are unjustly affected by this, why can you not make application to have it heard? That is not too much to expect.

Now, there are many people out there today who have not been given the appropriate compensation for expropriated land, and there has been a process in place whereby arbitration, an arbitration board -

MR. GRIMES: The corner of your collar is sticking out.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. If it really bothers you, I say to the minister, I will leave the collar out but I will put the coat out farther, okay?

MR. GRIMES: Okay. It is distracting.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am sorry about that.

MR. GRIMES: I have to pay attention to what you say.

MR. SULLIVAN: I guess it will be well-turned up by twelve or two o'clock or five tomorrow, I say to the minister. I might even go back for a change later on today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Today. Two o'clock tomorrow.

MR. SULLIVAN: So we will not have tomorrow today, I guess, in parliamentary terms, right? There will not be tomorrow today. We may have tomorrow tomorrow, but we will not have tomorrow today? Okay, that makes sense in parliamentary language but, try telling that to somebody out there in the real world - not in here in a little bubble, out in the real world, and accurately so, probably, they will think that politicians are a bit crazy. I mean, you cannot blame them.

MR. GRIMES: The most sensible thing you have said since you have been Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, because I always value the advice of the Minister of Education. His word is as good as anybody's in this Province, it is a bond, an honour that everybody knows what he means. The little package he carried under his arm up to Ottawa, with the Premier, that said: We need this, we have one of the worst education systems in Canada. `We need this for the young people in the Province,' that is what the Premier said. And the minister ran up with his little folder that said: Savings will be redirected -

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that he is debating "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act".

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We would not want to expropriate the Minister of Education. We would not want to do that at all. And even if we did it, I think the government should be justly rewarded for that expropriation. He would be a tremendous loss over there. He is one of the few people who can stay serious in a matter of levity here, I must say. The minister managed to keep his composure.

In this Act, it is only proper that people who are unjustly affected by the expropriation of land should be able to have certain rights to make a referral to a board instead of just the minister -

MR. E. BYRNE: `Loyola', the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture looks like he did the other night at the Christmas party.

MR. SULLIVAN: No sir, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture does not look like he did the other night at the Christmas party. It is a different Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It is a complete transformation, I say. Maybe he is at the embryonic stages of his aquaculture, I do not know, but he is certainly not

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member again that we are debating "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", and I would ask him to keep his debate relevant to the content of the Act.

MR. SULLIVAN: If we wanted to expropriate, it is possible that you may want to expropriate an aquaculture area in this Province. If that has happened, do you not think the people who have the property that is being expropriated should get fair compensation?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You can have it all.

I am sure the minister would not want to expropriate valuable property that people spent their lifetime putting money into, or the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not what you said last Wednesday. They were your buddies, I can tell you.

AN HON. MEMBER: God forgive you!

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, maybe God forgive you. God forbid the people who do not get just compensation for expropriated land. What is wrong, with people whose land is affected, having a representative sitting on a board, to appoint a person to sit on an arbitration board? What is wrong with that? I ask the minister. I think it is important that the compensation - under the old Act, if there is a dispute, the compensation to be fixed shall be made by an arbitration board, it says, and the minister shall appoint an arbitrator and shall notify a landlord in writing that a board is to be appointed. It is going to change now. Under the new Act, in clause 5.19.(2), "An application to fix compensation under subsection (1) shall be made by the minister."

What happens? The current Act where we have an arbitration where an individual can have representation - it is automatically represented if there is a dispute over the compensation.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, we should give him some leave.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise tonight to speak on the amendment as put forward by my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, on Bill 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act."

Mr. Chairman, here is another situation where the government of the day has brought forward a piece of legislation that is certainly not in the best interest of the residents of this Province. Mr. Chairman, up until now, if a piece or a parcel of land was to be expropriated, the minister would appoint a person to a board. The landowner would appoint somebody to a board and together they would agree on a chairman of that particular board. Together they would agree on a chairman and the landowner would bring forward his opinions and his arguments as to why he thought a piece of land was worth a set fee.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the government of the day, the minister of the day, decides that we are not going to deal with this anymore. We are not going to give the landowners a right to go and appear before an arbitration board. We are going to go now and put this in the Public Utilities Board, bring it under their jurisdiction, and by doing that we are also going to make sure that the landowner, if he does not accept the price as put forward by the minister's department, then we will make him responsible for paying the full fees as well. The fees and the costs of travel, the fees and costs of the meetings of the Public Utilities Board, the fees and costs of a stenographer. Mr. Chairman, this is all going to be passed back to the landowner, if the landowner's argument is lost. I ask the government: Where is the fairness of that? Many, many times in this Province, we see a piece of land that is expropriated. It may be a small section of land to improve a section of roadway. It may be a section of land to widen an intersection, but by taking that particular piece of land, then maybe two or three building lots may be lost in the meantime. So it is not only the value of a piece of land that is being taken to carry out a change in a government - some direction from government, like a roadway or an intersection, but by doing that and offering the landowner fair compensation for the small section of land that is taken, many, many times a much larger section of land may be deemed unsuitable then for a building lot or for other purposes for which this land was intended, or could be used for.

A prime example, I suppose, of what could happen is the road that is being put through over on the West Coast now. The bypass road on the back of the Deer Lake area there. Mr. Chairman, it was only a few weeks ago or a month ago where - I think it was shown on television - the road construction crew had just about wiped out a section of land there to the point that the home-owners house and the land was probably of very little resale value because of the acts of this particular construction company. This particular landowner went to plead to government to buy her house and land because she was being harassed with flying rock every time they would blast. The road was going right on the back of her property, on the back of her house.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where?

MR. FITZGERALD: Over on the West Coast. I am not exactly sure where it was. Maybe the Member for Humber Valley knows what I am referring to. It was probably in his district. It was in a show that was on the television news probably a month-and-a-half ago.

MR. FITZGERALD: Was it in your district?

AN HON. MEMBER: That was in my district.

MR. WOODFORD: Strawberry Hill (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Down by Strawberry Hill? Was that the new bypass road that was going in over in Pasadena?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. FITZGERALD: Right, that was the section of land. It was on the news. It was on Here and Now. Most people must have seen it. That was a prime example of people having a concern about this piece of legislation now. Here, a lady went and pleaded to government to offer her a fair value for her property because she was harassed so much with the construction company and with the fear of what would happen once that road was opened up and traffic started going back and forth. The government of the day turned their back and said, `No, we do not want the land.' We do not mind if the rocks are coming down through your roof and going in through your windows. They just walked away from it, and that is wrong.

If people are going to go out there today and take possession of a piece of land, then they should offer and supply a fair market value for the piece of land they are buying, for the piece of land they are expropriating; not only, as I referred to, the section of land that they use, but if they are destroying or changing the value of a greater section of land because they want this small area to do what government deems necessary, then they should give them the value of the complete piece of land.

Today, if this piece of legislation is allowed to pass, if the property owner is not satisfied with the value that is offered by government, then they have to have a pretty heavy back pocket, I say to members opposite, in order to go and probably take a chance on spending $10,000 or $12,000 or $15,000 and lose the case, lose the battle. They might end up with the unfair value that was offered in the first place having to be accepted just to pay legal fess.

The way that this particular -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I saw that. Thank you very much; we have a new errand boy.

Mr. Chairman, that is the unfairness of this Act. Before, it was a fair process whereby the landowner would put forward a representative, the government or his department would put forward a representative, and there would be a chairman who would be agreed to by both parties. That was fair, and the ruling would have had to be accepted. The ruling was binding, and a fair value - or at least I did not hear anybody say that the way the process worked was unfair. I do not know why the government want to change it. I fear that I know. I fear that I know the reason why government wants to bring in this piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. FITZGERALD: When you look at some of the things that they are doing now around rural Newfoundland, you are looking at bypass roads that they are talking about putting in. There is talk of one going by Clarenville. There is talk of another going by Gander to bypass the businesses. That is a story in itself. It is a situation where the Town of Gander does not want a bypass road, I can assure you. It is a situation where the Town of Clarenville does not want a bypass road, because they see what has happened. The Minister from Labrador nods his head. He is looking for a road. He does not want it to bypass anything. He wants to route it through all the communities. I fear, Minister, that a lot of your people may be affected by this particular bill. Once you get into - hopefully you will, and I believe you will - once you get into your Trans-Labrador Highway, you are going to see a lot of people having to come back and then go through the courts or through the Public Utilities Board, and have to go by the rules of this particular bill.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: That will be the time when people are going to come to you and talk about the unfairness. They are going to come and ask why you did not stand in your place here in this House at 2:57 in the morning -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I will rise again.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. GRIMES: Why did you ask for leave the last time if you were going to get up again?

MR. OSBORNE: I thought of something else I wanted to say.

MR. GRIMES: Well, that is for the birds.

MR. OSBORNE: There are two important clauses here that we must keep in mind, clauses 5 and 11. Clause 5 repeals sections 19 and 20 and replaces them with new appeals processes with the Public Utilities Board instead of an arbitration board, and many protections for the landowners are eliminated. Clause 11 repeals subsections 34.(2), 34.(3), and 34.(4), and replaces them with new clauses that will cost the person appealing a lot of money.

Mr. Chairman, this is the reason why we, on this side of the House, are so intent on debating this for many, many hours, if need be, because we feel it is very discriminatory that the landowners are going to have their rights taken away while, at the same time, they are going to have to bear the costs, and potentially a lot of money, to fight the decision of the minister on the expropriation of their land and what value they are going to get for their land.

Just some further specific details on clauses 5 and 11, Mr. Chairman. Under the current Act, when the minister and the owner of the land impacted by expropriation cannot agree on compensation, or where the owner is in doubt or missing, or for any other reason the minister considers appropriate, the amount of compensation shall be fixed by an arbitration board. Under the new Act, in the same circumstances, the amount of compensation shall be fixed by the Public Utilities Board, so right here, it is quite clear that the rights of the landowner are taken away.

Under the current Act, when there is a dispute, the compensation to be fixed shall be made by the arbitration board and the minister shall appoint an arbitrator and shall notify in writing the landowner that the board is to be appointed. That is the current section 20.3. Under the new Act, an application to fix compensation shall be made by the minister - this is the new section 19.2, and it is the case that under the current Act, the appointment of an arbitration board becomes automatic when there is a dispute over compensation, but that is not the case with the new bill.

Is it the case that under the new Act, the minster has the choice of whether and when to make application to the Public Utilities Board to resolve this matter? I mean, really, when you think about it, the minister can decide when he wants to send it, and whether or not he is even going to send it, to the Public Utilities Board. The landowner has absolutely no say in the matter at all. So, Mr. Chairman, I find it very discriminatory towards the landowner and very unfair to the landowner that under the new Act, not only does he have no say and does not have the ability to appoint an arbitrator on his behalf, but his case may not even be heard, it may just be cut and dried. The Act gives the aggrieved person no power to demand or speed up a Public Utilities Board hearing.

Mr. Chairman, throughout this entire new bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", we see, especially through clauses 5 and 11, that the rights of the landowner are taken away and the rights of the minister are actually increased. Clearly, the Public Utilities Board process can be far more expensive than that of a three-member, one-stenographer, temporary board. The Public Utilities Board can increase the cost by commissioning frivolous input and the government can act in a mean-spirited way to increase costs at no great risk to itself but at great risk to the landowner.

Mr. Chairman, the new process, unlike the current one, allows the government to beef up its council and spare no expense to try to win the expropriation case. The potentially unlimited cost would serve as a deterrent to anybody considering to challenge the government's compensation offer. Mr. Chairman, unless the board's award is greater than that offered by the government, the aggrieved person must pay all costs and expenses.

The new subsection 34.5, Mr. Chairman, which is the same as the current subsection 4, is even more ominous, given the new process. If the government makes no offer for the land prior to expropriation, the board determines which party pays the cost. The minister, without providing any compensation offer, which a landowner would almost certainly object to, could order the Public Utilities Board hearing. The cost, which could become borne by the person whose land is up for expropriation, could be quite high.

Under sections 21, 23, 24 and 25 to be repealed. Under the current Act, section 21, the minister, subject to Cabinet, sets board member fees but these would now be determined under the Public Utilities Board legislation. Under the current Act, section 23, the board has civil court power to call witnesses, demand evidence, subpoena documents and administer oaths. The Public Utilities Board can do this, as well, under subsections 63, 93, 96 and 98.

Mr. Chairman, it is quite clear here that the rights of the landowner are taken away, while the rights of the minister are further enshrined. While the current Act, section 24, sets fees for hearing witnesses, is there such a provision in the new Act for the Public Utilities Board's legislation? Provision for a stenographer in the current section 25 is taken care of elsewhere under the new scheme Public Utilities Board, section 97. The new Act does away with three provisions of the current Act, 32.2, which states that the board shall include in the award its findings on all questions of law, and the amount of compensation and the awards. Section 32.3, the award to arbitrators shall be considered to be the award of the board; section 32.4, the board may correct in an award a clerical mistake or error arising from an accidental slip or omission.

The minister's defence of this new bill, Mr. Chairman, is that the arbitration board system is archaic and only Newfoundland and PEI still have it. Mr. Chairman, another defence of the minister for this new bill is that the arbitrators see themselves as advocates and failed to work together co-operatively to find a solution. A third defence by the minister, of this new bill, Mr. Chairman, is that the arbitrators are appointed for a single case and this prevents the development of arbitration expertise.

Mr. Chairman, it is quite clear that this new bill is designed for the protection of the minister and the minister's department and takes away the protection of the landowners. It is quite clear that the intent of this new bill is to make it easier to expropriate land and, in actual fact, to make it more difficult for the landowner to fight the expropriation pay out.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

I want to say a few words on Bill No. 33, on the amendment put forward by the Member for Conception Bay South.

Mr. Chairman, again with respect to this bill, as in similar situations with other bills that have been going through this House of Assembly is the fact that this bill is giving undue authority to the minister, which is, as I said, not necessary. Under the old act, of course, the failure of the minister and landowner to agree on compensation for expropriation, basically means an arbitration board was appointed for that particular case. Usually there are three people appointed and one person is appointed by the landowner.

Mr. Chairman, with respect to this bill, the board is going to be the PUB, and the PUB is probably more costly and less swift since it is already bogged down with other responsibilities. So, what we may have here is a case where a piece of land is being expropriated and a value being put on it, and it is being questioned, of course, by the landowner or the property owner. He or she may not be satisfied with the price being put forward, if indeed, Mr. Chairman, there is a price put forward. Then, it would have to go to the PUB. How long, Mr. Chairman, might that be? Would it put undue delays on the government for instance, if they were trying to do some sort of project whereby they needed to acquire the property in question very rapidly, in a very urgent situation? If it went to the PUB, they may have to wait for the PUB to be called together to address the concerns and the value put on the property. Whereas, of course, Mr. Chairman, the arbitration board would be appointed fairly quickly, I would imagine. It would basically depend upon the minister and the landowner getting together and agreeing upon the board that would be appointed, and then they would sit down in a very timely fashion, I say to you, Mr. Chairman, and address the concerns of the individual.

Of course, the concerns may not involve only the price, I suppose, that would be set for the land, the assessed value by the department, but it could deal with the amount of land that is being taken. The property owner could very well think, Mr. Chairman, that the amount of land being taken is excessive and that the government or the municipality, whatever, may not need the amount of land that is being expropriated. So that is a concern, I suppose, aside from the value of the land itself. That is a point that would have to be addressed, Mr. Chairman, by the PUB.

Also, Mr. Chairman, the minister would have the authority to decide if it is referred to the board or not. That is another authority and power that would be given to the minister, that he would decide if, in fact, it should be referred to the board. Under this bill the minister is given the power to make application to the board, and it therefore stands to reason that he will have the choice of whether and when to refer the matter to the PUB. The landowner has no such power to apply to the PUB. So here is a situation, again, where the minister is given the authority, more power than is required -

MR. GRIMES: That is enough.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not at all, I say to the Minister of Education, not enough yet on this piece of legislation. This is a very important piece of legislation, Mr. Chairman, a very controversial piece of legislation, I say to the Minister of Education, and it has to be addressed. That is why we are on this side of the House, to address the concerns and to bring forward the concerns of the public with respect to any legislation that comes before this House.

Mr. Chairman, we are on our feet at 3:12 a.m. to address the concerns of the public, the people of this Province, when it comes to this bill, Bill 33, which is to address the expropriation of properties within the Province.

As I said, the bill itself is very controversial and, as I said earlier, the landowner has no power, as the minister has, to refer it to the PUB. So, in fact, if the minister decides to refer it to the PUB he can, and if the property owner decides that they want to refer it to the PUB, he or she cannot do that. In actual fact that is an unfairness inherent in this bill, Mr. Chairman. Some of the amendments that are being put forward by the Member for Conception Bay South will help, certainly, to address the unfairness in this bill.

Mr. Chairman, we have seen a number of bills go through this House during this winter sitting which are being put before the House a few days before Christmas, that are being rushed and forced through the House of Assembly when, indeed, the House could have been opened much earlier. The legislation that is being put forward, the bills that are being put forward, could have had plenty of debate, not in a rushed fashion and not requiring the Opposition to be sitting in the House of Assembly at 3:00 a.m. trying to address legislation going through this House.

Also, Mr. Chairman, with respect to this legislation, the landowner no longer has a rep on the decision-making board. Previously, with respect to the legislation, or the Expropriation Act, the landowner could appoint a person to the board and have some basically some equal say on what is happening with respect to his piece of land, or the piece of land that is being expropriated, or his property that is being expropriated, for whatever reason the government or the municipality may or may not want it. So the landowner does not have the same right as the minister does to do such a thing.

Under the old act, of course, one of the three members of the decision-making board is the landowner's arbitrator. The landowner's arbitrator can veto the minister's choice of the third arbitrator - but that will not be the case in the future - and the award decision of any two arbitrators is final.

Under this bill, the PUB decides, and the landowner has no say in the composition of that board, nor does the landowner have a rep on the board, and he must hire and pay for independent legal counsel.

In actual fact, before now, a person could actually appeal the appraisal of his property and appoint an individual to the board, but now he may have to hire legal counsel to make his case for him. That, in effect, will possibly deter the landowner or the property owner from appealing. If we have a piece of property within the municipality or wherever, and it is not assessed at a very high value, Mr. Chairman, it may be the government's intention to basically deter the individual from applying to have an appeal heard, because the cost may be excessive to the individual. If he has to hire legal counsel, in actual fact it may not be sensible, or it may prove fearful for the individual to appeal his estimate which would be given to him by the government.

Mr. Chairman, actually the minister doesn't even have to put a value on the piece of land itself, or the property. The problem with this is, if indeed it goes to the PUB and the PUB does not set the same value on the land as the owner sets on it - say he valued it at $10,000 and the PUB comes out with $9,999. The individual may have to foot the full cost of the appeal. The appeal itself could be excessive, because now the PUB could require or want to hire lawyers. They may want to hire engineers or other consultants, appraisers, or what have you, to make their case for them, or the government might want to do that, and the individual could end up paying the full cost.

Now, if we have a piece of land that could be valued at $40,000, $50,000 or $100,000, who knows, and the costs are excessive, it will certainly be a deterrent to the applicant or to the individual, Mr. Chairman, to appeal the value of the land. That in itself is certainly a deterrent. As I said earlier, Mr. Chairman, this bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates landowners into accepting the minister's offer.

Section 34(2) specifies that expenses "...include costs of counsel, engineers, valuators, stenographers, accountants and other assistants employed by the board as well as the salaries and expenses of the members of the board while employed in and about the hearing." The PUB could be frivolous in commissioning more input than is warranted, and who would really know that until after the fact? It could be after the fact.

CHAIR (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I realize that I have spoken on this a couple of times previously, but I feel so strongly about protecting the rights of landowners in this Province that I feel compelled to stand and speak on it again.

Mr. Chairman, there are some serious concerns that we, the members of the Opposition, have with this particular piece of legislation, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act." Most particularly, we feel that the rights of the landowner must be taken into consideration. This is particularly the case with clauses 5 and 11 of the bill. This is the reason we are putting forth amendments on clauses 5 and 11 of the bill. We feel very strongly that we must look out for and protect the rights of the landowners in the case of land expropriation.

There must be some reason the government is putting forth this piece of legislation now. I don't know. Is it for the land in Argentia for the smelter, is it for mining development, is it for the transshipment facility, or the by-pass road from the Goulds? That is a question we don't know the answer to, but for some reason the government is giving itself more power in this new bill to expropriate land from innocent landowners, and the landowners will have few rights to fight with regard to the amount that the government is offering in compensation for the expropriation of the land.

I really find it appalling, Mr. Chairman, that most members on the other side of the House will vote for this legislation, and will vote down the amendments. They will vote to give the government more power to expropriate land and less power to the landowners. Mr. Chairman, it is unbelievable! I think that, even at this early hour, 3:20 in the morning, if the members of the government, the members on the other side of the House, were to listen to their consciences and really consider the landowners, they would vote in favour of our amendments before they voted in favour of the bill.

Mr. Chairman, if the land is expropriated the landowners have very few rights. Instead of having an arbitrator represent them now, they actually have to pay legal counsel to represent them on the Public Utilities Board, instead of a three-member arbitration committee. Under the old system, the government would have an arbitrator, the landowner would have an arbitrator, and there would be a third, independent arbitrator, and you would only need two of the three to settle on an amount that the landowner would get for the expropriation of his land.

Mr. Chairman, it is unfortunate that under this new bill that right of the landowner is taken away. The landowner here is put at a loss, and it is because of the government, because of the new bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act," Bill No. 33.

If the land is to be expropriated, right now the landowner, under the present system, can get an arbitrator at no cost to him, unless indeed the three-member board decides that the amount the landowner is getting in compensation is less than or the same as what the government initially offered. Under the new system, Mr. Chairman, the landowner has to pay for legal counsel, for stenographers and for surveyors. The landowner would have to bear all costs, not only the minor costs under the old clauses, but there would be much more cost to the landowner if this new bill was passed.

MR. FUREY: What's your point?

MR. OSBORNE: I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who has joined our clerical staff around the centre table, my point is that it is now a deterrent to the landowners. It gives more power to the government. It is a deterrent to the landowners to actually fight with regard to the amount that they are receiving in compensation under the expropriation. The landowners will more than likely decide that because of the high cost, in the event they lose, that they aren't going to fight expropriation. The government can take their land for much less than what they would offer under the old act.

The landowners, Mr. Chairman, are put at a disadvantage. Under the new legislation, they would be put at a disadvantage; so much so that a lot of them will just decide not to fight the expropriation of their land. They will just accept whatever it is the government is offering, because of the fact that they are afraid they will have to pay all costs associated with fighting it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, under this new system, under the new legislation, the landowner would have to pay for civil court witnesses, subpoena documents, administered oaths and so on, as well as his own legal counsel. There is no provision in the new act for legislation to protect the landowner in the event of an expropriation. Even a stenographer would have to be paid for by the landowner, if indeed he was awarded less, or even the same, through the board under the new legislation.

Mr. Chairman, it is a deterrent for landowners to stand up and protect themselves, it is a deterrent for landowners to stand up for what is right, and it is a deterrent for landowners to expect to get their full and fair share, something that this government promised: a full and fair share. This new legislation would be a deterrent to landowners to get their full and fair share for their land. Mr. Chairman, that is a crime. I do not know how we could pass legislation without providing protection for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador so that they can get their full and fair share.

It is unfortunate, Mr. Chairman, that the government has promised a full and fair share during an election campaign. They have repeated that promise many times over since the election, and unfortunately this new legislation will not give landowners their full and fair share. It takes it away. It diminishes their rights as landowners. It gives the government further rights, more rights under the Expropriation Act, and the government can actually expropriate land now for very little, and in some cases nothing, because the landowners are deterred from fighting for their rights because they are afraid that they are going to have to pay all the legal costs, stenographer costs, the cost of the Public Utilities Board, the whole shot. Mr. Chairman, I find it appalling.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I am going to let one of the other members of my caucus speak on this act.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: The man who ran, the man who wouldn't vote.

Are you up to vote now?

MR. H. HODDER: Am I up to vote now? When the question is called, -

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: He ran away.

MR. TULK: Yes, what was the number of that bill?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman just now -

MR. GRIMES: Bill 39.

MR. TULK: Bill 39?

MR. GRIMES: Yes. Call it that, anyway.

MR. TULK: "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act (No. 2)", Bill 38. The hon. gentleman was out. He ducked out, he slithered out, and now he is back. We want to know now if he wants to record his vote so that he will be known in posterity.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I certainly appreciate the protection that the Chair gives me in these matters. Certainly, I acknowledge that I was away from the House for about ten minutes, and at that time there was a vote called.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: If the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology had to record all of the votes that were taken in his absence, we would be here for a full week.

Mr. Chairman, I want to take this opportunity to make a few comments on the bill that we are now considering which, of course, is Bill No. 33. Under this particular bill we have the effect, of course, of the minister having the right to expropriate land without what we would consider due process and protection for the landowner. The question we ask is: Why would you do this now?

You know, when we look at the developments that are taking place in the Province, as my colleague from Bonavista South said just now, if we look at the situation of the land that would be needed, for example, in the Goulds area, and the implications this bill would have for landowners who might have to give up land for the Goulds Bypass or the bifurcation road as it used to be called a few years ago, we have concerns. The old process was to have an arbitrator appointed by the minister, an arbitrator appointed by the landowner and then having an independent third party make the decisions. We have had that process in the Province for a long time, and turning it all over to the Public Utilities Board is fraught with risks.

So, we say to the government that we are concerned that the landowners in the Goulds will not be adequately protected. We are concerned that landowners in Gander, when they put the road and change the route of the highway to Gander, that this expropriation may very well negatively impact on people who would be required to give up their land.

So, Mr. Chairman, what we are saying is that we are concerned with the ordinary person. There used to be a fair process, and we want some more guarantees that the public utilities process will be fair, but we don't see those guarantees in this particular piece of legislation.

That is not to say that the Public Utilities Board of itself is an unfair group, but we don't see built in legislation protections for the small person, the individual, the landowner. So, I would say to the House that the difficulty we have is when you switch that process over, we ask the question: Who is going to pay the expenses for the landowner? Who is going to pay the legal costs? Who is going to pay the cost of the engineering studies? Who is going to pay the cost of all of the expenses associated with having appraisals done. When we find that there may not be, in some cases, any representative at all for the landowner, we have concerns. The difficulty we have with this particular piece of legislation, the Expropriation Act, is we ask: Why?

Has this act been brought in so we can have a process that we will get land for industrial sites? Is that why it is brought in now? Is it brought in because we have new highways being built, and the present process does not work fast enough for the government? Is it being brought in because we feel that the Public Utilities Board would be fairer to the government? Certainly, we are not convinced it would be fair to the individual landowner. So, Mr. Chairman, we say that the individual landowner is not adequately guaranteed fair representation.

Then we have the issue where there is a missing landowner. In other words, in some cases we cannot identify who the landowner is or we can't make contact with that landowner. In this particular case, under the old process, when the landowner could not be found the minister was obliged to appoint an arbitrator who would represent the missing landowner. In the new act, however, there is no one on the Public Utilities Board to represent that missing landowner. So, who will make the case for and who will defend the missing landowner? We have some difficulties with that particular aspect of the bill as well.

Then we have the issue of the costs that are involved. We know that the bill says the landowner must pay all costs, expenses and fees incurred in the award process if the board does not award the landowner more than the minister offered. In other words, this process that we are now going to embark upon is a process that intimidates the landowner: You better accept what the minister offers because if you don't accept it and you go through the Public Utilities Board and happen not to be successful in getting more money, then you are going to pay all the expenses. We're saying, is that fair? Is it fair that we should say to a landowner: If you don't accept what the minister is offering you, if you challenge it and you want to seek some kind of an independent arbitration on this - then we say to the government opposite, we ask the basic question: Is that a fair process? Is it fair to say to landowners: If we happen to not award in your favour then you are going to have to pay all the expenses associated with the appeal? In the old process that was not the case. In the new process we know now that there would be an incentive for the Public Utilities Board not to award any higher cost than have already been offered by the minister or by the Crown.

Now, we don't think that the Public Utilities Board will be frivolous in making their decisions. We don't think that they would deliberately go out and say: Well, we can't award the landowner anything because then we won't be able to charge the landowner the cost, but we do acknowledge that the Public Utilities Board has to operate within its budget. Therefore, awarding cost might be a way of being able to keep within their budgetary structure.

Mr. Chairman, government of itself could be - I won't say they would be - they could be very mean-spirited. They could commission expensive input to increase costs and they could, directly or indirectly, intimidate landowners to accept what they have offered. Therefore we say that that kind of process there is not an adequate process.

So, Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to say to all hon. members, that there are some risks in this particular piece of legislation. We have concerns about ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who will be intimidated, who will be frustrated, who will be on the minister's steps time after time after time to try to see if they can get a fair approach, a reasonable approach, an honest approach, an approach that would say that it meets the qualities of integrity.

So we have great fears of what is going to happen. So, Mr. Chairman, for the benefit of the ordinary person, for the benefit of the person who inherits a piece of land, for the person who has paid off a piece of land with his or her mortgage over twenty-five years or thirty years and now find themselves having their property taken, their lifesavings in jeopardy - we are saying we are going to turn all that over to a Public Utilities Board and they are going to make a decision as to what the cost is going to be. We say: Is that fair? Are there guarantees here that protect the individual?

On all of those questions we have concerns. We have concerns that the process is not guaranteed to be reasonable and that it intimidates the landowners, in particular in cases where the minister, for example, might offer what might appear to be a reasonable award but the person may feel that, well, we have some questions as to whether we will appeal it. Then, when they look at all the costs involved, and the potential risk, if they have to spend $10,000 to present a case and run the risk of not winning anything, then they might be hesitant.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: This is nothing more than a process to frustrate the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, I am glad to get up for the second time now to make some comments on this. There are some very, very good points. The ministers opposite must be listening because they are so concerned, and have interrupted so often on all the points that were made by my colleagues thus far in this debate. The Minister of Education is now ready to admit, that, as a matter of fact they do have some very good points and that they raised some very serious concerns that the government and minister should consider, Mr. Chairman.

It is a real shame that the minister is not in her seat to hear this. I hope she is listening outside. It is now 3:40 in the morning and maybe she is having a little nap outside. I ask her Cabinet colleagues, her ministers in Cabinet, if they would make sure she knows about these points. I know the Minister of Education, the House Leader and the Minister of ITT have been listening very closely and they are starting to agree with us. At 3:40 in the morning they are starting to realize that there are some legitimate points being made here. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chairman, they make a lot of sense.

We have raised six very serious points and it is the most substantive piece of legislation we have talked about since entering this House at 2:00 p.m. today.

MR. GRIMES: We have already heard it.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, we are going to tell you again because it is just starting to sink in. The Minister of Education is making a good point and I agree with him, he has heard it already. So if he has heard it already it means it made sense to him and it is starting to sink in. I think if we keep at it, maybe by 4:30 a.m. or so the Minister of Education, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and so on will be nodding their heads and saying: You know what, they are absolutely right and they are making some very good points.

MR. SULLIVAN: Why do they have advertisements showing the same thing over and over again?

MR. SHELLEY: So it will finally sink in. The first time you see an advertisement on a car you do not buy that car right away, you wait until you see it over and over and over. Just like the energizer, not the copper top, you do it over and over and over until it sinks in.

Mr. Chairman, my colleagues here are going to ask that the Minister of Education and the Minister of ITT make sure they go in and wake up the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, who put forward this bill, and make sure she knows the points that we put forward here tonight.

We will list them again, six very good points. I will list them and talk about each one specifically.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table them.

MR. SHELLEY: We will table them. There is lots of time to table them. We have some more amendments yet, more amendments that make sense, Mr. Chairman. We have just touched the tip of the iceberg with this so far. We are getting more energy as we go. We are so encouraged and so enthusiastic about what we are doing, and encouraged that so many members are paying attention to our points, that maybe it is going to strike home. Maybe, Mr. Chairman, around 6:00 a.m. or when the sun is just coming up over Signal Hill, the light is going to hit the ministers and they are going to come to life. They are going to say: We have seen the light and we agree with the Opposition. They have made some good points. We are going to go out and wake up the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal and tell her: You had better go in and listen to the Opposition. They are making some very good points. I've seen the light. Just like the advertisement, we have to keep going and going until the Minister of ITT just nods and says: Yes, you are right, I agree, you are making some very good points.

Mr. Chairman, seriously, the first time we read this bill, our caucus members, everybody said the same thing, that there are some serious concerns here. It is too bad this had to come 3:00 in the morning, that it didn't come -

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you mean 3:00 a.m.? It's 3:45 a.m.

MR. SHELLEY: Three forty-five in the morning, whatever, Mr. Chairman. It is too bad it had to come then because it is a serious bill. I hope the minister responsible comes back to the House while we are debating this so we can make the points to her, and instead of making a joke of it and making light of it that she take it seriously.

Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education is on his way out now to wake up the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal. He is about to tell her - he agreed with me, in just four minutes' speaking. In just four minutes' speaking, the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal -

MR. SULLIVAN: Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't even know what bill you are talking about.

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

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

MR. SHELLEY: I am sorry! The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. TULK: You have it right.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, there are two females (inaudible).

MR. TULK: I won't make a point of order, Mr. Chairman, but I do want him to be correct. I know he is tired.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, I would like to remind the Government House Leader that it is 3:45 in the morning, but that the Minister for Government Services and Lands looked over at me and said: It is the minister of rural development. Didn't he?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I know. Did you hear what I said? It is late. Anyway, the Minister of Government Services and Lands said: No, it is the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: It is your mistake, right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, it isn't here.

MR. H. HODDER: Are you saying that you confused that minister with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation?

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, he told me. I was referring to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation earlier.

MR. H. HODDER: I tell you, it is late.

MR. SHELLEY: Actually, the Minister of Government Services and Lands told me it was the minister of rural development. So I stand corrected with the minister. No problem. We can handle that at 3:45 in the morning, Mr. Chairman.

I would say the Minister of Education just went out to wake up the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to tell her we are making some very good points on this. He is going to let her know, and he is going to give a wake-up call to the entire Cabinet.

Not only the rest of the legislation that we talked about here tonight, we had the Member for Bonavista South put forward a motion that the government finally saw the light after eighteen months, because he brought it forward eighteen months ago, and bang! It took eighteen months to do that, so we don't mind taking tonight and tomorrow morning to get this point through.

Hopefully, Mr. Chairman, it is a brighter government now. There are some changes over there, not a lot, but there are some positive changes, some new members that look very promising, I should say. Maybe they see the light on these particular amendments and suggestions from the Opposition more quickly than they saw what the Member for Bonavista South brought forth.

There are some good points, Mr. Chairman. We mentioned six of those that they should look at. Mostly they have to do with clauses 5 and 11. Now the amendments are in clause 11. Basically, the intention of the bill is to have the PUB and not arbitration boards determine the compensation paid to the landowner when property is expropriated. That is the whole gist of clause 5. That is what happens there. In clause 11, of course, they also make significant changes.

Six of the points are: That compensation is set by the Pub now, not arbitration boards. The minister decides whether to refer to the board or not, and I will make a comment about that in a second. The landowner no longer has a rep on the decision making board. Right away you can see how it is moving away from the person who has their land taken away and the rights they should have, right on back to the minister. We are going to dictate everything to you now. You don't have any decision making. We don't want anybody representing you. The government is going to tell you how much you pay and where you go from there. Forget about the person who just lost their land, or just had their land expropriated. We are going to leave everything in the minister's hands. You have no say any more. That is what happened here.

There is no rep when the land is in dispute. The bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates the landowners into accepting the minister's offer. Mr. Chairman, now the landowner, whose land is in dispute, is going to have to pay for the stenographers, the administration, and so on. I do not know if we have a final figure on what it would cost for an appeal to be covered. Was that $15,000 to $20,000? It could be different, with administration, stenographers, and different things.

Very simply, Mr. Chairman, a person who feels that he has just cause for arguing about how much he was allocated for the land is going to be turned off right away. It almost like blackmail. We don't want you arguing with us. We will tell you what to do. As a matter of fact, if you want to argue with us you are going to have to pay for it. That is what they are doing here. It is nothing short of intimidation on behalf of the government, that when a person has land expropriated from them, they have to face the minister. The minister will tell them where to go from there, and they refer the land. The bill intimidates the landowners even when the minister offers nothing. If the minister does not offer anything, where does the landowner go? If we have a minister who is arrogant enough, and there could be a great chance of that, especially if there is a shuffle over there -

AN HON. MEMBER: He won't even refer it.

MR. SHELLEY: No. When the shuffle comes, Mr. Chairman, and we do end up with a very arrogant minister - and God knows who that could be - if they decide that they do not like this person or, for whatever personal reason, decide not to offer anything for the land, the landowner then has to decide if he is going to hire legal counsel, if he is going to pay $15,000 or $20,000 -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Already, Mr. Chairman? How fast that went.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to take up a whole lot of time. As we all know, it is 3:50 a.m., and fortunately for us at this point in time, we understand maybe that one of the local radio stations, VOCM, may be carrying the debate of the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: I think, Mr. Chairman, what is regrettable to all of us is that they did not start carrying debate in this House of Assembly at 2:00 this afternoon. The reason I say that is because we have spent fourteen hours here listening to, in most cases, the same speech nine times, being repeated time after time after time by each of the individuals on the other side. Now, parliamentary procedure permits them to do that, to stand up one after the other and speak, and there is no problem in doing that with any piece of legislation. But, Mr. Chairman, it reminds me of putting nine people in a room and trying to decide what station you are going to listen to or what television program you are going to watch. The first person says: Let's watch channel 3, and the second person says: Let's watch channel 3; and the third person says: Let's watch channel 3, and the fourth person says: Let's watch channel 3. After awhile, we all know what channel we are going to watch. We all know we are going to listen to speech after speech after speech. The sad part about it -

MR. E. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, I understood that we were debating Bill 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act." I have not heard anything from the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island yet dealing with that piece of legislation.

MR. SULLIVAN: He is not getting a good reception on Channel 3.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, that is for sure. He is not coming through here at all.

MR. H. HODDER: Change the channel.

CHAIR: Order, please!

To that point of order, I remind the hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island that we are debating an amendment to the Expropriation Act and I would ask him to be relevant.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are out of order in more ways than one.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I could carry on a little longer but I guess that is yet one more example, when someone is trying to make a point in the House of Assembly, about the fact that we are being delayed here at a cost of some $6,000 an hour, listening to the kind of rhetoric we have heard from other speakers earlier and the kind of rhetoric we will probably hear for the next two or three hours. But I am glad, Mr. Chairman, that the people of the Province have an opportunity, at 4:00 a.m., to hear exactly how Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition are treating the House of Assembly, and indeed, treating the way the money can be expropriated and spent in the Province.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member to be relevant.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I am not sure if the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island was in the room at all tonight, just like the Member to my far right. The reality is, Mr. Chairman, it is too bad that VOCM is not carrying us live each and every day, because they would understand then that the only people who stand up and speak in this House of Assembly are the nine members in Opposition!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: The Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island wants to talk about the same bills over and over. He has heard the same speech nine times. Let me remind him, we have dealt with Bill 44 today. We have dealt with Bill 26. We have dealt with Bill 35, Bill 49, Bill 50, Bill 39, Bill 38 and we are now dealing with Bill 33.

MR. SULLIVAN: And second readings on five more.

MR. E. BYRNE: And second readings on five more bills - not the same speech, I would suggest to the member and all members, on each and every bill. These members came here tonight, each and every one of us came here tonight prepared to move amendments dealing with what we saw as legitimate amendments to pieces of legislation. That is what we are here for - exactly what we are here for. With respect to the Expropriation Act, it is very important.

The Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island believes that VOCM is taping us live. I have no idea if they are or not. I hope they are, because clearly, it is the only time, if there is a live debate, that we will see any member on the government side, particularly in the back benches, stand up and say anything about anything on any given day.

The Expropriation Act, Mr. Chairman, is an important piece of legislation. The change that government is introducing in this Act will have significant impact on people when it comes to government expropriating land from landowners, it is as simple as that. A very tangible example is the Goulds Bypass Road in my district. Right now, government is negotiating with landowners.

Now, it is really interesting that four weeks ago I met with the deputy minister dealing with this issue and landowners had come to me; we met with officials from the department to work out what they felt would be a fair process because they were not sure what - they were sure that what they were being offered was not what they wanted. What they were being offered per acre of land was not what it was worth. But they wanted to know what would happen in the event that - government's offer, on the one hand, they did not agree with and their counter-offer, if government did not agree with it, what would happen then? Under the old regime, under the regime that now exists before this piece of legislation is proclaimed into law, what would happen is simply this: an independent arbitrator would be appointed. There would be a landowner rep, a rep from Government Services, an independent chairperson, and the landowner and the department would have to agree that whatever the decision was would be final and binding.

A fair process. It does not cost the landowner a single penny to go through that process, to work out a disagreement with government. Now, if the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island thinks this is insignificant and is not worth debating, well, he is sadly wrong. Because I say to the people in my district that it is worth debating. Because what will happen to those people who are coming before government right now is that it will cost them thousands of dollars, not only in lost land prices, but thousands of dollars out of their back pockets to go and fight big, bad government. That is exactly what is going to happen.

In putting it over to the Public Utilities Board to make the Public Utilities Board decide, the landowner, or people who own land, those people who cannot even afford it - it could be an acre of land, it could be twenty acres of land; whatever the case may be - people who do not have disposable cash and disposable income in their pockets, they are going to be required at their own expense to come forward to the Public Utilities Board, at the risk that the Public Utilities Board may render a judgement that the entire cost of the process could be borne by them. That is exactly what is happening here.

When I spoke to the deputy minister about it, that is not exactly what he told me. This legislation was not even tabled in the House. The House, in fact, was not even called back to sit. I left that meeting saying, this is too clean, this is too smooth. Something else is going on here. For the last several months government, particularly the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, has negotiated with property owners - people who own homes who are sitting on a fifty foot, seventy-five foot frontage, 150-foot back, because it is very easy to attach a value to it. It is a three-bedroom home, single detached dwelling. It may be worth $100,000 - very easy to attach a value to that. But they have not been dealing with landowners on the Ruby Line who are going to lose twenty acres of farmland, some of which has just come out of the agricultural freeze, which ups the value of it. A lot of it has.

Now when this piece of legislation was tabled in the House, I knew why they were delaying. I knew exactly why they were delaying. But that is only one reason. There are many other things happening across the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly. I do not expect him to care about the people in my district. That is my job. But I do expect him, and I guess his own constituents can expect him, to care about what happens to them if land is taken from them. If he believes this is insignificant, maybe you should stand up outside the political rhetoric, I say to the member, and tell us what representations you have made to government, what representations you have made to the minister, what meetings you have had to suggest a better option than what is being suggested in Bill No. 33. Because the option that is now being proposed does not work. It works for one person and one person only. It works for government.

Government may come in right now and say to a landowner: We are going to offer you $10 an acre. That is our final offer. If you don't like it, appeal it. That is going to put the onus and the burden upon landowners, property owners, to go to the PUB no matter where they live in the Province. They could come from Labrador, they could come from St. Anthony, they could come from Burgeo. But the onus and the burden will be on them to come to the PUB at their own expense, with the danger that the entire process - at the end of the day the Public Utilities Board can say: No, we deny the application that you made before us. But we also say to you, in bringing forward the application, that all costs associated with this hearing will be borne by you and those people who are with you.

If that is a definition of fairness and a definition of how government treats people, then I do not buy that definition. If the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island wants to get up and accuse us of continuous rhetoric and of becoming politically frivolous, let him do so, because we heard nothing from him tonight - he did not speak to this piece of legislation. If he wants to stand up and put on the table some concrete proposals that would effectively deal with the issue at hand, then let him do it. But we have not heard it yet, I have to say, Mr. Chairman. And I hope VOCM is listening and the people of the Province are listening, because you will never hear him do it. With that, I will sit down.

Thank you.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I hope, too, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are listening. What we have proposed here tonight are two very simple amendments. We are still held up on these two particular amendments. Why somebody would have any problem with these amendments is beyond me. Why I should have been running around here at four o'clock this afternoon passing out amendments, I have no idea. We came here tonight prepared to debate this and if the Minister of Education wishes to go home, he does not have to stay, he can leave. So can I, and when I get around to when my time comes to leave, later on tonight, I will leave. We did not have the bill two or three months ago, I say to the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) have the bill two weeks ago, Minister.

MR. FRENCH: That is right, and now, all of a sudden, we have this Act. Is it brought in for the Goulds bypass? Do we want to do the people in the Goulds out of their money? Is that why we brought this in? Then, I hope the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are listening. What this first amendment says, and says quite clearly, is that we also give the owner of the property the right to appeal the decision to the PUB. We do not agree with it going to the PUB but if we have to have that, then at least give the landowner some protection and some rights under this piece of legislation.

Mr. Chairman, the other amendment to this bill: The bill does not say that the minister has to refer the disputed matter to the PUB. So, again, all we are asking for here is that the minister would put this bill immediately. That is what we are asking for, two very simple things in these two particular amendments. Why they are not being accepted, I have absolutely no idea.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not know if they are accepted or not.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I know they are not accepted. The minister is not here. I have heard your House Leader say they are not acceptable, and they are not going to be acceptable. So we are going to keep talking about these two amendments that have been moved, and as I said, the longer we are here - if we are here all night, sobeit. It really does not bother me if I am here all night. I am sure it does not bother the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: Put it to a vote and find out (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, sure we will. When we are finished speaking we will gladly put it to a vote and we will see then what happens. We will see where you stand. We will see where your backbone is if you have the nerve to get up and vote against your own legislation. We will see if you have that nerve, and I doubt very much that you will. I doubt that there is anybody over there who is going to stand up because there is no backbone, there is - oh, he is awake! He finally woke up! He was out sleeping! He is awake! Good, good. I hope you had your bottle, I hope you are alright. It is good to see you back in here after having a nice little nap for yourself, I say to the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile. I am glad to see that he came back with us. He was out rounding them up for awhile but somebody told me he fell asleep on them.

Mr. Chairman, those two amendments. Why they will not be passed, I have no idea of knowing. But anyway, sobeit. I will sit down now, and if anybody else wishes to get up, they certainly can.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: That was a good contribution, Mr. Chairman, an excellent speech by the Member for Conception Bay South. I found out that we were not on the radio, and I say to the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, that was another feeble attempt of a wasted speech. After calling his two supporters out in the district to tune in, it was not even carried. The Member for St. John's West just moved at least fifteen points ahead of the member in his bid for the federal election. He has no worry about defeating Bonnie Hickey in the federal election. He does not have a chance.

It is 4:05 in the morning. I do not know how long the Government House Leader intends to keep us here, but I can assure him that if I am here much longer he will not be getting a wedding gift from me. I will make that known right here now that the set of pillow cases will be taken back. The set of pillow cases will be carried back to the store, I say to the Government House Leader. If he has no more respect for the members of this House than to sit them here all night, then I will not be supplying a wedding gift to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: I agree with you; I am taking back my gift, too.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The pillow slips is what I talked about and they are going back, you are not getting that.

Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education has sat here in his seat all night and has contributed absolutely nothing other than to be interrupting and throwing barbs across the House. I think it is about time you named the member and let him go home and enjoy a nice sleep and let the people's House get on with its business.

There is only one member I see on the opposite side who will stand in his place and represent his people. There is only one member I can see on the opposite side who, when the chips are down for the constituents in his district, that he will get up and represent them - only one I have seen in this House so far.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is not you. You are the fellow who carries out the polls. You are the poll man from St. John's North, I say, and it certainly is not you. It is the member sitting down there, the Member for Torngat Mountains, the only member in this House sitting on the opposite side who will stand in his place and represent his people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I firmly believe that. The three pieces of char you gave me, Sir, I hope to enjoy it tomorrow. It really looks good and I am sure I will enjoy it over Christmas. God bless you!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I might do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you. There will be no sharing with the Member for St. John's North, no sharing of char, I can guarantee you that. But anything else I have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) brought in the food bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: That was for the needy, I say to the minister. If I was at a food bank, that was for the needy. The minister, with condominiums in Florida, and condominiums in Toronto, and a mansion up in Cowan Heights, driving a Jaguar and a Cadillac, and a 4-wheel drive in his driveway, I certainly would not class him as a poor person. In fact, I was going to have a private chat with the Member for St. John's North, and I was going to make a request. I have not done it yet but I will do it right now, and I will do it publicly. Next year, we are going to experience a big event in my district. We are going to have a Royal visit. We are having a Royal visit in my district next year, and I hope to be part of that. I hope to be there, even though I am not a monarchist. I was going to ask the minister if I could borrow some of his jewellery to wear for those three days. For those three days, I would like to borrow some of the Minister of Health's jewellery, some of his gold, his gold tie-clips and his cuff-links and his necklaces, and all of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: She does not know about it yet, but I have bangles for the wife for Christmas.

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not want any bangles, I say to the hon. member. I certainly do not want any bangles.

Mr. Chairman, we are debating a very serious bill here tonight, the expropriation of land. It is obvious why this particular bill was brought in at this time, I suppose, before the House closes for the winter recess. It is a bill that government wants, and the government needs it for obvious reasons. It is an expropriation bill, so why do they want it? I guess they are going to go expropriating some land.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) all over.

MR. FITZGERALD: And it is going to be all over. The Member for Kilbride knows about what is happening in his district, with a new road going there. The members from Labrador are well aware of what is happening down there. We are well aware of what is happening in Argentia, all positive things, the building of roads and the building of smelters and refineries, all positive things that will happen and create employment. They need this bill whereby they can go out and expropriate people's land, people's prized possessions, and go and offer them a paltry sum of money and say: Either take this or walk away from it, and here is your option: If you do not take what we offer you, then the alternative is to take it before the Public Utilities Board, and we will tell you approximately what the cost is going to be. It will probably cost you $10,000 or $12,000. We are going to offer $20,000 for your land. It is worth $50,000, but that is all we are going to offer you, so you make up your mind whether you want to take a chance on losing that. Because we control the Public Utilities Board. Even though they are supposed to operate at arm's length from government, we control them. We appoint the people to the board, and the decisions that this board will bring in are the decisions you will have to live by.

We have seen what the Public Utilities Board has done in the past. We have seen some of the decisions that they have brought in in the past. We have seen the way that they ruled when Newfoundland Power went before them for rate increases. We have seen what has happened when the insurance companies have gone before them for rate increases. Never, or very seldom, have those increases not been granted. When you see an insurance company, or Newfoundland Power, or the telephone company, or some of the cable companies, going before the CRTC or the Public Utilities Board, whatever the case might be, usually they have their homework done, and when they go and look for a raise they usually come out getting pretty close to what they wanted. But the consumer is always the person who is left holding the bag. The consumer is always the person, Mr. Chairman, who is left paying the bill.

This is what is going to happen with this expropriation Act, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", Bill No. 33. The amendments that the Member for Conception Bay South has put forward are good amendments to that particular bill. It will give some protection to landowners out there who might be faced with expropriation. It will certainly make it much more palatable than what the government and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation are putting forward. All we are asking is to treat everybody fairly. Nobody seemed to have complained and nobody seemed to have had any problem with the way it was operating before, whereby there was equal representation there.

The minister would appoint a member, the landowner would appoint a member, and there would be a chairperson put forward with the consensus of both parties. That seemed to have worked very well. When there was a decision made, I have not heard too many complaints of what happened after, that there were appeals and people were unhappy with the decision that was made. It worked because you had people on that particular board who had the respect of the people who were coming forward and looking for a fair return for their property.

Now I fear that is not going to happen. Now it is going to be the heavy hand of government reaching out and saying: This is what your land is worth, this is what we will give you. Take it and shut up, or else you can come back and you can go through the process of -

CHAIR (Penney): Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) carry on.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I do not want to carry on.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Member for Bonavista South is not carrying on at all, I say. He is talking about something very factual, and I think there were very legitimate amendments made here.

When you look at the nature of the amendments, I say with all sincerity, the nature of those amendments are not unusual amendments at all. I think they are quite representative of people who may be unjustly treated and subjected to very high costs on a dispute mechanism that is in place. What has been wrong with the current system? Has it not been working properly? Have there been grave concerns with getting settlements under the current system of arbitration, that we needed to move into a very expensive one for a landowner, where it restricts the right of that landowner to seek a dispute mechanism to resolve it to his satisfaction?

That is not in the provisions under the proposed amendments to this Act, and it was there before, and it is not too much to expect. Under the old Act, if there was a failure by the minister or the landowner to agree on compensation for any land that was expropriated, it would go to an arbitration board to rule on that particular case. The minister could appoint an arbitrator, the landowner could have a representative there, a third person could be agreed upon and, of course, as mentioned earlier, too, a stenographer to record the proceedings of that particular committee. And the board would come back with a solution, at least an arbitration ruling, on the specific price that person should get for his land.

Now, that is not what is in this new bill, it is not what is in this amendment. Because under this new bill, it says the board now becomes the Public Utilities Board. And the Public Utilities Board can be very expensive. We just saw an example recently of the cost that was incurred in this government to fight on behalf of consumers. We are taking a situation now and we are throwing a cost back on consumers and asking the consumer to pay the cost of going to the Public Utilities Board to fight for something they feel is appropriate, and getting fair compensation for their land.

It is not always swift either, I might add, with the Public Utilities Board. They may have a fair number of matters to discuss, there could be a backlog in getting a settlement on their land and it could be a very slow process, and that could be cumbersome, too, for landowners who have land in dispute.

Now, under the old Act, and that is section 19.(2), if the minister and the landowner cannot agree on compensation, then the appointment of an arbitration board becomes automatic, under the current provisions of section 19.(2). But, under this bill, the minister is given the power now to make application to the board, and it therefore stands to reason that he will have the choice of whether, and when, the minister wants to refer the matter to the Public Utilities Board. It is not an automatic matter, it is a matter of choice if the minister sees fit, if the minister wants to do it, or when the minister wants to do it. That is in the proposal and the landowner does not have the power to apply to the Public Utilities Board. The landowner now, also does not have a representative representing him, putting forth those concerns, and normally, in cases, it is pretty typical in many appeal processes that the person who is affected, has the potential to be affected in a negative way by the decision, has the right to have a representative there.

We hear of many instances of boards operating that have a representative for a consumer or for an appellant, who have an opportunity to be represented. This is not the case with the Public Utilities Board - and it takes away from landowners, their rights to have this representation and I do not feel that is appropriate. Also, when the land is in dispute, there is no representative, of course, because under the old Act - and I referred to that to some extent earlier - when the ownership of land is in dispute or as it says in 19.(1) subsection (b) "the owner cannot be found or there is doubt as to the ownership of the land," the minister then is obliged to appoint an arbitrator to represent the missing landlord.

There is no one on the PUB to represent the missing landowner in this case, so, who is going to make the case for, or defend the rights of the missing or the disputed landowner in this instance? Of course, the provision is not here. Now, this bill has the effect of raising the costs of the processes and it could intimidate landowners in accepting a minister's offer. When you look at the cost - they may have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to take a case to the Public Utilities Board and then have to pay all the costs associated with the Public Utilities Board - it could be a disincentive, and a person might have to take what he can get. Because we are putting into place now a system that is going to make it difficult for the landowner to take a chance to move forward. And it is not appropriate that a landowner should be put in such a predicament where the landowner is behind the eight ball when he wants to present a case to the Public Utilities Board or to the normal arbitration board, as would be the case before. This could be called a form or coercion or persuasion or intimidation of people out there who may feel that what is offered is not a fair price for their land.

My colleague, the Member for Kilbride, made reference to instances where a person may feel he is being unjustly awarded and may have to settle and take something that would be less than they could have achieved, under an arbitration that would not have been costly to the person affected.

The purpose of the board should be to get fair compensation for the landowner. But the cards are stacked against the landowner in this instance, and it makes it more difficult and costly for the landowner to go through a dispute mechanism. Not only that, it does not have the option, in instances, because the minister can decide if it should get to that stage. And that is why the amendments in clause 5, section 19.(2), moved by my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, just added a simple addition to number two to say: "An application to fix compensation under subsection (1) shall be made by the minister", and we have added: "or by the owner of the land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation." Why should not an application be made by the person who is detrimentally affected by the decision? Why should we have the minister be the one who can make application to fix compensation under subsection (1) in section 19, which is shown here in clause 5 of this Act?

The second amendment that was moved relates to, by adding in a subsection 3, section 19 in the bill, "where, the circumstances in either paragraph 1(a) or 1(b) hold, the minister shall make an application under subsection 2 forthwith." In other words, where the circumstances under paragraph 1(a) pertains to the minister and the owner of the land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation, if they cannot agree on the terms of the compensation to be paid for the land or, on account of being detrimentally affected, in one instance, and secondly, in (b) "the owner cannot be found or there is doubt as to the ownership of the land", we are saying the amount of compensation shall be fixed by the board and, of course, an application to this shall be done by the minister.

Now, it is only appropriate that fair compensation should be given and that can only be done when there is a fair process - a process that does not subject the landowner to a high risk in being told a certain value and that is being upheld. Not only will he get a lower value than he feels it is worth, he also will have to pick up the costs associated with it if he is not successful in obtaining a fair price. Now, we are moved into people being unfairly treated in a user-pay system - a completely user-pay system, transferring the cost from government for certain services down upon the person availing of these services. If we start using the same scenario, do we use the same scenario in health care if you avail of the system?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Shall clause 5 carry?

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill No. 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act," has tonight sparked exciting debate on this side of the House, and I notice that members opposite are listening intently to the words of wisdom being espoused by my colleagues to my left and to my right.

MR. TULK: You are halucinating because (inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I think I probably am, nevertheless, it is exciting debate. At 4:25 in the morning I would agree with you, nevertheless it is exciting debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Section No. 5, subsections 19 and 20 of the Act are repealed and the following substituted: "19.(1) Where the minister and the owner of land expropriated or detrimentally" -

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: No. 5.

- "affected by the expropriation cannot agree on the amount of compensation to be paid for the expropriated land or on account of being detrimentally affected; (b) the owner cannot be found or there is doubt as to the ownership of the land; or (c) for another reason the minister considers it expedient, the amount of compensation to be paid shall be fixed by the board."

I guess, Mr. Chairman, it is this whole issue of the board and the role that the board will play as it affects expropriation and as it affects property owners within our Province. Because the intention of this bill is to have the Public Utilities Board, and not the traditional route of arbitration boards, determine the compensation paid to the landowner when property is expropriated. We have had a traditional method of arbitration whereby when expropriation proceedings took place before an arbitration board, a position would be made by both property owners and their representatives, or counsel, and that would then be refuted by government and government solicitors, and obviously, a board would make a decision as to what the fair market value would be and would be payable to a property owner and landowner.

Of course, the purpose of this legislation is to change the whole context of expropriation procedures in the Province and essentially allow the Public Utilities Board to have that power to determine the compensation paid to a landowner when property is expropriated. If you look at clause 5, there are some changes that are worthy of some review and consideration, Mr. Chairman, and they include the following: that compensation is set by the Public Utilities Board and not an arbitration board. So it gives significant power, I would suggest, to the Public Utilities Board, to essentially make all decisions as it relates to the rights of property owners and landowners within our Province.

The minister in question will decide whether to refer it to the board in the first place, and in this case we are talking about the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, so there is ministerial power and authority to make the decision as to whether or not there should be a reference to the board for determination on the issue of expropriation.

Mr. Chairman, the landowner no longer has a representation on the decision-making board, and this is significant, because under the expropriation procedures there were always provisions in the legislation to have direct input on the arbitration board by the landowner rep and, of course, this will be significantly altered when we look at the new provisions with respect to the decision-making powers of the board.

Also, there is no representation when land is in dispute. The bill raises the cost of process and intimidates landowners into accepting the minister's offers. The issue of cost is a significant issue, Mr. Chairman, because there is clearly a disincentive to a property owner to even pursue an issue or to bring an issue forward to the Public Utilities Board, because it seems to me that there is a penalty provision. If there is an arbitration or an expropriation issue being presented to the Public Utilities Board, and if, in fact, the applicant is not successful, well, the cost implications are then carried over to the applicant. That seems to me to be most unfair, and as I said, acts as a disincentive.

There are more comments I wish to make on this particular piece of legislation in the not-too-distant future.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I believe, after some discussion with the Government House Leader, we have agreement that we will -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair is trying to determine what -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

I do believe, after some discussion with my colleague across the way, the Government House Leader, we have an agreement to have a short recess that will be for about ten to fifteen minutes - not less than ten but not more than fifteen - in order that we might be able to caucus with our colleagues.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman wishes to have a discussion with his caucus. As a matter of fact, I encourage that, I have no problem with it. Sure, we will reconvene at not later than 4:45 a.m.

CHAIR: The House will recess until not later than 4:45 a.m.

Recess

CHAIR: Order, please!

For the benefit of hon. members, there are two amendments to clause 5, and we will vote on them individually. The first one is:

"That clause 5 of Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act, which is now before the House, be amended by adding in subsection 19.(2) immediately following the word `minister' the words `or by the owner of land expropriated or detrimentally affected by the expropriation.'"

All in favour of the amendment, please say `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

CHAIR: Opposed, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

The second amendment reads:

"That clause 5 of Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act, which is now before the House be amended by adding immediately following subsection 19.(2), the following subsection: `(3) Where the circumstances in either paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b) hold, the minister shall make an application under subsection (2) forthwith.'"

All in favour of the amendment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

CHAIR: Opposed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clauses 5 through 10 carried.

CHAIR: Clause 11 has an amendment which has been read into the record.

All in favour of the amendment.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, were both amendments read into the record, or just one in clause 11.

CHAIR: The Chair has the following amendment: That clause 11 of Bill 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", which is now before the House, be amended by (1) deleting in subsection 34(3) the word "greater" and substituting therefore the words "not less"; and (2) deleting in subsection 34(4) the words "does not exceed" and substituting the words "is less than".

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Is there another amendment other than this?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Well, do you wish to vote on this one?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I do. Well I will speak on it first and then we could move the amendment after we have dealt with that one.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It still does not detract from the right to move an amendment that we consider to be a substantial amendment, that is going to make some changes in it, I say to the minister. If it is defeated, well so be it. It is not going to deny the democratic right to make an amendment. We have moved an amendment that the word "greater" be deleted and the words "not less" be substituted in subsection 34(3). It would now read, with that amendment: Where the compensation awarded by the board in a case is greater than the sum that the minister offered in writing for the land that was expropriated or detrimentally affected, the minister shall pay costs and all expenses..."

We are moving too: ....awarded by the board in a case that is not less than the sum that the minister offered in writing which certainly makes a substantial difference in the way that it is viewed; because there have to be certain rights to the landowner, the person who has property, the right to be able to put a mechanism in place whereby if a certain figure is not appropriate or where somebody is detrimentally affected by it, there should be an avenue open upon the setting of that figure where it is less than the sum that they are offered in writing.

If the compensation awarded in the case is greater than that, it says: The minister shall pay the costs. So in other words, why should individuals have to pay a substantial cost there? Granted, we don't advocate that landowners should be free from all basic costs involved in the process. That is not what is being advocated here, but on the other hand, they should not be restricted in their ability to be able to at least have the minister or the Crown pay some of the costs associated with this.

Mr. Chairman, I have no further comment on that amendment. We do have another amendment to make, if you wish to deal with this amendment.

CHAIR: All in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Opposed, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, I move the following amendment: That clause 11 of Bill 33, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", which is now before the House be amended by deleting in subsection 34(5) the words "party designated by the board" and substituting therefore the word "minister".

That would now read, Mr. Chairman: Where in respect of land expropriated or detrimentally affected no sum was offered before expropriation, costs and all expenses in connection with the hearing held by the board shall be paid by the minister. "By the party designated by the board" is the current wording that is in the amendment to the act. It is fairly significant, I say to the minister, fairly significant.

Overall, the purpose of the basic amendments moved is to give, certainly, some rights, minimal cost, to a person who feels that the land might be expropriated and there is not a sufficient price tag on that land. It is only fair that they should have an opportunity, as we alluded to earlier, to have the right in that case not to be at the minister's discretion, and also that they not be left picking up the total cost pertaining to it.

Since there is no arbitration ruling now, it is going to a board, and there could be considerable cost. If there were going to be more minimal costs - in an arbitration there would be a reduced level of cost. It would not be as financially burdensome upon the individual in that case, and then you could look at whether there are certain costs they should pick up in the process.

We are not saying that the Province has to pay outright for basically every, single thing, just because something is appealed or they may wish to bring it to the Public Utilities Board; but at least they should have the right to be able to have some of the costs covered, because the Public Utilities Board can be a very expensive process. There could also be delays in the process and the landowner whose land was expropriated could be incurring costs. These cases would not necessarily incur lower costs in arbitration, but there could be differences of thousands and thousands of dollars in the process. It is a high risk for the landowner to take, and there could be extra coercion, persuasion, pressures and so on to get a settlement that might not be fair.

Mr. Chairman, I propose and certainly speak in favour of that amendment.

CHAIR: All in favour of the amendment, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Opposed, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clauses 11 through 15, carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act." (Bill No. 33)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Committee of the Whole on a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act," Bill No. 22.

CHAIR: Bill No. 22, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act."

Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

There is just one point I want to bring to the minister's attention. Basically, I suppose, it should be an amendment, which I was going to put forward, that calls for Bill 22, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act", which is now before the House to be amended by deleting the parenthesis and the letter `d'.

The reason for that is that on March 20, 1996, the government introduced Bill 1, the Regulatory Reform Act. Clause 39 of that bill stated: Paragraph 41(d) of the Lands Act is repealed. So you are basically asking for something that does not exist.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Basically, the amendment is that clause 4 of Bill 22, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act", which is now before the House be amended by deleting the parenthesis and the letter `d'.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It has already been deleted, I say to the minister, for your own information if you want to deal with it here. Did you get what I said?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: On March 20, 1996, the government introduced Bill 1, the Regulatory Reform Act. Clause 39 of the bill stated: Paragraph 41(d) of the Lands Act is repealed. That bill passed through committee stage on June 17, 1996 without amendment, and was given third reading and Royal Assent. On June 18, 1996 it became law. So section 41(d) is not in the act any more anyway. It is only housekeeping.

MR. TULK: If I could, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: If, indeed, that contention is true. Is that in fact true, what the hon. gentleman is claiming?

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, I do not know. I mean, it is certainly possible.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, let me just say to the hon. gentleman, if I could, the point is though, if it is deleted it is deleted, so that it is gone and the bill will be changed accordingly.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just a couple of clarifications. When we went through second reading, the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis asked a question about the amending of section 6, where we increased the levels from twenty hectares to a maximum of 100, and we did not really clarify it for him which section was included to determine that 100 was the maximum. If he looks at section 8, it determines that 100 have to go to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council anyway; so that clarifies that.

In relation to section 41(d), 41(d) might have been repealed earlier but is repealed now anyway because sections (a) (b) (c) and (d) of the Act are repealed and you are only left with 41(e) which refers back to section 8, which indicates that 100 hectares are the maximum.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I understand the law clerk said it is repealed, so it is repealed.

On motion, clauses 1 through 4, carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act." (Bill No. 22)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order 14, Committee of the Whole on a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act", Bill No. 21.

CHAIR: Bill No. 21, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act."

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise and report progress on the bills.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill Nos. 26, 49, 50, 39, 38, 33, 22 and 21 passed without amendment and Bill Nos. 44 and 35 with amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole reports that it has considered the matters to it referred and has directed him to report having passed Bill Nos. 26, 49, 50, 39, 38, 33, 22 and 21 without amendments.

On motion, report received and adopted, bills ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole also reports that it has considered the matters to it referred and has directed him to report having passed Bill Nos. 44 and 35 with some amendments.

On motion, report received and adopted.

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 44 and 35 read a first and second time, bills ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

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

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

Could I ask the Opposition House Leader, if he has any problems with Order Nos. 2 through 13? Because if I could, I would just call Order Nos. 2 through 13 as third reading.

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible)?

MR. TULK: Yes, from Order No. 2 down to Order No. 13.

While he is thinking that over, let me call Order No. 2, third reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act."

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 23)

MR. TULK: Do you have any trouble with them? I will call them all?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, call them individually. (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Okay. Order No. 3, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act (No.2), Bill No. 28.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act (No.2)," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 28)

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

MR. TULK: Order No. 4, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act, Bill No. 25.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 25)

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

MR. TULK: Order No. 5, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Assessment Act And The St. John's Assessment Act, Bill No. 36.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Assessment Act And The St. John's Assessment Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 36)

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

MR. TULK: Order Nos. 6 to 13, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, the following bills read a third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper:

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

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 Respecting A Provincial College." (Bill No. 47)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act." (Bill No. 31)

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act." (Bill No. 24)

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider Bill No. 27 and maybe (inaudible).

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order No. 23, "An Act Respecting Education," Bill No. 27.

CHAIR: Bill No. 27, "An Act Respecting Education."

Shall clause 1 carry?

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

With respect to Bill 27, "An Act Respecting Education", there are a couple of amendments which I would like to present, if I may.

Mr. Chairman, the first refers to Section 3(5)(b), dealing with denominational education commission. Under Section 3(5)(b) the amendment - and there is a copy of the amendment which has just been passed around - is as follows: Paragraph 3(5)(b) of the bill is deleted and the following substituted: Denominational Education Commission under "3(5)(b) develop and support religious education courses.' The explanatory note which accompanies the amendment, Mr. Chairman, is that: This amendment more clearly defines religious education to mean the subject of religious education.

It is simply meant for clarification purposes because the way the existing wording is, if we look at paragraph 3(5)(b) it says: develop and support programs in religious education. By simply adding the words "religious education courses", Mr. Chairman, from a clarification point of view, it simply makes it clear that we are talking specifically about the course in religious education as opposed to religious education generally. Again, it is for clarification purposes, but nevertheless it is an amendment which is perhaps worthy of some note.

I don't know if there is any response that the minister would like to make at this time on that point, before I get to the other amendment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In response to the proposed amendment, I am just a little surprised, I guess, that the hon. member would present it in this form. We have already exchanged information on several other amendments that will be moved, some suggested by the member opposite, others from the denominational representatives, others from the teachers association, and so on.

Mr. Chairman, this very minor change in wording, one way or another, means nothing. I cannot see why you would agree to this change now when we have had no prior notice of it, after the fact that we have been dealing with this issue for a couple of weeks.

The hon. member did a great job of proposing some amendments that we discussed in detail with legal council. All the stakeholders in education, to my knowledge, the denominational education councils whose prime function it is to develop religious education programming, the teachers association, the home and school federation, and the school trustees all looked at this legislation and saw nothing wrong with the wording as it is in Section 3(5)(b). So I cannot see any purpose in changing it just for the sake of changing a few words, when everybody else who has looked at it thinks it is fine the way it is.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Chairman, Paragraph 6(a) and (d) of the Bill are amended by deleting the word "equipment" and substituting the word "renovation."

The purpose for this amendment, Mr. Chairman, is again one of clarification. The authority for equipment is provided to school boards through Section 102 of Bill No. 48, and it is from that point of view that this amendment is suggesting the deletion of the word "equipment" and substitution for the word "renovation." Again, for clarification purposes, maybe the minister would respond to that amendment. That is Paragraph 6(a) and (d).

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again, we had that information checked as a result of representation and questions raised by the hon. member in terms of debate at second reading, and again all of the stakeholders in education, to my knowledge, are quite comfortable with the language that is there. They understand that in terms of the work of the construction board, erection and extension from school boards cover off any possibilities with respect to the rest.

In Sections (e) and (f), Mr. Chairman, it covers off the other possibilities of developing policies for preventative maintenance repair and reconstruction of buildings, and so on, and that those issues are dealt with there.

The equipment of schools, as we discussed at second reading, is the whole notion of having the board deal with basic lab materials such as desks and basic supply of equipment other than consumables, such as a fundamental supply of Bunsen burners, beakers, test tubes, and things of that nature; and this language is necessary.

The maintenance of schools is a different issue that is covered in a different section and it is not appropriate to put into sections (a) and (d).

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Chairman, a third amendment being brought forward: 1. Section 10 of Bill No. 27 is amended to become Section 11. I have copies here I can distribute.

"11. The Act or section of this Act shall come into force on a date to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council."

Section 10 of the bill would read as follows: - and, Mr. Chairman, this should come as no surprise. It is an issue that has been debated in this House for the past week. It has been presented by the Leader of our party and by myself as critic, and it has been responded to on numerous occasions by the minister.

Section 10 of the bill would now read as follows: Resource Recovery "10. That resources realized from reductions in duplication of school boards, administrative offices, schools and transportation systems through the enactment of the Education Act, 1996 shall be devoted to improving the quality of teaching and learning."

Mr. Chairman, this particular amendment is all-encompassing. It is clearly recognition of the fact that it is the position of members on this side of the House that funding in education, or savings from reduced expenses, I guess, in education, and reform measures that have taken place and are in the process of taking place, that any cost recovery would be redirected to schools and classrooms in this Province. As indicated, it has been a position of this party in recent weeks. It has been debated frequently in this House. The minister has responded to this particular issue on numerous occasions.

We will simply restate our position, I would say, that there has been a position maintained by the previous government, I would suggest, and certainly the present government as well with respect to its obligation, to ensure that any funds available as a result of measures taken dealing with the issue of school reform would be redirected to ongoing educational programs and classrooms in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, as indicated, this particular amendment is all-encompassing. It is one which has been dealt with at some length. We take pride, I might add, in presenting this amendment at this time, and having section 10 of the bill now read: And recognizing a provision for resource recovery with respect to this particular provision of the Education Act.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I recognize fully the political debate with respect to the issue of whether or not there was a commitment of some sort to maintain funds from any efficiencies within education for the purpose of improving the quality of teaching and learning, but that is exactly where it needs to remain, Mr. Chairman, as a political debate. It has been a political debate now for a week or more in the last little while and it will probably be a political debate into the future. I think even the members opposite in moving it recognize that there is absolutely no place for this in legislation.

It is nowhere else in the country, it is nowhere else in the world. It doesn't exist in the universe, Mr. Chairman, that we know of, that you would, on a specific item in one part of a budget in one department, put something in legislation saying that under no circumstances could you alter the budget. It isn't appropriate. We won't be supporting it. We fully expect that there will be other opportunities to fully debate politically the question of whether or not there was a commitment to keep funding in education but it certainly won't be supported as a piece of legislation.

While I am speaking, Mr. Chairman, I might also briefly indicate that there is an amendment to clause 8(1), which the table has and which the hon. member opposite has, with respect to clarifying the date between the abolition of the current denominational councils and the existence and working of the new commission. The new clause 8(1), that the table has, will certainly be supporting that amendment, that: When the commission is established but, in any event, not later than twenty-one days after the commencement of this Act, a denominational education council, established under Section 4 of the former Act is abolished; so that the current 8(1) would be deleted and replaced by this new 8(1) that will be moved by the House Leader on behalf of the government when you get through the final clauses.

So we will support an amendment in clause 8 but we will not be supporting the amendment proposed in clause 10.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, the thrust behind the resource recovery provision obviously is that as the result of -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is having some difficulty hearing the hon. member.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The wording under section 10, as has being proposed, Mr. Chairman, deals with resources realized from reductions in duplication of school boards, administrative officers, schools and transportation systems. Mr. Chairman, it is the changes and reforms which have taken place in the recent past which have obviously resulted in significant savings to this government, and it is time that this government looked closely and clearly at where these savings ought to be redirected.

We have seen example after example, Mr. Chairman, whether it be in the recent report with respect to special needs children, whether it is the discontinuation of public examinations, whether it is the cancellation of a kindergarten program which was certainly widely acclaimed by those individuals who were involved in the pilot program. We see program after program being slashed, being cancelled and being postponed. Mr. Chairman, the purpose for redirection of funds is obviously to recognize that our education system, the children of this Province, need to rely on the fact that savings which have been realized, as a result of the reforms over the past little while, could be certainly put in their direction for their benefit, both short-term and long-term.

Mr. Chairman, this piece of legislation under Bill 27 deals primarily with the denominational education commission. Most of the changes and most of the amendments which the hon. minister has referred to deal specifically with the Schools Act as opposed to the Education Act. The Education Act is more of a constitutional nature, in that it recognizes the denominational education commission, the financial structure and of course the school construction board is also envisaged. The duties of the school construction board are outlined under section 6 and obviously there is the regulatory regime which is referred to in section 7.

Most of the discussion that members on this side had with respect to this whole educational school debate, Mr. Chairman, will be reserved for a number of amendments which will be put forward pursuant to various provisions and sections of the Schools Act.

Other than the three amendments which have been put forward concerning Bill 27, there are no further comments which I wish to make at this time. I do not know if my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, has a comment which he would wish to make, or the Opposition House Leader.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I just want to rise and make a few comments relative to Bill 27, which has been introduced by my colleague from St. John's East, and to say that there are certain parts of Bill 27 for which we certainly have a great deal of support. We believe that the general thrust of the bill is okay. We certainly commend the government for initiatives on the Province-wide construction board, the reduction of the number of school boards, and that kind of thing. However, my colleague has concerns, as do the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, over the fact that the efficiencies that will be achieved by the school boards will not result in that money in some cases, according to the minister, being redirected toward the classrooms of the Province.

Mr. Chairman, the amendments that we have brought forward would make it a commitment of the minister that any of the monies to be saved by changes in the denominational education committees - and we know that denominational education committees across this Province have hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, two years ago the denominational education committees were costing the Province nearly $1 million. We believe that kind of money should be redirected to the classrooms.

The Member for St. John's East, in making his amendments on Bill 27 and Bill 48, wants to bring to the minister's attention the fact that there were commitments that were made, and that there were statements made by the then Premier of the Province and by the then Minister of Education. They have been documented in the public press, and they have been shown to the minister. There are quotations in Hansard which show that any efficiencies would be directed towards making the total funding available for education in this Province more readily accessible to children and to the classrooms of our students. However, in the last few days we have listened with some concern as the minister has said: No, no, a commitment was not a commitment. Consequently, we have real concerns about that kind of statement.

I say to the hon. the minister, he has done a good job in trying to skate around that issue, but certainly many people in this Province are not convinced by his statements. They knew when they went out to participate in the public meetings, they knew when they participated in the referendum, and we all knew when we stood here - in my case, I took a very strong position on Term 17. The whole thrust of that was that we could not have four competing school systems, that we could not have buses crossing each other's paths, that we would have children going to the nearest school, that we would have, where possible, larger schools, and where not possible we would have more money to be put into small schools in some of the parts of the Province where it isn't possible to have larger schools, because of the size of the population and distance from the nearest other school.

We were committed to all of that. We were told that the whole purpose was to improve the quality of learning. Our greatest fear now is that, now that we have taken out of education in the last two years about $50 million, and we anticipate that there will be substantial savings - if you listen to what the royal commission on education said about savings in buses, and listen to what the Minister of Education said two years ago about savings in restructuring buses, one would believe there are literally tens of millions of dollars we could have that could be redirected toward children with learning disabilities. We know there will never ever be enough money to address all the needs of all the children. But now that we are going to achieve efficiencies, and putting it in the context of where we were, shall we say, two years ago, I would have anticipated now that we would be able to address the issues that Dr. Patricia Canning noted in her report on special matters.

We know that many of the initiatives in the royal commission have not been acted upon. We know that the minister shelved his kindergarten program. There was a great deal of thought, research and commitment that went into that kindergarten program. Last year the minister said: I don't have the money. So a $1 million program was simply put on the shelf. We are now saying to the minister, when you bring in those efficiencies, yes we should do it. I support reform. I have been consistent ever since I've come to this House about the issues of reform, have been a very strong proponent of it, very strong proponent of change at both the administration level, but more importantly to make sure that we are able to have real change happen at the classroom level.

Mr. Chairman, if we are going to spend the same old dollars and we are going to spend the dollars in the same manner we are now spending them, then we have to ask ourselves, what was the real purpose of the education reforms.

When I spoke first on this matter in the House I said two things. I said: First of all, the churches of this Province were motivated by power, they were motivated by position, and the government was motivated by it's stressing the financial considerations. I haven't changed from that. Now that the minister, in the last few days, has said that he isn't going to redirect his money towards children, then we have to say that the whole purpose of reform was not for betterment of education, but was merely for the financial considerations we now see self-evident.

I say to this House, that when we talk about educational reform we talk about it in terms of the classrooms. We spent the last years talking about it in terms of its organizational structure, but if it isn't going to be translated into more dollars and better learning programs than the whole purpose, the whole philosophy, is at risk.

What we are saying to the minister today is that my colleague for St. John's East, the critic for this caucus on education, has put forward an amendment. He has reminded the government, and the minister in particular, of the commitments that were made. We believe these commitments were substantial, and that they cannot be excused by saying: If you understood that, then that is not what we meant. Consequently, what I am saying to the minister is, be careful we do not betray the trust that was given to the government when we voted for the referendum in the affirmative, and be careful lest we fail to really put the money at the classroom level. Because that is where the action is, that is where we need to put money - into early childhood education. We need to put it into early intervention programs. We need to address the issues that Dr. Patricia Canning identified, and which Dr. Len Williams identified in his report. If we do not, then we have not really fulfilled the mandate given to the government in the referendum, or indeed we have not really fulfilled the mandate the government told the people would be the main thrust of its education reform.

I say to my colleagues opposite, there is a price to be paid when politicians say one thing and do something else; and, on this issue, that is what has been the focus in the public press in the last few days. With these comments, Mr. Chairman, I will yield and see if any other of my colleagues wishes to have a comment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I, too, want to make a few comments on Bill No. 27. I feel strongly that in Bill No. 27, as in Bill No. 48, there was a commitment given that, with the restructuring of the boards, with the restructuring of the school system, money would go back into the education system, regardless of what the minister or this government may say. The Education Referendum: A Decision on the Future of Education in Newfoundland and Labrador, was sent out to every household in this Province. Everybody had an opportunity to read what is stated in it.

It says: Restructuring is only one step in a much broader program of reform. It continues: It is necessary because we need to reduce duplication of service, decrease the number of decision-making bodies, and make the system more accountable to the public. Making the system more efficient will allow resources to be put to better use in improving teaching and learning.

It was sold to the people of the Province back on September 5 1995 on the basis that money would go back to improve teaching and learning in the classrooms of our Province. That is what the people of the Province were told, and it is something for which this government should be held responsible. When they presented this, they knew our deficit situation. It did not increase. We went through a year with a small surplus in 1995-1996, and we wound up this year with only $14-point some million. So we are in the same basic fiscal situation in this Province that we were when the commitment was made and the brochure was circulated to all the households in the Province.

Furthermore, I told the Premier I would go to Ottawa on conditions, certain conditions I stipulated before I would go, and he agreed in this House to follow those conditions. Here is what he took to Ottawa and here is what was presented to the people, in these two sentences: Significant savings would be realized annually from the administrative changes, student transportation efficiencies, and school consolidation which will result from the education reform process. The proposed reforms will provide the opportunity to redirect these savings to the classroom level for the benefit of our students.

That was stated in a package that was sold to the House of Commons, that was sold to the Senators, and sold to the people generally, in a package prepared by this government to promote and sell the concept of reform in the Province. It was an agreement, a promise of what they would do, and they reneged on that promise. The Premier, here in the House of Assembly on May 23, stood in his place and said: `We have to pay the bills today, we have to find efficiencies.' It is no longer acceptable against that backdrop that we should sustain excess bureaucracy at a time when we need our dollars to go to work in the classrooms of Newfoundland and Labrador, not in the administrative rooms of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, this government sold a bill of goods to the people under certain pretence, the same as Jean Chrétien sold to the people on GST, the same, basic thing - the same as Sheila Copps who admitted it, even though before admitting it, she had to do a poll to see whether she would be re-elected. She did a poll, and they told her, in Hamilton East, she would have been elected without any problem; that is what the poll stated when it was publicly released. And then she decided she did not tell the truth so she resigned and said they did not abolish it - `I will run again,' and that is easy enough when you know you are going to be re-elected.

The Minister of Finance came out on a commitment and he apologized and said: he might have basically -

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

I remind the hon. member, we are debating "An Act Respecting Education", we are in Committee of the Whole, and debate should be relevant to the clauses of the bill.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am talking about giving a commitment. The commitment given to the people of this Province is similar and parallels the commitment given by Prime Minister Chrétien in the last election. I will go back to the specifics again of the brochure this government circulated to the people of this Province, a brochure that every householder in the Province received. It indicated making the system more efficient, saying: It will allow resources to be put to better use in improving teaching and learning. That is what was indicated and there are other things in this brochure, too.

The Premier of the Province was very apt to tell the people in Ottawa, the Senators and the House of Commons - and he carried a brochure that he passed out to the media which said: Significant savings are going to be realized annually from the administrative changes, student transportation efficiencies and school consolidations which will result from the Education Reform process. He said: The proposed reforms will provide the opportunity to redirect `these savings', not some of these savings, not some savings, to redirect `these savings' from administrative changes, from student transportation efficiencies and school consolidations, to redirect these savings to the classroom level for the benefit of our students. That is there in the package government prepared and distributed to try to sell this program, to convince the people of this Province, the Senators and also the people of the House of Commons to support this. Because we are going to put the money back into the system, that is what we told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador we are going to do, that is what we told the Senators and the House of Commons to get it through there, and that is what the Premier said here, in the House of Assembly back in May. That is the commitment he gave but he is going back on his word.

The Minister of Education is going back on a covenant, an agreement when they sold this package to the people of the Province, and that undermines the basic premise upon which people voted in the referendum. People voted on the referendum in this Province, Mr. Chairman, they voted because they thought their children in the schools today would have access to a better education that would come from increased efficiencies by having no duplication of buses, by not having too many boards, by not having too many schools or too many administrative buildings in the Province because we could use these dollars to enhance educational opportunities for our children in the Province, and now, we are being told by the Premier, by the Minister of Education, very blatantly told: `We never said that,' when it is here in print all over the place for people to read. And that is not fulfilling a commitment that they gave the people of this Province; they are reneging on a commitment to the people of this Province. Paul Martin gave a commitment and he came back and apologized, saying he was wrong. He said it was not basically truthful. Sheila Copps, even though it was after her poll, made a similar statement that parallels what the Premier of the Province has indicated here.

Since education bills were called here, we spent less than two hours on those two bills in second reading, and we have spent less than an hour - a half hour, fifteen or twenty minutes on this. We have spent about two hours on two very important bills on the future of this Province. We moved it through in jig-time in July and we have expedited this process every way possible. I am going to stand, and I am going to have my say on a matter that I believe is important to the children of our Province. I spent twenty years in a classroom in the Province and I put the interest of the children first. But when people stand up and tell us something and sell it to the people and it is not worth the paper it is written on because it undermines the process, it may not have legal repercussions but it certainly has moral and ethical repercussions on the people of this Province by backing down on concrete direct things.

The Premier even went a bit further than that, he went to the extreme. I will not even mention again what he said in Ottawa in the Liberal caucus, but the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology certainly knows what I am talking about. We had an exchange the other day on it. What he said about the education system in this Province I would not repeat - to sell it in Ottawa -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, at all - the Premier of this Province, and what he said to try to sell a package, how desperate our people were, to run down our education professionals in this Province, to sell a package to them in Ottawa. We did not need to do that. I have great respect for the professional people in this Province in the education system. I went to Ottawa and, where necessary, I stated the belief - the Minister of Education was there - and occasionally, I say to the minister, I had to correct the Premier in the caucus.

(Inaudible) ask the Minister of Education - I said: `No Premier, that is not correct. That is not my interpretation.' The NDP caucus, for example, we were allowed to meet with them; and I went to indicate what I considered to be facts, not to over-exaggerate and sell something. I said from day one that the people here in this Province had the opportunity on February 22, and the people who opposed it had their say, and they passed up the opportunity. We had a referendum initially, and then when we had an election and it did not become an issue in this election, people had their chance, the Premier of this Province had a mandate to proceed after February 22. I agreed with it and I supported it on that basis, not solely on the referendum. I think it was manipulated to a degree because this House closed and we could not debate the question and we could not participate in the process. We were shut out of the process and I resented that and I voted against it.

It may not have been the best question put to the people. It may not have been the best amendment for Term 17, and I took offence to it, that as a member of the Legislature I did not have an opportunity to come here. When Quebec called their legislature, the people participated democratically in the question that was put to them. That is only a fair request from people here. We were not treated democratically - it was not put through.

I turned a blind eye to the antics that the Premier used to sell it. I sold it because I believed in it and not because I wanted to sensationalize and criticize the system of education here in our Province.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Chairman.

A minute would be fine, or I could get up again. If I could have a minute, I will wrap up and I will not speak again.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, by leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, they have not played the game on this from day one. The finger has been pointed at everybody else but the real culprits in the system. It has been pointed at the Senators in Ottawa - and I do not have any sympathy for the Senators. I do not believe we should have a Senate, the way it is structured. I am not an admirer of the Senate, but fingers were pointed in the wrong direction at people there.

We all know that the Liberals have more members in the Senate than the PCs, and if you cannot win it with your own majority there, you have a problem. In the House of Commons, there are only ten people, basically, outside the Liberals, who went against it. All the rest were Liberals, 75 per cent. Granted, there may not be many others there, but there are a lot of Bloc and a lot of Reform, a couple of PCs and a few NDPs in the House of Commons. You look at the vote there, and look at the Senate. It was not defeated for those reasons. There was too much sensationalism on this issue, and trying to make a political issue out of something that is near and dear to the people of the Province.

The people in my district voted 62 per cent or 63 per cent against it, but the people in my district want it, and I think they would make a choice that they would select the best possible education for their children, regardless of whether it is uni-denominational, whether it is interdenominational, whether it is non-denominational, whatever the case may be. I think a majority of the people would make a decision in the best interest of their children, regardless of denomination. That is my personal feeling.

As education critic I said, back in 1993 - and I will finish with this - that I believe in neighbourhood schools. I quoted it. I have the clip in there to show it. I believe in the rights of parents to choose where their kids can go to school, and they should have priority in the neighbourhood that the parent so desires.

I disagreed with the government when they made a decision out in Corner Brook, just before becoming education critic, when they, by not exercising their power, the Minister of Education forced kids to go across the city of Corner Brook to another school out of their neighbourhood. They did not exercise their powers. Under section 61, I believe, in the Schools Act, they had the power to do that. It is not right. They are setting it under a false pretence, basically, and the children of this Province are the ones who have been paying the price.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

On motion, clauses 1 and 2 carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Clause 3.

CHAIR: All in favour of the amendment to clause 3, please say `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Opposed, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clauses 3 through 5, carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Clause 6.

CHAIR: All in favour of the amendment to clause 6, proposed by the hon. the Member for St. John's East, please say, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Opposed, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clauses 6 and 7, carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 8 carry?

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education and Training.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Table has an amendment to clause 8, and I believe members opposite have an amendment to clause 8, deleting the current subclause 8.(1) and substituting the following as per the tabled amendment. The new 8.(1) would read: `When the commission is established, but in any event, not later than twenty-one days after the commencement of this Act, a denominational education council established under section 4 of the former Act is abolished.

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion clause 8, as amended, carried.

On motion, clause 9 carried.

CHAIR: There is an amendment to clause 10 presented by the Member for St. John's East.

All in favour of the amendment, please say, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: I declare the amendment defeated.

On motion, clause 10, carried.

A bill, "An Act Respecting Education." (Bill No. 27)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order No. 22, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province". (Bill No. 48)

CHAIR: Bill No. 48, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province".

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, this bill, Bill 48, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province" is comprehensive legislation - legislation which has been debated at length in this House in second reading, in particular, approximately ten days ago.

Mr. Chairman, there has been much debate on much of the subject matter contained within Bill 48 over the past several days. We are dealing, in particular, with areas such as student rights and rights of parents, obligations of teachers, obligations of school boards, the issue of a francophone board, for example, and property issues, uni-denominational designation, interdenominational designation and so on. It is a piece of legislation that contains, in its draft form, some 121 clauses. I am looking forward, Mr. Chairman, to debating, at Committee stage, each clause on a clause-by-clause basis, because there are implications which are important when we closely analyze and assess each clause individually. There are implications for the students, teachers and administrators, and indeed, the public at large. It is legislation which has to be carefully reviewed. I look forward to doing that at the Committee stage.

There are a few provisions on which I would like to take some time right now, Mr. Chairman, and give some particular attention to. For example, under section 6, it states, "(1) A parent of a student may provide, at home or elsewhere, instruction for that student where the student is excused from attending a school under paragraph 5(c)." Then it states, "(2) A student who is excused from attending school under paragraph 5(c) shall be enrolled under section 15." There are certainly implications, Mr. Chairman, from what is meant by home instruction, under what conditions home instruction may take place and what exemptions that may exist for children who wish to be or parents who wish to educate their children in this particular way.

Clause 7, Mr. Chairman, indicates how approval and in what manner approval may be given. It states, " The period for which a student may be excused from attending a school under paragraph 5(c) (a) shall be valid for no longer than a school year; and (b) may be renewed upon application to the director each school year." That particular section, in my view, Mr. Chairman, does not provide specifics or details as to how that discretion by the school board director is to be exercised. There is no indication, Mr. Chairman, upon review of this section, how this provision may be reviewed or renewed upon application and again, the manner in which this review is done.

Under student records, Mr. Chairman, 12.(1), we see that, "A student record shall be maintained for each student in the manner required by a policy directive of the minister." It is interesting to review the provisions of this section - to be very careful, and in fact to scrutinize, I guess, exactly how the rights of young people are protected. There are provisions that when a person exceeds the age of nineteen, that person obviously, as an adult, is free to request information with respect to school records, and obviously, a parent or guardian will be charged with that responsibility prior to age nineteen.

Also, under section 12.(6), if I may read it: "Without the written permission of the parent of a student, or the student if the student is 19 years of age or older... (b) a person shall not be required to give evidence respecting the content of the student record in a trial, inquiry, examination, hearing or other proceeding."

I would suggest the wording of this particular provision is somewhat conflicting, and it is just poor sentence structure. It is difficult to follow. When we look at clause (b) and read it right after clause (a), it is clearly simply an example of inconsistent wording in the draft legislation.

Under section 13 there is discussion of fees. Section 13(1) states that "A fee shall not be imposed upon a student or parent of a student with respect to the enrolment or attendance of that student or a program or course of study undertaken by that student in a public school." The minister has indicated there is indeed being contemplated by the department at this present time, an enlarged system of busing whereby school fees will be assessed. This seems to conflict, I say to the minister, with section 13, which makes it clear that fees shall not be imposed. So there is somewhat of an inconsistency, I would suggest, in section 13.

With respect to section 14, I understand there is an amendment that will be put forward by the hon. minister dealing with the issue of a student authorization under a Canadian visitor's visa, and that inconsistency and conflict in the wording appears to be corrected by the amendment being put forward by the minister.

Under Part II, the section for Parents, it states under section 16 that "A parent shall ensure that his or her child attends school unless the child is excused from attendance under this Act." It appears, too, that this particular provision under section 17(1), where it states that "A parent who neglects or refuses to enrol his or her child in school or does not ensure that his or her child attends school is guilty of an offence." Under section 17, it appears that this inconsistency in the legislation, or question that could be raised, is also being corrected by a proposed amendment, in that there is now a qualification with respect to exactly what is meant by a parent who neglects or refuses to enrol his or her child, in that there is a qualification or a limitation or an interpretation which will assist all parties in trying to have some greater understanding as to what is meant by section 17 of the bill.

Section 18 states that there is a duty to report. It is a troublesome section, I say to the minister, because this is a duty to the public at large. Section 18(1) states that "A person who has reason to believe that (a) a child who is required to be enrolled under section 15 is not enrolled; or (b) a child who is receiving instruction under section 6 is not receiving instruction in accordance with this Act, shall report that belief to the director for the district in which that child resides."

The difficulty with this is that there is a duty on the public at large, an onus on a member of the public to insist that a child who is clearly absent from his or her obligation to attend school, there is a duty on a member of the public to report that belief to the director of the school board. The concern that I have and the question that I raised to the minister in debate on second reading is, well, what are the limitations, Mr. Chairman? When is it that this duty to report is absolute? Is it possible that a person may be further penalized or reprimanded for simply not following through with his or her obligation to report to the director of a school board the fact that a child is not attending school as he or she is required to do?

So, Mr. Chairman, that particular provision is somewhat troublesome. I am somewhat disappointed that there appears to be no attempt by the minister to correct this inconsistency. It is an area of concern, I would suggest, not only for educators, students or parents but, indeed, all members of the public who are confronted with the fact that there is a legal obligation, Mr. Chairman -

MR. TULK: No leave.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Time up, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: Time up.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: No leave, Mr. Government House Leader? You are sure?

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate on Bill No. 48, entitled, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province," standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Education, shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any resolution or resolutions, clause or clauses, section or sections, schedule or schedules, preamble or preambles, title or titles or whatever else might be related to debate in Committee of the Whole House respecting Bill No. 48, shall be the first business of the Committee when next called by the House and shall not be further postponed. That is called the hobnailed boots.

Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill No. 27 with amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

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

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 27 read a first and second time, ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I have another little motion here which I have to move sooner or later, either now or at some time today when we get into private members' -

MR. E. BYRNE: No, put it back in your pocket, boy.

MR. TULK: No, no, it is just as well to move it now as move it at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate on Bill No. 45 entitled, "An Act To Implement the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador", standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any resolution or resolutions, clause or clauses, section or sections, schedule or schedules, preamble or preambles, title or titles or whatever else might be related to debate in Committee of the Whole House respecting Bill No. 45, shall be the first business of the Committee when next called by the House and shall not be further postponed. That is the second boot.

Having given notice of that, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. The parliamentary day being tomorrow, the calendar day being today. Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn.

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