December 18, 1996         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 56

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Perry Canning, the MHA for Labrador West and I met with the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John LeBoutillier, and the President, Mr. Derek Rance of the Iron Ore Company of Canada and were informed of a major capital investment program by the company. I am very pleased to inform Members of the House of this new capital investment program at IOCC's operations in the Labrador City area.

The Board of Directors of IOCC have approved a capital expenditure program of $75 million for 1997 and 1998.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: This represents a major re-investment by the company in its mining, milling and pelletizing operations in Labrador West and is positive for the future of our Province's largest mining operation.

One of the key components of this capital investment program is the construction of a new flotation plant at Labrador City which will result in increased recoveries of iron in the mill as well as decreased levels of silica in iron concentrates and pellets.

Mr. Speaker, this means that IOCC will, in the future, have the ability to produce iron products which have the specific chemical composition to meet any individual customer demands. In particular, the ability to produce low silica pellets will allow the company to produce pellets for the Direct Reduction Iron market, which is presently the fastest growing market for iron ore products in the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the company, in that it has displayed its long-term commitment to the Province and to Labrador West by making this commitment to capital investment at this time. Its continuing re-investment and its dedication to quality improvements in all its products, means that Labrador will continue to be Canada's leading producer of iron ore and iron ore products.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

First of all, I would like to thank the minister for his statement some half-an-hour before I came down to the House today. I appreciate that from the minister.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about good news. Actually, I was hoping that he was getting up today and announcing a copper refinery for Labrador, but I will say that this is good news, and maybe, that will come later, as the minister sees the light, but I will say, Mr. Speaker, for the people of Labrador West and being a former resident of Labrador West, Labrador City, I know the long-standing contribution that the Iron Ore Company has made to that area of the Province and also to the people of Labrador City, I say to the Member from Labrador, whom I know quite well. I lived there for six or seven years and I know that they had a long-standing -

MR. TULK: Bah, humbug!

MR. SHELLEY: No, it is not `bah, humbug' at all, I say to the Government House Leader. But I do say that I am glad for the people of Labrador West and glad for the people of the Province to see a long-term commitment with mining, any type of mining. In my district, of course - mine is very important, but for the people of Labrador West, today I am sure they are glad to hear this good news story.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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.

I ask the Premier if he is familiar with the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act, and is he familiar with the laws regarding mining tax in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: I am sure the Premier is, Mr. Speaker, and I have a little bit of familiarity myself.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister thinks the Premier is familiar with it, that is what he said, he thinks.

I ask the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you know anything about it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, very much, in fact, I have read it many times, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not so sure if the Premier has, I say to the minister.

I would like to ask the Premier: Could you tell me what percentage we currently receive in mining tax?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Current percentage of what, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Mines and Energy does not know what percentage we currently receive in mining tax, in the Mining Tax Act? Could he tell us the percentage in the Mining Tax Act? It is only 1 per cent there, I say to the minister; if he knows that, what percentage are we receiving?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the mining tax is a profits-based tax. It collects a percentage on the profits, and it also collects a percentage on any mineral rights tax that is paid out to anybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the -

DR. GIBBONS: Fifteen per cent.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad the minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: He certainly did not, I say to the Minister of Education.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to ask the minister - now that he says it is 15 per cent, when actually it is 0 per cent, I say to the minister: Would you inform me, Minister, or the Premier, what per cent this allows us, our Province, to now receive from Inco under this Act?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, Inco has been very clearly told a number of times in the last year-and-a-half since it became first interested in this property that there are going to modifications made to the present Mining Tax Act before it starts producing anything from the mine at Voisey's Bay. These amendments will be tabled in this Legislature in due course.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Inco did not own it a year-and-a-half ago, I say to the minister. What is the sense of talking to a company that did not own it then? We are past the stage now whether there is going to be a mine. In fact, Inco has moved forward, talking about a smelter and refinery in the Province. In other words, they are now spending big dollars. Those costs that they are now spending are pre-production expenditures, I say to the Premier, costs which are dealt with under the Mining and Minerals Tax Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Since those costs determine income and the costs that factor into what taxation we are going to receive, I ask the Premier will he now explain to this House how this Act does not include Inco?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, after Inco does start producing mineral products in this Province - clearly the expenditures that it has had in pre-production, some of these expenditures that are legitimate, and there is a list of the categories of expenditures that qualify as legitimate deductions from our taxes, just as in any other tax regime - it will get credits at that time. Right now they are not producing anything and they are not paying any mining tax in this Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, what provinces and countries receive in royalties and taxes on their resources is no secret, I say to the Premier. They are spelled out in the appropriate legislation. Now, I ask the Premier why he is silent and secret with regard to this tax and the royalty benefits from Voisey's Bay? Our legislation is not secret, Premier. It says we get nothing.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Mines and Energy has pointed out many times to the Leader of the Opposition that this matter is going to be dealt with at an appropriate time when the discussions and negotiations are finished. We have given due consideration to the bill and we will bring it back for public comment, study by committee, and legislative action through the House.

Why the Leader of the Opposition insists at every turn of seeing problems is beyond us. Yesterday he stood up and discovered that we had given away, he said, $190 million to get the transshipment facility. Yesterday that was a crisis but today mysteriously it has disappeared because he has figured out that that statement was as false as many other false statements the leader makes.

I say to him the scenario he is laying down today is equally false, and no matter how much he says `bah humbug' it is going to be a Merry Christmas in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I take offence to the Premier's inaccurate statements when I was told by the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and the ADMs in the meeting, and by other people, that we forfeited $190 million in sales tax and revenues to get the transshipment facility and other related costs. I say that to the Premier.

Now, I want to ask the Premier why this Province has to be so secret when Argentia has a 30 per cent corporate rate and up to 27 per cent in royalties, when Chile has 15 and up to 35 per cent, and every other country and province has a regime they lay out in the public view? Why are you hiding? Why are you keeping secret? What do you have to hide on this particular deal?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: The Leader of the Opposition is showing a measure of desperation which really should not occupy his mind at this time of reflection, as we approach the season of reflection, of calm, and giving thanks for the good things that are happening to ourselves and our families.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have the Leader of the Opposition's christmas card that he sent out, that of himself and his wonderful family on my mantle at home by the fireplace. He should be preoccupied with the good blessings the good Lord has given him at this time, and not dreaming up problems that do not exist.

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand the twenty page presentation given to the Leader of the Opposition. It even says: presentation to the hon. Lloyd Sullivan, Leader of the Opposition, September 17, 1996.

Twenty pages long, this is the famous presentation he refers to, that has him shook up and worried. On the last page it says that there is a multi-$100 million net income benefit to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It says the fuel tax exemption for Hibernia is worth $9 million, for Terra Nova worth $4 million, the RST exemption is nineteen and three. How does the Leader of the Opposition add that up to $190 million?

I met the chief operating officer of Petro Canada in my office two hours ago. He told me I owed him a bunch of money, according to the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, Charlie Brown is here now for the Christmas season, I can say to the Premier. It is easy to know when the Premier is on the defensive. He talks about every topic except the one being discussed. I will also debate the Premier on the transshipment facility. I will give him that challenge, too, as I did on harmonization. He never takes up a challenge because he is not prepared to, because he knows he is having too many of those secret little meetings with CEOs and presidents and not enough for public view.

I ask the Premier: Does the Premier think it is appropriate when Argentina can get 27 per cent in royalties, and 30 per cent in a corporate tax structure, when all other countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia - when our Province has tried to sell out in secret deals, concessions and so on, to big corporations at the expense of the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is going to have a bad day tomorrow. There is a press conference scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Petro Canada is in town. Norske Hydro is in town. There is more good news coming for Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is a nightmare for the Leader of the Opposition. It is just about going to destroy Christmas for him and his family, but I have his Christmas card on my mantle at home right beside Lucien Bouchard and his family and, yes, the Prime Minister. They are all lovely families, and I say: Go home, my son, and enjoy the fruits and benefits of living in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Premier as well.

The last couple of days I have been seeking information from the Premier as well. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Banks. I know the topic is very close to the Premier's heart and I am sure by now he has made himself totally familiar with the amount of fishing effort in this particular area. Will the Premier inform the House today as to the total number of foreign boats fishing turbot on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Spanish war is over.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: And, Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House that we won.

Now on to the turbot war, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is making an issue out of something just to try to get press attention, to try to get his name in the news. We are well aware of the number of boats outside the 200-mile limit. We are concerned about the boats out there just as well as the hon. member is concerned about it. We are concerned about the activity inside the 200-mile limit. We are concerned about every bit of fishing activity that goes on anywhere while the stocks are in the troubles they are. Conservation measures are number one on the minds of everybody.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the latest news that I got at my office is there are approximately twenty-seven boats that are fishing outside the 200-mile limit compared to fourteen last year at this particular time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: And that is the next point that I was going to make, before the turbot war eighty-six vessels were fishing there. Now, Mr. Speaker, those boats are fishing out there -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. minister to bring his answer to a conclusion.

MR. EFFORD: - have observers on those monitoring on a day to day basis. They report incidence to their country and the country's take care of the problems out there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister opposite, there were five boats fishing there one year ago. There are twenty-seven there, as you confirmed, today. Premier, you and your Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture both stated that the fishing effort on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks has been reduced dramatically since the Estai affair and all foreign vessels are now equipped, Mr. Speaker, and monitored by observers. Would the Premier inform us as to the number of fishing violations that have been reported to DFO by those very same observers for the past twelve months?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, let me correct the hon. member. Last year there were fourteen vessels on the Grand Banks in November and early December. What was there at the end of December, I will get that report as we go on into the new year. There were fourteen vessels, Spanish, Portuguese and from other countries, out there. I can assure the member there were fourteen. How many violations? There were four violations reported so far this year by the observers aboard these boats.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Premier confirm that two Spanish ships were recently sent back to Spain and charged with fishing violations? Will the minister confirm that?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would hope so. That is the purpose of having observers on the boats, to report the violations to their country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister also confirm, or is he aware, as we speak here today, that a Spanish fishing vessel has been boarded by DFO officials and charged with misreporting its total allowable catch?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: And this very same vessel is still fishing on the Grand Banks today with its observer aboard!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, let us congratulate them; let us praise them for what they are doing out there! They boarded a vessel, he says, and he found out it is working.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: It is exactly what we want to hear. Now, the process to be followed - because as far as I understand, the latest infraction that was found out there was a very minor infraction on this particular vessel. What the observer and what the country are going to do when that vessel gets home to port will be determined in the very near future. That vessel is due to go home very shortly. Unless the hon. member wants me to take my boat and go out and check on it. Other than that, we will leave it up to the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister is going to congratulate them for overfishing when they have been already charged with a violation. Will the minister also confirm, or is he aware, as we speak here today, that another Spanish vessel has been boarded by DFO officials and has been charged with fishing undersized nets, and is still fishing on the Grand Banks today with an observer aboard?

MR. J. BYRNE: That's two!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the member is raising a question that is of concern to every single member of this House and every single citizen of the Province. But the member, if he is interested in information, interested in conservation, should put correct information on the table. The reality is, as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has just pointed out to the House - and the member knows this, and those who cover the story know this, and they should report all of the story - knows that prior -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, members opposite don't want to hear the facts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - that prior to the turbot dispute and the subsequent Canada-EU agreement there were no observers, zero, on any of the vessels fishing on the Nose and Tail. There is now 100 per cent observer coverage. Prior to the turbot dispute there were not four violations a year, there were sometimes four violations a week. Mr. Speaker, prior to the dispute there were no charges laid against vessels that were undertaking this kind of activity, and certainly no successful charges. That is now occurring.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the member is saying that there are vessels out there, that charges have been laid and that we are not having a follow-up court process as is described under the agreement, I would be concerned. I want to assure the member, we will monitor very closely the situation. We have confidence that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Fred Mifflin, and the Prime Minister and the government will follow through on the agreements that have been negotiated. But I will tell him here and now, and I say to him and through him, to the House of Commons of Ottawa: If there is any weakening whatsoever of the resolve of the Government of Canada to press forward, to implement fully this Canada-EU Enforcement Agreement, we will be the first to stand up and say, get on with the job and do not back off an inch.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Premier, we were told before that this was all resolved, and obviously, it is not. The information I have comes a very high official in Ottawa, I say to the Premier, and it is accurate information.

Premier, what we are talking about here today is very serious - we are talking about the very survival of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Premier, you were the one who took up the gauntlet on this case, you were the one who took the net and carried it to New York, you were the one who brought the Estai into St. John's harbour. Will you admit today that the turbot war was a fiasco, nothing more than a public relations exercise that cost the taxpayers of this Province hundreds of thousands of dollars?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have to say to the hon. member that I really do not mind because we are here facing each other, the member standing up and calling me whatever name he wants, calling me a fiasco, saying he disagrees with me, saying he thinks that they should be sitting on this side of the House, saying somebody else should be the Premier, saying that I had a disastrous - I don't mind, honestly, because that is politics, but when you say of the men and women, Mr. Speaker, who are out there in vessels at a time when Spanish patrol boats had three-inch cannons on their boats, threatening to uncover those cannons, when you say of those men and women of Newfoundland and Labrador, who went onto the high seas and police the high seas and put an end to the foreign overfishing, that what they did was a waste of time, you insult the men and women of this Province!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not mind the member, if he wants to try to make light of anything I have done, go ahead, that is fair play in the House, but it is not fair play to make light of the sacrifice, the contribution and the excellent work of the men of DFO who did a job for Canada on the high seas.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FITZGERALD: It is true, Premier, it is true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

My question today is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

As Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, on August 5, I sent a letter to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing requesting information so that we could conduct a review and a hearing based on the concerns in the Auditor General's Report. On August 23, you sent a letter back to our Committee that said it was your understanding that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing came under your department and any review should be requested through you. Subsequently, we, the Public Accounts Committee, sent a letter to you on September 6, requesting the information; again, we sent you a letter on September 20 requesting the same information, outlining looking for the information so that the Public Accounts Committee, the Standing Committee of the House, could conduct its review as it saw fit.

To this date, we still have not received the information. Why are we waiting five months? Could the minister answer the question please.

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, because I was Vice-Chair of the Public Accounts Committee myself for a number of years when I sat from 1989-1992, I was hoping to get the opportunity to be called before the Public Accounts Committee. When the letter came to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, I directed my officials at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing to tell the Public Accounts Committee that it would be better if they requested it through my office.

Right now, the information is ready. I have it ready, I was not in a position, quite honestly, in the last two months, to be able to appear before the Public Accounts Committee. I am hoping to be called to appear before the Public Accounts Committee some time in the new year. The information is ready, the hon. member and the Committee should have it in the next few days, on their desks, and at that time when you get it, please call me, because I want to have a chance to explain to the Province exactly what Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is doing as it relates to social housing and the other programs we are providing in the Province.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I hesitated to ask these questions. I have spoken to the minister on it. The reason we have not been able to call you, Minister, or anybody else in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, is because you have not forwarded the information. We have waited five months. I would like to remind you, all members, too, everybody, that Section 84 - I believe it is 84(e) of the Standing Orders - gives the Public Accounts Committee the right to call anybody before the Committee with respect to public expenditure. The reason we have not called you is because we did not receive the information. We have been waiting five months. I am glad to hear it is ready, but will you ensure, today, if you are saying it is ready, that by Friday of this week, the information we have requested will be delivered to the Clerk of the Public Accounts Committee?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I wonder can I work a deal with the hon. member and say that if they would be willing to provide the information as related to the Sprung Greenhouse fiasco, then I would provide him with the - this side of the House has been waiting for nine years to get their hands on that and we still do not have it. But I say to the hon. member, yes, I am going to provide him with the information. It will be available to him in the next couple of days and I hope then at that particular - there is nothing to hide other than the fact that I think the Public Accounts Committee basically went beyond their authority to go directly to the department rather than go to the minister. I say to the hon. member, if there are any questions that the Public Accounts Committee has on anything, under my jurisdiction, please feel free to ask me and I will provide it as quickly as I possibly can.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: My colleague just said that he is slower than Art May - there is no doubt about it. The reality is that the Public Accounts Committee did not bypass anything or did not go beyond its mandate in requesting from a Crown corporation information. It was completely within the limit of its own regulations, and if we wish to call the minister before the Committee, we will. If we wish to call somebody else from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing before the Committee, we will. If we wish to call people, private consultants or private entrepreneurs who have dealt with public expenditures before the Committee, we will. The reality is, I will ask you one more time: Will you give us the information by Friday, December 20, yes or no?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, he didn't.

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

MR. A. REID: No, Mr. Speaker. I will inform the hon. member now, he has the right to call; and I will make this perfectly clear, he can call whomever he likes at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing or any department, but if he is going to call anyone under my jurisdiction, he is going to call me and nobody else.

If the Committee think they can nitpick through departments on this side of the House or in this government, they have got another think coming. I am the one answerable to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as it relates to my department. I suggest to the hon. member that when and if you need anybody or any information as it relates to any of the departments that I am in charge of, please consult me. And, yes, maybe I am as slow as Art May. Some people say I look like Art May, and I feel darn proud to say that I do look like him. I will tell you a little story -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday I asked the minister if the program-by-program evaluation of the industry department that he headed up had been concluded. I ask today: Will the results of this review process be made public? Can the minister assure us that the public and business groups will have every opportunity to scrutinize and suggest changes to the review prior to the 1997 budget?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. gentleman has been out of the Province or out of the country for the last six months, because this issue has been discussed so many times. The reality is, in the July meeting of Cabinet in Corner Brook there was a committee put in place, a Cabinet committee, to review everything that government does, everything that a government agency does and apply three tests to it. First, is it in the public interest? Is it being carried out in the most efficient manner and thirdly, can we afford it? I am pleased to report to the hon. member and to the people of the Province that that committee has been working diligently ever since July and we are nearing the end now of having a report ready which we will present to Cabinet. And unless the rules have changed, Mr. Speaker, we do not make public, presentations to Cabinet. We will make the decisions public in due course. As for consultation, and the spirit of consultation, which this government is quite proud of, we will consult with the people in the budgetary process. Some of the recommendations that we make, no doubt, will be enacted during the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OSBORNE: The St. John's Board of Trade expressed concern that the evaluation looked only at current operations of the department. They were not asked to advise on what new things should be added, in their opinion. I ask the minister if he has addressed these concerns.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this was not a situation where the Committee - our mandate was not to go out and discuss with various non-government entities in the Province. We were put in place to look at government departments and government agencies, where government spends money.

The next step, when the Minister of Finance goes out for his annual consultations on the budgetary process, there is no doubt that every single person in the Province who so wishes will have an opportunity to have some input into that and, no doubt, the Board of Trade for Mount Pearl, and all other Boards of Trade in the Province, will take advantage of that and make presentations.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

There have been some reports in the last little while that there has been a bug found in the Nova Scotian Christmas trees that were brought into the Province. I would like to find out if the minister has any reports on that. Are there any concerns?

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

MR. TULK: No, Mr. Speaker, I have not had any but I will inquire and get back to the gentleman.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to give notice to the House, which I'm required to do at the earliest possible moment, that I intend to raise a point of personal privilege related to a scurrilous, vicious, venomous personal and unparliamentary attack made on me while I was absent from this House last night by the Member for Bonavista South. I haven't yet seen the Hansard of the debate -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - but when I do see it and have an opportunity to research that I intend to raise a point of personal privilege in this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

Are you speaking to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quid Vidi?

MR. TULK: No, I'm sorry. A point of privilege, that was.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

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

MR. TULK: Point of order, Mr. Speaker, on the questions that were asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Today is Private Members' Day. The Opposition House Leader a couple of days ago - yesterday. I believe, or the day before - gave notice that today we would be debating the mineral tax act under the name of the Leader of the Opposition. So we were told that was on today's Order Paper. His Honour has already ruled three or four days ago, gave a lesson to the Leader of the Opposition about some other questions that were asked in this House in regards to anticipating debate; Questions anticipating debate are out of order.

I didn't want to interrupt him because the Minister of Mines and Energy was giving such good answers, the Premier was giving him such good answers. But in actual fact I do want to remind the hon. gentleman, I would like for His Honour to take a look, to see if indeed when he comes back in the new year we can really have him read the rule book between now and then.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader to the point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To that matter I wish to note that we are very cognizant of the rules. In fact, prior to today's question period I had consultation with the officers of the House and they were well aware of the general tenor of the question. In fact, there were consultations with the parliamentary colleagues in other jurisdictions. With reference to the questions and what happened today, we were well aware there have been various rulings. The questions were not specifically and totally about the business of the day. There were consultations. We were comfortable that we were within the boundaries of the rules as they are contained in Beauchesne.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could (inaudible).

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

MR. TULK: I would remind the hon. gentleman that consultation has nothing to do with it. The truth of the matter is that a question is not allowed to anticipate an Order of the Day for which notice has already been given, for which the House is aware is going to be. That is a ruling that was made not longer than two weeks ago. So the lesson continues, Mr. Speaker. I would like for the hon. gentleman to get his questions in order.

If you wanted to you could go through the whole Question Period practically and point out where each of the individual members were out of order. For example, asking the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture about a matter that isn't even in his jurisdiction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: You could go through all of that, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: - but that one, this one is enough for them today.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

The hon. the Opposition House Leader is speaking to the point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have consulted today thoroughly on this matter. I know that the government is most anxious to deflect away from these questions. So all we are doing now is trying to find the rules that will give comfort to the government so it won't have to answer the questions that have been asked. Today we saw an example again where -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: - questions were not answered on a number of occasions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again to the point of order raised by the hon. -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order. The Chair has on a number of occasions reminded hon. members that questions asked during the Question Period should not anticipate the Orders of the Day. Clearly that is a ruling. It is substantiated by the parliamentary authority that we use which is Beauchesne. I ask hon. members to keep this in mind for further questions.

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

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period today the hon. the Premier shouted across the House to the Member for Bonavista South and called him a coward. I ask the Chair if he would deal with that matter? It is clearly unparliamentary in Beauchesne Section 490. I would say that using the word coward in reference to the Member for Bonavista South is clearly unparliamentary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier on a point of order.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the word is clearly unparliamentary and I withdraw it.

Petitions

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

MR. HARRIS: I rise with a petition today from 320 Newfoundlanders who are petitioning the House to accept their following petition. As residents of Newfoundland and Labrador they petition the House to direct the Department of Education to legislate a paid adult school bus monitor program for all school buses in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We find that students are presently being unsupervised and are at risk in their safety going to and from school on school buses. They say the safety of our children is being compromised.

Now, these petitioners join with hundreds, and perhaps thousands of others who have had their petitions presented in this House. I believe one of the petitions presented was as many as ten thousand or more individuals who supported this petition, and who believe that the Department of Education has to act on school bus safety in a way that ensures that there will be school bus monitors on each and every school bus. I suppose, not necessarily for high school but for particularly primary and elementary students.

They have prepared, through a school bus safety committee at the Holy Family which had the most recent tragedy, Mr. Speaker, a very detailed and professional, I might say, brief to government outlining the issue of school bus safety, listing the appalling record when you look at it, surprising, certainly to me, to see it in black and white, of the number of fatalities that have occurred as a result of school bus accidents during the last dozen or so years, and in fact the most recent death a couple of months ago totalling six deaths from school bus accidents and in excess of 150 accidents during that period of time.

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned that the school bus situation is not in hand, and that we have a situation where school bus drivers, whose attention is obviously required to be focused on the duties of driving the bus and looking after traffic, are also expected to supervise as many as seventy-two children while driving a bus and while looking after his or her duties in keeping the bus on the road.

That is a pretty tall order and not something you can properly expect a school bus driver to do. The suggestion has been made that this could be looked after by volunteers. The commitment here is rather considerable, and as the brief that was presented to the minister by the School Bus Safety Committee of Holy Family School pointed out it is something that requires regular trained attention by an adult who has been paid to look after these responsibilities because they take as much as three or four hours per day of commitment. It is not something you can expect from a volunteer, and it is not something you can really expect a whole bunch of volunteers to do adequately.

Obviously, somebody could fill in in a pinch but to have a system based on volunteers is not appropriate for something as important as this. I ask the minister to accept the prayer of this petition, and ask the House to support the petition of these petitioners, to use some of the considerable savings that are being made in the allocation for school buses in this Province to be used for the support of a program of adult school bus monitoring.

With those words, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks and ask other hon. members to support this petition.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty whatsoever in seconding the petition presented by the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. It is an issue that has been raised many times in this House in the past and we have, on numerous occasions, provided rationale for a paid adult bus monitor service.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has indicated that this issue would not be addressed, and that he did not see the need for a paid adult monitor service in this Province; however, as can be seen by the numerous petitions, supported by literally thousands of people in this Province who feel it is an issue of genuine concern, I would ask the minister to give some reconsideration to his decision.

The petition is well-meaning, and is certainly one that I have no difficulty in supporting.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand at this time to present a petition on behalf of approximately 330 Newfoundlanders, most of whom are residents of the City of St. John's. I would like to read the text of the petition:

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

We, the undersigned, support the long overdue and needed changes to the provincial Human Rights Code to include sexual orientation as a prohibitive ground for discrimination. Gay and lesbian citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador must be afforded the same and equal rights as all citizens.

We also insist that the amendments to the Code extend to include not only the areas of employment, goods and services and accommodations, but also must cover the area of employment benefits.

We insist that the government deal with this swiftly and fairly during this sitting of the House, as has been promised.

As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed and endorsed by some 330 residents of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue of discrimination. It is now time that this Province see fit to amend its Human Rights legislation, and in so doing this Province would be acting in accordance with the vast majority of jurisdictions in this country. All Canadian Provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Alberta, have amended their Human Rights Code.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If hon. members here wish to converse, I ask that they do so outside the Chamber.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All jurisdictions, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Alberta, have seen fit to amend the Human Rights legislation accordingly to ensure that discrimination does not impact upon any individual.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear from documentation which has been provided to me by the petitioners that attempts have been made to have the necessary legislative provision enacted. There have been commitments made by the ministers and this government to have this matter dealt with expeditiously, but to this point that has not been done. Clearly there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals in this Province, who see this as a matter of necessity to have their human rights protected to ensure that they are not discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of those petitioners who have endorsed this document.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand to second this petition presented by my hon. colleague. It is clear, we are one of the few provinces left in Canada that has not amended the Human Rights legislation. I am basically speaking today to ask the government to amend the Human Rights legislation. It is clear that in Canada now there is no discrimination, or there should be no discrimination according to legislation, because of religion, creed, colour, and so on. We should also enshrine in the legislation the fact that there be no discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Newfoundland, as I have mentioned, is one of the last provinces in Canada to take into consideration changes to legislation to amend the Human Rights Code in this manner. Mr. Speaker, I think that in this time in our history, that it is high time that we look at changing the Human Rights Code and the legislation to enshrine into legislation, protection for all people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the presentation of the petition with respect to the inclusion of sexual orientation as a grounds for a lack of discrimination in the Human Rights Code for the Province.

I find that I just want to put these comments on the record because this government, Mr. Speaker, is committed to do something about it. We have indicated that we will, but it is clear now that it won't happen in this sitting of the Legislature because everybody knows we will be closed some time between now and Christmas or New Years or the middle of January or some time. It won't happen before the Legislature closes, Mr. Speaker, but it seems very convenient, typical, for the Opposition to try to get some political brownie points for a constituency group in the public to suggest now, Mr. Speaker, that they are all of a sudden, in favour of this.

We can go back as recently as a couple of years ago where we know the former Leader of the Official Opposition, Ms Verge, was firmly, personally, in favour of including these provisions in the Human Rights Code and could not get the support of her caucus to support such a position on behalf of the Party, could not do it, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask anybody over there to stand up in this Legislature and suggest that, that is not the fact. That caucus, Mr. Speaker, would not support the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Human Rights Code for Newfoundland and Labrador and, Mr. Speaker, that is in the last couple of years.

Now, a couple days before the Legislature is to close, they will jump up and suggest they are in favour of it -

MR. FRENCH: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: - because they believe they can get some political brownie points.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, on a point of order.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On a point of order, I was not part of the last caucus, Mr. Speaker, and I guess any inference -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

The Chair is trying to hear the hon. Member for Conception Bay South, presenting his point of order, if members continue to interrupt, then the Chair is going to have to take further action.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: My point of order is, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Education is making an accusation about this particular caucus. I know absolutely nothing that went on in previous caucuses and have only become a member of this House of Assembly in February, so I take exception to his remarks. I know absolutely nothing about what he is talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I mentioned nothing about this caucus because they have not dealt with it other than try to play a bit of politics with it here today, Mr. Speaker.

The former caucus I said, led by their former leader, Ms Verge, who firmly told everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador that she strongly supported the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Human Rights Code like this government is committed to do, and here we are now, with a group there now trying to play some politics by suggesting that they are all for it by presenting a petition and suggesting that it be done before the House closes, when, a couple of years ago, they would have nothing to do with it as a caucus, Mr. Speaker.

For seventeen years in a row, the party that this group over here supports and here is their typical thing saying: Oh, I was not here, I can't have - but they support a party that was the government for seventeen years, had seventeen chances in a row to include sexual orientation in the Human Rights Code, did nothing about it, Mr. Speaker, absolutely nothing about it seventeen times in a row. We have a government here that is going to have it done within a matter of days or weeks, and they are up now trying to jump on a bandwagon and suggest to a constituency in the public that they believe in this and they want to do something about it. It is a pure sham, Mr. Speaker, and sometimes it would make you think some people should not be allowed to present petitions in the House, except that the rules provide for it because they get up and pretend they support it when in fact, every chance they had to show a support, they turned around and did nothing except wash their hands of it and say: I was not there, Mr. Speaker, they can't blame me.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. OSBORNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that in the last caucus, even with Ms Verge as Leader, the government side of the House had enough members, that if they wanted to pass this legislation, they could clearly have done it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

That is not a point of order.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: Being a Private Members' Day, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my privilege today to speak on a private members' resolution dealing with the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act. It has been one that this Province has given a commitment and has been dragging its feet now for well over a year, well over a year I would say, about a year-and-a-half. I have the quotes here, I will make reference to the quotes in the statements.

AN HON. MEMBER: The former government.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the current government. I have one by the current government. Okay, well let's see now. I have some interesting news here, March 20, 1996; November 19, 1996. Government House Leader, I have quotes November 19, 1996; May 15, 1996 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) not eighteen months ago.

MR. SULLIVAN: - '96, and I will certainly get to them in due course, I say.

Mr. Speaker, we have a piece of legislation on the books that can have very serious repercussions on future revenues in our Province. I just want to make reference to what we are proposing to amend that would ensure that the people in this Province can get a true return on the revenues. We are asking that the House of Assembly urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to act promptly to amend the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act by adding in subsection 4.1(1) immediately following the words "a person" the words "other than Inco and its subsidiaries and operations at Voisey's Bay."

Mr. Speaker, with reference to this bill I think it is important to look briefly at the history. Back in 1994 this legislation, by the previous government in 1994, was amended to add a new section that states, "4.1(1) A person may, in the current taxation year, deduct from the amount payable under section 4, the amount payable to the province under the Income Tax Act in respect of mining income in the province for the year." It said, "this shall apply only for each year of the 1st 10 years after the achievement of the commercial production in the mine from which the mining income is derived." Now that has significant financial repercussions in this Province and it refers to, in the wording of Section 4, it made reference to an operator and a contractor is liable for and shall pay to the minister in the manner and at the time set out in this act an annual tax of 15 per cent. It says of the taxable income derived by the operator or the contractor for mining operations within every mine within the Province during each financial year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make reference to why this legislation needs to be changed. I think it is important that it should be changed very quickly because back in 1994 - and Premier Wells realized it then and the current Minister of Mines and Energy said we have to change this mining tax regime. We have to get back because under this regime we are giving a company a ten year break on tax royalties in the Province and the Wells Government in 1995 said this needs amending. They met with people in the mining industry and they brought draft legislation to this House of Assembly. They sent it to a committee and they announced last fall that this House would have to reconvene in January to deal with this because we knew that Voisey's Bay was on the market, Diamond Field, the sale, there were bidders, Falcon Bridge, Inco and others were vying to buy it. The government wanted to get legislation on the books before the sale of this particular resource in Labrador, this giant resource. They wanted to get it on the books beforehand because it could have legal repercussions

If Inco, which it eventually did, bought into Voisey's Bay and spent $4.3 billion on a tax regime that is now law in this Province, that says we are getting a ten-year tax holiday, and if it so desires, it could challenge any type of government intervention and say to this government: We spent $4.3 billion. The shareholders of Inco have a right to get a return on their investment. We are going to demand that we get a ten-year tax exemption. It is the condition under which we bought into this.

I venture to project that in a court it has a very strong case. By buying in at $4.3 billion into a law that is on the books for a ten-year - and changing the rules in midstream is like telling an EDGE company that buys in, follows the rules, and when you get into the third or fourth year: Sorry, you can't have the rest of these taxes for the next ten years, and the last five, we aren't going to do that now, we are going to change it. You are going to pay the full shot of taxes.

That is similar to breaking a legal and binding contract that you have. Because legislation is legal and binding. They are the rules by which we do business and allow people to operate in our Province. It is the regime by which we get taxation to put into the coffers so we can fulfil other legal obligations to people. In contract tendering we use this money to call tenders, to make commitments with people who get those successful tenders and have an obligation. When we try to break that and change it, we saw what happened with Trans City. We saw what happened in that instance and it is something we don't want to revisit.

Because we spent millions. We sacrificed over $30 million in revenue by giving it to a higher bidder, on top of the millions of dollars we spent in fighting the case. We don't want a long drawn out court case on Voisey's Bay. We have seen enough of the Churchill Falls. Hundreds of millions of dollars going out of this Province annually. It is unacceptable there, and we don't want to see that revisited. I think it is incumbent - the former premier saw it, and the Cabinet at the time said: We needed this legislation by last December. We are going to reconvene the House in January.

What did the Premier do? The Premier comes in, he scuttles it. Here are some of the things he said. I will go back to what they said at the time. When this was brought in, and the government said repeatedly it needed to bring it in, this amendment. On May 15 1996 this government, not the previous one, the Minister of Mines and Energy said: "We have said that we plan to make some amendments to that mining tax regime. The industry knows it, the Province knows it, the world knows it, and after appropriate consultation on the amendments that were in place last fall, we will be coming back to the Legislature. There is lots of time." That is what the Minister of Mines and Energy said on May 15 1996.

This year on November 19 he said: "We made some minor amendments to that legislation back in 1994 in view of the discovery of Voisey's Bay and the size of Voisey's Bay, the implications of it, obviously for a big, rich deposit there are implications in the amendments that we made that we have to correct, and we are going to make these corrections."

In fact, I will just add, since those statements, Inco spent $4.3 billion to buy Voisey Bay nickel and Diamond Field Resources. Furthermore the minister went on and said: "We are going to make amendments. I said that as well today. They know they are not going to get a ten-year tax holiday but right now we have in place a Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act which is of generic application that applies to and has applied to everybody since 1975."

We don't want a generic one that is going to exempt Inco from ten years on paying royalties to the people of this Province when - I made reference to it this morning - we have countries all around the world, countries like Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and all the South American countries and that, that have a corporate tax regime they pay to those countries, and they have a very high royalties regime that they pay to the people of the Province.

The Minister of Mines and Energy said again: "We have made it clear to them that they will not get the tax holiday. There are going to be amendments made. We have made that clear as well. We tabled the legislation a year ago almost to the day last December, but before we come back with our final amendments, before we bring back the bill again, we have said that we want to fully and thoroughly analyze the implications of Voisey's Bay, so that what we do we do right. Last Fall, the Minister of Mines and Energy introduced it. He sat in his place and said he speaks on the taxation of Voisey's Bay. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, but he was not there and the Minister of Mines and Energy did not even stand up. The Government House Leader at the time stood and presented that particular bill back in the Fall of 1995.

AN HON. MEMBER: My member?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. The one from whom you need to take lessons in decorum, I say, to get this business in the House.

MR. TULK: I guarantee you one thing for sure and certain (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: How many times do I have to say it? `We have informed the company that it is not getting a ten-year tax break,' he said, `and we are going to make appropriate amendments.' The Premier of the Province, on November 20, said in this House, that there would be no ten-year tax holiday for Inco. He said: `We expect them to pay their way and pay their freight as soon as possible.'

Now, I want to ensure him that Inco - now, here is what he said. Is this not a contradiction by the Premier? He said: `There will be no ten-year tax holiday for Inco,' and then he went on to say, `I want to assure him that Inco is subject to all the laws of the Province.' Well, if they are subject to all the laws of the Province, there is a ten-year tax holiday. How can he not have a ten-year tax holiday and be subject to the laws, because the law says there is a ten-year tax holiday? The Premier showed a total lack of knowledge of this particular bill and of the legislation that is on the books of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, even if Inco could avoid such an amendment, we need an amendment to ensure that any other developments are subjected to a tax return in which we are going to get a greater share for our people for the development of our non-renewable resources in the Province. And, Mr. Speaker, there could be other Voisey's Bay projects out there. There could be other future development projects out there, and if we do not enact the legislation to protect the people of the Province, it is the people of the Province who are paying the price, because we have given up revenues that are going to be badly needed. And the law that is now on the books, the law that applies to Inco, gives a ten-year tax holiday.

The former Premier realized over a year ago that we had to move quickly to eliminate the tax break or we stand to lose millions upon millions of dollars, and they introduced legislation in this House that said that last year. The clock has ticked for one year and all we have had is behind the scenes deals and contravention of the Act by giving large corporations out there a break on the taxes in our Province, and that is not acceptable I say, Mr. Speaker.

Here is what the Premier said in the House on November 20 that shows he has a total lack of knowledge of the legislation. He said there would be no tax holiday for Inco, and then he said: `I want to assure him that Inco is subject to all the laws of the Province.' Well, I can tell you that Inco is subject to laws, Inco has a tax break, and the Premier is going to allow a large company to come into the Province, a very large company, and take resources away from our Province.

We have seen it before on Churchill Falls, we have seen it on fishing off our coast, we have seen it on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, and we are seeing it out there now. Since the Estai incident there has been no increase in mesh size. They are still fishing with observers on. They are violating the laws. We gave back the catch. We paid the cost. We relieved them and picked up all the costs in a great public relations exercise that the Premier took part in.

We are seeing him take part in many public relations exercises but we are not seeing the details, I can tell you, and it is not good for our Province when we do not see the details of what is going on out there.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We should. We should hold them accountable, and we should expect that. We should expect the best from our governments, where they would try to lay in a public forum the information, so that people can have public input. In all of the processes we have seen here, they have been trying to keep things from public opinion, trying to hide things from the public. Do not tell the public what is going to be happening to them, assuming the public is not bright enough to know the difference.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, the public is far brighter than many of the decision-makers in government over the years, far, far brighter.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: People out in industry today, and out in business -

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: In industry, in business, the normal individuals out there today are very intelligent and follow closely what is happening in the political system. And many people are not too happy with the performance - the lack of accountability, and the lack of disclosure to the public of what is happening so they can make a decision and have input into the process.

I think it is time to come out. We are all here for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. If we are not here for that, we should not be here. I say to my colleagues, if we are not here in the interest of the future of this Province, we are in the wrong job; we should take another job.

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to have some concluding comments later.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to rise today to speak against the resolution presented by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. I wish to make a few points regarding my position on the resolution.

It is probably true - no doubt it is - that the Leader of the Opposition is a dedicated and loyal citizen of our Province, but we equally are dedicated and loyal. I have to ask the member opposite a few questions.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood and brought a resolution with respect to Churchill Falls. The Leader of the Opposition spoke against it. In fact, the members of the Conservative Party all voted against the resolution.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, to answer your question.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am only too delighted to have an opportunity, and appreciate the time, to respond to that. I will keep it very, very short, understanding your time.

I spoke against giving the Premier a blank cheque when he did not lay out a plan. If the Premier is prepared to lay out a plan to us in this House, I am prepared to support endeavours that are going to get a change in that contract. A blank cheque to do what he wants to do was not what we were prepared to do, but I am supportive of actions that can bring about a settlement in getting revenues back into our Province from Churchill Falls. I said that on many, many occasions in the past, I say to the member. I am very much dismayed with that contract, as you are. I want to see the benefits coming back, but we will not give a blank cheque to somebody without telling us what the plan is.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We were not asking for a blank cheque. What we were asking for was not to have the Premier of this Province confronted with a press release from the Leader of the Opposition as he walked into the Montreal Forum where he spoke on the Churchill Falls issue, to explain it to the people of Quebec. We did not expect that the Leader of the Opposition should use his privilege to the press, his access -

MR. E. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

Two weeks ago, we debated the resolution put forward by the Member for Labrador West. Today, we are debating a resolution that deals with the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act. To the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I question the relevancy in terms of the member's comments and ask him to stick to the private member's resolution before the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order, I ask the hon. member to make his remarks relevant. The Chair was waiting to see if the member would do that, waiting for his comments to see if he was actually bringing in a point.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be getting around to the resources of our Province, and the way we should have taxes and royalties to satisfy that which the people of this Province deserve, and that is a fair return for the things that we own, the resources of our Province.

We have no lessons to learn from the Leader of the Opposition. Indeed, we have no lessons to learn from the Tory Opposition. The fact of the matter is that they are probably suffering from the greenhouse effect. A couple of days ago, the same Leader of the Opposition stood up and asked questions regarding a significant set of negotiations ongoing between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador regarding the Trans-Labrador Highway. He full well knows -

MR. E. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I have to question relevance again. I will read for the Member for Labrador West, the resolution. It deals with the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act, and calls for changes to that Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act. It does not deal with the Trans-Labrador Highway. It does not deal with changes to the member's private resolution. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the member keep his comments relevant and stick to the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, again, the Chair was waiting for the hon. member to make his point to see if he was tying the points that he was raising to the resolution that is here today.

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, there is no point of order. The truth is painful, and many times there are those who wish not to hear the truth.

Let me say that we in Labrador are fighting for that which we believe is right and proper, too, for the people of our region. Voisey's Bay is in the Torngat region, the poorest part of our Province, the poorest region of our land, the poorest part of Canada, perhaps the poorest in North America. We always hear many members standing around, in the press, here, there and everywhere, talking about how great Voisey's Bay is, how much it means to many in the whole of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Labrador?

MR. CANNING: Exactly. What about Labrador?

Mr. Speaker, I say that there are many who believe that the wealth of that region first should be dedicated to the most impoverished part of our country, that on the North Coast of Labrador. I should say to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the Leader of the Opposition, that this government is bound and determined to ensure that we all in this Province receive a fair and appropriate portion of the wealth of that region, but specifically -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) support the resolution.

MR. CANNING: No, I do not support the resolution because this is a sham. In many ways it is a scam. It is to grab a bit of press right now. Talking about such an important, responsible position, to deal with the taxes and the royalties that will flow from Voisey's Bay in such a light, half-hearted manner - this is terrible.

I was listening to your comments the other day when you spoke on Churchill Falls. You were the best spokesman for Hydro Quebec and the Government of Quebec -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: - in conveying the argument to the people of this country why we should not receive a fair and appropriate deal. Now the Leader of the Opposition looks up and says that in his view - in his view - Inco would have a significant court case so they could get away from the taxes they will have to pay.

Well, Mr. Speaker, let me say this: When Inco at first purchased the first 25 per cent of ownership in the Diamond Fields, there were letters conveyed. Inco full well knows they have no access to this ten-year tax holiday.

Let me say also, the reason why there is so much development and opportunity today is because the Minister of Mines and Energy had the foresight to bring about changes in the Act to cause people to go out and prospect and look for minerals; that is why we have a mine in Voisey's Bay today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, the proof is in the pudding. During the election, the Official Opposition said we would not have a mine mill, we would not have a smelter and a refinery, we would not have a transshipment, we would not have Whiterose, and look in The Globe and Mail today, another mega-project on the horizon. What do they say in the widest-read paper of the land? Who do they attribute this whole project to? Do they attribute it to the Leader of the Opposition?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. CANNING: Do they attribute it to the critic for Mines and Energy?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, they attribute it to the Premier of this Province and the Hon. Rex Gibbons for their work and their foresight in generating that kind of investment and opportunity in our Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, let me say now, and let me say clearly to all who will listen, that this government is determined to ensure that we will receive a full, fair and responsible amount of revenue from Voisey's Bay. This will go through this House in due course. The Minister of Mines and Energy will bring this legislation for all to see, in the proper time and in a way that is appropriate. We are not going to deal with one of the biggest projects in history -

MR. TULK: In a way that is best for Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. CANNING: Exactly, in a way that is best for Newfoundland and Labrador, as the hon. the House Leader says. But I say to the members of the Opposition that you are undermining the process when the Leader of the Opposition stands up and says that he believes Inco could have weight in a court case. He believes that Inco could go to court and argue for the ten-year tax holiday.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why we lost the Water Rights Reversion Act was because of comments that were made by people in the House of Assembly, inappropriate comments that were made. Mr. Speaker, let me just say this, too, that Inco is a responsible corporate citizen. They are into our Province. We should welcome them. They are a major investor. They fully understand and appreciate -

MR. SULLIVAN: You are not going to support it.

MR. CANNING: I am not going to support this resolution.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you have constituents who agree with that?

MR. CANNING: My constituents - the Leader of the Opposition continues to try to argue, Mr. Speaker, that there is a ten-year tax holiday that will be given to Inco. The only one who wants to see a ten-year tax holiday go to Inco is, I suggest, the Leader of the Opposition, because we are not going to do that. They are going to pay their full and fair share. I spent my life working with -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) full and fair (inaudible).

MR. CANNING: Full and fair share.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that the Official Opposition is overwhelmed with good news. They have no capacity to deal with good news. We have a great deal of good news coming to this Province and I suggest that there will be more good news tomorrow. I can say, Mr. Speaker, with every confidence in my soul, that at the end of the day all the citizens of this Province will appreciate and support the royalty and tax regime that we will bring to bear on Inco, Voisey's Bay and Voisey's Bay nickel. Mr. Speaker, we will make sure that the tax and royalty regime is as good -

MR. SULLIVAN: Not even going to support it?

MR. CANNING: I am not going to support your resolution. I think your resolution is flippant in many ways. I believe that you have used this resolution just to try to gain a note in the editorial or a note on the front page even but, in the final analysis, we will use the power and authority of this House to subject that company to a responsible level of tax and royalties that will bring to bear -

MR. SULLIVAN: They lost this ten years (inaudible).

MR. CANNING: We will change it.

MR. SULLIVAN: When?

MR. CANNING: In due course, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, in due course.

MR. SULLIVAN: In due course, we heard that a year ago.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I heard the Leader of the Opposition say that we are losing millions of dollars. I suggest to him that he should put it on the table as to how we are losing these millions of dollars. We have not lost anything yet. There is no mine there yet. There is no royalties to be born from it before there is a mine. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that we have time. Just as they have time to build the infrastructure, we have time to build a tax and royalty regime in this Province for this magnificent mineral discovery in the mighty Torngats, in the home of my friend and member from Torngat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to stop using members' names and refer to members by their districts.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to reiterate, I cannot support this resolution. I do support the activities of the Premier and the Minister of Mines and Energy. I do support the efforts of the Cabinet and this caucus that are bound and will deliver a tax regime on that facility that everybody, and I suggest even the members opposite, will find it easy to applaud and approve.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, after all night of being up, I am delighted today, after listening to the Member for Labrador West, to stand to talk on this motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition which, I would say, could be the saviour of the Voisey's Bay situation in Labrador. I would say to the Member for Labrador West, you will be considered after this debate, once this debate gets back to the people in Labrador West, as the kamikaze pilot from the Liberal side, of the MHAs for Labrador.

I am going to tell the member, with all due respect to him - and I do have a lot of respect for the Member for Labrador West, I say, Mr. Speaker, and a lot of respect for the people of Labrador West. Because, and I say this to you in all seriousness, I have lived in Labrador West as the member knows. I know a lot of people in the Labrador City - Wabush area very well. I have been talking back and forth with them now continuously on this very issue. They are emotionally upset right now over this whole fiasco with Voisey's Bay. They really are, and the member knows that, and he is taking the heat on it. The member has taken the heat on it.

I say, with all due respect to the Member for Labrador West, that he should be very careful when he finally decides if he is going to vote for or against this. Because I am going to tell you that what this does is it gets rid of what Labrador West and the people in Labrador do not want anymore, and that is rhetoric, innuendo and lip service. What this resolution does is put it into concrete terms -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West on a point of order.

MR. CANNING: I remind the member, when your Leader spoke, he said: This is legal and binding. He suggests that Inco has a very strong legal argument to make.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, is this a point of order, or what?

MR. CANNING: I suggest that statements by your Leader could potentially put this Province in a terrible legal situation.

MR. E. BYRNE: Don't be so foolish, boy! Sit down! There is no point of order. Don't be so foolish!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, not only is (inaudible) -

MR. SULLIVAN: Laws are legally binding. Do you not know that?

MR. SHELLEY: Not only do I respect the Chair's position that there was no point of order, but there was not even a point, let alone a point of order.

I will continue, Mr. Speaker. I do say to the member that I am continuously talking back and forth with people in Labrador West whom I know very well, and other people I did not know very well, who have been calling me lately. I say to the Member for Labrador West, you should tread very lightly on this issue. Because I tell you, this is at the heart and soul of the people of Labrador.

Simply put, they do not want lip service anymore, they do not want any politician, whether it is Liberal, PC, NDP, whatever they are, saying: Don't worry Labrador, you are going to get your full share. We have a vision for you. They do not want it anymore, Mr. Speaker. What they want is solid black-and-white legislation, law, that is going to do exactly what this resolution says it is doing, which is to put it in writing.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to the Member for Eagle River?

MR. SHELLEY: What happened to the Member for Eagle River, I ask the Member for Labrador West? The people of Labrador, Mr. Speaker, are historically known to scrutinize their members for how they stand on Labrador issues. That is simply put.

The Member for Eagle River learned that very quickly. My advice to the rookie MHA - and no disrespect to that, we have our own rookie MHAs who have planned a long career in politics, and he has a lot of potential so far, he has potential, I say that to the member - is, tread very carefully on this issue. Because this goes beyond Liberals, Tories, NDP or anything else you can come up. This comes with the heart and soul of Labradorians who say: We have watched it for years.

When I lived in Labrador City, they talked about the taxes - we talked about IOC today, for example - the taxes that these people pay out in their cheques every week. And they say: We want more, we are not getting our full share. As a matter of fact, many of the members who visited Labrador agreed with that, that Labrador has not gotten its full share. That has been concurred with by most members in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: All members of the House.

MR. SHELLEY: All members of the House, I say to the Government House Leader. I say that in respect to the Member for Labrador West. They want something in black-and-white, Mr. Speaker. What this resolution does is, it lays it on the table and says: Inco, this is what the deal is, this is what the law of the land is.

Just to talk to the resolution, in particular. What this does is, it makes it the law of the land. Right now, there are lawyers and judges around this country who are going to take on a challenge, Mr. Speaker, if Inco asks for it.

Right now, Inco has sold the idea to their shareholders that they are coming to a Province named Newfoundland and Labrador, that this is their tax regime, that these are the shares that you bought, and that is what they are basing their whole development on, Mr. Speaker, and I want to also say to the member, Mr. Speaker, I wonder how far this deal has really gone? That is the question that everybody in Labrador West has been asking me; how much of the deal has been done? I say to the member and the Member for Lake Melville - that was changed so often, I mean we have premiers changing boundaries and everything, I know Labrador West but Lake Melville district, is that correct now?

Mr. Speaker, we are delighted to hear that anybody who is going to pump money into a hospital for Goose Bay, I applaud them, I am delighted for the people. I know that there is an old wooden hospital there now and it is time it was upgraded and so I am delighted. We thump our desks, we take our hats off to them but, Mr. Speaker, you would have to ask the question, if you are using any logic whatsoever, that Inco did not come up to Labrador and go into Goose Bay with the Premier and say: Oh, out of the goodness of our hearts because we are such nice people, that we are going to just throw in $16 million for a hospital.

Mr. Speaker, companies do not go around doing that and with all due respect to the company of Inco, which is a reputable company, well-known around the world for mining and so on, why did they just off the top, with no suggestion as to why or where it came from, are they throwing $16 million into a hospital in Goose Bay? Now what is next down the road, what is next? I hope it is good but, Mr. Speaker, when I see a big company like that throwing around money without direction to it - is that a concession? Is that something you are going to take out of the law of the land, of the tax regime? What is the tax regime?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you want me to answer that?

MR. SHELLEY: No, you cannot answer it I say to the member, you cannot answer it, I say to the Member for Labrador West, you cannot answer it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) going to be?

MR. SHELLEY: You do not know what Inco is going to do. I told him how does he know what we are going to do next, Mr. Speaker. This resolution nails it down.

Mr. Speaker, a company the size of Inco does not go around throwing $16 million here and $20 million somewhere else unless they were already talking to the government with some idea of what the whole regime is going to be. You would have to be foolish to think that a company the size of Inco that is going to spend billions of dollars, not millions now, we have to get our heads around this, this is billions of dollars around this, that they are going to throw money here and there. If they are doing that, Mr. Speaker, what are they getting, what is the intent when it comes to a royalty regime?

Mr. Speaker, I am no lawyer but I wonder, when it comes to pass, when it comes time for Inco to pick up the profits, to put back to their shareholders - and keep that in mind, Inco is not here because they love Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, they are here to make billions of dollars. Anybody who thinks that is foolish, they are here, they are a reputable company and that is what makes them successful and I applaud Inco. I am glad that a big company such as this is taking over the Voisey's Bay project and I support that, Mr. Speaker, but we have to be frank and sincere about this and say that Inco could have a challenge, I don't know but they could have a challenge - that question has not been answered yet - that if they come into this Province and once they start getting their profits and give them to the shareholders which is their mandate, which is their job, to make sure the shareholders get their money, that is what they are worried about so, Mr. Speaker, once they start dishing out the profits, are they going to look back and say: By the way, once we are five years into it and we start looking at our profit, but we might challenge this, Mr. Speaker -

The law of the land in Newfoundland, in the mineral tax, the law of the land in Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, is that there is a mineral tax act now which gives a ten-year tax break.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh.

MR. SHELLEY: Man, I tell you, I hope for once, I hope and pray for the sake of the member and for the sake of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, that he is right -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) we are going to fix it.

MR. SHELLEY: But when you say fix and when you put the equal sign and say full and fair share, Mr. Speaker, that does not mean diddly to people in Labrador, it does not mean anything so what we are saying with this resolution: do not give us lip service, do not go around saying, Don't worry Labrador, we are going to take care of it but you are saying to Labradorians, Mr. Speaker, with the approach that you are taking with this bill and this amendment, what they are saying to Labrador, the Premier and all the government say: Trust me, I know Labrador has not been treated right before but trust me, you are going to be treated right this time.

Mr. Speaker, can you tell me, and can the Member for Labrador tell me that the people of Labrador are sitting back comfortable with that, and that they are saying: okay, we will give the Member for Labrador and the Premier time. We trust them to do the job. Mr. Speaker, they do not. If you think that they trust this whole regime and that they believe it is solid that Labrador is going to get their full share, you are mistaken. You are seriously mistaken, Mr. Speaker.

The issue I raised about the copper refinery is still to be answered I say to the member. My research is continuing and I am still not convinced that a copper refinery is not feasible for this find in Voisey's Bay. I say to the member that what I have said are facts on the copper refinery, and until the government and the minister responsible can tell me they have had an independent analysis, not by Inco, because, of course, Inco can say, we can send it to a smelter in Montreal or we can send it to a smelter elsewhere.

Obviously, they can say that, but what we have to say as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, no, no, we are not asking if it is viable because when you talk about viable you are talking about profit, but we are asking if a smelter can go here so people can work and you will still make a profit? It might not be as much as you would have made if you shipped it out, but could we have it done here? Mr. Speaker, I will hold to it until I am proven wrong, that a copper refinery is possible and feasible for this operation at Voisey's Bay.

For one thing, they talk about how much copper we have, which the numbers go around and around on, but they have not even decided how much copper is up there. The numbers have gone from 136 million to 200 million, back to 250. It has been all over the place. My point is, do not make a decision on something as viable until you know what you have. It is logistics. It is just a logistical question that must be answered. That is what it is, Mr. Speaker, and that is tied very close to what is being brought forward today, that `full and fair share' is not enough. It is lip service.

What you do is put it down in concrete terms so that if Inco were to come back here with the best lawyers in the world five or ten years from now, or whatever, like the Churchill Falls fiasco, if you want to link it with Churchill Falls, which all of us hate and despise, we do not want Inco to come back with the best lawyers in the world ten years from now saying, I am sorry but your law of the land, your rules in Newfoundland say a ten year tax break and we are going to take that.

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that if this act stays in place they can use that as their lever. They will use that as their bargaining chip. The law of the land now says a ten year tax break and that is Inco's bargaining chip on other concessions. Maybe Inco is saying, okay, you have your law in place and we will hold you to that, but if you let us bring the copper out of Newfoundland and Labrador then maybe we will go along with whatever regime you put in place.

MR. TULK: I am not really impressed with (Inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the minister that it is a logistical question. I say that with all due respect to the hon. Member for Labrador, and I have said it since day one. All I am saying is that maybe it is right, and that the copper refinery should be looked into deeper.

Ontario has 1050 people working in Sudbury in a copper refinery. They import copper. We do not even know an exploration date yet, and there could be more tons and tons of copper. What is going to happen? Inco is saying, no, we are not building a copper refinery here. Exploration continues, which they say they are going to do, and we discover more and more copper and then Inco comes back and says, sorry, we have been shipping it out for years and years and we are going to keep on shipping it.

My point is simple, I think we now have the basis for a viable copper smelter and let us give it to this Province. More than that, I will go further, on behalf of the Member for Labrador I will go further on that statement, I say that a copper refinery is viable and that it should be placed in Labrador. It would solve a lot of problems. People in Labrador would say, okay, the government pushed Inco, they took on Inco as far as getting our full and fair share.

Argentia can have their nickel smelter which is about the same numbers. The member can regain his homeland because we do have respect for the Member for Labrador. We realize, and we realize personally, the situation that the Labrador members find themselves in. I say that because I told the member. The first few days I got elected I had to face a very controversial subject in my district as to waste disposal and so on. I know how tough it is for personal friends of yours, and close family who want jobs, but on the same hand they are not sure if they should stand up to their morals but you have to stand by your morals and stand on your principle. Remember where you are from and remember who brought you.

Remember who brung ya, they said. That is what I say, Mr. Speaker. Remember who brung ya.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the Government House Leader that it certainly isn't a silly attitude. It is an attitude, Mr. Speaker, that I've brought to the House and I will continue to have. I dance with who brung me as (inaudible) constituents -

AN HON. MEMBER: Brian Mulroney (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: If Mulroney said it I don't like it. Mr. Speaker, I say to the member that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I hope we are down the road and I hope we can calculate and down the road in five and ten years you can say that we got our full and fair share. Because we aren't saying now we aren't getting our full and fair share, as an Opposition. We are just trying to put things in place to ensure that we don't stand up in this House, some other party in government, or us in government in a few years, or you, or even the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, or whoever is in the House at the time, standing in this House ten years from now saying: Uh oh, we made another big booboo, and generations down the road we are going to have to pay for it.

I say to the member today in my conclusion, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: In my concluding remarks, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say: Tread very lightly because this is a very serious issue.

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to speak opposing the resolution. Not so much because it is the wrong thing to do, but I think it is premature to do this that the Leader of the Opposition has asked to do right now. I do think we need to really consider this in a very detailed way for a couple of reasons.

One of the reasons being that the tax regime or the royalties regime is a two-pronged thing. The taxes that are going to come out of Voisey's Bay and out of the smelter certainly will be some of it going to the Province and the majority of it going to the federal government. We have to ensure that what we do in terms of the royalties and the taxes from this resource brings the maximum benefits to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have to understand also that once we get into the tax regimes our equalization is going to be affected. These are some of the considerations I believe we have to consider very seriously when we are talking about establishing a tax regime that is going to be in place for not only Voisey's Bay, but by next year this time we may have another Voisey's Bay, or two more Voisey's Bays. We don't know that yet. There is a lot of exploration going on up in that part of the Province which certainly can yield some benefits to this Province.

I would just like to say for the Member for Baie Verte that the people of Labrador certainly are concerned about what is happening in Voisey's Bay, but I would say to the member, although he is gone - perhaps he could read Hansard when he comes back - that the people of Labrador are more concerned about what we will receive in terms of actual benefits, visible benefits, infrastructure-type things, rather than the tax regimes that are going to be put in place. The concern is much more visible from the people of Labrador as to what will happen directly from the development once it gets up and running in 1999.

Let me say that we have to be very careful in putting together a tax regime. As I said, we have to be careful for those exact reasons, that once the tax starts to come to the Province we start to lose equalization. Are we any better off? We have to ensure that what we are doing with the two levels of government will fit and ensure that the Province gets the maximum.

I would just like to quote some of the benefits other than taxes that we should be perhaps more focused on. Some of the major elements that are going to take place in the Voisey's Bay area, and let me just indicate to you some of the elements that will certainly ensure major benefits to us in terms of the employment that we will have, the money generated from the employment, the money generated from the contracts, the material purchases and those types of things, which is another very important benefit that we need to consider.

Let me say that the Voisey's Bay operation will be open pit plus underground mining facilities. There will certainly be areas where the mine rock waste has to be stored, so all of those areas have to be worked on. There is going to be a concentrator, there are going to be tailings facilities, and all of these operations require people to work, which will be a tax generator, which will be just as much of a benefit as the royalties regime that we have in place.

Mr. Speaker, in speaking against this resolution I would also like to inform this House that in the construction stage of the Voisey's Bay operation there will be 700 people employed directly on the site, which will be a major, major benefit for this Province in terms of the taxes that the workers pay. Once the mill and the mine is up-and-running there will be 500 people working.

We have to remember that these jobs are long-term jobs. This operation is not a two-year operation; it is not a three-year operation. It is a possible operation that will last fifty years.

We have very young kids in this Province today who will be working on this site in years to come, and we have to ensure that what we do now will provide the maximum benefit for those people as they become of age.

Mr. Speaker, more than workers benefitting from this major resource, we can also see many, many benefits to the Province from the provision of services, the provision of equipment, and the provision of goods and services that are required to operate these kinds of facilities, and in looking at tax regimes we certainly have to be cognizant of the fact that all of these types of things that we see on the ground are as much a benefit when it comes to pumping money back into our economy.

We have to remember that the tax regime that we put in place is only part of the tax regime that Voisey's Bay will be paying into in terms of paying to the federal government and also paying to the provincial government. We have to ensure that the maximum benefits come to this Province, and I mean everybody in the Province, both the people of Labrador and the people of the Island. We cannot differentiate when we talk about tax regimes being a benefit to the Province. That is where we have to ensure that what we put in place now, and this is why I speak against the resolution, we need more time to ensure that the parts of the tax regime that will be in place that will affect the operation of the Voisey's Bay nickel are - we have to look down the road and say twenty years from now, or fifty years from now: We did the right thing.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that just changing a few words in this tax regime is not going to do that. We need to take more time to certainly consider the fact that there may be more Voisey's Bays out there, and there may be resource potential out there that this kind of tax regime will affect, and we will not have to change it again a year down the road.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words about the employment at the Voisey's Bay site, both during construction and following construction, when the mine actually starts to operate. Some of the major contracts that are proposed are the earth works and the road construction, power distribution, buildings, marine works, fuel storage, mechanical systems and piping, electrical and instrumentation and, of course, the support facilities that will be there because it will be a fly-in/fly-out operation.

Mr. Speaker, I say in conclusion that I feel we need to take more time to deal with the tax regime than we have currently studied in this particular resolution. Therefore, I will be voting in opposition to the resolution.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I can get the Government House Leader's attention for a moment, he said that some Opposition members were even clapping for the minister. That is not true. I can tell you that our Roger, we would never trade him in for your Roger even though he was over here clapping, I can guarantee you that. Mr. Speaker, at least three more to match this member right here.

Mr. Speaker, I stand to make a few comments on the Private Members' resolution put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Speaker, let me say from the onset that the Member for Labrador West made some good points. The first one he made was that the Mineral and Mining Tax Act, which was introduced in 1994, was one of the significant reasons, if not the reason, that a Voisey's Bay discovery was found. There is a lot of merit to that. The Opposition of the day, sitting on this side of the House, I was here, we supported that legislation and the proof is in the pudding, I suggest to all hon. members. As a result of legislation like that there are now 100 people working down in a mine in Bay Verte because of the incentives that were provided to small and medium sized companies.

This act, this piece of legislation was never meant to be in play and never meant for a significant find like Voisey's Bay. What we have called for, since January 1, 1995, as an Opposition, were amendments to the Mineral Mining Tax Act. Amendments that would see - as hon. members have put forward and I would agree - our full and fair share. We have called for amendments and a separate project agreement that would realize a number of things: significant revenue to the Province; the greatest employment possibilities possible to the Province; to ensure that to the greatest extent possible, local business opportunities could be realized; that suppliers, who would supply goods and services, would have the opportunity to do so and that goods and services from suppliers would not be coming from outside the Province.

Mr. Speaker, amendments to the Mineral and Mining Tax Act suggested here, come from a genuine concern. We are concerned that this is the law of the Province. We are concerned that, as a result, the impact upon the significant find of Voisey's Bay would be detrimental. If the law of the Province, as it now exists - and we have no reason to believe otherwise because that is the only law that we are dealing with when it comes to a significant find like Voisey's Bay or any other mining company but our concern is genuine, I put forward to all hon. members and if it is not, time will prove it out. If at some time in the near future or not so near future, government stands up - the Minister of Mines and Energy or the Premier - and presents a comprehensive detailed package that will show clearly and will leave no doubt that the revenues, according to the legislation as it now exists, are not in play for Voisey's Bay; that there is a separate site agreement that will realize greater revenues to the people of the Province; that there is a separate site agreement that will ensure labour peace and harmony on the project; that there is a separate site agreement that ensures that to the greatest extent possible employment opportunities are realized for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and that if there is a separate site agreement which says that to the greatest extent possible that businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador will get the first chance at supplying goods and services as long as they are competitive, as long as they can guarantee supply and as long as they can guarantee price that they have the same chance and the only chance to get business from there then, Mr. Speaker, I will be the first one to stand up and applaud the government because that is what should be done.

The concern is genuine as put forward for debate. Now certainly over the last number of months since the last election, questions have been asked on this issue in the House on a number of occasions. The Minister of Mines and Energy has said time and time again that there is lots of time to negotiate, that we are negotiating a separate deal. The Premier has said time and time again that Inco knows full well that they are not getting a ten year tax holiday. Now any suggestion by the Premier in the past or the Member for Labrador West that the Leader of the Opposition is the only person in Newfoundland and Labrador today that wants to give Inco a ten year tax holiday is a complete fallacy. They know it, we know it and everyone in the Province knows it, I would suggest, but the Private Members' resolution is genuine. It comes from a concern where we are not convinced that the benefits will be realized under the present act, under the law that now determines us.

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago I got a call from a local business person, was at a meeting relating to Voisey's Bay through the St. John's Board of Trade and was advised at that meeting that local companies may not - it looked like they may not have the opportunity to supply goods and services because Inco already has its list of suppliers, most of which and most of whom are out of Ontario. Now if that is allowed to happen, Mr. Speaker, if that is allowed to proceed then we have trouble. If a local company, which can provide legitimate goods and services to this project, at a cost effective price which is competitive, can guarantee supply of product or service, and is competitive but is not allowed by the mere fact that Inco has suppliers outside of the Province then I suggest that there is something wrong with that, and what we are seeing or lack of seeing, I have no knowledge of what negotiations are going on behind the scenes and I don't pretend to have any knowledge of what negotiations are going on behind the scenes, but I do have a responsibility I say, and I do have an ability and responsibility to ask the question: Where is the site agreement? Where is it in the agreement or so-called agreement that is forthcoming that guarantees a certain portion of revenue to all the Province?

We have not seen it, we are asking for it and like I said, Mr. Speaker, that if the Premier stands in his place or the Minister of Mines and Energy stands in his place at some point in time, either in the near future or not-so-near future and introduces an agreement, where those benefits are realized, then this member in this House, will be the first one to congratulate them. But we are waiting to see it and in the meantime, opposition members should not be muzzled or bamboozled for asking questions that are legitimate I say right now, that are legitimate questions.

I am in a great frame of mind today unlike most members in the House. I was here until five after six too but, maybe I should stay up late more often.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: When are you crossing the floor?

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not crossing the floor, sir. I will live and die as a Tory, die on the vine. You will have no doubt about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That you are a Liberal?

AN HON. MEMBER: You may be a Tory but (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I disagree with that altogether.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Not a chance, not a chance, no. Not a chance.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member of the point of order that he raised earlier in the debate about relevance.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for protection from the Chair from the Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. TULK: If the hon. gentleman needs protection, he is my member and the Speaker does not have to give it to him, I will. Not a problem.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks by saying that the Private Members resolution today is a genuine one. It raises a concern that I think most people have; it also raises a question that government I think, ultimately will answer, will have to answer, will live or die by it and that they have to produce an effective site agreement that governs this project -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, but I will applaud you for it. If it is good for the people of this Province, I will stand up and applaud you for it. It is as simple as that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Let us hear from the man from Labrador (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. ANDERSEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to speak to the resolution put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, prior to my being elected, with Voisey's Bay, I was told by every person as to how the money should be spent and what we should do.

Since I came into this House, I have heard members put forward resolutions as to how the money should be spent and what taxes we should enforce.

I have found it very difficult when these people do not come with me and consult because, after all, Voisey's Bay is located in my riding.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, we talk of Inco which has more money than the provincial government, and I stand in my riding where we are without schools and decent roads, the only riding in all the Province that does not have any pavement. The only riding that does not have decent schools and to see the Leader of the Opposition putting forward a resolution to give Inco tax free, I say to him: buddy, whoop-de-doo!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: I want to assure this House, and every member of this House, that Voisey's Bay is located in the District of Torngat Mountains, and the riding of Torngat Mountains is represented by Wally Andersen, who was elected and will speak for the people in my riding!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: When this government, my government, brings in a tax a regime, I will monitor that and the hon. members across the way can rest assured that if I am not comfortable then I will voice my opinion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, coming from the poorest riding in the Province, let me say to the hon. members across the way - the Leader of the Opposition, and to my good buddy, the Member for Bonavista South - that I am not here to come out and put out a claw and say that all the revenues or taxes have to go to Torngat Mountains. I am not here to say that all of the money has to go to Labrador. No, I hope that every riding in this Province in some way will benefit from some of the monies -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: - will benefit from the royalties and taxes that will come from Voisey's Bay.

Mr. Speaker, unlike other members, I am not going to stand up here and rattle on because my point is brief, but let me say this: We will deal with the tax regime through Cabinet and the ministers, and through caucus. The people in the riding of Torngat Mountains will benefit.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad, coming from the land that God gave to Cain, and if you consider my riding I guess the rump that nobody wanted, there comes a time - and now we talk of David and Goliath. Mr. Speaker, I may not be a small man like David, but I can guarantee you, buddy, I can sling a slingshot!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: And any member of this House who puts forward a resolution that is dealing with my riding, if they do not consult with me then they had better start ducking because I will sling.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) left the House. He is gone.

MR. ANDERSEN: Maybe you should go back on that table that we called an operating table, that you were sleeping on last night, Lloyd, and have a little nap.

Mr. Speaker, I say to all members here that I find it difficult to understand why members can put forward resolutions dealing with another member's district without any consultation.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, I believe that this government, the Liberal government, for the first time is going to give my riding a fair chance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: I think for the first time people in government are beginning to realize that since 1949, by both the Liberal government and by the Progressive Conservative government, we have been neglected. Mr. Speaker, I think we stand at a threshold, a new beginning, where this Province is going to step forward. I'm glad that my riding is going to be the riding that is going to lead the way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: But when I see resolutions put forward that could have such a big effect, then I cannot support this resolution put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, and I will vote against it. I give notice to any member, if you want to discuss my riding and anything that happens in my riding, I will be willing to sit down with you any time, any place, any hour of the day. But God forbid the man who goes into my riding and does stuff in my riding without consulting me and the people I represent. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all I want to compliment the Member for Torngat Mountains. We on this side of the House have great respect for the member's commentary, and we want to compliment him on his presentation. The concern of the member who put forward the motion is a concern for fairness and balance and a fair share for the people of Labrador, and for the people of this Province in general.

What we are arguing for is an effective site agreement. We recognize that the government is now aware the amendments it brought forward in the days of Premier Wells have shown themselves to be in need of change. When we made those changes to the mineral tax act back in I think it was 1993 or 1994 we did not know about the great discovery that would come at Voisey's Bay. At that time neither did the government, as far as we know, know about the Voisey's Bay discovery. Therefore this House, including this party, we supported an amendment that would give incentives to the industry to come and to develop in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, after we had passed the amendment in 1994 to give the mining companies a break to establish in Newfoundland and Labrador, we found that there was a lot of activity.

Then there was the big surprise. The big surprise was the Voisey's Bay discovery. We share in the excitement and the enthusiasm that we call Voisey's Bay. As the Voisey's Bay discovery grew bigger it became obvious that the public pressure was on to amend the legislation. We have said in the last two years that this particular piece of legislation, the amendment that was passed in 1994, needs to be further updated. It needs to be looked at.

Premier Wells knew all about it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is finding it very difficult to hear the hon. member's comments. I say to hon. members, the Chair would like to hear him.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased with the protection that the Chair gives me. Well last night someone shouted across the House `in conclusion.' Then I said well maybe I can go another ten or fifteen minutes and then I left because I had been tipped off by a member on the other side probably.

Mr. Speaker, back to the topic. The topic of the day is a resolution in the name of the Member for Ferryland and it deals with the need for us to revisit the mineral tax act of the Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, Premier Wells acknowledged that this particular amendment, passed in 1994, was defective. He said that in the House. He said: I want to bring back in a further amendment that will assure that we don't put Voisey's Bay in the same category of development as some of the other smaller developments throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

So Premier Wells last autumn - in mid-December put forward a bill which would amend the mineral tax act. What he had intended was that he would have public hearings and he would bring it back to the House in January. That is what he had said and we took Premier Wells at his word. We acknowledged that Premier Wells had a good business sense and he was committed to the development of Newfoundland and Labrador. So, Mr. Speaker, when we found in late December last year that Premier Wells had decided to retire we were concerned because there had been a statement made by the then Premier that the House would be called back in session in January to deal with this very matter and there were a couple of other matters he wanted to deal with. This particular matter was a priority for Premier Wells a year ago.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when the Premier left we know that we did have a new leader selected for the Liberal Party and we had an election. Last spring when the House was called together we expected some, shall we say, recognition of the fact that this was such a priority for the previous Liberal government to be continued over into the current Liberal government. We were surprised that did not take place. We, in this motion, are saying it is time for us to address this issue before it is too late.

We are concerned, not with the fact that the government, shall we say, does not have good intentions. We believe that they have good intentions however, we believe that if we don't act on it soon we may find ourselves locked into a ten year tax break that would be given to Inco by default. While we agree that the minister, who rises in his place from time to time, and says that he is considering it - what we are saying is that we don't want to have ourselves in a situation where we find that we, as a Province, have commitments made because of our lack of action, commitments made to Inco that we will have to live with for many, many years. So therefore we want to get that extra money. We want to go and we want to be assured that we end up with a proper tax regime that will give those benefits that the Member for Torngat talked about. I think it is shameful that in 1996, in the last days of '96, a member of this Legislature can stand in this House and say: I do not have any paved roads in my district, as the Member for Torngat just did. I think that is a shameful thing. It goes to show that many people of this Province don't enjoy the same benefits as all other members in this Province do.

Mr. Speaker, we should be committed to fairness, more equity. We say to the government, and I quote the minister, on May 15 1996 he said: We have said that we plan to make some amendments to that mining tax regime. The industry knows it, the Province knows it, the world knows it, and after appropriate consultation on the amendments that were in place last fall, we will be coming back to the Legislature. There is lots of time.

The reason why we bring forward this motion today is that as the months go by - and we recognize that the minister responsible has said repeatedly there is lots of time. He said in the House today there is no need yet because we aren't taking any ore out of the ground and there is lots of time.

Then on November 19, about a month ago, the same minister said: We made some minor amendments to that legislation back in 1994 in view of the discovery of Voisey's Bay and the size of Voisey's Bay, the implications of it, obviously for a big, rich deposit there are implications in the amendments that we made that we have to correct, and we are going to make these corrections.

We say get on with it. That is what this resolution is about. This resolution is about getting on with addressing the issues . I say to the Government House Leader I am quoting from the minister's statements through Hansard. Because we believe that the minister in his statements to the House was well intentioned. Again, on that same date, November 19, the minister said: "We are going to make amendments. I said that as well today. They know they are not going to get a ten-year tax holiday but right now we have in place a Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act which is of generic application that applies to and has applied to everybody since 1975."

But we say to the minister, we recognize that, but we also know that there is a risk that Inco may very well want to have some tax holiday benefits under the other amendments put forward in 1994. We are trying to tell this House that we have a responsibility to make sure we do not run a risk. Because if we run the risk and we lose any revenues, we know that really the losses are going to be not only for the people who live on the Island part of this Province, but the people of Labrador.

We acknowledge that all the members for Labrador have brought forward the concerns of Labrador to this House in a very strong way during this session of the Legislature. The Liberal government has three members from Labrador, and we have the independent Member for Cartwright- L'Anse au Clair. These members have brought forward a strong message, not just to this Legislature but to all people in this Province. We want to tell them here in this House today, on behalf of this party, that we are listening to what they are saying. We are sensitive to their issues. I say to the Member for Torngat Mountains that we acknowledge that Voisey's Bay is in his district. We in this party want to make sure there are maximum benefits that accrue to the people in his district. We have concerns that the people of Labrador feel, and there is lots of evidence put forward, they have not shared fully in the riches of their resources.

We say to the minister today that we want him to go back to his statement again on November 19 when he said: We have made it quite clear to them they will not get a tax holiday. We say to the minister, if that is the case then why don't we have a simple amendment? We will give leave to do it tomorrow. Whereby we would simply make it quite clear that Inco is not covered in the legislation in the amendment the House approved back in the days of Premier Wells. Let's make it quite clear to them.

I say on behalf of myself and I'm sure on behalf of my colleagues here, that back in 1994 when we here approved, when we voted for that amendment, we did it in good faith, as did all members of the government of the day. But we also recognized that very soon after we passed that amendment, it was a recognition by all members, and particularly by Premier Wells, who repeatedly said over and over again, that this discovery of Voisey's Bay is bigger, has more potential, is going to be longer lasting, is a rich potential for this Province in terms of tax royalties. He said: It does not fall in the same category that we had envisaged when we made the amendments back in 1994, and I want to change it.

I ask this very basic question: Why is the government now dragging its heels on something that was such a priority for Premier Wells? Why would the government drag their heels now? It does not make any sense. If it was such a priority that we were going to call a special session of the Legislature together in January, when we had met last fall from, I think it was from October 16 until December 20 - if we had met all of that time - and then the Premier said: This is so important, I have to get the Legislature back together in January. I am going to have public consultations before that. That was a big priority. I say to the minister now: Was it a priority of the government then? I happen to believe it was. The Premier of the day said it was. If that is the case, then why are we not now acting to assure that the intent of the amendments passed in 1994 do not apply to Voisey's Bay and to the Inco discovery?

Mr. Speaker, we remind the House again of what the Premier said on November 20 of this year. He said: There will be no ten-year tax holiday for Inco. We will expect them to pay their way, and pay their freight as soon as possible.

He says here, in talking to the Leader of the Opposition: I want to assure him that Inco is subject to all the laws of the Province.

That is the problem, because if they are subject to all the laws of the Province it might give the implication to them that they do have some leeway under the legislation that was amended in 1994. When the Premier says, `subject to all the laws of the Province', you cannot simply say that they are subject to the laws before they were amended in 1994, but they might be subject to the amendments that were passed in that year as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: We say to the minister: It is time to get on with it, time to revisit it. Do it for the right reasons. Let's get back to the priorities that Premier Wells had back a year ago, and let's address the issue before it is too late.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia and St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Old Mr. Nickel himself.

MR. SPARROW: Yes, my hair is nickel coloured.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to say that I agree with the Members for Labrador, that I cannot support this resolution. I have to say that when I listened to the Member for Torngat Mountains, and metaphorically he is at the north end of the House and I am at the southern end of the House, as he is in Northern Labrador and I am in Southern Newfoundland, I want to say that when I listen I hear Newfoundland one minute, Labrador the next minute, like we are not part of the same Province. We are the same Province. We are one team. This government recognizes that we are one team.

Where is Argentia? It is at the very southernmost end of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the only ice-free port with a tide water location. That is why Inco, on November 29, chose Argentia. It is the rebirth of my district. There was 70 per cent unemployment prior to Inco's announcement, and already you can see a little red glow coming into the faces of most of the people out there. They are losing the blues that they had for twenty-two or twenty-three years.

Voisey's Bay Nickel Company picked Argentia for the same reasons that the United States Navy picked it, that great logistics group, probably the greatest group in the world when it comes to logistics. Fifty-five years ago the United States chose Argentia because it intercepted U-boats coming from Europe to the United States on the trade routes. Inco is doing it for a similar reason but they are going to be intercepting ore carriers so that they can compete more effectively in the world. There will be a tremendous number of jobs for my district, a tremendous number of jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I, like the Member for Torngat Mountains, want to share with this Province. We do not want it all for ourselves. We just want our fair share and we are going to get that. It is my job, and this government's job to make sure that people get as many opportunities as they can.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPARROW: We are delighted to see Inco come in. We are glad they are going to be providing jobs, but we know they are here for a profit. We will be watching them, we will be monitoring them, we will not be giving anything away to them. They will not be getting a ten-year tax holiday, like the Premier said. They definitely will not get a ten-year tax holiday.

AN HON. MEMBER: No tax holiday.

MR. SPARROW: No tax holiday - they are going to pay their full and fair share, and they know that.

For my community it means wonderful new opportunities. They will not be glum, they will not be sad, they will be happy this Christmas, and they have not been for four or five Christmases. It will mean our town will have to redesign itself. It will mean a new industrial park on the south side of Argentia because Inco will have the whole of the north side, or most of it, but we will share with all of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPARROW: I will not belabour the point, but there will be no tax holiday - they will pay their fair share. We want Inco to make money, we want them to be profitable, because we are going to share in that profit. We are going to get a percentage of what they make, so by working together as a team and making sure that Inco is profitable in the international marketplace for the long-term, we are going to ensure that we have long-term jobs and a percentage of whatever Inco makes.

That is all I have to say, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Frankly, the motion itself was a fruitless one and a pointless one. We have stated so many times, numerous times over the last year or so, our position on this particular matter. I do not see the point of the whole debate this afternoon to re-debate it and to try to make a generic legislation into a piece of special legislation that targets one particular company by name, and this amendment is targeting one particular company by name. We are dealing with this matter as generic legislation and we will continue to deal with it as generic legislation.

A year-and-a-half ago, before Inco bought one share, as far as I know, one share, when they were making the original deal to buy some shares and buy a proportion of the Voisey's Bay property, we informed them, upfront, before the deal was done, that they would not have a preferred status relative to our mining legislation. They knew it before they came in for their first share, and accordingly, they knew it before they came in for the remaining shares, and we have said it ever since. There was correspondence exchanged in that regard and I had part in that correspondence because I had part in the preparation of that correspondence. It was done and they knew it, and they know it now. We have repeated it to them in person a number of times.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, last year, a year ago this month, approximately, I guess, we tabled Bill 43, when at that time after analyzing what was then known about Voisey's Bay as a 32 million ton ovid sitting on the surface, it was felt that some amendments should be made. We tabled these amendments, we debated the amendments, and we moved the amendments to Committee. The hearings had been set, but unfortunately, an election was called and that bill died on the Order Paper.

Since that time, in the past year, Voisey's Bay has continued to grow and it is no longer a 32 million ton plum of high grade nickel ore on the surface. It is now 150 million tons and continuing to get bigger. We want to be sure that we do it right when we make the amendments. We want to be sure that we know what is there, and we know what the implications are of everything that is there.

I believe we are taking the appropriate cautions in our assessment. We are taking the appropriate cautions to make sure we have fully analyzed every implication of the Voisey's Bay deposit - the size of the mine, the mill, the smelter and the refinery, and all the financial and economic implications, all the tax implications, all of the royalty implications of that. We are analyzing it, we are continuing to analyze it. In due course, and I would expect in the not-too-distant future, we will be prepared to come back to this Legislature again with a comprehensive amendment to the legislation following up on what we were doing last year.

I do not know at this time what the content of that will be. It may be the same as Bill 43, it may be more than in Bill 43, it may be different from Bill 43. I do not know, and nobody knows until we have made the final decisions based on our full and thorough assessment of the situation. In all regards, it will ensure, Mr. Speaker, that we have full and fair return to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, who own this resource, also recognizing that if anybody, any company, is going to invest in this Province for exploration and mine development, there must be a fair return to them. We make our comparisons. I listened to the hon. members opposite in the beginning of the debate, and in Question Period today, talk about comparisons with some other countries. We compare with other countries. We compare with other provinces. We compare our regime nationally and internationally to see how we fare. We do the same as we did when we did our oil and gas generic royalty in the last few months. We see where we position ourselves in this world, because if we are not well positioned, appropriately positioned, we will not have to worry about mine and smelter developments in this Province. We will not have anyone looking for and finding the ore. We want to make sure we have a competitive regime that is fair to us, but fair and encouraging to them.

Mr. Speaker, the day will come when our amendments will be made. Our amendments will apply. Our generic legislation which is now in place and which subsequently will be amended will apply to this mine when it gets developed three years hence. Today we are talking about a development that is going to produce its first ore in 1999. It is absolutely three years from now. Any legislation on the book today does not apply to a mine that is not yet operating. Nothing can apply to something that is not yet operating.

It is the tax system that is in place at the time - at the time - that is what is going to apply, at the time. In that situation, of course there will be due regard given to legitimate expenditures spent in the mine exploration and the mine development. That is a normal part of a mining royalty system. There will be due regard for that, and that will be acknowledged. But you cannot say that the legislation as it is today is the one that exactly applies.

I have heard from the other side the comments: They are going to claim that the tax as it was in 1996 is the one that applies to them in 1999. No. This is not contract. This is not royalty by contract, signed, sealed and delivered. This is royalty by generic legislation, the law of the land. Government can change the law of the land at any time. Government can change that general legislation at any time it so pleases. That is what has been done numerous times in the past.

For example, again I would make the comparison with what we are doing with the oil and gas sector. Hibernia is a contractual arrangement. Terra Nova is a contractual arrangement. But future oil and gas, the generic system will apply for the future oil and gas developments in terms of royalties. The same thing applies in our mining regime. Before 1975, we had contractual arrangements. Look at Wabush, look at the Iron Ore Company of Canada, look at some of the previous situations where we had contractual arrangements ratified often by legislation in this House of Assembly.

But in 1975 a former government led by people who preceded the members opposite -

AN HON. MEMBER: Predecessors.

DR. GIBBONS: Predecessors of the members opposite. It was the Frank Moores Government that brought in our present mining tax regime as a generic tax regime. Since that day it has applied to mines that have been developed in this Province, and as modified over time. There have been numerous amendments since 1975. What we did two years ago was not the first nor will it be the last, there will be many others. A person need only look at chapter, M16, the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act. Look at the details of it, and you can see the numerous amendments over the years, that once made will apply to any mine that is then operating, Mr. Speaker, and that will be the case with regard to this one. So, as we complete our assessments, as we complete our analyses, we will conclude what we believe would be the most appropriate amendments to make here, Mr. Speaker, and at that time, we will bring these amendments forward.

At that time, these amendments will be put forward so the public can have the open debate, as was started last year; it will continue. The public will have the opportunity to look at these amendments and comment on them. And in the end, I will hope that with this Assembly in session, it will be, maybe as the last time, when, I think, except for the NDP member opposite, there was pretty well unanimous support for the previous amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to prolong this continued debate right now. I disagree with the proposal put forward by the member opposite and I vote against it. Mr. Speaker, we will do it properly, we will do right. We will not rush it, we will do it when it is appropriate and in due course.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are several points I would like to make and some inaccuracies there, and I can certainly indicate to the minister what is in that. I have looked at that. The minister stated today, just very recently that: costs incurred prior to production do not have any effect on the regime that is there. That is incorrect. Preproduction expenses, I say to the minister - and this is a very important point.

Preproduction costs can be used by that company as deductions from their revenues as expenses when determining the amount of taxable income that that company is going to pay, I say to the minister. Not only did this government - and this is very important - not only did this government take that decision out of the hands of a mining expert, a lawyer and accountant, but the legislation change put it back in the hands of the minister, which means, the minister can now decide to do a trade-off with Inco on what is included as a deductible expense for income tax purposes. Under this legislation now, the minister can determine what is a deductible expense.

Now, I would like to comment on a few of the points made by the members representing Labrador. I listened to them, I had some commitments and things, I listened in my office, I say to members

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I want to hear what the hon. gentleman is saying because he is putting such effort into it and I would ask that the people over there in his own back benches be quiet so we can hear him.

MR. SPEAKER: Before the hon. member continues in his debate, the Chair has been making the same comment many times in the last twenty-four hours.

Thank you very much.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is a very serious issue dealt with today here in this House and I want to make some comments for clarification here. I listened to the Member for Torngat Mountains, I must say, with much sincerity and conviction I say to the member, and I could tell the member that this amendment I move today, with due respect to the member, is not one that is related just to Torngat Mountains. The change in the taxation is for every company that does business in the entire Province.

In other words, what is on the record now, is that, any company, I say to the member, not just Inco. Any company now, if there is a discovery on the Avalon Peninsula, if there is a discovery in Central Newfoundland that company would get a ten year tax holiday now. I am asking that this government not give a ten year tax holiday and I agree with what the minister said on one point. The minister said -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said in this House that they are not going to get it. Well I say there is one way to ensure it does not get it and that is move an amendment to say they are not going to get it because the laws of the Province with this act right now says that every company in this Province, in mining, is going to get a ten year tax holiday. That is what it is saying.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, in this resolution by the hon. member, he talks about Inco and its subsidiaries of Voisey's Bay and then he talks about other mining opportunities throughout the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, if he read the act I am only accepting Inco from the act. The act, if you read it, states all the mining companies. The member did not read the act and I am exempting Inco from that act. You should read the act, I say to the member because what you said is entirely inaccurate and out of context and it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You did not read the act, I say to the minister. The act now states - and I can give you a copy of the act. I have the consolidated version right here if you would like to read it. The Minister of Government Services and Lands made some statements here in the House that disturb me very greatly. The minister said and here is what he said, `we should be worrying about visible structures, not tax regimes.' Well I want to illustrate that. We should be worrying about - the mine and mill is in Voisey's Bay for one reason, because they can't have it anywhere else. It is not by choice it is in Voisey's Bay. It is by reality and necessity because that is where the discovery occurred. That is why it is there.

I say to the minister, it is the goal or expectation of this government only to want visible structures, not taxation, that is why we have a problem with Churchill Falls. It is not on the visible structures. We have the Churchill Falls visible structures but we don't have the royalties. We just don't want a mine and mill, smelters and refineries, we want a tax regime that is going to put a return to the shareholders and the people in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what is wrong with the expectation of this government to only want visible structures. Who in this Province only wants a mine, a mill, smelter and refinery? We want revenues and royalties that are going to spin back to the people.

So, the Member for Torngat Mountains, we can have revenues to put the necessary schools in your district, to put the necessary roads or upgrade transportation if necessary. That is why we have royalties. The mines, the mills and the spin-offs are tremendous. A potential of 3,500 jobs, I applaud it. It is fantastic and it is going to help our economy but don't do what we did on the Churchill Falls where we got no royalties, we just got structure. We sacrificed jobs and structures on royalties. Alberta got royalties. Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, all these countries get hefty royalties. I have a copy of what they get. I have a copy of their taxation structures. We have the worst taxation royalty structure because, as it sits now, any company that are making profits in this Province has a ten year application of those mining operation tax against their income tax paid which means simply - and this is dangerous - a zero per cent royalty to the people of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I just wonder again, could we check parliamentary reference when the Leader of the Opposition is now stating a position exactly contrary to what the Member for Baie Verte stated. He talks about wanting royalties because of his amendment that we are debating now and not structures like smelters, refineries and mines. Whereas the Member for Baie Verte in the same Caucus, the same group, wants a copper smelter even though it might have to require using up some royalties and taxes and so on, to subsidize it. So what is the position of the hon. member, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. GRIMES: What is your real position (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you the real position. No, the real position, I say to the minister, if by giving a comparable amount to get a copper smelter that say that they are not going to get, if it requires a certain amount, I am not opposed to negotiating a separate deal. I agree with the Minister of Mines and Energy, we need a separate structure with Inco. We need it, but we do not have it. We have a taxation regime that gives them a ten-year tax holiday.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, we do not.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is what is in the act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: That is why you got dragged into court on Trans City, because you tried to avoid an act that was in place to protect people. That is what got you in trouble. And it cost us over $30 million by giving it to a higher bidder, because we did not ensure this was in place, and it cost millions fighting it in the courts.

We went through Churchill Falls on the same issue. We gave up royalties to get jobs in structure. Let's not do it again in Voisey's Bay. We are setting a very, very dangerous precedent.

If Inco doesn't like it, and this Province plays hard ball, they can play hard ball and pick up the legislation that is now in effect in this Province, and say: We are entitled to a royalty on this particular tax.

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate. The people of this Province want to benefit, but my expectation is not just as the Minister of Government Services and Lands said: We want a mine and a mill, and we want jobs; we want visible structures.

If that is the expectation of this government, we are going to be short-changed again, I say to the loquacious Government House Leader. If that is the case, I say to the verbose Government House Leader, we have a problem in this Province if we are going to want only a visible structure, a structure where you can take down the modules and take out of this Province again. Where is the real commitment?

I would like for the Member for Torngat Mountains to realize, the reason a mine and a mill are in your district is out of necessity. It is the only place they could put it. If they discovered it here in St. John's - the mine and mill is going to be where the discovery is. It is a reality. It is not a choice. But taxation and royalties come back to our Province.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education on a point of order.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if it is a point of order or a point of privilege, but can the person controlling the microphones turn it down a bit? This member is yelling at us. Could it be turned down a little bit?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the member realized that, because that is exactly what I was doing. I could do what the Government House Leader did last night. I could put out a call for him to turn down his hearing. I think it is necessary, with the level of decorum and the standard set by the Government House Leader in this House. It is no wonder you have to shout to be heard, I can tell him, no doubt about it. He sets the lowest standard of decorum in this House that I have seen since I came here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Except the Leader of the Opposition!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you. I will ask people to consider, before I conclude debate on this resolution, why we would give a ten-year tax holiday to a major corporation when the minister has failed to put the legislation on the books. He has failed to do it. He has said he is going to do it. He has failed to deliver. I have excerpts of statements on many occasions, which I read when he was not here, earlier when I introduced the resolution, statements he made that he has not delivered on. I ask the minister: When are you going to deliver on them and get resources for our Province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: A point of order.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening we had a vote in the House - and I do not want this to happen again. The Member for Waterford Valley had to leave because he had to get a shave. I want to assure him he can stay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: I have a little Christmas present for him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before we call the question I want to remind hon. members and bring to their attention Standing Order 11(2) which says: "When the Speaker is putting a question, no Member shall walk out of or across the House, or make any noise or disturbance." I notice that there have been some problems in putting questions recently because members have not been following our Standing Orders.

Is the House ready for the question?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Against.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

Call in the members.

Division

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

All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Edward Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Education, Mr. Lush, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, Mr. Langdon, 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. Noel, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Whelan, Ms Hodder, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer.

Mr. Speaker, seven `ayes', twenty-two `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

Order, please!

It being Wednesday afternoon, and there being no further business, the Chair will adjourn the House.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I wish to advise the Opposition House Leader what I intend to do tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Thursday, a regular government day and -

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

MR. TULK: No, but I just want to give you the order so you are not confused. We will do Committee on second reading on a number of bills. We will start with Bills 48 and 45, the two closure bills, and move down the line, then we will do third readings and eventually get to the place where hopefully we will have the Order Paper pretty well cleared.

DR. GIBBONS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy on a point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I say to the Government House Leader, given the volume of business he intends to do tomorrow, he will be well advised to recharge his batteries and to get ready, because tomorrow promises to be a very, very, long day; therefore, Mr. Speaker, it is called: Be prepared.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, a point of information for hon. members present and anyone else who might be listening. Tomorrow morning at ten o'clock, there is going to be a press conference at Hotel Newfoundland to announce another significant development relative to Terra Nova and everybody is invited.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: This House stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.