December 10, 1997          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLIII  No. 48


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

 

Statements by Ministers

 

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last night, the House of Commons approved the resolution to amend Term 17 by a majority vote.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: The majority vote, Mr. Speaker, as known now to the public, was 212 to 53; 80 per cent of the members present and voting supporting the resolution.

I am pleased to report to the House today that there was substantive support from all political parties in Ottawa. This result, along with the 73 per cent approval of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the September 5 referendum and the unanimous endorsement of this Legislature, clearly shows the way has been paved for a new single school system for the children of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there is just one hurdle to overcome to achieve that goal, that is, Senate approval. Today, I call upon the Senate of Canada to deal with this issue expeditiously, so that we can proceed with a new schools Act in order to facilitate changes necessary to have the new school system in place for September 1998, the next school year. The objective of this government is to finalize the provincial legislation before the Christmas break, with the co-operation of this Legislature, elect new school boards early in 1998, and proceed with the organization of our new single school system.

Mr. Speaker, today, I call upon our colleagues in the Official Opposition again to encourage their federal counterparts in the Senate to complete the process without any further delay, as we will be encouraging our counterparts.

It has been a long and difficult process over the last several years, but I am now confident we can finally proceed with a new single school system that will greatly benefit the children of Newfoundland and Labrador. I call upon all of our people to put aside their differences and work together for the benefit of our children, for they are truly the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Together, let us develop a system of education, one that we can all be proud of and one that can be a model for the rest of Canada.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for providing me with the Term 17 update number 2. Mr. Speaker, we look forward to reviewing the proposed legislation and dealing with this matter in an expeditious fashion. This is now important legislation and I agree with the minister that it must be dealt with, with haste. We look forward to the draft legislation, and we look forward to debating the appropriate provisions of the legislation in due course.

I wish to remind the hon. the minister, though, that he speaks of the Senate and, of course, all hon. members are reminded of the fact that the majority in the Senate today, is made up of representatives of the political party akin to the government opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. Does he have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I am embarrassed, as a member of a modern democracy of Canada, that the people of Newfoundland have passed a referendum, that this elected House has made unanimous declaration passing the constitutional change, that the elected House of Commons has passed this resolution yesterday and that now, we have to go to the undemocratic, unelected Senate, unaccountable Senate -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - to see the will of the people implemented. Mr. Speaker, I am embarrassed. It should be abolished and if they do not pass it in the next twenty-four hours, I am sure this whole House will call for its abolition.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with everything that has no doubt been said by the Leader of the NDP and the Minister of Education, and I assume, because I missed it, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House today, to declare this, December 10, 1997, to be Human Rights Day in Newfoundland and Labrador. When the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights forty-nine years ago, it marked a milestone, and here in Newfoundland and Labrador today, through amending our own Human Rights Code, we mark a milestone of our own.

According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all people must be treated equally before and under the law. But the Charter does not govern the attitudes and actions of people, and the hurt and loss of opportunity that can result when discrimination is practised by a fellow-citizen. That is why we have legislation in the form of the Human Rights Code, enforced and administered by the Human Rights Commission.

It is an important safeguard, but we cannot ignore issues as they arise in our society. In fact, until yesterday there was an important area in which the Human Rights Code of Newfoundland and Labrador was lacking. Until an amendment was passed through the House of Assembly yesterday, sexual orientation was not identified as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the code. An entire segment of our population was without protection. Mr. Speaker, why should gays and lesbians lose opportunities and be subjected to discrimination when other minority groups are not in this society? How could we in this Chamber let this situation continue?

Several years ago, Supreme Court Justice Leo Barry ruled that, based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sexual orientation must be "read into" the code so that gays and lesbians could avail of its protection. We could not leave this to the interpretation of the courts, so we took in this place the appropriate measures to include this important issue in legislation.

The amendment has now received third reading, and has passed through the House of Assembly. The next step is Royal Assent.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to members of the House, and through the House to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that I am proud to be a member of this Legislature which has given unanimously its consent to this important evolution in the human rights of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, today I have been made aware, in the shadow of yesterdays, I think, progress and step forward, of another issue in this Province which reminds us that we must remain vigilant when it comes to human rights. There is, in a newspaper in this Province, in The Aurora newspaper, a Robinson-Blackmore paper, two days ago, an editorial - and I would ask if I could have a copy be given to members of the House - an editorial called, "Then Give Em the Keys!" The editorial reminds us that we must remain vigilant in the area of human rights. It was given to me and brought to my attention by the members from Labrador, both the Labrador Coast and Labrador West.

This is a main editorial in a newspaper in our Province, and it is something we are not familiar with and something that we cannot allow to pass unchallenged in particular on this day, Human Rights Day. Let me read a couple of lines:

The day an aboriginal group agrees to take a dollar for dollar reduction in government pay-outs will be the day gravity ceases to exist and we will all float off into never, never land. The Europeans who settled this country were arrogant, murdering pigs. They exterminated whole races solely because our ancestors were too blinded by religion and conquest to understand another race of people in their old age ways, but Canada and her people have been paying for these sins long enough.

"Jail terms end, loans are paid-off, but it seems this country will burn in the financial fires of eternal damnation if the aboriginals have their way".

It goes on to say, `Yet if we are to give such natural resource control to aboriginal groups, the federal government must retain ultimate control, at least, from an environmental stand point'.

"Allowing them free rein of the forest and lands would be akin to starving a grossly obese person for days and then letting them run loose through a chocolate factory." There would be little left for the rest of us to enjoy and the damage would be irreversible.

Mr. Speaker, this is a main editorial in a newspaper in this Province. In a pejorative way it describes an entire valued segment of our population in terms that are unacceptable in 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you on behalf of this House and I ask the House to join me in sending a letter to Robinson-Blackmore - I am not interested in who wrote the editorial, it is unsigned, but I am interested in the House measuring it's disgust with the tone of this editorial, asking for an apology and, Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the House joining me in expressing to the aboriginal people of Newfoundland and Labrador, our solidarity when these kind of racist comments are made about the character and quality of the people who make up that community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I join with the hon. Premier in recognizing today as a very important day, namely, Human Rights Day, here in Newfoundland and Labrador and we on this side of the House, as the Premier has indicated, we join with government in making sure that this had unanimous approval. We celebrate with all those individuals today who are proud of the fact that this House has seen fit to add the words, sexual orientation, with respect to the amending of our Human Rights Code.

The Human Rights Legislation in this Province before the amendment dealt with race, religion, creed, political opinion, colour or ethnic, national or social origin, sex, martial status, physical disability and mental disability, but today we can all stand proud to ensure that no person in this Province will be discriminated against, not only on these issues but in addition to that in response to the amendment namely sexual orientation.

So we join with those members of our society who take pride in the fact that this amendment has now been given unanimous approval in this House.

With respect, hon. Premier, to the article to which you referred, this is an example of extremism which all of us find abhorrent. There is no doubt about that. That is why, as you say, we must always be vigilant to ensure that discrimination of no kind is acceptable, and to ensure that we take strides at all opportunities to protect the rights and privileges of all our people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to join with the Premier and the Member for St. John's East in acknowledging Human Rights Day in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is appropriate that it is on this day we are able to celebrate the recognition by this House at long last of the need to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground in our Human Rights Code.

I want to acknowledge the role of the Premier within Cabinet in making that possible for the House to, at this point, adopt this particular provision.

I also join with him and the Member for St. John's East in condemning resoundingly The Aurora editorial which is racist in tone, and remind him, I guess - I don't know if he was here - of my comments the other day when I expressed my concern about the potential for a racist backlash in this Province when we start talking about the development, particularly of Labrador, and the need for agreement with the aboriginal people. It is something we must, as leaders of this Province, be ever-vigilant that we do not do anything to foment, and are unanimous in our condemnation thereof whenever it occurs. I support what the Premier has said.

While we are on the topic of human rights, I would want to make reference to article 27 of the international covenant for the rights of the child which recognizes the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development, and the obligation of states to provide for children in need -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - material assistance -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - and support programs, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. HARRIS: As the Premier is off to Ottawa on the First Ministers meeting on social policy -

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: - I would hope that he would bring the message of the international convention on the rights of the child to the other leaders and premiers and try to encourage all of them to take an attack, a national strategy to attack child poverty throughout this country and particularly in this Province.

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. Our Province has seen a reduction in transfers for health, post-secondary education and for social services. We received $427 million in 1995-1996 and this year we are receiving $272 million, a reduction of $155 million or 36 per cent, a decrease, I might add, that was made by you and your colleagues when you were a federal minister.

Now the federal government anticipates a surplus in the next fiscal year. The federal finance minister has given indications that half of that anticipated surplus would go to address cuts that have already been made in the system and the other half basically to go towards the deficit. Now, has the government, I ask the Premier, provided any formal presentation to the federal government outlining our Province's needs for restoration of the transfers that Ottawa has cut?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for his very good question. I think it is relevant, twenty-four hours before the meeting of First Ministers in Ottawa that indeed the Leader of the Opposition has raised the question of reductions in transfers from the federal government to the Province.

It is a fact that the federal government is now in a surplus position, and in assessing its priorities for future expenditures, must take a look at health care. I indeed completely agree with the conclusion that the Leader of the Opposition has drawn. The Minister of Health and her officials will be joining me and the officials of the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat in Ottawa to raise precisely this question.

I hope the Leader of the Opposition will acknowledge that during the meeting of the Ministers of Finance, finance ministers from all across Canada, including the Minister of Finance here, Mr. Dicks, gave a message, a clear message and one that was consistent across Canada, to the Minister of Finance for Canada, Paul Martin, that our priority in this Province and indeed the priority across Canada, is to provide additional funds to stabilize health care right across this country. I assure the Leader of the Opposition, that will be the number one priority and the number one message that I and the Minister of Health will bring to the First Ministers' meeting.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the Premier is well aware, I have stood in this House day after day on many occasions and talked about the deterioration in the quality of our health care system, particularly in a country that brags about universal access to health care. Now, of course, the problem has been money and the Premier knows only too well the severe cuts I have referred to already that have been made; and particularly, Minister, when you were there, the cuts were made. They were increasing prior to that.

Now, I ask the Premier, would he table any particular documentation that this government forwarded to Ottawa, even pleading, indeed begging for some money to be put back into our system for health care transfers?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that I think it is appropriate if I am going to a meeting of First Ministers, attending a meeting with the other premiers, the Prime Minister and territorial leaders that I ought to table first with them, the government's position at that meeting before I table it publicly somewhere else. But I have said, inside this House and I have said outside this House that, indeed the two priority areas for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador at this meeting are: Health Care, Medicare, restoring a level of funding to stabilize the system; that is the first priority for the government, Mr. Speaker.

The second area of priority is the whole question of student debt. The debt loads now being carried by students all across Canada and in this Province as well, this is an issue raised by the Member for Terra Nova, Mr. Speaker, who cannot be here with us today. He has had a family emergency and is away. I think all members in the House will join me in wishing him and his family well in these difficult circumstances.

The Member for Terra Nova has raised this issue, we have debated it here. It is also a priority for us; we want to ensure that some remission programs are looked at by all levels of government and that the level of student loan also be looked at, perhaps at the way in which it is delivered. These are the two priority areas for Newfoundland and Labrador at the First Ministers' Meeting.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I have already referred to that. It is not only health care; as the Premier indicated, too, there have been severe cuts in transfers that have affected the levels of tuition that are putting undue strain on students, in fact, forcing students out of the Province.

I say to the Premier, we have seen countless examples of those cuts going on - we have seen cuts to EI, and when we are seeing a surplus ballooning that could hit $20 billion next year, I think it is criminal, what is happening there. In social assistance, we have seen it - we have seen it in numerous areas being capped by costs arising to our Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, I ask the Premier, when he goes to the First Ministers' Conference this week, will he go, I ask him, with hat in hand, saying to his colleagues: When I was in Cabinet and sat with you in the Commons and voted for those cuts, and when I voted `yes' for EI cuts, and yes, when I voted `yes' to transfer cuts to health, post-secondary education and so on, will you tell them I was wrong then, and will you, now, Premier, demonstrate humility now to say to them for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that you were wrong

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

I ask the hon. member (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: - and that you now fight for it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with the shadow of Christmas just in front of us, for a little while, just for a moment, a magic moment, I imagined that the Leader of the Opposition was really up asking questions about Medicare; I thought he was asking questions about the level of student loans and debt in this country. I thought he was going to ask a third question about the Rights of Children, as was raised by the Leader of the NDP, and the need to provide proper programming, federally and provincially, and deal with children's issues but, Mr. Speaker, I was wrong. This is just the opening salvo in the leadership campaign.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier knows quite well, at the First Ministers' Conference, I say to him, there are times for strutting and preening and boasting and bragging - here is an opportunity, I say to the Premier, and I am sure he will find time for attempting to brag about Hibernia when he is up there, the oil, that the Tories are (inaudible) in this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier: Will he also take time to drill home to his counterparts, that growth projections are not going to put food on the tables of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that growth projections will do nothing to cancel the repealed TAGS Program that he committed for five years, that growth projections will do nothing to curb the haemorrhaging of the human life blood here in our Province, that we are in a crisis here in our Province, just as Black Tickle, here in our Province, is in a crisis, and we need something now, to tide us over until that better tomorrow comes; I ask the Premier: will he do that when he goes to the First Ministers' Conference this week?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if I did not know better, it would sound to me like the Leader of the Opposition has a real fear of growth. You know, he is concerned that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador may see some significant growth in a number of important areas - in the resource area, where we have seen in one well at Hibernia, just one, a level of production of 42,000 barrels a day, with the choke on that well only opened up 70 per cent. If it were 100 per cent open, we would go to 60,000 barrels a day.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell that this is causing the consternation of the Leader of the Opposition, but I thought he was going to ask me - because that is the job of the Opposition, to hold the government accountable - about the story in today's Globe and Mail, where Inco said that they might be re-examining the smelter/refinery complex for Argentia. I thought he was going to stand up and demand that we hold Inco accountable. Mr. Speaker, had he asked me that question, I would have said, if there is no smelter/refinery complex, there is no mine!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: But, Mr. Speaker, he did not ask me that question about jobs that affect ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians because it is another job he is concerned about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was tempted not to ask any more questions, but I have to ask a simple question. He has encouraged me to stand up.

Will he confirm that he has brought the agreement signed on the offshore by the former Liberal government - the agreement in 1991 -will be confirm that of the first $1 billion worth of oil that comes out of the earth, this Province will get $10 million in royalties, 1 per cent on oil in the first eighteen months, and 2 per cent - double it - in the next eighteen months? Will the Premier confirm we will get a measly $10 million out of $1 billion?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I do not know that my good friend, the hon. John Crosbie, is going to take well the way in which the Leader of the Opposition has described his contribution to the economic life of this Province; that is, the Hibernia oil project. And, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the hon. John Crosbie is going to be an ex officio delegate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if he continues to attack ex officio delegates like this, the Leader of the Opposition will have a book of his own, but his will be called, `Where I Stood'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Environment and Labour.

In the community of Paradise River in Labrador, where there is a population of about thirty people, there are approximately a dozen forty-five gallon drums of oil, possibly PCBs, that have been left abandoned near the community water supply. Almost half the population of Paradise River uses this supply as drinking water. The minister's department is aware of the situation. I ask the minister: Does his department have any plans to clean up this potentially hazardous situation of leaking oil drums? Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us what he intends to do?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Earlier this year we allocated some funds to clean up some of the barrels in North West Point and in Hopedale, and recently we also allocated another $200,000 to do more work on the assessment in the Labrador area. After that is done, if further funds have to be expended there to do the job, then we will do that as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, considering half the people in Paradise River rely on this particular water source as their only supply of drinking water, I ask you: Do you intend, in the near future - as a matter of fact, immediately - to conduct an environmental assessment of the soil and the water supply to ensure that there are no health hazards or environmental damage?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I said earlier, we have allocated extra money, an extra $200,000, to do further assessment of these sites in Labrador, and we will do that as expeditiously as possible to see what further work needs to be done, and after that is done, allocate further money to remediate the sites and ensure that public health is secured for all the people in the region.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, considering these drums have been abandoned for almost fifteen years, I ask the minister: When can we expect to see action on this particular site regarding environmental assessment of the land and water supply? Minister, can you give us an exact date?

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

MR LANGDON: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot give an exact date, but we will do it as expeditiously as possibly.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of a long-term energy plan, government is trying to come to grips with how to supply energy for the Argentia smelter and other pending energy needs that we have. As a result of this, the government, through its minister, put out an open call inviting private hydro developments, or NUGs they are called, non-utility generators, to harness our small rivers to add to the Province's total energy supply.

In view of the fact the minister is not here today, I would like to ask the acting minister, can he tell us to date how many proposals government has received? Can he tell us, once such a utility is approved under what pieces of legislation will the utility's operations and sales be governed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I cannot recall the exact number. I think there were six or seven, or perhaps eight or nine, proposals. I do not have an exact number with me. The Minister of Mines and Energy, as you have noted, is not here today. I would undertake - because I know the member is serious about this issue, it is a reasonable question, and it deserves a full explanation - I will undertake to ensure the information is available to you as soon as the Minister of Mines and Energy returns.

Indeed, this particular call, which was issued some time ago by Hydro, has since been cancelled pending final determination by Inco of their requirements: both the timing of requirements, and the full extent of power that is required. Hydro and government will consult again and take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that power is provided.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the important question there is that once a non-utility generator comes into existence, under what Act does it continue or will it be operated? That is the question that is still looming.

I would submit that the Public Utilities Act was put in place for a purpose, to protect the consumer and the taxpayer. I would like to ask the Premier, in view of his answering the question: It is obvious that through Bill 44, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act" - and I will ask him to confirm this - that it is government's intention this Fall to broaden the exemption of the Act to cover any public utility that generates electricity and sells it to a regulated utility like Hydro.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) privatization (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The second question I would like to ask him, in confirming that, is: Could he inform the House which of the many developers does government want to exempt, and to which of the companies will the Act continue to apply?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to draw to the attention of the House that the bill in question is not a very complex document. It is rather straightforward. The Leader of the Opposition, during the course of the Member for Kilbride's question, was saying loud enough for many in the House to hear: Privatization, privatization, they are getting ready for privatization. This was the interpretation being put -

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question!

PREMIER TOBIN: I am trying hard.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: This was the interpretation being put on the question -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this was the interpretation being put by the Leader of the Opposition, on the question being raised by the Member for Kilbride.

I want to assure the Member for Kilbride that this Administration and this government have no intention whatsoever to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro - none.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the question I asked the Premier is: In view of the fact that the act will be broadened for exemption, what companies, if any, does government have in mind to exempt from the act? Because there has to be a reason for this piece of legislation coming into effect or being brought before us. What companies will continue to be applicable to the act? I have not received any answer yet.

I would like to say to the Premier that there are at least eighteen private proposals being brought before government, and I will, at some point in the debate on this bill, outline those. I would like to ask the Premier this question, Mr. Speaker, and the other point in reference to what the Premier said in terms of it is not a complex piece of legislation. It may not, but the impact of it may be long lasting on the people of the Province, I say to the Premier.

The question then is this, Mr. Speaker, that before the Premier or government embarked on drafting Bill No. 44, did the government do any analysis -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Did the government do any analysis of the impact on Hydro, on tax payers and on consumers of opening up the market to private generators of electricity and exempting - the act is clear - and exempting companies from regulation, which is open to interpretation, I believe that that is what is going to take place - exempting companies under the regulation of the Public Utilities Act, no matter how large they may be, if not, why not

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: - and if so, could he prove it by tabling what analysis they did?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the member is asking questions which deserve some response and I would suggest to the member that the Minister of Mines and Energy will be back in the House shortly, while this matter is being debated and will provide a full dialogue on the bill.

Mr. Speaker, there is no master plan to specifically list or delineate a list of companies who will be exempted. There is no such thing. Mr. Speaker, this gives flexibility under the current act. It allows for the generation of electricity and sales through a regulated utility, the regulated utility is Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and for the member, quite honestly, to try and see a conspiracy in this or to see some master plot or plan in this, Mr. Speaker, is not worthy of the member. I assure him there is no such plot or plan.

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues raised in the last period of time, in which in part is answered by this amendment, is the position of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador which we have given to Inco, that if Inco is going to provide power themselves, - there own source power - for their facility at Argentia, by the way Inco or whomever develops this facility because I am surprised that members of the Opposition have let slide this question of whether or not Inco is going to provide a full smelter-refinery-complex for Argentia. We have not let it slide. What we are saying however, Mr. Speaker, the energy is provided and it could be by Inco itself on site, this act would facilitate the sale of that energy, if there is surplus energy, to Hydro.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to draw the hon. Member for Kilbride's attention to the question that he is now raising. His questions ought not to anticipate Orders of the Day and clearly the bill that he is referring to is now on the Order Paper for second reading. So, I ask the hon. member if he has questions on that to keep them until we get into the debate in second reading.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: My questions today again are for the Minister of Justice.

Has the minister had an opportunity to review his answers from yesterday and does he now realize that the Inkpen report was indeed commissioned after the tragedy at Whitbourne?

I do not fault the minister for his interpretation yesterday, he was probably unable to see the date on the report, a lot of dust builds up in nineteen months.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: And it is to this report that I would again like to focus my questions.

Have the young offenders charts at Whitbourne been computerized permitting the sharing of information about young people so staff will be aware of any circumstances that may place the young people at risk, for example, at risk of suicide.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday after I left the House, I was attacked by a reporter from The Evening Telegram who said: Look, the hon. member is right, the Inkpen report was not commissioned until October 26, 1995.

Now, I was absolutely certain that government had dealt with that issue long before October 26, 1995. So, I went back and I learned that my memory was not totally gone. In May of 1995, before there was a suicide out in that position, Social Services had proposed to government and had gotten authority from government to review the overall custody functioning of the youth centre and that Social Services was going to engage Dr. Inkpen to do the report, that's what it was. Now before Social Services, who had the authority to engage a consultant, before Social Services got the time - before they had time to do it, then we had a suicide.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. DECKER: I don't find suicide that funny, Mr. Speaker. I don't find suicide funny at all.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I don't find suicide a laughing matter. Now before Dr. Inkpen was engaged, before we had time to engage her, there was a suicide. The minister of the day decided that she would wait until after the police investigation had begun - remember now there was a suicide. There was a police investigation and subsequently there was a judicial inquiry. So after the police investigation and the judicial inquiry was finished then the minister went back, picked up where she left off, she already had approval and on October 26, 1995, Dr. Inkpen was indeed engaged, Mr. Speaker. So the hon. member was partially right, not totally right but -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: - she could not be expected to be totally right because there was knowledge that I had that there was no way under the sun that she could have (inaudible).

Now as for the remark about - the hon. member seems to think - this is the second part of her question, Mr. Speaker, about the report not being acted upon. The hon. member insinuates that there was dust on the report. I can tell her that there was no dust on the report. By the time we made the report public, Mr. Speaker, we had implemented something like 80 per cent of the recommendations, Mr. Speaker. We had changed the whole management system out there, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly, please.

MR. DECKER: We had corrected a problem with communication, Mr. Speaker, where the various people who were in charge of looking after the residents were not communicating -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly.

MR. DECKER: - all these things were done so that the report did not collect any dust, Mr. Speaker, no dust.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, were the charts computerized? If they are not, what are you doing in the meantime to heed the warning that Dr. Inkpen gave the government about streamlining the flow of critical information?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the whole problem was with communication. Remember now there are, I think, a maximum of sixty young people in that facility at some times. What Dr. Inkpen found was that the person who was teaching the children in the school for example, had no communication with the child - the work out there or the people who were doing security work. They were all sort of operating in isolation from each other. So Dr. Inkpen pointed it out as a problem and she suggested that one way to do that would be to computerize the charts or whatever. We have gone further than that, Mr. Speaker. When a person is admitted to that facility now - he or she - there is an assessment done on that person. Every single person who in any way comes in contact with that child is required to have certain knowledge and is shared at that level. There is continuous sharing, Mr. Speaker, back and forth. Now are the charts computerized? I don't even know for sure if they are computerized. I will get that answer for the hon. member shortly but I can assure her that the intent of Dr. Inkpen was that the children would not be compartmentalized but that all the knowledge, all the information about the child -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to finish his answer quickly.

MR. DECKER: - barring the child's human rights of course, you can't give the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's West.

MS S. OSBORNE: Okay, this question is regarding recommendation No. 56. When is the government going to do what is needed to ensure its correction system stops trapping our young people into a life of crime and desperation with a revolving door that cycles them endlessly between the streets and prisons? Or, after twenty months, are you still doing some reconfiguration of staff responsibilities as well as the implementation of partnerships with government agencies and organizations?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely, totally disgraceful, and it shows a misunderstanding of the institution at Whitbourne. The Youth Centre in Whitbourne is second to none in this country. The stress at that institution is on rehabilitation. I would challenge the hon. member to visit the institution and get her eyes opened. I did it. I would encourage any member to go out and visit. We have had people down from the mainland go out and visit that institution and have gone back and attempted to copy it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. H. HODDER: Point of order, Mr. Speaker!

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

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the member is supposed to answer the question that is asked.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: In this particular case it was about recommendation number fifty-six. What are you doing about it? Get to the point, Mr. Speaker, as required by the (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

There is no point of order.

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there were insinuations made in that question which have to be addressed. We have an institution that we are proud of. If hon. members are going to abuse this question period by making insinuations that I cannot reply to, then I will keep standing, I will not sit down. Because it is the top institution in this Province, in this country, and we are proud of it, and hon. members don't know what they are talking about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

 

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

 

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to present the report of Public Tender Act exemptions for the month of October, fully five months in advance of the required statutory date.

 

Notices of Motion

 

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act". (Bill No. 55).

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to read into the record a Private Members Resolution to move the following:

WHEREAS current legislation and practice permit the provincial government to remove individuals from their homes based on concerns about either their mental health or their physical health; and

WHEREAS any municipality in the Province can issue a closure order on a property based on the condition of that property; and

WHEREAS these considerable powers of state against individuals must be exercised with great restraint respecting the rights and freedoms of individuals in our society; and

WHEREAS questions have been raised in recent months about the way in which these powers have been exercised and regarding the safeguards in place to ensure individuals so removed from their homes are provided on an emergency basis with adequate, alternate accommodations

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this hon. House urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to review, with the goal of improving the legislation and practices of the provincial government regarding the closure orders on homes and the removal from those homes of individuals on the basis of mental or physical health concerns.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urge the government to make appropriate changes so that individuals targeted by such a process are as follows: Given prior information detailing the ground on which the government is assessing them under the Neglected Adults Welfare Act or the Mental Health Act; Given the right to appeal such a decision in a timely matter; Given suitable emergency alternate accommodations while it is determined whether it is more viable for the Province to repair the structure or rather, provide permanent, long-term accommodations from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing or some other public office, if it is more viable to make alterations rather than provide long-term care; Given assurances that the appropriate action will be taken as soon and as effectively as possible for both individuals affected and the government; and otherwise, if it is more viable to provide long-term accommodations or care to the individual based on an assessment of the individual's medical or other needs; Given assurances that the transition will be done as smoothly as possible in recognition of the human factor of any decisions to displace people from their traditional place of residence.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

 

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I am not absolutely sure of this, but I believe the hon. Member for Waterford Valley asked me a question some time ago to which I have provided him only half an answer, and one of the questions that he asked me had to do with the selling -

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible) the wrong information so he settled for half of it (inaudible).

MR. A. REID: Boy, you are lucky to get half, I would say.

I want to inform the hon. member and members in the House that Linden Court and Pinebud Avenue apartments and Allandale Place, properties now, bids have been received from Maritime Realty Limited, owned and operated by Des and Brendan Sullivan, in the amount of $2.2438 million.

The Pinebud, Allandale properties were offered in seven blocks with a total of the high bid of $1.921 compared with the market appraisal of $1.5. The high bids were submitted by a Mr. Gerald Allen, two blocks, 10278 Newfoundland Incorporated, Con Sullivan one block, and NEWCO Investments, Gladys Marche four blocks, and, Mr. Speaker, as most of you would know in the House as well.

The final part of the answer is, Maritime Realty Limited were also the successful bidder of Elizabeth Towers, and Maritime Realty Limited is owned as well by Des and Brendan Sullivan.

This leaves 138 units at Pleasantville, inclusive of ten units that we have not sold in Arnold's Loop to be sold, and we are expecting before the year's end to maybe be in a position to advertise the sale of these particular properties.

Thank you.

 

Petitions

 

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

MS S. OSBORNE: To the hon. House of Assembly in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned student-parents of Newfoundland:

WHEREAS the Department of Human Resources and Employment fostered an atmosphere of confusion by failing to provide clients in post-secondary institutions with timely information regarding the changes to policy concerning the issue of shelter component of the student loan; and

WHEREAS clients, based on inaccurate information, went on to spend this money on essential items such as food and day care costs, thereby rendering them unable to repay the shelter component; and

WHEREAS, in response to this confusion, the Department of Human Resources and Employment went on to claw back this money at such a rate as to leave people unable to pay for food, rent, heat, light, and other items essential to life;

The prayer of our petition is that the Department of Human Resources and Employment change its policy regarding this area and allow the student-parents involved to be able to pay back this money over a more reasonable period of time.

This grinch-like policy has stolen the spirit of Christmas for many student-parents and their innocent children across the Province, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: This petition today from student-parents who find themselves in horrendous situations is not unlike the students who asked me to present a petition yesterday. Once again we are dealing with parents of young children who have no money not only for Christmas but for winter necessities such as boots, snowsuits, and mittens for children and, as well, have no money for food. Once again, I would like to cite some examples.

Number one, married parents with one child: instead of receiving $242 every two weeks, they are receiving $174. This amount is to cover winter clothing for three people, utilities and groceries.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS S. OSBORNE: They have been informed that the department is being `easy' on them until after Christmas, at which time another $55 will be taken from their cheque until March 15. What a dismal winter this family has to look forward to.

Number two is a married couple with the father being the student. They have one child and are receiving $162 twice monthly as opposed to $241 they normally received. This represents a loss of $158 a month for a family already living below the poverty line before the claw-back. They will not be reinstated to their regular amount until February. Incidentally, this student was told in the beginning that his claw-back amount was $880; however, then it was raised to $1,100.

Number three is a single mother with one three-year-old child. Her regular amount twice monthly was $360. She is now cut to $123 twice monthly, for a total of $246. The problem here is that her rent is $263, leaving her a deficit every month of $17. Her only other income is $100 family allowance and an occasional part-time job which gives her about $80 a month.

This other one is a classic. A student called me this morning. She returned to school in September, at which time she received a student loan to last her for a sixteen-week course prior to Christmas and her ten-week work term after Christmas. She immediately went to Human Resources and tried to return $880 for the sixteen weeks and $550 for the ten-week portion. They told her she only owed $880. She insisted they take the additional $550. They refused. She then went on and spent the money to pay bills, et cetera. She received a call from a department official a few days ago, `Pay the $550 or have your social assistance cut off.'

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in reply to a similar petition, the minister strongly encouraged members, when they are aware of individual situations where people are in extreme hardship, that they make those cases known to the department. I would like it recorded here and now that each of the cases mentioned yesterday and again today have been referred to the department -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS S. OSBORNE: - and that my office has been working tirelessly for a solution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member -

MS S. OSBORNE: To date there has been nothing forthcoming -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take her seat.

MS S. OSBORNE: By leave. Thank you.

To date there has been nothing forthcoming from the department.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take her seat.

It is now Wednesday 3:00 p.m. and it is Private Members Day, so I would assume that we will move to the Private Members Resolution now. I do not know who is on the Order Paper for today.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we move to that, I consulted with the Opposition House Leader on motion no. 3 and I think I am going to get leave to move first reading of motion no. 3 before we move to Orders of the Day. I think we have leave for that.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, confirming that we have an agreement with the Government House Leader to do first reading today and it is premised in the dialogue that I have had with him that the debate would not begin probably until Monday, when we have had sufficient time to review it.

MR. SPEAKER: We now have leave to call motion no. 3, first reading.

Motion, the Hon. the Minister of Education to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province," carried. (Bill No. 41).

On motion, Bill No. 41 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present the resolution which I presented to the House a week or so ago. I just want to read it into the record, Mr. Speaker, for those who are listening, that are not here in the House today.

WHEREAS many people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador rely on air travel; and

WHEREAS airline fares are exorbitant and continuing to rise dramatically driving air travel out of reach to the ordinary citizen. High travel costs tend to reduce accessibility to secondary and tertiary health care. It creates another financial challenge for post-secondary students and has a direct negative impact on tourism growth potential;

The resolution goes on to say, Mr. Speaker:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House recommend that appropriate agencies of the Government of Canada undertake an immediate review of the airline industry with particular focus on large geographic, sparsely population region of our country, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and recommend public policy that seeks to reduce the financial burden being placed on our flying public.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the cost of air travel has risen, I believe, dramatically. In fact, an airline ticket to Wabush return to St. John's, costs if you are not fortunate enough to receive a seat sale, it costs you $1,335.15.

MR. J. BYRNE: How much?

MR. CANNING: Thirteen hundred and thirty-five dollars and fifteen cents.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, a family of four could pay up to, not withstanding any seat sales that they maybe able to get, may pay up to $5,340.60 to travel from Wabush to St. John's, return.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are seat sales and we know there are seat sales, there are different strategies, different marketing strategies depending on what time of the year it is by the airline industry, but you cannot depend on those kinds of things, you can only depend on the counter price, you hope to negotiate some kind of a seat sale agreement for the flying public when they go up to the cash register. Well, Mr. Speaker, if they do not get one, that is what they pay.

The reality is that the airline industry is important to my riding and it is important to this Province. Our connection from Labrador West to the rest of the Province is primarily through air travel. Yes, we are building a Trans Labrador Highway and all that good stuff, but the reality is, today if someone needs to travel to the Island portion of our Province to visit family or friends, to go and get a check-up at the hospital, primarily they are going to use air travel. Our students use air travel primarily back and forth to Memorial University.

Mr. Speaker, we all the time hear about seat sales and the value of seat sales to the travelling public, but I want to pay particular notice to seat sales as it applies to students in university. I had heard about one particular airline that serves my district that was going to have seat sales during December and perhaps into January. I had written that airline and said: For the benefit of students, could you allow students to take advantage of those seat sale tickets for the Christmas season? They blacked out that Christmas season, saying that students can go on student stand-by.

Anybody knows, if you are travelling to Wabush you can't depend on student stand-by. You may never get home for Christmas. So any student, any parent wanting those students to come home, has to pay whatever price the market is charging to ensure that the student gets home to enjoy Christmas with family and friends in their home town, in Wabush or Labrador City.

They rejected my request to allow students to engage this particular seat sale through the Christmas sale. I wasn't asking it for everybody. I was asking it for student travel, which is very important. The cost of post-secondary education is extensive enough now that adding this extra burden to them is indeed a very troubling circumstance.

I recognize too that the cost of air travel is not all driven by the airline industry. It is a function, I believe, of deregulation. My view is that when they decided to have deregulation of the airline industry it probably met well the needs of the high-volume corridors between, say, Montreal and Toronto, or Toronto and Vancouver. It probably did that very well, because it allowed competition to move in and push prices downward. In the north particularly, in my riding, it seems to me that deregulation has not worked the way it was intended to.

The reality also is that Transport Canada has been charging higher fees to airport users. It has in fact - and there are published reports about the kinds of revenues that it is earning from the airline industry, which is passed on to the customer, to the flying public, and this continues. The fact is also that Transport Canada is passing along airports to local commissions in local communities. We don't know what impact that will have on the flying public. The flying public I represent see a higher price; more pay out for less service.

I want to say something. The airlines that serve Labrador West, particularly Air Labrador and Air Nova, do a good job with the type of aircraft they have. I would suggest the loss of jet service to Wabush has been a significant loss to the people I serve, and I would like to see a jet put back on that route. The reality is too that people who fly to Labrador West to engage in the caribou hunt, for instance, pay fairly hefty prices to get there. We need to ensure a public strategy, a public policy, in this country that provides for competition, but it also provides a standard whereby airlines are able to offer effective, sound, good prices to their customers. Currently the airline industry that I see charges an awful lot. Perhaps it will argue that it has to because of the costs of the industry in and of itself. That is a good argument.

What I would ask - and I hope that members of the House agree - is that agencies of the Government of Canada take it upon themselves now to review this whole public policy for the airline industry in Canada, and review it in a way that seeks to reduce cost. Because we have tried deregulation for quite a while. Deregulation is in and of itself a good, sound policy. We may need to make adjustments to ensure that people who live in northern Canada or live in Newfoundland and Labrador, or provinces where you have a huge geography, sparsely populated, we may have to change policy here and there to ensure that airlines can operate in a safe and efficient manner and charge the least amount for their tickets to the travelling public. This is a very important issue to the people of Labrador West. This is a very important issue to the people of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CANNING: I couldn't hear the Government House Leader. Perhaps he would like to make some comments when he stands and gives us his great speech, Mr. Speaker. I'm told that he is a star pupil and a star graduate from Dale Carnegie, and I appreciate that.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear from other members of this hon. House as to how and what the implications are of what I think are very high travel costs in this Province and how we can work together to design a public policy that seeks to ask the support of the House of Commons to look at designing new policy that tries, to the extent they can, to reduce the cost to the travelling public. So, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this debate and I would ask again, all members, to support this very worthwhile resolution.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make a few comments here on the resolution submitted by the Member for Labrador West.

Mr. Speaker, travel costs in Labrador are high. I can allude to it, I took a trip down there at $1,372. Maybe I got overcharged but I had to stop over at Goose Bay and it is expensive, very expensive. In fact, there is a history to that. It was back in 1970, hon. Earl W. Winsor, a Liberal, made an announcement in the House here that Eastern Provincial at the time, were giving 100 per cent fare for the head of a family; first dependent, 75 per cent; children 12 - 21, 50 per cent; 2 - 11, one-third of the fare and children under 2, free. This was right back in 1970 and of course hon. Hank Murphy was Minister of Labrador Affairs and announced back in 1972 that there was going to be an extension of the benefits to residents of coastal Labrador which we feel we should have been included when the air service was inaugurated earlier. That was back at that point.

We all knew then that, with the change of government in 1989 and in 1990, the former Liberal government here, under Premier Wells, eliminated that. The former member who represented Labrador West as well had a statement to that affect, I say to the current member, as the result of changes. Even for sports trips there were numerous changes. That is who did you in, your own party you are sitting with now are the ones who did you in.

The Premier lived in Labrador - and now you are looking to somebody else. The documents are here for proof. All the documentation goes back for twenty-seven years of history here. It is all here. Now he is up there jumping up and down and wondering - but I support making Labrador accessible. You can travel to Florida, spend two days there and come back and spend less money than just the air fare to Labrador.

MR. FITZGERALD: It was Clyde Wells who chopped the subsidies.

MR. SULLIVAN: My colleague here from Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi said he went to Vancouver and back cheaper, a couple of hundred dollars cheaper. It is an exorbitant rate, I must say, it is high. When we get into areas where the competition is not there you pay through the nose to go off the main track and you fly here to Toronto cheap. The people in Labrador are incurring high costs of transportation and high costs also of other goods that have to be shipped in there because of the distance. That is why I have been a strong believer in the Trans Labrador Highway as a strong priority to it - now it would help. It is not going to solve all the problems of getting there but it is going to immensely reduce the cost and the accessibility of Labrador for the people from the island portion of the Province, as well as people from Labrador to take a vehicle down and visit. Many of them have families here on the island. Most of them have families and relatives here on the island portion of the Province. That is why I did not think the Premier should have sold us short and didn't get any money to do a strip of highway between Goose Bay and Cartwright. There is no money in the pot.

The Premier was quoted on April 3 - I have the news clippings. I have his statement, his quotes of what he stated. One hundred and ninety million to do from Labrador West to Goose Bay so we can open it up to Quebec businesses and support Quebec businesses at the expense of Newfoundland businesses and that's fine to do that. The people need it from Labrador West to be able to drive back and forth to Happy Valley - Goose Bay. It is needed - especially, all the more important today with the development down in Northern Labrador with the mining discoveries there and the other potential discoveries that we are hearing about in the news from day to day but to leave a gap worth hundreds of millions, to sell us short and throw away the last bit of leverage he has to negotiate and have a section not completed is driving up the cost even further because when there is a road access, when there are alternatives to get from Goose Bay to Labrador West, that is when the rates will have to come down to be competitive or people will not use it. They will use their ground transportation in the process.

Of course we support it. Of course we endorse it there. I think the resolution's specific wording here states, "...recommend that appropriate agencies of the Government of Canada undertake an immediate review..." Yes, and I would add: And the appropriate agents of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador take appropriate action. Pass it off on your federal cousins. Take your share of the responsibility in this Province here. Take your share.

The federal government did not come far enough on roads. They should contribute more, I agree, but also there is a strong priority here to complete that link in Labrador. You should be calling upon your counterparts and questioning why the Premier had to sell us out on this process, and why he took $150 million to $200 million too short, not enough, fell short to complete the job, and he took over responsibility for a ferry service with ferries that are not adapted to the type of service we are getting. The boats are not designed to provide the service that is needed on those runs. In fact, some of them are monstrosities completely unrelated to moving the traffic and freight and so on in the volumes that are... Some of them are not designed for that purpose. We could have a white elephant out there now, and the costs of operating these are expensive.

We needed more money to relieve the federal government of a responsibility it has to the people in the northern parts of this Province. It was relieved of them in the South Coast of the Province, and White Bay, I think, came with the South Coast one at the time. Now here we are moving out of there, moving the ferry service back on the shoulders of this Province, and the Province has a huge responsibility, I might add.

Just the subsidy alone on that ferry service that this Province will pay to Marine Atlantic this year for carrying that over from the time they took it over for this operation is a $12 million subsidy, and the costs are much, much higher when you factor in the revenue that they obtained from that operation.

That is a major operation there, a major responsibility, and it is good to see a separate Labrador transportation initiative go into that pot if we are going to take away the ferry service there. We are going to reduce it, and hopefully eliminate it if we could. We need that pot of money to be designated for Labrador. It is the right approach on it, but we also have to address responsibilities, I say to the member, with his own government here, not just deflect it. This government has a role and responsibility to people in Labrador, as well as does the Government of Canada. Both governments did not live up to that full responsibility when we signed the agreement back, I think, on April 3 of this year. On April 3 of this year we signed an agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you sure they didn't sign it on April 1?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it was on my birthday, April 3. That is why they signed it then, April 3. It is too bad we fell a couple of hundred million dollars short. I am sure that bothers the Member for Labrador West now. Certainly he should be pressing... The questions he should be asking are, granted, to the federal government too, but he should be asking his very own Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. You didn't do math in school, I say to the member? Ninety-eight minus forty-nine is forty-nine, okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the new math (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The new math, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know. I keep looking younger every month.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't. No, I did when I was ten and I had to keep doing it. I would say the Member for Bellevue does.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you. Now I will get back to the legal beagle.

I will not move an amendment. I don't think we will move an amendment to call upon the provincial government to... I won't beat around the bush with that, but I will say to the Member for Labrador West that he should press on his own government, his own Premier, and the minister representing Labrador, the job that he aspires to hold some time in the future, the job at which he is working very hard trying to impress the Premier. He didn't do too well. In a few areas he got in his bad books, but he is trying. You can't blame him for trying. The new members for Labrador try. The former Member for Eagle River tried too hard. He got too close to the Premier. He alienated the people in his district. I see the same thing happening now. The Member for Labrador West is tripping over the coat tail of the Premier, stepping on his toes. When he backs up, the Premier has to say, `Excuse me'. When he turns to the right, he bumps in and says, `Excuse me'. You have to keep your distance, I say. When he puts out his hand, be there to put something in it, yes, but don't get in his way because it will never get you into Cabinet. There is nothing worse than trying too hard. Only one thing worse than trying too hard is not trying at all. That is the only thing that is worse, I will say to the Member for Labrador West. You have to keep that in mind.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well boy, who was it said that? Shakespeare? Is that Shakespeare? Familiarity breeds contempt. Who said that? Milton, was it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Did you hear what the former Member for Placentia said to the Member for Eagle River his first time up in the House? Nick Careen, the Member for Placentia, stood his first time. Usually you get the courtesy your first time up to be able to finish what you are saying. The Member for Eagle River who sat for three years when I was in here in the same seat in the back, all the way back for three years, his biggest regret was getting into that parliamentary assistant to the Premier job.

He interrupted the Member for Placentia in his first speech. The Member for Placentia stopped and he said: I hear the Member for Eagle River got his toes chopped off so he could stand closer to the backside of the Premier. He didn't interrupt him for a while after. He didn't interrupt him for some time after. If you could depend on a member to come up with a quote, the former Member for Placentia, he had all of them, I tell you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Placentia was given his first opportunity to get on his feet in the House. The Member for Eagle River, the guy who got too close to the Premier - we saw the results after - interrupted him in the middle of his speech. Here was his first time, and we didn't know how Nick was going to react. He just stopped and said: I hear the Member for Eagle River got his toes chopped off so he could stand closer to the backside of the Premier.

That set him back. `Danny the Lip' then went into - his illness, verbal overflow of usage of words, went into remission then for about a month until he had the nerve again. He always came up with one.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he was sharp as a bowling ball, he said on another occasion. Yes, that is another one. He also had a good account of that man, Mr. Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd had a son, he was called Clyde, so he said Clyde Lloyd was his son. He entertained the House one day with that for a few minutes.

Anyway, we will get back to the issue here. I agree with the efforts of the resolution. It would be nice to have the provincial government added in but you wouldn't be allowed to do that, and we wouldn't carry an amendment to that effect. We wouldn't want to do that. I would ask: Where were you a year ago in November when I stood here in the House and said to the Premier and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation at the time, who is now the Minister of Human Resources and Employment: Don't sell us out on a pile of money on the Labrador service? That isn't enough to do the job.

It was estimated $1 billion of paved road. They stood here on November 19 last year and said a paved road in Labrador in ten years. Now they are going to get a gravel road that leaves half of Labrador out. We are going to isolate it in the middle so that you can't even get across it. That is a far cry.

There was a reason for that, I say to the Member for Labrador West. That is a week before they announced the smelter-refinery going to Argentia. First we had a gravel, then we had a paved highway. We had announcements on a - there was (inaudible) Lab West. We had announcement after announcement. You see the paper and ministerial statements this year. Last year for that week leading up to the smelter and refinery we got bowled over with announcements on Labrador. Three ministers in a row one day in the House stood, I think it was November 19 if anyone wanted to check it, and gave the good news to the people, to sort of cushion them for the blow that was to follow when they were told the smelter and refinery would be going there.

Get with it. Get to your own colleagues. Get them pushing your own Premier who tells us he has influence federally when he wants to tell us that, and who has none when we are looking for things. When we are looking for extra jobs for the Province, when we are looking for income for employment, EI, he has nothing to do with it. When we are seeing $20 billion building up (inaudible) find he has nothing to do with that. Job cuts, unemployment, he has nothing to do with that. He has nothing to do with the cuts to health care and post-secondary education.

When there is something up there to jump up on that federal scene, he is so closely associated, well, then, you would not know but he made the Prime Minister do it. And then, he stayed so far away from issues that are crucifying people here in our Province, the ordinary, working man and woman in this Province and the people who are depending on vital services.

So, get up there, go after the Federal Government, I agree with it, but go after your own government too, do not let them off the hook. Do like the Member for Torngat Mountains, see what he did. He has schools being built down there everywhere. There is a school everywhere you turn. That is what I call an effective member. If you have to catch the Premier by the throat now and then to get it done, I suppose it needs to be done. So I say, the Member for Lab West, if he had the conviction and clout of the Member for Torngat Mountains, they would be a lot happier down there in Labrador West than they are in Torngat Mountains, I can assure you.

AN HON. MEMBER: They have no pluck at all.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and all those applauding over there, they know I am right, they are all agreeing with me. The Member for Labrador West aspires to be the minister. Well, as long as the member from down in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay, area is there, we can forget about the Member for Labrador West. And by the way, the Member for Labrador West will be taken care of the next time, just like the Member for Eagle River.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, in response to the motion for today, I would like to make a few comments from the tourism perspective. I think that this is an extremely important discussion that we are having here today if the tourism industry in this Province is, in fact, going to thrive.

We have seen this year that we have reached our targets; we had more than 20 per cent increase in tourism numbers and we want those numbers to grow even more. Twenty per cent in our Province is approximately 60,000. We would like to have hundreds of thousands of extra tourists coming in here but, of course, in order for us to have hundreds of thousands of tourists visit our Province; it will mean we need lower airfares. Lower airfares and stable or lower ferry rates are going to be extremely important in this Province.

We rely on air travel in this Province like no other province. Prince Edward Island now has a fixed link. It will become more and more important, if we are to be competitive in the tourism marketplace, that we have reasonable air fares, and it is very important to Newfoundland from several perspectives. Part of our Province is an Island, as I have just pointed out, and it will be important. We only have two ways to get here: by boat or by plane. Labrador does not yet have adequate road connections. We hope, in the next decade, they will but, in the meantime, I think air travel in Labrador will continue to be a challenge for all of us, and in particular, the pricing.

Of course, our large geographic area certainly is a factor here. We have a very big Province; we have good road connections but we have many, many communities. It is going to be really important for us to be able to have adequate air transportation to continue amongst the airports and between the provinces of Canada. We have low volumes in this Province because of the fact that we still have a low population, so already the airlines have been challenged and have in some ways dealt with this problem. They now travel with planes that are suited to the size of the travelling public; but from a tourism perspective, our hospitality industry we have proven this year, can compete and does compete, but it is once the tourist arrives in our Province; the getting here is still the big challenge. And we have proven in our hospitality industry, we are known - especially after this year - that the prices of our accommodations, the prices of food in our restaurants, of all of our services, are very competitive both within Canada and internationally. Our big problem, and it was clearly identified this year, is with the pricing factor in particular for our airlines and for our ferry services.

We know and we have heard from many people in the British Isles and especially as it relates to the importance of our Cabot 500 celebrations this year, that many more people, tourists, would have come from the British Isles, if we had in fact, had lower air fares available.

The Leader of the Opposition says that he supports a decrease in air fare to Labrador and I, too, support that, but it will be important that we need decreases in airline fares all over the Province - into the Province and within the Province. It is extremely vital to the future of tourism in our Province.

It is very interesting that I have just received a document this week from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and it is entitled, `Air Travel Must Be Competitive If Tourism Is To Fly' and I think that all of us recognize that, but now it is time for us to try, as a Province, and to partner with other provinces to make sure that we have the appropriate regulation within our country for this to happen. The government must not stand in the way of low costs and flexible air fare options for travel within and to Canada, if we are to grow our tourism industry.

The Tourism Industry Association recognizes this and they are now responding to some proposed amendments to the International Charter Air Regulations. It is extremely important that we note what is happening here. If we further regulate the costs of low-cost and charter airlines and deny them access to this country and to this Province, we will be the big losers. It is really important that we all recognize this, that both schedule and charter services bring hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors to Canada every year. It is worth $12 billion to this country's economy. In 1996, total tourism spending neared $42 billion and employed almost 500,000 Canadians.

So, if we are, in Newfoundland and Labrador, to receive our fair share of the tourism spending dollar, it will be extremely important for us to lobby for and to ensure that in the future we have low-cost air fares, or lower-cost air fares, at least, both into our Province and within our Province. We recognize that we have a huge geography here to deal with and we are not going to be able to compete unless we have these problems dealt with.

So, I support the member who brought this motion forward today and I hope that it will be the beginning of the Federal Government and the airlines and the whole tourism industry, recognizing, if we are to proceed with one of the bright lights of the economy in this Province, that we are to do something about the air fares in this Province.

Thank you, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support my colleague, the Member for Labrador West, on this particular motion. And, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you firsthand, although I am not from Labrador, I spent some six years in Labrador City - Wabush. I know the area very well - I still have family who live there.

Mr. Speaker, all of these things that were mentioned earlier, believe me, I can relate to them firsthand. I can relate to the business problems they have in Labrador West and so on, of having people - potential clients and so on - come in to look at things in the area. I can relate to the sports groups, I say to the Member for Labrador West. I coached different teams in Labrador City, Labrador City Collegiate and in Wabush.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, I did not teach there, but I did coach there. And what a lot of trouble we had - I know the member will understand this - in fund-raising and trying to get kids interested in taking part in sports programs, to go out to the Island portion. I, myself, participated on sports teams that had to fund-raise in forty below temperatures and to go on beer bottle drives and so on, to raise enough money just to take part in a sporting event.

Now, I know Mr. Speaker, on the Island portion of the Province, we do the same thing because I have done it here also, but not to the extent the people in Labrador have to do, not near the extent, Mr. Speaker, because the price of flying to Labrador City - Wabush is outrageous. Believe me, there are times I would like to go visit my family up there. I still have a sister who lives in Wabush. Mr. Speaker, it is just so outrageous. I can grab a flight to Florida, on a seat sale, cheaper than I can go to Labrador City. It is incredible what some of these prices are, but it has affected the business community, it has affected, of course, the students that the member talked about earlier. I talked to students at the airport just a few days ago, who said, for Christmas they are going to go on stand-by. Do you realize that those students there standing in that airport, getting up to the eleventh hour of Christmas, parents home waiting for them, and here they are going to have their son or daughter who they are waiting to see at home, stuck in St. John's over Christmas. That is quite possible, Mr. Speaker, and especially as you get closer to those last days.

Of course, the problem with the students is that they are up to the eleventh hour because of exam schedules and so on. They are going to be stuck in the airport in St. John's because here they are; they think the great solution to this problem is student stand-by for the students going back to Labrador West and Goose Bay and so on.

It is just so unfair, and it is long overdue, I say to the Member for Labrador West. The recognition of the contribution of the economy of Labrador West and all of Labrador to this Province should be a part of the consideration for this. Over the years, I can tell you, many times over, many people in Labrador West have been saying to me - and I am referring to Labrador West a lot because it is where I lived and I can relate to it more. I know the Member for Torngat Mountains has his reasons for the - and the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair and so on. I am just relating to it from my perspective, having a little bit of experience of being in Labrador West. I am sure that a lot of the circumstances relate to the same as those of the Members for Torngat Mountains and Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair.

I guess the bottom line, and what they are all on the same premise about, is the fact that Labrador has a hard enough time connecting with the Island portion of the Province, and trying to feel united with the Island portion of the Province. They should have better access, and something reasonable. I talk to people in Labrador. They say they do not want the great seat sales; they just want something that is reasonable.

We are gone to an extreme now. In Newfoundland I have seen prices as low as $500 and $600 return to Florida at times, and I have seen seat sales at $600 return to Vancouver. But, Mr. Speaker, try to take a flight up to Labrador City on short notice if you have business, and what a detriment it is to business in the Province in Labrador West.

When a business client who may be - and people who do business know this. Technology and letter-writing and so on, that is all great, but when you want to seal a deal you have to do that face to face. If your product is in Labrador West or in the Goose Bay area or the Torngat area or wherever it is, and you want that client to come and do business with you, you want a face-to-face.

If that client is going to call up LeGrow's Travel or whoever it might be and ask for a price, they want to fly to Labrador tomorrow, they are going to be set back pretty quick when they see what the price is. Believe me, there are a lot of people on the Island portion of this Province who do not realize what the cost is to Labrador. Well, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you this - the people in Labrador know it. They know it quite well. Every day it hits them in the face when they have to go out on business, when they have to go out for medical reasons, for people who are here in the Health Sciences in St. John's, and so on.

Another plug, and I will just finish on this, just to make a few comments today in support, the young people, the young people especially in sports. You might think it is a small thing, but that social interaction with the sports groups in Labrador and the Island part is very important. It gives the people in Labrador City - I remember we had them come visit Baie Verte on a basketball tournament one time. That whole socializing aspect of not the sport itself, but kids getting together from Labrador and the Island portion, is very important in the development of the child.

You talk about this Province, as a whole, and I guess the aura of how you feel about Labrador and the Island portion. This is a step in the right direction to bring them closer together so that they communicate more often and more readily when they want to do that. People in Labrador, having contributed to the economy of this Province so much for years, feel that the connection, besides the technology of fax and e-mail and all of that we have today, it is not like sitting face to face to talk to somebody, whether it be for sports, business, medical reasons or whatever.

I stand in full support today of my colleague, the Member for Labrador West, and all the members from the Labrador area, in that we bring forward this motion and do what we can to support that motion here in this House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ANDERSEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to speak to the motion put forward by my colleague, the Member for Labrador West, regarding the high cost of air fare.

A little over a month ago I attended the aboriginal mining conference. We called the airlines and we booked a seat sale. I flew from St. John's to Vancouver on a seat sale for $1,054. Mr. Speaker, for me to travel into my district, to leave St. John's and travel to Nain with the cheapest seat sale possible, is $1,177.61. Mr. Speaker, as I travel throughout my riding, to travel in my own riding, to leave Goose Bay and travel to Nain, to Davis Inlet, to Hopedale, to Postville, to Makkovik and on to Rigolet, Mr. Speaker, $661.25. Mr. Speaker, for a riding that has the highest cost of living in the Province, the highest cost of fuel then this certainly puts the residents in my riding at a big setback.

Mr. Speaker, some of the members and particularly the Member for Baie Verte mentioned the part of young people travelling. When I lived in Goose Bay I was involved with the Minor Hockey Association for eighteen years. When we travelled to the provincial tournaments it was not really a question of who won the tournament but it gave the young people in Labrador a chance to get out and see what the rest of the Province was like. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, because of the high cost of travel the schools in the riding of Torngat Mountains have their regional sports meet and the winner goes on - denying the young people in our schools a chance to travel to the Province to compete, to represent their community but most important of all to get to know what the other communities of this Province are really like.

Imagine, Mr. Speaker, some of these children will go all the way to high school and never know what a McDonald's or a Tim Horton's look like and that is because of the high cost of air travel that we face. Mr. Speaker, when we see ads in the papers where you can travel to Florida and England and different parts of the world for less than the cost that it takes to travel within our own Province. I think that is a very serious situation.

I compliment the Member for Labrador West for the resolution he brought forward. I fully support it and I think I have made my thoughts known on this, Mr. Speaker. I don't usually speak too long because I think if you go on then you end up saying things that you don't know what you are talking about. So I fully support the Member for Labrador West in his resolution put forward and I certainly look for better results.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

As was indicated by the Member for Baie Verte and by the Leader of the official Opposition, we on this side are supporting this particular resolution. I just wanted to tell hon. members, particularly the Member for Labrador West, a little bit of the history and it was alluded to by my colleague the Member for Ferryland in his comments. If you go back to the history - and when I was doing some research on this I got back as far as 1970. On May 11, 1970 the then Minister of Labrador Affairs, the hon. Earl Winsor, made a statement in the House. At that time the Liberal government, of which he was a member of Cabinet, brought in a subsidy program for travel in Labrador. It was designed primarily to encourage travel to and from Labrador and he indicated that this would be primarily in association with Eastern Provincial Airways.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: He was Minister of Labrador Affairs and he was the Member for Fogo or Twillingate area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: No, no, the hon. Captain Earl Winsor was Minister of Labrador Affairs in 1970. I say to my colleague, the Member for Labrador West, that that policy became effective on May 14, 1970. Now all throughout the '70s and the '80s there was a policy in effect by all governments and it stayed into effect by the PC government. In fact, the hon. Hank Murphy, who was Minister of Labrador Affairs in the early days of the Moores Government, extended the program. The PCs extended the program to have the air travel subsidy to residents of coastal Labrador. That was when in cases of where Labrador Airways was just coming on at that time and the PCs in the early '70s extended the program not only to apply to Eastern Provincial Airways where they were having flights going to Labrador but also to extend to Labrador Airways in coastal communities. That stayed on until the Liberal government got elected in 1989. Then in 1989, in the Budget that came down in March or thereabouts of 1990, the Government of Clyde Wells in its cost-cutting measures, decided they would chop out, they would cut, decrease, the subsidies that were payable to the people who were travelling to and from Labrador.

In fact, in the House of Assembly on May 18, 1990, there were statements made to that effect, and there was shock expressed when the government had announced in the Budget that they were going to make considerable slashes to the air passenger subsidy program for Labrador. So when the Liberals came into power in 1989, and they started to chop budgets, one of the first places they looked was to chop budgets for travel to and from Labrador. Therefore, at that particular time, there were going to be severe cuts to sports and cultural groups from 75 per cent to 50 per cent, and the subsidy went from 50 per cent to 25 per cent for adults travelling there.

The first thing Clyde Wells did when he got into power was say: How can we cut this Budget? One of the first places he looked was the amount of subsidy paid to the people of Labrador, both adults and sports groups, cultural groups, in their travelling back and forth.

I say to the hon. member that one of the things missing in his motion, even though I support the motion, is that he is directing it to the federal government. I wonder why he did not include some message here for the provincial government, because it was the Liberal government, of which many of the Cabinet ministers are still in their places, these very same people occupying, in some cases the same ministries, who, in 1990, were saying: Slash the travel subsidy to Labrador. Cut it out. Cut it down from 75 per cent subsidy for sports groups. Chop it down.

There was a big hue and cry, I say to all hon. members. The people of Labrador got up in arms. I have letters here, correspondence, signed by the then Member for Labrador West, Alex Snow, and I have letters here signed by the then Member for Torngat Mountains, Garfield Warren. It came before the House. They had petitions. They had lots of presentations saying: Here is what we would like to have put in place. Get this subsidy restored.

They indicated at the time that they were getting a lot of pressure from their people because this was deemed to be a slap in the face to the people of Labrador.

So I say to the hon. member who represents Labrador West, his direction here in his Private Member's Motion is misdirected. Yes, it should be directed to the federal government, but it should also be directed to the very people in this Cabinet who sit there today who, in 1990, were `slash, slash, slash'. They were cutting everything out.

It is embarrassing to me, and it should be to the member, to have to stand here today and remind my colleague across the way that the enemy, the people who did the slashing, are the very same people, in many cases, who now sit in the front benches of this government. Therefore, he should be saying to his Cabinet colleagues - or to his Cabinet, not to his colleagues because he is not in Cabinet, he is still in the back benches. Maybe if you would be a little more aggressive and stood up and said: Unless you are going to do something for Labrador, I am going to speak out aggressively, I am going to be a thorn in your side unless you can move me up here and into the Cabinet where I can have some real impact, be part of the decision-making process...

You have to sometimes rattle the cage a little bit, I say to the Member for Labrador West. You are too passive. You are even afraid, in a Private Member's Motion, to say anything critical about your own government. Therefore, how do you expect to get forward to the front benches? You had better learn to be a little bit critical. Ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture about the techniques of doing that, because he was a real master at it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: At being an agitator in the back benches.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I say to my friend from Labrador that one of the things that I noted that was said in the House of Assembly in 1990, a statement that was made by Alex Snow, he said: This decision - meaning the decision to cut the subsidies to the people of Labrador - will obviously increase the feeling of alienation between residents of Labrador and the Island by making it more difficult for Labradorians to travel to the Island. He said: It is a divisive and ill-thought-out way of saving money, and I again call upon the government to reverse their callous decision. That was Alec Snow in debate here in this House of Assembly in 1990, in fact, on May 18th of 1990, therefore the concept that Labrador people should be treated more fairly in terms of subsidy for their travel was initially brought in by Captain Earl Windsor in the Smallwood Government of the day, 1970, and it was supported aggressively throughout the 70s and 80s by the PC Administration, but in 1990, the Clyde Wells Government said, that they were going to chop it out and -

AN HON. MEMBER: Chop out what?

MR. H. HODDER: - they were going to substantially reduce it, and I should say to the Government House Leader and to the Member for Labrador West that it is a case of where the Premier of the day, when he was questioned on this policy, said that he could do nothing for Labrador because it would be unfair to the residents of St. Anthony. You know, he did not realize that St. Anthony is connected by roadway and that it is hard to drive across the Straits, and that the road that was supposed to be built, started way back then, are only being talked about now.

MR. E. BYRNE: Harvey, it is my understanding that the former Premier felt that he could walk across it.

MR. H. HODDER: Well, it was okay for the former Premier because he did not have any difficulty he could walk, but for the rest of us mortals, we had to rely on conventional transportation. For Premier Clyde Wells, I mean, no trouble at all, because when he got to St. Anthony, he just pitter-patted across the Straits but for the crowd who was going to follow him, they were in mortal danger but he was in no danger, I can tell you that, because he said, in his statements in 1990, he said that it would be unfair to people of St. Anthony and did not show much knowledge of the geography of Newfoundland.

So I say to my colleague from Labrador West that, I have bundles of paper here that traces the whole thing, all the way to statements by the Hon. Melvin Woodward when he was Minister of Labrador Affairs and all the statements are there but the difficulty that we have on this side is: Why in your plea with the federal government, you fail to say to the provincial government: Let us review the policy of our provincial government; let us look at the way that we can encourage people of Labrador to be able to be full participants in Newfoundland and Labrador government, let us encourage our young athletes to be able to move and travel freely with an appropriate cost?

But you know, we believe that the cost of getting young people out of Labrador should be no more than it would be if there were a fixed link between, shall we say the area around Red Bay or across to the Great Northern Peninsula. We should be looking at a greater degree of fairness and I say to my colleague, that the PCs built on the policy that was initiated by Captain Earl Windsor, unfortunately, when the Liberals got into power, they slashed it, they clawed it back, they grabbled at it, they balanced the Budget on the people of Labrador and it is no wonder today, that the alienation in Labrador as Garfield Warren said in his statement, as Alec Snow said in his statement, the alienation that they predicted is still there today and I say to my colleague, we would like to tell you that you should be talking to the Premier of this Province who has lived in Labrador, he knows the circumstances of it, do not look to the federal government for all the help but look at home. Look right inside your own Liberal caucus, talk to your own Liberal caucus, they potentially have solutions however, in this kind of debate here, it is not acceptable for you to criticize your own Liberal group, you have to bang at somebody else, blame it on Ottawa but look right at home.

The enemy my friend, is you and yours, therefore look for the enemy, he is on that side of the House, he is not on this side of the House, he is right over there, look for the solution, it can be found but do not look to Ottawa, look right at home.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First I will thank my hon. colleague for bringing this resolution forward. I do believe it is a necessary thing that we need to do, certainly to have the whole air transportation issue reviewed anyway at the minimum. I would say that I know the intent of the resolution is basically to pertain to the Labrador area, but it certainly could apply right across the country, because there are a lot of areas in the country where air travel is very expensive.

We who travel back and forth from Labrador to St. John's on a regular basis have an understanding of the expense that the ordinary person has to go through. In a lot of ways, people have to wait till the summertime to be able to go out, because the only way they can travel is either by boat or take the road. The air travel has just become too expensive and very prohibitive to the budgets of the ordinary working person.

If you look at the map you can tell that if you fly from St. John's to Toronto you are probably flying four times the distance that you are from Goose Bay or Lab City to St. John's, yet you pay four times the cost to fly from Wabush or Happy Valley-Goose Bay to St. John's than you do to fly from St. John's to Toronto. Some would tell us that is the price we have to pay for living in a rural area in the northern part of Canada. I think there are checks and balances that can be used to minimize the impacts on people who choose to live in the northern parts of the country.

This resolution certainly draws attention to the fact that over the past number of years we were supposed to see improved air service at an economic cost. They tell us that economically we should still be able to use these airlines and the service has improved. I will tell you, in the 1970s, even back in the 1960s when the 737s started to fly out of Labrador, we could at that time, at a reasonable rate, take our families and go on vacation through flying on the airlines.

Today the majority of ordinary working people, who are not supplied with travel expenses through corporations or governments, have to wait till summertime to take the boat to get out to any other part of the country. That is one of the reasons why it is so important that we get the highway network set up so that we can make it economical. Because we certainly have an understanding that air fares probably will not decrease unless we put a lot of pressure on the transport commission, the federal government through whatever means we have to do. I think this resolution certainly speaks to that effort. Once we approve it, pass it through the House -and I will be supporting it, as I hope most members will -, that we will then be able to take the initiative to really hammer away at the federal system which is the government that certainly identifies what rates will be charged.

I know that through deregulation it is going to be a very difficult situation, but I think we still have to certainly take the initiative to go after the regulators or the deregulators or the operators of these airlines, and certainly try to bring some sense to the fact that people living in the north should be, in some way, dealt with similar to the way that people are dealt with in the urban areas and the more built-up areas, or the areas that we have certainly built the infrastructure that allows people to travel easily throughout different parts of the country.

In conclusion, I will be supporting the Member for Labrador West. I think it is a very good resolution. I will sit now and allow the Member for Labrador West to conclude debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate all the comments from the members who spoke on this particular issue.

This is an important issue, but I want to deal with a couple of comments that were made with respect to transportation initiatives in Labrador, whether government has provided opportunity to Labrador throughout the last two years, or not.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, I did not focus on this particular resolution just as a Labrador issue. I focused on it - if members will read, it talks about the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I did not want to be specific. I did speak specifically to my riding because those are the people that I represent in this House, but this House is a House of public debate. What we want to try to do is change Federal Government policy with respect to how the airline industry has been deregulated or regulated, and whether or not we ought to have some kind of public utility forum to review the rates that are charged to passengers who travel within our Province, to our Province, from our Province, and anywhere else for that matter.

Is it just not a Labrador issue, it is an issue that has particular differences as it applies to Labrador and there are particular needs. But with respect to the subsidy - this government brought back the food subsidy, for food to be transported through airlines throughout Labrador.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, one of the speakers spoke about the Trans-Labrador Highway, how a minister stood in this House and said that a road would be paved. Mr. Speaker, what happened was, we had a public discussion, we went around and met the public in Labrador, talked to them about what they wanted us to try to negotiate with the Government of Canada, and they wanted us to try to negotiate a paved highway - that was what we called our vision, that is what we tried to do. It is no different from a labour negotiation: you go to your people and ask: What you want to try to achieve from your employer? That is what the minister did; in fact, Mr. Speaker, when we concluded the agreement, I recall on that night, that we had a conference call with every single mayor in Labrador, as well as, the ministers responsible and the Premier, and not one said that we ought to turn down this deal, they were excited about this.

This is an important initiative and an important beginning, it is not the end. It is not the last dollars we will need to fulfil the transportation infrastructure of Labrador, that is true, but it is an important beginning. What would hon. members have recommended that we do, leave that money on the table, not have that work undertaken in the last couple of years or try to do what we can and achieve what we can with the dollars we have, while moving forward to try to get the funds available to do the link from Churchill to Cartwright. Mr. Speaker, we have not closed the door in terms of how we are going to construct the Trans-Labrador Highway, we are moving that file ahead.

Mr. Speaker, on this particular issue, I appreciate the comments in support of this resolution. It has wide public policy implications, not only to this Province, but to other provinces and the Territories in Northern Canada, that I am sure face the same kind of problems and difficulties and challenges for their students, those who need medical travel, those who travel for the purpose of recreation and business and other reasons.

Mr. Speaker, the airline industry will tell you there are all kinds of fares that they can offer, all kinds of benefits that you can get if you book early or book differently, you know, there are all kinds of sales that they will have. The reality is, though, that those sales are very, very limited, they are limited to a very small number of seats in those aircraft, and the reality is, it is usually off the peak travelling times.

I want to say to members that if the House supports this bill, I intend to pass this on to the House in Ottawa and have them debate it, because I think, it is worthy of a national debate. This is a national issue. It is just not a Labrador issue, it is just not a Newfoundland and Labrador issue, it in fact is a national issue, and I want to express my great appreciation for those who spoke on this very important national issue.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs' support of this particular issue and all those others within the House. I would like to close debate on this, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

On motion, resolution carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Let the record show that the motion was carried unanimously.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., and in case the hon. member opposite wants to know, I do not know what is on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Would the hon. the Minister of Justice repeat the comments he just made?

MR. DECKER: I moved adjournment, and the answer to the question the hon. member is going to ask is: I do not know.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the question I was going to ask the hon. Minister of Justice was: Are you attending our Christmas party?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: To which I would be surprised if the answer would be: I do not know. The Minister of Justice does not know very much these days.

Mr. Speaker, I just say to the hon. minister that later on in the afternoon, we are having a little get-together in our caucus room and we would appreciate it if members might drop by and share some of the Christmas cheer and the camaraderie that we all share here in the House.

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

MR. DECKER: The answer to that question is: Yes, I will be attending; my colleagues will be attending. It is always a pleasure to be able to drink a little bit of soft drink from the Tories. It is always great to get to that party and we are looking forward to it.

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