December 18, 1997         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 54

 


 

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

 

Statements by Ministers

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I have been unable to give the Leader of the Opposition much advance notice of this statement but I have sent a copy of it across to him, as I have only just gotten back to my office to complete the drafting of it.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians understand the great hydro-electric potential of the Churchill River. However, to date, almost all of the benefits realized from the Churchill River have gone to Quebec under the Upper Churchill contract. Other potential benefits that could be derived if we developed the Lower Churchill have been lost, as the water has simply, year after year, flowed to the sea. This government is committed to achieving a far greater share of the benefits of the Churchill River for the people of our Province.

In recent days, news stories have indicated than an agreement is near involving the governments of this Province, Quebec, and the Federal Government, to develop the Lower Churchill. Mr. Speaker, I can inform the House today that no such agreement is imminent. What has occurred over the last several months, indeed since last January, are a series of discussions on hydro-electric issues involving potential development between Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Hydro Quebec. These discussions have shown some promise. In the New Year, the discussions may lead to detailed negotiations. Those negotiations, if they occur, in turn, could lead to an agreement.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to make clear today, in light of some of the reports - and, I should add, false reports which have been circulating - that there are, at this stage, no negotiations. There are indeed discussions to indicate, or to investigate, whether or not the basis for negotiations themselves can be undertaken.

Mr. Speaker, if there are to be negotiations, three goals are fundamental to this government's position. First, there must be far greater benefits to the people of this Province under any new arrangement than under existing agreements; second, these benefits must include increases in our revenues as the price of electricity increases; and, third, any new arrangement must provide for power at long-term, stable prices for Labrador and power back to the Island portion of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as the House may note, the existing Upper Churchill agreement provides for none of these, neither major benefits for the people of our Province nor any increase in our revenues as the price of electricity increases, nor power at long-term stable rates for Labrador and for the Island portion of the Province. This government is committed to achieving arrangements that are fundamentally different and markedly better for the people of our Province or there will be no agreement, Mr. Speaker, in future.

If our discussions with Quebec and the Federal Government at some point are successful, then sometime in the New Year we may be in a position to make public the basis on which we intend to commence detailed negotiations on Labrador hydro issues. In all of this, the government will be guided by the three goals that I have set out. These goals are fundamental to making hydro-electric development in Labrador one of the great success stories for our Province as we enter the Twenty-First Century.

Mr. Speaker, in summary, I say again to the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and to members of this House, no agreement is imminent. No negotiations are taking place. We are holding discussions; we are investigating the parameters for negotiations and if the parameters can be achieved, Mr. Speaker, which provide a benefit, long-term to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, we shall move forward, but not one moment before.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the Premier, he has stated before that since last January there are negotiations going on between Hydro Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. I have asked him in this House, too, when he stated that, if there are also negotiations going on with the Federal Government, as to what Newfoundland is going to have to give to allow the hydro-electricity to be transmitted into the North American grid, and he has indicated we have no negotiations with the Federal Government. He has been on record as saying back in January, we have had negotiations between the utilities of each province - he stated that - and now, he is telling us there are no negotiations.

Is it like the negotiations with an agreement in principle? He announced a big conference: we have an agreement in principle, and the parties involved did not agree. The LIA said there is no agreement in principle. The Premier agreed that he would make an announcement that there could be an agreement in principle.

In 1991 we had a framework agreement. There has been no agreement, I say to the Premier, none whatsoever. The Premier has indicated already - and now he stands here and says that there are no negotiations going on. Now, that is not consistent with what he has been saying before, what he said on the public record that since January of last year there has been negotiations entered. He indicated he spoke with even Premier Bouchard on the issue and his officials are now getting into more detailed negotiations.

The Premier has been on record again and now here he stands again and gives another contradiction that so many times he has been doing lately, the Marine Atlantic is one other blaring example, I say, in the most recent. They can't even be consistent from week to week. How do you expect this government to come clean with the people and negotiate in good faith, when they can't even be consistent in the statements they are giving the people even on a weekly basis?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the Premier for clarifying the issue as to the state of play with respect to the Lower Churchill development. I do want to say that we should note that the bargaining power of the Province has improved as a result of the changes in electricity regulation in the United States. I know all Newfoundlanders are extremely concerned that any deal made by this Province is going to avoid the pit falls, not only of the Churchill Falls agreement, Mr. Speaker, but of many other development agreements that the governments of Newfoundland in the past has made that have been really at the expense of the long-term interests of the people.

I would encourage the Premier and ask the Premier to commit to making public the basis of negotiations as early as possible -

MR. J. BYRNE: There are no negotiations.

MR. HARRIS: - so that everyone should have an opportunity to participate in the discussion in debate.

Secondly, I want to say that most Newfoundlanders, I think, would rather wait until the window of opportunity opens up in whether it's 2016 or 2015, I will take the hit in the meantime -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - rather then give up our right to get a better deal on the Upper Churchill for the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to apologise for the delay in passing this statement to the Opposition Health Critic.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the recent announcements by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA), I feel it is incumbent on me to inform the people of the Province as to where negotiations are between government and the NLMA today.

A joint management agreement between the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and government is currently in place until March 31, 1998. We expect the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association will respect that contract until a new one is negotiated. In July of this year the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association presented part of its package, the economic package, to the Department of Health. The other two parts of their package included the administrative and the human resource components, and they were received towards the end of October. This is a very complex package,. After we received the full package we immediately engaged an independent consultant who worked with the departmental staff to evaluate the package and determined that it would cost government in excess of $30 million in the first year. We have since informed the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association that we will be ready to begin negotiations early in the New Year, and in fact we have our negotiating team in place, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday a news release by the president-elect of the Newfoundland Association of Obstetricians raised the issue of liability insurance rates, and the expected rise in the cost in the coming year. Government provided $800,000 this year to MCP to subsidize malpractice insurance rates for physicians. In other words, 65 per cent of the difference between the base rate and the total cost is subsidized by government. We know that costs will increase for obstetricians in January, and we have acknowledged that this is a very important issue to be addressed when we sit down with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association in January. This is a legitimate concern for both physicians and for government. However, it is only one of the many issues which have to be negotiated with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association to reach a new agreement.

The approach by the NLMA is unfortunate in that it is threatening job action before contract negotiations actually begin. We are aware that the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has developed a dedicated media plan to be part of their negotiations with government for a new contract. In fact, in the December 8 issue of the President's Letter of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, physicians have been urged to garner public support. I quote the president's words from the newsletter, and he says: "I urge you to no longer make that special effort so as to ensure government sees the problem. As well when your patients complain about problems in the system sympathize with them but urge them to call their MHAs and/or the Minister of Health." Further, he says: "...I ask you to continue to take actions to garner public support." End of quote.

There is no doubt about the value and importance of physicians to all of us in our Province. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are fortunate to have dedicated and loyal physicians providing medical services to all regions of our Province, and I thank them for their work. Yet, we have to look at the total picture. This year we have provided $140 million to compensate the 850 physicians in our Province. We provided a new $2.7 million this year to increase salaries for emergency room physicians. We also provided a new $2.6 million to increase salaries for rural physicians.

This funding was provided before negotiating a new contract because government does see the need to address the concerns and needs of physicians.

Mr. Speaker, government must also negotiate contracts with many other groups, including nurses, allied health professionals and the civil service. This is important and will all be done in due course. I ask physicians to understand that we are aware of their issues and concerns, particularly as they relate to the Canadian Medical Protective Association rates as well as other issues that we will discuss and negotiate when we sit down with doctors in January.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the physicians of our Province for their valuable work and the contribution that they make daily to our health system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for providing me a copy of the statement when she received it.

Minister, I am not so sure I can agree with everything you have said today. As a matter of fact, I cannot. I had the opportunity yesterday to speak to some of the doctors, and I find out that this problem has been known to the Department of Health ever before the statements were made on yesterday afternoon.

The one that I spoke to certainly pointed out to me that in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in their particular field, the rate in Newfoundland is something like $225, and in our sister province in Nova Scotia it is something like $447. There is certainly a vast difference.

I do not know why in this Province we have to wait until we are in a crisis situation before we open the door to negotiations. The fact that we are going to negotiate in January is one thing, but the fact that your department has known about this for some time is another, and I believe that negotiations with these people certainly - certainly - should have started before today. They certainly should have started before yesterday, and I don't know why, again, we have to wait in regard to calling MHAs. I say to you, Minister, on that issue, the shop is closed.

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, as promised earlier this year, I rise today to update my hon. colleagues on the success of my department's 1997 parks privatization initiative.

Government has just completed its review of the parks that were privatized in the spring of this year. This review was a responsible approach which enabled government to monitor the new privatization arrangements for each and every park. I am happy to stand in the House this afternoon and report on those findings.

Mr. Speaker, all of the 21 parks offered for privatization have been successfully released to new operators. Three of these parks had a temporary operating licence in place for the 1997 season. Government operated one park, Duley Lake, for this year only. In the fall of this year, government issued a separate call for proposals for these four parks in order to secure a long-term operator for each. My department expects that this process will be completed and that new long-term operators will be secured within the upcoming months.

Mr. Speaker, thirteen operators have made capital improvements to their parks in the first season. These improvements range from the construction of a kitchen shelter at Sop's Arm park, to the installation of electrical and water hook-ups at Catamaran Park, to the start-up construction of a lodge at Indian River Park. Other operators are planning major construction for the parks while they are closed for the winter months.

My department's review of the parks has shown that the new operators remain committed to developing their business plans as outlined in their proposals. All have been encouraged to become members of the province's tourism association. Some parks are jointly exploring the option of marketing partnerships.

Mr. Speaker, these parks were made available to the private sector because they offered viable business opportunities for rural Newfoundland. Government also realized that it is no longer needed to play as large a role in the recreational camping industry as it once had in the 1970s.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this summer's review was to: (1) establish contact with the operators; (2) ascertain the operators' level of satisfaction in relation to their expectations; (3) identify any problems or obstacles being experienced by the operators; (4) assess operators' adherence to original business plans; and (5) determine operators' conformance to the conditions of the licence to occupy. I am pleased with the review of the parks, the success of the privatization initiative, but most importantly that these parks are being developed in a manner in which the government simply, could not afford.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House at this time that all the privatized park land continues to be owned by the government -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: - and that the operators hold a licence to operate. Government is committed to preserving and protecting the significant ecological features in these parks, and as such, portions of 10 of the privatized parks have been retained for land protection under the Provincial Parks Act.

Mr. Speaker, this privatization initiative will see a stronger recreational camping industry emerge in this Province. This initiative will benefit users in the long-term. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for a copy of her statement before she read it in the House. I would like to say to the minister that what she said in the statement is pretty basic as to what we have been hearing since indeed the parks were privatized. I suppose we could say it is a good news, bad news story. I guess, minister, what we on this side of the House are waiting for is what has it cost this government? What was the amount of money that was taken in on the sale of these parks? What did it cost us? In the beginning, how much money did we receive after we sold the parks? Where are we in that regard? Also, where are the concessionaires whose claims I understand are still not, some of them, settled by this government? Of course another great concern for us on this side of the House is the fact that there are still some forty-odd people who worked in these parks, who are today not working, who have lost their jobs because of the privatization of these parks. So minister, we would like to know what it cost the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. How much money was received for these parks and at the end of the day, where do we really sit?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that the results of privatization, the full results have not been made known by the speaker. She did not talk about the employees who have lost their jobs. She did not talk about the wage rates of people who are working there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) just heard that. He just said that.

MR. HARRIS: Not from the minister we didn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said it.

MR. HARRIS: We didn't hear it from the minister, Mr. Speaker. We didn't get a cost benefit analysis. We are finding out big-time in Labrador these last couple of days the results of privatization of public services in Happy Valley-Goose Bay with people receiving, in some cases, less than half of their pay, or being offered jobs at less than half of their pay. It isn't a policy that I or my party support, and I don't think the minister can paint a fancy picture of it without telling the whole story and the whole truth.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just noticed that when the Leader of the NDP was responding to the last statement - it has nothing to do with the one I'm about to make, because it is a very serious, good news statement, serious and good news - but one of the member mentioned the hon. Leader of the Opposition's hair cut. Very nice hair cut. They shouldn't make too much fun of it though, because I understand also it is part of an image make-over and he has had his heart and his blood pressure checked because he is thinking of running for the leadership of the PC Party. (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: You went to the doctor in December 1995.

MR. GRIMES: I did too. It is true too, Mr. Speaker, I did go to see the doctor in December 1995, and decided to spend January of 1996 in Mexico.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I didn't mean to get him riled up. I'm sure that will happen later on today.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce today that funding in the amount of $150,000 has been approved by the Department of Education for the development of a new camp at Northwest Pond for the Newfoundland and Labrador Council of the Girl Guides of Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Northwest Pond near Terra Nova National Park has been reserved by government for the youth of our Province.

The development of this twenty-five acre campsite will provide an ideal setting for the 13,000 active members, both girls and adults, in Newfoundland and Labrador for adventure and leadership in surroundings that stimulate environmental awareness, physical activity and challenge.

Mr. Speaker, the overall site is designed to accommodate Guiding units throughout the Province, and the facilities can be used for adult training and conferences as well. The facility will create immediate construction jobs and seasonal employment similar to the positions held by wardens at Scouts Canada's facility on the other side of the same lake.

Funding to complete the project will be provided over three years through grants of $50,000 per year administered by the Youth Services Division of the Department of Education.

Over the last several years government has funded a similar proposal for the Boy Scouts. This past summer I had an opportunity to visit the site and was extremely impressed by the first class operation there.

The Newfoundland Council of the Girl Guides of Canada and the Boy Scouts are to be congratulated for the excellent service they are providing for the youth of our Province. I'm pleased as well that Ms Margaret Breen, the provincial commissioner for the Girl Guides in Newfoundland and Labrador, and her associates could join us in the gallery for this announcement today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I never thought I would see the day - I'm here five and a half years - that the Minister of Education would stand up in this House and give a positive news statement here today. It is the first time I've seen it. It is good news. We are glad to hear it, we are delighted to hear it come from the minister. I'm sure his reward will be the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio, I can assure you that, when the legislation passes through this House.

I would also like to give the Minister of Education some good news. I have spoken over the last day with numerous individuals who I guess are in a position to have a decision on Term 17 that is now, as we know, before the Senate. As I am speaking here today, Stéphane Dion is speaking to the Committee of the Whole in the Senate saying that there would be no amendments by the PC minority in the Senate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I have every confidence that by 3:30 or thereabout this afternoon, Term 17 will pass through the Senate, I say to the minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: - in the best interest in respect of over 70 per cent of the people here in this Province. And I can tell him, there are people on both sides of the political fence in the Senate and even in this Province who will probably go different ways, and in other areas; but we are confident that it will pass and that we can get on with doing the job that is needed here for the future of the children of our Province, that this government is waiting to get done. So now, let us get on with it and let us see this government take a stand and move quickly after it passes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the Minister of Education for his compliments on my image make-over and I want to tell him that I have been to see my doctor and he tells me that my heart beats proudly and strongly as a New Democrat, so there is no chance, Mr. Speaker, that there will be any change.

Mr. Speaker, I notice the minister said that he was in Mexico in January of 1996; I also heard, when he heard by telephone that the current Premier was running for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he said: Well, I am staying here in Mexico for the rest of the month.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the statement, it is hard to say anything negative about -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: They are only kidding, Mr. Speaker, they are not serious.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

The hon. member does not have leave. No leave.

MR. HARRIS: It is Christmas, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member does not have leave.

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, as I understand it, does not have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on.

MR. HARRIS: Is that right?

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

Does he have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the statement, Mr. Speaker, it is hard to say anything negative about it - it is a very positive statement. I am glad to point out that the minister pointed out that the Girl Guides are on one side of the lake and that the Boy Scouts will be on the other side of the lake. It is a very positive incentive to learn canoeing, boating and other water sports and no doubt that will serve them well in their adult life. We will have safer boating in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker? I discussed -

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Just for a small, small presentation.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Two days ago in this House of Assembly, in the spirit of Christmas and in the spirit of friendship and kinship, and as a token of his appreciation, Mr. Speaker, from a few suggestions that I made, the Minister of Finance presented me with a small gift and, in due course, when the scientists come up with a pill that causes a person's hair to grow, it will be well-utilized, I say to him, Mr. Speaker.

So, in the same spirit of kinship and friendship and Christmas, Mr. Speaker, I have a small presentation to make to the Minister of Finance, but before I do, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say this: That the use my gift will get, will be pale in comparison to the use that this gift will get, and I expect it will be worn out within a period of two weeks, Mr. Speaker, two weeks. I expect the Minister of Finance will open it, just as I did the other day.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is pretty obvious why the hon. member chose to part with these two items, the brush and the hair-dryer. One of his colleagues told me earlier that he took one look at this and decided he may as well do the job on this as well.

I guess the last thing -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: I am sure he will not miss either item.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I am told by some of his colleagues that the colour, as well, matches part of his wardrobe, which none of us on this side of the House get to see; although I wonder how his colleagues came by that knowledge.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You are very kind, and I will certainly put these under my Christmas tree and enjoy them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Oral Questions

 

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Premier.

In light of the fact, I guess, that the Premier today has found a new synonym for negotiations - discussions - I ask him: The President of Hydro Quebec has been out commenting on negotiations taking place. Could the Premier just give us an update on the discussions that have been taking place since early this year? And he has been on record, I might inform the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition makes reference to the President of Hydro Quebec. I have here the CP story which I am happy to table, and I quote the President of Hydro Quebec: The discussions with Newfoundland are going very well.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

He might read well, but he does not listen well. I asked him if he would update us on the discussions that are taking place.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Justice has just pointed out, I gave a complete, fulsome, detailed and a very, very thorough report by way of a Ministerial Statement.

I can say again to the Leader of the Opposition, and through the Leader of the Opposition and the House, to the people of the Province, as I said a moment ago, for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the first thing that needs to be ascertained before we even contemplate agreeing to a formal negotiation, is whether or not the parameters around which such a negotiation would take place are acceptable to the Province.

I have said that the days when Newfoundland and Labrador can accept, for example, a circumstance like the Upper Churchill contract, are long over. Any future development that we become involved in must have no long-term contracts, no declining prices. There must be a provision that would allow us to share fully - fully and completely - in any upside of any price. There must be provisions that would bring power back to the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador, considerable quantities of power. We must have the capacity to stabilize energy prices in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We must have provisions to ensure that extra hydro is available for industrial development in Labrador itself. Labrador cannot be left behind. Mr. Speaker, we must have the lion's share of benefits from power that would flow from the resource of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of those kinds of conditions, well we would not enter the negotiations.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

He must be reading from my news conference, the statements over the last, I would say, almost a year and a half. Almost a year and a half of on the record, I say to the Premier, and if you call your statement thorough I pity this Province on a Lower Churchill contract if you call the ministerial statement thorough, that is far from thorough, I might add.

Now, the media has been reporting also that the signing of a deal -there must be a commitment from Ottawa to finance construction of power lines.

I ask the Premier will he tell us if he is working on a proposal or what kind of a proposal does he expect to see - or a commitment from the federal government on some type of financial or guarantees regarding the transmission of that power?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we have no agreement with the federal government on provision of financing on a Hydro development which would involve Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Hydro Quebec, but, Mr. Speaker, I have certainly made it clear to everybody that I have had opportunity to talk to - and if the Leader of the Opposition would care to read the speech I gave in Boston a month or so again, that the Lower Churchill development and all of the associated works with it are important to Canada in the context to Kyoto.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the Leader of the Opposition has very carefully studied the Kyoto Conference and he knows that the net result of the Kyoto Conference is that Canada has agreed to reduce it's emission from what they would otherwise be, by 137 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, if Lower Churchill power were brought onto development at this time, Lower Churchill power would produce about 20 per cent of Canada's total commitment to reduce greenhouse gases. Therefore, Lower Churchill development is not only in the interests, first and foremost, of Newfoundland and Labrador and secondarily, Quebec, if it were a partner in such a development, but is also in the interest of all of Canada. Mr. Speaker, I can say to the Leader of the Opposition that many people in Canada have seized upon the reality that Canada's commitment to the world can only be met if the Lower Churchill is developed and Lower Churchill will only be developed when it benefits first and foremost, Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now we are getting to the real crux of the matter, I might say.

This Premier stated that there are negotiations going on with Hydro Quebec and this Province and if they are not successful and the company that has $35 billion in sales are ready to come in alone with other companies, he stated that publicly. Now, let's not try to beat around the issue Premier and try to pass it off.

I ask the Premier: with the attempts to reduce emissions and a commitment by Canada to a 6 per cent reduction in emissions here, I ask the Premier is it contingent on the federal government or the talks you said you had with the Prime Minister, you indicated that before, you have had talks with the Prime Minister, you have indicated that if negotiations fall through with Quebec, you are going to look at private businesses to get into the negotiations, that is what he stated publicly. Is this Province prepared to trade-off a significant amount of Hydro electric power to be feeding into the North American grid as a contingency for the federal government to get involved in an effort to reduce emissions? There can be a transfer credit now on emission from one country to another?

I ask him is our Province, basically, going to be guaranteed or are there restrictions on what power can be retained in our Province for our own use to develop industries here in our Province? Is there restrictions being discussed on how much we can retain here in our Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Leader of the Opposition understands something that is very important and this is all part of an attitude that I believe - and I say this to the Leader of the Opposition genuine - that we have to shake off in this Province.

The Lower Churchill is ours. The means and the conditions under which it will be developed is up to Newfoundland and Labrador. We don't have to ask permission or have conditions set for us by anybody and frankly, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, I resent the tone of the question, that Newfoundland and Labrador has to ask permission to develop it's own resources when those resources are in the interests of the world, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There was a former Liberal Premier who reminds me very much of you, who said the same thing, I say to the Premier, across this House, very, very much.

I have attended numerous environmental groups in the U.S., Environmental Protection Agency and others in meetings with a couple of your colleagues there.

I've had continuous discussions over the last year and a half since that too with what is happening in terms of trading off and credits and keeping the level down. Because pollution in the U.S. and so on moves into Canada, and the sharing of credits.

The president of Hydro Quebec seems to know what is going on. I don't know why our Premier doesn't know what is going on. I ask the Premier: Can he just tell us how this Province is going to benefit from the Lower Churchill, with reference to what is going to come to our Province in terms of revenues and taxes? I ask the Premier to ensure that the trade off to meet the federal agenda, we aren't going to be trading off from this Province to get the funding that is needed to guarantee to develop this, and there are no restrictions on the power and the recall rights that we would have in our Province.

Will the Premier guarantee that today, there will be no restrictions based upon the power we can use and the recall rights, and could he tell us what this Province has put forward? I'm sure they have a detailed economic plan to show what revenues and so on we would accumulate to this Province from the development of the Lower Churchill.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the people of the Province who are listening, or have the chance to listen to this debate, to reflect upon the tone of the questions that are being asked. The Leader of the Opposition almost sounds like he is frightened that Newfoundland and Labrador might negotiate a good deal, one that we can be proud of, that will bring billions of dollars of benefits to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, he knows we are in discussions with Hydro Quebec. He knows I'm not going to go out and start negotiating publicly till such time as I see that there is a basis, and the Cabinet sees, and the government sees, there is a basis for a formal negotiation. To stand up and ask me to comment on what we might do or mightn't do in a discussion prior to a formal negotiation is irresponsible.

Let me just say this to the Leader of the Opposition. Before we enter into any formal negotiations, if we come to that point in time, I will table in the House and before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador fully the parameters of any such discussion so that every Newfoundlander and every Labradorian knows precisely what is on the table.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is getting excited now, and we have hit a little nerve with the Premier now. Because he is privy to what is going on and he knows full well.

He stated before that if Hydro Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro don't reach an agreement, he is prepared to talk to this $35 billion company and others that want to get on with it. What happens if the federal government is not going to be a party to the process? I ask the Premier: In the best interests of our Province, what alternatives has the Premier looked at here if the federal government doesn't join in and become a part of this?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, just listen to the questions: If Hydro Quebec doesn't agree, if Quebec doesn't agree, if the federal government doesn't agree, if nobody will buy the power, if the dam can't be built, if the sun doesn't shine. My goodness, I suppose if the sun shines have not will be no more!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Minister, last week the local media reported that an individual, a dentist by profession, currently residing in Florida, holds the one, and possibly two, shrimp harvesting licences for area 2J, which is adjacent to Black Tickle in Labrador. Could the minister confirm for the House whether this particular story was accurate, and whether his department was aware of such licences being issued?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the only licence that I'm aware that is being held outside of Newfoundland are the offshore licences. I think there are some people in Nova Scotia, some people in New Brunswick, I hear some people in Montreal. Possibly they go to Florida from time to time, from Montreal, to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I think there is one. Some of the licences were at the time John Crosbie was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada, and his friends and everybody complied and they agreed with it (inaudible).

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess I can assume from that answer that wasn't an accurate story?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I'm putting the story out. It was a story that was on the CBC news, Mr. Speaker, and all I am asking is for confirmation of the story. I ask the minister again: Is it true, or is he aware of the story that a person living in Florida is presently holding one or possibly two shrimp licences for area 2J, adjacent to Black Tickle, Labrador?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the hon. member was asking if was harvesting or processing licences.

MR. FITZGERALD: Harvesting.

MR. EFFORD: Harvesting licences. I cannot name the individual and I cannot confirm if somebody living in Florida owns a licence, outside of the ones I already know. I can tell the hon. member very clearly, there are a number of fishermen around Newfoundland who live in Florida at some time of the year, who have sixty-five foot long-liners, who fish all around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, but I do not know the particular individual he is referring to.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not know the gentleman's name, although it was broadcasted and I think it is common knowledge. I do not care what the gentleman's name is - I asked if the licences were issued.

AN HON. MEMBER: When?

MR. FITZGERALD: It was last Wednesday night, I think, or last Tuesday night.

Anyway, Minister, the fish plant at Black Tickle was built and designed to process groundfish, mainly cod, and Greenland halibut which we know as turbot. Would the minister confirm that presently there is a 20,000 metric tonne quota of turbot allocated in waters adjacent to Black Tickle and 17,000 metric tonnes of this particular quota is harvested by foreign draggers and processed either at sea or in foreign ports?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, it has been pretty difficult to hear the hon. member. I get parts of the question -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: That is right; it gets pretty difficult to hear exactly what he is referring to. But the quota that is allocated by the Federal Government for turbot to be harvested, part of it is being harvested by the Seafreez Company and is being harvested by foreign vessels contracted out by the Barry Group of companies. Some of it is being processed, as far as I understand, in Port aux Basques, and some of it is being processed in Canso, Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the minister, he had better check those figures, because out of the 20,000 tonne allocation, 17,000 tonnes is either processed at sea or in foreign ports by foreign fishers.

Would the minister also confirm, Mr. Speaker, that the Fishermen's Union, the Fogo Island Co-op and the Labrador shrimp company have recently obtained a shrimp quota and have sold that quota, which was 2,000 metric tonnes - that is over 4 million pounds - for a price of $1.2 million? Minister, my information tells me this quota of 4 million pounds of shrimp was sold in the water, all harvesting and processing done by foreign fishers, while our own fishermen remain at home unemployed.

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

MR. EFFORD: You talk about an hon. member putting a twist on a story that is not even close to being factual or a reality. First of all, I do not know what is happening on that side of the House over there and I do not know what is happening to the Party. You had a member out from Conception Bay, twisted his mind a couple of times last week (inaudible) and now you are opposing your own leader's brother on harvesting and processing fish and creating jobs in Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Carl Sullivan. I mean, he is doing a good job out there, is he not? What is the problem with that, giving people jobs and getting people to work fifty-two weeks in the plant every single year?

Now, the shrimp quota that was announced for the first time in the history of this Province was announced this year, 24,500 metric tonnes in total. It did not start to get harvested until late in the spring, early summer, and the one thing that we wanted to do was make sure we did not leave any shrimp in the water this year. It got to the point where the weather did not permit, for the sixty-five foot boats, to have the capability to go out there harvesting. So rather than leave that amount of shrimp in the water and nobody get any value, it was divided up among the union, the shrimp company, Fogo, and the monies that were benefited from it created jobs and subsidized jobs in those communities where they are badly needed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, a final supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the minister that he is totally wrong. He does not know what he is talking about here. That 4 million pounds of shrimp, I say to the minister, is caught by foreigners, being processed in foreign ports. Not one pound of it is being processed right here in this Province.

I ask the minister: Is this his idea of how the fishery of the future should unfold?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the royalties that are derived from the sale of that fish that otherwise would have been left in the water and nobody would get any benefits -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: It was decided in an agreement by all parties - by me, as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, by DFO, by the companies, by industry, by everybody - rather than leave the shrimp in the water and nobody get any benefit, they sold it and used the royalties to benefit the people.

Is it the policy of the future? It was one-time only because we did not want to leave the shrimp in the water. We wanted to go back to Ottawa. We wanted to get an increase in quota for the next year that would benefit the people of this Province for the first time in history -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: - instead of giving it to the foreign countries, which your government of the past did in Ottawa.

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

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

I want to follow up on some questions to my friend, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. On Tuesday afternoon, towards the end of Question Period, I asked him some questions relative to minimum qualifications in training programs for clerks and other municipal officials in the Province. In his response, he said he was not too concerned about that, that in some cases, they kept their records on a scribbler.

I want to say to the minister, the Auditor General has indicated that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: - there is a real problem with minimum training standards in this Province for municipal clerks. We know it is a real problem in rural Newfoundland. It has been addressed in some other provinces. What is this Province doing about addressing the issues identified by the Auditor General? And when is he going to do something about putting real programs in place to make sure that all of the municipal clerks in Newfoundland, particularly those in rural parts of Newfoundland, have minimal standards of training?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you exactly how much the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs spends each year to help train and educate municipal officials, those elected, as well as employees, but I would guess that it is in the millions of dollars.

The Auditor General, for a number of years - not only Mrs. Marshall in her report, but the previous Auditor General and the Auditor General before that - has always mentioned the fact that we do have some people working in municipalities around the Province who do not have what she or he considers to be the top qualifications to do the job.

I say again, Mr. Speaker, that when you are dealing with little communities in the Province of 100 - 150 people, half a day is probably sufficient for a town clerk or a town manager to come into the town office and collect taxes and do whatever he or she has to do. Because the town council finds itself that they only need somebody for half a day a week in most cases, then they do not insist that the qualifications for that particular person be of any great degree other than the fact that they have some basic idea of how to collect taxes and interpret the Act, I guess, and do the legal things that person must do.

We, in that particular case, from a departmental point of view, send our people in then immediately. Immediately our people go in and we try to help those people as much as we possibly can.

Mr. Speaker, this side of the House cannot find, at this particular point in time, the monies to train all of these people to the quality that the Auditor General would expect us to train them.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the minister will admit that these officials are charged with the expenditures of millions of dollars in the aggregate. I also remind the minister that there are various training programs. There is Distance Education, there are correspondence courses, there are upgrading seminars, and his colleague, the Minister of Education, to be training people in Newfoundland for jobs that do not exist, might begin to train people in Newfoundland for jobs that do exist and these are at the municipal level.

I ask the minister: Why is it that he has participated - his department in drafting legislation on this issue - and I have that draft legislation here in conjunction with the Minister of Justice - the legislation is drafted with the co-operation of NLAMA, why aren't we moving to establish the minimum qualifications and engaging in training programs that I identified in my opening statements?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the hon. gentleman is asking me. Is he asking me to force municipalities -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. REID: Protection, Mr. Speaker, from that big galoot, please.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the hon. gentleman is asking me. Is he asking me to insist that these municipalities who, at this particular point in time, are finding it very difficult to keep the lights on in their communities, are they asking me to ask these communities to spend money now in helping train these clerks and managers? I do not think he is asking me that. I will say to the hon. gentleman that, in most cases today, most of those people to whom the hon. member refers, are already doing training through ETV and other methods, and we are doing all we can from a departmental point of view, to try to help those people upgrade themselves as much as possible.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Education and it concerns the plight of massage-therapy students at the Career Academy, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister confirm first of all, that he misled the House the last time I asked a question about the past rate of the -

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

I believe the hon. member's question is out of order. He is assuming that the hon. member's -

MR. HARRIS: Not intentionally.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to withdraw that statement.

MR. HARRIS: I withdraw the statement, Mr. Speaker,

Would the minister confirm that he gave the wrong information to the House when he was asked about, and when he was commenting on the pass rate for first-time students who wrote the exams for the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario; will he confirm, Mr. Speaker, that the information that is available by fax from the college, would disclose that the first-time writers of these exams in the years 95, 96 and 97, that the average pass rate overall is 78 per cent not the 25 per cent that he indicated was the common experience over that period of time and, Mr. Speaker, will he tell the House what he intends to do to help the students who are now without that qualification, the twenty-four students, and would he also tell us what he is going to do to help the 100 students who are still in the program, to guarantee them that they will get adequate qualification to be able to successfully write the Ontario exams which is the standard, Mr. Speaker, by which massage therapists in this Province are judged?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the information that I provided there was, like with any numerical information, Mr. Speaker, depending on the period of time that is assessed and the information and the group and the timing, the information changes.

What I indicated to the House, to my recollection the last time when the issue was addressed, Mr. Speaker, was that in a period of time when 500 people, first-time writers had attempted the exam in Ontario, 125 of that 500 - I did not have any details what the dates were, whether it was 95, 96, 97 and so on - but that 125 of them were successful which is a 25 per cent success rate. So if you take different periods of time, different testing periods there would be different rates. I have had it shared with me by the hon. member the information for the dates that he is dealing with, and it is accurate for those testing periods, the average rate is closer to almost 80 per cent success rate.

Mr. Speaker, I am reluctant to talk about any details with respect to the current group of students who have filed a lawsuit against the particular institution, that will be dealt with through that particular channel and, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated when the issue was addressed a week or ten days ago, because it was brought to our attention by the member, we are working with the school to check again that the curriculum that was approved in September 1995 for the registered massage therapy course is being actually followed through and is a curriculum that satisfies the information and should prepare people fairly well for the examination that they write in Ontario.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the curriculum that the minister has approved may in fact be adequate by itself, but what I'm being told by students - current, and the crop of students who came out - is that the curriculum may not be being followed to a sufficient degree to prepare them to write these exams.

One hundred students have to plank down their money for the next semester by the end of this month, confirm their student loans, and pay more money to this institution. Can the minister guarantee those students will be protected and given an adequate program that would allow them to pass this exam? Can the minister give that assurance here in this House today, or is he going to do that before they have to plank down more money?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not in a position at any point in time with any student to give them any assurance they will pass an exam no matter where it is written, whether it is in Newfoundland and Labrador or in Ontario. All I can do is indicate to the House that we are confirming and re-confirming with the school again that the conditions from September 1995 are being fully followed.

The conditions of the approval was granted with the understanding that the instructor would first and foremost be registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, where they write the examination; that the program would incorporate all aspects of the Ontario core curriculum, which is the test they write in Ontario; and that the school itself would provide students with the opportunity to complete a competency evaluation by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, and also to challenge the Ontario registration exam if they so desired.

They were the conditions by which the institution was given permission to actually start this particular course. It has been on the go for a couple of years now. We have had a group of students who have had only about a 25 per cent success rate when they have chosen to challenge the Ontario registration exam, and we are working with the school to check and see -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: - that the terms and conditions -

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

MR. GRIMES: - of the granting -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: - of this licence are -

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.

MR. GRIMES: - still in effect, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.

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

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if we could do something about the heat. I was just speaking with my colleague, the Member for St. John's West about it. For the last several days it has been really chilly in this part of the Chamber over here. We anticipate being here for some number of hours, and I do think that something could be done to facilitate members' comfort. Maybe we could get a little propane stove and put it over here on this side of the House, or whatever. I am wondering if somebody who is responsible would call some of the officials to address that problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has been in contact with the people responsible for the heating in the House. There have been some difficulties, but we will certainly contact them again and get them in to see if they can get it under control.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before we dispense with the routine business of the day, there is a function that we would like to carry out at this point in time.

As hon. members know, of course, it is a custom to hang the portraits of all former Speakers on the wall. Before we can do that, of course, we will have an unveiling here in the Assembly. The former Speaker, now the Minister of Finance, has had his portrait done and it is now ready for unveiling. I am going to ask the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition to accompany the Minister of Finance, when we get the portrait in here, and have the unveiling.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I understand it is customary for the Premier and for the Leader of the Opposition, on such an occasion, to say a few words about the recipient of the honour.

Let me say, to begin with, that there is no question, bearing in mind the earlier gift that was given by our friend opposite, Mr. Jack Byrne, to the Minister of Finance, that indeed Gerald Squires has held up a mirror to the minister and has captured his likeness, I think, in an absolutely exemplary fashion. This is, indeed, a first-class piece of art, and it is befitting a first-class member of this House and a first-class Speaker in his earlier incarnation, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no punch line. This is all seriously said of a member who I think has served this place well, and we might do well to remember that the Member for Humber West has been in the Chamber since 1989.

We all know that it is no accident to be re-elected after you have been elected the first time. All of us who serve in this place know the stresses and strains of the job, but to be able to come back not once but a second time - he has been re-elected again in 1993 and again in 1996 - this is no easy measure or test to pass in one's constituency year after year after year, and in the case of the member, all through government years and through years when many difficult decisions have had to be made, but Mr. Dicks has been successful in coming back again and again.

Of course, the Speaker knows better than all others in this place that the most difficult job in this Chamber, and indeed, at the end of the day, the most important job in this Chamber, the one that makes it function, is the Speaker's job. And may I say to you, Mr. Speaker, I know, notwithstanding difficult moments on occasion in this place, that the current Speaker has the full confidence and the good will of all of the members of this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: The current Speaker, then, knows full well just how difficult and how important it is, on the one hand, to maintain the rules of order, and also to read and understand the mood of the House. This is something that the Member for Humber West did with great skill, Mr. Speaker, when he occupied the Chair upon which you now sit.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Humber West served in the Justice portfolio, he serves now in the Finance portfolio. He has had the Speaker's chair, the Justice portfolio, the Finance portfolio. Who knows what the future will hold for the Member for Humber West?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House that the Member for Humber West is studying French, and I noticed him scrutinizing very closely the seats in the House of Commons. It is rumoured that in the year 2006 or 2007 there may be an opening in one of the jobs up there - according to the current Prime Minister, not before.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to conclude with the usual good will we extend to one of our own when he is honoured in this way by saying that this is a member who has served the House well, has served the people of Humber West very well - and, Mr. Speaker, I will not dare say what is on my mind with respect to the comment just made by the Member for St. Barbe. Let me just say Mr. Speaker, that there are many people in this Province in recent budgets who have said that the Minister of Finance should be hung, and today he has been, and hung very well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly my pleasure to participate in this hanging ceremony.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: If there is ever a member who deserves to be on the wrong end of the hanging rope, it is that minister over there, I can tell you. I do not know what is after happening to him since he was Speaker. He has a job to get here on time. As Speaker, he was always prompt, always here on time. There is something in his life that has happened since, I do not know what it is. We will try to investigate. I will have to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That could be it, too. They are getting a little to close, I might add.

I think it is very inappropriate that the Premier would announce his support for the Member for Humber West, the Minister of Finance, to take his chair there when he vacates it. He certainly gave us that indication. I know, the Minister of Education is a little bit dismayed, but there is one thing - I have one request, though, wherever you hang this picture, you should put it in a place where the Minister of Finance can see it. That is one request - not behind the pillar there, I think it should be held - even if we had to relocate some of the pictures that are here, basically, I think it is very important.

Gerry Squires spent a fair amount of time in my district. He has a knack for turning what would be the most unusual photographs into a work of art. He has done a good job. I guess, those lonely hours at the lighthouse in Ferryland really helped him to become very imaginative, I say, as he stares out at bleak scenery, and his hand, of course, has taken a part in doing some tremendous work here in our Province - a well-known artist.

I guess, on a little more serious note, the former Speaker did an excellent job - we even got some favourable rulings, I might add. He did a tremendous job, he added a bit of humour and wit. The occasional little note would come down with little words of wisdom, a little comic relief, I guess, in a time of heated moments here in the House, so he added that to it. We hope - I am praising you up too much, I am told.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, sit down.

MR. SULLIVAN: We just wish he had been able to take care of the finances of this Province as well as he did his job as Speaker.

With that, I would say it is a good reproduction, as close, I guess, as we can get. And it is only appropriate to be hanging the former Speaker here, because he did make a very worthwhile contribution to the position of Speaker, along with some other very renowned and famous Speakers who have taken their places on the walls of this House. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to briefly add a few comments to those of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. I am very pleased to see that artist Gerry Squires has done an excellent job in presenting the minister by way of portrait. The minister as Speaker, I have to say I appreciated him as Speaker, in his rulings. I was very happy to know that if it was one or two minutes after 2:00 p.m. I usually had a little bit of comfort in getting into the House. I do not have that comfort with the current Speaker. He is unfailingly prompt in being here at 2:00 p.m.

The former Speaker did an excellent job as Speaker, maintained order in the House, had very good eyesight, could see as far as where I was when he was here, down a little bit further into the corner, and I -

MR. SULLIVAN: (inaudible) down further next time.

MR. HARRIS: I am getting closer to the Speaker's Chair, I say to the Leader of the Opposition. I think it is a good likeness. There is no truth to the rumour, I understand, that this will be on his Christmas card next year. There was a rumour going around a little earlier that he really liked the painting and that is where he would have it to be. I do not know if he is that vain to actually do that. It is a good likeness, and I am sure he will enjoy admiring it from time to time in the House of Assembly late at night - come in and turn on the lights and have a good look at it.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I do want to acknowledge the former Speaker's contribution to this House, as Speaker, as member and as minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For anyone who has not had it done, to get your portrait painted is a daunting prospect. One of God's blessings to us in His infinite wisdom is that we do not get to see ourselves. We are sort of left to other people to have to look on us, so it is often a surprise to see what other people see you as, and certainly someone who is as insightful as Gerry.

When we went into this prospect of having to get the portrait painted - and it was interesting in that when I got elected Speaker, as the Speaker knows, it is something of a questionable job in the House in many ways. People look to be in Cabinet, yet when you look at it, the Speaker has the best job in the House, and certainly in government. But when you are offered the prospect, you are not quite sure if that is really where you want to be if there might be some other position. But when you consult people outside, all my friends told me: That is great; you are going to get your portrait on the wall of the House. So it does have those rewards, among others.

You do have a choice, as John told me. I did choose Gerry Squires. I did not know him before this time. The reason I chose him was that he had done some other portraits here, and I think he is very insightful. I think he found something in our former Speaker, Tom Lush, and I did not know Paddy McNicholas. But he certainly saw something in other people that I thought helped me see them differently.

Gerry Squires and his wife Gail are a great couple. One of the most pleasant things about having this done was I actually got to spend time with them. Gerry is a very erudite and a very humble man, who is very cultured, and he and his wife are very interesting people to speak with and to spend time with. One of the great pleasures of having this done was to actually have that time of my life to get to know them a little better.

The Premier said it was a first-class portrait of a first-class Speaker. I just note two things. First, he was not here when I was Speaker, and secondly, those who applauded were also not here when I was Speaker. The Speaker well knows it is not always the easiest job in the House or the most pleasant at times.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition says about it, that it will be hung somewhere in the House. The great advantage of that, of course, is that we have had so many Speakers that now it will actually be hung out of sight behind the Chair. I take that as something of a consolation.

As to the hon. the Leader of the NDP, he said when I was Speaker I had good eyesight and I could look down on him at the far end of the House. I just want to assure him that as Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, I still look down on him.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, to be Speaker is to enjoy a unique position in this House. It removes you from the day-to-day fray of politics. One of the great things in the British tradition that we do not do here is that the Speaker never has to face the contest of re-election. We do not have that advantage in Canada, and particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador where we have so few seats. But having said that, during my time as Speaker I found that in listening to the debate in Question Period I was often impressed with the wisdom, clarity and insight and probing of the questions of the members opposite. I must say that since becoming Minister of Finance I am surprised how quickly they have lost that great insight and ability that they demonstrated while I was Speaker.

I any event, Mr. Speaker, let me just say that it was a great experience to be Speaker. It is one that I would not have missed, notwithstanding some of the other things I have said. I want to thank hon. members in the House for this honour today. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: We will go back to our routine proceedings now.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, may I revert to Presenting Reports for a moment, with permission of the House?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave of the House.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees.

MR. DICKS: With leave, Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the consolidated public accounts of the Province for the period ending

March 31, 1997. Thank you.

 

Petitions

 

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

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

I am pleased to rise today to present the following petition to the hon. House of Assembly. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is seeking to pass amendments to the Shops' Closing Act without adequate public consultation; and

WHEREAS Sunday shopping will increase the dominance of large national retailers at the expense of small locally owned businesses; and

WHEREAS Sunday shopping will negatively affect the family life of employees who will be required to work on Sunday, a day often reserved for family and recreational activities; and

WHEREAS many large retailers are uninterested in opening on Sundays, due to increased operating costs without significant increase in revenues;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to withdraw legislation designed to permit Sunday shopping.

Mr. Speaker, it has been some time in this House since I have seen such an outcry by the public from every sector of society with respect to a specific issue. The last time that I witnessed such an outcry was during the famous and long debates over the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Now, this public debate is less than six days old. There literally have been thousands upon thousands of names on petitions delivered to our offices. Mr. Speaker, I say to members opposite, I believe that we, as an Opposition, have done what is required. We presented petitions; we presented the debates; we have researched the issue; we have talked with the larger retailers who are not in favour of it; we have talked to small store owners, Mr. Speaker, who are not in favour of it; we have talked to consumers and taxpayers who are not in favour of it; we have talked to those employees who will be affected, in a very negative way, I might add, who are not in favour of it.

The question that is still looming large in this Legislature and out in the public as a whole is, why is this piece of legislation being pursued so aggressively, so consistently at all costs? This week we could have proceeded in this House along a different line but that did not happen. This piece of legislation has been put forward as a priority by government, as a priority above all other pieces of legislation that are on this table.

We witnessed the other night a debate up until about four o'clock in the morning where we debated this issue. We witnessed yesterday a closure motion introduced by the Government House Leader which, Mr. Speaker, it should be added, effectively will close debate on this piece of legislation. Because for those people who are sitting in the gallery, a closure motion effectively means that every member of the Opposition has twenty minutes, and twenty minutes only, to speak with respect to Bill 48.

Mr. Speaker, the question I would like to ask - I know many members, all members on this side of the House have asked it each and every time they have spoken to this particular piece of legislation. The question that I will ask again today or whenever government moves to this particular piece on Orders of the Day is: Why is this piece of legislation being pursued so aggressively? Why has it all of a sudden become a priority, when over the last two years, this debate on this piece of legislation has occurred on two separate occasions, and each time a former government under the leadership of Premier Wells dropped the issue?

Last spring, this government under the leadership of Premier Tobin pursued it again, and it was dropped again, Mr. Speaker and I believe fully the reason that it was dropped from the Order Paper was for the reasons I have previously outlined, the support in the community and the Province as a whole, simply is not there. Now, some arguments have been put forward suggesting that in some areas of the Province: Why not have Sunday shopping? For example: If a cruise ship is to come in to a particular area -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just to clue up?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

MR. E. BYRNE: No leave?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to support this petition presented on behalf of the people of this Province by the Member for Kilbride, something we have been doing for the past five or six days. We know that the opposition to this bill, to this legislation: An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act, is mounting, growing all the time. I cannot understand why the government has not backed off on this. We have asked many, many questions in this House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, they have, you know, and sometimes the government can be a bit wise and listen to the Opposition - listen and make a good decision.

We are here, Mr. Speaker, to represent the people of the Province, the people in our district. We are constantly receiving letters, faxes, petitions, wanting us to oppose this legislation.

Just as an example, Mr. Speaker - and we have brought this up in the House of Assembly before - at 8:30 this morning, just as I was going through the door, the phone rang and I answered it, Mr. Speaker; it was a lady from Torbay who works as a cashier in one of the stores here in St. John's and she was on the verge of tears saying that she has to work right now, six days a week to get in thirty-five hours to survive. She said if this goes through, what will happen is what we have said in this House of Assembly before, that she will have to work seven days a week to get the thirty-five hours in, Mr. Speaker. That is what she said, and she was on the verge of tears.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I will. I will go outside, I will go anywhere, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy. I have no problem with that.

What I do not understand, Mr. Speaker - we have been in this House discussing this now for approximately six days and I have yet to see anybody on that side of the House stand and give the logic of this bill and the reason why it is being forced. There have been no answers given, no answers to any of the questions. The Minister of Justice got up the other day and said a few words, trying to be smart or facetious on the issue. But he did not give the answers as to why, who wants it, and who is going to benefit.

We know again - we said it here before that the Board of Trade is against it, the Chambers of Commerce are against it, the retailers are against it, employers are against it, we have letters from employers. We have employees against it, we are getting calls from the public against and we do not understand who is for it and who is pushing it.

Now, a comment has been made, Mr. Speaker, and there is some belief going around - some people believe this may be the case - that this is connected to the multi-nationals, who want to come in here and make, maybe large contributions to certain Parties, that if this goes through they might do that, and certain people will be able to build their campaign funds for a shot at different positions inside the Province, and maybe outside the Province. Is there a connection? That is what is being asked today out there. Because we cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, get to the bottom of it. We have asked the questions.

As a matter of fact, I have spoken to members on the other side of the House. I cannot get into names now, and would not do that. I am not sure everybody over there is strongly supporting this legislation. They will toe the line, I am sure they will toe the line. As a matter of fact, we have letters here today, an open letter, to all government members on the other side of the House asking them to back off on it. We have those types of letters. We have letters from businesses saying they are going to have to lay people off.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: We can produce them. They are going to have to lay people off if this legislation goes through. We said it here, Mr. Speaker, that there will be job loss because of this. There is no doubt, and now we have the proof to back up what we have been saying in this House of Assembly. I still do not understand why this piece of legislation cannot be withdrawn, put to a legislative committee, and go out across the Province and have consultation.

There was no consultation on this legislation. This Administration during the last election said they would be an administration of consultation. They would talk to the people on any major pieces of legislation. This is not a very thick bill at all; it is a couple of pages.

Here is another prime example of what is going on in this House with respect to the bullying of that Administration; brought in closure on this piece of legislation. Now, today, I was sitting - I couldn't believe what was happening. I could not believe it - five more bills given to us today, and they want to close the House of Assembly tomorrow. Is that not ridiculous, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. J. BYRNE: I know. I have talked to the members on that side of the House. I know what they want, Mr. Speaker. Five more bills coming in.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to present a petition to the House of Assembly. To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened, and it goes on. The bottom line to this is that it is the Shops' Closing Act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, I have a drawer full of them, I say to the Minister of Education. This is on shop closing as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I would like to say - oh, I have a drawer full of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Do not worry, I will, if I get the opportunity here to present them. I say today, Mr. Speaker, that I rise and stand in my place to support this petition. I find it almost incredible that there is nobody on the other side of the House - well, with the exception of the Minister of Justice who stood and supported this bill, and the minister. Nobody else has got out of their place. My office received two calls in the last forty-eight hours from Grand Falls-Windsor to know if their member got out of his seat to oppose this particular piece of legislation. I told the individual who called: Absolutely not. Somebody else spoke to my secretary who went and checked and said: No, absolutely not.

That is just one of the calls I got. Later on today, if we get into debate, I am going to read portions of a letter which I have received from a business in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador which clearly states that it has to lay off or will lay off every permanent employee it has in order - so who is over there who wants this bill? Does it really have anything to do with shop closing, or does it have something to do with the new elections Act that is being proposed? Is that what we are doing?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to be able to continue.

AN HON. MEMBER: What elections Act?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Order Paper there somewhere?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: No, not yet. The one you sent over for us to review to see if we would agree to it. We will not agree to it, by the way!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: Anyway, I say to the Government House Leader, I hope he has his pyjamas, because we have five more pieces today. If he thinks we are going away because he is trying to bully stuff through this House, it will not happen, Mr. Speaker. If he is here tonight, he can stay here tonight, and we are quite prepared - and this will mark the third time I have said this - we are quite prepared to stay here with him. Those who have their tickets for early tomorrow morning, I would suggest you cancel them unless we are going to see closure on one pile of bills, because the word from some of your own members over there, I say to the Minister of Education, you have a lot of jaw when somebody is up speaking -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: - but you have not jumped out of your seat yet to talk on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: Stand up and speak in favour of this bill if you are in favour of it. You voted for it. Stand up and speak in favour of it, as the rest of us on this side of the House have stood up and voted against it. Stand up and speak if you are in favour of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, the phone calls are still coming. I am receiving faxes every single day, and letters every single day. The City Consumers Co-Op, Mr. Keith Sheppard, President of the Board of Directors, opposes Sunday shopping. Honda One in Newfoundland and Labrador opposes it. Canadian Tire opposes it. Riff's Limited in Newfoundland and Labrador - I have a copy of the letter that they sent to the Premier, from the President of the Riff's Company and their 400 employees - oppose this particular piece of legislation.

So, Mr. Speaker, who is driving the bus? Who wants this piece of legislation? Who wants it? We do not know. Nobody over there has given us a reason as to why this piece of legislation should pass. We have not heard it. We sat until 4:00 a.m. and we did not hear it. I guess now we have brought in closure so they can sort of run us out, but that is fine.

MR. J. BYRNE: Abuse of authority that is all that is.

MR. FRENCH: That is exactly what it is, I say to my colleague, the Member for Cape St. Francis. That is exactly what it is. It is nothing short of abuse.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I rise today to support the petition put forward by my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, and to say to the House again, as we have said on many occasions in the last three days, that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not persuaded with the arguments put forward by the government in favour of the proposals to open up all of the shops in this Province on Sundays. In other words, we are going to add another fifty-two days to the shopping schedule.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not want this to happen, and that is why we have all of those petitions. That is why this morning when I was out visiting a constituent, the first thing they said was: Do what you can, but make sure that you do stand there and try to stop this proposal for Sunday shopping.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we have stood here time after time, and we will stay here as long as necessary. We will work through the orders and the rules that govern this particular Legislature. We will work through them, and I know that at the end of the day, in a parliamentary democracy, the government will, if it chooses, get its way. That is the way Parliament works; however, our job here is to bring to the government's attention what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are saying about it. That is our job here. We will do it. We will do it until the very last minute, and if that takes us until 4:00 tomorrow morning, if it takes us until Saturday, if it takes us until next week, or takes us into January, that is the way it is. We will be unrelenting on this particular issue, and I can tell all of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that this caucus is united, it is very firm, and we will stay the course. Stay the course means that we will use every parliamentary option available to us to prevent the adoption of Bill No. 48.

We want the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to know, however, that if we fail to convince the government to take this proposed legislation off the Order Paper it will be because of their decision, not because we have not brought it forcefully to the floor of the House of Assembly.

We know there are more petitions arriving. They are arriving every day. They are arriving by fax, by courier, and we have put forward the arguments against this legislation. We say to the Premier, who is now in his seat, in the House the other day when he was not present, I reminded the House of his commitment in his Liberal manifesto that he put out in January 1996, when he said that he was going to facilitate an ongoing dialogue with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Well, we wonder what has happened to the ongoing dialogue. Because right now the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are saying: We want to have a chance to have public hearings on this issue and have a chance to have our say, want it referred to a legislation review committee. That is not going to happen. That has not been agreed to by the government. They voted down the hoist motion that we put in that would have allowed us to have more time to consider. Mr. Speaker, the government says: No, we are going to be bulldozing this all the way through. We are not going to accept any considerations that reflect the viewpoints of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We are going to be pigheaded, we are going to be aggressive, we are going to stay the course and we are going to make sure that this legislation passes, even if it jeopardizes some of the other legislation that we might have here.

Mr. Speaker, I say to all members that we, on this side, today, tomorrow, tomorrow night, whenever it is, we will not be relenting. We will be staying here as long as is necessary. Mr. Speaker, I say again that we have put forward the arguments; we have said that we will stay the course as long as it is necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is moved and seconded that we move to the Orders of the Day. All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Call in the members.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

All those in favour of the motion please rise.

Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance, I believe, entered after the bar was across the House.

All those in favour of the motion please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Premier; the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; Mr. Walsh; Mr. Flight; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Penney; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Wiseman; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Mr. Reid; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against please rise.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion, carried.

Before recognizing the hon. the Government House Leader, I want to draw members' attention to Standing Order 11(2) which says, "When the Speaker is putting a question, no Member shall walk out of or across the House, or make any noise or disturbance." Members were walking around the House when the question was being put.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move Motion No. 3.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of Motion 3, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion, carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: We are voting on Motion No. 3.

All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Premier, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Flight, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Mr. Penney, Mr. Oldford, the hon. the Minister of Health, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms. Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, thirty `ayes' and nine `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Call in the members.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Premier, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Flight, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Mr. Penney, Mr. Oldford, the hon. the Minister of Health, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, Mr. Noel, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms. Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

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

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Mr. French, Ms. Osborne, Mr. Harris.

Mr. Speaker, 31 yeas and 10 nays.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

Before we proceed any further, the Chair would like to inform the House of the questions for the Late Show today.

Question one is from the hon. the Member for Bonavista South: I am not satisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture re my question on foreign fishing allocations.

Question number two is from the Member for Waterford Valley to the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs re my question regarding municipal qualifications for municipal clerks and administrators.

The third question is from the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Education re my question on private schools' massage therapy.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

MR. SPEAKER: Call in the members.

 

Division

 

We will deal with the division question now, and we will then proceed with the Late Show. Then the Speaker will leave the Chair whenever the thirty minutes are up for the Late Show. I think that is the agreement we have here.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we agree that that would be the best procedure to follow to facilitate the rules of the House.

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

CLERK: The hon. the Premier, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Mr. Penney, Mr. Oldford, the hon. the Minister of Health, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Mr. Noel, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. G. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

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

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. H. Hodder, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Ottenheimer, Mr. French, Ms S. Osborne, Mr. Harris.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could, when Your Honour was reading out the ministers who were required to answer questions, I didn't get the names of the ministers who we were supposed to (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Question number one was to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, number two was to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and number three was to the Minister of Education.

MR. TULK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried, but the Chair will not act on the motion until the Late Show has expired.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stood today and asked a series of questions about foreign fishing, allocation of fish stocks to foreign interests, processing of fish in foreign ports.

One of the questions I directed to the minister was to confirm a story that was recently aired on the CBC Here and Now show where it indicated that a dentist presently living in Florida holds one, if not two or more, shrimp harvesting licences for area 2J. The minister asked at the time if I would let him know the person's name. I've since found out that person's name and I've shared it with the minister. It is a Dr. Bill Murphy who is a dentist living in Florida and owns and operates Murray Sea Foods in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

I understand from the minister that those licences were given out at an earlier time. I spoke with the Premier about it, and he told me those licences were probably issued at a time when a party by the name of the party that I support was in power at the time. I don't care who was in power at the time, or who issued the licences. I think we are living in a time in this Province today that such licences and such activity should be immediately stopped.

I'm very familiar with what is happening down in Black Tickle. I worked in a plant down there for at least five summers myself, back and forth there on a regular basis; probably once every two or three weeks. It was a plant that was built and designed for groundfish, cod fish - turbot for the most part; Greenland halibut that we know as turbot. Right now, in that particular area today, in area 2J, there is an allocation of 20,000 metric tonnes of turbot. Out of that 20,000 metric tonnes of turbot 17,000 metric tonnes, Mr. Speaker, is harvested by foreigners, taken to foreign ports, processed by foreign workers. Not one ounce of that 17,000 tonnes is processed right here in this Province. We have a situation, Mr. Speaker, where our own people are out crying for work. Our fish plants are closed and we continually let foreigners come here and scrape the bottom of our coves and our bays and take the product back to foreign ports to process.

Mr. Speaker, shrimp is a shell fish that is offering many, many new opportunities in the processing industry in this Province. In my own district alone, FPI just recently announced an $11 million investment in a processing facility there to process shrimp. It is my understand, north and south of the fifty line, that the FFAW, the Fogo Island Co-op and the Labrador shrimp company, Mr. Speaker, has recently sold in the water, sold a resource in the water, four million pounds of shrimp. Four million pounds of shrimp sold to a foreign country, Mr. Speaker, to harvest and process on foreign soil. This should never be allowed to continue, I say to people opposite.

The minister says that we should harvest it rather than leave it in the water. Well that is the same kind of thinking that has gotten us where we are today. It is my understanding, in talking to fishermen - in fact, one particular fisherman has been pleading for part of this allocation for some time now. In fact, he has a sixty-five foot boat down in Goose Bay. As we speak, his boat is in Goose Bay willing to go out and take part in this fishery but is not allowed to do so. This particular resource is being controlled by a union that was put in place to protect the very people that are hurting here today but in order for that to have happened government must have given them the licence and given them the okay to go and fish. Government must have given them the okay in order to go and harvest that particular product and to give them a quota. It should never have been allowed to happen. It is better to leave it in the water then it is to allow it to be taken outside of our Province and deprive our fishermen and our fish plant workers of processing jobs. If this is the fishery of the future, I say to the minister, if this is what the fishery of the future is going to be than God help us.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the only analogy, the only description I can make of the member opposite is talk a second about the story of Rip Van Winkle who woke up and realized he had missed all of this time in history and all of the things that went on. The hon. member is exactly like that. Dr. Murphy and all those people who live in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have had licenses since John Crosbie gave them to them. Wake up, read the papers and learn what is going on and come down to earth and deal with the real issues of the day.

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

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

I wanted to address a few comments to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs relative to the training programs for municipal clerks. I have asked some questions on this in the House and I wanted to bring to the minister's attention that the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Municipal Administrators and the Federation of Municipalities have been trying to get some programs in place to help those clerks, particularly in the smaller municipalities. The minister will know that with the severe financial constraints that are now facing all municipalities, it is very important that they do have some kind of guidance as to what is acceptable. I recognize that some money has been provided to the federation, particularly to assist the upgrading of computers.

However, the difficulty that many of these clerks have is that they do not have the training in order to be able to operate the computers properly therefore we end up like some of the government departments where, a few years ago, with computers on desks that really are non-functional, not that the computers cannot function but the people who are operating them do not know the programs, so a piece of equipment like a computer is useless unless the people have some basic training and know how to work it within its own capacities.

Also, I bring to the minister's attention that, again the Auditor General recognizes that there is some need for training. I know that the minister is well aware that an act was prepared by his department and is called: An Act Respecting The Newfoundland And Labrador Association Of Municipal Administrators and his department has participated in drafting that legislation in consultation with the Department of Justice. Now, during the background for this particular series of questions, I did some consultations with Manitoba, with the Province of Saskatchewan, with Ontario to see what programs they have in place to assist rural municipalities to upgrade their clerks and the best program I could find of those that I was able to examine exists in the Province of Saskatchewan and in that province there is a program put on in conjunction with the University of Regina and that program is particularly geared to helping municipalities in the rural parts of the Province to upgrade their skills and is done by way of correspondence courses, a Distance Education Program and is a very, very good program I say to the minister, as I have had some consultation with the people in Saskatchewan on that.

I think it is inappropriate for us to say that these people in those municipalities have no need for skills. In fact, they have need for skills. I know that the municipalities sometimes cannot afford to be able to have them participate but these are jobs out there and they are handling public dollars. It is public treasury dollars, the taxpayers' dollars and the dollars of the Province and it is not sufficient for us to say that we do not really care or that we are not going to provide an educational program for them.

So, Mr. Speaker, what I am saying to the minister is that we have to address this issue because, again the minister seems content with the existing status quo, and I am saying to him that is not okay when other provinces are trying to address this. You do not have to worry about the big municipalities like the St. John's and the Mount Pearl and Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, they have, you know, a fair size bureaucracy, but out in these municipalities the smaller ones, we have to say to the Minister of Education, he should be putting money into training programs where people have jobs and where jobs do exist.

So I would say to the minister again: Look at what is happening in the other provinces. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have a lot of relevancy to Newfoundland and, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the minister that his officials should make some consultations - again I have the acts that were passed in those provinces and have their educational programs for the education of the clerks, and they seem to be very, very good and are administered by the clerks themselves. There is a time set, there are seminars to which they can go and there are programs put out by correspondence courses and now that we are going to have the computers in these municipalities, I think the minister should make sure that it is no good to have the computer if you do not have the educational program to back it up, and with the Internet that is available in various parts of the Province and most places now can have access to Internet, only go to the school system and (inaudible) -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: - and I am recommending to the minister that he would try to do something about this particular issue.

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

MR. A. REID: There are a number of questions and I would try to answer them all as quickly as I can, Mr. Speaker.

We are working with NLAMA and the Newfoundland Federation of Municipalities; training will be included in the purchase price and package to the smaller communities with the purchase of new computers and I am not satisfied with the status quo as it is today and I say it quite honestly to the hon. member, if he would talk to the larger communities like St. John's and Mount Pearl maybe, just maybe they might give up their municipal operating grants for the next three years then I can go out and give it to those small communities that the hon. member think so much about to be able to help - to be able to help those smaller communities.

So, I suggest to the member, go back to his council in Mount Pearl and ask to let me have their municipal operating grants so that I can go out and do what the hon. gentleman is saying.

God bless you and a Merry Christmas to you, too.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to make some further enquiries and elicit further responses from the Minister of Education concerning the private training schools in the Province in general, and focus initially at least on the massage therapists.

Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to insist that there is a wide variety of results for first-time writers of these exams in Ontario. The first-time writers of these exams overall do very well. Since July of 1995 to July of 1997, the only periods for which periods are published by the Ontario college, 1,519 students wrote the exams and 1,186 passed, for an overall 78 average. At no period for these exams that are published by the college was there a 25 per cent pass rate.

Mr. Speaker, the minister is really covering up the fact that there is a very, very high degree of pass rate for those who take those exams, and it is the standard that is accepted here in the Province of Newfoundland in the absence of Newfoundland regulation of the massage therapy profession.

Mr. Speaker, the other aspect of this, the minister read out some conditions of that licence, in particular the core curriculum from Ontario, and my inquiries reveal that the curriculum, the one of which they will not give out copies - of which the minister will not give out copies - my information is that the curriculum itself complies with the Ontario standard. The question is whether or not that curriculum is being taught.

The students who wrote those exams in October were provided with a copy of the core curriculum. They have listed numerous items on the curriculum on which they were being tested that, in fact, were not covered in their program. The minister has not addressed that.

The students who are there now, the 100 students who are there now who are being asked to continue to pay significant amounts of money to the college, do not have confidence that what the minister has said or done to date gives them any assurance that they are going to be properly trained for these particular courses. So, I would like the minister to elaborate on what is being done to ensure that the curriculum is, in fact, being followed.

I have seen complaints that people teaching the massage therapy course were not, in fact, registered massage therapists. The minister has those complaints on file in his office, that there were people teaching the course who were said to be registered massage therapists but, in fact, did not have that designation.

I want to ask a further question of the minister concerning this whole area of private post-secondary education. Does the minister have, as I am informed, on his desk, a document - it may be entitled `Post-secondary indicators '96', produced by the Division of Evaluation, Research and Planning - indicating the results of the post-secondary students in this Province, university, private colleges, public colleges, and can he tell us whether it shows the satisfaction rate for programs by post-secondary graduates between private colleges and public colleges? Does it show the student loan default rates for private colleges and public colleges? And does it give, for example, average salaries for employment gained after graduation between public and private colleges?

Does he have such a report dealing with post-secondary indicators '96, and why is he not making that public? Is he trying to keep the information from the public because it would support, perhaps, if we saw it, a call that I made in this House of Assembly about a month ago for an independent look at the whole issue of private post-secondary education and whether or not it meets the public needs.

Mr. Speaker, can he also tell us why there is no private training institutions review board, which appears to be necessary if the minister is even to refuse any applications. Is that why every application seems to be accepted because if he is going to refuse any application he has to give someone notice that they have fifteen days to go to a private training institutions review board and if one does not exist it seems pretty difficult for him to either refuse an application or turn someone down. So, I would like for the minister to address all those questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Probably tomorrow in Question Period or one of the Question Periods next week - the questions deserve attention - I think the public - I haven't sensed in my eight or nine years that they get attention in the Late Show, so maybe in a regular Question Period I would like to invite him to ask the questions and we will answer then all.

MR. TULK: Bill No. 48, Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole on a Bill "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act No 2".

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

 

Committee of the Whole

 

CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

Bill No. 48, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act No. 2".

Shall clause 1 carry?

Under closure each member has twenty minutes to speak.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise again today to oppose this particular bill and to talk about what effect this will have on various businesses in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Today, I received a letter in the mail from a company in Newfoundland and Labrador and it says, `It is with deep regret that this company, after eighteen years in business, will have no choice but to immediately lay off all of its full-time employees once this bill comes into law and is enacted'. And it says, `It bothers us', meaning the company, `immensely that these dedicated men and women are being removed from their positions, not of their own inability, but because of government dictatorship. For this business to meet its financial obligations all full-time employees will be replaced with part-time workers just to accommodate the seven day work week and remain competitive with national companies. It saddens us', again the company, `as these men and women have young families, mortgages and have contributed immensely, not only to this industry, but the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Sunday shopping will be nothing but a demise in our industry. Besides all the economic issues, the only one above all that is the fact that Sunday shopping will have an erosion on the family life at that particular point in time. It means that there will be no time to spend with each other, and you can't put a price on that.

That is from one business within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Just imagine, they are going to have to lay off all of their full-time employees, and yet nobody, Mr. Chairman, gets out of their seat. Nobody is concerned. I have another letter which is a copy which was sent to the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. It says:

We are asking for your support in lobbying, voting against the proposed changes to the Sunday shop closing act regarding Sunday shopping. We are totally opposed to the idea of Sunday shopping, and we feel it places an unfair burden on smaller independent retailers and their staff. Please put the Sunday shopping issue to rest once and for all. This is signed by a Gerry Rose for Ivan Riff and the 400 staff members of their company.

Four hundred staff members, the owner of a company, and these people are against Sunday shopping. Just imagine. Nobody over there cares. Nobody cares. Nobody gets out of their seat to ask a question. Just imagine. Nobody stands up to ask a question on this bill. Why? The calls haven't stopped. Let me tell you, I got more calls on this than I did on national unity, let me tell you that. Because after running an ad for some six to eight weeks I never got a call, but on this here, I've gotten lots of calls.

Yet, for some reason, we introduced closure. We have to ram this through the House. We on this side intend to do whatever we can legally do to stop this particular piece of legislation. We intend to do whatever we have to do to try and stop this particular piece of legislation.

City Consumers Co-Operative Society Limited, their head offices are in St. John's. This is a letter from its President, Mr. Keith Sheppard, President of the Board of Directors of City Consumers Co-Operative Society, and it is written - and this is a copy - to the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

On behalf of City Consumers Co-Operative Society board, management, staff and members, I would like to express dissatisfaction with the new legislation concerning Sunday store openings. Sunday shopping openings will have a negative impact upon locally-owned businesses. Sales for six days will now be spread out over seven. This will mean increased cost for sales, plus increased cost to customers. But, Mr. Chairman, nobody over there cares.

Multi-national chains will be the only ones to benefit from this change. Local ownership will suffer and may disappear, leaving the retail sector of our economy controlled by multi-nationals. The enormous profits already made by these outside companies will increase and, as always, continue to leave our Province. And, of course, Mr. Chairman, these profits never return.

The letter goes on to say: We at City Consumers Co-Operative Society are very concerned about the social impact of Sunday shopping. We hope that as many of our workers in the Province should be able to enjoy Sunday as a day of rest. Workers should be able to spend time with their families. Church attendance and relative activities will suffer, thus eroding the moral fabric of our society.

The letter goes on to say: Please consider these suggestions as reasons for the withdrawal of the proposed changes to the Shops' Closing Act.

Nobody on that side of the House cares. If they do, some time between now and early tomorrow morning, I hope somebody stands to their feet and tells us that they do care, that when there are jobs going to be lost, somebody will stand up and say: I also oppose this particular piece of legislation. The petitions that we have from all over Newfoundland, I have one here, I think, with probably ten or fifteen names on it and they are not all from this area of the Province. I have them here from Grand Falls, Rocky Harbour, Corner Brook, Labrador City, Englee, and on and on it goes; Stephenville and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bob, (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I will show them to you after, if you want to see them. I will certainly show them to you. I will certainly let you look at the names, I don't know if - I can only tell you that - you know - but there are names on here from Grand Falls and as I said earlier today and I wasn't kidding, I have received two calls from Grand Falls asking me about the issue and indeed if the member had voted for this motion or against it. That is what I was asked and if the member wishes afterwards, privately, I will be only too glad to tell her about the calls I received. I will only be too glad to give her the information. But I have received two calls from that area, two of somewhere now, close to 200 calls that I have received.

My wife told me the other day at home, that on all things, the education issue, the national unity issue, my phone never rang as much at home the other day as it did concerning this particular issue from all over the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and if that means that I have to stay here all night and argue this issue, then I am quite prepared to do it because I think this bill is wrong. I think this bill is a mistake and I honestly and truly believe that this bill should be withdrawn.

As I asked earlier and still cannot get an answer: Who is driving the bus on this legislation? Who is it? It is not the Board of Trade. It is not the Chamber of Commerce. It is certainly not employees. So, who is it? Where are they? Who wants this legislation? I say to this House, Mr. Chairman, who wants this legislation? Nobody, except somebody on the government side. Is it the Premier? Is it the minister? Is it the Government House Leader? Who wants this legislation? Somebody wants it.

MR. TULK: We do.

MR. FRENCH: Oh no, not we. No, you don't, no, no because not all of your members, I say to the Government House Leader, wants this legislation.

MR. TULK: We, did I say (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You said `we', who are `we'?

MR. TULK: Who are `we'?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, who are the `we', you tell me?

MR. TULK: Chris Decker does, not we.

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I see, very good.

Well, I trust then that the Member for Humber East will be up later on because in the petitions I have, there are certainly a lot of names there from Corner Brook as well. So I am sure that he will be up, remembering where he came from and who elected him, I am sure he will do that because I am sure he has not received the call, I am very sure of that. I am very sure that he has not had the call.

There are lots of people across this Province, Mr. Chairman who do not want this bill; there is not a member in this House, I don't think, this afternoon, who can say that they have not received calls. Very few. There may be some but I would be surprised. I have been told by people who have called me, that they have called members' offices and they have been told that those who are calling to oppose this bill by far outnumber the calls that they have received in favour of this particular legislation and I do not disbelieve some of the individuals who have called me, Mr. Chairman. I certainly do not disbelieve those individuals who have called my office to voice their displeasure at that particular piece of legislation.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why, why we are here today debating this and we will go into the wee hours of tomorrow morning debating this particular piece of legislation because I do not know for the life of me why, why this is before the House at this time of year, and I am sure there is probably nobody on either side of this House who does not have things that they could probably do over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours or the next seventy-two hours because probably that is how long we are going to be here. That's how long we are going to be here dealing with legislation that has been introduced, not only this particular legislation but all kinds of legislation. One, two, three, four, five pieces which we got this afternoon. We will take our time on that legislation and we will review that legislation and whatever time we get through it -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I know you better than that. I think there is something there that you are going to be called. Yes, I'm sure there will be a couple, I say to the Government House Leader, that he will be called. I hope he has supper ordered for his members -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, you are not going to call then, good.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You might, yes I know you might. It depends on what mood you are in when you are driving the bus. I can only assume now, to the Government House Leader, and until -

MR. TULK: You have to remember something now (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, you are going to be under, that's for sure. That's the truest words you ever said.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) that's not what we heard last night.

MR. FRENCH: No, no, I say not. As a matter of fact, I believe, I say to my colleague from Kilbride, about 3:30 a.m. the other morning when he was stood somewhere close to the Chairman's chair there that the comment was: I have orders to get this bill passed and I'm going to get it passed. I have orders to get this bill through and I'm going to get this bill through. That's the orders I'm under. That is what you told me the other night.

MR. TULK: Told you what?

MR. FRENCH: You got orders, you told me, to get this piece of legislation passed. So I can only assume that you must be the bus driver.

MR. TULK: You know I am an innocent (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I'm sure - I say to the Member for Humber East, I wouldn't touch that with a twenty foot pole.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, I would say later on tonight you had better put something across your back. You had better watch your back, I say to the Government House Leader. You better watch your back later on tonight because it might be cold and it might be warm but -

MR. TULK: I don't know why you are getting mad because you are a lot better fellow (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I'm an easy going fellow.

So again, Mr. Chairman, we are here today -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You have to learn something new, you know. I just hope you are right.

MR. TULK: I have to keep watching you now because you know.

MR. FRENCH: I know that one, yes.

MR. TULK: I have to (inaudible) now.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, another one of your colleagues told me something else too, but I will save that one for another time.

Mr. Chairman, these three letters are just amongst many phone calls, many petitions that I have received on this issue. There is absolutely nobody who is in favour or who wants this legislation.

I have spoken about a change to the family lives and the opportunities for families to be together, especially in this day and age where we have to have two parents who are working, and there are a lot of families out there where two parents work who are involved in the retail sector in this Province. I wonder about these people, because the one day that we could all be sure of that would be constant to all of us was Sunday. They could all be sure, all in favour, and all be guaranteed that Sunday was their day of rest.

Some might argue, well, there are industries in this Province where people have to work. I had a call this morning at home, before I left to come in here, from wardens in this Province who said to me that they fully realize in their industry that it is part of their job, it is part of what they do, but they were opposed to Sunday shopping. They were opposed to Sunday shopping, and these are people who have to work 365 days a year. They knew that, they accepted that, when they got into their particular area. When they went to work in these industries they were sure that this was when they had to work, and they accepted that. From the time they started these jobs until present, they always knew that they would work these days. The people in retail trade were never aware of that, and should not have to do it today.

Again we go back to some of the petitions which we wanted to present today concerning Sunday shopping - Larch Place, Reid Street, Copper's Road, West Valley Road, Pratt Street, MacPherson Avenue, and on and on it goes - Summerville, Queen Street in Corner Brook, Victoria Street and so on. All of these people have signed petitions; have sent petitions to this House. All of them opposing, Mr. Chairman, Sunday shopping.

That is a shame, when we have the president and the board of directors of a group of people in the Province of Newfoundland such as City Consumers Co-operative Society, when we hear from these people. They aren't only concerned for themselves, but they are concerned for their employees and they are concerned for their members. I think it speaks well of an organization such as theirs.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

CHAIR: Leave has been denied.

MR. FRENCH: You're sure? You're positive, no leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!


 

 

December 18, 1997        HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLIII No. 54A



[Continuation of sitting]

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: I have one fan on the other side - two, three, four!

AN HON. MEMBER: Now, if you could only get (inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, I am speaking to this bill today because obviously we, on this side of the House, feel that the majority of people in Newfoundland and Labrador are against the opening of shops on Sunday. That has been made very clear over the air waves, through editorials, through phone calls, letters, faxes and petitions, that we have received on this side of the House.

It is not only the people in the general public, we have heard that the Lewisporte Chamber of Commerce -

MR. PENNEY: Be good now.

MR. T. OSBORNE: - is against - I am not going to say anything about the hon. member from that area, but I know that the Lewisporte Chamber of Commerce has faxed us and said that they are against the opening of shops on Sunday, that they have done a poll of their members and they are against it.

The Gander area Chamber of Commerce, the same thing.

MR. PENNEY: What about the consumers of Lewisporte?

MR. T. OSBORNE: According to the Open Line shows, the majority of consumers throughout the Province are against the opening of shops on Sunday.

The Gander and area Chamber of Commerce, the same thing. We received a fax today and their members unanimously are opposed to the opening of shops on Sunday.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: I am glad to see the Opposition Leader in the House because I know the Premier would want him here.

There is an announcement which the Premier would like to make which is fairly substantial and we will not take away from the hon. gentleman's time. We would like leave of the House to do it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, if I can and with the consent of the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition Party in the Legislature, I would like to formally advise the House of Assembly and, through the House of Assembly, advise the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that the new Term 17, unanimously requested by this Legislature and requested by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in a referendum, is now the law of the land - it has passed the Senate of Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, in a vote in the Senate of Canada by nearly a two-to-one margin, not quite - forty-five `ayes', twenty-six `nays', one abstention, Term 17, as requested by this Legislature, has now passed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I want immediate recognition of the historic importance of this amendment achieved today, finally achieved in a full and complete way by the Parliament of Canada, to recognize the non-partisan way in which members of this Legislature have approached this issue.

Mr. Chairman, my first words should be words of thanks to all members of the Legislature and to all the parties in the Legislature. We may have parted ways or parted company on occasion as we have gone through this long debate over some years, in particular over the last year, and over the referendum campaign, at the end of the day this Legislature demonstrated a commitment to reflect the democratically expressed will of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Chairman, I believe that the leaders of the opposition parties in this Legislature rose to the challenge to fulfil their responsibility and I want to pay tribute.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I do want to pay tribute to the Member for Ferryland, and I want to pay tribute to him as a member of this place and as the Leader of his party. Mr. Chairman, this has not always been an easy file for the member. I think he has expressed clearly and with conviction, even when that conviction sometimes ran against the grain, public opinion, expressed his view, Mr. Chairman. I acknowledge, and I think members here should acknowledge, that sometimes it takes courage to stand against the wind, and the Member for Ferryland, the Leader of the Opposition, has done that. When the people of the Province expressed their view in a referendum in this Province and indeed in Ferryland district, the Leader of the Opposition, at that moment, Mr. Chairman, played a constructive role and shares I think, in a very important way, responsibility for the success that we, as a Province, have had in seeing this amendment pass the Senate today. I extend to you, Loyola, my thanks for the way you have conducted yourself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I want, as well, to say thank you to the Leader of the NDP. The Leader of the NDP has, from day one, in a steadfast way, supported the cause of education reform. He joined me and the Leader of the Opposition in Ottawa, initially last year, to seek at that time, a constitutional amendment; was in Ottawa again recently to appear before the Senate to testify again on the need to proceed with reform and, Mr. Chairman, I think on this issue, as set aside, on all occasions, partisanship and has acted in a way which has been constructive and important, I think, for the historical development of this Province; and to Jack Harris I say thank you, and I acknowledge his work.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Now, Mr. Chairman, I would hope that every member would join me in expressing our gratitude and, frankly, our admiration for the tremendous energy and ceaseless, unstinting hard work -

MR. E. BYRNE: Here it comes, he is going to (inaudible) today.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, I have been in public life - February 18 it will be eighteen years for me. I have never seen a more hard-working, a more energetic, a more optimistic individual on a more difficult file in my life than I have seen in the work of the Minister of Education, Roger Grimes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I think all members would agree with me when I say that once Mr. Grimes stands in his place to speak, one knows that he will not sit down until he has won all to his point of view. Mr. Chairman, not even the capacity of the Senate, to be stubborn and to be obstinate, could stand in the way of a powerful logic marshalled by the Minister of Education when he appeared before them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I am told he used only about one-quarter of his legendary reserve in marshalling his arguments before the Senate and they capitulated before the force of his argument. Mr. Chairman, seriously, I think the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador owes a great debt of gratitude to the Minister of Education for his tremendous work on this file.

Mr. Chairman, before I conclude, I think it would be appropriate as well to note, and this is a very important note, that none of this - and I think it is a worthwhile objective, a worthwhile conclusion, a most important conclusion and an historical change in evolution for our Province - none of this could have happened, would have happened, had not Premier Wells and his team had the courage to open up this file and begin this debate.

Chris Decker took on that file in his role as Minister of Education. I want to acknowledge the work of Premier Wells last time out, and indeed his work in recent days when he went to Ottawa and appeared before the Reform Party caucus and spoke to them, and Minister Decker who was there, on the education file, in opening this file to begin with. That took courage.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I want to say to the Opposition parties, who, for a moment with me, have put aside their partisanship - that is not difficult for me, there is so little of it in my bones - and celebrated this important moment, I know that much work remains to be done. I know that Mr. John Ottenheimer across the way will be asking: Where is the next piece of the agenda? I want to assure him that once we have had some time to rest, and I hope we can begin resting very soon, over the Christmas holiday, maybe later in the evening, if not tomorrow morning. The Government House Leader over here loves to hang out here and tells me he has another bunch of bills he wants to introduce if necessary.

I want to say to members opposite that once we have had a chance to catch our breath, government will move very quickly to put in place the new single school system. Government will move very quickly to arrange for an election of school boards, and elected school boards in place across the Province. I want to say to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through this place at this time, that the purpose of school reform, at the end of the day, was not to achieve a constitutional amendment, was not to achieve a vote of the House of Assembly, the House of Commons, and the Senate - that is not what it is about - not to celebrate an historical constitutional amendment, or a change of law.

The purpose of school reform was to make our schools better, to create a school system where all of our children, irrespective of their religion, could sit in the same classroom, go to the same schools.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: The purpose of reform is to ensure that we put our dollars into the best education system that we can afford as we can afford it in this Province, Mr. Chairman; that is the purpose of reform, that is the objective we want to fulfil.

I say today, as the Premier of this Province, and the chairman who gets to sit around the table, or share the job with Mr. Wiseman, of this caucus, that we have said all along, this is not a `winner-take-all' proposition, this is not a game of winners and losers. There are only winners when we reform our education system and we make it better. I want again today to reach out to the leadership of those organizations that have had difficulty with this amendment. I want to say to the leadership of the Catholic Church, I want to say to the leadership of the Pentecostal Assemblies, I want to say to the many individual members of our society all across Newfoundland and Labrador who did not vote `Yes' in the referendum, who have not until now embraced this reform, that we want in this place, all of us, to work with them.

For those who care deeply about education, care deeply about the quality of the system and the opportunity it presents for our children, I say to them: Do not go away, do not believe you have lost anything. Stay and participate. Become members of the newly-elected school boards. Stay involved in the councils, stay involved in the public sessions and the public meetings. And, yes, hold this government and successive governments accountable for developing and funding and maintaining the best education system that Newfoundland and Labrador can afford to give our young children.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I, too, received the good news I guess about the same time. I was keeping close tabs on it. Since yesterday, I had an opportunity to speak with our federal leader's office - the leader was on the road, I did not get to speak with him directly - and members of the Senate, as late as just before coming to the House today, and a few times this afternoon since, when they were in Committee and getting ready for the vote.

We certainly felt that the Senate should have a responsibility to get on with the wishes of the people here in our Province. The Premier referred to - I know back in a referendum, and I strongly believe, in the first referendum, I did not make one telephone call in the first or second referendum, to try to influence any constituent in any way. I felt an obligation to let them know where I was, personally, and I felt a referendum is to find out what the people of this Province want to do on their own, and nothing should be shoved down their throats.

Our caucus looked at it with a referendum on an individual basis. That was important, I think, in a referendum. The people are going to speak, and we acknowledge that. When the people of the Province speak in a democratic process, I am a strong believer in democratic principles. That is why we are still here today. I believe that the people of the Province should know what is best for them. It is their right, it is the way our parliamentary system operates, and I certainly respected that, and endorsed not only my constituents, too, but the people, in my position as Leader of the Opposition, the people of the Province basically. When you vote in the House you have to consider beyond your own specific district. That is very important.

I am delighted that we have arrived at this point in time. There are a lot of confrontations and arguments, church involvement, public, politicians of the day. I got elected to this House after the Royal Commission on education reported; in June of 1992 the Royal Commission report was down - just a few months before that. We have gone through a fair amount of time in which we need to move forward in our education system in the best interests of the students of our Province. I spent over twenty years dealing on a direct basis with the students of the Province. It is a time in our Province for a reconciliation, to forget what went on in the past, and to work together in a spirit of co-operation now to move our system forward and to ensure that we turn out the best students in the country - if we are not doing it already, I might add.

We need to do it, and we will. Our critic, the Member for St. John's East, certainly will do all in his power to hold the Minister of Education, the Premier and this government accountable to expedite basic reforms in education. Not only the structure of education itself, but the savings from education will move toward the ultimate goal that reform is all about in the system. It was not about the power of who controls the system. Evolution had taken care of a great amount of that over the years. It was directed to filter down to the bottom line or the front lines of the system, to the students, and we certainly hope we will see a lot of that over the next while. The elected boards that we believe strongly in, taking place - in February, I think, is the expected time - and to get on then with accountability to the people.

We believed in, and I personally stated I believed in, reform of the system to have it run by the Province and fully-elected school boards. I believed in that and we believed in that. We believed in hiring teachers on the basis of qualifications in the system. We have believed that all along.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: My entire life I have believed that. I taught in an R.C. system. I never did believe in having to deviate from basic qualifications or certain standards or contracts or otherwise, that there were. The law had to be followed and I respected that.

But I did believe - and one of the reasons I opposed it on referendum day, was that I believed we could have gone a little bit farther. The referendum should have taken a little extra in addition to these two. That is why I felt we should not have moved out of the system in which parents have the choice if they so desire and there are sufficient numbers, the same as would warrant having a class in advanced math or in any other subject. If the numbers sufficiently warranted it, and teachers were available to perform the task, the option or the choice of parents to make that decision should be there.

That is why I disagreed with it. I felt we were curtailing or limiting the choice of parents to make that decision within the system. I have said before that I felt it would be higher than 73 per cent if that option were there. It could be 90 per cent, possibly. Many of the people I have spoken with, on both sides of the fence, could have lived certainly with that particular scenario. But that is history now. We move forward. The Senate today has dealt with it. I was optimistic, to be honest with you, all along, that that result would be accomplished.

I spoke as late as seven or eight minutes before I came into the House with Senator Kinsella today and I have spoken with other people over the last twenty-four hours and I was, as I said today in the House, confident there would be no amendments forthcoming from the PC minority in the Senate. There were not any and the vote was reflective, I think, of respect for the democratic process. When the Senate abdicates its responsibility for democracy, I think it is time to start doing something with the Senate. I think, in this particular instance, they carried out their duties properly. I had some reservations, and I did not chastise the Senate before, because the Senate gave people here in this Province before, an opportunity to be heard at public hearings that were not provided by the House of Commons. I am a strong believer in the due process. I complimented them for taking the opportunity to listen to people on both sides of the argument. Before rendering a decision you take full opportunity to hear people's views regardless of what you think the end result may be, and that process was carried out.

I am pleased that we have reached this particular point in time, and now our focus, I say again in conclusion, is on reconciliation for people who have been on opposite sides, basically, of the argument, and to move forward now in the best interest of students in the Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

[Laughter]

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Of course.

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

MR. HARRIS: I do not need leave, I think, Mr. Chairman.

In any event, I thought, Mr. Chairman, at one point in September that my last act in the House of Assembly would have been to participate in a unanimous vote of this House to endorse the changes to Term 17 and send them to Ottawa for passage. If it had turned out to be my last act, Mr. Chairman, I would have been proud to have served in this Legislature and to have seen the culmination of what has been a debate in this Province that has gone on for many, many years.

Hon. members will know that the first party to ever endorse publicly or speak publicly about a reform of the denominational education system which would have removed the churches from the position of control over education was the New Democratic Party. So it is interesting to watch over the years, and even over the years when we were in this House, the twists and turns of politics within each party, whether it be our own party because it has not always been smooth even in our own party, nor the Liberal Party, nor the Progressive Conservative Party.

Even within the debate provincially - I know the current Minister of Justice, then Minister of Education, every few months was putting out a new document `Adjusting the Course, Part I,'- `Part II.' We were wondering whether he had lost his way. But all of these things were part of what was necessary to change the public opinion in this Province to realize that change had to take place, that the people wanted change, and ultimately, change took place.

I do acknowledge the thanks and the comments of the Premier about the role that all members in this House played and I thank him for his particular comments on me, but I do want to say that every single member of this House, in particular by the unanimous vote of this Legislature in September of this year, made an astounding difference to the debate in Ottawa.

The previous speaker indicated his conversations and his role with respect to the Senate and senators. He, the Premier and I were in Ottawa last year attempting to influence members of the House of Commons. I think even members opposite will acknowledge that the Premier is not the only person with influence in Ottawa. It is not an easy road, I say to people who have not been there. Going to Ottawa, just because you are going to your own partisan members, you do not get automatic support. You do not get automatic support because you wear the same political label. The people who are elected, as members of Parliament in Ottawa, take their responsibility seriously on issues of national importance, such as this and in the caucus meetings and in private sessions, you have to make the case and you have to make it as strongly as you possibly can. There is no automatic response, even within your own political caucus. So the role that was played by people who went to Ottawa, and I include myself amongst them obviously, in making the pitch and stating the importance of the non-partisan approach in Ottawa before the Committee was acknowledged by senators and members of the House of Commons who were on that committee. The importance of the unanimity of this House, even though the Member for Placentia had the sense and the –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - wisdom, Mr. Chairman, to recognize that it was very, very important coming out of this Province even with a very high degree of referendum support, a unanimous vote from this House was extremely important to those in Ottawa who were required to make a decision.

In the past few days, Mr. Chairman, I have not been making very nice comments about the Senate. I am not a big fan of the Senate, as people know. I do have a lot of respect for individual senators so I do not want to get anybody's dander up, but I am glad to see that they recognize their role in this was to hear what had to be heard and to accede to the wishes of the people of Newfoundland and of this Legislature. I do acknowledge their role in doing that today without unduly delaying the matter and I thank them for their speedy passage of Term 17.

I just want to say one or two words about the future, Mr. Chairman. As the Premier has indicated, the whole purpose of school reform is to improve the quality of student life, the quality of instruction and the ability of our students to learn as much as they can about what they have to learn to participate fully in the world.

In this Province, Mr. Chairman, in Newfoundland and Labrador, students have very large hurdles to overcome. There are hurdles of isolation. There are hurdles of family and community poverty. There are hurdles of difficulties, whether they be learning disabilities or whether they be social difficulties within the community that make it more difficult in many ways in this Province to get a good education, to learn well and to get on in life and participate fully in what this country has to offer young people.

So I think that that is the next step, Mr. Chairman, and that is going to be the focus, as soon as we get back in this place after Christmas, to find out whether or not this reform that we all now support, is going to lead to the results that we seek, whether we are going to see the savings that are made go into improving education. That is going to be a challenge for the Minister of Education to fight with his colleagues in Cabinet to make sure that that happens. We are going to be making sure over on this side, that every effort is made to improve the quality of education. I think it is certainly an historic day, Mr. Chairman, to see at least the end of the road on this great effort of school reform.

I want in closing, Mr. Chairman, since the Premier has been so generous in his comments to all members of the House, to me and to the Leader of the Opposition, to make it clear that a large measure of responsibility for what has happened in this Province today as a result of these changes, the credit goes to the Premier, and he deserves it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: It would have been easy for him to carry on, Mr. Chairman, and say that the job had been done or had been attempted and we had gone as far as the people of Newfoundland were prepared to go, and not take on the challenge, but he did not do that, Mr. Chairman, he quite correctly and responsibly said that there was a process in place here leading to reform of the school system. A process could not take place without further measures being taken and he took upon himself the challenge and provided leadership at a time when leadership was required. Now, I have said this before so I am not trying to gild the lily. I have said before, Mr. Chairman, publicly, and I say today that the Premier deserves credit for providing the kind of leadership that was needed on that issue at the correct time which has brought us to the position we are in today.

I look forward to the challenges of the future, Mr. Chairman, and I am sure that members opposite would hope and expect that anybody with an interest in education would continue their interest, whether they be leaders in the Catholic faith or the Pentecostal faith or other religions that have a great interest in education, that that leadership and that interest in that direction would continue to try to make the new system work for the benefit of all students.

I encourage them, as well, to do that today. I also hope and expect that members opposite would want and expect members on this side of the House to challenge the government in every way they can to improve the system to the maximum possible for the benefit of all students of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if we could just stay in our seats for a minute without calling any other business while the Opposition House Leader perhaps confers with one of his colleagues over there?

May I have that mike turned off, please?

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I would like for members to be quiet and the Opposition House Leader to listen so that there is no misunderstanding.

We are assuming at the moment that we are in Committee of the Whole on the Education bill, whichever number that is -

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill 41.

MR. TULK: Bill 41. I think we have said that the Opposition critic on Education wishes to make a few points and then if the Minister of Education wishes to make a few points we will close the debate. If the Member for -

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, no, but I am saying, if the -

PREMIER TOBIN: We will come back to that bill where we left off.

MR. HARRIS: But I am just assuming that (inaudible) -

PREMIER TOBIN: He is asking, yes.

MR. TULK: I am asking, that is all; I am assuming that you will agree.

Do you want to speak on this on behalf of your Party as well?

MR. HARRIS: I just spoke.

MR. TULK: But, would you like to speak -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no need to make a motion, (inaudible) make a motion to suspend these proceedings.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman -

MR. HARRIS: Why do you not just have a recess?

MR. TULK: Yes okay, we will do that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The House will recess for five minutes.

 

Recess

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I am not assuming, only because I have had conversations with the Leader of the NDP and the Opposition House Leader, that the closure motion we are now into in Committee, will not, in any way, be affected by what we are about to do. Right?

MR. E. BYRNE: `Beaton', continue on.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman -

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi seems to have some problems.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, let us go ahead and discuss it, and close 'er down at six o'clock and go for supper.

MR. TULK: What we want to do here, quite simply is, by unanimous consent - and we can do anything by unanimous consent in this House, we all assume that. And by unanimous consent, what we want to do, is not to affect what is happening with the closure motion in any way, to have the Member for St. John's South speak, to have the Minister of Education speak and close the debate, to have the vote put in Committee on all clauses of the bill, then to rise the Committee, call in the Speaker, do third reading and then come back into Committee as we are now.

Now, is that agreeable with all members of the House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. TULK: So let us have the Member for St. John's South rise in his place and speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Well, if he wants to speak - and then the other thing we have agreed to is that we will go past six o'clock, if he speaks for ten minutes and the Minister of Education speaks for ten and we call in the Speaker, then we will add that on - we will still take half-an-hour or so when we are finished, and come back again. Right?

CHAIR: Is it the understanding of the Chair that an agreement has been reached that is acceptable to all members of the House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I will call Bill 41 for Committee.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Order number, Mr. Government House Leader?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order 26, Bill 41, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province".

Shall Clause 1 carry?

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am pleased to rise to make a few brief comments with respect to Bill 41, the Schools Act 1997 which, in effect, amends the Schools Act which was brought before this Legislature approximately one year ago.

We had an opportunity at the time of second reading to make some very preliminary comments and I guess, most of what would be appropriate to say at this time, was said that time by myself and by other speakers.

Mr. Chairman, what this Act does, essentially is, it removes from the old Schools Act the references to the Denominational Education Committee and, in essence, the presence of the structured denominational education provisions as were found in the previous legislation.

Also, in a general sense, this Act removes the formation of a construction board, which, of course, was an important provision of the original schools Act. That particular provision is now removed, Mr. Chairman, and now such authority is given to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Mr. Chairman, there are certain features of this legislation which are indeed important. For example, under Section 10(2): "A parent of a student in a school may request of the school principal, giving the principal reasonable notice, that a religious observance be held in the school."

Under Section 10(3): "A principal of a school shall, in accordance with the by-laws of the board, comply with a request of a parent with respect to a religious observance."

So, that particular provision is obviously in keeping with the wishes of the majority of the people of this Province when they spoke loudly and clearly during the recent referendum.

Another feature of the legislation which is obviously important and I guess is in the legislation as a direct response to the uproar that was witnessed in our Province over the past twelve to eighteen months, is that having to do with the whole idea of school closures.

There is a provision which that states that notwithstanding Section 75(1) of the section, a board may close a school only after parents of students affected have been given an opportunity to make representations to the board - obviously, an important provision, because it allows the parents of this Province to at least have some say. However, I say to the minister that the only caution I have with respect to this section is that we hope it is not just paying lip-service and allowing parents to come in and make representations without any real meaningful consideration being given by the decision-makers as to which schools in which communities are in fact scheduled to be closed.

It is unfortunate that this section does not go on to say that a board must take into account those representations, must take into account the arguments that are being made by parents, and this authority has been given now under this section and it allows parents to make the necessary representations. But if the board may take into account those representations, we would perhaps see a much more meaningful role being taken by the parents of our Province when, in fact, as a result of a reduced population or declining enrolment or whatever, there is some concern that schools in fact may close.

So, it is an important feature of this Act and it is one which at least allows parents to have some say. To what extent that say will be respected and considered by the board remains to be seen; and, as I said, that is perhaps a weakness which has to be brought to the attention of the minister in his discussions, I think, in closing debate on this particular Act.

I had an opportunity to discuss with the minister the provisions under Section 121, dealing with the abolition of the Denominational Education Commission, and there is there under subsection (2) an indication that: "Money and other property of the commission are the property of the Crown".

It is my understanding from clarification having been given to me by the minister, that we are talking essentially about chattels and equipment within that definition of property, as opposed to real estate or reality which, because of the ambiguity of the section, it is not clear as to exactly what is meant by that particular wording.

Mr. Chairman, this whole process has been for many people a very difficult process. It has been painful, I would say, when we review what the people of this Province have witnessed with respect to the whole process of educational reform. However, this is a day which will, I am sure, be remembered by many in our Province as a very important, significant day in the development of educational reform in our Province. We see now at least the last legal hurdle, at least from a parliamentarian point of view. That last hurdle now having been overcome and, as other speakers have mentioned, we must now put the past behind us. We have been given a mandate by the people of our Province to put the past behind us and we are now in a position that we must look forward to ensuring that the young people of our Province are given a system, an educational system, which allows them to be given the best educational opportunity possible to ensure that their potential is reached and to ensure that the rights of our young people are respected at every possible opportunity.

So, Mr. Chairman, with those few brief comments, we, on this side - I suppose the word `celebrate' is perhaps not inappropriate. We at least take some solace in the fact that the process is now complete. We have crossed the most important hurdles, and what is now important is that we all, as all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, all as educators and as parents and as elected school board officials in due course, we all respect the rights of our young people to ensure that their best interests are protected at all costs to ensure that their educational well-being is uppermost in all of our minds.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

They are unnecessarily prolonging my intervention here with these things. I will, Mr. Chairman, be sending over a copy of Hansard from a couple of days ago when the hon. the Member for Kilbride referenced where I might be going next, and the Premier has a note of that. I will be reminding the Premier of his kind commentary today, as well, when he -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: Now, Mr. Chairman, I think the very fact that we are at this point in time in Committee of the Whole, expediting the passage of this bill, again is a tribute to the ability and the willingness of the elected members of this House to rise completely above any political partisanship on areas of public interest and public policy, when we have understood that the will of the people of the Province has been clearly expressed, and that we are not going to stand in the way of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who want this to occur.

It will be an absolute pleasure for myself, Mr. Chairman, and succeeding education ministers over the years long after people like us, who are in this Chamber, are gone and doing something else - it will be an absolute pleasure to see them facing the challenges of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide under the new administrative regime that will be in place, quality education for the students of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think all of us understand, Mr. Chairman, that we have had to spend far too long, in the last five or six years, dealing with issues of governance and legislation, and I think it is fair to say that it has taken a little bit away from the effort we should be putting into quality education opportunities and the focus on that for our children.

I just to make this comment again, Mr. Chairman, because the leaders of the three parties represented here spoke volumes in terms of the comments that are on the record with respect to the commendation for the passage of this in the full Parliament of Canada and the treatment of it here.

The only thing from a personal point of view - give this comparison: a couple of years ago, I was involved as education minister in a community, and I was in a community hall, where people were saying, `You are not leaving this hall. We will not let you out.' The thought crossed my mind: why would I want to be here on my own birthday being attacked by very angry, upset citizens because of a decision affecting the education system that they did not like? I like the fact that they keep challenging the government to provide quality opportunities but, today, Mr. Chairman, I am hoping to leave, when we recess for supper for a little while, because this happens to be my own daughter's twentieth birthday. I will remember it always, of course, for my daughter's twentieth birthday, but the coincidence won't go without being marked in your own mind that on her twentieth birthday the system changed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: I think it is great in this context, Mr. Chairman, because I remember very well her fifth year when she went to school, after three or four years in a day care with all of her friends, of all denominations - they played, they were neighbours and everything else - they cried at the bus stop when they had to go to three different schools because they did not understand why. I think now, on her twentieth birthday, I will be able to go home and say: It won't happen. Your children won't have to go through that. I think that is the beauty of the whole thing.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

CHAIR: Order, please!

A bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province." (Bill No. 41).

On motion, clauses 1 through to 129 carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I think it is understood that we will rise the committee, do third reading and then after we have done third reading, go to supper and come back, and assume that we had never left.

Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise and report a great deal of progress.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill No. 41 passed without amendment and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I call third reading of Bill No. 41.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Operation Of Schools In The Province," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, maybe we should come back at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The house is recessed.

 

Recess

 

The House resumed sitting at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would move that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at 10:00 p.m.

All those in favour, aye.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, nay.

Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I believe, by agreement, we said that we would come back in Committee as we were before. I would move that the House now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole.

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

 

Committee of the Whole

 

CHAIR (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Bill 48, Committee of the Whole, An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act.

CHAIR: Bill No. 48, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act No. 2."

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Minister of Education isn't here now. I would like to congratulate him on his accomplishment with the education act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: I think it is admirable that this House listened to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now I'm asking that this House listen again to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I don't know how many calls, faxes and e-mails are coming in on that side of the House, but I know we have been inundated with them. Even when we broke for supper, when I went up there were a couple of calls there on my desk, and more faxes continue to come in.

I know that there are some people in the Province who don't care one way or the other, and I know that there are many, many, many people in the Province who don't want Sunday shopping. I haven't heard anybody yet say: My goodness, isn't it great, we are going to have Sunday shopping.

I suppose every now and again if the stores are open on Sundays we will find it a convenience to run and get a tin of cream or cranberry sauce, or whatever it is that you ran out of or you forgot to get at the supermarket during the week. Then we will be doing that small convenience store on the corner out of business, because they keep themselves open seven days a week for us. While most of us are enjoying Sunday, somebody, the mom or the dad or some member of the family who owns that convenience store, is operating that convenience store for our convenience. They don't want the rest of the big stores open on Sunday.

The mom who is a single mother, who has a couple of children who are in school all week while she works, and then she probably gets Saturday off, you can be sure she isn't going to get Saturday and Sunday off. She will go to Sobey's or Zellers and she will work for $6.50 an hour and pay a baby-sitter $5 an hour to take care of her children while she works on Sunday. She can refuse to work on Sunday, I suppose, but then she would lose her job. What choice does that mother have? What will that do to the quality of her family life, and what will that do to erode family life?

Then from May to September there are many, many, many families in this Province who look forward to their long weekends. We have the gravel-pit campers. I think there is even a song named after the gravel-pit campers. They look forward from one year to the next to their 24th of May weekend. Will they come in from the gravel pit to go to work on Sunday or will we just cancel the 24th of May weekend, and will we cancel the Labour Day weekend and the Memorial Day weekend?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you support gravel-pit camping?

MS S. OSBORNE: Sure.

Or they can go to the provincial parks. I bet you, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation will tell you that whether they are privatized or whether they are government operated, those provincial parks are full on the 24th of May weekend, on the July 1st weekend, on the Labour Day weekend and the Orangeman's Day weekend. They probably won't be anymore, and if they do unfortunately the family unit that would have been there, with the mom or the dad, will not be a unit because one of them will be out working on that Sunday, doing a four-hour shift probably, from two until six or whatever on Sunday afternoon. That will ruin the whole weekend. When it comes to Christmas, will we have the stores open if Christmas Day falls on Sunday?

I think the government should have a long, hard look at what they are doing and they should listen to the people who are calling, listen to the people who are e-mailing, listen to the people who are faxing. Now, there are not a lot of them present in the galleries because they are working now. This is a busy time of the year, which probably means that they have been blind-sided at the rush of this bill at this particular time of the year. It was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, boy, I am expecting them.

Anyway, those people who are out working in the stores, none of them is in favour of it. I had a call today from a small store owner in the Village Mall and he said he personally visited all the small stores in the Village Mall; none of those small stores are in favour of Sunday shopping. They only have a certain budget for salary and they are not going to get any more revenue, because the people who are shopping, if they are going in to buy a suit of clothes, because the stores are opened on Sunday does not mean that they are going to buy an extra suit of clothes on Sunday. What they have to buy they will buy between Monday and Saturday. So it does not bring any more revenue into that store, but they still have to pay somebody for the extra hours that they are open on Sunday, which means that their staff will be spread out, staggered, split shift.

The grocery stores, the supermarkets, will pick up a small bit of business on Sunday from the people who are going there to pick up what they forgot to get during the week, but I am sure that it would not make an appreciable difference and they will still have the expenses of being open on Sunday. If I have a grocery budget and, under normal circumstances, I buy my groceries some time between Monday and Saturday, my grocery budget will not be stretched if that store is opened on Sunday. I will not have one extra cent to spend. So, it will not benefit me, it is not going to benefit the small stores, it is not going to benefit the major chains because the people only have the same amount of money to spend whether the stores are opened six days or seven days.

Who will be affected, however, are, as I previously mentioned, families, single mothers. The children will be affected because they will not get to spend that quality time with their parents. The crafts people will be affected. I know there are some families who have craft booths at the flea markets and they spend all week long crocheting, knitting, making their cookies or doing their wood-crafting, and they open their stall in the flea market on Sunday and they make enough money to keep them going; not an enormous amount of money, but enough money to keep them going.

In many cases, this keeps that family off the system, because they are probably under employed and they would be living below the poverty line if they were to depend on their regular salary. The few dollars they make because of the crafts they prepare during the week help them to extend their budget, gives them a few extra dollars to bring into the home, and extends their quality of life. So those people will be affected.

Craft stores will be affected in another way. I guess if somebody has forgotten to get a gift during the week, and they suddenly remember: Uh-oh, it's Aunt So-and-so's birthday, well, they will run off to the craft store on Sunday and pick up a gift. Now with the malls open they will succumb to the temptation - I would - to go into the mall and pick up that gift.

MR. TULK: You are not going Sunday shopping?

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, boy.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what you just said.

MS S. OSBORNE: That is what I said, I would succumb to the temptation. That is what I said. I won't be unlike any other person. If the malls were closed and the craft stores were open, then I would go to the craft store and I would be putting more business into our Newfoundlanders rather than putting it into Wal-Mart or one of them which can ship the money out of Newfoundland with the Newfoundlanders who we are shipping out of Newfoundland.

They are a convenience, and we all succumb to temptation, and that is why they should be closed. On Sunday we should lead us not into temptation, because it is Sunday. We should have the bigger stores closed, we should be giving our Newfoundland crafts people an opportunity, our small store owners an opportunity.

The majority of retailers who will be governed by this legislation are quite satisfied with the present situation; I have to tell you that. Otherwise they would have lobbied for these changes long, long, long ago. I don't think any of the stakeholders have been consulted in this process, and that is contrary to what the Red Book said in the February 1996 general election. The Red Book said that this government would have a consultation process with the people. They have not been consulted. I can guarantee you, these people are consulting us, and they are making representation. We have eons of names on petitions. They just didn't sign it for the sake of signing it. They made up formal petitions, did a letter, signed it. All of us have gotten loads of these. Unfortunately, we don't get the opportunity to present them in the House because that gets stifled.

Some of the members on the other side have accused us of holding up this House by carrying on this silly filibuster to hold up Sunday shopping. I'm going to tell you that I don't consider standing in this House, representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who have made representation to us to speak on their behalf, to be a bit silly. If you think we are using up good House time, we have all the month of January, you can call us in any time. We will debate any bill with you. You don't have to close this House today or tomorrow. You can recess this House and bring us back in here in January.

We aren't holding up debate. We didn't tell you that we want to be out of here today or tomorrow. When we do want to be out of here, you don't need to close it, you can recess. That will make us happy, because that way we will be representing the people of the Province as we are when we stand to speak against Sunday shopping.

As I said, I turn a deaf ear to the people over there who say that we are wasting House time. I am not wasting House time when I'm standing here on behalf of the people who have called, faxed, e-mailed, and begged us: Stick to it, stick to what you are doing. We do not want the stores open on Sunday. It is going to erode our way of life. It will create too much of a hardship on us. There aren't any people in favour of Sunday shopping whom I've heard of.

As I said, there might be some people out there who say: Doesn't matter. Well, so what? But there are no people who have called and said: I want the stores open on Sunday. Please go down in that House of Assembly and vote to have the stores open on Sunday. It hasn't happened, but we have heard from all the people who don't want them open. Many of them are our constituents, and many of them are constituents of the hon. members on the other side. I'm afraid that these hon. members are turning a deaf ear. It is too bad that the people can't be served on the Sunday shop closing act as well as they were served on the education act, I would say.

In many cases, both mother and father are employed in the retail sector, and the likelihood of them both having the same Sundays off is not great. The chance of the family having a day together with mother and father dwindle with the shops being open on Sunday. As a person who made representation to me when he sent me an e-mail said: I certainly hope that the government is planning on more social workers. They are going to need them to deal with the problems that will arise because of the erosion of family life. Our children have enough pressures on them now from their peers. When they can gel together on Sunday at Sunday dinner, at a barbecue on Sunday, Sunday get-togethers with the family, or a Sunday outing, it is good for them. It is psychologically good for the children. Now when they are devoid of that they have nothing to look forward to, nothing to grasp onto, no family life, no sense of family, no sense of a unit. They are all part of the family, but some people are working on Sunday and the kids are in school during the week. Then Dad is busy painting or whatever on Saturday. The Sunday, the one day they look forward to having the day off to spend with their family, is gone from them.

Sunday shopping will be the removal of a family day. Sunday provides a breathing spell for people by removing commercial and employment pressure. It will certainly add a lot of stress to families.

I'm once again glancing over the letters that have come in. One person in his e-mail to me said: Twelve hours each day, six days of each week, is enough for anybody to shop. Nobody will be inconvenienced by the stores being closed on Sunday because there are seventy-two hours a week that the stores are open. Major supermarkets are open, in many cases, twenty-four hours a day.

We are not opening it for a convenience for anybody, because nobody works seventy-two hours a week. Maybe some politicians work seventy-two hours a week, and particularly this week, but there are no people who work seventy-two hours a week. So where retail stores are open seventy-two hours a week, they are always open some time that people are off. Supermarkets, which are open twenty-four hours a day, are always open at some period when people are off.

The small locally owned businesses are really going to suffer if the stores remain open on Sunday. The major chains will take the money and send it out of the Province, and the money that could have been kept in the Province by the continuous opening of the small businesses, that money would have been kept in the Province and now it is going out of the Province. Sundays should be a day off for family, recreation or religious purposes.

A person suggested in his e-mail that the percentage of businesses now open on Sunday, as presented by the hon. Minister of Environment and Labour, is certainly suspect. His question is whether there is data available to support his comment. So what I am asking is that this House, which still has time to do so, have another look at this bill and lift closure on this bill. On behalf of the mom and dad businesses, on behalf of the small businesses, on behalf of families that want the stores to be closed on Sunday, I am asking that the government have another look at this bill and kindly keep the stores closed on Sunday on behalf of these people.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

Mr. Chairman, again today I rise in my place to represent the views of, by far, the majority of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador, not only in my district but in the districts of every member on that side of the House. By far the majority of people in Newfoundland and Labrador oppose Sunday shopping, not only the constituents, Mr. Chairman, but the businesses also.

Now I have to refer to a few words that the Minister of Education said here in this House of Assembly yesterday. I have them highlighted here, a few of them. He talked about a certain person in this House - now, I won't even get into that. Let me see now - they went around knocking on doors like the rest of us for three or four weeks in an election, knocking on the doors saying: I want to be your member so I can represent you. Now, Mr. Chairman, talk about representing people's views in this House of Assembly. Every one of the members on this side of the House have been up over the past week or so talking about and representing the views of the people in this Province, but we have yet to see anybody on that side of the House get up and speak in favour of Sunday shopping in this Province. I wonder why? I have asked that question and every member on this side of the House has asked that question, Mr. Chairman, including the Member for Signal Hill -Quidi Vidi.

MR. BARRETT: I had one e-mail.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, we have the Member for Bellevue over there saying he had one e-mail. Well, can we produce some of the petitions that we have here? Speaking of petitions, all kinds of petitions, petitions galore, and letters from businesses with 400 and 500 people working for them.

I had a phone call this morning, Mr. Chairman, 8:30 a.m. when I was going through the door. I had a lady almost in tears saying: Keep up working on what you are doing with respect to Sunday shopping. She said: I have to work 35 hours a week. I am just above the minimum wage and I have to work 35 hours a week. I have to work six days a week to get my 35 hours. She said: What is going to happen is that I will now have to work seven days a week. She said: I will have to quit my job. Seven days a week she said she will have to work, seven days a week.

MR. BARRETT: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well it depends on how much time you put in each day, I say to the Member for Bellevue. Oh, yes, yes. Don't give me that.

Mr. Chairman, we are in the midst of a debate here that I honestly thought the government would back off on. When they saw the Opposition mount to this bill, I thought the government would back off and see the mistakes, see the error in their ways; but no, they are going full force ahead, bullish ahead, to try and get this legislation through the House of Assembly.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the Opposition is doing their job and let me guarantee you that we will do our job. We have had numerous petitions in this House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman, and the government has even tried to stop us from presenting petitions in this House of Assembly. It is not unusual to see three and four petitions presented on a given day in this House of Assembly. What does the Government House Leader do, Mr. Chairman, when we are up presenting petitions? They permitted one the other day and I think we got away with two today. It is morally wrong for the government to be doing this. They are trying to be bullish, to stifle the debate on this, but we as an Opposition will give constructive criticism to government; that is our job. We have done it in the past and we will do it again.

We still don't understand why the government will not listen to us on this issue. It is not only us who are opposing this. We will continue to do everything which is within the rules and regulations of the House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman, to try and prevent this legislation from going through.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the Government House Leader brought in closure on this bill. The Opposition House Leader referred to this in an interview yesterday, in a scrum yesterday, that the abuse of authority in this House of Assembly in the past nine years is actually ridiculous, with respect to bringing in closure motions on debate in this House of Assembly. It has been exaggerated to the extreme over the past year and a half, since this new Premier and this new administration was elected to this House of Assembly. On everything that they don't want to be fully debated, they will bring closure in, use their pressure, use their force to try and mussel us.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) paper today.

MR. J. BYRNE: It was wasn't it? The only thing wrong with the picture in the paper today was the person next to me.

Mr. Chairman, the questions that we have been asked. Yesterday in this House of Assembly - now we know that the Speaker ruled on it with what he felt to be correct, but I have to comment on it. Because I believe what happened yesterday - it was a Private Members' Day, there was nothing to be discussed, no government business to be discussed yesterday; it was a Private Members' Day.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, we did not get the questions on yesterday that we wanted to get. Again we were stifled at the whim of the Government House Leader, as far as I am concerned, and we did not get our questions on yesterday. We couldn't bring them forward today, of course, because we didn't want to have a repeat of yesterday.

Mr. Chairman, the members on the other side of the House decided to try and make an issue of us leaving here yesterday, but the phone calls I received on this issue since yesterday afternoon were: Keep up the good work, continue doing what you are doing, pull every rule and regulation in the book with respect to the rulings of the House of Assembly, use everything you can to stop this'. So, Mr. Chairman, what we did yesterday - and the Minister of Education was talking about it here yesterday, about how we left the Member for Bonavista South to the wolves over there. He didn't use those words, they are my words.

What we did yesterday was political strategy. We knew what we had to do, we had to leave someone here because if everybody had walked out of here - everybody wanted to leave, but the Government House Leader would have had his way; he would have pushed everything through this House of Assembly yesterday while we were gone. We know the way that ministers thinks, I can guarantee you that.

Anyway, it worked out alright, we delayed it for another day. What else?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, the Minister of Education said they were elected to represent the people in this Legislature. Now, those are his words: Something has set in and I think it has set right into the inner part of their bones. Well, Mr. Chairman, if there is something set into us, into the inner part of our bones, let me tell you, I wish it would set into that crowd over there, because then they would start to represent the views of the people of this Province. If they could catch something from us, I hope it is what the Minister of Education was talking about.

Now, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, he looked pretty good today, almost as good as I did in the picture. I made him look good in the picture today, side by side. Side by side today, the two of us, Mr. Chairman, and I have to say I looked a bit better. In The Evening Telegram, side by side with yourself. They had me first, of course. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was complaining the other day that they haven't had a scrum since I was his critic. I asked him a question yesterday, and, sure enough, in the paper.

Now, let me see. Yes, as I said, the members opposite, if they could only catch whatever the Minister of Education was talking about with respect to us, it would be alright, and I'm sure this bill would never go through his House of Assembly. Hopefully, there will be certain members on that side of the House stand to oppose this legislation when it is voted on, I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Maybe he might. He might withdraw it by the time we are finished. We have a long night ahead of us, there is no doubt about that.

Again I ask the question of the Government House Leader - I asked the Premier the other day there when he was in his chair: Why is this legislation necessary? Who will benefit from this legislation? Either they don't know or there is some hidden agenda here that we don't know about. There are all kinds of assumptions that can be made, and I'm sure there are people in this Province who have all kinds of ideas, all kinds of assumptions as to why this legislation is being brought forth, but we have yet to get an answer as to why this is necessary.

What was the reason? Yes, one of the reasons that has been given, I think, by the Government House Leader, is that the act that is in place now is hard to enforce. Can you believe that? What a weak, weak answer; that the act or the legislation in place now can't be enforced.

MR. MERCER: What should be have done?

MR. J. BYRNE: What should we have done? The Member for Humber East, Mr. Chairman, is all the time interjecting when we are up speaking on this bill. We have asked him, Mr. Chairman, I've asked him and other members have, we have begged him, to get on his feet and speak in favour of this legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said, he doesn't know where it is coming from. He told the media that he didn't know where it was coming from.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, the Member for Humber East, I am informed -

MR. MERCER: Sit down, and we will have some of your time.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I will give you some of my time, if the Member for Humber East wants to get up and support this legislation, so I can take copies of it and send it to everybody in his district, send it to every business out there; if he wants to get up and support it. I wonder will he be in the House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman, when the vote comes, because the voting will be recorded, I can guarantee you that. There will be division brought on that, there is no doubt about it.

Mr. Chairman, what I would do with respect to this legislation - and I can tell you that right now - I would take it, if I were sitting in that chair, and just rip it up and throw it away. Because why fix something that isn't broken? The only problem is that they can't enforce the legislation.

Now, why do we have courts? Why do we have legislation in the first place? Why do we have the police? Why do we have all kinds of inspectors? That is what we have to look at. It is foolishness, Mr. Chairman!

I'm going to continue; there is so much to talk about. Who is opposed to it? Let's talk about who is opposed to it. Is the Board of Trade opposed to it? Yes, the Board of Trade is opposed to it. Is labour opposed to it? Yes. Why, I wonder, are they opposed to it? Retailers, Mr. Chairman, are the retailers in this Province - from what I can gather, from the letters and petitions we are getting, yes, they are opposed to it. As I said, who is benefitting? Who is pushing this?

There is another major factor here, and that is job loss. We had a letter today from a business - the Member for Conception Bay South - which says that if this legislation is passed there will actually be job losses. Why will there be job losses? Because he will have to compete on Sundays with the national chains. Yes, there will be job losses, and he said he will have to lay off all his permanent staff and probably hire them back on as part-time. If that is a step forward, I don't know what a step backwards is, Mr. Chairman, I can tell you that.

As I said before, I have numerous petitions here. The Member for Baie Verte has then, the Member for Bonavista South has them, everyone. I can't understand why, Mr. Chairman, petitions that have been sent to members on the other side of the House are not being presented. If the members here are elected to represent their constituents, why have they not presented their petitions? That is a good question. I wonder why?

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have to say this, in all honesty and sincerity: I have been in this House of Assembly for almost five years. We were here through the debates for hydro, we were here through the debates for education reform and other pretty important issues at the time, and I have yet to get the number of calls, letters, faxes on a topic as we have gotten on this one here. That is the fact of the matter. I would say that any other member on this side of the House would agree with me and say the same thing. It behooves me to understand why members on the other side of the House are not getting these. I can't understand it. The only thing I can see, Mr. Chairman, is that the public out there now obviously know that if they want representation in this House of Assembly they have to come to the Opposition. That is what the answer must be. That is all I can understand it to be, Mr. Chairman. They are not going to be represented by members on the opposite side of the House. They are not going to get up and speak to this bill and say they are in favour of it and why they are in favour of it. They have yet to do it. How many hours have we been discussing this now, I say to the House Leader.

MR. TULK: About twenty-three now.

MR. J. BYRNE: Twenty-three hours discussing this and nobody on that side of the House, Mr. Chairman, has stood up and spoke in favour of this. The Minister of Justice was on his feet yesterday discussing another bill. The Minister of Education was on his feet with a bunch of dribble when he talked about what we were doing here in the House of Assembly, but not to give reasons as to why this is wanted, why it is needed, who is pushing it, who wants it; none of that, nothing at all.

I see I have a note here that I only have twenty minutes left, so I will have to start to get to the points I want to make.

We have asked, in this House of Assembly, for a six-month delay, a six-month hoist, Mr. Chairman, but no it was voted down by the members on the other side of the House. They would not go along with that.

This administration, during the last election, talked about consultation. Where is the consultation? No consultation on this issue. As a matter of fact, when the Minister of Employment and Labour was asked in the media who he consulted he said: No one. I have consulted with no one.

Now, Mr. Chairman, how does that apply to this legislation when the Premier of this Province went out and asked for votes, like I did and every other member on this side of the House in the last election, and said: There will be a corner stone of his administration where he will consult with the people of this Province. Not likely! Not happening, Mr. Chairman, not at all!

Mr. Chairman, it was also suggested last spring, I think it was last May or June, that we would have a trial basis, that the government would look at a trial basis of this type of situation, where they would bring in Sunday shopping and see how it worked. I mean, I still have problems with it, but maybe there is a possibility where they can look again at who will benefit from it. They would see if it is a good thing, if it is a bad thing, if they should have left it alone or if the retailers would benefit or the general public will benefit from it; but no, no, can't do that. There is some hidden reason.

Now, it has been suggested that maybe this can be hooked to another piece of legislation that has not come before this House, that has been talked about but not brought in. Maybe that is the case, that the large multi-nationals, if the other piece of legislation came or the other bill and was passed, could make contributions to certain parties in the Province, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. J. BYRNE: There is no need to get into that; who. I mean, if you can't figure out who.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, it depends on any given situation, but it could open the doors for large multi-national corporations who have the bucks to make donations to certain parties and/or individuals for their future, Mr. Chairman. Will that person's future be here in the Province? Is there a great, big campaign thrust chest being put in place to help some individual to rise to a certain level of - what would be the right word here now? Let us just say that they are looking for a campaign trail a couple of years down the road, Mr. Chairman, to look for higher sights, higher goals, Mr. Chairman, in their minds.

Now that is something that has been put out there, that is a possibility. I am not saying that is a fact but it certainly is a possibility, Mr. Chairman.

Before I sit down - I know I do not have much time left - I have to say -

MR. H. HODDER: Well, keep on going.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh I am going to the bitter end on this, I can guarantee you that, right to the bitter end on this one. I cannot believe -

MR. MERCER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I have to say to the Member for Humber East: Buddy, if you were as solid as I am, you would have no worries, I can guarantee you that.

When I came into this House of Assembly first, there were members on that side of the House who said to me - and I can name them - your first election is the easy one, the second time around is the hardest one, okay? I have gone through that. The Member for Humber East has not gone through it, so I would say, if the Member for Humber East was as solid now, Mr. Chairman, in every sense of the word that this member is, he would be doing alright for himself.

Now before I sit down, again I want to ask the members on that side of the House to get up and speak in favour of this bill and tell us why they support the bill. We would like the Premier or the Government House Leader to get up and tell us who is going to benefit from this bill, Mr. Chairman. I want him to answer the questions: Who is pushing this bill? Who is asking for this legislation to go through the House? Then we will see who will benefit in the long haul.

I can guarantee you it won't be the lady who phoned me this morning at 8:30 p.m. in tears, wanting this to be stopped because she will end up having to work seven days a week. She is not going to benefit, I can guarantee you that, and a lot of her counterparts are not going to benefit by any stretch of the imagination, Mr. Chairman.

The actual general public - I mean, our way of life, our traditions are being changed all the time. Now I am not against change, I am not against progress, Mr. Chairman, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not see this as a step in that direction.

I read somewhere today - yes, in one of the letters that we received, an open letter to the Liberals actually, saying that we have succeeded here, have lived on this Island since 1497 without Sunday shopping. We have survived it. Why do we need to change it now?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

CHAIR: No leave granted.

MR. J. BYRNE: None at all? Are you sure?

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise tonight to say a few words on Bill 48, The Shops Closing Act.

Mr. Chairman, here we are, on the eve of Christmas once again, in this House debating legislation. Very few people wanted to be here, Mr. Speaker, and very few people would have to be here if this particular bill was introduced to the Legislature in the proper way.

The Government House Leader has used his committees here in this House -

MR. H. HODDER: We could have been closed now if he had not been so foolish yesterday.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would imagine he knew before the House opened that such a bill was going to be introduced. If he had taken this particular bill at that time, tabled it and put it before one of the committees of the House, let them go out and have their hearings - maybe they could have had it just in St. John's, maybe they could have gone and visited some of the major centres - seek out people's opinions, seek out people's views, Mr. Chairman, talk to the small business owners, there is no reason that this would be happening right now. If the people wanted Sunday shopping to happen, then it would come back to this Legislature clear and loud. It would come back that this is the will of the people and nobody here would oppose Bill 48. Instead, what they have done is come in on the eve of Christmas, introduce a piece of legislation, that he knows is contentious, bring it forward, wear people down, open the Legislature in the night-time, introduce closure, stifle debate - do not ask questions, do not present petitions - ram it through, Mr. Chairman, ram it through and get our own way because it is something we believe in.

It is something, Mr. Chairman, that two or three people on the other side believe in, because I can assure you that if people on that side were allowed a free vote, if people on that side were allowed to get up and stand with the people that they are supposed to represent - if the people on that side were allowed to do that, I can tell you that this bill would never see the light of day. Bill 48 would die on the Order Paper. I am not so sure but it will die.

We saw something happen in this House here today, when the Premier came back. You notice today that it was a different day - different from the last two or three days. The Government House Leader did not have his own way. He was not allowed to get up and say this is going to happen, something else is going to happen. The Premier was there keeping him back in his seat: `Hold on now. Hold on. Let us talk to them. Let us ask the Opposition. There are other people here, let us listen to them.' Everything went very smoothly. We went up and had our dinner. We had an hour for dinner tonight, Mr. Chairman. If the Premier were not here, I doubt if this House would have closed for dinner - I doubt it very much.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, I know.

MR. FITZGERALD: You know that it would have, or it would not?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is on a diet. He does not care if (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: He is not on a diet. I say to the minister opposite that the Government House Leader is certainly not on a diet. If he is, it is not working. The fat cat of the Liberals!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I would not want to be on the same diet that the fat cat of the Liberal Party is on. When I see him get up, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, he always reminds me of something. I am not sure what it is. It was only the other day that something flashed in my mind when he got up to speak. His big stomach was hanging out, and I said, now I know what he reminds me of. The Member for Humber Valley is looking and he knows very well what I am talking about. When we were growing up we used to go out and cut hay. The way that we would transport hay from the garden to the barn would be in a hay brin. You would put the hay brin on your back or carry it in front of you and you would have this big `pook' of hay. That is like the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, with the big pouch in front of him there, and I can guarantee you, it is a strain on those braces. It is such a strain on those suspenders that if they ever let go and hit him across the chin, he will not know if we are here or where we are. Game over, Mr. Chairman. He will be suspended. But he is looking good. I cannot say too much about him, but he is a very cantankerous House Leader. He has gotten the House off the tracks. He has gotten it off the tracks.

If the Premier had stayed home, we would be home now. We would be home with our families. We would be out shopping, Mr. Chairman; we would be buying gifts for our families; we would be decorating the Christmas tree; we would be going and picking up some Christmas cheer. We would be into the festive season. We would be enjoying the festive season. But we are going to be here tonight, we are going to be here tomorrow, and by the time that those bells are finished ringing, I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that the telephones will be disconnected in members' houses this Christmas, because they will be tired of hearing bells. Santa Claus will not be around wearing bells - we will be tired of hearing bells.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Because if the Premier were not here, I can guarantee you, on Bill 41, you would have heard the bells ringing 123 times.

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No we are not. I am telling you right now, `Ralph', she's off the tracks, she's on the rocks, she's come ashore, she's gone!

Now, Mr. Chairman, what is happening here on the eve of Christmas Eve is nothing short of shameful, to go against the will of the people. I went to the fax machine today and this particular fax was on the fax machine that we use - we only have one between ten or twelve people - and I would like to read it to you, because I do not know how it got on our fax machine. It is an open memo to all Liberal MHAs, that is what it reads, that is the way it came in, but it was on our fax machine. I would like to read to you what it says: `Is there anyone of all you Liberal MHAs with enough guts to oppose Bill 48?' That is the first sentence. `Surely, all of you cannot be in agreement with this bill. Speak up and tell who wants this bill passed. I have yet to speak to anyone who favours Sunday shopping, relatives, friends or strangers. Please, please, put an end to this bill which seems to be raising its ugly head every now and again.' It goes on - this is a phrase from the Bible: `In six days, I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky and the seas and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested.' It goes on with Deuteronomy, verse 11, chapter 5. The last sentence: `We have survived since 1947 without Sunday shopping - why do we have to start now?' There is a name to it, I will not say the person's name, because I guess all of you people must have gotten it. Well, it came in on our fax machine, so I would like to pass it over to the Government House Leader now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Private members are not allowed to table things.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I am not tabling it. If you would be so kind as to give it to the Government House Leader, because it is a memo that should have gone to every Liberal MHA.

AN HON. MEMBER: Signed `Dora'.

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not know who the lady is, I would not repeat her name, but it is a reflection of what is happening out there, of how people feel about this particular piece of legislation.

I received another letter today that was addressed to the hon. Oliver Langdon, Minister of Environment and Labour, and I will not give this company's name, but I will tell you it is a very reputable company in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a company that has been in business for 105 years. I will read the letter. It says, `Dear Minister, re: Sunday shopping. As a retailer in the Province of Newfoundland, I would like to express my opposition –

CHAIR (Mr. Penney): Order, please!

The hon. member is permitted to quote from or refer to letters, but the hon. member is not permitted to read the letters into the record.

MR. SULLIVAN: Just quote it and paraphrase the rest.

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay, Mr. Chairman, I will just take one sentence at a time there and then I will go on to something else.

Mr. Chairman, as a retailer in the Province of Newfoundland, someone who has been in business here in Newfoundland for the past number of years - the company has been 105 years here, has employed hundreds of people here in this Province, presently has thirty five people working for them, has paid taxes, their employees are paying taxes. This business owner hit the nail right on the head. He said, `This unfair legislation opens up yet another door for more of this unfair competition to take place. Huge multi-national firms such as Wal-Mart, CostCo and Zellers, who are strictly profit-driven, are forcing legislators to bow to their wishes.' That is what is happening here. He struck it right on the head, Mr. Chairman, because I can assure you right now that the two companies driving this piece of legislation are exactly the companies right here. But I would add one more to that, our friend, Mr. Irving, who owns Kent Building Supplies. I will add his name to it as well. Those are the ones driving this piece of legislation. The calls that we are getting are from people who live within a two- and three-hour drive from St. John's. What they are seeing happen here is the Price Club opening up on Sundays. They can see Kent Building Supplies opening up on Sundays, Zellers, Wal-Mart. The people will flock into St. John's to those multi-nationals, Mr. Chairman, and spend their money.

If you want to buy your building material out in Carbonear - if Mr. Reid goes out and wants to put up a retirement home, he will take Sunday to come into St. John's and buy his building supplies instead of going to Garland's out in Carbonear. That is what will happen. You talk to Garland's out in Carbonear, see if they are in favour of Sunday shopping. Talk to Chester Dawe's up here and see if they are in favour of Sunday shopping. We are turning our backs on local Newfoundland businesses, businesses that built this Province and employ Newfoundlanders - that is what we are doing - and we are catering to the multi-nationals. We are catering to the group that the Government House Leader referred to the other day, the group with the satellite dishes up on their roofs, Mr. Chairman, that translate all their information to another province, probably to another country. That is what we are dealing with here. They have no feeling for Newfoundlanders, no feeling for local businesses. We are going to kill the local businesses that exist within a two- or three-hour drive from some of those major businesses.

In some places, Mr. Chairman, maybe it is not a big concern. I am not sure. Maybe it is not a big concern. Maybe if you went to the coast of Labrador it probably would not be a concern but I tell you it is a big issue on the Avalon Peninsula. I tell you it is a big issue in Bonavista. I tell you it is a big issue in Bloomfield, in Lethbridge. It is a big issue, because the people who do not want to have their businesses open on Sunday will have no other choice but to open them now. They will have no other choice, and a lot of them will have to lay off employees or take full-time employees and make them temporary part-time.

Members stood here on this side of the House today and talked about a company right here in St. John's who wrote a letter. A good employer who employs - I do not know how many people but it must be ten or fifteen mechanics, sales people and that sort of thing, maybe twenty or twenty-five. Twenty-five jobs is a lot of jobs today, I can guarantee you. His concern was: Look, this piece of legislation is going to mean that I will not have any more full-time employees. That is what it is all about.

One time, if you went to some of those big department stores -if you went to work with Dominion or Sobeys, you had a good job, Mr. Chairman. They paid good money and you were working full-time, but not anymore. Most of those stores now, Mr. Chairman, employ local people, and very few get any more than twenty hours a week, very few. In fact, before the UI went to EI, before the UI system changed where you had to have fifteen hours a week to qualify to get a stamp at the time, most of those people were working fourteen hours a week because the company did not have to pay unemployment insurance. They did not have to pay any benefits. They could get whoever they wanted to come to work for them because we are not privileged to have a lot of economic opportunity here in this Province, and that is what has been happening. We are driving that a step further now. We can say, `Boy, look, we are making a big deal over it now but give it thirty days or sixty days time and people will forget about it. It will be forgotten.

Maybe it will, only time will tell that, but that does not make the decision right, I say to the Government House Leader, that makes it all the more wrong. All we are asking - we are not obstructionist - all we are asking you to do is take the piece of legislation and put it before the appropriate committee of the House, go out have public hearings on it, bring it back again in the Spring when we meet again or come back in January if it is such an important piece of legislation - come back in January and debate it, but give people a chance to voice their opinion.

Is this a House of the people or is it the House of twenty-seven or twenty-eight people? I am not even sure if there are that many over there who agree with it. I have a feeling it is the House of one or two people who dominate the other side and force their views on everybody else and people just fall in line. It should not be done, Mr. Chairman. You come here to represent your constituents, to support local businesses, to try to make the place where those people live and the communities that you represent a little more prosperous. That is why we are here. We are all here for the same reasons I would hope and I am sure that we are, but somehow we get carried away and we jump on the bandwagon because a few of the people who are in control of a particular party or group, say we have to.

Well, Mr. Chairman, it is wrong. The tactics that this government is using in order to get Bill 48 through this House is wrong. We saw people here the other night freezing in their seats. In fact, the Member for Torngat Mountains, a fellow who is used to the cold, knows what it is to be out in the cold, is over there tonight and can hardly speak. He caught the 'flu here in this House last Monday night. There is only one person here who was not cold -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. FITZGERALD: He cannot talk. Usually the Member for Torngat Mountains is the party animal, if there is something on the go he is there, he is out, and if he cannot find someone to dance with him, he will dance by himself - he is the life of the party. Last night he could not get a word out, he was hoarse, his nose was running, he was shivering, he had to go home; he could not enjoy himself at the Speaker's party - dying with the 'flu. We had people here wearing their mitts just to come here and sit and try to protect the people of this Province and stop this government from putting a piece of legislation through that would sound the death-knell for communities and for businesses in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Remember a few years ago - I have to go back to this, because it is something that got a lot of attention here in this House. We talked about the pharmacists, and I brought it up the other night: - they reduced the dispensing fee from $7.59 to $3.59; those figures may not be really accurate, but they are close. The big problem was then that the Wal-Marts and the Dominion stores were all getting into having their own pharmacist, and the big argument was put up whether they should be allowed to tender, or whether they should be allowed to dispense, or that Social Services would use their price and consider it as a base mark for a dispensing fee.

Now, we are going to take it one step further, and I know people out in my area and the Clarenville area who invested their own money and built their own pharmacies and have done - you know, they are surviving, they are not making a big amount of money, but they are employing people, they have a nice little business going.

This is another situation where, when those stores are open on Sunday, it will give them another day for the multi-nationals to pick at what they are doing, to take another few dollars from them. It will mean that they will have to lay off somebody else, probably go out of business. We are supporting the wrong people. But those are the people who are going to make the big political donations, who are going to write out the big cheque, whether it is going to be for the Premier's campaign to be the leader of this country or whether it will be to get his party out of the hole. I do not know how much the Liberal party owes now, but it is a heck of a lot of money. I think Mr. Price Club owner and Mr. Irving are quite capable of writing out a few nice cheques in order to look after the monies that are owed by this particular party. That is what is driving this. That is what it is all about. It is about the Price Club, it is about Zellers, it is about Wal-Mart, it is about Kent Building Supplies. That is what it is all about. That is what it will come down to. This is what people are scared of, and they have every right to be scared. They have every right, Mr. Chairman, to be scared of what is going to happen.

The reason, most business people tell you today, why their businesses are not doing what they did two years ago and four years ago - there are a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons they will tell you is not because there is no money out in rural areas -it is that people have too much time on their hands. People are getting into their cars and they are going to the bigger areas, and it is a day out for them. You cannot blame them for that, and you cannot tell people where they are allowed to spend their money. It is a free country. You cannot control that, and I do not think we should try to control it. All we can do is try to compete, I suppose, and offer a service that would try to keep dollars in our local communities.

What is happening is people are going to the bigger centres and buying their groceries. It is a day out for them. While they are there, they see the doctor, they buy their groceries, they do their banking, and what have you.

Now, they see another day coming into play. They see a day coming into play now where most people - and it is not because - we are not against Sunday shopping because people may have to work on Sundays. That is not what it is all about. There are lots of people who work on Sundays. I have worked on Sundays myself, and was glad to be able to get up and go to work on a Sunday. In most cases I made more money on Sunday than I made on Monday. It is not about that at all. There is no shame -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: There is no shame to work on Sundays.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: What it will do, Mr. Chairman, is take people out of those communities on another day where most people do have a lot of time. It will mean -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - more people are leaving the communities.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I am delighted to get up again tonight and have a few more comments, and some new points I am going to add to this. After all the points I made throughout the day, there is always a new point to be brought up.

AN HON. MEMBER: My! You must have your (inaudible) for Christmas!

MR. SHELLEY: The truth is, I do have my dress for Christmas, I tell the member. I do have another dress for Christmas, as a matter of fact, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: What colour do you have this year, red?

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, I wonder what it was like in their caucus meeting this morning when they went into the caucus room to find they did not have a table to sit at.

AN HON. MEMBER: What!

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible) ask the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile what happened to your table in your caucus room.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SHELLEY: That is why they probably did not have (inaudible) - too smashed. I do not know. You will have to ask the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile all about that, Mr. Chairman.

I wonder what the conversations around caucus and - I heard they had a Cabinet meeting, too, today. I am wondering what the conversations are around there when they start sitting down, quietly by themselves, not in the House of Assembly, and among themselves ask: What should we do about this?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SHELLEY: I am sure you do not know what happened in Cabinet. I do not think you have any worries about being at a Cabinet meeting. You have no fears about that. I do not think the Member for Topsail will have to stay up all night wondering if he is going to be in Cabinet tomorrow. I would say the best chance -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, sure it does. The point that everybody drives home here, Mr. Chairman, that seems like it is common for every single one of us to talk about, is where it comes from. That is the biggest question of all. That is the biggest question overriding - everybody out there that you talk to in the streets: Why is this? Is he doing it for the big store owners? When I heard that said - you know, that is not true either. It is not for the big store owners. Because I heard this morning on Open Line, and somebody in the news - I forget the name of the business, I would not say it anyway, but he does not want to open. It is a bigger business, he does not want to open. He said: We will have to open on Sunday if this passes and we do not want to.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, but that is where the Member for Topsail is wrong. If the Member for Topsail believes that, that is where he does not have a clue about business. That is where the Member for Topsail does not realize about business obviously, Mr. Chairman. He should talk to them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FITZGERALD: They will have to open. Do you mean to tell me, in Clarenville, where you have Save Easy, you have a Dominion Store and you have the Co-op, and if the Co-op decides they are going to open, that the other stores will not open?

MR. SHELLEY: That is why, I say to the Member for Topsail, that he does not understand business. This business said -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, obviously, you must be out of it for a good reason, too, I say to the Member for Topsail. I can see why you are out of business if you thought like that.

This particular store, Mr. Chairman - I will not use the name - were disgusted because they will have to open, I say to the Member for Topsail. Because what happens is that competing businesses will be in business and they have to compete. Right now they compete six days a week and that is fine with them. They do not want to compete on Sunday. He did say, too, Mr. Chairman, as an employer of these people, that the prices will increase because of the simple reason that there is overhead, the electricity, employees on Sunday and so on. It has to increase. Somewhere along the way, the consumer will pay for it. That is what this particular person said who has a big business here in this Province.

They still ask the question, where it all started from and the root of it all. One of the answers that is given is the convenience of being able to go and shop on a Sunday. Now, how many people really, in this room of forty-eight people, say that shopping is so pressing for them that they need Sunday to go shopping? Then on the other side almost answers the question that they are asking, themselves, because they say, well, 60 per cent - and whatever that stat is, I do not remember, I heard it a few times - is it 62 per cent or 72 per cent of shops are open? Well, that is the answer to the question they are asking. There are enough open now, convenience stores and all those other stores that you do not need to open the bigger chains. The biggest point you are missing is the break that you are giving the small corner store. That is what we are missing every time.

The pros and cons, if you weighed them, Mr. Chairman, you cannot find a lot of pros for it. The only one I can find is that it is nice that I can go and shop on Sunday. To be honest with you, if you talk to anybody who is for this, they are not adamantly for it. All they say is that if it is open on Sunday maybe I will go and shop a little bit. If it does not open - I am going to tell you, if this bill was torn up today, you will not be getting any flack tomorrow from anybody saying, `Boy, you should have pushed through that Sunday shopping, that was desperate. We really wanted that badly.' Nobody ever says it, Mr. Chairman.

Now, here we are at Christmas - I was talking to the Member for Labrador West there a few minutes ago and a few of the other members, who are getting ready to go home for Christmas. The Member for Torngat, I am sure, is getting ready to go home for Christmas. And that is what a lot of us from outside of St. John's feel dearly about, Mr. Chairman.

MR. ANDERSEN: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, I did not see that. What was that? I did not get it.

MR. ANDERSEN: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, is that right? You would have liked to have been there. Yes, and so you should be. I would not blame the Member for Torngat, we should be there.

MR. ANDERSEN: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: It is your House Leader who caused the problem.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, you are absolutely right, I say to the Member for Torngat. I should give a personal experience, too, Mr. Chairman, that I told my colleagues about today. On Tuesday night - and it was one of the toughest ones I have had here yet. I will tell the member this one, now that you brought it up, a personal case. On Tuesday night was my five-year-old little girl's kindergarten concert. She had two lines in it and she practiced for the last month or so. I helped her practice and I called home to let her know that I would be watching it on video. Her mom was going to tape it and so on. What she said to me was - a five-year-old - `It is not the same, you should be here.' That is what she said to me. And that was harder than anything I have done since I have been in this House, I say to the Member for Torngat, and I think he can understand and appreciate that. It is tough. And the rural members - I will put in a plug for the rural members here tonight.

I know a lot of the urban members who are here in St. John's, they will go home tonight. They can go to their homes tonight with their children and their families. The rural members cannot do that. Now, Mr. Chairman, especially at this time of year - is it next Thursday that is Christmas Eve?

AN HON. MEMBER: Next Wednesday is Christmas Eve.

MR. SHELLEY: Next Wednesday is Christmas Eve.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No we should not be. My point is that we should not be here now either, Mr. Chairman. The House Leader should be bringing up the utility bill, the labour bill, all of those. If we were to co-operate like we did on Bill 41 today, where we showed our co-operation again - as a matter of fact, if you really go back through this session and be honest about it, we - when I say we, I mean both sides of the House have been very co-operative on a lot of the bills. As a matter of fact, one day myself and the House Leader - when our House Leader had been gone for the day, we worked through five bills in one day. Co-operating, we got them through. Right up to when this bill was called, I think there was a lot of progress being made in this place. We were getting bills through, four and five in a day, there was co-operation going on.

We showed it again today on Bill 41 when the Premier came in - but to see the mood change. The Member for Bonavista South is absolutely right - how the mood changed today when the Premier came in, the boss came in, and he said: Let's co-operate. I am sure we can talk to the Opposition House Leader and our House Leader and work out something. What did we do? We did it, Mr. Chairman. We did it through the co-operation of the House and the co-operation of this parliamentary system we have in place here.

What nobody likes, Mr. Chairman, is to be short-changed, and that is exactly what happened to us here, as we talked in our caucus. You remember, you are dealing with personalities, you are talking about groups, and as long as there was co-operation going on, we were willing to do whatever it took to pass certain parts of the legislation - even the other night, like the member said, sitting here at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning.

MR. FITZGERALD: Ask the people over there.

MR. SHELLEY: No heat - everybody sick over here. He said: You should all go home. You are going to have to go home. If this goes on much longer, Mr. Chairman, we are all going to have to have 'flu shots because people are going to be getting sick here. I must say, it is much better tonight. The heat is on tonight. The heat is on. I could sing that.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, the heat is on. The heat is on the government, too.

MR. MATTHEWS: If it is not hot enough here, go and stand under the lights.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, that is a good point. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation reminds us, Mr. Chairman, of the runway down here. I would not be surprised if one of these nights we are going to see one of those Air Nova jets land on the Parkway out there, because it looks like a runway down there. I have never seen so many lights. I do not know if this is right or not.

MR. TULK: It looks good.

MR. SHELLEY: It looks good. The only place, I say to the Government House Leader, I have seen more lights is on the house of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I drive by it every night. The only place with more lights on it is the minister's house. If you look down there when you come here, it is almost like a runway coming through.

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible) his cap.

MR. FITZGERALD: His cap - something like the one that `Bud' used to wear, the `Flemish Cap'!

MR. H. HODDER: `Bud' thought the Flemish Cap was something you could wear.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). He's got the 'flu.

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for Torngat Mountains is dying over there - dying, he is going to have to go home. He said pretty soon we are going to be expecting Snoopy and the Red Baron because they are going to be landing on the Parkway out there. I have never seen so many lights down the Parkway. I guess that is the excess money, Mr. Chairman, coming out of the - I think it is coming from the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, is it not? The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I think, was out the other night with a ladder putting them up.

This particular bill, Mr. Chairman - we talk about all these changes we are going through and so on, and there is nobody who can sit around - when we sit around and have our discussions getting ready to come into the House, we say: Would it not it be nice now today if the Government House Leader had the gall and gumption to get up and just say we will come back in January, even. As the Member for St. John's West said today, we could come back in January if you want to come back for another week - give them a little time for a bit of consultation.

Maybe the minister could say the first couple of weeks in January: We are going to meet with some focus groups over January. He could say that. The government usually says: Give us some solutions. They are always complaining, so here is a solution, and it is not that tough. If there were a little bit of compromise in their bones, if the Government House Leader took a little lesson from his boss, the Premier, and put a little bit of compromise in his bones, he would say: Okay, I tell you what we will do. We will take on the rest of the bills, we will bring them before the House, we will have a great debate on some concerns we have on a little bit of the legislation, but for the most part, we checked most of the legislation besides this bill, and we do not have major problems. We have a few concerns with some it. We have our notes and our research done on all the legislation that he is willing to bring up.

I am sure we could sit here tonight and make a lot of progress on a lot of bills, with co-operation, but not as long as this bill is on the table. We are going to do - you have seen it - we are going to do whatever it takes for however long with any means we have, to oppose it. It is as simple as that. And we do get - some of the members on the other side say they are not getting calls. They probably are not, because what we are hearing is that people are calling us. We are getting the calls, the e-mails, the letters. I guess I cannot use the name on a letter we got today. I do not know if we can or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, the Paint Shop, you mean?

MR. SHELLEY: The Paint Shop? Oh, you did - the Paint Shop. The letter we had from the Paint Shop. How many stores? Forty stores across the Province on that, unanimous, Mr. Chairman, in opposing Sunday shopping.

A letter we received from the District of Lewisporte said: Our member did not contact us, nobody contacted us about this particular piece of legislation.

MR. H. HODDER: You cannot stand and object to that.

MR. SHELLEY: Not a bit. I am not reading from the letter, either.

The Member for Lewisporte, I guess, has seen the letter, he must have. I am sure he has, he is still the member. My gosh, the time has not gone already, phew! I got to my second note, Mr. Chairman, and I told you, they were all new points so far.

MR. CANNING: You are enjoying this almost as much as `Jack' is.

MR. SHELLEY: Almost - not that much, I say to the Member for Labrador West. I am enjoying it but I would not go that far, Mr. Chairman. There is a limit, I am not enjoying it that much. As one guy says: There is a difference between scratching yourself and tearing the skin off.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, the Member for Cape St. Francis really enjoys debate on this bill, he absolutely does; he loves it, he gets into it and, Mr. Chairman, I am telling you, he is adamant about it. As a matter of fact, he is one of those in caucus who keeps us going on this, saying he is going to do whatever it takes, and he has raised some good points.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: By the way, that saying goes a little bit deeper than that but I cannot say it in the House of Assembly. I will say it to the Government House Leader, I will not be able to say it here tonight, Mr. Chairman.

MR. H. HODDER: That saying is strictly unparliamentary.

MR. SHELLEY: The saying I just used goes a little deeper than that but I don't think it is parliamentary, so I won't use it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: What is it that Crosbie uses sometimes? ... asked the Speaker if he could throw him out of the House for something that he thinks, and, of course, the Speaker said no, but he said: I think you are - of course, he could not repeat that.

But, Mr. Chairman, there are continuous points behind this and although the points are obviously the same in a lot of respects, there is always somebody else coming with another view of it, and as I said today, we had letters from the Paint Shop, from the Chamber of Commerce, I think, in Lewisporte and so on; and the biggest complaint they have, by the way, all of these groups, is the lack of consultation; and that is why I am saying to all the members here that there is a simple solution to it: Take it off for now. Let us look at what we can do in the next few hours: take it off the Order Paper, bring over all the legislation you are talking about; we will discuss some of the concerns and some of the things we have. With utility bills and so on we have some concerns, but for the most part, you will see the bills pass that the government wants. Delay Bill 48 - come back in mid-January even or late January; meanwhile, at least have some consultation even as much as maybe to have some focus groups or some small business groups come in and give their opinions or maybe do a small trip across the Province. I mean, they did it with Rural Renewal and Fisheries and so on; just take a few weeks to say you went out, plus give people some more time to express their views. Because what they find now, Mr. Chairman - and believe me, there would have been a lot more protests except for the time of the year. People right now, are into the Christmas shopping, hustling and bustling and so on, and are not ready to pose anything.

If this were three weeks ago, you would have seen a lot more of it. They are too busy right now, but don't think for one minute that because they are too busy and are not out in the streets protesting this, that they like it. If you ask the average Joe on the street, and even the person who I said does not mind Sunday shopping - the only people I have found so far who said: Yes, I would probably shop on Sunday if it is open, I do not really care if it is open or not; that is the most support I have seen for this thing. Otherwise, there is nobody out beating the streets saying, if the government does not put through this, I can tell you we are going to be really upset with them if they do not put through Sunday shopping. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, that the timing of this and where it has come from have raised a lot of concerns plus the suspicion of where it is all from.

Now, you have heard some things in the media yesterday about where it came from and why, but it is still not answering the question, Mr. Chairman. Because, we thought, or some people would say, that big business was driving this; but, at the same time, we heard some of the big businesses say: We do not want it either, and maybe, it is not only the big businesses, so the agenda, Mr. Chairman, has changed drastically in the last few days.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is where you have to let them go after the sea urchins and the squid and all that stuff. But, Mr. Chairman, this particular bill - the Government House Leader is trying to throw me off my important points here but he is not going to do it. He cannot do it.

I have too many important points to make, Mr. Chairman, on this.

We will stand and support - and as I said, a lot of rural members want to go home, but we will stay and hold tight to it, Mr. Chairman. We believe in it because of the people in this Province, how they have expressed their views over the past few days - because it has only been days that they really had a chance to dig into this and to realize what was going on. But, Mr. Chairman, I can tell you, even in my district, and I am sure mine is similar to others, the first thing people are saying to me is: What are you doing in there all night long debating Sunday shopping?

If you are in there all night long, at least talk about Voisey's Bay and talk about the mechanical harvesters and the TAGS Program, the things that are very important to us right now. Do not make this important. And it goes right back to the Member for Kilbride talking about this being a red herring; maybe he is totally right on that, too, Mr. Chairman - maybe that is what it is all about: while all the other things are in a shambles and they are just hopeful and optimistic about something for tomorrow, there is nothing for today. Something has to come in today, Mr. Chairman, not down the road.

We all look forward to Voisey's Bay being started, we look forward to the smelter being built in Argentia; we look forward to all those things but, they are all for tomorrow - people need to see something quickly, they need to see it today. That is why this bill should be ripped up, and as the Member for Cape St. Francis said: He would love to see the Government House Leader stand up in this House, take the bill and tear it up and say okay, let us get down to some real business; let us do some things in this place that are worth doing, that the people in this Province want to see done.

Another one I just mentioned to the Government House Leader today is that a good apprenticeship program is needed in this Province. That is something we should be discussing here today. The Government House Leader did hint to me that there was one being looked at, and I hope it is - a new apprenticeship program. I mean, that is something really, on which a lot of work should be done and soon, because it is one of the biggest incentives for getting young people back into training and so on, to know that they have that stepping stone. Because it is a disincentive to these people to know that they are being trained but cannot get into the workforce because workforce people are saying to them: You do not have this experience. Of course, they do not have the experience until they are hired! So what they need, is that link between training and getting into the workforce, that will encourage them to be trained - and by the way, hi-tech training. That is where it is going these days, Mr. Chairman, and those are the types of things you should be working on and trying to speed up.

A lot of things are happening, and rural renewal is what we need to work on. Those are the desperate things we should be working on to try -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FITZGERALD: He made a lot of good sense, I tell you that.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I am rising today to continue the debate in Committee on Bill 48.

MR. E. BYRNE: Look, the new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is all freshened up and changed, new suit, all set to go.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: All set to go, yes.

Bill 48, The Shops' Closing Act amendment considering Sunday shopping here in our Province, Mr. Chairman. For several days now, members on this side of the House have expressed their concerns and the representations on behalf of constituents and other people in the Province in expressing their objections to the proposed legislation, Bill 48, and, Mr. Chairman, I say it is a good thing there are members representing the public of the Province on this side of the House because it is clear that members on the opposite side are doing anything but that.

Mr. Chairman, we have had representations made both directly and indirectly by way of mail and telephone discussions and letters. And it is because it is so obvious to us that I find it so difficult to believe it is not obvious to members opposite, that this is a piece of legislation that clearly does not have the support of the majority of the people of this Province.

It is most unfortunate that government continues to reflect what is clearly just a minimal opinion, an opinion that does not have any support or any popularity; nevertheless, the government continues to press on, Mr. Chairman, government members continue to say to the majority of the people of this Province that the opinion of the people of the Province is not important. Mr. Chairman, that is a sad day because what we are debating here now is a little bit more than just Bill 48 and the Shops' Closing Act. We are now dealing with a bill on principle. We are dealing, Mr. Chairman, and I say to the Government House Leader, we are now debating principles. That is what we are dealing with.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: No, I say to the Government House Leader, we are debating right now what is right and what is wrong.

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: A good point.

We are debating, really, Mr. Chairman, what is both right and wrong. We are debating what the majority of the people in this Province are expressing loudly and clearly, versus simply not listening to what the people are saying loudly and clearly. And that is a sad reality, Mr. Chairman. I say to the Government House Leader, that is a sad reality.

We have yet to hear any representation, any comment from members opposite. This being at Committee stage, they are free as we are, as Opposition members, to stand up and give their opinion. They are free to debate. However, one has to question what liberties government members do have when they all sit so silently. They all sit, Mr. Chairman, with complete disregard for what the people are saying - complete disregard, I say to the Government House Leader. And it is a sad day, because we are debating principles of what is right and wrong.

We are debating, as it turns out to be, a bill, Bill 48. We are debating government's lack of accountability, lack of responsibility, government's unwillingness to even adhere to the slightest amount of public attention. What makes it perhaps even more troublesome, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that there is absolutely no consideration being given to even altering the legislation or proposing legislation which may indeed work. It may be in accordance with what most of the people want.

There have been many representations - in fact, I received a copy of a release today, which when you read it, Mr. Chairman, makes some sense because it talks about a licensing proposal, an alternative to Bill 48, an alternative to just the complete limitless situation that we will now be facing in this Province once this legislation becomes law, if in fact, Mr. Chairman, it reaches that particular point. This particular representation talks about establishing criteria. In other words, with clarification spelling out exactly what the definition of what is meant by the Shops' Closing Act. It also indicates for example that certain guidelines and certain restrictions ought to be well defined and these sorts of representations make some sense because it is not limitless, it is not without condition. It is a situation, Mr. Chairman, which establishes guidelines, establishes definitions and would be in response to what the majority of our people are looking for.

For example, this same piece of correspondence talks about a square footage allocation and that, Mr. Chairman, is very similar to what has been taking place in other provinces where stores of a certain size are free to open on a Sunday. Stores which meet certain criteria are free to open and others not, stores which will hire a certain number - for example, of one province any more than four employees will come outside the guidelines, outside the ambient of the Shops' Closing Act. Stores of a fewer number would be within the definition and therefore free to open on Sunday.

So, Mr. Chairman, these sorts of considerations are worthy of note. These sorts of considerations are worthy of at least some attention, and I would say, perhaps even minimal attention, because obviously, up to this point, there has been no attention given to any alternatives, to any other proposition that may in fact be a valid and legitimate one and may simply suit the needs of Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders. That is really what this is all about, I guess, Mr. Chairman. This is about what is acceptable, what is suitable, what is in accordance with the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Chairman, I have heard some hon. members opposite say: Well, they do it in Florida, it is done in Toronto, it is done in other large North American cities and I am sure in many European cities. That is fine, that is a different society and community. That is a community made up of different principles, different practices and different individuals. Mr. Chairman, what is wrong with us saying, in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that we want to be, to use the term from out Quebec neighbours, a distinct society, we want to be a society which has our own definition, our own distinctiveness, our own way of doing things? By simply saying, in response to this legislation, that we have to do it because others do it, in my opinion simply doesn't cut it. That is simply not a legitimate reason which in any way comes close to justifying why we need Bill No. 48.

I think that difference, Mr. Chairman, is reflected in the way that the people of this Province have responded. We are a different people, we have different beliefs and we have a different way about us which very often says, in response to suggestions that come to us from the outside: Well, what may be good for one place is not necessarily good for us. Unfortunately, that acknowledgement that from time to time and in many different instances we are different, has simply gone unnoticed. That is indeed unfortunate because this is a government of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a government which ought to reflect the beliefs and the values of the people of this Province.

An individual said to me: What's all the fuss about? I spoke to him very briefly about what all the fuss was about and, Mr. Chairman, after we had an opportunity to discuss the issue he was quick to agree with me that we have strong reasons, sound reasons, to stand up on this point. The Opposition has a point to be made, and when it was expressed to this individual why we were contesting the legitimacy of Bill No. 48, the reasons why, that individual agreed with me. I might add, that was the only person I had any encounter with who expressed any doubt whatsoever as to why this legislation should not pass. That was the only person; but upon discussion and upon review of the various reasons, even that person was quick to change his mind.

Mr. Chairman, in this proposal, which I talked about earlier, which was represented to me, there were also some classifications of exemptions; for example, convenient stores, smaller drug marts and drug stores. Clearly there are stores which traditionally have always been open, ever since I can remember as a child. If you needed medicine or some article that was necessary for day to day usage, there were stores certainly available and one could go to the so-called corner store to pick up these items. Obviously, there must be exemptions, I say, Mr. Chairman, there must be exceptions to the rule, and that would not be different in any way to what we have in our Province today. There are many stores, I am sure literally hundreds and hundreds of stores, in our Province which, as a matter of course, are open every single Sunday; and it is accepted by the people of our Province that they be open on every single Sunday. It is a non-issue.

What is an issue is this carte blanche approach, this limitless approach, to opening stores on Sunday which, for some reason or other, has struck a tender cord, I would say to the members opposite, with the people of our Province. Because, for whatever reason, many individuals say, almost to the person, that this is something we do not want. This is a concept which is simply not flying with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As part of the representation that was made to me, which I have alluded to throughout my few comments, Mr. Chairman, there is also the concept of a seasonal licence. There are a few examples that were given to me; for example, a garden shop and Christmas decoration stores. Again, that sort of approach would be something which would be, I am sure, accepted as being valid and as being quite understandable. I mean, if there were Christmas decoration stores which were open on Sundays from mid-November or the end of November up until Christmas, that is an issue which I'm sure would receive absolutely no objection from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It is a specialty store, it has a place in our society, it meets needs which are out there when certain commodities are being sought at certain times of the year. I mean, that is a legitimate and valid point. Again, government has not seen fit to even consider that sort of proposal in this legislation.

Penalties and enforcement: I was giving some thought as to what is behind Bill No. 48. What is it? Was it big business? Possibly. Was it small business? Definitely not. Was it employees through their union representatives? Definitely not. Was it the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian? Definitely not. What I'm suggesting, what this has to do with, Mr. Chairman, is the government's inability to enforce the present law, because the present law has gone challenged on many occasions; in some cases, successfully. In those cases where the Crown was successful, we see a situation nothing short of being ridiculous. A store, for example, like Canadian Tire being fined $25. I mean, the penalty provisions simply did not make the penal provisions that were found in the present act workable. It was an act without teeth.

So what the government appears to be doing, in response to a piece of legislation that really has no force and affect in terms of its penalty provisions and enforcement - what it does is say: Listen, we have to tidy this up. How do we tidy it up? We tidy it up, Mr. Chairman, by simply removing the very issue which was being challenged and debated in our provincial courts. The way to deal with it was not to tighten up the provisions, but to simply say: Let's make it open season for anybody to shop on any Sunday, any time.

What government has done is made this great leap. In an effort to remedy what was a defect in the act, the government has made a great leap, and in doing so it has offended the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Alternatively, what government could have done was simply tighten up the present legislation. It could have made exemptions, it could have made clarification with respect to the existing act, and it could have made more stringent penalty provisions available. Then the courts and the judges would have legislation with teeth, that if the present law were being broken in any way, if the present law were being disregarded in any way, at least there was a legal alternative.

I would say to members opposite, that store owners would welcome that. Store owners in this Province would welcome legislation of significance. Store owners would welcome penalty provisions that were substantial. Because that would make it much clearer, I would say to members opposite, what the current Sunday shopping act is all about.

Unfortunately, the present act, being vague, being a piece of legislation without teeth, almost had a situation that was ludicrous very often, as I mentioned. I gave the example of a large department store being fined minimally; being fined less than a sixteen-year-old would be fined for shoplifting, for example. It was a ridiculous state of affairs. In response to it, government felt that the way to deal with this situation was to change the act completely, change it to the point where people could do as they wish in any retail outlet in this Province on any Sunday.

That is the only reason I can find, Mr. Chairman, having given this some thought, as to why this government has seen fit to come forward with Bill 48. That is the only reason I can find. It is, again, a sad reflection of what government's intention is, because it clearly had an option open to it. It could have accomplished many, many things had it acted differently. It could have, number one, not offended the majority of Newfoundlanders by simply not introducing Bill 48. It would have avoided this embarrassment, and this is, I would say, Mr. Chairman, an embarrassment to government. All we have to do is listen to the various media reports, listen to what our constituents are saying to each and every one of us.

All government had to do was amend the existing act, amend the existing act to the point of making certain, by way of definition, who could open and who could not open. That would be nothing new, because as I mentioned earlier, we have many examples where traditionally convenience stores, for example, are open regularly on Sundays. More importantly, it could have dealt with the penalty provision, the enforcement provision of the act. That would have saved government members opposite a lot of embarrassment. It would have saved government members opposite a lot of discomfort, because they would have been in a position to say: This is just an ordinary piece of legislation. We are amending it, we are tightening up the rules, we are clarifying many of the definitions, and we are going to put in place penal provisions that make sense, and simply have some teeth.

That would have been the easy way out, Mr. Chairman, but, no, the government did not opt for the easy way out. The government opted to introduce a piece of legislation which has offended the people of this Province. That is, in a nutshell, why we are here this evening at 8:45. From what I can gather, in discussing this with my colleagues on this side of the House, it may well be 8:45 tomorrow morning and we will still be here, and we will still be debating, perhaps not this bill, but other pieces of legislation, where we feel that the people of this Province need representation. The people of this Province, Mr. Chairman, need and want to be heard.

Clearly, we are in situations where we would like to be out in the mall now. We would like, as one of my colleagues said earlier, to be putting up a Christmas tree.

CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: We would like to be in a situation where we could do other things.

I say, in conclusion, we have a job to do and we are going to continue doing our job and, in the absence of government members' inability to represent their constituents, we have an obligation and will continue to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Mr. Chairman, we have seen the first move here tonight of what is going to happen in 1998. Well, there may be a little bit of digression; I hope that members will just give me a few moments before I get into Bill No. 48.

We saw earlier tonight, just before we broke for supper, the Premier of the Province in a very eloquent way describe the initiative and the actions of the Minister of Education. Mr. Chairman, he described in detail how this minister, with his logic in hand, tramped off to Ottawa and convinced the Senate how he marshalled the forces to ensure that education reform was put in place. Now two nights ago, in this Chamber, I made a prediction, and I see it here now, Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education sitting down there, he has a new suit, tie and shirt on and is ready for a new job in 1998. Guaranteed, Mr. Chairman, that is what is happening. I know it.

While the minister was up speaking, I was bantering across to the Premier saying: What job is it? Announce it, tell us, we can't wait; the anticipation is just to much. He said: Stay tuned for 1998; big things on the minister's horizon.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the members of the House for allowing me that small opportunity to make a few points with respect to the Minister of Education.

The act that we are debating tonight, the closure motion by government that was given notice of yesterday by the Government House Leader, is but another example of government's contempt for the opinions, desires and expressions that they themselves have received with respect to the Shops' Closing Act. There is no question in my mind, there is not even a doubt, as to what people outside of this Chamber and outside of this building are thinking about the Shops' Closing Act, from one end of the Province to the other. We have had written submissions faxed into us from some of the largest retailers in the Province, Sears and Canadian Tire Stores across the Province, who have expressed their dissatisfaction and their outright disgust with the fact that government is intent on pushing this through.

MR. SULLIVAN: There's one: Thirty paint shop outlets. That came in today.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, this was a letter send to the Leader of the Opposition, the hon. Loyola Sullivan:

`I am writing on behalf of our paint shop owner/operators to convey our opinions concerning the possible modification of the Shops' Closing Act.'

This letter refers to over thirty stores across the Province.

`At present there are thirty paint shop outlets operating within the Province, directly employing over 130 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.'

`Our employees and owner/operators are unanimously opposed to Sunday store openings within our sector of the retail industry. To allow Sunday openings will further disadvantage an already struggling small business sector. This part of our industry, which is vital to the economy of the Province, lacks the personnel to compete with large chains in the battle for extended operating hours.

`The ultimate loss, it goes on to say, Mr. Chairman, `would indeed be the small business owner/operator, either through the loss of market or we are forced to give up the one day that all freely enjoy with their families.

`It is also our belief, the letter continues on, `that the net economic impact of Sunday openings would be negative to our business.'

That is an important point to reiterate because it is a common theme, Mr. Chairman, that has come through from every business owner/operator. The theme is this: That the impact of Sunday openings would be negative to our business and zero to the government as we are obviously not generating new economic activity - Mr. Chairman, this is from individuals who operate business on a six-day week cycle - but merely spreading the existing consumer dollars over seven days.

MR. EFFORD: Santa just flew over Kilbride.

AN HON. MEMBER: His seal oil capsules hit him on the head.

MR. E. BYRNE: John, I can tell you one thing: While hon. members over here are in their apartments, or whatever arrangements they have, when this House closes my home is fifteen minutes away. So it is no problem to keep the House open from my point of view, none whatsoever. I can be home in ten minutes. We are on a shift system here, I can drop over. I was wrapping gifts last night and if you have a problem with it, I suggest to hon. members opposite, that they don't come to this side of the House to deal with it. There is one man who can handle all of this, the member right there, the Government House Leader. He can handle it all, John, so let's not get started on that.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think he botched it. I think he really botched it.

MR. E. BYRNE: They say, `but merely spreading the existing consumer dollars over seven days instead of six. Business operating costs rise while government tax revenues remain essentially unchanged, Mr. Chairman.

`We do agree that changes to the act are necessary. I think this is where we have to get to, that changes to the act are necessary so that a level playing field will be created for members of the retail sector who are presently disadvantaged by the content of the legislation.

`We feel these changes can be implemented without totally eliminating the Sunday opening restriction. I hope you will consider the position of our group as you make this very important decision along with our colleagues. If you would like to discuss this further, please phone my office, I will be pleased to do so.'

Mr. Chairman, this side of the House is not only considerate of what this individual has to say, representing 130 independent owner/store operators, but we support it, unreserved, without qualification. We agree also with the point raised in his letter, that there are indeed changes necessary to the act, but changes -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, sir, we are. You are wrong again as usual.

MR. EFFORD: Go out and talk to the people on the street.

MR. J. BYRNE: You are wrong again. Wrong! Wrong!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: I know. If only the Minister of Education was the present Minister of Environment and Labour, in the former post, I don't think we would be seeing this legislation. No, I can't say that. No, that's wrong. I digress for a moment because it is not that minister's bill. It is the Premier's bill, guaranteed. It is not the minister's. The heavy hand has been laid on this Legislature and this legislation, Mr. Chairman, and we have seen it. I am not going to get into it, but what I have witnessed here this week with respect to heavy handedness, I have never seen in the five years that I have been in here. It is the first time. Even in the most provocative, controversial debates over hydro which lasted for weeks in this Legislature, I did not see, not once, the Opposition being denied.

I saw closure motions upon closure motions, but in terms of Question Period the leader of the day was not denied questions when that bill was before the House. Do you know why? This book here, Mr. Chairman, referred to as Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, is a guide and nothing but a guide to the operations of this House. The Standing Orders of the House are what operate us. They are the rules and regulations essentially, but this is a guide, much like Coles notes that I used to get when we used to have Coles notes in school.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, but it is a lot like it. There is a lot left, Mr. Chairman, to the discretion of who sits in that Chair. I'm not going to question the Speaker. I'm not going to get into questioning the Speaker, but it is a guide.

All I'm saying is that in my time in the Assembly I have never seen what I witnessed yesterday. It is the first time I've seen it; such a narrow look at a rule when there were so many others that were left open to interpretation. I will move on from that, because that was yesterday, it is in the past, it is done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: When was that? Last week or yesterday? That was yesterday. I hope I never see it again, but you never know. Timing, the environment, conditions, all could line up like the stars again and we may witness it like that or even worse again, I suppose.

Anyway, with respect to Bill 48, it is quite clear this legislation has been touched by the wand of the eighth floor. It is required, it must be done at all costs.

MR. TULK: There is some magic (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: And it isn't a magic wand either.

MR. E. BYRNE: There is magic. Whether it is white or black remains open for discussion.

When you look at one piece of legislation, Bill 48, while there are a number of bills left on the Order Paper that we have to go through, that government may want - I'm not going to be presumptuous because this is a wild sitting. I can't figure out what the Government House Leader has been up, can't figure out why he is up to it. So much legislation right here, and we are not proceeding to it. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I've been at a loss this week. Normally, at other times and under other conditions, I've been pretty close to saying what government would do and where we would be and what the agenda was, but I just can't figure this week out. Up until last Friday things were moving along smoothly. They were moving along, we were progressing, there was negotiation back and forth, we were making headway, and then, bang-o, Bill 48 was dropped on the Table and nothing else mattered. Not one other piece of legislation matters to this Legislature, not one.

Major amendments to the Labour Relations Act, we have only got to second reading on. The Public Utilities Act - no other piece of legislation that is before this Legislature. Until last week it all mattered, we were moving ahead on it, we were making progress.

Then Bill 48, for whatever the reason, is now government's priority this week. In the face of so much opposition outside this Chamber, in the face of employees who don't wish to see these changes made, in the face of business men and women who don't want to see these changes made - the type of business men and women we are talking about are small store owners, small independent operators such as in the letter from the 130 employees of the paint shops, to letters from Jack Fraser, to letters from Sears. Even the larger outlets do not wish to see this piece of legislation. It is one issue that I haven't seen in a long time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is a small argument, and an argument that doesn't hold much weight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Really? If the minister is convinced - go ahead. Hold on now, I want to ask you a question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I did. That doesn't make it right, though. Let me ask you this question. If they don't want to open, the minister says, they don't have to, but that isn't right. When administration at the Avalon Mall and the Village Mall have sent out letters -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on now. I've allowed you to make your argument, let me offer this counter-argument to you. When administration offices at the malls have sent letters around to their stores which indicate that if Sunday shopping goes through, from January 4 then on all retail stores operating within the premises of those malls must be open seven days a week, that isn't choice, minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, it is.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it isn't. How is that choice?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, that is like saying: If you don't like the Province here, move. If you don't like the $800 we are giving you in social services, go to Alberta. That is what that is saying. That is not what government's role is.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: If only it were that simple. It is not that simple. That is the point, it is not that simple.

AN HON. MEMBER: Talk to the store owners; ask them.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The red hearing is being offered by the government on this issue. Ask the store owners, the people who have actually signed the leases, the people who the money is coming out of their back pockets to pay for the leases; and the large sums of money. Ask them if they can negotiate their leases like that.

MR. TULK: Of course they can. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: They have to fulfil the contract they signed.

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, do you realize that some of these stores have entered into long-term three to five year leases, that there are significant penalties for breaking.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) without consent of the parties.

MR. E. BYRNE: Really.

MR. SULLIVAN: The parties involved.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, in this House we regulate all sorts of things. We regulate the work week. If we are going to use the argument just put forward, are we going to let the work week throw open so that any employer can demand of any employee whatever hours they want without paying overtime, without providing safe working conditions, without providing a reasonable wage?

MR. TULK: That is where we should be.

MR. E. BYRNE: You believe that is where we should be. You don't believe that we should be regulating the work place as we do now?

MR. TULK: No, I am not saying that.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am lost.

Minister, I have never seen, with the exception of Hydro as I said yesterday, in the past five years, so much opposition, consolidated and of one opinion in society as it is on this issue. They are upset by the process that has been invoked here. They are upset that there is no public consultation. At the same time government has moved, with respect to other controversial issues, such as the RNC and guns, to legislative committee or they have moved in terms of taxing the sales of used cars, where they have accepted the rationale put forward by the public, put forward by the critic on this side, but yet on this issue we can't move forward at all.

Why can't we look at a pilot project, minister, for a period of a year? The big winners on this legislation will be Price Club - the minister knows it - the owners and operators of it, Kent, owned and operated by Irving and the Wal-Marts of the world. Those are the big winners with respect to this.

Mr. Chairman, we have better things to do as well. Members opposite are saying: When are we getting out of here? Let's get out of here tomorrow, etc., etc. We could have moved ahead on a lot of legislation had this not been put forward.

Members Opposite are getting the same calls that we are getting, no doubt about it; I know they are. I hope you are doing the job you are there for. I know that there are times when you can't get up and pound the desks here. That is unreasonable in terms of the system and the system that we work under. But behind the scenes you certainly can, you can lobby hard and say this has to go. There must be some influence that backbenchers have in government and I believe that influence is real and that it needs to be exercised appropriately. While it may not be appropriate at times to exercise it publicly in this Chamber, certainly outside of this Chamber, in government caucuses, with representations by your constituents to you, to the ministers, that is where it is appropriate and I hope that that is happening.

Mr. Chairman, with that, I know that we are into a closure motion in Committee of the Whole. My time is about to run out. How much do I have left?

MR. H. HODDER: You have two more minutes.

MR. E. BYRNE: I have two minutes left.

This is one example that we talked about in terms of people being contacted by their constituents. From the Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce, this is written to the minister: Dear sir, we have learned through the media - now this is right off the bat. "We have learned through the media." That is not what you would call a process of consultation with a chamber of commerce. However: We have learned through the media that you are introducing legislation in the House of Assembly for Sunday shopping. We have polled our members, and close to 100 per cent of the members of the Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce do not want Sunday shopping for the following reasons: it is a day of rest for customers and business people; our stores are now open six days a week; and with the way the economy is in Central Newfoundland the amount of money people have to spend will not increase. Although opening on Sundays will not be mandatory, we have - and here it is, minister - although it will not be mandatory, it goes on to say, that we will have no other choice but to follow suit at great expense to our bottom line.

That isn't the type of Liberal initiative that improves the economy, I say to the minister. The part-time employee is the fastest growing sector of our labour force. If we have to open seven days a week, this will create more part-time positions in place of full-time, and will weaken the economic base of the community. According to our observations, we have not been consulted by -

CHAIR (Penney): Order, please! Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Sorry?

CHAIR: The Chair has ruled before that it is not permissible to read letters. They can be quoted from or referred to.

MR. E. BYRNE: I believe my time is up. Is my time up, Sir?

CHAIR: Oh, sorry! The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: I was just going to say, I would like to apologize to the Chair because he is correct. I didn't mean to fly in the face of the Chair, but it is just another example of how people are feeling about this important piece of legislation.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Let me say I'm very pleased with Your Honour's pronunciation of my district. I've noticed, but failed to compliment you, on your proper pronunciation of the historic District of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. It has only been historic as a district for not more than a year or so when the previous government changed around my district, called another district St. John's East, took sections out of my district, put other sections in and changed the name to Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. The Chairman has correctly called it Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I will explain to the Government House Leader why it should be called Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. There are many various pronunciations of the name Quidi Vidi. There are variations on the name. Some call it Quidi Vidi, some call it Quidi Vidi, some call it other things. When you are talking about the name -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair is having quite some difficulty hearing the hon. member.

MR. HARRIS: When you are talking about the name of a place, Mr. Chairman, you have to show respect for the pronunciation that the people from that place give it. If we are talking about Newfoundland, we don't pronounce it the way they do in Arkansas. We don't say Newfoundland, we say Newfoundland. We don't go by the Toronto Globe and Mail's pronunciation of Newfoundland; we go by Newfoundlanders' pronunciation of Newfoundland. The same with Quidi Vidi. If you want to know how to pronounce Quidi Vidi, ask the people who live in the village of Quidi Vidi.

CHAIR: Order, please!

As much as the Chair appreciates the compliment from the hon. member for pronouncing his district correctly, I would remind him that he is debating a particular piece of legislation, and I would draw him to relevance.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, in representing the people of Quidi Vidi, who are my constituents, on this bill, that is how they pronounce it, that is how we pronounce it, that is how I pronounce it. That is it, that is the end of story.

Therefore, in speaking on behalf of the people of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, the people of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, like citizens and constituents all over the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, are wondering what the government is doing here and why we are sitting in this House -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please! Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The people of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi are wondering, like most citizens of the Province, most constituents, Mr. Chairman, why it is that the government is forcing everybody to sit here day and night, at 4:30 a.m., 12:30 a.m., we are probably going to be here until 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning just in time for breakfast before the House opens at 9:00 a.m., debating whether or not the stores should be open on Sunday. Why are we doing it? They want to know, Mr. Chairman. They want to know what is going on.

We have had messages sent to the government - now it is a good thing, Mr. Chairman, that many of the people are sending in to the Opposition too, because if they were only sent in to the government they would not be read out in this House, people would not know about it, Mr. Chairman.

The president of the City Consumers Co-op sent the minister a letter. Did he table it in the House, Mr. Chairman? No. It's a good thing, though, that he sent it to this hon. member and I was able to tell the House the contents of the letter and the concerns raised by the president of the City Consumers Co-op on behalf of their members, their staff, their Board of Directors and their customers, Mr. Chairman.

Their opinion is that the legislation is bad, Mr. Chairman, it is negative, it is backward, it is harmful to employees and it is harmful to the cooperative. It will increase the cost of sales, Mr. Chairman, a cost which they will have to pass on to the members of City Consumers Co-op. Now, they are saying that. These are ordinary people, Mr. Chairman, who have formed themselves into a City Consumers Co-op. They have thousands of members who shop in the stores that they own. They are a self management, Mr. Chairman. They are owned by their members here in the city of St. John's and they have a lot of information about the cost of doing business, the cost of operating the grocery store, the City Consumers Co-op, and the Gas Bar associated with that.

They are business people who are also ordinary people, Mr. Chairman, who elect a Board of Directors for the City Consumers Co-op. They manage that business and have managed it very well and very effectively for many, many years. They are telling the government, Mr. Chairman, that Sunday shopping will require them to open and require them to spread out their cost of sales over seven days, further increasing the cost of doing business, the cost of sales, increasing the cost -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: No, I say to the minister, I am not in a conflict of interest on this bill when I am talking about City Consumers Co-op. I am not a member of the City Consumers Co-op, perhaps I should be. I was a member of the Board of Directors of the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union though for a number of years, seven years. I was a vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, Mr. Chairman. I understand how cooperatives work. I was vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union Council. So I do know a little bit about cooperatives and I do know a little bit about the cost of running and operating a business, but I am going to defer this case to the City Consumers Co-op president speaking on behalf of the board, telling the government, telling the minister, that the cost of sales are going to be increased as a result of this. They don't believe that anybody is going to benefit from this except the multi-national corporations.

They have recognized, Mr. Chairman, that no one is going to benefit from this except apparently the multi-national corporations, which apparently this government want to serve at the expense of local companies, local business and local employees, women in particular. Women in particular are going to be affected by this because most people working in the retail trade are women.

Someone posed a very interesting question: How many agreements with respect to custody and access are going to have to be renegotiated as a result of this bill? How many separation agreements, how many court orders providing for access on a Saturday or a Sunday, are going to have to be renegotiated because of this legislation, where a court has ordered access on a particular day, because the day is a day of rest, a non-working day, knowing that a particular spouse doesn't have to work on that day? Now all of a sudden -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I know the Government House Leader would like everybody on this side of the House to go home. I want him to know that if it wasn't for the people on this side of the House there would be no democracy in this Province, because these guys would rule this Province the way they are trying to rule this House; bully people into submission.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I think the people of this Province care what this government is doing here tonight. They are bullying people with this legislation, they are failing to consult people, they are ignoring the will of the people, they are ignoring the Board of Trade of St. John's, they are ignoring the Chamber of Commerce in Corner Brook, they are ignoring the 100 per cent vote, apparently, of the members of the Chamber of Commerce of Lewisporte; no consultation.

The previous speaker was reading from, illegally apparently, but at least he was informing the House of what the business people of Lewisporte believed. Because if the Member for Kilbride wasn't informing them of what the people of Lewisporte were thinking, there would be nobody else in this House informing them. Because members on that side aren't letting the House know what their constituents are telling them. They aren't letting us know. Mr. Chairman, nobody here representing the West Coast of the Province has come in and told this House that the people of Corner Brook don't want this bill. Nobody has told us that. Nobody has told -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I know the Member for Port de Grave would like to engage in polite conversation across the House. He doesn't want to focus on the bill and focus on what this government is doing; trying to ignore the democratic will of the people and ram this bill through the House, using every trick in the book to try and rush this bill through the House without any consultation, without any questions being asked.

Yesterday, in order to get the attention of the press, because they only hang around for question period most of the time, we had to walk out the door, because the minister would not answer questions in this House. The Government House Leader stood and tried to prevent debate in question period on this important issue.

Mr. Chairman, I was here a couple of years ago when the hydro debate was on. While it was on, there were two pieces of legislation before the House dealing with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and every single day that the House was open there was question after question after question asked of the government. They may not have gotten an answer, but the government got the answer eventually because they had to turn tail on it and change their minds in the dying hours of their government, because they knew that if they did not they were going to get turfed out by the people. They had to change their mind on the issue because they knew that the people of Newfoundland were against it.

Every single day, every single Question Period, there were questions asked.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Why is it that government can tolerate debate on the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but the Sunday shopping Act gets brought in and what happens? Oh, no, we cannot have debate on that. We cannot have our minister being forced to answer questions in the House during Question Period on Sunday shopping - oh, no, we cannot allow that. We will have our Government House Leader bully the House into submission, forcing standing votes on everything, forcing the Opposition to challenge –

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I would like it noted that the Member for Port de Grave wants to get physical on the back steps. I would like that to be noted on the record.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Maybe he has been taking too many of those seal oil capsules.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Perhaps the testosterone level is up a bit too high tonight. He might want to watch what capsules or pills he is taking. The testosterone level must be up through the roof. I would suggest the next time he is checking his blood, he check his testosterone level, too.

Mr. Chairman, what we have over there - they are bullying this House. They are afraid to answer questions, even on an issue like Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which they knew they were going down on, they knew in their hearts they were going down on it, they did not change it. Did they get up and say: oh, no, we object to questions about Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? There is a bill on the Order Paper on hydro, we cannot talk about that in the House. Read rule four, did they do that? Even when they were going down big time they did not do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much time does he have left, Mr. Chairman?

AN HON. MEMBER: Too much.

MR. HARRIS: Fifteen minutes left.

So, Mr. Chairman, even when they were going down big time, they did not come up with that tactic: Let us stifle Question Period - no no. But for some reason, Sunday shopping is a sore point over there. They cannot have debate about that, cannot have people ask questions and expect answers like: Who is promoting this bill? Who wants this bill? Why, all of a sudden, is there a big change from last June when the then minister, now the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, said: Ah, we have seen the light. We were wrong and Mr. Baker was right - the one who then ran for nominations, I think for the - we were wrong and Mr. Baker was right.

Well, if Mr. Baker was right then, he is right now, because he still passes around the same briefs to all the members on both sides of the House as he was passing around then. If he was right then, he is right now. If the people of Newfoundland were right then, they are right now. So, why are we getting this bill?

For the first time, everybody seems to be united. The Federation of Independent Business, 90 per cent of their members; the Chamber of Commerce of Lewisporte, 100 per cent of their members; the Chamber of Commerce for the West Coast, all of their members; the St. John's Board of Trade, all of their members. They are all against it. Why is that, Mr. Chairman? Why is that? It is because they do not believe it is a good thing, Mr. Chairman, and this government, for some reason, wants to ram it through this House a week before Christmas, spoiling everybody's Christmas. Spoiling the businessmen's Christmas because they have to spend their time lobbying while they are trying to make hay while the sun shines; spoiling the employees' Christmas because they are working hard and they cannot lobby the government at the same time; spoiling the Christmas of the members of this House, making people stay up until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. in the morning, 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00 tomorrow morning, all day tomorrow, all weekend and come back here next Monday and Tuesday. What for, Mr. Chairman? To ram a piece of unpopular legislation through the House as a Christmas present for somebody, Mr. Chairman, but the big question that we have not had answered yet is who is the Christmas present for? Who is the Christmas present for?

I think maybe the Member for CBS is probably going to speak now in a minute when I stop or in the next fifteen or twenty minutes when I finish. He might tell us what he told the people of Newfoundland on TV last night. He might tell us that again. That might be the Christmas present that we are talking about. Who is the Christmas present for? He is either trying to spoil - he is even trying to spoil the Christmas of the Member for Port de Grave, and look how crooked he is. He is as crooked as sin over there. His Christmas is spoiled by the Government House Leader. Mr. Chairman. He is as crooked as sin over there. He does not have a smile for Santa Claus.

So, Mr. Chairman, they are spoiling everybody's Christmas. I heard the Member for St. John's West say they are going to spoil the 24th of May, because people are going to have to come back to town on May 24 and work on Sunday. That is the concern.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: I am sorry to hear that, Mr. Chairman, I was just getting going.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, we want, on this side, to again rise and tell the government on the other side that they are on the wrong track. Now, my good friend from Conception Bay South put it well when he asked: Who is driving the bus? Well, Mr. Chairman, we want to know who is going to benefit from this particular piece of legislation? I will totally ignore you. You can do all the chitter-chat you want, it will not intimidate me one little bit, because I am going to say what I want to say anyway.

Mr. Chairman, yesterday the Member for Conception Bay South, in doing a scrum outside the House, said he wanted to know: Why are we doing this now? Of course, his point was that the businesses of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Chambers of Commerce said: We do not want this particular piece of legislation. The small businessmen of Newfoundland and Labrador said: We do not want this particular piece of legislation. The people who run businesses in rural Newfoundland, they do not want it.

So we are wondering why. Why is it that this government came in here just a few weeks ago and said we are going to bring in Sunday shopping? We are going to add fifty-two more days of shopping. Now, if you examine it right now in the St. John's area, we have six days of shopping from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., seventy-two hours. That is more than they have in Toronto. Now we are going to add on Sunday shopping, which conceivably could go from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. or from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. whatever it is, we are going to have more shopping days in at the Price Club, at Wal-Mart, at Sobeys and Dominion, more shopping hours in a week than they have in Toronto.

So, we are asking the government: What's the agenda? Many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, tonight and in the last few days, have been asking us, why? They want to know fundamentally why is the government doing this now? Whose agenda is this? Is this the Premier's agenda?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. H. HODDER: Is this the agenda of the Liberal party?

MR. J. BYRNE: No.

MR. H. HODDER: Is this the agenda that facilitates fund-raising?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. H. HODDER: Is this the agenda that is going to be able to launch the Premier into the national limelight?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. H. HODDER: Is this going to get him into the offices when he goes to Toronto and says, I would like to talk to you, remember me, I am Brian Tobin, I am the Premier of Newfoundland. Remember when Wal-Mart or the Price Club wanted to have Sunday shopping, I am the person who gave you that, so would you open your doors, let me in, I will tell you what a great guy I am and I am here because in Newfoundland and Labrador it costs money to run political parties.

Mr. Chairman, what I am saying is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are asking: Who is driving the bus and whose bus is it? That is what the Member for Conception Bay South was asking yesterday in a scrum outside the House.

Mr. Chairman, just to illustrate, I have a letter here from Paul Burt. He is a very good friend of mine. His father was the founder of the Paint Shop Limited. He writes on behalf of the thirty paint Shop outlets in Newfoundland and Labrador. One of those Paint Shop managers, who runs a small paint shop, said yesterday, `You know, if I have to operate on Sunday, I will not do that. I will not open my store on Sundays.' But he said, `Now I am going to be in this difficult situation. Right across the way there is this big chain and he said this big chain could be open on Sunday. `Now,' he said, `What do I do? Do I close up my business? Do I run the risk of losing my customers or do I go and do something that I just do not want to do, and that is,' he said, `I do not want to open up on Sundays.'

Now, Mr. Chairman, Paint Shop employees number over 130 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and these employees and the employers are saying unanimously that they are opposed to Sunday shopping. They say it would further disadvantage an already struggling small business sector.

The Paint Shop businesses are individually owned, and they are telling us - these thirty small business stores in Newfoundland and Labrador are all saying that this legislation is not good for them.

What they are saying is that this Act is unnecessary; it is going to further encumber their business. What they are saying is that their bottom line is not going to be affected in terms of gross revenue. They are going to have the same gross revenue in 1998 as they would have had in 1997, the only thing is, their expenses are going to go up and, of course, what is happening here is we are going to facilitate the big national chains in being able to under-sell the small businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are going to do one of two things, either drive the small businesses out of business or we will have the prices going up.

That is the message that came from the Paint Shop which, again, has thirty stores in all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, on the West Coast, the East Coast and there are four or five of them right in the St. John's, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South area, and they employ 130 people.

Then we have the response come in from the Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce signed by Cluney Sheppard, President. This memorandum was sent to the minister, it was dated December 15. In this particular case, he said, `We are 100 per cent opposed to the legislation that is now before the House.' In other words, they represent all of the small businesses out there and they are saying, `We are 100 per cent opposed to it.' They argue that Sunday is a day of rest for their customers and employees, it is time that they can spend with their families, it is also, for some of them, a day of worship, and that is part of their lifestyle.

Mr. Chairman, they say their stores are open six days a week, and the way the economy in Central Newfoundland is going at the moment, they say six days a week is enough time to spend the money that is available to them. They say that Sunday will not increase their sales - their total sales will stay the same. All they are going to do is spread it from six days over seven days. They also say that the expense of operating on Sunday will far outweigh the benefits. Although they recognize it is not mandatory to be open on Sunday, they are saying that as independent business people, not part of a big chain, they will have no choice but to respond to the marketplace; to keep their business, keep their clients, they are going to have to open on Sunday, to keep their share of the business that they enjoy.

They also say the part-time employee is the fastest growing sector of the labour force. They are saying part-time employees will be disadvantaged. They say that instead of creating more full-time employment, all it will do is create more part-time employment. That will weaken, they say, the economic base of their community. They also recognize that part-time positions pay less than full-time positions; so therefore, they are saying that every time you hire on a part-time employee, you are not contributing as much to the economy as if you hired on a full-time employee.

So they say, according to the observations of local media - and, of course, we know the people in Lewisporte are listening to what is going on. The Member for Port de Grave says, all you are going to get in his district is tuned in, and that is wonderful, but they will note that he has not spoken in the debate yet. He has not gotten up and said why he is supporting Sunday shopping. Therefore, they are listening very attentively to the arguments against it. In fact, we have had nobody on the government side get up and say a word in this closure debate other than to announce the closure motion.

Therefore, the people in Port de Grave are wondering where their member is. The people out in Humber East are calling in and asking: `What is my member saying about that?' We are saying: `He is saying nothing, because he is not allowed.' At least the Member for Port de Grave is a minister. He has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to stand in his place and let the people know why this particular bill is necessary.

In fact, what they say here is that their members on that side of the House campaigned on a platform that they would consult the people, and they said they would make decisions which would be good for ordinary people. They would be a listening government. Of course, they are not a listening government, they have no ears. They are totally oblivious to what the people are saying.

The Member for Port de Grave can sit in his seat - he is not in his seat right now, usually is not in his seat. But the Member for Port de Grave has the opportunity of being able to stand up and tell his people in his district. Because these microphones are all live, and the Member for Port de Grave just said that everybody in his district is tuned in tonight. This would be a chance for them to know where he stands. Because right now he has not said a word. He is not allowed to say a word. We would like for him to participate in the debate but, of course, he is not doing that.

They say here to the minister as well: We have not been consulted by our MHA. Those are the people in Lewisporte. They say: We have not been consulted by our MHA or consulted by the minister's department, or by any arm of government. When they say any arm of government, it means that none of the ministers have gone out to their district and have had any meetings, any consultation. This is purely an opportunity to ram a government policy right down the throats of the people - no consultation.

In spite of what the Premier had said when he wanted to get around this Province and wanted to - when he said: I am going to be a consultation-type premier. I am going to involve you in decision-making. In fact, right after he got elected, he sent the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board all around the Province. He said: Tell me what you think about ways in which we can save money in this Province. Now, of course, we know that the tide has changed, the mood has changed. Now it is bunker down, hide from the people.

Of course, the whole idea here tonight is that the government is saying: We are going to ram this through. This is the closure motion we are having here now. Of course, we know that on second reading there was also a closure motion on the previous question. Here we are going to do a closure motion and -

MR. EFFORD: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR (Mr. Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, I have been sitting here for the last hour listening and trying to understand the point that the hon. member opposite is making. If I understand correctly - and I want to be corrected on this. I am satisfied to sit down in my chair and be corrected. It is simply this. Should the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, should the people of Canada, in a democracy, have the freedom of choice to do as they wish? What is wrong with the rights of Canadians, the rights of Newfoundlanders, the rights of Labradorians, to have the freedom of choice to do as they so wish? Would the hon. member explain that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: To the point of order, Mr. -

CHAIR: I have already ruled there is no point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: You have already ruled on the point of order? Just as well if you did, Mr. Chairman, because we all knew that the minister is way out of order anyway. He has not improved very much with those seal capsules. He is way out of order. Because you see, I would say to the Member for Port de Grave, in the last election the Premier circulated this to everybody in this Province - he said: "A key element of our platform is partnership. We are committed to an open, on-going process of dialogue and discussion in decision-making." Your government made a commitment of consultation, and you have abrogated, totally disregarded, you just put that right under the carpet altogether. You have forgotten it. You got elected on the basis of consultation in decision-making, and you are not doing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I have not recognized the minister yet.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, this House of Assembly belongs to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are only here at a privilege and at the pleasure of the people of this Province. We are here to represent and make decisions of the people of this Province. Are we now saying in this House this evening that the people of this Province should be so micro-managed, so regulated, that they cannot open their store or do as they wish without the control of a government of the day? I ask the hon. member: Should we have the freedom of choice to do as we wish according to the laws of this land?

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, the answer to the question is very simple. One hundred per cent of the employees at Riff's say they would like to be consulted on this matter. I mentioned it just now. One hundred per cent of the people represented by the Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce say: We would like to be consulted on that matter. We have here the Gander and area Chamber of Commerce saying: One hundred per cent of our membership would like to be consulted on this matter. We have petitions from all the employees and the management people at Canadian Tire in St. John's saying: We would like to be consulted on that matter.

When you look at the mandate in the Red Book, when in the Red Book you have the commitment, now the people are saying -

MR. EFFORD: A point of order.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: - if you were talking the talk, now it is time to walk the walk.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, we live in a democracy. We live in a community where people should have the choice to do what they want. We are not talking about the few large businesses which they are representing. We are talking about the population of Newfoundland and Labrador who, if they so wish, should, without breaking any laws or infringing on any rights of anybody in this Province, be able to do what they want to do. The only people objecting to this are those whom the hon. members opposite, the Tory Party, always represented in their lifetime, the large businesses. The Tory population, that is what it was!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ruled on a couple of other points of order, and it says in Beauchesne that if a point of order consists of asking a question when a member is speaking, it is mere interruption. I rule there is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, the member asked about - he said we live in a democracy, but I will tell you, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are going to be surprised to learn about that. They are going to be surprised to learn that you people represent what a democracy is, because when you talk about democracy it means government by the people, except, of course, in the original Greek where demos means mobbed. Therefore, what we have now is government by the mob - that is what Aristotle would have said. It does not mean people in Greek, it means mob. So what we have now is the mob rule in the original Greek.

So, Mr. Chairman, what I am saying to the member over here is that if you believe in democracy you believe in consultation, you believe in representation. That is why we put forward the hoist motion. We said, Why will you not put it to a legislation review committee? Why will you not put it out so people can consult? What people are saying here is: We want time. You are rushing it through. Why the rush? Who was pushing to have this delivered by January 1? Why can we not have it delivered in the Spring? Why not consultation? Why not participation? The fundamental principles of liberalism is that you believe in people power. You believe in participatory democracy. That is what liberalism is all about. Your own party over here on this issue, you have totally abandoned your principles of liberalism. Read what Trudeau talks about when he talks about liberalism. Read what Joey Smallwood talks about when he talks about liberalism. Read what William Carson talked about when he talked about liberalism. You people have abandoned every principle of liberalism, and therefore, you have abandoned democracy. You have abandoned your mandate, you have abandoned your history, you have abandoned your tradition and, of course, you have abandoned all of democracy.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, the responsibility of every hon. member in this House of Assembly, regardless of the party you represent, regardless of the side of the House of Assembly you sit on, is to get up and talk and have the right to present your case against a particular piece of legislation or whatever. You have that right, but you also have the responsibility, Mr. Chairman, to give out accurate information. When you stand in your place in this House of Assembly and you talk about a government of the day presenting a mob rule, it is not the accurate, absolute information and it is not the absolute belief of this Province. Because, if that were so, Mr. Chairman, and my point of order is this - the misleading information that he is putting forth, if that were so, I would ask the hon. member to explain how 56 per cent of the people of this Province, in the most recent poll, voted and chose this government and 65 per cent of the people of this Province chose the Premier of this Province to lead. How then can you be giving correct, accurate information on what the people of this Province are voting for and those they choose to have representing them? not the hon. members opposite who sit with nine people in the seats and one lonely child there.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I already ruled that your point of order was just a mere interruption. The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: I was going to speak to the point of order.

CHAIR: I already ruled there is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a very interesting letter here. I will make some general reference to it. I will not go so far as to say I will read it or anything of that nature, but I will make reference to it. This is a very interesting one, especially the last paragraph.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you write to Santa Claus again?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I send the same letter every year.

`We have learned through the media that you are introducing legislation in the House of Assembly' - I am trying to give a little summary here now, a synopsis, I would not dare read it - `for Sunday shopping. We have polled our members and close to 100 per cent do not want Sunday shopping for the following reasons:' -

MR. EFFORD: Who?

MR. SULLIVAN: - this is written to the Minister of Environment and Labour - I will get to it in a second. The last paragraph is interesting, so bear with me, you will enjoy it: `(1) Sunday is a day of rest for customers and business people to spend time with the families and a day of worship. (2) Our stores are now open six days a week, and the way the economy is in Central Newfoundland, the amount of money people have to spend will not increase. Sunday shopping will not increase sales levels, just spread it over seven days instead of six. If we are to open our stores seven days a week, the expenses will outweigh the benefits. (3) Although opening on Sundays will not be mandatory, we would still have no other choice as independent business people than to do so. If the multi-national chains open and we start losing our customer base, we will have to follow suit at a great expense to our bottom line. (4) The part-time employee is the fastest growing sector of the labour force. If we have to open seven days a week, this will create more part-time positions in place of full-time and will weaken the economic base of the community. We all know the majority of part-time' - I will tell you in a second - `We all know the majority of part-time positions in the retail sector pay less then full-time positions' and the interesting part - last paragraph now - `According to our observations in the local media, the majority of customers and business people are not in favour of opening on Sundays. You and your government campaigned on a platform that you would consult with the people before decisions of this magnitude were made.'

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I respect the people who wrote it and I will tell you in a second. `We have not been consulted by our MHA, your department or by any arm of government.'

MR. EFFORD: Who signed it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I will tell you now, I am getting to it - the signature is at the end, not at the beginning. `You and your government were elected by the people, for the people and in this case, if the legislation goes through, you will be hurting the small independent business person. It has been said that the independent business person is the engine that creates jobs and drives the economy of Newfoundland. Please put this decision on hold until our weak economy grows stronger. Thank you for your co-operation and a response by return fax would be appreciated.' It is sent to the hon. Oliver Langdon, Minister of Environment and Labour, signed by Cluney Sheppard, President, Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it out.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not allowed to read letters.

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not. Who said I read it? How do you know I read that letter? How can you prove that I read that letter? I made reference to the letter - no, indication whatsoever.

MR. EFFORD: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, I know the hon. member opposite is in a desperate situation, I know the position he is in in the polls and his party and everything, but to ask the hon. members a question, how do we know you read that letter? We all got the same letter.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I say to the member, I am 2 per cent higher in the polls than I was a year ago, go back and look, if that is any consolation to you. I am on the way up. At that rate, in another ten years I will be there.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Go back and look at the poll last May when you were behind.

The next one, I will make reference to an interesting one here. This one is written by the President of the Gander and area Chamber of Commerce, represented by the Minister of Tourism, Recreating and Culture, the last one represented by the Member for Lewisporte, and the last one, just to let you know, it said - I am sure the member got that - `You and your government campaigned on a platform that you would consult with the people before decisions of this magnitude were made. We have not been consulted by our MHA, by your department, or by any arm of government.'

That is what the letter said. Now, I am not disputing that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: Are you allowed to ask questions? Is this Question Period, Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman says it is not Question Period. In Question Period tomorrow -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Progressive means moving forward with the wishes of the majority of the people in the Province. It does not mean rolling people over as you go down the track, like that big train you talked about.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you a free-market thinker?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am a free-market thinker, if you want to call it that. Are you?

MR. EFFORD: You cannot be. If you say you are now, you are not being very honest.

MR. SULLIVAN: No?

MR. EFFORD: If you are (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He is telling me I am dishonest, Mr. Chairman. Is that parliamentary? Would you ask him to withdraw it?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: A point of order.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, the hon. member just raised a point. If the word I used was unparliamentary, then the Chairman will rule on that. But if the hon. member opposite is, as all hon. members in this House of Assembly should be, honest and direct and frank with the people of this Province, and he is or she is or they are free-enterprise thinkers, then how can we say to the people, the consumers, or the business people of this Province, that government must tell you when to shop, when not to shop, when to open, when to close? Is it not time to move away from that position and let people do, in the normal business trade, as they wished to do, on a daily basis? If you are not a free-enterpriser, say so; if you are, be honest with the people and tell them so.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition mentioned that the minister had uttered an unparliamentary word.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he implied I was dishonest, he imputed motives. I think it is citation 419. I will let him away with it, I do not need to make a deal of it.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, if I inadvertently used a word that was unparliamentary, I will withdraw it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister there does not practice what he preaches. This government controls government liquor sales. They are closed on Sundays. Are you saying they all should open on Sundays now? Liquor stores? Every store should open?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: No, Newfoundland Liquor Commission stores should open on Sunday, is that what you are saying? Are you saying, the Newfoundland Liquor Commission stores on Kenmount Road and Topsail Road should open on Sunday? Is that what you are saying? I say, put your money where your mouth is. If it is the ultimate, you cannot be selective.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I would like for you to put your two-and-a-half (inaudible) for what?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am saying he is talking out of both sides of his mouth. I am saying, do not even open the ones that are closed now. What do you think we were doing here for the last week? When are you going to get the message?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) cucumber (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. A shame, eh? I do not like cucumbers. They are good for you but I still do not like them.

MR. FUREY: Do you (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Could be.

MR. FUREY: Should we close gas stations on Sundays?

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you open them on Sunday? I think you should close them when you are finished working.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not say that.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, so shut down everything.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: So you are saying, open up everything. Open up Newfoundland Liquor store on Kenmount Road and Topsail Road on Sundays? Is that what you are saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: They are not open in Ontario. No, every single legislation has exceptions. There are lots of exceptions on legislation. I am saying you should sit down, and get up and speak on this if you want to.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Read Hansard, will you. Reuben, read Hansard will you?

MR. EFFORD: Shop (inaudible) on Sunday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Get up and speak if you want to speak on closure motion. Have the guts to get up and speak on the motion instead of taking someone else's time. Sit down and do what you are told!

MR. EFFORD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SULLIVAN: Fourth or fifth point of order, how silly!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This is getting close to the end of the year. We have a responsibility to the people of this Province; they are not playing games here. There are no hon. members on either side of the House playing games. Now, we have to get the clear direction from the members opposite -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Leader opposite.

MR. EFFORD: The Leader opposite who wants to debate and wants to get up and speak against this particular bill, Bill 48 - is the hon. member saying that every retail business in this Province should be closed down on Sunday? Should there be 25 per cent open, should there be 35 per cent, should they be all open? Say it clearly; no gas stations, no restaurants, no taverns, no beer sales, no pharmacies, no retail. You cannot have it both ways. Clarify your position.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am really surprised, Mr. Chairman, that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would say open up the liquor stores on Kenmount Road and Topsail Road on Sundays; in other words, I am surprised that he would go on record as saying that here in this House. I am very surprised minister, that you would say that. He said: open them all up on Sundays.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, the hon. member is abusing his privilege of this House of Assembly. I did not say that every liquor store or every business should be opened. I am asking the member to state his position.

Every club in Newfoundland is open, every beer retailer is open. Should they be open or should they be closed? You answer the question.

MR. J. BYRNE: They should be closed.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I have already ruled that if the minister is asking a question of the member, then it is mere interruption, not a point of order, and this is again not a point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. J. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: A new point of order?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis, on a point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: I have been sitting in this House now since four o'clock this evening and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is trying to take this House on his back, he has been up five times on points of order which were not points of order, Mr. Chairman, and I want you to rule that man, out of order and sit him down and keep him quiet; and if he wants to speak to this bill, let him get up in his due place and speak to this bill and tell the people of this Province that he is in favour of this legislation, if not, shut him up!

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am very surprised that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stated here in this House that we should be selective in what we allow to open on Sundays. He said: Do not -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order!

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he asked: Do you want Kenmount Road and Topsail Road liquor stores opened on Sundays, yes or no? Do you? Do you want them opened? I ask him, does he want them opened?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Indeed he does not.

CHAIR: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is what he thinks - I got him!

MR. EFFORD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, the people of this Province are watching what is going on in this House of Assembly. We have a responsibility here to the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, not only the business people, but all of the people of this Province, and the information, discussion and debate that comes out of the Province matters to every individual in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The hon. member is making a point and talking about what are the rights of the people in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, the point of order: what are the rights of the people of this Province? Should there be a retail -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Should there be a retail outlet in this Province? Should we have a tavern open? Should we have a Bay store open? Should we have a pharmacy open? Should we have a retail store, a gas bar, a convenience store - and the hon. member is not answering the point. What is your position? All or nothing? You cannot have it both ways, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

Once again, there is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, for the fifth time he is out of order. You should go and see a doctor, I tell you and check out that `out of orderness'.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: My blood pressure is pretty good, I tell you; do not worry about mine. I am not sure about Reuben's, I can tell you, I am not sure about Reuben's blood pressure.

AN HON. MEMBER: Reuben has his seal oil.

MR. SULLIVAN: Reuben has seal oil - that will not do; when you have three fatty acids they are not going to solve all the problems, I can tell you. There are some problems that Omega-3 fatty acids just do not solve, I can tell you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not know about that, I am not sure at all. I cannot see the logic of saying, we should give people the choice, leave open pharmacies, beer stores and now we are saying close is he - or leave open liquor stores on Topsail Road and Kenmount Road? How can you pretend to be selective in the choice that you are going to give? The minister does not make sense.

MR. EFFORD: You're stunned!

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Health called me that three weeks before he got fired there last Spring. That is right, three weeks, so he will not - what? Three weeks before that he said I was `stunned' and the Premier said: Minister, you are stunned, I am going to fire you; we have to get a new minister in.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Oh, now, now, now!

MR. SULLIVAN: Six interruptions; name the member, Mr. Chairman, he is interrupting here.

MR. EFFORD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, I have a right, as a member of this House of Assembly, to stand to this speaker any time I wish and, Mr. Chairman -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Protect me, protect me.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, the misinformation, the misrepresentation of the people of this Province, the right - is the hon. member saying that we should be selective -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: - that we should be saying to you, you cannot open. You cannot have it both ways. It can either be a retail choice of the people or, no choice of the people. What is it, Mr. Chairman, a selective or not?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

For the sixth time, it is not a point of order.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, the hon. member is exactly right that he has a right to stand in this House, but in this House, you have to it within the confines of the rules. It does not belong to John Efford, it belongs to each and every one of us. If you want to stand up and participate in this debate, do so according to the rules as outlined in the Standing Orders, Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: To that point of order.

There is a point of order contained within -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I rule it is not a point of order.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: I ruled it wasn't a point of order.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, another point of order then.

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

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman just did something that he is not supposed to do. Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman has been taught quite a few lessons -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman from Kilbride has been taught quite a few lessons in this House. Some of them he has learned very well, and some of them -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. TULK: I feel for Harvey. I will tell you one thing, Harvey, he isn't hiding. Harvey, he isn't hiding.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, to my point of order.

CHAIR: Get to your point of order, please.

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman has used a member's name, and the hon. gentleman should know that he should refer to members of this House by their district, not their name. It isn't permissible for the hon. gentleman to look down and say John Efford. I would ask the Chairman to correct him.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Certainly, to the Government House Leader's point of order, I apologize. I shouldn't have referred to him as John Efford, but the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. At least the Government House Leader has stood and admitted one thing tonight, that unlike his colleagues over there on this particular issue, he has admitted at least this member has learned something at some time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: The hon. Leader of the Opposition, your time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh! Their time is soon going to be up, I say, Mr. Chairman.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, I notice the only person in the House who didn't applaud was the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to paraphrase a fax I received today. It was an open letter to all Liberal MHAs - you received this, didn't you? - and it basically asks: Is there any one of all of you Liberal MHAs with enough guts to oppose Bill 48? It says: Surely all of you can't be in aggregate with this bill. Speak up, and tell who wants this bill to be passed. I've yet to speak to anyone who agrees with Sunday shopping; relatives, friends, strangers. Please, please, the writer says, put an end to this bill which seems to raise its ugly head every now and again.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is reading that, Mr. Chairman.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I'm paraphrasing.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you aren't.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I'm paraphrasing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. T. OSBORNE: To paraphrase this letter: None of the Liberal MHAs have any guts, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, we have heard from people at Canadian Tire, we have heard from the Lewisporte Chamber of Commerce who are against Sunday shopping. We have heard from the Gander and area Chamber of Commerce, and they are against Sunday shopping. We have heard from the Baccalieu Trail Chamber of Commerce, and they are against Sunday shopping.

Mr. Chairman, the only people, I think, in this Province who are in favour of Sunday shopping are Wal-Mart, Sears, Price Club and the Liberals.

We have received a letter from Honda One. The owners of Honda One here in the metro area of St. John's have said, that if Sunday shopping is passed they will perhaps have to lay-off their full- time employees and hire part-time employees so that they don't have to incur the expenses of medical and dental and so on. Is this what we want to have happen in our Province, because it is going to if Sunday shopping is allowed?

We have heard from City Consumers Co-op who have said they are against Sunday shopping, Mr. Chairman. We have heard from Sam The Record Man; they are against Sunday shopping. Why is it that everybody is speaking out against Sunday shopping and the only people that we have heard yet say that they are in favour of it is some lunatic from the Yukon and the Liberals.

We have heard from Riff's department stores -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, on another point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, I understand the seriousness of debate in this hon. House and I understand the excitement and the enthusiasm, and sometimes we get carried away, but this country of Canada - and I have said it many, many times - is the greatest country to live in. The people in this country, from one coast to the other, have respect for each other, and we have community living. For the hon. member to stand in this House of Assembly and refer to a lunatic from the Yukon is shameful. I say that, Mr. Chairman, in all seriousness.

I suspect the hon. member got carried away and didn't give any thought - usually that is what they do over there, they don't give any thought to what they are saying. He should retract, because referring to an hon. member from the Yukon, from another part of this great country, as a lunatic is shameful.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

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

No point of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, the minister is right. Ninety-nine per cent of Canadians are great people, but there are lunatics in every province, I am looking at some of them now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, we have heard from Riff's department stores

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, I am rather enjoying the speech, but I will offer the hon. member an opportunity to escape gracefully because I think he feels sorry about referring to a lunatic from the Yukon. I am sure he would not want to suggest that we are all lunatics over here, but I think it would be quite acceptable - maybe he will get up one more time and say there are lunatics like the Member for Exploits, and I will not feel offended by that. That will be fine if he wants to make that point, but just narrow it down to me and we will forgive you for making two mistakes because I know you didn't really want to say it.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the comment, the lunatic from the Yukon, but if the Member for Exploits wants to refer to himself as a lunatic, I can't help but to agree.

MR. GRIMES: That is a lot better. I feel better now.

MR. FRENCH: Do you feel better now, Roger?

MR. GRIMES: Yes.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, we have heard from different followings of religion within the Province. We have heard from the Christian Worship Centre who are against Sunday shopping. We have heard from the Roman Catholic Church; they are against Sunday shopping. I have even spoken to a gentleman today who said that when he attended church on Sunday, Wesley United Church, the minister stood at the pulpit -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, I could not help but hear the Minister of Fisheries mirror his intellect, but the point of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, we will soon bury every one of those members.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: They are doing a good job of burying themselves.

Mr. Chairman, I spoke to a gentleman who attended church at Wesley United today, and he said that the minister there preached at the pulpit on Sunday, telling his parishioners to disagree with Sunday shopping, it should not be allowed, to phone their members, to phone the radio stations.

Mr. Chairman, we have heard from Canadian Tire and they are opposed to Sunday shopping. The St. John's Board of Trade is opposed to Sunday shopping. In fact, most of the Chambers of Commerce from across the Province have faxed in and phoned and said that they are against Sunday shopping. Various convenience store-owners throughout the Province, Mr. Chairman, have all said that they are against Sunday shopping. They are afraid that if Wal-Mart and Sears and Zellers and K-Mart -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. T. OSBORNE: The member is going to Port his Grave, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, Elaine Price, from the Federation of Labour has spoken out against Sunday shopping and said that her members are against Sunday shopping. The craft stores and local specialty shops are against Sunday shopping and for good reason, because if Wal-Mart and the Price Club, Zellers and K-Mart are allowed to open, they are going to drive the small, locally-owned and operated businesses out of business. What does that add up to, Mr. Chairman? Quite simply, it is going to put people out of employment which our Province cannot afford. It will drive people to the unemployment lines, it will increase the problem of out-migration and that is something that this Province cannot afford.

Some of the stores that will be forced to open up on Sunday because they are located in the different malls have already said, have already stated that it will not create more jobs in their stores. What it will do is create more part-time employment, less full-time, they will lay off their full-time employees and create part-time employment. To the single parents, the single mothers and even families, the working poor in this Province who have to face that, less full-time hours more part-time, that is going to be devastating. It is a recipe for disaster in this Province, Mr. Chairman, and make no mistake about that.

Mr. Chairman, the flea markets that operate in our malls will be forced to close down on Sundays and many of these flea markets right now donate the proceeds or part of their proceeds to charities. They make up for the short-falls where government cannot afford to donate to these charities. The flea markets donate to UNICEF and the like, helping out the charities and helping out our economy by allowing craft makers and authors and painters and so on to display and sell their wares through the circuit of the flea market.

Mr. Chairman, we have spoken to hairstylists who are afraid that, traditionally while they do not open on Sunday, they will be forced to, and they cannot afford to. They will be forced to open on Sunday because places like Sears and so on have hair salons in them and the smaller shops will be forced to open up on Sunday or they will lose their clientele. The malls have hair stylists in them and these smaller outlets, the smaller, locally-owned hair stylists, will have absolutely no choice but to open or lose their clientele which they cannot afford to do.

The same thing goes for small garages, corner garages, service stations and so on. With Wal-Mart, the Price Club and Sears all having service outlets, Mr. Chairman, these smaller outlets, the smaller service stations, will have to open up on Sunday. They will be forced to open or, again, lose clientele. That is a reality, Mr. Chairman, right here if this bill passes.

Let me say something else: While these stores will open up on Sunday, right now, through our process here, through the society we live in, there is only so much money out there through people's wages and so on, and if you spread that over seven days as opposed to six, the retailers are going to take in the same amount of revenue over a seven-day period that they would over a six-day period, only they will have higher expenses. They will have more wages to pay, more utilities to pay, and so on.

The only people really to benefit by Sunday shopping are going to be the larger outlets, the multi-national stores, and these multi-national stores will gradually, slowly, close down the smaller stores, the locally owned stores.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) go to sleep.

MR. T. OSBORNE: They won't go to sleep yet. If one of you guys gets up to speak they might.

Mr. Chairman, the travel agencies will have to compete with the travel agencies at Sears and so on. Again, the small, locally owned travel agencies, the agencies that can't afford to open their doors on Sunday, will be forced to, for no other reason but they are afraid they will lose their clientele to the large, multi-national chain stores that also house travel agencies.

Mr. Chairman, in a capitalistic society, yes, there is an argument for allowing stores to do as they choose, to open up on Sunday if that is what they chose to do, but under our legislation, if we allow stores to open on Sunday, should they choose, you have to look at the reality of the leases that are signed at the major malls. Those leases have a clause which states that if the mall is open for business, your store has to be open for business. Whether that store can afford to be open or not, there is no choice, they have to open. They have to open because of the lease they have signed, and if they do not want to breach their contract with the landlords, namely the owners of the mall, they have to open their doors on Sunday.

Mr. Chairman, many of these smaller stores, Sam the Record Man for one, Riff's and so on, have already stated publicly that they cannot afford to open their doors on Sunday, they cannot afford to take on the extra employees, they cannot afford to pay the extra utilities, but they will be forced to. So not only the small mom-and-pop stores that are located on Water and Duckworth streets, and the corner stores and the convenience stores, not only are they going to suffer, but the smaller stores in the mall outlets as well. They face the reality that they are going to be forced to open on Sunday. There won't be any choice at all. They will be forced to open their doors.

Mr. Chairman, really, we have to ask: Is that a democratic, a capitalistic society? It doesn't sound like it, when government can actually put in place legislation that will force an outlet to do something it doesn't want to do.

We have heard from dry cleaners, eye wear outlets and hardware stores, that are very much afraid that if the large multi-national stores open their doors on Sunday, that even though they can't afford to open their doors, they will have to. That is not legislation that the members on this side of the House want to see put through, and it is not legislation, I would guess, that some of the members on the other side of the House want to see put through.

Mr. Chairman, the Government House Leader and the Premier had said: Don't stand and debate this issue, don't stand and talk to this issue, don't say anything, let the guys on the other side of the House run out of breath, don't get up and say anything, let it run out, don't add to any time here, limit the time, limit the clock, but yet if they were allowed to speak their minds I'm sure there are members on the other side of the House who would say they are, as well, against Sunday shopping, but they are not afforded that privilege. They are stifled by the Government House Leader. They are stifled by the Premier and that is wrong.

The people of this Province, the public of this Province, want to hear from the members of the House of Assembly, and the reality is, it has only been the members of Opposition who have spoken out on this; the government members have not. They might have snuck back to their own districts, Mr. Chairman, and quietly said to the people in their own districts that they are against it, the same way some of them did on the parks privatization, the same way some of them say they were sandbagged on the Marine Atlantic bill. Mr. Chairman, I will tell you, there are members on the other side of the House who are not too comfortable with this bill. There are members on the other side of the House, Mr. Chairman, who are not comfortable with this legislation and their constituents would like to hear from them, not under the sneak of night, not on a private call to their home or to their office saying: Oh, I don't know, I'm not comfortable with this. I'm afraid I am being sandbagged by this. Mr. Chairman, they want to hear from their members here in the Legislature, in an open public forum where it can be debated.

The only people who have put up any debate to this legislation, Mr. Chairman, is the Opposition. The government have refused to debate this issue, the government have refused to answer questions to this issue, and the government have even refused to accept petitions on this issue. What type of democratic society do they think we are living in, Mr. Chairman? What type of democratic society are they portraying our democratic House of Assembly to be when they refuse to accept petitions from the people of our Province who have asked to have their petitions presented?

Mr. Chairman, the reality of this situation is that government is trying to ram this down the throats of the general public. They are trying to ram this down the throats of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador without any explanation from government, without any debate from government, without government answering any questions, without government even giving them the privilege, their right, to have petitions presented here in this House. Then they will go out and stand in front of the camera and say: We are trying to uphold the democratic process here in this House. Have a look in the mirror, my friends. You guys are the people who are standing in the way of the democratic process here in our Province, not the members of Opposition.

Mr. Chairman, we, the members of the Opposition, are listening and consulting with the people of our Province. We are consulting with the people of our Province. We are listening and we are prepared to present their petitions. Unfortunately, the Government House Leader and the members who sit behind him have felt comfortable not allowing petitions to be presented. They felt comfortable not debating this issue, not giving any answers to our debate and not allowing us to ask questions. Mr. Chairman, that's wrong. That is wrong and the people of this Province will let the members on the opposite side know, come the next general election. Some of those members will suffer, Mr. Chairman. Some of those members are going to suffer because of their arrogant attitude, the arrogant way in which they try to conduct government business, their arrogance in not listening to the people of the Province, their arrogance in not accepting petitions from the people of the Province, for not allowing the people's voices to be heard, Mr. Chairman, not allowing the voices of the people of this Province to be heard; and that is unfortunate.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. T. OSBORNE: By leave? I will clue up very quickly, Mr. Chairman, by saying that I am against Sunday shopping.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member has not been given leave.

On motion, clauses 1 through to 3 carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the title.

CHAIR: We have not gotten to the title yet, we have called clauses 1 to 3.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do each clause.

MR. GRIMES: Each clause? One at a time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. TULK: Have you been recognized? I do not think you have. Check with the Chair. Did you recognize somebody?

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Hon. members on the opposite side of the House have already stood on Division. The Chair cannot entertain a point of order at this point.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: We are ready for the vote, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The Chair called clauses 1 to 3, and members did not call a point of order, they called Division.

 

Division

 

CHAIR: Order, please!

I will ask all hon. members to take their seats.

MR. TULK: Signing ceremony.

CHAIR: We can resume the signing ceremony, gentlemen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

Will all hon. members take their seats.

All hon. members in favour of accepting the enacting clause, please rise.

CLERK (Noel): The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Noel; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow.

CHAIR: All those against, please rise.

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

Mr. Chair, twenty-four `ayes' and eleven `nays'.

CHAIR: I declare the enacting clause carried.

Shall the title carry?

AN HON. MEMBER: No

CHAIR: All in favour?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Against?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

CHAIR: Bring in the members, let the bells ring.

 

Division

 

CHAIR: All in favour of the title as read, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Noel; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow.

CHAIR: All against, please rise.

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

Mr. Chairman, twenty-four `ayes' and eleven `nays.'

CHAIR: I declare the title carried.

Shall I report the bill carried without amendment?

All in favour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

CHAIR: Opposed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay!

MR. FITZGERALD: Division.

CHAIR: Bring in the members. Ring the bells.

 

Division

 

CHAIR: All members in favour of the bill being reported without amendment, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Noel; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow.

CHAIR: All members opposed, please rise.

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

Mr. Chairman, twenty-four `ayes' and eleven `nays.'

CHAIR: I declare the motion carried, and the bill will be reported without amendment.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act No. 2." (Bill No. 48)

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

CHAIR: It is moved and seconded that the Committee rise and report progress.

All in favour?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: Opposed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

CHAIR: Bring in the members. Let the bells ring.

 

Division

 

CHAIR: I ask all hon. members to take their seats.

The motion is that the Committee now rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

All those in favour of the motion, please stand.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands; Mr. Noel; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Mr. Sparrow.

CHAIR: All those against the motion, please stand.

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

Mr. Chairman, twenty-three `ayes' and nine `nays'.

CHAIR: I declare the motion carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered the matters to it referred, have directed me to report Bill No. 48 passed without amendment and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, bill ordered read a third time, presently by leave.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, in calling third reading of this bill, I would also move that the question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is moved and seconded that the bill be now read a third time and that the question be now put.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Just a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker: Assuming that this is in essence - let me get my book out here. Are we dealing with five -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Are you going to try to ram this through tonight?

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure as to the procedure we are following here now.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is two motions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: Is the previous question a motion?

MR. SULLIVAN: That is two motions.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Two in one.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the previous question.

AN HON. MEMBER: No amendments allowed.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are now on the previous question.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: It is a debatable motion.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am allowed an hour?

MR. SPEAKER: I guess so, yes; every member is.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my opportunity to stand again and to go through many of the particular reasons why this is a bad piece of legislation. I might add - do we have the Red Book?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: In the Liberal Red Book, on the very first page, the Premier of this Province said: A key element of our platform is partnership. We are committed to an open, ongoing process of dialogue and discussion in decision making. That is what he said.

We almost got bowled over in 1996 with consultation. He has not consulted the ordinary people in the Province. Members over there have not consulted their constituents, they have not consulted small business, they have not even consulted large business, they have not consulted anybody. Then they try to tell us that people in this Province are in favour of opening stores on Sunday.

Ask the people who came out today, tonight - this hour of the night who are in the gallery - ask these people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The people here at 11:35 in the night-time.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't think it is a joke.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right - ordinary, working, business people in the Province.

We have letters galore, I might say. I have had twenty-five times the amount now that ever came to my office on education reform.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, twenty-five times as many; letters and references, many particular reasons why. I am going to highlight some of the many, many reasons why we should not approve this particular bill.

First of all: Why is this government rushing to try and sneak something through before Christmas?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it is a measure of deceit and deception that is occurring, to bring in this particular bill, and bringing it in in haste. It has been turned back before. It was even on the Order Paper, I might add. You even withdrew the bill to try a trial period. They withdrew that. Now the Premier is saying that if it does not work out we can revert. That is a pile of utter nonsense.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the Premier tonight?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, where is the Premier tonight? He stayed tonight because there was a crew there to interview him after Term 17 in the Senate; the only reason we saw him here for a little while today.

MR. E. BYRNE: Gone on road trips, when it is really his bill.

MR. SULLIVAN: He has not been around in the Province. He has not been around to see people. He has not been around to answer one question. We were denied the opportunity to ask questions. Not one government member –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. members that when members are absent from the House, members are not permitted to make reference to their absence. That has been an accepted parliamentary rule, and I ask hon. members to keep it in mind.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I withdraw my statement implying or stating that the Premier is absent. I withdraw that.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, do you want me to leave it there or withdraw it, I say to the Government House Leader? I am not going to be bullied by the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) see the Premier in his place.

AN HON. MEMBER: We resent that the Premier is not in his place.

MR. J. BYRNE: He could be in the House, but he may not be.

AN HON. MEMBER: Next time your leader (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Who told you about it?

AN HON. MEMBER: He has a higher rate of attendance than any other leader around here.

MR. SULLIVAN: Many businesses, many people, have contacted us through e-mails, through faxes, through telephone calls with numerous very valid points. By opening seven days a week, is it going to increase sales? Numerous studies have shown - and I will make reference to some of these - that if you are open seven days instead of six there is no increase in sales. There is a short-term period in which you might have an increase and then it bottoms out again. There is no long-term increase in sales.

What happens when you are open seven days? You have an increase in your variable overhead costs, driving up the cost of doing business which means it cuts into the profit margin of big corporations. So they have two things to do, they have to drive up the price of goods that once again affects the consumer or there is a downward pressure to keep wages where they are. That is the result, because businesses operate for profit and that is fair game. That is what businesses should operate for, profit. I spent over twenty years in business. Businesses want to get a certain profit and if they can't get that profit because of higher overheads, they will either jack up the price of goods or try to keep down the cost of labour and have a lower than normal increase in labour.

Today in this Province we have one of the lowest wages in Canada; $5.25 an hour is the minimum wage in the Province. Many people today are out there working for minimum wage. The last thing we want is a further downward pressure on wages in the Province where we have seen a freeze, basically, in people's incomes over the last eight years since this government came into power. In the public sector there has been a freeze in wages. Your buying power is getting less every single year and costs are going up.

It is getting tougher to do business here in the Province. We lost 16,000 people, a net loss from 1991 to 1996. There are less people to spend. There are less dollars in the economy. The average incomes of people have been affected and we have seen an increase in the inflationary costs of goods and services here in our Province.

To top that off, this government brought in a whole array of new taxes, hidden taxes. They said: no tax increases. Just to give you an example of no tax increases, they went through several pages of increases in licence and fees in this Budget, numerous ones, exorbitant increases in several pages here; about seven pages here of increases in licenses and permits.

I will make reference to some letters here. This one in particular: Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce. It says in this letter, that the majority of customers and business people are not in favour of opening on Sundays. `You and your government campaigned on a platform that you would consult with the people before decisions of this magnitude were made. We have not been consulted by our MHA; we have not been consulted by your department or by any other arm of government. There has been no consultation whatsoever.'

It says, `You and your government were elected by the people, for the people, and in this case the legislation that is going through will hurt small independent business persons. It has been said that the independent business person is the engine that creates jobs and drives the economy of this Province. Please put this decision on hold until our weak economy gets stronger.

`Thanking you for your cooperation.'

That is part of a letter written to the hon. Oliver Langdon, Minister of Environment and Labour, who is indirectly responsible for bringing this legislation in; because I am it is driven by the Premier of the Province who has not been accountable and has refused to answer questions and have anyone on his side of the House stand and debate this bill. The only thing we got from that side of the House today, when I spoke here tonight, are seven points of order and interruptions by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He won't stand and speak on the motion. He will stand and interrupt people here when we are trying to make very valid points.

There are four other points in this made by the Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce, very valid ones. One particular point: Sunday is a day of rest for customers and business people to spend time with their families, and it is a day of worship.

The second point, stores are open now six days a week, and with a weak economy in Central Newfoundland, the amount that people have to spend will not increase. Sunday shopping will not increase sales levels. It will spread it out over seven days instead of six. If they have to open their stores seven days a week, expenses will outweigh the benefits.

A third point in this letter by the Lewisporte and Area Chamber of Commerce says that although opening on Sundays will not be mandatory, in some areas it will. In certain cases it will, in malls, and in certain contractual obligations it will. But in areas where it is not, they said they will have no choice as independent business people because the multinational chains are going to open and they will start losing a customer base so they will have to start following suit at a great expense to their bottom line.

A fourth reason given in this letter, the part-time employee is the fastest growing sector of the labour force. If they have to open seven days a week, it will create more part-time positions in place of full-time, and will weaken the economic base of the community. We all know that the majority of part-time positions in the retail sector pay less than full-time positions.

Those were some valid reasons put forward in that letter from the Lewisporte and Area Chamber of Commerce.

In another area, I received a fax today; it just came in this evening, from the Paint Shop. The President of the Paint Shop is writing on behalf of the Paint Shop owners and operators to convey his opinions on changing the Shops Closing Act.

He goes on to say there are thirty Paint Shop outlets operating within this Province, directly employing over 130 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It said: Our employees and owner/operators are unanimously opposed to Sunday store openings within our sector of the retail industry. Every single one of the Paint Shops in this Province are opposed to opening on Sunday. This letter goes on to say that allowing Sunday openings will further disadvantage an already struggling business sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Why? You do not know why it is struggling, I say to the minister? Well, you should take more seal oil capsules and you might find out if you do not know why.

The devastation from the fishery - 16,000 fewer people in the Province than when you became minister. People are packing up and leaving this Province almost on a daily basis, and the minister does not know why the economy of this Province is struggling.

This government has no agenda for economic growth in the Province. It is going on a whim and a prayer. That is what they are doing. You are part of the reason. The minister is part of the reason, I say, why we have a struggling economy here in the Province.

It said: This part of the industry is vital to the economy of our Province. It lacks the personnel to compete with large chains in the battle for extended operating hours. The ultimate losers will indeed be the small business owners and operators, either through the loss of market share or a reduction in the quality of life as employees and owners are forced to give up the one day they can all freely enjoy with their families.

This letter from the Paint Shop president: It is our belief that the net economic impact on Sunday openings will be negative to our business and zero to the government as we are obviously not generating new economic activity but merely spreading the existing consumer dollars over seven days instead of six.

This letter goes on to mention that business operating costs rise while government tax revenues remain essentially unchanged. In fact, government tax revenues may very well go down, because if the profit level goes down then the corporate income tax goes down and there are less dollars in the coffers of government. That could be the net result.

We do agree that changes to the Act are necessary so that a level playing field can be created for members of the retail sector who are presently disadvantaged by the content of the legislation, and we feel these changes can be implemented without totally eliminating the Sunday opening restriction.

This is a positive letter; it makes some suggestions. I hope you consider the position of our group as you make this very important decision along with your colleagues.

I have seen this House since this has started to be debated, over the last week, and not one single member on that side of the House stood to give any reason why this should go through.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not one reason.

MR. SULLIVAN: Not one reason to give any advantages or disadvantages, or to participate in any debate other than on points of order and to disrupt proceedings here. Not one member stood in his place.

When a minister introduces a bill, he normally closes debate on second reading. We had closure here, and Committee level of the bill. The minister stood up there today, and before we could even call, before one speaker in this House was given the parliamentary right to speak on third reading, he moved that the previous question be put. That means it is not possible to speak more than once on this particular bill in third reading. You cannot suggest changes, I say to the minister, you cannot make amendments to the bill. It is being denied - strong-arm tactics. The Government House Leader knows quite well what it is doing.

Gander and area Chamber of Commerce -

MR. E. BYRNE: Effectively, `Loyola', it has been two closure motions.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure it has been - eight closure motions now from this Premier in less than two years. From 1949 to 1989 there were five, I think, I say to my House Leader, five closure motions in the first forty years of this Province. It is five. We have had eight since this Premier came to power here. Five times in forty years, and eight times since the House opened in May 1996, I think. In a year-and-a-half, eight closure motions. That is not a democracy we are operating under. It is far from a democracy. There is another word for it. Banana republic, that is what it is, tin dictatorships - very similar to what is going on. That is basically what is happening here. Very similar - I did not say it is, I say to the Government House Leader - (inaudible) point of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No it is not. It is very similar. Look at it. Five times in forty years, and eight times from May, and the House has been open about 100 days. It is ridiculous.

Another one from the Gander and area Chamber of Commerce. They are from all over the Province: The issue of Sunday shopping has been raised again. As we understand, the government is in favour of amending to allow for Sunday shopping. It is the third time in the last four years that this matter has been raised, and the opinions of the business community, represented by the Chamber in this area, have not changed.

I do not know - the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation represents that area. They had to take drastic measures, the seniors had to get out on the streets to try to get food back in Lakeside Homes in Gander. And here is the Chamber serving that town out there opposed to it. The fourth time, they have said, they have seen it now again, and nobody seems to be able to stand and tell us why. I mean, if there were valid economic reasons, if there were valid social reasons, if there were any valid reasons for it, but all the reasons are stacked against it.

The Chamber said: In our last poll, 80 per cent of the members polled were not in favour of Sunday shopping. Furthermore, the other Chambers in the Central region, they go on to mention, namely, the Exploits Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Lewisporte area Chamber of Commerce that I referred to a few minutes ago, are also not in favour of Sunday shopping. As well, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Commerce is not in favour of Sunday shopping. They announced that in an Open Line interview on December 17, that was yesterday, I believe.

They said: There is strong public reaction to this issue voicing concerns about the impact this amendment would have on business, and the social aspects as well. The Gander and area Chamber of Commerce said: It is our position that while Sunday shopping may be beneficial to large retail outlets, small local independents in Newfoundland and Labrador are going to bear the brunt of decreased sales, resulting in closures and job losses. We are concerned that this matter was not given the lead time.

One of the concerns they have is not just against the basic principle, but this government defied the very principles on which it said it was going to do things, consult. Anybody in this Province back in February 1996 figured: We are coming back with a saviour who is going to lead us out of poverty in this Province, yes, and into the Promised Land.

MR. SHELLEY: A better tomorrow.

MR. SULLIVAN: A better tomorrow. Higher unemployment rates since 1989; there are about 16,000 fewer people working in this Province today than when the Liberals came to power and Statistics Canada says that at the rate we are going here another 40,000 people will be gone in the next twenty years.

What do we have to stop this tide going out? We have nothing. We have a ten-year tax holiday to Inco and Voisey's Bay on the books; that is reality. That is the laws of the Province that are sitting there now in this Province that we have been calling repeatedly. They talk about the offshore. Hibernia would not be there except for John Crosbie, except for the Federal Government stepping in. And for every billion dollars of oil that comes out of there in the next year-and-a-half, we will get 1 per cent of revenues; we will get $10 million, out of $1 billion. That is what we get.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Churchill Falls.

MR. E. BYRNE: There is a deal signed by Clyde K. Wells, Sir.

MR. SULLIVAN: Out of Churchill Falls - on a normal light bill now, I think, we pay around seven cents or seven-and-a-half cents.

MR. E. BYRNE: In 1991 that deal was signed.

MR. SULLIVAN: - and the mil rate, in a few years, will be thirty-five times that we pay on a regular electricity bill, what Hydro Quebec pays for power out of Churchill Falls; that is basically what we will pay, thirty-five times as much, when the rate drops to two cents in 2015. Right now we are paying around twenty-two to twenty-three times as much on our bill as Hydro Quebec gets the power out of Churchill Falls.

It is no wonder this Province is in the shape that it is in - our hydro resources given away. We looked at Voisey's Bay. This government fails to bring in legislation with respect to Argentina, Chile and every other country - South America. Other provinces in Canada have legislation that sets royalty regimes to get revenues into our Province, to help put dollars in our coffers with which to provide services or stimulate economic growth.

I received a letter from an individual, an e-mail actually, on December 13. This individual, who lives here in the City of St. John's, says: I am writing you in your capacity as Leader of the Opposition. He said in the letter: I was very upset to learn this week of the government's plan to introduce a bill to permit unrestricted Sunday shopping. I thought this very divisive issue was dead and was unpleasantly surprised to see it introduced with no time for public debate, at a time when people's attentions are focused on Christmas. I feel the introduction of Sunday shopping is undesirable for several reasons, both social and economic, and unrelated to religious considerations.

Social ones are the most destructive. A few things in this letter that this individual indicated is the removal of a family day. At present, Sunday is the one day when most people can get together as a family, with friends, unrestricted by job requirements. I think that is a very basic fundamental thing. I look forward to a Sunday, as an opportunity to visit parents or family or to gather around some family activity.

Today, 70 per cent of the people working in those stores are women - that is what studies show; to leave home on a Sunday, with young kids in school, probably the husband working, during the week, and the mother is left, on Sundays, having to go to work, having young kids with school, and family-based activities.

There are enough pressures and strains on the family unit here today in this Province without exacerbating the situation here. Strictly from that specific perspective alone, I think, it is undermining the basic values and principles of society and we are moving fast enough, too fast, into the main stream of American society. I think we need to look back at trying to keep our basic values and principles intact here in our Province. We do not need Sunday shopping - the economy is not calling for it, it is speaking out against it.

Second point, Sunday provides a breathing spell for people by removing commercial and employment pressure. It is no accident that most major religions throughout the world have instituted a day of rest - society needs it. It provides us with a necessary rhythm or cycle. It does. People look forward to a break. If you have a week of activity, the husband works Monday to Friday, the wife works Wednesday to Sunday - kids running with kids all over the place. I know what it is like even during the week in my instance. I am here in St. John's and my family are an hour-and-a-half drive away, and then you look at Sunday, it is the same with anybody. Lots of people are in this, people who travel, people who have to go away for work and are gone for two and three weeks at a time. Most people do not understand the daily types of life that people are leading. Most people here in the House have probably gone through the phase where maybe their kids are grown up in a lot of instances, some have younger kids. They do not listen enough to the people who count in our Province.

A third point, it will, without doubt, introduce much stress to families. It says: by removing the ability of many children to spend time with both parents and for both parents to act together for even one day as Mom and Dad. Usually when Dad is coming in the door, Mom is going out the door, kids are caught in the crossfire, and it does not do anything for families. Currently, most families have two working parents; anybody who can get work, they need two of them working to be able to survive, to be able to pay their mortgage and to put food on the table. Most of them have not had salary increases in years, certainly in the public sector; the private sector has been hit hard enough trying to compete.

Many parents, particularly women, are in private retail outlets, as it goes on to mention in this letter; she now spends most Sundays away from home and it is utter nonsense to think that you do not have to work on Sundays. That is nonsense. If businesses are going to be opened on Sundays and you want to be an employee of that company, if the employee is forced to open to survive, they need the employees. You cannot pick and choose your hours; you cannot pick and say I will work Monday to Friday; everybody cannot work Monday to Friday.

I worked in businesses that, in instances there was pressure to work seven days a week, sometimes you worked around the clock, twenty-four hours, and I know what it is like for employees; I had to deal with employees, up to 200 of them. In fact, I worked on doing the shift system to accommodate them to give them that extra day off every week in addition to their regular day, because they had families and especially during the summertime when their kids were home to have an opportunity to be with them or to have a few days vacation.

A fourth point mentioned here: I see no strong pressure from Newfoundlanders requesting an end to keeping major retailers closed on Sundays. In fact, the recent November poll it says, shows a nearly even split. Well, I can tell you, with a properly worded poll asking the people of the Province for their choice, there would be 80 per cent or more, I would say, of people in this Province who would be opposed to Sunday shopping. The wording of a poll tells everything - people's conviction against Sunday shopping.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where the heck did they get that poll?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is right, where did they get it? It is all in the question many times. The result is in the question that you ask.

The letter says: I suspect, however, if a people poll had been asked about the strength of their preference, the pollsters would have found that the side in favour of keeping a day of rest would have felt more strongly than those wishing to open the major stores. People who might want them open really do not care much one way or the other in many instances, but people who do not want them open have a conviction, because it is destroying a fundamental way of life for people. It is not producing any economic advantages to business, so why have them open? Somebody on government side, tell us why you should have them open? Give us a reason. Do not stand up and say: This one is open, why do we want to close these? The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture got up and said, `Do you not believe in free enterprise? Do you not believe in opening them all up on Sundays to give people a choice?' I said to him: If you are giving people a choice, should you open up the Liquor Commission Store on Kenmount Road on Sundays? Should you open up the Topsail Road store on Sundays? If you are giving a choice, are you saying open them up, too? Oh, that is not what it said. So he wants to be selective. He wants to play both sides of the equation. You cannot have it both ways. They are shirking their responsibilities in not dealing with this issue in line with the wishes of the people of the Province.

Economically, this letter says, it will cost the Province more. No new wealth will be created by an additional shopping day. In each letter, the same reasons are coming up, some of the same basic things are being said over and over again. The same amount of spending will be stretched over a longer period resulting in increased sales costs and necessarily higher prices. The statistics quoted by the Minister of Environment and Labour, 66.6 per cent of retail businesses are already open and all he is doing is deregulating the final one-third, is frankly absurd. Is the minister giving a one-person convenience store the same weight as a Wal-Mart store? The old adage that `statistics do not lie but liars use statistics' certainly comes to mind.

Finally, I note that other Atlantic Provinces have chosen not to introduce unfettered Sunday shopping and with good reasons. Once this genie is out of the bottle it will be impossible to stuff back. I hope you can do your best to pressure the government to back down from this bill. I tell you, we have done our best. We have used any avenue that was at our disposal to delay it, to allow people to be heard, to be open and meet with them, to return their phone calls, to listen to what they are saying out there, but the government has not listened, simply has not listened. For some unknown reason the Premier wants this to get through.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. SULLIVAN: Why? A good question. Why does the Premier want this through? We have not found out the reason. Nova Scotia said, no. Prince Edward Island said, no. New Brunswick had it, I think from Labour Day to Christmas and is now reviewing their policy. They are going back to review it. Our Province, the wealthy Province here with millions of dollars to spend and we are going full tilt ahead. I mean, it is just crazy. It does not make sense. People's disposable income has been declining.

Let us look at it realistically. Does opening seven days instead of six increase sales? Studies have shown no. I have asked across the House, will it increase it? People who are in business, some nodded and said, no I agree it will not increase revenues. It does not increase revenues. If you open a store seven days, you have certain fixed costs, maybe your rent is by a monthly basis and there are other fixed costs. You also have variable overhead costs. When the store is open you have extra costs associated with sales. You have extra people working and you have extra heating costs, depending on the type of business. You have extra overall costs that need to be dealt with. If you increase the cost to your business and you only have the same sales, then I say you reduce your profit. How many businesses out there today want to operate and reduce profit? God help us, the profits are shrunk enough as they are. Some businesses will respond. I asked: How are they going to respond? Three options businesses have under this circumstance. Number one, take smaller profits. Number two, increase the costs. Increase the price of goods that you have so that you can maintain the same profit margin. Number three, ensure that you provide lower wages. More part-time workers at lower wages is one of the three options that people have. That is the realities out there today.

Not many over there had an opportunity to operate a business, I had an opportunity to operate a business, the retail sector, the manufacturing sector, I worked in a variety of businesses in different sectors which I operated and owned, and I know some of the basic concerns of doing business in this Province. I spent over twenty years in business and dealing with up to 200 employees at one time and I know some of the human concerns of working daily in business, certainly, a lot of the financial concerns. And, as I mentioned before, you operate in business to make a profit and nobody denies that option to people, that is why you go in business. If you do not go in business for profit, you should join a charitable organization or a non-profit organization. Business creates employment, but it does so with the intention of providing profits to the owners of those businesses and there is nothing wrong with that; profit is not a dirty word. It is a word that is a fundamental part of what built North America today, private enterprise and ingenuity and entrepreneurship of people out in business today.

Even some of the advocates of opening on Sundays, The Evening Telegram December 13, editorial, of which I have a copy, said: Move ahead with Sunday shopping. Two days later, December 15, a little mini editorial there backed away a bit and said: We should look at what restrictions we are going to place on the hours we are open on Sunday. So, in a matter of two days there was a little drawing back from the picture altogether.

I heard the President of the Board of Trade one day this week saying: Well, there should have been a pilot project to look at the impact of it. He did not come out in support of unqualified Sunday shopping. He reserved some judgement, saying, maybe it is the wrong thing, maybe we should look at it, maybe we should do a pilot project.

MR. SHELLEY: That would be called consultation - you cannot do that.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it would be called consultation.

Another point comes to mind. In 1992, in this Province, when a moratorium was announced on the fishery, people in rural Newfoundland automatically then were without a job. There was an income under NCARP payments and then TAGS payments. What happened to many small stores in rural Newfoundland - the small stores that employed maybe a husband and a wife and another worker - they found that the people then who were getting an income, who were not working, had so much free time on their hands, they went into major chains, major stores and spent their money, the major grocery stores, bought groceries here in St. John's and elsewhere. The small stores had to lay-off people and the businesses got squeezed and squeezed in rural Newfoundland and many of them closed and are not operating today.

MR. SHELLEY: They do not think about them.

MR. FRENCH: Small businesses do not count in this Province.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, the little `mom and pop' stores that kept families intact for years. I am very familiar with one - actually, my in-laws have had one, a little store that that family operated for over forty years - still in operation actually.

They are just some examples of people independent out there not having to depend on any government and never having to depend on an unemployment cheque, they just run their own little businesses, one or two people in a family. They spent a lifetime in the business and they make a moderate living out of it to be able to survive. There are many other businesses like it and I see that many are facing hardship today. They do not have that extra employee, they cannot afford to have that extra worker on anymore. Instead of working nine to five and have someone come in part of the day or evening, they are having to spend more time away from their family, they are having to work twelve hours a day now in that store instead of the eight hours a day, and everybody is being stressed to the limit.

Those types of things are impacting. People have been leaving rural areas, the numbers have been going down and it is putting a lot of downward pressure on those particular stores to survive. If they open on Sundays, that is extra pressure again. That extra day will drive the nail even further, and be the downfall of small businesses here that have been able to sustain our economy for a period of time.

What happens with major outlets? Even many of these major stores do not want to be open. We are going to see major chain stores are going to be reaping the majority of sales, owned by shareholders outside this Province, primarily in Ontario, Quebec, other parts of the country, even outside the country, I might add, international chain stores. The profits are going outside this Province in an economy now that is getting siphoned of necessary dollars. The last thing we need is a further siphoning of dollars out of our provincial economy.

We all know our economy cannot sustain it. We do not have the diversity in our economy, we do not have the proximity to other provinces for cross-border shopping, we do not have numerous other aspects that are available in other parts of the country. We have stores moving out. Just look around the Province today. Look at the major stores that are moving out and expanding, and other stores being gobbled up. There is nothing wrong with having choice and competition in business today, but there has to be at least a level playing field, an opportunity to support Newfoundland businesses.

My colleague, the Member for St. John's South, asked the question: Why are we not doing things to help Newfoundland business? The Premier said: Well, what - you have some ideas. They never have answers. They want us to give all the answers. They have given up their responsibility to govern the Province. The Member for St. John's South went out and had a meeting last Friday with - people from about twenty-four businesses, I think, showed up. Holiday Inn - went out and booked a room, paid the cost. Opposition with no budget, none whatsoever, to operate, and now has a series of meetings looking at it across the Province. I guess the government was so embarrassed that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood this week in the House and announced: We are going to look at ways now. I say to the Premier, he should give him a budget to do the rest of the Island, and come back with ways that you can help business.

A window company in my district, a fairly prominent one that sells to a major company here in St. John's, manufactures windows, a top-quality window, could not bid on work at a Crown corporation, a government-funded area, because they called for a specification that was made in Germany that was supplied through Nova Scotia. This was a comparable window in quality, and it was not in the specifications. So we could not provide them.

The product is made locally here in a town in Trepassey that is devastated from the fishery, a population of 1,400 in 1991 gone down today to a population of 800. Can you imagine a town that lost 600 people in a town of 1,400 people in five years? You think there are towns in this Province that have faced hardship? Go visit there. If you want to buy a house anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000, go up and buy one. You can buy a house. Two went for $3,000; $6,000 and $8,000 is not uncommon.

You have a company employing people there, paying their wages, and they could not put a bid for a window because the government, so pig-headed, put into the specifications a window that was not manufactured here in our Province. Build in Newfoundland specifications, if they are quality products, and give them that choice. They did not have that choice, even, to put a similar one there. It was not there. There are other instances, I am sure, and my colleague, the Member for St. John's South, has illustrated examples, and there will be numerous other examples of ways we have to look at helping Newfoundland businesses today to compete against the larger international, the multi-national, businesses that are competing against us.

We have to be competitive. We are not asking to give it out to Newfoundland businesses at all cost. That is not what is being asked. You are being asked to give us an opportunity to be able to compete at least on a level playing field, because Newfoundland and Labrador businesses have sprouted. They are supplying goods of different types all over this world. They can be as competitive as anybody. People here have the ingenuity, they have the commitment. Newfoundland workers have a strong reputation in other parts of the country. I have spoken with companies in different parts, in particular Western Canada, over the last few years, following up on recommendations from people. It was indicated people were even looking for workers from Newfoundland to go to work in Western Canada. There are people out there who have built up a strong reputation.

Back here, we are our own worst critics. Some people think Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are too lazy to work. There is too much garbage gets on through national media, Globe and Mail, national news. They pick out the worst case scenario and depict it: here what is happening in this Province. It is unbelievable some of the nonsense we see coming across our t.v. screens and in major newspapers here in the country. We have to start fighting back against this. We have to start supporting businesses and the people here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One particular aspect, and as mentioned here - I think my colleague mentioned some other letters I think you had. There are a few here. I know I referred to them one day. I did not go into full detail. I am going to make some reference to them when I find them here. This was one that came off the Internet from the Council of Christian Reform Churches in Canada yesterday. It came off the Internet. It said: This particular group represents 220 congregations spread throughout Canada, 87,000 people living in 10,300 family units.

It looks at different reasons why there should not be Sunday shopping. It looked at economic considerations, the role of government, biblical background, present legislation. It goes into recommendations to government. It mentions some interesting things here. Just economic considerations for a few moments: Seven-day shopping weeks may be advantageous for some merchants, but studies have shown that it does not increase the total value of retail sales in the long term. If you have a big opening and people come out to a store and all that, the sales are great, and you keep up a certain level. Eventually, if there is competition, it tapers off. If you extend it for a day you might get a lot of people out of curiosity going in there, or showing up there, looking on it as being a convenience, but the dollars are not going to be there in the long haul. You cannot spend the same money twice.

It goes on to say: The additional costs of operating the store, estimate of some to be as high as 15 per cent extra cost by keeping a store open for that extra day - a 15 per cent increase, which is fairly high. Even marginal increases in operating costs, 8 per cent or 10 per cent, would be very significant on the bottom line. Unrestricted shopping hours work to the advantage of large malls and chain stores, largely at the expense of family-run business.

Now, they have done research and studies. Workers in retail trades, who comprise about 30 per cent of the workforce, are often forced by circumstances to accede to their employer's demands to work on Sunday. You are employed in a store. Do you tell your employer: None of us want to work on Sunday? If you do not want to work on Sunday, they will have somebody else who will work on Sunday at casual or part-time, a lower wage, and that means less hours available for these people the rest of the week. So you either work on Sunday, or you do not get the hours of work you need. Because if they need people in, you are not going to be able to hand-pick your hours if you are working in business.

It said: Of these employees, 70 per cent are mothers with dependent children. These employees need the weekend for family life and for recreation. Costly day care greatly reduces net income. Many retail workers are not organized into unions; they have low wages, and enjoy few other job opportunities. They enjoy few long-term benefits. The Council of Christian Reform Churches in Canada is stating this.

They said: Closing stores on Sundays will not automatically lead to better family and community life - that alone is not going to do it, nor does rest day legislation fulfil the government's role in enhancing family life. It says protecting a common non-commercial day is only a small part of pursuing a greater justice in the major public policies that affect families. We regret that some workers are now compelled to work on Sundays because they need that extra income to pay for basic family necessities. It says: To give lower income families the benefit of a common free day, governments need to provide adequate support for social and cultural institutions which enhance family life for all Canadians.

They just looked at some economic considerations, other considerations, social considerations. They said: In our present society, economic interest tends to dominate many aspects. If this argument were economically motivated, you might say, fine. If it is economically motivated, what about the social aspect of a society? This argument here does not have an economic foundation. It does not have a social foundation, in fact. The move to extend shopping on Sundays, according to the Reform Churches, is a symptom of over-emphasis on material prosperity.

It goes on to talk about numerous other aspects of a social nature. When you look at what this is going to do, in the long term, it is going to have a very devastating effect. It is going to be a change in a way of life, a change in the family unit. The family structure is going to be different. There are going to be pressures on businesses in our Province to be able to - it is going to put extra pressures on it - I have been involved, I say to the minister, in limited retail business. I have been in a variety of businesses over the years, from lounge businesses to retail businesses, the manufacturing sector and the processing sector. I have had a dabble in other aspects of business also. I have a little bit of experience in knowing some of those problems.

MR. MATTHEWS: What are you going to do after March?

MR. SULLIVAN: What am I going to do after March? The same thing I am doing right now, I suppose. I will be here in the House. I do not know if I will be here in this spot but I will be somewhere from here to up there, I hope.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Don't worry. I say, I will be here -

AN HON. MEMBER: I hope Scott Chafe is listening, because (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I had a little interview with Scott earlier. Scott has a great sustaining power. A lot more, I would say, than the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who goes home every night and goes to bed. He could not sustain himself in the Health portfolio and I do not know if he is going to have much luck in sustaining himself in the Works, Services and Transportation portfolio. He is into a lot of hot water there already, wouldn't you say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) over there; that is not bad.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not bad. That is what the sunny South can do for you. It can do wonders. I can say when Mr. T heads South again, look out. I am wondering about the next election, whether the Member for St. John's North is going to have a seat. If he is it will be over on this side of the House, I would say.

MR. J. BYRNE: What party is he going to run for?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I think it is time now for a little lighter moment. The Member for St. John's North, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the former fired Minister of Health, who could not maintain that portfolio and represent the people, and the minister before, that I was critic, the Member for St. John's Centre, Hubert Kitchen, I got him fired, too, I can tell you. Myself and the Member for Conception Bay South got that guy fired. Who are we going to get next, I wonder? Who are we going to get next?

MR. FRENCH: Oh, we will (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Listen, one of the requirements to get into the Liberal Cabinet is that you must have been a PC - a member of Brian Mulroney's 500 Club. Now, I would not go around singing that out -a member of Brian Mulroney's 500 Club, I can tell you, because Brian Mulroney is not the most popular name in Canada, I might tell you.

But he walked in here in - when did you get elected, 1993? In 1992 I got elected and in 1993 he comes in to see our Leader, Len Simms. A guy comes in and I ask, `Who is that guy?' They said, `That is Lloyd Matthews. He wants to run for the nomination for the PCs in St. John's North.'

MR. MATTHEWS: It is (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a true story.

MR. MATTHEWS: It is absolute `fibilization'.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a true story. I never told a lie in my life, I say to the minister, and I hope I never have to, because if you do not tell a lie, you never have to make up excuses.

I will finish my story. He went in to see - I asked, `Who is that guy?" I was new around politics, only here a few months, got elected in June 1992, there was an election in May. They said, `That is Lloyd Matthews, the guy who ran down in Pleasantville before and lost.' I said, `Oh, I do not know if we want losers with us.' But anyway, he came in and he was going to run for us in St. John's North, and then Phil Warren decided he was not going to run, so the next thing we heard, he was out looking for the Liberal nomination in St. John's North.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he is -

MR. SULLIVAN: That is a fact, I can tell you.

MR. FITZGERALD: He is right, `Matthews'.

MR. TULK: That is a real good story.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is a good story. Oh, yes, back to his seat now, points of order again, just like the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. J. BYRNE: Can't take the truth.

MR. SULLIVAN: Look, there he is, he can't take it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh yes, a point of order. Speak on the bill, I say to the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, on a point of order.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, it is important to speak to the bill when you are up on a specific bill, but it is even more important to speak the truth regardless of what you are speaking to. And as I had to reiterate the other night in this House, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is engaged in gross `fibilization'. He is wagging a false pair of jaws. He is involved in an activity that is less then forthright, honest and truthful. Therefore, I would ask that the Speaker bring this to his attention because that type of activity in the House is not right.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: He spins a yarn, he tells a story that is, in fact, grossly inadequate, totally wrong, and I would ask that he, in the name of honesty and decency and in the spirit of the season, withdraw the remarks and get back to the matter at hand.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, I will say, if the minister thinks it is not factual, when I finish now in another few minutes, I challenge the minister to stand and tell us what the real truth is and let us hear his side of the argument. We have only hear my side, we have not heard his.

MR. TULK: Tell the story again.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I will not tell it again because I only have a few minutes left. An hour passes so quickly when you are having fun, and I would like to get back to this business. It is a serious matter and I have been up on this matter many times before. The longest stretch I got without interruptions, I can say, in a long while. In twenty minutes today, the Minister of Fisheries interrupted me on seven occasions on points of order, utter nonsense. I am delighted we have some people in the galleries so that will keep these comments down.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am delighted to be able to be quiet for a change and be able to listen to some particular facts about this, and I hope the rest of my colleagues also -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to extend a brief apology to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. I have listened to most of his hour at this particular time and the point he is trying to make now about being interrupted and so on. I probably have not paid 100 per cent attention to all of his points in this hour, mainly for two reasons: It is about the tenth or eleventh time in the last four or five days I have heard the same speech. Secondly, this point - I would like for him to speak to it afterwards, maybe explain to the people in the gallery as to why they have chosen this tactic - that over these last two or three days, there have been about two-and-a-half hours when we could have been debating this bill, whereas these members would ring the bells on division and run out of the Legislature every ten minutes -

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

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

MR. GRIMES: - and go on complaining, when there would have been lots of time to address the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), boy!

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, there are several reasons. I guess one reason is that when we have the Minister of Education, training slow learners, we have to repeat at least ten or a dozen times. It just does not sink in and has not sunk in yet. Nobody has been able to get on his feet and give one particular reason why it should go through. Another reason, I say to the minister, is because your government has denied us the opportunity in this House to present petitions on behalf of people who give us petitions to present in this House on Shops' Closing. We were only allowed to present one petition on one day out of the dozens of petitions we have here. We were denied that right.

I have not seen it in this House before - even the former Government House Leader, Ed Roberts, bad as he was, often allowed us to present eight or ten petitions, the people's petitions that come to us here; we have a right to represent, and the people, a right to be heard in this House; that is why we are doing it. In fact, I may make reference to a petition here now while I have an opportunity, in the few minutes left. Here is an example.

MR. GRIMES: Once again, why is he (inaudible) hours outside (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Because we are trying to stop you.

MR. SULLIVAN: Because we will use whatever avenue we have at our disposal to stop this bill from going through, because it is bad for the people of this Province, I say to the minister, that is why, and that is an answer.

MR. SHELLEY: We will ring the bells again in a minute.

MR. SULLIVAN: And a petition here - in fact, I will make reference to it now. We are not allowed to read it under normal times. There is a petition - I will go through the wording. It says:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has introduced legislation to remove the current restrictions of Sunday shopping; and

WHEREAS legislation, if passed, would have serious consequences for retail and wholesale workers who now count Sundays as guarantee holidays which they can spend with their families; and

WHEREAS we do not need and we do not want the changes that this legislation would cause;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to withdraw Bill 48, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act, No. 2", from the Order Paper and abandon efforts to remove the current restrictions on Sunday shopping and as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

I will list the people here from - I see one from Gander, the rest are from St. John's, on this particular page two from Gander, St. John's, Park Avenue in the Mount Pearl area. There are different parts of the city here and a couple from Central Newfoundland as an example. That is why, I say we are standing here, because we are not allowed to do this when we are told here and it is listed on the order or routine proceedings where it says Petitions. Why shouldn't you change it to Petition, I only have one - that is all you are allowed.

Maybe it is an opportunity for somebody to get up now, on the government side and try to convince us what is good about it, why you want it, and who has ordered this particular bill. Whom do you listen to and who is being consulted? I might ask: who has been consulted? Ready for a better tomorrow based on consultation with the people of the Province, that was the platform but we have not seen it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, I went through it, I have seen all the blank pages in it; every second page is blank.

MR. MATTHEWS: You love that Red Book, `Loyola'.

MR. SULLIVAN: What?

MR. MATTHEWS: You love that Red Book.

MR. SULLIVAN: You like Red Books and Blue Books. I say to the minister, you like all kinds of books. He flips a coin and says: I wonder which one will I read next? That is what he does.

I just want to touch on a few points. I have only a short period of time left and I want to reiterate a few key points. Number one: The major stores - my colleagues have referred to many of them today and there are additional ones that I have mentioned - do not want to see Sunday shopping. Small, independent businesses, retailers, do not want to see it. I had correspondence from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business - and independent business here in the Province - I will just make reference to it. I think there are 479 businesses in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business here in our Province. Out of the ones they polled, a significant number of those, only 12.2 per cent in the Province were in favour. This was done in a two-hour time span, this telephone poll.

They had no advance notice of consultation. The correspondence says: In the government release, the minister indicated that most Canadian jurisdictions have wide-open Sunday shopping hours. Nova Scotia does not, I mentioned; Prince Edward Island does not. New Brunswick is re-examining it.

From the Canadian Federation of Independent Business: It is one thing to have a significant change in legislation, but to do it without adequate consultation suggests that the government is responding to big business pressures. A similar attempt was made in Nova Scotia during the past six weeks -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: - but Nova Scotia -

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SULLIVAN: Premier McKenna announced his province has no intention -

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. SULLIVAN: - of expanding it.

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

The hon. member does not have leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: Stifled again, look.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get my opportunity.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: He will not go thirty minutes, you watch him.

MR. FRENCH: If you can stay for thirty minutes - because you usually jump up and take off; but if you can stay for thirty minutes, I will tell you again what I have been telling you now for a week. And maybe at the end of this thirty-minute session it may sink into you, it just might get through the block - I doubt it, but it might. If you listen carefully you may hear what you have not heard yet in a week. You might, at the end of this, have the nerve and the fortitude to come out of your seat, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, come out of your seat with a bit of nerve and you tell us, and tell the people of this Province, why you want this bill to pass! Come up! Come up for thirty minutes and have your say!

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: Never mind sitting in your seat and flapping your gums like you usually are, like you are rattling your gums over there again now. Get out of your seat, boy! Have a bit of nerve! Represent the people who elected you! Come out of your seat. Don't sit over there like somebody who is afraid or hiding. Get up! Have some backbone!

When I go through what I have to say, I will probably find petitions here from St. John's North because, Minister, I have sixty-one petitions to present which I have not been able to present for the last five days - sixty-one petitions, all of them, I might add, against Sunday shopping, every single one of them against Sunday shopping. These are from regular people who work in businesses around Newfoundland and Labrador. I have petitions here from Labrador, from Corner Brook, from the City of St. John's, from Grand Falls and Gander - I have them from all over this Province.

MR. J. BYRNE: But the people are for it - right?

MR. FRENCH: Oh, yes...I have not seen one!

I might add, Mr. Speaker, I am now receiving, between faxes and letters and phone calls, pretty close to 200, and the next phone call I get - unless one of the ministers here calls me - asking me to come into this House and support this bill will be the first one.

I am going to talk again about letters that I have received. I have three or four of them, and I have mentioned some of them, or I have touched on some of the points. I have one letter which I received today in the mail which says that this business is going to lay off every single employee it has and will now try to operate their business on part-time workers. Because now they are going to be forced to compete with multinationals. They say they cannot do that with full-time workers, they are going to have to do it with part-time workers, and they are now going to stretch their work week out to seven days a week.

That is ridiculous. Just imagine, we are going to drive people out of work. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, by working seven days a week we are going to see men and women, young families with mortgages who have contributed immensely to this business, we are going to see those people out of work.

I have another letter here, Mr. Speaker, I touched on it this afternoon, a letter that was written to the Premier, which I have a copy of, asking the Premier to lobby and vote against this particular piece of legislation. It was signed from Riff's Limited and its 400 staff members, Mr. Speaker - one company, just one, 400 people against this bill. I do not know who they consulted with this company and I do not know who they consulted at City Consumers Co-operative. Because the short and sweet of this, Mr. Speaker, is that those on that side of the House do not care.

I challenged them this afternoon, when I spoke earlier, to stand in their places and tell us on this side of the House and tell the people of this Province, why they support this particular piece of legislation. So far, Mr. Speaker, it has not been done. The only thing I ever heard was at 3:00 a.m., when I heard the Government House Leader, standing right there, say: `I got my orders and I am going to get this bill through.'

He may well, at the end of the day, get this bill through, but I tell you, Mr. Speaker, he is in for a late night tonight, he is in for a late night tomorrow night and he will be in for a late night the next night. And his members over there, if they are going to stick around, had better change their tickets or he had better call no more bills, because the co-operation from this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, is over for this session. I have never seen the like, and I am a new member. I have been here a year and I have never seen the like of this, the bullying tactics that have been used are unbelievable and they are a credit to nobody. I said the other day when I spoke, Mr. Speaker, if we had a free vote in this House, and members were willing to vote by the calls that they got and were willing to vote by their own constituents, I tell you, this bill would receive a resounding defeat.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as well, over the last week or so I have had the opportunity to talk to people who are in business in this Province. I made it a point to phone somebody at the Avalon Mall, in a business that I knew which is not a Newfoundland firm, and ask these people if they were really in favour of Sunday shopping. I found out, Mr. Speaker, that the person I talked to, who was manager of this particular store, a lady, told me that she had talked to their head office. She had talked to her supervisor and the supervisor had told her that in no way did they want this piece of legislation to pass. So again, Mr. Speaker, why do we want it? Who on the other side is driving the bus?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Nobody. Nobody is driving the bus; or at least nobody else, outside the minister, is saying, `Well, we want this particular piece of legislation.'

The Chambers of Commerce do not want it, the unions do not want it, and the employees who work in businesses in the Province of Newfoundland do not want this legislation. Yet, here we are at 12:45 a.m., six or seven days before Christmas, debating probably the most nonsensical bill that has been introduced in this session, the most ridiculous bill, I say to the Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: I am just checking briefly, Mr. Speaker, if you might make a ruling as to what appropriate dress is in the Chamber at any one time. I know it is late and we have been here a long time, mainly because we could have done this today or yesterday except for about three hours of standing outside the House with the bells ringing when all of the members were already in their seats. But we do have one of our hon. members, the Member for Bonavista South, without his jacket. I would just like a ruling, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It just shows exactly what this minister thinks of this bill. It shows what he thinks of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it clearly shows that he must have no intention of running again. Either that or he is due a promotion.

MR. FITZGERALD: It shows where his priorities are.

MR. FRENCH: It shows where his priorities are, you can be sure of that. It is probably the only thing he has to worry about at quarter to one in the morning. I hope you are not going anywhere. I hope you do not have a ticket bought, because if you want to hear the bells ring, partner, you are going to hear the bells ring. You will be sick of bells ringing, I say to you, by Christmas Eve, because you will be sitting here if your man across the way keeps introducing legislation. You will be sitting here listening to those bells toll.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: That is right. You have put yourself in a corner, I say to the Government House Leader, a corner that we will not forget for quite some time to come, I say to you. If you think you can threaten us, then I think you bit off more than you can chew.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think the only person being threatened here is me. I have not threatened the hon. gentleman; don't be so foolish.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is one, two - that is two so far - no points of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, boy, you are surly again now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: That is right, and it is too bad. You should really be ashamed of yourself because you should know the rules. You are the big bully and the big bull who, the last two or three days, has been ramming this legislation through.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: And do you know what? We don't really give two hoots about what you try to do because we are not going to run and hide because the Government House Leader dances his jig, and has been dancing his jig since Monday. So you keep dancing, because this side over here is not the least bit worried about the jig that you do. We are not the least bit worried, I say to the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I would say my piece if fellows like you would sit in your seat and let me go ahead and say my piece instead of jumping up on your foolish points of order. Because you have never moved as many, I would say, in your life, and you have never been ruled out of order so many times in your life, as you have in the last four or five days.

Mr. Speaker, this is more important than the Government House Leader, than this bull in the china shop. This is more important to the people of this Province than that, and maybe he should answer his telephone.

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, if he would read some of the letters that have come in, or look at some of the petitions that have come in, maybe he just might stand in his place and do the hon. thing and vote against this particular piece of legislation. Now I do not really think that is going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, I guess I am not the only one. I think there are sixty-one petitions here from people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You don't know the meaning of the word, my friend. I have seen lots of guys like you in my day. I have seen lots of them, and I have heard lots of ‘yappers' like you, who kept going, who could -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Don't worry, I will not fall over my desk. You just hang on to those braces, I say to the Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, back to this, because this is more important than he is. Sixty-one petitions that we have been barred from presenting in this House. I have never seen the like of that in the year-and-a-half that I have been here - have never seen the like of sixty-one petitions and us being stopped from presenting these petitions in this House. I have never seen the like of these petitions in this House. We have letters from businesses all over this Province which are opposed to this, and there is nobody who seems to be listening. What happens to family life? as my hon. colleague for Ferryland said a few minutes ago. What happens to family life if we just happen to have two people in a family working in retail in this Province?

Most times the family could depend on their Sunday off, regardless of what other days they had. Whether their children were in school or pre-school or whatever, they always were sure of one day a week off, and that one day a week off was Sunday. Conceivably now, we could have the lady of the family off on Tuesday and off on Friday, and maybe the husband off on Monday and maybe Saturday. By the time the rotation would get around... I wonder what effect this is going to have on family life and family values in this city.

The Board of Trade does not want it. The Chambers of Commerce does not want it. The workers in this Province do not want this bill. The only one that wants this bill is this government, and for the life of me I cannot understand why. I cannot understand it, it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. From the phone calls and correspondence I have gotten, and that my colleagues have gotten, there is nobody who has sent anything to this side of the House saying we should support this legislation.

If there were a good reason - because we are not against every piece of legislation that comes before this House. We supported the education bill last year, we supported the education bill this year, and we supported it again today, and gave leave to have the education bill passed. That is just one bill. So we are not against every bill that comes before this House. For somebody to create or try to create that impression, they are doing nothing only creating a smoke screen. Here we are tonight talking about a bill that nobody wants. Since last Friday this probably makes the fourth or the fifth time that we, on this side of the House, will have spoken by 6:00 tomorrow morning, I would assume, on this particular piece of legislation.

We have not had a reply but we have all spoken loudly, and we have all spoken clearly, I believe, on this particular bill, a bill that nobody wants. Twice before, it was introduced, and twice before, it was either withdrawn or left to die the death that it deserved on the Order Paper. Yet it is still here, it is still carrying on, and it is totally amazing.

Petitions are here from all over the Province of Newfoundland. If we said it was just an issue for the City of St. John's or the City of Mount Pearl or the City of Corner Brook, fine, but it is not that issue, Mr. Speaker, it is an issue from all over the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nobody wants this bill, nobody except, I would assume, members from government, because there is nobody on this side and there is nobody in the general public who wants this particular piece of legislation.

When you have business people who tell you they are going to lay off their full-time employees and run their business on part-timers, Mr. Speaker, that is frightening, that is scary - people with young families, mortgages and other payments to meet. It is scary, Mr. Speaker, and it is frightening that we are going to impose this on a business in our community in this Province. When we have City Consumers Co-op in this Province and its president writing to the minister saying, `Minister, we do not want this. On behalf of our consumers, on behalf of our customers, on behalf of our employees, we do not want this particular piece of legislation.' From another company with 400 employees, they do not want this particular piece of legislation.

I said, Mr. Speaker, the other day, that I drove out and had to go in to Canadian Tire on Kenmount Road. I made it a point to ask employees in there what they thought of this bill. Mr. Speaker, I cannot repeat in this hon. House the way they described this bill to me. I cannot use the language they used to describe this bill to me. So just imagine, that was probably five or six employees and three or four people from the general public and not one of them was in favour of this bill. So we are going to try to change a way of life in this Province that people enjoy today, because the one day of the week people were assured of being off was Sunday. I tell you, there would be some racket in this House, Mr. Speaker, if they ever came in here and said, `Boys, you are going to sit now seven days a week, ladies and gentlemen in this House.' I tell you, it would all hit the fan, wouldn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: We would not do it.

MR. FRENCH: That is right, you would not do it. Nobody would do it, Mr. Speaker, because we would not want it. We would not want our way of life interfered with in that particular manner. We would not do it. It would never happen. So we sit here at 12:48 a.m. and we are still talking on this particular bill. We talked about, `Why do we do this? Why do we do that? Why do we make the bells ring?' Well, this is why we make them ring, Mr. Speaker, it is because we are opposed to this bill and we intend to fight this bill every step of the way, every inch of the way, and if that means all night then sobeit.

Tomorrow, well, it is now another day and we are quite prepared to sit through tomorrow if we have to and do the same thing to pass legislation in this House. That is what we are prepared to do, because on this bill there was no compromise. There was no consultation with anybody. It is a bill that somebody brought before this House and said let us pass it.

It is Christmas, so at Christmastime these guys will knuckle in. They will go away in two or three hours. But we have not done that, Mr. Speaker, and we are not going to. We are going to fight this bill because we decided to. It is a bill that is not just to the workers of this Province and it is not just to the small businesses in this Province. It is a shame what we are going to do to some of them. It is a shame what we are going to do to some of the small businesses in this Province. We may well force some of them out of business as well because of what we are doing here. Again, that is not right because people will lose their jobs and we will force Newfoundlanders, `mom and pop' type operations who work seven days a week, some of them, to try to survive... People say, well, you have people who work in hospitals, or you have policemen, or you have wardens, or you have doctors, or you have nurses.

I had a call this morning from Her Majesty's Penitentiary, and people (inaudible). That is something. Why would somebody down there... The conversation was that these people were against Sunday shopping. These people said to me: Bob, when we went into the jobs that we have, we realized that part of this job, if we accepted it, was shift work.

The person who went to work at the Avalon Mall, or downtown St. John's, or the Village Mall, or the mall in Corner Brook, or the mall in Gander, or wherever the stores may be in this Province, they did not go to work, they did not accept the position, whereby they would work seven days a week. They did not accept that. They were not offered that, and that was not a part of the conditions under which they went to work.

Again, who is driving the bus? There is no driver to this bus.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, there is. You do not know about it.

MR. FRENCH: If there is a driver then he is certainly not in uniform and he is certainly well hidden - he or she. If we do have somebody leading the parade on this one, I do not know where they are because nobody has really come out and accepted the responsibility for this particular piece of legislation. Nobody but nobody has come forward and said: This is what we want in this Province. This is what we are out to achieve. This is our goal at the end of the day.

Nobody in this Province wants this bill, and here we are, the eighteenth day of December, and people do not want to be here. They want to get home.

I can understand the plight of a lot of members in this House who have family who are probably not as fortunate as some of us to live as close to this place as we do, but there are colleagues of mine on this side of the House who want to get out. And I know how difficult it is for some of these members to make plane reservations, or whatever they have to make, to get home. It is very difficult for some of them, but they are willing to get into this for the long haul. So into this we are, and we will stay into this until the bill passes - sometime, I believe, around 6:00 tomorrow morning, or somewhere pretty close to 6:00 a.m.

MR. J. BYRNE: Why is this necessary?

MR. FRENCH: Why this is necessary, I say to my colleague, the Member for Cape St. Francis, I really do not know. I really do not know why this bill is necessary. I do not know why this bill was introduced this year at this particular point in time. I do not know why, for the life of me, this bill was introduced. I suppose maybe if somebody wanted it passed, I guess they figured it was a good time of the year to get it passed; that maybe, maybe, just maybe, this side would knuckle under and in a day or so this particular piece of legislation would be passed.

There are all kinds of questions out there on this bill, as to why it is out there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) job loss?

MR. FRENCH: Oh, there certainly will be job loss. The lady I spoke with in the Avalon Mall told me that if they have to go to seven days a week, they will make the same amount of money in seven days as they make in six, and they have the statistics to prove this. They said to me that if they have to do that, then they are probably going to go with it, using part-time workers, because they do not have to pay benefits; so if they go with part-time workers, why will they keep their full-time employees and have to pay them higher salaries?

Like I told you, I have one letter there from a business who, in the letter to me, Mr. Speaker, says that they are saddened by the fact that they will have to lay off all their full-time employees when this legislation becomes law.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you know the benefits they are getting?

MR. FRENCH: Well, I guess the multi-nationals are the only ones who will benefit from this. Because a lot of these shopping malls, if they open on Sunday, then the stores that hold leases from these malls have to open as well. So from all over the Island we have had letters and briefs from religious groups and from employees who say that they do not want to work Sundays, that they want to be guaranteed the same right that they have always had and that is, that they have had their Sundays off and we are not having that anymore. We are not going to have that way of life if this bill passes in this Province of ours anymore. And that is wrong, Mr. Speaker, it is wrong for the employees and wrong for, certainly the employers, because employers in this Province do not want this particular piece of legislation as well. Employers do not want it, they want nothing to do with it, they want to get rid of it, they do not want to open Sundays, they do not want to have to do anything on Sundays but enjoy their day of rest. They do not want to be doing schedules and arranging shifts and probably losing some of their most valued employees because seven days a week they are going to have to work and, Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. It is wrong I say to You, and I say to this House. To have people working this way is wrong.

We should stop this, the bill should be withdrawn tonight, it could be withdrawn now and we could probably move on to more important legislation which is yet to come. As in Education today, it was an important day, it was a very important piece of legislation and there was no problem on this side of the House for having that approved, but there are all kinds of problems, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, with this bill. As I said earlier when I started, we intend to fight this bill to the bitter end, and if that means sitting all night, then sobeit. They have their shifts, we will have ours, and we will be back here to argue our points as we have been doing since the bill was introduced last Friday morning.

We will be back here for every thirty minutes on this side of the House at least, because I guess there is nobody over there getting up, there is nobody coming out of his seat to tell us and to tell the employees in Newfoundland and Labrador why we want this piece of legislation. Why they want it, Mr. Speaker, I have no idea. So again the question comes up: Who is driving the bus? I have been asking it since last Friday.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Sir.

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

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

I was going to stand up like I usually do in this House and say I am pleased to rise today or tonight to speak to this legislation, but, Mr. Speaker, in this particular case, I am not. I am not pleased to rise at all, Mr. Speaker, because the more I watch this unfold by the night and by the minute and the more I look across the House at my colleagues on the other side, the more I realize, Mr. Speaker, how silly this whole thing is. I mean, for the last six weeks -

MR. MERCER: You got that right.

MR. SHELLEY: That is exactly right, I say to the Member for Humber East. So, smarten up, pull it off and let us start talking about what are the problems in Voisey's Bay, what are the problems with mechanical harvesters, that the Member for Humber East knows all about, what the problem is with all the people coming off TAGS, what the problem is with 16,000 people leaving this Province. Start talking about all that stuff; then I will stay right through Christmas Eve, New Years Eve or whatever you want, Mr. Speaker. But what the problem is, as we stand here tonight, again tonight - I do not know how many hours this is now, I think it is something like thirty hours of debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty-six hours.

MR. SHELLEY: Twenty-six hours of debate on Sunday shopping and as my secretary will tell you, in the office, I have never had so many calls as in the last two to three weeks on this issue and a lot of other issues, too. The first thing my constituents say to me when they call is, `What about the people leaving the Province? What about the employment situation? Are you discussing that?' No, we are standing up all hours of the night talking about Sunday shopping. The very first question they ask me, Mr. Speaker, is: Who and where is this coming from? Where is it coming from? Who came up with this brilliant idea, just days before Christmas, that we are going to do Newfoundland and Labrador a big favour now, the government is going to take on the agenda and do this great thing of putting through Sunday shopping. That was the big brainstorm idea. I wonder who was sitting at the Cabinet table or the caucus table and saying, `Boys this is going to be very important that before 1997 is over we have to get Sunday shopping in and it is going to make a big difference to Newfoundland's problems.' Now, who in their right mind sat around and discussed that? I would like to have been a fly on the wall of that Cabinet room when people started to sit around and decide what a great issue this was.

Mr. Speaker, I still say that the Member for Kilbride hit the nail on the head some days ago when he said, `with everything happening in the Province, a good deflector. Throughout this issue, get everybody riled up again, get them away from all the main issues and we are going to talk for two weeks on Sunday shopping.' Now can you imagine, Mr. Speaker? So where it came from and what is driving it is still a mystery to many people. I know everybody in this House, even people on the other side, it is still a mystery to them. If they want to tell you the truth about it, they will tell you that they are not really sure of where it came from. The Member for Humber East, as a matter of fact, made a comment out in Corner Brook about it. He told somebody out there, when they asked him: Where is this coming from? He said he was not sure. He thought it was being driven by the justice department for whatever reason. So he was not sure where it was coming from.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, the Member for Humber East should have been listening to CBC Corner Brook radio the other morning, when one of his constituents said that when they asked the Member for Humber East where this was coming from, he could not answer them. All he could say was that he speculated it came from the justice department, for whatever reason. I cannot figure that one out either, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sandbagged again.

MR. SHELLEY: Sandbagged again, Mr. Speaker. It seems to be typical these days. So here we are, one week from Christmas Eve, at 1:00 a.m. talking about this particular bill. Every time we talk about it, we list out all the cons and when you go to take a list of the pros, you cannot find one. The best one I heard so far was convenience. Convenience? Mr. Speaker, this is 1997 - now you can shop - as a matter of fact, we can leave here tonight and go shopping at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. There are twenty-four hour stores. A lot of them had the midnight madness. So you can go from Monday to Saturday and shop anywhere at any time. I went to the mall tonight - I think the mall is still open now if I am not mistaken. Monday to Saturday and then, Mr. Speaker, of course, with technology these days you can Sunday shop. We can do all that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the Member for Bellevue, for people to take the time to come up here from work tonight and do what they did, come up for an hour or two, shows you how serious they are about it, Mr. Speaker. How many more people, if they knew about it, could express it like that? I tell you, I say to the Member for Bellevue, you are lucky it is this time of year, because a lot of people I have talked to are busy with their Christmas shopping, they are doing all kinds of other things but they are disgusted -

AN HON. MEMBER: I got one e-mail. How many (inaudible)?

MR. SHELLEY: You have one e-mail. Do you know why you have one e-mail?

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. SHELLEY: Because people say it is a waste of time to call you or to e-mail you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no, no.

MR. SHELLEY: That is what they say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I did not say he was stupid. Where did you ever get that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Why, is that a problem?

AN HON. MEMBER: You said that you would (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: On this issue?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, yes, that is what I am talking about. Be specific.

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

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the hon. member wanted a little break there because he was straying off the topic. I wanted to give him a chance to gather his thoughts again and get back to the topic.

He made a comment on which I would like clarification as a point of order. He suggested that people did not know about this, and all that kind of stuff. How can he make that tie into the fact that they have had their staff and some of their members out on Night Line most nights saying: Get up in the galleries. Pay attention, because they are up there dealing with the Shops Closing Act and it is your last chance to come up.

How can he say that when he is party to an action on the public airwaves of the Province, while he is speaking, to suggest to people to come up here. Now he is standing in his place and saying that nobody knows about it. So does it mean, when they try to suggest things like that, that people do not hear them or that they do hear them and just ignore them?

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the Member for Bonavista South speaking to the point of order raised by the Minister of Education?

MR. FITZGERALD: Another point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Then I would ask the hon. member to take his seat for a moment.

To the point of order raised by the hon. the Minister of Education, there is no point of order.

Now the Chair will recognize the hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a new point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: A new point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to call a quorum of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are fourteen here. Count them.

MR. SPEAKER: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Eleven.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ring the bell.

 

Quorum

 

MR. SPEAKER: There is a quorum present.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I will continue on now with my point (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the Chair did rule that there was no point of order raised by the Minister of Education.

MR. SHELLEY: I did not think so, Mr. Speaker. That made about as much sense, now, as telling the member to put his jacket on at 1:00 a.m.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I thank you, though. I thank the minister for that little break. I needed that break, no problem.

Mr. Speaker, now I will get back to the important points again. What I was going to do different this time, is, I was going to list the pros and cons and start with the pros, because there are not many of those, and then I will go into the cons.

What a lot of these employees talked about tonight, what a lot of these people are saying here tonight, is that the employees themselves work in some of these bigger stores. They do not want to work.

We have also been told by the employers that they do not open their stores but they will be forced to open their stores if this bill goes through. They have said that they do not want to open, but they will have to because of competition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I have a request from the Minister of Mines and Energy to reduce the heat.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: You have to open the doors, I think, that is the only thing you can do.

Mr. Speaker, the employers, number one, who we all thought were driving for this, for all of these big companies, do not want it. They have been telling us that if this bill goes through, then they are forced to open, therefore costs go up because of employees that are hired back on, over-head and so on. So, there are all kinds of reasons there. Then the employees themselves say that that's their day. This is not going to create thousands of jobs or anything, all this is going to do is spread out those hours which these people work, usually for lower wages, into Sunday.

MR. BARRETT: How many calls did you get from Baie Verte on Sunday shopping?

MR. SHELLEY: You worry about your calls, I will worry about mine.

MR. BARRETT: How many calls did you get?

MR. SHELLEY: You worry about your calls, I will worry about mine.

MR. BARRETT: How many calls did you get from Baie Verte?

MR. SHELLEY: You worry about your calls, I will worry about mine.

MR. BARRETT: I got one. How many did you get?

MR. SHELLEY: That's good, I am proud you got one.

MR. BARRETT: The one I got was in favour.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, there you go; you are batting 100 per cent.

MR. BARRETT: How many calls did you get from your district?

MR. SHELLEY: I got plenty of calls.

MR. BARRETT: Come on, come on, be truthful.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Bellevue is awfully worried about the people in the Baie Verte district. I would suggest to him that he should worry about his own district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, that is what I am hoping for again. I would like to thank you again, on behalf of the Premier and so on, for sending him down, Mr. Speaker. I already thanked the Premier and, as a matter of fact, many members on the opposite side thanked me for what I did many times over. On the q.t., very quietly, they came and thanked me wholeheartedly. I am still waiting for a written thank you –

AN HON. MEMBER: Not one of them.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, yes! Do you want me to name them in the House?

MR. FITZGERALD: That was all orchestrated. They knew -

MR. SHELLEY: They knew the best way for termination, sent them down to Baie Verte. I thank you very much for that.

MR. TULK: Terminate who?

MR. SHELLEY: This bud's not for you. That is the sign that was on - by the way, Mr. Speaker, when I went into Little Bay Islands, which was a new part of my district, for the first time, on a big piece of plywood, up on top: This bud's not for you. Welcome.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, I bet you went in (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, no.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is what happened there. That is what the terminator did. That is why he sent them down, I think. What they call it in some parts of the world is a kamikaze pilot. He was coming in for the landing.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Would the hon. member permit a question?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, Roger he had his chance. He will get up after Paul and speak.

MR. SHELLEY: The only way I am going to give the member leave for anything is if he wants to tell me how great this bill is. If he wants to do that, he can have leave; otherwise he is not allowed to say anything because it is useless.

Mr. Speaker, when you start to list out the pros it just takes you five seconds, and it is a very weak one. When you start to list the cons to all of this, Mr. Speaker, it is a long list and it is every growing all the time, because it makes less and less sense all the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Night Line.

MR. SHELLEY: I didn't know he was on Night Line, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the member a question: Do you think the employees in these stores are behind this bill?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That they are for it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I bet that is not what you talk about. I bet you don't even discuss it. Besides that, you can't be because you are in here all the time and you are going to be in here again tonight.

Mr. Speaker, when you go through that list again, it is always the same thing. I say to the Government House Leader again, over the last five weeks, in this House of Assembly - and I think I can say it pretty safely - a lot of legislation, four to five pieces on average, went through a day. We had some very cooperative nights and we showed cooperation again today with Term 17. We showed it again with Term 17.

MR. TULK: Why don't we go to another bill now, take a break from this.

MR. SHELLEY: That's a good idea.

MR. FITZGERALD: Good idea, call another bill.

MR. SHELLEY: Good! Call another bill, go ahead.

MR. FITZGERALD: Do another bill, by leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: Chuck is here. (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Call another bill, Chuck, by leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Go ahead, we will give you all kinds of legislation. You call some other bills, we will help you through. We will just adjourn debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this whole bill, this legislation, that is what it does, takes it right off the beaten track, when there is all kinds of legislation that we could be discussing, the utility legislation, the labour act and so on; good legislation. We have to deal with important things like the Coat of Arms, Mr. Speaker. We have to discuss that. We are going to do another night sitting for that one and we will ring the bells for that one. We will ring the bells for the Coat of Arms.

MR. FITZGERALD: Changing the Coat of Arms act.

MR. SHELLEY: The Coat of Arms.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would say it will Easter before I get the sound of bells out of my head.

MR. SHELLEY: I am willing to bet, Mr. Speaker, every time the members hear the Mexican song, `Ring The Bell', over Christmas, you are going to turn it off real fast. If somebody turns it on, I am going to beat up the radio, I think.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: January 6th? Why is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the bell.

MR. SHELLEY: He is going to Vegas, is he? Ring the bells!

Mr. Speaker, I guess when you come to this stage in the morning you keep getting -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, you should be debating this.

MR. SHELLEY: You will have to get leave, because we will be here for a while yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, I agree with you.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, I don't know. We have a couple of things up our sleeves yet, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: What a great line that was; most reliable. Now, I am going to give you a couple of lines and you have to do better than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible), you will have to find a new House Leader.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, we will offer a solution to him and the solution is: Relax on this, let everybody go home happy for Christmas, forget this bill. Look at what we could do tonight to make a lot of people happy. We could stop debate on this now, tear up the bill, take it off the Order Paper, bring in all the other legislation. We will pass them through as swiftly as we can; raise a few concerns on a couple pieces of legislations, not a lot. There are a few things on the utility bill. There are a few concerns on the labour act that is coming in. Otherwise, the other legislation - the Coat of Arms, we can get through that. We have a few things to raise about that of which we are not too sure. But all those other bills that are on the Order Paper now, you can get a lot of co-operation from this side of the House if you would only stop this one.

I mean, we were doing so well, we were ready to go home Christmas, all happy, all co-operative -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, he is on holidays actually.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is he?

MR. SHELLEY: I think he is, yes.

Mr. Speaker, all those other bills that are there on the Order Paper, we could simply take those, go through them and make everybody happy. We could all shake hands, wish each other `Merry Christmas' and go home. That is what we could be doing, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FITZGERALD: What happened to you. For two and a half years you sat over there and (inaudible), you became parliamentary assistant to the Premier and now you can't stop yapping. What is it, boy?

MR. SHELLEY: I don't know what it is. It is something about that chair, Mr. Speaker. There is always a `yap' coming out of that chair. It is a hoax. Yes, that is what it is. There is a `spell' on that chair, Mr. Speaker. As the Member for Placentia used to say: He is about as sharp as a bowling ball.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, I was talking about Danny Dumaresque. That is what Nick used to say, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: He had some humour (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Good man! Good man he is, boy.

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty easy to list the pros in this because there are none: the convenience of shopping. Otherwise, they did it for the employees or for the (inaudible), Mr. Speaker. There is not much to that.

When you list all the negatives of this -

AN HON. MEMBER: Bob Mercer said the jig is up for you.

MR. SHELLEY: Did he?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SHELLEY: The jig is up! Yes, boy, you have a really good grasp on my district, I must say. I have to bring you down to Ming's Bight for one day and you will see where the jig is up, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, if they go to Ming's Bight, they will (inaudible) vote on this.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, sir, I guarantee you.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has a real handle on the situation.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, he has a real handle on the situation. If I had twenty-four hours with you down in my district you would get a real jig of what is going on down there. The only jig would be out on the jiggly part of the wharf down in Fleur de Lys.

The member doesn't know my district. A lot of people in here don't know other members' districts, actually. They like to guess on it. You hear all this speculation about this fellow is in trouble there and that. The member knows best. The members know if they are comfortable or not. You should know your district, if you are keeping in touch all the time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I've heard all that before. Oh, yes, I heard Bud was coming down, I never had a chance. Why don't you resign now, boy? I heard it all. The big Minister of Fisheries is coming down with those glasses down over his nose now, staying up in the Bay Vista Hotel; never before in his life down in Baie Verte. Me with about 300 people there, 280 of them are related to me, and he was there standing and pointing at me saying: We are going to miss you in the House of Assembly. That was his first mistake, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FITZGERALD: You must have been some excited when you heard Bud was coming, were you?

MR. GRIMES: The next time we will probably (inaudible) Kay Young or someone like that.

MR. SHELLEY: Thanks a lot, buddy.

MR. GRIMES: The next time we will send Kay Young or someone.

MR. SHELLEY: No, I think the Member for Bonavista South (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SHELLEY: I think he already has dibs in for that one.

AN HON. MEMBER: The former Minister of Education was a prize student.

MR. SHELLEY: A prize student, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: She was a nice woman.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh yes, no doubt about it; a fine lady. She was just a little bit politically disillusioned, that is all. Otherwise she is a fine lady, Mr. Speaker.

To go down to Bonavista South: You watch how many people scramble down there to take on Roger Fitzgerald next time. There won't be any line-ups going down through Catalina, let me tell you, no motorcades going down there. I guarantee you that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Roger is probably going to be the only one left.

MR. SHELLEY: What? Oh, we are all going to be wiped out. I remember when it all started that night. I remember a few minutes before the polls closed, here was Bill Rowe - of course, the famous Bill Rowe - and, of course, the great Peter Fenwick with all the great comments he has now on CBC, Mr. Speaker. Peter Fenwick was making the comments: They are all going to be wiped out. There are going to be no Tories left anywhere.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, there are two things I would just like to mention in the point of order. One is that I know we don't mention names in the House, but Gerry Boyle has been hanging around the wrong (inaudible). I wonder if you would put him back in his seat.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I know it is tremendously dangerous at this point in time, but the Minister of Mines and Energy has a projectile in the House. I'm frightened to death it might go. I'm wondering if it is really permitted under rules to have that green thing in the House, because that could end up anywhere in the next little while the way this is going, and I fear for the safety of the House. Maybe we should have the constable come up and check it out to see if it is a land mine or something.

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order raised by the hon. the Minister of Education: The green thing to which he referred is not a projectile unless the hon. minister decides to release it from his hand that it is being held in. I would advise him that that would certainly be out of order.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, this is one time I agree with the point of order. I second the point of order. I have to second the point of order, I agree to this one.

Mr. Speaker, just before the polls closed in the last election, of course, we had the great commentators, Mr. Fenwick and Mr. Rowe, up. Just before they closed: We believe there is going to be a wipe-out, there won't be a Tory left in the Province. We started the election at 16 per cent in the polls. The day the election was called we were 16 per cent. We ended up with nine great members, Mr. Speaker, and of course won the by-election just after that, ended up with 40 per cent of the popular vote in the Province, after coming up with all (inaudible).

We were all wiped out! We were all sitting home and the first poll that came in for me, of course, was the prison poll, and Bud was ahead by one. He figured he had us wiped out. The CBC were up to his headquarters, they were all getting ready -

MR. J. BYRNE: They had him declared elected, didn't they?

MR. SHELLEY: He went up and do you know what he did? Boy, he was jumping up and down I tell you and nobody up in the headquarters - CBC was actually set up in his headquarters, had projected that he was winning and that was it. There was going to be a big upset and everything else. Mr. Speaker, after that the polls turned nasty, I guarantee you that. Then I started to see the Member for Bonavista South elected and the new member for Conception Bay South, for St. John's South and so on, and then my good buddy from Cape St. Francis. The Member for Ferryland had one of the biggest votes. The Member for Bonavista South had one of the biggest majorities in the Province. We had to wait a little while for Kilbride but it came in a little bit later. Of course, Sheila Copps had all the forces out there, Mr. Speaker, but it came through again. So the big train coming down the track wasn't so big after all, Mr. Speaker.

That was a big wave, I say to members here, that was the big wave and Peckford did it too. It was a big wave, but it won't be a big wave the next time. The coat-tails won't be so long. You are going to have to win on your own. I give you a warning now, there will not be any wave. There will not be any wave the next time and those big long coat-tails that everybody was holding onto the last time, Mr. Speaker, will not be there.

MR. J. BYRNE: Humber East gone for sure.

MR. SHELLEY: Humber East is gone, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Grand Falls - Windsor, you are going to have to come in on your own this time. The Member for Windsor - Springdale just barely held on. It took the last couple of minutes to get that last little bit. He was just barely hanging on to a thread on the coat-tail, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Windsor - Springdale. He just made it, Mr. Speaker. No coat-tail.

Mr. Speaker, that is one thing about the group we see before us here, this Caucus, all on their strong merits, Mr. Speaker, and good representation; the ones that survived, the four or five and the new ones that came in. I will always remember the day that Bob French came in and said: I am going to win the seat. That was the first time I ever met him and that was the first thing he said to me, and he brought it through, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was going to run for us first.

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, and then he came to his senses. There you go, he came to his senses. Smarten up.

MR. J. BYRNE: They can't smarten up. How do you expect them to smarten up? Give them a few smart pills.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, that's not true.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of minutes left just to clue up. This bill should never be before us at 1:30 a.m., one week before Christmas Eve. It is silly. It should never be there. It should not see the light of day.

The government is always saying we criticize and do not give solutions. The solution is this, Mr. Speaker: Tear up the bill. Let's put through other legislation. Let's do the right thing, tear it up and settle down so we can shake hands and wish each other a Merry Christmas and go home with some good legislation under our belts; take it out of the way. That is what we have to do, Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what we have to do.

Now, wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be nice now if somebody came to their senses over there tonight, or somebody like the Minister of Education took the lead role tonight and went out and took the minister out of the House and said: Listen, this is nonsense. They are absolutely right over there. They are absolutely right again. We have to tear up this bill and get to more important things. Or the minister himself can take the (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Tear up the minister.

MR. SHELLEY: No, I would not tear up the minister.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, not that minister. The Government House Leader I am talking about.

MR. SHELLEY: The minister is just a little bit confused on this issue, but basically he has been a good minister so far. He is new in his portfolio, I will give him that. On this particular issue we disagree, but that is part of the game.

I think the smart thing to do now, Mr. Speaker, is all those ministers over there, with all the clout they have in Cabinet, get together and say: Guys, this is nonsense. If we cancel this at 1:30 a.m. tonight, tomorrow morning there won't be one call - you talk about no calls - there will not be any calls coming from anybody saying: Boy, we are really upset with you that you didn't push through this legislation. There will not be anybody calling saying that; I guarantee the minister that. If they do, blame it on us. If there are any calls, then you can blame it on us. We will take the heat. So we agree to do that. I think there is a consensus among our Caucus here to tear up the bill, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Definitely.

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, don't get me going on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's the problem?

MR. J. BYRNE: The people are opposed to it.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I have heard the employers say this in the last few days, they don't want to have to open their shop on Sunday. They will be forced to do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't have to.

MR. SHELLEY: You see, that's a silly, silly statement. If you know anything about business at all: If I have a store and you have a store and we have the option to open, if all the Sobey's stores opened up, you would have to open up to compete.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: He doesn't want to! I'm telling you what an employer said to us of a big chain of stores who doesn't want to have to go in and bring his employees in. He wants his employees to stay home and take Sunday. He likes that part.

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

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. SHELLEY: No leave?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I have to repeat what the Member for Baie Verte said: I'm not pleased to stand in my place at 1:38 in the morning and speak to this bill.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible), Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation who is not in his seat: What is it to you?

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on this bill, but before I get into it I want to refer to a speech that was made yesterday in this House by the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Education. I ran home and got my mommy to do it, I say to the Minister of whatever he is over there, Mr. Speaker. What are you? Mines and Energy?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible). Jack, read your questions, and then you read your speech. Surely you can a few words after all.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is over there with his dribble and drabble again as usual, not in his own seat. If he wants to speak, ask him to go to his own seat, get up and speak on this bill for a half hour like we have done throughout the week, a half hour here and a half hour there, and an hour here and an hour there. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is over there wasting the time of the House, not wanting to hear what we have to say; very important points to be made on this legislation.

MR. MATTHEWS: I say, you know what dribble and drabble is.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I'm listening to it all the time from you, so I should know.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this bill, the Minister of Education –

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, he is still on that bill.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I'm still on that. I'm on a speech that he gave yesterday in this House of Assembly. Some of the words he said were: Mr. Speaker, so I can represent you. These are some of the lines he used: They were elected to represent the people in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. They abandoned their colleague. They started doing it in the wee hours of the morning a couple of nights ago. Something has set in, Mr. Speaker, and I think it has set in right into the inner part of their bones, Mr. Speaker.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that whatever set into the inner part of the bones of the crowd over here sets into the inner part of the bones of the crowd over there, because we are here representing the views of the public right across this Province. We have had so many of them here tonight in the galleries wanting and opposing this legislation, and wanting us to oppose this legislation.

I got a call this morning - and I will say it again, because it takes a long time for it to set in - from a lady in Torbay who works now in one of these chain stores. She works thirty-five hours a week, six days a week. She has to work six days a week to get her thirty-five hours in. What she told me this morning, in tears, by the way, is that if she has to work seven days a week, and that is likely, to get her thirty-five hours in, she will have to give up her job, because she won't be able to do it.

Mr. Speaker, that is the type of impact this legislation is going to have on this Province. We have had letters from individuals, from companies, from employees, wanting us to oppose this legislation. As a matter of fact, I got a call last week; I think it was last Sunday, from an individual who has a small store in the Avalon Mall. He told me that what would happen is it could actually drive him out of business because he would have to automatically open up. The ministers on that side of the House say they are not forced to open up, it is their choice, it is democratic process, but if he has a store in a mall, if he is to compete, he will have to open, he will be forced to open. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, what will happen is that his costs will go up and his revenues will stay the same.

MR. WALSH: The Avalon Mall has a barber shop. The barber shop is not open on Monday and Tuesday night, but everything else is.

MR. J. BYRNE: Is there another barber shop in that same mall?

MR. FRENCH: Yes there is, Jack.

MR. WALSH: There are clothing stores there (inaudible) closed on Monday and Tuesday nights.

MR. J. BYRNE: I will say to the former Minister of Tourism, the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, I don't know anything at all about barbers; I can't answer the question.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with respect to this: We are now in closure on this bill. We have wanted, this past week, to bring in petitions in this House of Assembly and we have been stifled. We have had numerous petitions. Over the years, since I have been here, there have been occasions when we could present three, four, five, six petitions, but what happens now when we get a petition, Mr. Speaker? Up jumps the Government House Leader, the big bully that he is, and stops it. Today we managed to get two in because the Speaker happened to be looking our way; and he was quite upset that we got two petitions in, out of hundreds that we have to present. Why is he so opposed to us, in this House of Assembly, representing the views of the public, presenting petitions in the people's House of Newfoundland and Labrador? Why is he so opposed to it? I can't figure it out.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, you (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, sure I am. I will tell you this, Mr. Speaker, he is talking about wanting to be a Progressive Conservative.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't believe in Confederation.

MR. J. BYRNE: I was not born in Confederation, I was born in 1951, I say to the minister. I will tell you this, talking about being a Progressive Conservative: In September 1986, I was elected as mayor of a small town and in 1986 there was a bi-election in my district down there, St. John's East Extern, in December, and there were many, many people who wanted me to run at that time for the Progressive Conservatives, but I was not interested in politics at the time.

In 1989, I was approached to run, by the former Premier who (inaudible) to meet with him, for the Liberals, because they knew I would win the district down there, Mr. Speaker, and I said: No, not interested.

In 1993, I decided I was going to run, so I had to sit back and say: Well, what party will I go with? Being a realistic person and living with reality all the time, not like some people on the other side of the House -

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, how's you blood pressure?

MR. J. BYRNE: I am blood pressure perfect, 110/70 all the time; even after my two major surgeries, the next day 110/70, perfect. I don't have to worry about blood pressure. I don't have to worry about what you are thinking about.

In 1993, I said: What will I do? What party will I run with? So, I sat back and thought about it, looked at who the Premier was at the time, and I decided, no. I looked at their policies and their platform and there is suppose to be a distinct difference between the Liberals and the PCs.

AN HON. MEMBER: So, you went with Lynn?

MR. J. BYRNE: No, with Len Simms; not Lynn, Len. At the time, to be honest with you, Mr. Speaker, I knew in my own heart and soul that if I got elected I would end up in opposition at that time. I am a realist.

The last time around, 1994, when we had the onslaught from the saviour from Ottawa - that's who my opponent was, the Premier. He was my opponent, no doubt about that. Many, many members on that side of the House came in on the coat-tails. I can name a few, I can guarantee you that.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Following the debate intently and understanding it completely relevant to the bill at hand, but wondering how the statement that a man actually chose to run and desired to be in opposition is really going to impact on whether or not the shops open on Sunday and what that has to do with it, but could he explain further or did I misunderstand him. I understood he said that he ran knowing that he would be in opposition, and that there are people around who would actually chose to enter political life to be in opposition. Could he elucidate further, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: As usual! But I will explain the relevancy to him, because I wanted to run to be elected to represent the people; and we are here on this side of the House representing the people with their views on the Shops Closing Act which you are not doing on that side of the House. That is not too hard to understand, is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) next time.

MR. J. BYRNE: In the next election I may be right there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where?

MR. J. BYRNE: Right there, if I so decide that I want to be.

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 I decided which Party I would run for, looking at the principles, looking at the platform, looking at who was in each Party and all that, and I decided to run for the Progressive Conservatives, and I am here. I have the courage of my convictions, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation who is not in his seat again, Mr. Speaker, mouthing off, spouting off. I have lots of questions for you by the way; you are in trouble.

We are here again discussing this closure, Mr. Speaker. We were not allowed to bring in petitions. We saw yesterday, in this House of Assembly - well, the day before yesterday because we are into Friday now, here in the morning talking about this. So it was not Thursday, it was Wednesday; it was the day before yesterday. We wanted to ask questions in this House of Assembly and, the first time I ever saw it, we were not allowed to ask questions. Again, the Government House Leader was up on his feet -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Ask what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: About whom? You? Well, I won't.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we were not allowed to ask questions because they were trying to use technicalities again. Well, you cannot blame them for that because we have been -

AN HON. MEMBER: You have twenty minutes left.

MR. J. BYRNE: Is that all? Is that all I have left, twenty minutes?

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have a lot to say.

The questions that we could not ask yesterday - and the members on the other side of the House were quite shocked with the strategy that we used here in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr. Speaker. We left the Member for Bonavista South here to discuss his resolution. We did not want certain things to happen on this side of the House so we left him here and we left this House, Mr. Speaker, to make a statement to the people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that we were opposing this legislation, that we could not support it, Mr. Speaker, we could not support the tactics, the bullying tactics, of the Government House Leader, supported by the Minister of Mines and Energy, the Minister of Education, supported by - I cannot name them now, Mr. Speaker, because the faces are all blank to me.

MR. MERCER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Good! You picked up on that, I say to the Member for Humber East. You are very bright at 1:50 in the morning. He picked up on it. The Member for Humber East, Mr. Speaker, is finished, a one-time member. We have a candidate lined up for him already the next time around; he is gone, no trouble there. It is too bad. I feel badly for him.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much do you want to bet?

MR. J. BYRNE: How much?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Good enough! I will remember that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you?

MR. J. BYRNE: I will.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, with respect to this legislation, I have to ask the question again: Why is it necessary that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, we are doing better than you are doing on that side. We have 60 per cent. What do you have over there? You have 33 per cent by the way, give or take. That's the plan, Mr. Speaker.

Now, why is this legislation necessary, Mr. Speaker? We have asked this question in the House of Assembly, we have asked the Premier to answer that question, we asked the Government House Leader to answer that question, we asked the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to answer that question, we asked the Minister of Mines and Energy to answer that question, we asked every member on that side of the House to answer that question and not one of them can answer the question: why is this necessary? Who is going to benefit from it? Who is pushing it? Those are three questions but no answers yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: The consumers of the Province.

MR. J. BYRNE: The consumers of the Province. Well, I can tell you, some consumers and retailers who are not doing it. Riff's with 400 staff members - and I am sure they are consumers, they live in the Province - they are not. We have a fax here from another group of people in Paradise, Amherst Street, St. John's, Gleneyre Street and what have you. They are not in favour of it, Mr. Speaker. We have petitions here from St. John's and St. Anthony. They are not in favour of it, Mr. Speaker. So the consumers can't be in favour of it. We have sixty or seventy petitions there, and we have letters from everywhere.

MR. FUREY: Do you believe there should be any Sunday shopping at all?

MR. J. BYRNE: Do I believe there should be - let me tell you something. Let me tell you this, now. This is not question period, I'm not a minister, but I will answer it. There are certain people, Mr. Speaker, who have to work on Sunday; there is no doubt about that. We have the R.N.C., we have the R.C.M.P., we have nurses, we have doctors, we have emergency people.

Mr. Speaker, we have been living in this Province, some of us, since 1497 without Sunday shopping; what they are trying to put through now. We have had certain traditions that we live with, certain traditions have been here since 1497. The Minister of Mines and Energy is trying to be coy and cute, trying to set some kind of a weird little stupid trap, that I can answer a question, you know, something foolish.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: It may be necessary for some. There are emergencies that arise. We have little convenience stores to handle certain Sunday shopping.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, wrong. There are little convenience stores out there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, right?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you believe in the principle of Sunday shopping?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you shop in those?

MR. J. BYRNE: I believe in the traditions that we have at this point in time in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have other provinces, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick, that don't have Sunday shopping. That is being referred to in the definition here, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FUREY: Do you believe there should be no Sunday shopping, some Sunday shopping, or Sunday shopping (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you want to speak to this bill?

MR. FUREY: Answer the question.

MR. J. BYRNE: Does the Minister of Mines and Energy want to speak to this bill? We are here now speaking to this bill something like twenty-eight hours and the Minister of Mines and Energy has not stood in his place and spoken in favour of this bill, to tell us why this bill is a good bill, to tell us why the people of the Province support it. He hasn't done that, the Premier hasn't done it, the Government House Leader hasn't done it, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education hasn't done it, and the Member for Humber East hasn't done it; stood in their places and said why this legislation should be put through the House of Assembly. No, they won't do it, because they know the people in this Province are opposed to it. They are being like lemmings; following the Premier over the cliffs. That is what they are at.

MR. FUREY: There should be no Sunday shopping: That is your position.

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you hear me say that? No, we never. Did you say that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Go read Hansard.

MR. FUREY: Well, tell me, tell me.

MR. J. BYRNE: I will tell you. I've told you.

MR. FUREY: There should be no Sunday shopping.

MR. J. BYRNE: I never said that. What I said was this: - now, listen carefully, if you can, because you might have something stuck in your ears - we are here since 1497. We do not have what is defined as Sunday shopping in this legislation. We have survived until now. We have certain traditions that we follow. We have convenience stores out there for emergency situations, we have garages that are open, but it is a different matter altogether. You can't connect the two of them like you are trying to do. You can't oversimplify things. You are trying to oversimplify; is it black, is it white? There are grey areas. Right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is idiotic.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) Sunday shopping.

MR. J. BYRNE: You define Sunday shopping to me. Define Sunday shopping.

MR. FUREY: Sunday shopping: It is stores that are open where you can go to shop.

MR. J. BYRNE: What type of stores?

MR. FUREY: Drug stores, these gas stations that have all the amenities now.

MR. J. BYRNE: We have them now. That is part of our tradition. We have done that.

MR. FUREY: That is not true.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, it is. It is, you know that. You are wrong and you know you are wrong. We are talking about the big malls here that are going to be competing on Sundays with the smaller stores. There is a difference and you know it. You are talking about the big multi-nationals competing with the small stores in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the thing. You don't know what you are talking about. You are trying to twist things, that is all.

MR. FUREY: You can't answer a simple question.

MR. J. BYRNE: Good one to take about answering a simple question.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: We are here for five weeks now asking questions and we haven't gotten an answer yet. So, don't talk about answering questions.

Mr. Speaker, can you mute that, mute it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: He don't know what he is talking about.

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back to the issue.

Thank you, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, for that ten minutes.

Anyway, who is in favour of this legislation? We have asked that question here: Who is in favour of the legislation? Is the board of trade in favour? No, the board of trade is not in favour. Is labour in favour? No, labour is not in favour; definitely not. They spoke against it. Are the retailers in favour of it? No, the retailers are not in favour. We have letters from retailers. One here, Riff's, 400 people opposed to it. A letter from Honda One, that says they may have to lay-off all their permanent staff because of this legislation; opposed to it. So, small business is not in favour, obviously. Who is in favour? Is it the multi-nationals, I wonder? Would it be people like CostCo up there or Zellers on Torbay Road or Kent Building Supplies? I wonder if it would be any of these groups?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Sure, I don't know the man. I don't know what you are talking about. So what! He has his own reasons for being concerned about it, don't he? You have to ask him that, not me.

The retailers, the labours and the Board of Trade are not in favour of it. So now we have to get back to who benefits from this? I will tell you who benefits. As I said earlier, it is certainly not the lady who phoned me this morning, an employee of one of these stores, who is going to have to work seven days a week now instead of six.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, she can't work (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: She can do what she wants. I thought this was democracy you were talking about. She works six days now to get thirty-five hours a week. See, that's how blind these people are. They do not understand that there are people out there working for minimum wage and a bit above minimum wage, who have to put in the hours, and the only way they can do it is get the hours, and it's going to happen. They don't have to, but they are going to be forced to.

AN HON. MEMBER: Five days. We are going to change the legislation too.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I dare say you are going to change it all right. If you are going to change it, it is not going to be for the better, I can guarantee you that.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, consultation - the Minister of Mines and Energy is at it there again, trying to distract me and what have you. Every now and then he does a good job. He is off on one little tangent, one small-minded, narrow view. That is what he is at.

This Adminstration, during the last election - I hate to touch that book. Is there any way to get that open without - that book talks about consultation, how the hallmark of this administration is going to be consultation. Mr. Speaker, we had no consultation on this issue. In this House of Assembly they won't even let us debate it properly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Here is where I am: I am on this issue here with respect to Sunday shopping, the status quo. That is what I am interested in and that is what the people of this Province are interested in. We have done it for years and we are getting on very well on that. So the answer to your question is the status quo. We do not need those large stores open, the big malls and what have you, on Sunday. It is going to affect the traditions of the people in this Province, it is going to affect Sundays where people consider it their day of rest; all of these things, Mr. Speaker. I am interested in the status quo, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left, I wonder?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: You have a half an hour left yet Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: I should have another hour left because of the interruptions I say, Mr. Speaker, at least another hour on this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us where you stand.

MR. J. BYRNE: You want to know where I stand, do you?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you really want to know where I stand? Well, at this point in time, I am in the House of Assembly in St. John's, Newfoundland, standing at my desk. That is where I stand. Now, do I have leave to go for an hour?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, what other stuff can I talk about here?

Mr. Speaker, we asked for a six-month hoist on this legislation, that it would be referred to at least a Legislation Review Committee to go out across this Province and talk to the people. The minister responsible for this was asked in the media who he had consulted. Answer: Nobody, I know it all. The Premier told me this is what the people of Newfoundland want, so I have to do it.

That is the bottom line, Mr. Speaker: I have to do it because the Premier told me to do it, because I am looking for donations from big companies to help me out in my campaign to become Prime Minister.

MR. FUREY: Where do you stand?

MR. J. BYRNE: I don't know. The Minister of Mines and Energy must be blind. He cannot see where I stand.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Let me ask the hon. member where he and his Party stand on Sunday shopping. Are you against all Sunday shopping or for Sunday shopping?

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, is this Question Period? Sit him down - wasting my time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am doing my job, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I am here representing the views of, by far, the majority of the people in this Province, not only the consumers but the employees of businesses, the general public - the petitions that we have here. I am here representing their views; that is what I am doing. I do not know what you are doing over there, just sitting back and yapping away as usual.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Status quo?

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the status quo?

MR. J. BYRNE: You do not know what status quo means? Get him a dictionary. Somebody send him over a dictionary.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Are there any stores... I would say to the minister, if that is the case, if what you are saying is true, why are we even here with Bill 48?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Ah, bull! Bull! Bull! Bull, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy.

AN HON. MEMBER: On whose behalf?

MR. J. BYRNE: On whose behalf? You are changing the legislation, so you are changing something; so the situation we have now, the status quo out there now -

MR. FUREY: Do you agree with Sunday shopping? Do you agree with the principle of Sunday shopping?

MR. J. BYRNE: I agree that the people of the Province have a right to say what they want. The people of the Province, tonight, today, yesterday, the day before yesterday, are not being represented by the people on that side of the House. That is what is happening here. We, on this side of the House, are representing the views of the people of the Province. For some strange reason, government wants to ignore the views of the public of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, another four minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Say what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What do you want me to do about that? I can only tell you what we are getting. That is what you are saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, because we are getting it from your district, we are getting it from his district, we are getting it from the Minister of Education's district. They will not send them to you guys because you will not represent their views.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: We know it. You are in the public. The Premier was in the paper yesterday saying that this is going through, regardless; this is going to happen. That is what you are saying. So why would they even bother to talk to you? You know you have been muzzled.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Is St. Anthony your district? Well, right here we have St. Anthony, St. Anthony, St. Anthony, St. Anthony. That is just this one. We have a few from (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is those people. That is just the one. That is pretty close, isn't it?

MR. FUREY: No, that's about 100 kilometres away.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is in the Province. I would say up on the Northern Peninsula.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would the hon. member permit a question?

MR. J. BYRNE: No. If you want to say something, get up and speak on the bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No questions; no, no, no. I am not going to answer; none, none.

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

In the debate, he indicated that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have not recognized the member.

MR. BARRETT: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bellevue, on a point of order.

MR. BARRETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member for Cape St. Francis, in the debate, indicated that he had oodles of names of people from the Bellevue district that were for Sunday shopping. I would like for him to present those names because I have only had one person from my district call me or send me an e-mail saying that they were for Sunday shopping. So I would like to have it. You have oodles of names, so -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: I did not mention the word, Bellevue. I did not mention the words, Bellevue district, at all, Mr. Speaker. There is no point of order. He is trying to pull a fast one again, wasting the time of the House, as per usual, as the Government House Leader does all the time, wasting the time of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well this time tomorrow night there will be a few tired members over there on that side of the House; twelve out of thirty-six, 33 per cent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I was up speaking and I was supposed to have thirty minutes, but I was interrupted quite often by the Member for Bellevue, the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Minister of Education. I think that I should be given at least another ten minutes, Mr. Speaker, at least another ten minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say, Mr. Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to have an opportunity to speak on this legislation before the House tonight.

AN HON. MEMBER: Andy Wells is in favour of this legislation.

MR. HARRIS: Well, if he is in favour, Mr. Speaker, then that does not surprise me, because everybody else is against it. Do you want to hear the list? Employees, employers, consumers, business people, chambers of commerce, boards of trade. The Lewisporte Chamber of Commerce, for example, Mr. Speaker, 100 per cent of them don't like it and they don't have any spokesperson in this House, not on that side.

Mr. Speaker, we are hearing from employees. We heard from them here tonight. Some of them were here well after 12:00 a.m. trying to hear and understand why the government is taking this measure, why the government is driving this legislation, why the government is forcing otherwise sensible human beings to stay up all hours of the night. Mr. Speaker, they can't figure it out. The employees of Canadian Tire, Mr. Speaker -

MR. J. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, we are in this House of Assembly now at 2:10 in the morning and we have had a number of people up speaking; very interesting speeches, by the way. I expect anybody sitting in this House of Assembly should at least be paying attention. There are certain members here who I won't name, but I think you should bring them to attention.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: I just want to thank the Member for Cape St. Francis for giving a wake up call to members opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is this the slow version of your speech?

MR. HARRIS: I'm giving the slow motion version now. I figure if I speak half as fast as I normally do I can cover a thirty-minute speech in fifteen minutes. Or is it a fifteen-minute speech in thirty minutes?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is it. Now you have it.

MR. HARRIS: Is that better?

Mr. Speaker, we have had representations made to members of this House from Canadian Tire employees. Why are they making representations to this House? Is it because they don't want work? Is that the problem? No, Mr. Speaker. It is because they know that it is not a matter of choice, as has been suggested by members opposite. It is not a matter of choice, because they know that if there is Sunday shopping their employer will be open on Sunday and they will be required to work. They know that their shifts of work will be impaired, will be reduced from eight hours perhaps to four hours. They will be split up over seven days.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe there is a quorum in the House.

 

Quorum

 

MR. SPEAKER: There is a quorum present.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi to continue.

MR. HARRIS: I think, Mr. Speaker, some members were worried that there wasn't a sufficient number of members here to listen to this speech and to, hopefully, be persuaded by the voices of members on this side of the House who are reflecting the wishes of the people of this Province who are going to be affected by this bill.

For example, the employees of Riff's, the 400 staff members of Riff's, they have -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are taking notes off their desks now, are you, Jack?

MR. HARRIS: It is a letter to the Premier. What is it doing on my desk? What is it doing over here? Has somebody been in the Premier's mailbox, or are the people who are writing letters to the Premier realizing that in order to make sure that people hear about their letter they have to send it to members on this side of the House? They know it will be brought to the attention of the House if it is sent over here. Sending it to the Premier is not enough.

They are asking for the support of the Premier and members of the House to oppose the changes to the Shops' Closing Act regarding Sunday shopping. They are totally opposed to the idea of Sunday shopping and feel that it places an unfair burden on smaller independent retailers and their staff. Please put the Sunday shopping issue to rest once and all. Mr. Speaker, the only thing that the government thinks they are doing with this is putting the Sunday shopping issue to rest once and for all by opening the doors, opening the flood gates.

Who is going to benefit from this, Mr. Speaker? I think I know. There are a couple of major retailers, the Price Club for one: Open her up on Sunday and fill up the Price Club at the expense of independent retail stores in this Province, at the expense of workers.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: I don't believe there is a Quorum.

 

Quorum

 

MR. SPEAKER: There is a Quorum present.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is apparent that the government is having a very difficult time keeping members in the House. The Government House Leader is not even in his place at the moment. That is two Quorum calls since I got up to speak only seven or eight minutes ago, so something is going on over on the other side. They are losing interest; they have flagging support for this bill on the other side of the House.

I can understand why, Mr. Speaker, because they are aware that while we are here debating, the public of Newfoundland are finally awakening to the point that this government doesn't care about what it does that affects the people who are running businesses, the people who have to work in businesses, the people whose lives are going to be affected, the people who are in the gallery tonight, one of whom said to me: I went to work in a shop in the mall because I knew I wouldn't have to work on Sunday. I had a job at another place. I think she had a job in a drug store which is allowed to be open on Sunday, for good reason. She was a student: I went to work at the mall because Sunday is my study day. I went to work at the mall. I am a student, I have to support myself. Sunday is my study day and if I don't have Sunday to study, I don't think I can continue my studies successfully.

If the mall is open they are going to be required to work on Sunday, and they are not very happy, Mr. Speaker. They are up there today, didn't even know they could come into the House. I don't know if the minister met with them or not, but they came here to see what was going on, asking the question: Why was the government doing this to them? Why was the government affecting their lives, negatively, for no good reason, none, Mr. Speaker, no good reason, and they haven't provided them the explanation.

A few members opposite on points of order raised the issue of laissez-faire - didn't use that term - let them do what they like, let them open or let them close, we don't care. Well, Mr. Speaker, the reality is that if Sunday shopping is permitted by law many, many, many businesses are going to be forced, by competitive pressures, to open or else they are going to lose the business to those who do open. They are going to have to employ their staff on Sunday, insist that their staff come to work on Sunday, in order to maintain their position in the marketplace.

We have had the Co-op stores, the City Consumers Co-op, where the President has written the minister, and sent a copy to others, speaking on behalf of the City Consumers Co-op, the board, management, staff, and members of the Co-op, saying that the effect of Sunday shopping would require them to open on Sunday and would spread out the cost of sales over seven days. It would increase the cost of sales. Mr. Speaker, that translates into higher costs to the Co-op, which they pass on to their members in the form of higher prices. It is simple mathematics, and the minister knows it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot shop there unless you pay.

MR. HARRIS: You cannot shop there unless you pay. That is not a regular store. Regular stores let you shoplift, do they?

MR LANGDON: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: No, you don't; not at City Consumers you don't.

MR LANGDON: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: City Consumers in St. John's? I think the Minister of Environment and Labour ought to check out his facts.

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

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, just a few moments ago a comment was made across the House that during the calling of a quorum the clock keeps running. However, that seems to be contrary to the basic principle that if there is a lack of quorum therefore parliamentary procedures cannot continue. Therefore, the clock should not keep running for the member's speech while there is a quorum being called, because Parliament has been suspended because there are not enough members in their places.

I would say that an interruption like that would automatically mean that the clock would be stopped, at which time any time that would be lost would be added to the time allocated to the member who is speaking. It makes common sense. I see no authority here in our Standing Orders which would say anything other than that.

I ask the Chair, if the Chair would care to reflect, because we may have lost some minutes from the excellent speech that is being given by the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

I would admit that the time I am taking now is part of his thirty minutes, but not the time in the two interruptions that we have had in this particular address of this member here.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio.

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

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order.

The Chair apologizes. The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you.

To the point of order, Mr. Speaker: The call of a quorum has no bearing on whether or not there are sufficient numbers in the House of Assembly. A quorum call can be made with all forty-eight members here, if someone so desired to do it. The only time that the House would not be in full proceedings is when the quorum call, on the check of a count, proved that there were insufficient numbers. It has no bearing as to whether or not there are fourteen members here or forty-eight.

Only when the Chair checks the count - if there are sufficient numbers here at that time, then there was no need for the quorum call. That allows the Chair to make a quick check, allows members to move to their own seats, allows the Chair to recognize people in their own chairs. So the call of a quorum has absolutely no bearing on whether or not there are sufficient numbers of people here.

So I put forward, Mr. Chairman, that there is no point of order and that indeed the clock continues to run as it is now. Unless, when the Chair does the count, there are insufficient numbers here, at that time, the House stops.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will take the point of order under advisement and will rule on it as soon as the appropriate references can be found.

In the meantime, I recognize the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do a point of order to that point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I understand that in ruling on points of order, as you will at the appropriate time and while the clock is still running, while he is following a parliamentary procedure which is to decide upon a point of order, the parliamentary procedure, the point made by my colleague, with respect to a Standing Order where the reference is usually made or a section in Beauchesne - the hon. Opposition House Leader in raising his objection quoted nothing. He just got up and talked about common sense.

Now I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if we are going to run by common sense they would not have been running for the doors every time the bell rang in the last few days. There is nothing about common sense, Mr. Speaker. We talked about our Standing Orders and the rules.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: The reference, Mr. Speaker, as articulated by my colleague from Conception Bay East & Bell Island, is basically in Standing Order 3, which is one of our procedures; nothing saying that the clock suspends or anything else. If you take the reference, Mr. Speaker, "The presence of at least 14 Members of the House not including the Speaker shall be necessary..." It only refers to whenever the Speaker adjourns the House for want of a quorum which again reiterates the point. That is what rules this House. There has not been an adjournment at any time during this proceeding.

Under Standing Order 3 it provides some time to check. As my hon. colleague suggested, you have done the checking. You have found no want of a quorum. There has never been any reason to interrupt the proceedings. The member opposite, in the Opposition, has been taking away from the Leader of the NDP's time by unnecessarily calling for a quorum. Each time he has requested a quorum, Mr. Speaker, you, upon count, have found that there is a quorum present and the proceedings of this House have not been interrupted other than to check, as asked by the Member for St. John's South, who does not have enough respect for the Leader of the NDP, the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, to allow him to make his speech uninterrupted, Mr. Speaker.

So if you are looking for some references - if the hon. Opposition House Leader suggests that our book of Standing Orders says inside the front cover, anywhere from Standing Order No. 1, Mr. Speaker, up to Standing Order 122, if he can find common sense written down anywhere in any one of those, I would like to see him reference it in his next presentation on a point of order because it is not there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, in Standing Order No. 3 the operative sentence is sentence number one. It says, "The presence of at least 14 Members of the House not including the Speaker shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers." Simply meaning that if there are fewer than fourteen members present therefore the House cannot exercise its powers.

In circumstances where there are fewer than fourteen members, it is appropriate that this House then, shall we say, be directed to the Speaker's attention. My only point here is to say that it is the responsibility of the government to maintain a quorum at all times. So, Mr. Speaker, they have that responsibility that's contained here. When that quorum is lacking and the House is then in recess, or the debate is suspended, that time should not be taken away from hon. members who are engaged in debate at that particular moment.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has already stated that the point of order is taken under advisement and the ruling will be given forthwith.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is very interesting to hear the Minister of Education reiterate twice, I think it was, at least, that common sense has no place in this House of Assembly. That seems to be the position of the Minister of Education.

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

MR. HARRIS: Nowhere can you find common sense -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Just checking, Mr. Speaker, to see whether or nor the hon. member, the Leader of the NDP, is deaf or not. I made no reference to common sense not belonging in the Standing Orders. I asked if somebody could show me anywhere in the actual literal words from Standing Order 1 to Standing Order 122 if the two words "common sense" actually appear anywhere inside the covers of our Standing Orders. I didn't say that they didn't belong there. I'm just asking a question, and I ask the question again.

Maybe because the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi has had some experience in another parliament, he might even know, but I doubt if the two words "common sense" appear in the standing orders for the Parliament of Canada. I doubt if you might even find much reference to it in Beauchesne. The reality is the rules are very specifically written down with words, and the words "common sense," I would propose, if they are in our Standing Orders, are either in two completely different parts and different orders, one with "common" and "sense" maybe ten pages somewhere else. Certainly "common sense" as a phrase I would suggest is not in there anywhere.

I don't like to be misrepresented, Mr. Speaker, by the hon. member suggesting that I'm supposing it shouldn't be in there. I'm the one person who in the last two days, in presenting this point of order, has suggested that "common sense" has obviously no place at all in the minds and hearts of the members opposite, because all they have done is ring a bell for the purpose of coming into the House, and get up and run for the streets. If somebody calls that common sense, maybe, I would submit again, when we do another review of these we should put in just one standing order that good common sense should prevail, and then we can throw away the rest of the book.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order raised by the hon. the Minister of Education.

I recognize again the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I'm looking forward to your ruling too because we are sort of running close to the time when if we don't hear a ruling from you it may be a moot point, just as the comments of the Minister of Education are totally a moot point. I thought I was in law school again, listening to someone trying to find their way or climb their way around rules and regulations, and argue points without common sense.

His point about common sense, that common sense has no place, or can't be found in the Standing Orders of the House, my concern is that common sense can't be found in members opposite in dealing with this legislation which they know - and they know it because they are being told by all and sundry - that it is a piece of legislation that is harmful indeed to the business interests of this Province, to employees, to the unionized workforce, to women, to the non-unionized workforce, because it is going to have some serious consequences for individuals.

Mr. Speaker, why are they not listening to the people on this issue, this issue is a little bit more profound than some of the other ones that they have acted on in response to objections to their proposals. On the issue of sales tax on used vehicles, they listened to the objections raised, not only on this side of the House, but in public and through letters and commentary on open line programs. They listened and they changed, they modified the course of action. They modified the course on the basis of what people had to say, on the basis of what people were telling each other through the open line programs, telling the government through letters, telling members through letters, and they changed.

In this particular instance, Mr. Speaker, which is I think a much more profound issue than that, a much more important issue - because it affects people's lifestyles, it affects the lifestyle of employees, it affects the competitive position of businesses vis-à-vis one another, it affects the habits of people, some of whom don't want to be forced to work on Sunday. Indeed, I think, and the Member for St. John's East I'm sure would agree - how many orders of the court with respect to family law are going to have to be modified on account of the changing work pattern of people who are now going to be forced to work on Sunday? Separation agreements, court orders with respect to custody and access: They are going to be interfered with because all of a sudden the conditions on which they were based have changed and been undermined by the legislation of this government.

Mr. Speaker, there are profound affects of this legislation. Some people for religious reasons don't want to work on Sunday. We had an example out in C.B.S. the other day where –

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

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

MR. GRIMES: I just want to check. I really didn't want to interrupt, Mr. Speaker, but since our Table officers had to leave to do a little bit of research to help you with the ruling that you are going to make with respect to the point of order, I'm not sure that the hon. member was given notice that he is running out of time. I really believed if we check his time is probably up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair was paying attention to the amount of time that the hon. member had.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

I ask the hon. member if he would take his seat.

The Chair is prepared to rule on the point of order raised a few minutes ago. Our Standing Orders are silent on the issue. There has been no standing order cited by either side of the House to substantiate the point of order. Also, there is no reference to that in Beauchesne, which is our parliamentary expertise. So, our Standing Orders being silent and there being no reference to it in Beauchesne, the only thing the Chair can do it rule on precedence, and it has been the Order of the Day since this Chair has been sitting in the House of Assembly, since 1989, that the time would come out of the time of the member who was speaking when the Quorum call was made. Therefore, I would have to inform all hon. members that the time is up for the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good ruling.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise for the, I don't know how many times, to speak on this particular bill. I guess it will be the last time that I will speak on it.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think you should go across the street and have a nap.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I won't go across the street to have a nap.

I would imagine that it will be the last time that any of us will speak on this particular bill.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Your well lit trees, your well lit house, I say to the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. His wife has done a good job decorating the house; probably one of the best. If there was a prize to be given, I say to the minister, that his wife would probably get it; not him, not the minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: My wife could win a lot of prizes. One would be for tolerance.

MR. FITZGERALD: I am sure of that. There is only one prize that she wouldn't win, or I should say there is one prize that she didn't get. She got no prize when she got the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I can assure you that.

MR. H. HODDER: She got a surprise.

MR. FITZGERALD: She got a surprise, yes.

MR. MATTHEWS: What's wrong with a booby prize?

MR. FITZGERALD: That is probably what it was too, a booby prize.

AN HON. MEMBER: Relevance, Mr. Speaker, relevance.

MR. FITZGERALD: Relevance, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I stand to make a few comments on Bill No. 48, but I am going to make a confession now, since it is the last time that I am going to speak on this particular bill.

When this bill was brought to the table in our caucus room, I was one of the people, I admit, who was in favour of it. I didn't think there was anything wrong with Sunday shopping. I thought it would be a good thing and I tried to convince my colleagues here that why shouldn't people have a choice to go out shopping. Why shouldn't they have a choice? The stores were open and if somebody didn't want to go in there, they didn't have to go in. It is like going into a tavern down on George Street or anywhere else. There is nothing wrong with taverns being open. If you don't want to go there, don't go. If you don't want to go into church, don't go. If you don't want to go shopping, don't go.

I believed in all that and I still do, Mr. Speaker, believe in it. But when I started to hear public opinion, when I started to hear what was happening out there, when my phone started to ring and when I heard the comments from the other people, my colleagues here, the phone calls they were getting, when I stated to hear there comments, I said: Hang on now, this is wrong. Because I believe in it, doesn't necessary make it right.

What I did was I listened. I wasn't the first one to get up in this House speaking on this particular bill, I can assure you, because I didn't have my mind made up. I listened to the people who elected me, I listened to public opinion and I changed my mind. I said: No, I don't believe in this because this is wrong. Nobody called and gave me any positive points of view. Nobody called and said: Well, this is great and now I am going to find a job for myself. Nobody called and said: Well, this is great because now I have another day when I can go shopping and I need that extra day because I am busy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Nobody said any of that stuff. Nobody said: It is great now that I can get in my car and I can drive to St. John's on Sunday, shop in the big grocery stores and department stores, get all the things that I need and go back to my community. Not one person told me I was right but everybody was telling me: You are wrong and here are the reasons why. I listened and I changed my mind.

That is why I stand here tonight to vote against this particular bill, Bill 48, the Shops' Closing Act amendment regarding Sunday shopping. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I stand here tonight fully convinced that this is a bad piece of legislation. I am not so sure, as everybody who has stood here; I am not so sure where it came from. The thing that amazes me: If this is such a good piece of legislation, why doesn't somebody stand and tell us? Why doesn't somebody over there stand in their place for ten minutes or five minutes and tell us about this wonderful piece of legislation and how good it is and why we are so wrong? That is what I would like to hear. I am willing to listen and I am willing to change my mind again. There is not one member over there - the minister gets up on his silly points of order. It breaks up the night, Mr. Speaker, and it gives somebody a chance, at 3:00 a.m. in the morning or 3:30 or 2:45 a.m., to sit down and regroup, get their thoughts together again and get on with another conversation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Silly! Foolish! Stupid! Childish! (Inaudible). Obnoxious! Obnoxious! Silly! Foolish!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to withdraw the offensive comment that the minister was obnoxious.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who?

MR. SPEAKER: Whichever hon. member made the utterance.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who said that?

MR. FITZGERALD: Is obnoxious unparliamentary?

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair did not rule that it was unparliamentary. He said it was offensive.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, if I have offended the member I apologize to the extent that he is offended.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not the member; it is the House that you offended.

MR. H. HODDER: I apologize to the Speaker and to you too if you want me to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Our members over here do the honourable thing. Sometimes in the heat of debate you shout and you say things that you don't mean and they are quickly retracted. That's the kind of people that we are, Mr. Speaker.

I say to members opposite, if they believe in this piece of legislation, somebody should rise in their seat and tell members on this side of the House the positive benefits that are being gained from it, Mr. Speaker. It is an ideal time tonight, when people got out of their beds, came in and sat in these galleries here tonight, business people in this community travelled in here by the dozens to sit in these seats. What a glorious opportunity for the Minister of Education to stand in his place and tell those people why this Opposition was so wrong.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: I just wanted to check, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member mentioned twice - I won't deal with the issue of unnecessary repetitiveness - but he mentioned twice in a row in the one speech about dozens of people in the gallery, Mr. Speaker. Just out of curiosity, while I was listening I happened to peep around. At one point, Mr. Speaker, I do believe it may have gotten up to sixteen or seventeen and there may very well have been a dozen. I am sure he would not want to be inaccurate so maybe, Mr. Speaker, he would like to change it and say there were, at some point, a dozen and a few more people; but dozens is stretching the point, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I was up in the gallery talking to these dozens of people and there were in fact dozens of people in the gallery at the time. Now perhaps the Minister of Education can't count and we could recommend some schools for him, some very interesting schools. Memorial University is a very excellent school. They don't teach addition but they do teach mathematics, and they teach algebra, calculus and computer studies. I think, Mr. Speaker, the point being that there is no point of order, that there were dozens of people in the gallery. I was at closer range than the minister was and there was at least two dozen and maybe more dozens; I don't know, but I counted two dozen, so that is `dozens' in my book, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair did not count the number of people who were sitting in the gallery at the time or at any time during the day. The Chair is not in a position to be able to say whether there were a dozen or less than a dozen or whether there were, in fact, dozens. We have one hon. member who says that there were not dozens; we have at least one, maybe two hon. members, who say there were dozens. There is no point of order, it is just a disagreement between two hon. members.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This member did count the number of people who were up in the galleries, I say to the Speaker and to the minister opposite, and thirty-eight people are `dozens' to me. Thirty-eight people sat in those galleries tonight, Mr. Speaker, got out of their beds and came in here. What a glorious opportunity for members opposite, if they believed in this piece of legislation, to get up. They were your constituents; I say to the St. John's members and the Mount Pearl members, they were your constituents. What a glorious opportunity to get up and say how wrong opposition members are.

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

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

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

MR. GRIMES: Just to check again, Mr. Speaker, with respect. I fully respect your ruling and probably know that you will say this is not a point of order either.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: I would like to make the point, Mr. Speaker, so you can make a ruling on it. Two things, Mr. Speaker: Check again that the people know that twelve makes a dozen; and secondly, Mr. Speaker, because I was gazing around and did some counting, I guess some people who were up there - I know one member, and I know you don't say anything is not true in this House, but he just said he counted them and he did not because he was not here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, yes, he was.

MR. GRIMES: His friend next to him whispered there were thirty-eight. I was looking right at them, Mr. Speaker, and there were seventeen, so maybe he is seeing double. That would get him to thirty-four if he saw double. But there were seventeen bodies in the gallery.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the people behind (inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Speaker, we do not count the three staff members from the Opposition office who had called the Open Line to get those seventeen up in the seats, Mr. Speaker. They are hardly people who got out of their beds; they were under orders from members opposite to call Night Line and beg the seventeen people to come to the gallery.

I respect the seventeen people, because I know they are genuinely in opposition to this bill. I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, if there were a free vote taken amongst the ten or eleven opposite counting the NDP, that you would find an unanimous vote over there or that they would be genuinely concerned. They think they have something to talk about. We are willing to stay another five or six days and finish it up.

MR. E. BYRNE: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Obviously, the Minister of Education is trying to interfere with the hon. member, when, in his own preface he says: This is probably not a point of order but I would like to make a point anyway. The minister has time and opportunity at the appropriate time to stand up and speak.

Unfortunately, his tongue was still when there were people in the gallery, and all during the debate on this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, it has been still. The only point I would like to make to you, Sir, and to Your Honour, is this: That if members opposite want to waste the valuable time on debate on this particular piece of legislation with frivolous and unnecessary points of order, I would ask Your Honour to put it in check and to stop it, please.

MR. GRIMES: At least we are in the Chamber, instead of running like the (inaudible) every time the bells ring.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair -

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair has already ruled that there was nobody in the Chair who counted the people in the gallery tonight, therefore the Chair was not in a position to be able to say whether there was a dozen, less than a dozen, whether there were dozens or many dozens. It was not able to make that determination the first time the point of order was made. The Chair was not able to make that determination the second time the point of order was made. There is no point of order, and as far as the comments made by the hon. Member for Kilbride, as it relates to frivolous and unnecessary points of order, the Chair has no choice but to listen to the point of order to determine whether in fact there is a point of order.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are just as bored and just as annoyed by the obstruction of the Minister of Education as we are, but I know you are limited in what you can do in your fairness, in having to look at this individual tonight and try to accommodate him here in this great debate that is happening on this side of the House on Bill 48. I realize that.

Mr. Speaker, what a glorious time for the Minister of Education to rise, when thirty-eight people were sitting in the gallery -

MS THISTLE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans, on a point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: I will shovel no more snow for you.

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to agree with my colleague. I have a great vantage point from the back benches here. I can see in all directions and I would like to say that there were two people on this side and there were seven right there and eight, and if you total up that, how many will you get? There were exactly seventeen people in the gallery and I would like to confirm that for the record.

Thank you.

MR. HARRIS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, to that point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I was up on this side of the gallery. In fact, I was in front of them. There were two rows of people there. In fact, the Commissionaires ordered me out, told the members that we had to go out and so they all came out, Mr. Speaker; I was close at hand. There were not seven here and eight there. There were at least ten or twelve in front of me and there was another dozen over there.

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

I ask all hon. members to take their seats.

The Chair is not about to entertain all hon. members standing up and giving the Chair an estimation as to how many people were in the gallery at some time tonight. The Chair has already ruled on that point of order on three occasions and is not about to entertain another point of order on that topic.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, what a glorious opportunity when those thirty-eight people - Mr. Speaker, a point of clarification.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I do have the floor.

There were twenty people right there, there were six there, there were six there, and there were six right behind the Minister of Education. There were six more back there, I say to the Minister of Education. The Member for Grand Falls - Buchans did not look that way. I was watching you when you were counting, you did not count those people up here because you did not see them, you did not look up. All you counted - and you did not get them right - you counted seventeen and there were twenty people right there. The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, Mr. Speaker, is 100 per cent right.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to refer Your Honour in the Chair to Standing Order 51 (2), with respect to both parts, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is trying to hear. The Chair will find it very difficult to rule on a point of order if he cannot hear what the hon. minister is saying.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. minister be kind enough to start again?

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Standing Order 51 (2), Mr. Speaker, on both parts, refers to irrelevance in one instance. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member in speaking to Sunday shopping, all of a sudden was talking about how many people were in the gallery. Now, what that has to do with Sunday shopping, Mr. Speaker, I do not know. It is beyond me and I cannot understand how that can be deemed to be relevant.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the other part of that same Standing Order, it also talks about needless repetition. In the twenty minutes or so that this hon. member has been speaking, at least four or five times in the last twenty minutes, he started off saying: What a wonderful opportunity. Then, Mr. Speaker, whatever he was going to talk about, what a wonderful opportunity, he wondered off on something irrelevant about how many people were in the gallery. So, Mr. Speaker, five or six or seven times he said, what a wonderful opportunity, which has to be needless repetition, and then he has gotten into irrelevance because he talks about how many people are in the gallery and we are suppose to be talking about Bill No. 48.

I would like your ruling with respect to the irrelevance and the needless repetition referenced in Standing Order 51(2).

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order raised by the hon. the Minister of Education and Training: He suggests that the hon. the Member for Bonavista South has been needlessly repetitious and that on a number of occasions he started with the expression, what a wonderful opportunity. I would suggest to all hon. members that he has had to begin again because on each occasion that he started to make that statement, he has been interrupted.

As far as needless repetition, I would like to draw to the attention of the hon. the Minister of Education, that the points of order have been needlessly repetitious as well.

MR. FITZGERALD: Name them.

MR. GRIMES: What about the relevance?

MR. SPEAKER: And irrelevant.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, what a wonderful opportunity it would has been, it would has been a glorious opportunity, for the Minister of Education to have stood in his place and made the point.

I remember when those people were in the galleries, I went up to talk to the man who is up there doing the recording, because it got hot down here and I was concerned about the heat that those people were experiencing up there. I said, I better go up and -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's thirty-nine.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I didn't count the gentleman because he is working - I better go up and see if I can adjust the heat because I thought there was some kind of an adjustment up there. I had to walk in front of the six people who were there in order to get into the room, I say to the Minister of Education. So, those six people were not counted at all when you were counting. So, the thirty-eight people that were in the galleries heard nothing from members opposite, and it would have been a glorious time to have stood up and told the people, the thirty-eight people that were in the galleries, what we were not understanding about this particular piece of legislation. Thirty-eight people could have went home and told their thirty-eight husbands or their thirty-eight wives or their thirty-eight daughters -

MR. J. BYRNE: Or their thirty-eight sons.

MR. FITZGERALD: - or their seventy-two sons maybe. The next thing you know, Mr. Speaker, we would have had people calling in to the open line shows saying that we have misunderstood this piece of legislation, that the eleven people over here, including the Leader of the New Democratic Party, had it all wrong. Because now you would have had those hundreds of people networking to say that this was wrong, close the House down, stop wasting money, get the members out where they should be.

What a glorious opportunity for the Minister of Education to have gotten up and convinced those thirty-eight people that this legislation was wrong, Mr. Speaker; but there wasn't one. If the Minster of Education didn't want to do it, maybe the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans or the Member for Windsor-Springdale or the minister himself. We would have given him leave to have gotten up and given us an explanation. We would have given him leave as long as he wouldn't close off debate. We would have given him leave to stand in his place and say: I'm the author of this piece of legislation, I'm the person who shepherd this piece of legislation through the law, through the Department of Justice, on out into the House of Assembly, through first reading, second reading, Committee, and here's the reason why it is a good piece of legislation.

There was nobody who stood and made any points whatsoever. All was done was interruption, people getting up on silly points of order. In fact, those thirty-eight people left here tonight, and I would suggest that they will probably never come back here again, because they are disenchanted with what they saw, the workings of their House of Assembly and their representatives. They are disappointed because nobody on the other side is taking part in debate, and that is what they came for. They never came here to only hear one side of this particular debate, because it is no debate. If there is only one side and all those members are for something or against something, then you don't have debate, Mr. Speaker.

Here is a member walking through the House now, Mr. Speaker, a member who I would say a lot of those thirty-eight people probably would have expected to stand in his place, because he is a little bit of a maverick. The Member for Virginia Waters has been known to go his own way, stand in his place to represent the people who brought him here. He sat down and was stifled. The Premier gave him a trip to China or Japan somewhere, and he stifled him. He will not stand in his place to represent his people. I can assure you that some of those thirty-eight people were from his district. I can assure you, some of those thirty-eight people had expected him to get up and tell what a wonderful piece of legislation it was. He is a fellow who speaks his mind, and if he believed in it you would have thought he would have stood in his place and said: Here is the reason I'm voting for it, here is the reason why I believe in it. There wasn't one.

I changed my mind. I think that is a sign of strength when people form an opinion, and then they hear both sides of the argument and they see what is happening, they judge what other people's opinions are, and then they change their opinion because they know that they are wrong. It is a sign of strength. If you don't do that you are stubborn. It is certainly a sign of weakness.

The reason I don't believe in this piece of legislation is because I don't see any benefits to be derived from it. I see it, Mr. Speaker, as another hit on rural Newfoundland businesses. I see it, Mr. Speaker, as another event that when it finally unfolds you will see lay offs, you will see people's employment hours cut back, you will see stores and businesses go bankrupt, you will see people laid off.

Those letters that were being read here tonight from members of the Opposition were not letters that somebody here on this side made up. They were not letters, Mr. Speaker, organized or orchestrated by somebody here. They were from real people, real Newfoundlanders out there trying to earn a living. That is where those letters came from, I say to members opposite.

That is why this government should have done one of two things here, if they believe this is a good piece of legislation. I pity the Minister of Environment and Labour. He is a new minister, and this has been, I would say, a very trying experience for him, because I'm not convinced he believes in this. It has been tried on with two other ministers before him. They pulled it back. They judged public opinion and they pulled it back. I don't know if this minister can do that or not. Only he knows that. I don't know, I was never in government, I was never in Cabinet, I'm not quite clear on how it works. I think I might know, I may have some ideas, but I'm not sure. I don't know if that minister can do that. I suppose the Premier makes the ultimate decision on what happens here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to him every time.

MR. FITZGERALD: He might, and he should. I don't know if the minister is willing to do that. I don't know if he has gone back to the Premier. The Premier has not been around a lot. He has been probably busy doing other things. He has not been around a lot, and maybe he has not been brought up to speed as to exactly what public opinion is on this particular issue. I haven't heard one thing positive about it.

Now, if we were living in a province or if we were living in an area, Mr. Speaker, where the economy had heated up to such an extent that the shopping malls were full of people on Saturday and full of people on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, then open it up, boy, open it up on Sunday and let it go, because then you are helping people, I say to members opposite. Go back to the Village Mall January 15 or go back, Mr. Speaker, the second week in January and see if we need those shopping centres open on Sunday. Go back and look.

I will tell you what will happen, I say to members opposite. I will tell you exactly what will happen if we allow Sunday shopping. If we allow Sunday shopping, then you are going to see Monday shopping cease. That is what you are going to see. You are going to see another day taken out of the week. You won't see Sundays because I can tell you the Price Club, Kent Home Supplies, Zellers, Wal-Mart, will be busy, busy, busy on Sundays. They will be busy on Sundays, no doubt about it. It will be one of the busiest days of the year for them, but they will be closed on Monday or they will be closed on Tuesday or they won't be open Tuesday night or Monday night. Watch and see, that's what will happen.

You will have the people working in those stores working on weekends but they will be taking Monday off or they will be taking the night-time off, Mr. Speaker. By doing that, then you are probably going to inconvenience the people who don't want Sunday shopping and like to go out shopping Monday night, Monday afternoon or whatever. That is what's going to happen, Mr. Speaker.

It won't affect every region of the Province. It won't affect people on the Northern Peninsula, per se. I don't think you are going to see that. I think the bigger centres you are going to see hit most of all. You are going to see the bigger centres with the big stores open and you are going to see people within -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - commuting distance, Mr. Speaker, driving into those bigger centres. That's what you are going to see.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: You are going to see the Clarenvilles of the world; you are going to see the St. John's of the world, Mr. Speaker, siphoning off businesses from the outside community.

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

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

MR. GRIMES: Sure we can go on now, he is the only fellow with (inaudible) he's good for half an hour.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Yes, I will be up for half an hour. You can go now, Roger, if you like.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I really thought for a while - although it has become quite apparent - but it looked for a while as if this government may drop this from the Order Paper, that they would not go through with it because it looked like the public, and in fact the public are actually against this. So, it looked like the government may have actually dropped it but, no, Mr. Speaker. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador will wake up later on this morning and hear that this bill has been passed and they will be very disappointed in the government, Mr. Speaker. They will be very disappointed in the government members.

Mr. Speaker, it may be too late next week or the week after to change their minds on it but, Mr. Speaker, they changed their minds on the used car tax because of public pressure. They were adamant that they were not going to. They were going to ram it through but they changed their minds, Mr. Speaker, before they implemented it because of public pressure. They did the same thing, Mr. Speaker, with the housing rental rate increase. Now, they did not cut it out altogether, they did not leave it to status quo, but they dropped it back, Mr. Speaker, even after they had implemented it and had increased some people's rent to 30 per cent. Because of public pressure they dropped it back somewhat, Mr. Speaker.

So we thought, on this side of the House, because of the mounting public pressure, because of the number of retailers, the number of small store owners, because of the retail store owners in the malls who were against this, that government would heed them and drop this; but, no, Mr. Speaker, they would not do that.

They did it, Mr. Speaker, at the Lakeshore Homes in Gander because of public pressure long after it was implemented. The seniors were inconvenienced and they had to march on the streets and protest and petition. The government reversed their decision on the Lakeshore Homes.

So, Mr. Speaker, there may still be hope after the public pressure mounts and it becomes even more apparent to the government that the public of our Province are not in favour of Sunday shopping. They may actually revert, go back and change and cut out Sunday shopping after it is implemented and it becomes very clear, very apparent to the government that not only the public, the craft stores and the flea markets and the corner stores, but even some of the retail stores in the shopping malls are against Sunday shopping. Mr. Speaker, the government may then reconsider and change their minds. We have seen it under public pressure; they have done it.

With the manufacturers and producers, government was adamant that everything was okay; they threw it back at the Opposition. Mr. Speaker, with the manufacturers and the producers, they were adamant that everything was just fine; they threw it back in the laps of the Opposition members to do their job and to consult with the manufacturers and producers. Finally, when the government realized that there were real issues, real concerns, legitimate concerns, with the manufacturer and producers, and that is was starting to become a public issue, they were raising their voices for the first time in years and starting to let people know that, yes, they have legitimate concerns. The government reconsidered and all of a sudden, Mr. Speaker, they announced that they were going to consult with the public and the manufactures and producers. They announced that in a ministerial statement this week. So, they went back on that decision as well. So, there is still hope.

This morning when this bill passes, Mr. Speaker, there is still hope that when government realizes the mistake they have made, and the public pressure mounts, and the retail store owners get angry and the convenience store owners get angry, there is still hope that the government will see the wrong that they have done and they will change their minds and reconsider the Shops' Closing Act and consult with the public, consult with the people who are affected, consult with the retail store employees, consult with the owners of the retail stores, the smaller stores, the convenient stores, the craft stores, the retail stores in the malls. After they consult they may say: Holy smokes! We opened up on Sundays and we shouldn't have done it. People are angry. It is driving the smaller operations out of business. Holy smokes! What did we do? They may reconsider then, Mr. Speaker, and before there are too many of the small shops closed, run into the ground, the owners close the doors and lay-off the employees, before too much of that happens they may reverse the decision.

So, there is still hope for the retail employees and the smaller shop owners; there is still hope. We can only hope that the government, after Christmas, after Santa Claus has come and after they have all had a good Christmas and realize that there is no need for grinches, they may reconsider. We can only hope they will do that, because they have done it on the housing issue, on Lakeshore Homes, on the retail sales tax and on the manufacturers and producers. They may do it on this, although again, Mr. Speaker, it seems as if sometimes this government likes to single in on the person or the people who are least able to help themselves. They single in on them like a bunch of carnivores, cannibalises, and gobble them up, Mr. Speaker.

Look at the prescription fees that they forced the social services recipients to pay. After the drugstores realize that some of the social recipients were going without medications, and after the drugstores at Wal-Mart and Dominion and so on started to drop the dispensing fee, and the smaller local drugstores also had to follow suit, it no longer became a burden on the social recipients. Now maybe that was the overall plan government had anyway. Maybe they realized that was going to happen. You and I know what happened, Mr. Speaker: There were five or six drugstores in the Province that closed as a result. They closed their doors, shut down, because they were barely hanging on and that was the one last thing that drove them into the ground, Mr. Speaker. It was the one last thing that drove them out of business. So, as small as that was, three dollars per prescription, it actually drove drugstores out of business, locally owned and operated drugstores. They shut down.

So if that can drive businesses out, shut their doors, they lay off their employees, Sunday shopping will, as well; you can count on it. Sunday shopping will drive businesses under. They will lay off their employees. There will be more people out of work, higher unemployment, as a result of it. You can count on that, Mr. Speaker.

Look at clawbacks on student loans, people who are receiving social benefits. Without any consultation with the students, without any forewarning, all of a sudden they clawed back a portion of the student loan. Mr. Speaker, you and I may realize that that is unfair, but the government carried through with it anyway. So sometimes it is the people who are least able to defend themselves that this government is picking on because they feel they are least likely to speak out, the least amount of resistance, and that is unfair, Mr. Speaker, it is unfair.

Just last year, the government introduced legislation - or legislation was already there but it was forgiven, it was overlooked. For administration after administration after administration it was overlooked, where if you won at a bingo game and you were on social services they turned a blind eye. Now, Mr. Speaker, if you are on social benefits and you win at a bingo game, they come and hunt you down like a criminal and they claw it back.

Your income tax: If you worked last year and you paid into income tax, your money, you paid it in, government now claws it back, and that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. So it is the people sometimes who are least able to defend themselves here that government is picking on.

Look at the small stores, Mr. Speaker, the handicraft shops, the little corner stores, the specialty shops downtown: A lot of these stores, because of the fact that the downtown area has been suffering in the retail trade now for a number of years, they have been struggling to revitalize the downtown area. Some of these stores are just barely hanging on. The unfortunate thing is some of those stores are the stores that are going to be driven out. They are going to be shut down, driven out of business. Once they shut their doors, Mr. Speaker, it will be hard to get them back. Once they are gone, once they are shut down, once the doors are closed, the people are laid off, it will be hard to get those stores back.

It is a shame, Mr. Speaker, when you think that some of those stores that are barely hanging on are traditions in our Province. They are the stores that have been there for decades and decades and decades, and this may be the final blow, this may shut their doors. Mr. Speaker, that is not something that the members of this side of the House are comfortable with; not at all.

Look at some of the music shops downtown, some of the book stores, some of the specialty shops that have been there for years and years and years: My grandparents shopped there, yours probably did too. The question is, Mr. Speaker: Will your grandchildren shop there? It will be a tradition lost; there is no doubt about it.

Sunday is a time when those stores find that they take in their highest level of revenue of any day of the week; Saturday and Sunday. If there is Sunday shopping, that will be a very serious blow to those companies. Mr. Speaker, it is truly unfortunate.

You look at what this government has done over the past year and a half or so, what it has done to the Crown land owners and so on: It is hard to fathom why they do it. Maybe they have just lost touch with the people of the Province. Maybe they has lost touch with the idea of what they promised during the last election: consultation. Maybe they feel there is no need for consultation.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you, they didn't consult with the people living in housing before they jacked the rent up. They didn't consult with the seniors at the Lakeside Home in Gander when they took their kitchen away. They didn't consult with the working poor when they decided they were going to implement the red book value on used car tax. No, Mr. Speaker, they didn't consult with social benefits recipients when they decided to implement the dispensing fee, or when they decided to claw back the income tax that those people paid in, their own money that they paid into the government. They didn't consult with the social benefits recipients when they decided that if you win at a bingo game they are going to claw back your $100 that you win at a bingo game, if they find out about it.

Mr. Speaker, nor did they consult with the public on the Shops' Closing Act. They did not consult with the business owners on the Shops' Closing Act. They did not consult with the local businesses, the corner stores, the handicraft shops. Mr. Speaker, they didn't consult with any of those.

The unfortunate thing about this is, in certain areas - and we will use downtown as an example. In the downtown area, if you close out another three or four shops, that may be the total end of the retail trade in the downtown area, because they are struggling to get it back now. They have been working diligently to get the downtown retail trade back, and if you close another two or three shops down there, there will be that many fewer people going down there. If you open up the malls on Sundays, there will be that many fewer people going down there, and it may wipe out the retail trade in the downtown area, as we know it today.

The other unfortunate thing, Mr. Speaker: While Sunday shopping and the opening of stores is supposed to be at the discretion of the store owners, that is not the case with the malls. The smaller stores at the malls who cannot afford to open up on Sunday, we have heard from a number of these stores. We have received letters, faxes and phone calls from the owners of these stores and from the employees of these stores. These smaller stores, Mr. Speaker, at the larger malls, cannot afford to pay people to work extra hours on Sunday. They cannot afford the extra utilities on Sundays.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order. Again, it is obvious, I guess, that I am not sure with respect to your ruling. The hon. member, when he is speaking - we have microphones so that we can be heard and the hon. member spends a lot of time sort of facing away from the microphone. I have been trying to follow what he is saying, Mr. Speaker, and hoping that he would sort of square up to the microphone a bit more so that I can follow his points better and see if we can respond, when all of us on this side take an opportunity to participate in a debate. Mr. Speaker, that is the point of order, because I really do, desperately want to hear him, but I am having some trouble.

Just in case you feel compelled to rule that it is not a point of order, could I at least ask a question, Mr. Speaker: Whether or not the Speaker's office has sort of a training school or a coach's corner where someone like me can go to figure out how to win one of these things.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order: There really is no point of order to the first point that the hon. member raised.

To the second point, maybe we should institute a coach's corner as a former speaker did, and then maybe the hon. member will be more successful in his points of order.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may be as successful in the next election as he is with his points of order. I wish that upon you.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately that man stood in the House on a number of occasions tonight and blasted us for wasting the time of the Speaker and the valuable time of the House, and he is repetitive in his unsuccessful bids at points of order.

MR. GRIMES: Well, (inaudible) your successful bids (inaudible).

There is nothing unsuccessful about that, I guarantee you. You have more air miles on your boots running through the door than Chuck Furey has.

MR. T. OSBORNE: To get back to my point, Mr. Speaker, and completely ignore the babbling from the Minister, I am going to state very clearly again that a lot of the smaller stores in the larger malls have told us they cannot afford to open on Sunday, yet they are compelled to open on Sunday because of a clause in their lease. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is a reality and it may have a very drastic affect on some of the smaller stores that are located in the larger malls. If these guys cannot afford to open up on Sunday, if they cannot afford to pay their employees on Sunday, if they cannot afford to pay the extra utilities, Mr. Speaker, what is going to happen there? What is going to happen there, Mr. Speaker, if they are forced to open up on Sunday because the other stores are open up on Sunday?

Mr. Speaker, there are some very real concerns here. I can understand why the general public have concerns. I have listened to their concerns. I can understand why some of the smaller stores have concerns because I have listened to their concerns as well. I can understand, Mr. Speaker, why the employees have concerns because a lot of the employees who work in retail trade are single parents, and Sunday right now is really the only time they get to spend with their children, the only quality time. It is the only quality time they get to spend with their children.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, is we have had a number of petitions presented to us, so not only have we consulted with the people of the Province, not only have we listened to the people of the Province, and the retailers, and the employees, but we have also accepted their petitions, something on which, on all counts, the government has failed. They failed to consult with the people of the Province on this issue, and many other issues. They have failed to listen to the people of the Province. They have failed to listen to the people of the Province through our questions in Question Period. They have failed to accept the petitions that the people of the Province have presented to us, the Opposition, and, Mr. Speaker, they have dismally failed to offer any explanation during debate, any explanation at all.

Mr. Speaker, if they had given some logical explanation that the people of this Province could have accepted, that the people of this Province could have embraced, listened to, and said, `Yes, okay, that makes sense, maybe we will try it out', then maybe everybody here would not be against it. But the reality is that there has been absolutely no explanation, no explanation from any of the members on the other side, most especially the minister, because the Minister of Environment and Labour is the minister who introduced this. Mr. Speaker, the very least he could have done was answer some of the concerns in debate.

Even though the Government House Leader would not allow us to ask questions in Question Period, even though the Government House Leader cut us off when we went to present petitions on behalf of the people of the Province, there is one person in this House who we would have expected to respond through the course of debate, and that is the minister. Not even the minister had the courtesy to respond in debate. Not even the minister had the courtesy. Not even one member on the government side had the courtesy to respond in debate and to allow the people of our Province to have an explanation as to why government is forcing this bill through; no explanation, total, total disregard for the feelings of the people of this Province.

Now there may be some people in the Province who are in favour of Sunday shopping, but the vast majority are against it. One thing that the government does not realize is the fact that, come the next election, if the government members have turned deaf ears to the general public of the Province then maybe the people of the Province will turn deaf ears to the members of government. We will hope that is the case.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, but I hope that when we get on the government side we will remember our roots, we will remember where we came from, and we will remember that it is the people of the Province who elected us. Most especially, if we campaign on a platform of consultation, maybe at least we will remember our promise and consult. Maybe we will remember our promise to consult with people and consult, because the government campaigned on the promise of consultation and refused to consult. They refused to listen, and they refused to provide answers.

Mr. Speaker, we in the Opposition have been listening to the people of the Province. We have been doing the government's job and consulting on a number of issues, and I can assure you, I for one, when we make it to the government side, will continue to listen to the people that have elected me, and the people of the Province. I will consult with the people before we force legislation down their throats. We will consult with them to ensure that at least we have given an explanation as to why we are introducing legislation, and we have given them the opportunity to voice their concerns. That is one thing that that government and almost every member of that government have failed at.

MR. GRIMES: We should be out like you, boy, tearing down the fence.

MR. T. OSBORNE: We should hope that the people of the Province will remember –

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible) end up in jail for destroying property.

MR. T. OSBORNE: - the lack of consultation on behalf of government and the lack of willingness to respond to concerns.

MR. GRIMES: Bragged about taking down a fence (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: He works for J C Pratt part-time.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the minister is so concerned about the fence, maybe he is putting in a plug for his buddy at Metal World. At least I listened to the people of my district. They wanted the fence down and the fence came down.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: That a boy, Tommy.

MR. GRIMES: You are a hero. You must be a hero like the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: They wanted the fence down. The government promised a year ago to remove the fence and they didn't remove the fence.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you, when my constituents ask for something, if the government are not prepared to provide, I will find a way to help provide it, and that has been proven time and time again.

MR. GRIMES: You are a hero, boy, we are proud of you. We will come and visit you in jail too one of these days.

MR. T. OSBORNE: The government would not respond to the manufacturers and producers, Mr. Speaker. We went and we did it ourselves and shamed them into doing it. Government would not reduce the rates for housing tenants, so, Mr. Speaker, we have done that ourselves and we have accomplished it.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that not only do I have my constituents' best interest at heart, but I don't break the law in doing it. That is not something I can say for every one of the other members on the other side, not with any great certainty at least.

Mr. Speaker, if this legislation passes, and it looks like government is forcing it through. They have invoked closure on Committee and they are limiting us now to thirty minutes per speaker on debate and they are not offering any debate themselves. So when this legislation passes we will be sure to let the people of the Province know exactly the circumstances and how it passed, the fact that we were stifled, the fact that government would not accept petitions, the fact that government would not allow questions in Question Period and the fact that government would not respond during debate. We will make sure that the people of the Province know, Mr. Speaker, because it's not only the Opposition that are against this bill, it is the people of the Province. That is something the government should remember as well. That is something that you should remember as well.

Over this Christmas season, when you relax -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. T. OSBORNE: - I hope you think about what you are doing to the people of the Province. I hope you realize what you are doing to the people of the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: By leave, Mr. Speaker, put somebody else up. It is too late for this. This is cruel and unusual treatment. This is torture. Is there anybody else over there, anybody else to speak?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the protection of the Chair, from that rabble-rousing, twaddling Minister of Education who doesn't have one iota of a chance of making a contribution to this debate and no intention of really participating. So, from time to time during my presentation if I'm harassed and pushed, and if we get repetitive points of order leading nowhere, I shall have to rely on your good office to give me the necessary protection.

Mr. Speaker, we have been debating this particular bill now for a little while; not very long in terms of the number of days, but a long time in term of parliamentary procedure. I have not, in my time here, seen such determination on the part of the government to do something which seems to be totally unnecessary to be done. That is, they have moved, in second reading, under section 521 of Beauchesne, the previous question, which is a closure motion. Then in Committee, before we had even gotten a chance to put any speakers up at all, have any debate whatsoever, they moved the closure motion. In fact, they moved it the day before the debate was scheduled to begin. Then, late on Thursday evening, a few hours ago, the Government House Leader introduced the previous question again to cover the third reading. Mr. Speaker, that has precluded all of the amendments that we would have put forward, and we would certainly have had amendments if we had had second reading. We had the hoist motion.

Mr. Speaker, given the fact that it is now rather late in the debate, and given the fact that we have made a great number of points, it would be fair to make an assumption that we would now give up, that we would now say: We have carried this as long as we can. It is 3:43 in the morning. However, Mr. Speaker, that isn't going to happen, because we know that this vote will be called at about 5:40 a.m. or thereabouts, in another hour and fifty-six minutes, or something like that. It will probably take us a little while to get through the voting procedure because we have missed the bells now for the last five hours or something like that. I know members are anxious to get back to hear those wonderful ringing sounds again. We shall be pleased to accommodate them at the appropriate time.

Mr. Speaker, closure is a powerful weapon in parliament. Closure is something that should only be introduced in very rare circumstances. In fact, as I said in this House yesterday, and said outside the House, in the research we have done - and I've had the assistance of the Clerk at the Table to help with the research, and the Legislative Library has also helped in the research - to say to me that in twenty-something years Joey Smallwood never introduced it at all. While you can say that Joey Smallwood had tremendous power over his caucus, and probably because there was a smaller Opposition - I wouldn't say less aggressive, because if you look at some of the people who were there, Bill Marshall and Tom Hickey and Gerry Ottenheimer, they certainly were very good researchers. However, he didn't introduce closure.

Then from 1972 until 1989 the PC Administration used it only five times.

MR. CANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: However, I say to my friend for Labrador West, I know he is anxious to participate in the debate, and I know he is a good democrat. I mean, he believes in democracy, he believes in the unfolding of the people's will, and the participatory processes that we go through to ensure that people's voices are heard.

I say, when we had the Wells Government come into office -

MR. CANNING: May I ask a question of the member.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, you may ask a question of the member.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: In an effort to understand and in an interest to understand the point that the member is making, I would like to ask the member: Would you purchase goods in a store on Sunday if the store were allowed to open? Would you commit that you are going to either purchase or not purchase goods if you are given the opportunity?

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down, Perry.

MR. H. HODDER: I don't know the relevance that has as to whether or not -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: - as to whether or not Joey Smallwood introduced closure or did not, but personally, I should say to the member, that if he ever sees me in a store like the Village Mall or the Avalon Mall, consider it to be a rarity, because my visitations to these places are so seldom and so infrequent that my friends would say: What are you doing visiting these particular places? I am not much of a shopper. Would I go shopping on Sunday? I can tell you that my first visit to the West Edmonton Mall was on a Sunday afternoon. I sat in my car and listened to the radio and some music while the people I was with actually went into the mall. So therefore I am not, shall we say, much interested in shopping and that kind of thing. I think the question put to me was: Will I shop on Sunday? The answer is no.

MR. GRIMES: Harvey, how do you get Pearl's gifts if you don't go shopping?

MR. H. HODDER: There are other ways. It is called giving your daughter your visa.

Mr. Speaker, in 1989 the Liberals came into power and in 1990 they had four closure motions introduced in one year. In 1991 they really went to town; they had seven. In 1992 they only had one. In 1994 they had four. In 1995 they had three. In 1996, after the present Premier assumed office, we had four closure motions that year and of course we also had abuse of the previous question on the Schools Act.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, with respect to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down, Ramsay. Hold a public meeting in LaPoile. Call a public meeting in LaPoile, boy!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of relevance. In the Standing Orders and -

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible) talking about, standing up here and talking about people's relevance? If you don't have anything better than that to talk about sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, just if I could make the point. Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 44.(2), says, "Speeches in Committee of the Whole House must be strictly relevant to the item or clause under consideration." Now, Mr. Speaker, I see that we are out of committee, but is there a level of relevance where we can talk about the process at this point? Now that is what it says with respect to committee, but still, does relevance allow an hon. member to focus all of his remarks on the items of process that got us into the debate in the first place? I would submit that that process that he is commenting on, is not necessarily relevant to the subject matter at hand.

So, Mr. Speaker, we offer that as a submission. I just want to know what the Speaker's ruling is of it. It may sound like something that is not relevant to even bring up but the fact of the matter is, to speak about previous parliaments where the hon. Joseph R. Smallwood was Premier and how many times he used closure, and how many times the House of Assembly changed the overall proceedings, the usual rules of procedure -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to conclude his point of order.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, you have the point of order. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order, I would inform the hon. House and all the members here that we are now debating the motion to put the previous question, and I would say that the hon. member's remarks are probably more relevant than any of the others who have spoken in debate tonight. So I ask the hon. member -

MR. H. HODDER: In other words, you have told us, take your seat and sit down, open your ears and listen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Since we are into a closure motion, the most relevant thing that we can talk about is closure. You know, how - no, I can't say the words because I would have to withdraw them, but there are words to describe when you are totally irrelevant.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that we have had lots of closure motions by this government. In fact, this is number seven, I think it is; three in the last two days. Now, that is the kind of administration that you want to leave.

I should say to all hon. members that there are lots of theories about government and one is that as they gradually start to wear themselves out and their mandate, they become a little more dictatorial and say that, we are ordained to be right, God looks favourably upon us and we cannot be wrong. Therefore, everything we do is perfectly proper and we don't have to listen to anybody. If you look at political theory, if you look at the books, some books in particular called Theories of Politics, you will find that as governments wear themselves out, they get more arrogant, they get more condescending, they get more hoity-toity and uppity, uppity. They look with a great deal of condescension down on ordinary folk.

So, Mr. Speaker, what I am saying to the hon. Member for Burgeo & LaPoile is that he should go back and read books that talk about the theory of politics and wonder what is happening to his government because they suddenly have lost contact. Tonight, while we listened to the good Member for Bonavista South trying to say to the House that the government should have been taking advantage of the opportunity to talk to the people who were in the galleries later on, the government was more interested in arguing about how many were there, whether there was seventeen or twenty-one or thirty-eight, rather than concentrating on the opportunity to talk to the two and three.

When governments want to get into office, they will say, if there are two or three gathered together, there they will be in their midst, to persuade them to vote for them. However, what I find now is that government wear themselves out, that they can see thirty-eight in the galleries and they are more interested in arguing about the number than they are in trying to communicate a message to them.

So tonight, when these people were here, there wasn't one single member of the government who took advantage of the opportunity to even welcome the people in the gallery much less take the opportunity to tell them about this legislation, why it was good for them or if it was good for them. Nobody spoke and, of course, all of the talking on this particular piece of legislation has been done by the members who sit in the Opposition. In the last thirty-something hours of debate, we had about a five-minute presentation by the minister at the beginning. Since then, of course, he has not spoken, nor should he have spoken, on various readings. Obviously, he will welcome the chance, I am sure, in the next hour and a half to give his concluding remarks.

However, Mr. Speaker, what we have seen in the last number of days are a great deal of questions being asked. People say: Why all the haste? Why did we bring this in so late in the legislative year? I know it have been talked about at various time, but it was brought forward last week. As a matter of fact, last Thursday I talked to the Government House Leader and he told me that on Friday they would be doing the utilities and the education bill. On Friday morning, after I had gotten all the information to the appropriate critics and got it all ready for them, I came in here, Question Period is just finished and then the Government House Leader says: No, I am going to bring in Bill No. 48.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

MR. H. HODDER: The hon. the Government House Leader has now arrived back in the House, all fresh and ready to take part aggressively in the debate as it unfolds in the next little while.

Mr. Speaker, so people want to know why all the haste. Why did we catch all the business people off guard? Why were employees not consulted? Why is it that there wasn't an opportunity for a review to be made to the general public? Why were people not given a chance to participate in the formulation of this policy? That is what people want to know about.

Then we had a great number of businesses who said: We are not in favour of this. But for some reason the government wants to go ahead with it. We have had the Federation of Independent Business say they are not in favour of it. We have had the Chamber of Commerce in the Lewisporte area say they are not in favour of it, and the Chamber of Commerce in Gander. We have had presentations by major department stores, like Riff's and Canadian Tire. We have had all of these, like the Paint Shop franchises and all of these people, sending us messages. We have had messages from church groups and from community groups, from small businesses in rural Newfoundland saying: This is not a good idea.

However, we know that the government has not been listening at all. They have been pushing forward. They are determined to get this bill passed in this session, and that is their right. I'm not saying that they are doing anything they doesn't have the legal right to do; not at all. It is government's established policy and they go and debate it. At some point, we recognize on this side that if the government is bound and determined to do something, then under our parliamentary system they eventually will get their way in the democratic system.

However, our job here is to point out why and ask questions. We look to other provinces. We looked at every other province. I have all the facts here for every province across Canada in a very detailed document. Mr. Speaker, we wonder why Prince Edward Island doesn't need this kind of legislation, and Nova Scotia doesn't need it. Although Nova Scotia does have some restrictions, they do have a square footage limitation. I think it is 4,000 square feet. After you go beyond that, you aren't allowed to open on Sunday. They went that way. That prevented the big giant stores from opening up, but it also permitted the smaller stores to open up. The Foodlands and these kinds of stores could open up, but Zellers and K-Mart and Sears would not be allowed to open up in Nova Scotia on Sundays.

Business people told us that it is going to drive up cost. In fact, presentations made by the Chambers of Commerce, by The Paint Shop franchises, and by other business people have said, there is nothing here, there is no new money. You are only going to collect in seven days what you would have collected in six. If you have to open up for seven days, there is a cost of doing business, and the cost of doing business will have to be borne by either the business, or increases in prices, which will result, of course, in inflation, and people having the same numbers of dollars but not being able to buy as many goods. Of course, money is only important in terms of what money can buy. Money has no function other than its utilitarian power to be able to purchase goods.

Consequently, if people who are on fixed incomes find, after this process unfolds, that they can't buy as many goods, therefore we have done a disservice to them. Their incomes will stay the same. I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy over there, who is smiling, he knows that under his government pensioners in Newfoundland have not had an increase since 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: How is your pension doing?

MR. H. HODDER: My pension is doing fine, thank you, and I hope it continues to do well.

I would say to the hon. minister, that people in Newfoundland and Labrador who are in receipt of pensions, many of them are on very low pensions. If the cost of goods is going up, the government should be concerned with it, because it is not the role of government to have a policy which will increase prices to individuals. Therefore, I say to the hon. the minister, he should reflect on this policy which will have the affect of taking away purchasing power from ordinary folk.

Of course, the other pressure will be on wages. I talked tonight to a young lady who was in the gallery, and afterwards she visited our caucus room upstairs. She was telling us her experience in Nova Scotia. After they brought in some Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia, for stores with less than 4,000 square feet, she tells us there was pressure to keep wages down, because they hired a lot more part-timers, and of course that was cheaper, and then there were fewer full-timers. So there was pressure put on the businesses to hire more part-timers at cheaper wages. Some of these people who were visiting upstairs tonight made presentations to us in our caucus room, and they were very strong in their support to question the government, in their dismay that government would try to bring this kind of a bill in at this particular time.

Although I would say to the government, that there is some support out there for a trial period. I did have some people say that to me, that if there had been some trial period, and then an independent analysis afterwards - for example, I did have one person say to me: Why couldn't we have had it for the four Sundays in December and then see afterwards what affect it had? There was some support for that; I will acknowledge that. That is the only bit of support I have found for this particular piece of legislation. What these people did say was: If you did that, you would have to have some kind of an independent group do an analysis of it afterwards.

Mr. Speaker, there is also the fact that many people find that it is going to upset their lifestyle. When you say lifestyle, some of them are people who have deep religious feelings. While not everybody in this Chamber have deep religious feelings, we have to respect the rights of those who do. For example: Will the same minister now amend the labour legislation to make sure that people who are told they have to work on Sunday don't find themselves on the wrong end of the employer's wrath, where they aren't going to get the same number of hours that they would ordinarily get if they don't work on a Sunday?

Will we give some protection to people's right to say: I don't want to work on a Sunday because... and make sure that when employers put pressure on people that they have some law that says: No, you can't do that, you can't tell me that if I don't want to work on Sundays for various reasons that there is going to be an aggressive guarantee in the labour legislation.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I say to the Government House Leader, my understanding is that if it is there it is very weak. When this gets passed we will be, I'm sure, required to look at it to make sure that workers' rights are indeed protected.

Mr. Speaker, some of the people who have been calling our offices have mentioned things like having to work on weekends; family people, single mothers, now saying they have to work on a Sunday. Sunday was the only time they could have with their families. I admit that certain jobs have people working on Sunday all the time. If you work in nursing homes or hospitals, then working on a Sunday is part of the way that things have to be. However, what this particular piece of legislation would do is make it very ordinary, and there would be no such thing as having to work on Sunday only in places where it is required to maintain life and comfort and safety. It would be kind of an optional thing. We will open up all the stores, and of course we will have destroyed many people's customary way of life.

Mr. Speaker, because of the closure motion, because of the representations by all of the people who we have talked about when we presented petitions, when we were allowed to present petitions, for all of these reasons, and for the fact that we still don't know why the government is doing this - is it because it can't enforce the law it has now? If that were the case, then we would make a whole lot of changes if we found ourselves having to change the law or abandon the law when somebody breaks it. All kinds of funny things could happen in society if we were to take that kind of a policy.

I say to hon. members, that this particular piece of legislation is not supported by the ordinary folk, it isn't supported by the businesses. We have been sitting in this House now for many an hour and we shall continue to sit here for at least a little while longer. We are still looking for the government to come out and say why. As the Member for Bonavista South said, he wants to know who is pushing to have this passed. Why would the government be willing to stay so long to make sure that this piece of legislation gets through; because, you know, it is so rarely that government has that type of determination. Obviously they are very determined about it.

I talked to the Premier earlier today and he assured me that this was a policy, that there was no - we chatted about the thing for a couple of seconds and there was no hope that this would be sent to a committee or anything at all. He was going full speed ahead. If it meant staying all night or all day tomorrow, then that was okay with him.

So, there are real questions about the why. Why do it now? Why do it now and why be so aggressive with it? Why not give businesses and ordinary folks a chance to have a say? I think, that is why so many people are listening and being very attentive about it, because there is a momentum building against this; and, of course, I suspect that the government will not want to let that momentum continue to build, therefore they will push to have it off the agenda as quickly as they can.

Mr. Speaker, we know that many of the government members are asleep at the wheel; some people are even asleep in their chairs. However, as you know, from time to time government has been caught napping. My good friend from -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: I did not get a chance to name the member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. I hope he is dreaming of Santa Claus and all the wonderful things that happen at Christmas.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, at 4:12 this morning I am pleased to once again participate in this interesting debate, and I am truly excited about it, I say to the Government House Leader. I had a bit of a break and it is probably now two-and-a-half hours since I last spoke. I am really looking forward to the next twenty-five or thirty minutes to once again join in this most important debate, an important debate for the people of the Province, I say, Mr. Speaker.

It is unfortunate that we are, I guess, experiencing this situation where we are forced to represent the interests and the positions of the people of the Province, because clearly, there are so many members opposite, Mr. Speaker, who refuse to listen. It is now incumbent upon us to ensure that the voices of the people of the Province are heard and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the various arguments that have been made by people in both rural and urban Newfoundland are shouted out loudly and clearly to represent the interests of people who, unfortunately, do not have a voice, I say, Mr. Speaker, as ought to be represented by members opposite.

Some members opposite may feel, Mr. Speaker, that we are not being co-operative, that we are not doing our part, but I say to members opposite that is clearly not the case, and that can be seen by the very quick and ready support that was given to the Minister of Education this afternoon when the Schools Act was brought forward. It was done at a time when all members opposite were prepared to –

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you call a quorum of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I counted the House; there are fourteen members present.

MR. GRIMES: You would not even listen to your own member, calling a quorum on your own member.

AN HON. MEMBER: Interrupting your own member.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are wasting his time, Roger.

MR. FITZGERALD: There are thirteen members in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I still count fourteen members in the House.

MR. FITZGERALD: There are thirteen members in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you call a quorum.

 

Quorum

 

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we saw yesterday an example of support and co-operation when members on this side of the House were more than prepared to do what had to be done to ensure the expeditious passage of the new Schools Act.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the Orders of the Day, and we look at the various pieces of legislation: "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act", during second reading, there was just minimal debate on that particular piece of legislation; "An Act To Amend The Public Health Act", again minimal debate - members on this side of the House had no difficulty - "An Act Respecting The Transfer of The Personal Trusteeship And Agency Business Of Montreal Trust Company Of Canada And Montreal Trust Company To The Bank Of Nova Scotia Trust Company" and "An Act To Establish The Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund," fully supported by members on this side of the House; "An Act To Amend The Intergovernmental Affairs Act," fully supported by members on this side; "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act"; and "An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act." Essentially, most of the legislation, Mr. Speaker, which has been read, which has gone through second reading, has been supported. In fact, we have had debate whereby members on this side of the House were prepared to support the legislation and, in fact, in many cases, agree with government that it is the type of bill and legislation that ought to be brought forward in this House of Assembly.

However, there was one piece, of course - and we are dealing with Bill No. 48 - where members of this side of the House said: Enough is enough. Mr. Speaker, it was therefore necessary for the Opposition members to take a position to represent the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who feel they are not heard, and to bring forward the arguments which they have represented to us.

Mr. Speaker, as was indicated by speakers in the past, some suggestions have been brought forward as to how the act can be improved and how the legislation can be perfected to reach, I guess, what we could call a happy medium, rather than just simply abolish the whole aspect.

MR. GRIMES: They are not paying any attention, your own members.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I realize that, but I am quite used to that, I say to the hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to all members that there are indeed improvements that can be made, and let's just review some of them.

The establishing of certain criteria or definitions in the act whereby it is clear exactly what can be said -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: See the resemblance? Uncle John, that's my uncle. See the resemblance?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: And that's my treasured nephew.

Whereby there are clarifications in the legislation where people know exactly what is what, what the parameters are, what the guidelines are, rather then completely abolishing the act, which essentially is what Bill No. 48 is all about. Bill No. 48 basically abolishes the act as we know it and we have open season with respect to Sunday shopping.

There are some suggestions, as well, by those who oppose this proposed legislation that there should be a square footage allocation. What that does, Mr. Speaker, is certain stores or certain confectionaries would be open, others wouldn't, but there would be a space allocation. There would also be a provision whereby a certain number of employees would be allowed. That sort of approach to Sunday shopping would be one which would be respected and I would say, Mr. Speaker, would be supported by the vast majority of people of our Province.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there would have to be a system of licensing or an application procedure whereby those stores who wish to become a part of this new regime would undergo a certain criteria, a certain test, and then it would be clear what stores could be open and what stores could not. Again, this license or application procedure would be met with support from the vast majority of store owners because this would be felt to be a fair way to deal with it and would respond to the concerns of the majority of our citizens.

A system of exemptions would also be put in place, Mr. Speaker, whereby obviously pharmacies or small drug marts or convenient stores would be open in the Province on each Sunday. Again, as I said earlier, that is really nothing new. We have a system of exemptions right now whereby certain stores are allowed to open and others will remain closed.

It has also been proposed by some opponents to this legislation that there would be a system of seasonal licenses whereby at Christmas time certain speciality stores selling Christmas goods or Christmas decorations and so on would be open for that three or four week period prior to Christmas Day.

Unfortunately, these very wise proposals and suggestions which have been brought forward to government on many occasions have not been listened to. Government has failed, Mr. Speaker, to even seriously consider these proposals and it is unfortunate, because I say to the members opposite, had government been prepared to open it's ears and listen to what the people of the Province were saying, we would not be in this position tonight. There would be a happy medium, a consensus of opinion, and that is really what good government is all about. Good government is about consensus. It's about listening to the representations of the general public, particularly when there is a vast majority of people who oppose a particular point of view. That is a sign of a government that is willing to listen to the people and as has been mentioned by my colleague earlier tonight, that is really a part of the mandate that this government was given. This government, Mr. Speaker, during the last election campaign, campaigned on the fact of consensus, on the fact that consultation would be a part of it's mandate, but we see once again, in this example, that that is not necessarily the case.

Mr. Speaker, the penalties that were provided in the original legislation were found to be inappropriate. We have examples where matters were brought before court and the law and the act was tested; and the law and the act, as it was, was found to be inadequate. Why, Mr. Speaker? Because there were many examples where private citizens beat the act, private citizens won their cases; and more power to them. Then government had no alternative but to review the legislation. Unfortunately, in its review, it felt it necessary, for some unknown reason, to essentially destroy the legislation.

In my trying to ascertain exactly why this legislation is before us, this legislation is before us, I say, because government is trying to respond to a sanction or a penalty provision in the old act which simply did not work. It threw the baby out with the bath water, I say, Mr. Speaker, because in its review of the legislation it said: Well, let's discard the act completely. Let's get rid of the act completely. Really, all government was trying to do was to improve - or one would think try to improve - the penal provisions, but it wanted to go all the way. In going all the way, Mr. Speaker, it has offended thousands and thousands of our Newfoundland people.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we are here. We are here for that reason only. We are here because somebody has to represent the interests of the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have spoken out repeatedly on this since this legislation was introduced, approximately a week or ten days ago.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I don't have that letter. What one is that?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Oh, that is the business owner in Lewisporte. I say to the Government House Leader, I have a petition that I can read.

Mr. Speaker, the proposal that was being made by a number of individuals, that a true penalty or enforcement provision could be enacted as a part of this legislation, is a very sound proposal, because if the legislation simply tightened up the provisions whereby those people who violated the terms of the act would be severely penalized, that would then be legislation with teeth. That would then be legislation that could be respected and would not be just treated as insignificant by dozens of violators as we have witnessed over the past couple of years.

Again, unfortunately, the government did not deem it fit to do that. The government wanted to go all the way and, as I have indicated, go against the wishes and the sentiments of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, because there is something special about a Sunday here in this Province. It is, I guess, a matter of tradition, it is a matter of history, it is a matter of lifestyle. We do not necessarily have to do what other people do in other parts of the continent or in other parts of the world. We can do it our own way if we want to. There is a lifestyle which is being infringed upon, Mr. Speaker. There is a lifestyle which will be altered and changed.

I realize that people still have choice - there is no question about that - but I guess in this particular instance is it appropriate that the choice be there? Is it appropriate if, in fact, a lifestyle or a tradition or a history and a way of doing things is being infringed upon? I think that is the case, I would say respectfully. I believe that is the case when we look at the volumes of documents that have been forwarded to us as Opposition members, and when we look at the petitions that have been sent to us, and when we hear the concerns and the objections that have been raised to us as individual members of the House.

Mr. Speaker, as part of the penalty provision which was part of a proposal made by some individuals, there would also have to be an appeal process. An appeal process that is a part of the legislation again would allow that if an application is rejected on the grounds of the exemption provisions, a business may file an appeal. In other words, a rationale could be developed which would allow a particular company or business to show why it should be within or come outside the ambit of the act. That sort of application provision or appeal process again gives some scope to the legislation, Mr. Speaker, because it is just not a cut and dry situation that we are talking about, where an application is made, then denied, and then, of course, the appellant has nowhere else to go. Due process must be respected. In this proposal, which was made and presented to me, the appeal process would allow an individual company, business, speciality store or whatever, to have at least a second opportunity to see if that particular business comes within the ambit of the act.

Mr. Speaker, again that is an example of sound proposals and representations being made by people in this Province who simply do not want to be kept in the dark, people who feel that their voices are not being heard and people who want to make a difference. It is interesting to note that the majority of people who oppose this legislation do not say: No Sunday shopping whatsoever. The majority of people, Mr. Speaker, are prepared to seriously consider other options that may be available in the legislation which would accommodate their particular needs. Some of those options include, for example, opening stores, having widespread shopping in our Province for a three or four week period prior to Christmas. I say, Mr. Speaker, what is wrong with that? What is wrong with having a three, four, five or six week period before Christmas whereby during the busiest time of the year, the busiest season in the year for our retail industry - what is wrong with having Sunday shopping available for that period of time only? Mr. Speaker, there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it is a very reasonable approach to a problem which, of course, is a difficult one for many of our people.

What is wrong as well, Mr. Speaker, with a proposal, for example, of, on a trial basis, for a selected number of weeks in the year, having stores open as they do in other provinces, say from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. or from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or whatever? These sorts of trial usages are something which the people of the Province would indeed respect and the people of the Province would be prepared to consider. Again, Mr. Speaker, those options where unfortunately not available, and as a result, we see the opposition to this legislation. That can be seen by the fact that we are here at this hour on a Friday morning debating this. We are here because we feel we have an obligation to do so.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is not for the sake of obstruction, it is not for the sake of opposing; that can be seen by the fact that we were prepared to cooperate on the schools issue earlier today. We were prepared, Mr. Speaker, to cooperate with almost all other pieces of legislation. However, with respect to this act, we felt it necessary and felt compelled to represent the interests of our people.

Mr. Speaker, in the fall of 1995 the government gave notice - in fact it was December of 1995 - to amend the Shops' Closing Act. That was in the fall of 1995. The bill was brought in the day before government announced its mini-Budget full of cuts. It was brought in at a time when, of course, there were many, much more important and relevant issues that government had to deal with at that time.

That particular bill had two clauses. One was the same as this one, it was subparagraph 4(1)(a)(i) of the Shops' Closing Act being repealed. Also, the second section, subsection 4(4) of the act, that section was repealed. Then there was another section, section 6(2) of the act, that was repealed. We saw an example in the fall of 1995 whereby the government of the day attempted to introduce, at the eleventh hour, legislation very similar to the legislation which is before us. As we know, government at that time did not succeed. The people of the Province had strong feelings as to whether or not this legislation was appropriate and that this legislation was really in the best interests of our people.

In the spring of 1997, approximately a year and a half after that, in fact on May 16, the day before the House closed for the summer, this particular government gave notice of another shops' closing act under Bill 18. It would have permitted shops to open Sundays from noon between May 31 and December 31. That was for 1997, because that was the year of course that the act was introduced.

Mr. Speaker, that legislation, I can say, had much more relevance and represented the interests of our people much more directly than the present act; because at least in that bill that was brought before the Legislature during the spring of 1997 there was an attempt to mediate, there was an attempt to respect many of the wishes and concerns of the Newfoundland people. There was an attempt to reach consensus. There was an attempt, I say to the Minister of Environment and Labour, to reach a compromise. Mr. Speaker, that particular piece of legislation also fell; nothing happened, the bill died.

In the fall of 1997, presently, we are dealing with another. This act, as I've stated, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, goes all the way, and that is why people are upset in the Province. I would suggest to the hon. Minister of Environment and Labour, that had be been prepared to introduce legislation similar to the legislation of the spring of 1997, he would have perhaps done it with ease. He would have perhaps introduced a bill, the opposition to which would have been most limited. I would suggest that that particular piece of legislation, had it been similar to what was introduced in this House in the spring of 1997, today would have been passed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I'm just told, Mr. Speaker, that there are some, I think, coffee and doughnuts outside for the benefit of all members. I understand there has been an agreement between both sides. I don't know if this is an appropriate time to recess for a few minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. If it is by agreement...

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's East has five minutes left.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: How much?

MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I will finish that when we come back.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We will recess for ten minutes.

 

Recess

 

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to continue exactly where I left off, because I'm sure all hon. members remember exactly where I left off.

This is a situation, I say to the Minister of Education and members opposite, where government has just acted simply much too hastily. This is a situation where government has decided to take the whole situation into its own hands and not pay any attention whatsoever to what the people of the Province have been saying. Businesses have been caught off guard, Mr. Speaker, the workers in the various retail outlets have been caught off guard, and the public of this Province has been caught off guard, I say. The public of this Province has not had an opportunity to render its input and to give its opinion, either prior to this legislation being introduced or during the process. Mr. Speaker, I had to return to that point because that is really what this whole situation is all about. This is a process whereby the people have not been a part of and that is why we find ourselves in this situation today.

Mr. Speaker, just quickly, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business surveyed its own membership and, according to our figures, 77 per cent of its membership opposed the concept that is being introduced by this membership. Mr. Speaker, that is a significant majority. That is representative of most business persons who say to the government of this Province that this is simply not good enough. Again, we have this government saying: We are not prepared to listen, we are not prepared to listen to the workers, we are not prepared to listen to the business people of this Province. The government is not prepared to listen to the small retail outlets who feel that their very existence and livelihood is going to be threatened. It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the government has just turned a deaf ear to what the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are saying on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, other provinces have said no. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as we have discussed in the past, and as other colleagues have made reference to, are two provinces who say Sunday shopping without condition, without limitation, is not what they want. We should be in a position to at least listen to what these other jurisdictions have said, but unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is not the case.

Mr. Speaker, how about the fact that the cost of consumer goods will increase? It has been argued by some people that this will be a necessary consequence of the fact that this Sunday shopping legislation is before us. Competition is a good thing; we all realize that. However, when we listen to the arguments that are being brought forward by the business people of this Province, it appears that the cost of consumer goods will increase, and this has been substantiated by the very same businessmen who were polled in the survey that was released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

So, Mr. Speaker, what are the advantages? When we hear these people making these sorts of comments and making these sorts of representations, what are the advantages? They are simply not there. They are not clearly evident and again we had to ask the question, why we are dealing with this very piece of legislation this morning.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise once again to speak against Bill No. 48, a bill to permit Sunday shopping. I ask again, as I have on more then one occasion: Who is this bill going to serve? Who really wants Sunday shopping? Do families who have one or maybe even two parents working in the retail trade want Sunday shopping? Of course they don't. How can I be so sure of this? Because all week long I have heard from hundreds of them asking us to speak against this bill. Do small store owners want Sunday shopping? No, they don't. How do I know this? Because again I have heard from many, many owners of small stores who have asked myself and my colleagues to fight to the bitter end on their behalf; and that is exactly what we are doing.

I said Bill No. 48, a bill to `permit' Sunday shopping; permit.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: It will not be permission to the small store owners in the malls.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I am trying really hard to listen to the hon. member, because I am sure she is going to make some new and different points that we had not heard in the last 500 or 600 years that we have been debating this.

MR. SULLIVAN: We are not here that long.

MR. GRIMES: I think we have been here since 1497, I believe the Member for Cape St. Francis said. It feels like it anyway, Mr. Speaker.

I am having trouble hearing, Mr. Speaker, but the point I wanted you to rule on was with regard to the hon. Member for Bonavista South. There is something about his position in the Legislature right now that I do not think is in order. I am wondering if you could rule on whether or not he is in the proper position. Is he in the House or out when he is like that?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

All hon. members know that they should not have their chairs with back to the Chair or the Speaker.

To the other point that the hon. member raised, I ask that hon. members give the Member for St. John's West an opportunity to be heard here in the House.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: As I said, Bill 48 is supposed to be a bill to `permit' Sunday shopping, but rather than `permit', to the small store owners it is `force'. They will be forced to open businesses. The stores that have businesses in the malls will be forced to open, because their lease with the mall says that if the mall is open, they must be open; whereas, stores that are not in the mall will not be legislated to open, but they will almost be forced to open to be competitive with the other stores that are similar to themselves.

The budgets of these small stores cannot stand it. They will not hire anybody else. They will cut an hour here and an hour there from their staff, spread it out, and give those people an extra shift on Sunday. There will not be any extra jobs because there is no more money.

Are the convenience stores for Sunday shopping, the small, family-owned, corner convenience stores? Indeed not. They are dead set against it. They are suffering enough as a result of the supermarkets' extended hours. Some supermarkets are open twenty-four hours a day. These convenience stores remain open as they have been for many, many years, passed on from father and mother to son and daughter, and on to the grandchildren. When they are forced to close because they have been put out of business by the multinationals - the multinationals who will take Newfoundland money out of Newfoundland. That Newfoundland money, though, will not be lonely on the mainland but will be joining the many Newfoundlanders who have out-migrated because there are not any jobs here for them.

These families who have one or more members working in the retail sector, and who have made representation to me, have given various reasons. If both husband and wife are working in retail, they know now they will rarely have a Sunday off together, and if they have children they are worried about the effect it will have on the usual Sunday, on their family life, the family barbecue, a drive out around the bay.

MR. GRIMES: The Leader of the Opposition is not even listening to his own colleague.

MS S. OSBORNE: Sure, he heard it all before.

Then there are the families who do not take vacations outside the Province; they choose to spend vacations at home, looking forward to the long weekends from one May 24 to the next. What kind of a May 24 weekend will they have when on Sunday the stores are open? That is a break up of the weekend; right in the middle of the weekend the stores are open. So, there will be the erosion of that, that Newfoundlanders have looked forward to for years and years; and Newfoundlanders have celebrated the May 24 weekend. It will not be the same, as I said, when in the middle of the weekend the stores are open.

Who are we trying to emulate? Are we so caught up with the multinationals that we feel we must become like them, like the rest of North America? Our sister provinces in the Atlantic tried Sunday shopping, Nova Scotia tried Sunday shopping, and it did not work; they abandoned it. Prince Edward Island, which has tourism as one of its major industries, doesn't even have Sunday shopping. New Brunswick has Sunday shopping but it isn't very successful. I think it opened its stores to counteract the cross-border shopping and it isn't really working out; so it is planning on abandoning it.

The timing of the introduction of this bill is most suspicious. The first time the government tried to bring in Sunday shopping was in December, 1995. At that time our current premier was in Ottawa. There was a flurry of cuts from the unemployment insurance, and I guess they were trying to deflect attention from that, so they brought in a bill to effect Sunday shopping. The other time that bill was brought up was in the spring of 1997 when people were disgusted with the health cuts, with the bungled education reform, with the lack of an energy plan, and with the absence of a mineral royalty regime.

That particular bill was introduced on May 16, 1997, a day before the House rose for the summer. This government gave notice of a shop closing bill then, Bill 18. As I said, the purpose was to deflect attention from the rest of the things that were going on in health care, education, and the royalty regime. That bill died on the Order Paper. As a matter of fact, it had to be removed from the Order Paper on December 11 of this year.

This bill is certainly not being enacted to protect small business owners. They have made representation against it. A group of them came to the House of Assembly this evening. Some of them worked until 10:30 p.m., and they felt so strongly about it that they came in. They wanted to make their own kind of protest, I suppose, and they thought that their presence would make the government stop and sit up and pay attention to their needs.

This bill is not going to be an earth-shattering bill. It won't have any major affects on the economy. Probably the government thinks it is an innocuous bill, but it isn't innocuous for the people it is affecting, and it certainly isn't for the family-owned convenience and corner stores. They stand to have their businesses eaten up by the bigger multi-nationals. So who is this bill really for?

Earlier this evening, a member on the opposite side of the House said that we were not giving the people a choice as to whether they wanted to shop on Sunday or not. Just as we asked our people in August if they wanted education reform, and we adhered to their wishes, why don't we now consult with the people as was promised in that infamous Red Book? Why don't we consult with them? What is the rush? Whatever the people express as their wishes on this Shops' Closing Act, we will adhere to.

This government doesn't want to here what the people have to say. Over this past week we have endeavoured to present petitions on behalf of the people of this Province against this bill; we were refused. We tried to ask questions; we were denied. We have been ridiculed for engaging in this debate. I say here this morning, we will not be stifled in debate and we will present the wishes of the people. They may not be heard, but we will continue. We are not here at 5:08 in the morning, a week before Boxing Day, just for the heck of it. We are here because so many of the people in our Province have requested us to be and we want to represent them properly.

Yesterday afternoon, when the education act came forward, we agreed to its speedy passage. It was the wish of the people and this too is the wish of the people. However, it is a sad day when the people are not heard and when their representatives are stifled from presenting their petitions and muzzled when attempting to ask questions on their behalf.

Along with the many petitions, e-mails, faxes and calls my office has received, I have a brand new letter to present. It was faxed to me at 1:36 this morning - and I will paraphrase; `...many thanks for taking the time to see us this evening. Please pass along our appreciation to Loyola and the rest of your team for your efforts. In spite of the, perhaps, inevitable result your team's work has not gone unnoticed and the word will spread. This is one case when performance and effort means as much as the result. Kindest regards.'

This letter was faxed to me at 1:36 a.m., after some of the people who were in the gallery went home. They were impressed by what we were doing. I can't say that they were impressed by the lack of attention by the people on the other side of the House. As a matter of fact, a couple of the people came up to my office afterwards. It was their first time in the House of Assembly and they said: Mr. Sullivan was up speaking and nobody was caring, nobody was listening. Does that mean that this bill is going to pass? Does that mean that the stores will be now open on Sunday?'

One of the people, who is the owner of a small store in the Village, a constituent of the Member for Topsail, said: We already work seventy-two hours a week. Now, with Sunday opening, we will be working eighty. They have a small business, they can't afford to hire any more staff and therefore they will be forced into being open themselves by virtue of the fact that they are in the mall. Now if the members on the other side of the House think that this is fair to the small business people of Newfoundland and Labrador, they should think again. They should think of what they are doing to the small business people, to the family grocers and to the working people who like to spend their weekends camping. They should have a long hard look at it because they are not doing any of them justice.

As a matter of fact, as we have said many times on this side of the House, if we could find just one good reason to pass this bill we would be just as happy to do it as we were to pass the education bill earlier today or yesterday.

The people who have made representation to me have given many reasons: husbands and wives working in the retail sector never having a day off together; the erosion of families; people who have said that the stores are already open seventy-two hours a week, why open them for another eight hours? Some of the major supermarkets are open twenty-four hours a day. Why do we need them open on Sunday? There is only a fixed amount of money that people have to spend and their grocery budget won't increase one-seventh by the fact that the grocery stores will be open one more day, nor will their clothing budget or the budget that they have to buy things for enjoyment, like books and games. That budget won't increase because the stores are open. If you are going to buy a suit, you will buy the suit in one of the seventy-two hours that the stores are already open.

There are parents out there, moms who are working for $6.25 and $6.50 an hour and sometimes less than that. Their children are in school during the week, thus enabling them to work. With the fact that the stores will now be open, these moms will have to get a baby sitter and work for $6.25 or $6.50 an hour or less and pay a baby sitter $5 an hour to take care of the children. Actually, it is probably a losing proposition for them to work, because by the time the deductions are taken out they will take home less than the baby sitter. I hope the Department of Human Resources and Employment has the budget to cope with these people who now won't be working any more.

What about the people who refuse to work on Sunday? Is there something there to protect them; people who won't work on Sunday for religious purposes, people who have traditionally gone to church with their family every Sunday and now they won't be able to if they have to work? If they refuse to work, is there something written into this bill that will protect them?

A couple of times this week I've asked the Minister of Environment and Labour if he could substantiate the percentage of businesses now open on Sunday, if he could substantiate his statement. Does he have the data to support this comment?

It is too bad we are removing this family day. Sunday has always provided a breathing spell for us because commercialism is non-existent. There will be a lot of stress introduced to families. There already is a lot of stress on a lot of families, people who are working for minimum wage and who are underemployed. There is already a lot of stress on them, and now there will be more stress on them.

In the process of writing up this bill, and in the process of introducing it to the House of Assembly to be voted on by the Members of the House of Assembly, has this government consulted with any of the stakeholders who are involved? Have they adhered to the promise they made in the Red Book? I don't think they have. I haven't seen any representation from any people who are in favour of this bill. If I did see representation, and if they could make a good case, as I said, I would be just as happy to vote in favour of this bill as I was to vote in favour of the education bill that came forward earlier; because that was the wish of the people.

No interested people have been consulted in any of the business establishments, either the workers or the owners of the small stores, or the owners of the major chains for that matter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I do.

There are a lot of stores out there whose operating budget will be increased by one-seventh, but their intake won't be increased by one-seventh. Actually, there will be a lot of stores out there that will actually lose. By virtue of the fact that they have to remain open, this loss will probably be passed on to the consumer.

One of the major reasons, the government said, is it is so hard to enforce Sunday closing. What makes it so hard to enforce? Can't the government have people go around and police or monitor the stores that are open and levy a fine on them, and a fine substantial enough that they will know that closing on Sunday means closing on Sunday? If that is the only excuse that this government has for bringing in this bill, opening the stores to accommodate the law breakers, this doesn't seem very justifiable. Don't you have anybody over there, or can't you hire more people - that would be a couple of more jobs that you could have - who could go out and see to it that this law was enforced. Rather than changing the law to suit the law breakers, why not go out and see to it that the law is enforced?

There is another fax there from people saying that it will increase the dominance of large, national retailers at the expense of small, locally-owned businesses, and Sunday shopping will negatively affect the family life of employees who will be required to work on Sunday. Many large retailers are uninterested in opening on Sunday due to the increased operating costs. That is another petition that we were prohibited from passing in on behalf of the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador whom this House is supposed to be working for, rather than them working for us.

This bill was brought in with too much haste. We should take a look at what is happening in the Maritimes and the Atlantic Provinces. Look at what Nova Scotia did. When they opened, they saw that it did not work and they closed. Prince Edward Island does not have its stores opened on Sunday and New Brunswick, which did open its stores on Sunday, now is looking at closing them.

Wages will probably go down when this bill is enacted, because there is only so much money in the employee payroll account. They either have to spread it out or they have to cut wages because there is still just so much money available in the account. That will drive up the cost to the consumers.

I think that an awful lot of the members over there who have listened to us during the week, and I am sure who have had calls, faxes and e-mails during the week asking that they not open the stores on Sunday, I am sure that some of them are sitting there with second, sober thoughts. I ask, when this bill is called this morning in probably half-an-hour to forty-five minutes, if you will examine what you have heard, what has been said here in this House of Assembly during the past four or five days, and if you will think very, very seriously about the people who will be affected; about the small businesses, about the families -

MR. J. BYRNE: What are they going to use to think with?

MS S. OSBORNE: I do not know what they are going to use to think with, but it would be really nice if they could think. Lots of times people have a preconceived notion that something should happen, but after listening to an argument they feel: Well, yes, maybe we should have a second look at that. There is nothing wrong with putting this bill on hold for a while until the people, the stakeholders, have been consulted.

We are just listening to the wishes of the people. We did not decide that the stores should be open or should be closed on Sunday. We are only echoing, in this House, what we have heard from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians all this week: Please close the stores on Sunday. We do not want the stores open on Sunday.

The petitions that have come in, the faxes that have come in, the e-mails that have come in, are all saying: Please close the stores on Sunday. The government will not lose face if they delay this bill for six months and consult with the people who will be affected.

I ask the people over there who have children, if they will reflect on the Sundays that they spent with their children and bring to mind that, when you are voting in favour of this bill, you are removing the pleasure of that from so very, very many families in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: That is stoppable. Think about what you are doing to the people, reflect on Sundays when you have taken your children in the car and driven out. If you love this, think about how much the mothers who are leaving their children behind on Sundays are going to love it and how they will feel when they bring home less money than they have to pay out to a sitter just to keep their jobs for the other six days of the week.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is taking care of the children when they go to the flea markets?

MS S. OSBORNE: They take their children to the flea market. The flea market is an event. It is not the shopping on Sunday that I am against, it is the stores being open, I say. It is not that that I am against. Obviously you have not been listening all week and obviously you do not care.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Sunday shopping?

MS S. OSBORNE: I am not against buying a product on Sunday. I am against retail stores being opened on Sunday, forcing single parents to leave their children at home when they could take them to the flea market. Are you deaf? Are you deaf or can you not comprehend? They can take their children to the flea market. The people who have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I am sure you have, but the hon. Member for Topsail keeps saying the same thing.

I am not against purchasing a product on Sunday, not against a family taking their children to the flea market. I am against stores being forced to open Sunday. Do you hear that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MS S. OSBORNE: Do you comprehend it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS S. OSBORNE: No, I am not in favour of retail stores being opened on Sunday. It is incomprehensible that a person who sits in this House cannot absorb that. I hope that I have said it loudly and clearly enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) convenience stores.

MS S. OSBORNE: I do not care about convenience stores being open, if they are mom and pop.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: They are family-owned corner stores who choose to remain opened on Sunday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ignore them.

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I will ignore them.

I do not care what they (inaudible) but when you are forcing small businesses in malls to be open because their lease says that they should be open, and you are forcing other people to be competitive and forcing mothers out of their homes on Sunday, out of family dinner, to go to the mall and earn $6.00 and come home and pay $5.00 for a babysitter, you are not being just. The reason you are arguing is because you are putting up an offence. That's a good defence, an offence.

The Evening Telegram began with a big editorial against Sunday shopping, and then last week they had a mini -

MR. TULK: Sheila, did you read that?

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes. And then they had a mini editorial, because they started to see exactly what was happening. They took a look at the big picture.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I have lots and lots of petitions and faxes. People came into this House tonight and the people on that side of the House chose to ignore them.

Consultation! Make no wonder there are very few copies of that Red Book around.

MR. TULK: Why? Do you want one?

MS S. OSBORNE: No, I don't want one. They are hidden from the people who voted you in because you were going to consult with them. How many small store owners have you consulted with? How many families have you consulted with?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: I beg your pardon!

As I said before, you won't lose face by holding up this bill and consulting with the people and you won't even lose -

MR. J. BYRNE: You would be heroes.

MS S. OSBORNE: You would be heroes in the eyes of the people of Newfoundland today.

I got more calls on this then I got on education reform.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you.

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

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

I know, to the chagrin of members opposite, that this is -

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you have an hour?

MR. E. BYRNE: I'm not sure. Is it an hour as critic?

MR. SULLIVAN: The critic has an hour.

MR. GRIMES: No, he doesn't. The leader, I believe, gets the hour, the leader or the critic.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the leader gets an hour anyway. The critic gets an hour and I get an hour too.

MR. TULK: The critic should have had an hour, but the Leader took it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I tell you, something good comes out of something bad all the time. My mother use to say it and she still says it to this day.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista - next week when we are here on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the Government House Leader tries to take the House on his back and quotes Beauchesne - the hon. member has found a higher authority. For the last twenty minutes he has been reading the Gideon Bible for quotable quotes, better than Beauchesne. The law is laid down in that and I can tell you by Tuesday or Wednesday the hon. member will be able to recite it for members opposite; guaranteed.

MR. TULK: You know what, I would say he can now.

MR. E. BYRNE: Not quite; he needs another day or so.

MR. TULK: He comes from a background where he read all that in Sunday school, did you Roger?

MR. FITZGERALD: That's right.

MR. TULK: He comes from a background where all that was read. Don't you?

MR. FITZGERALD: Many times.

MR. E. BYRNE: He follows the higher authority, though; not to challenge the Speaker. I was reminded tonight that I shouldn't do that because I have set enough precedents in this House with respect to challenging the Speaker or Chairperson.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and conclude at least this portion of the debate on -

MR. TULK: Your side; conclude for your side.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, I said conclude at least this portion of the debate.

It is not hard to tell when members opposite, specifically two ministers - I remember during the hydro debate, nobody in the galleries, and every five minutes members opposite, particular ministers at that time, Minister of Fisheries now who was then the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the Minister of Justice who was then the Minister of Education -

MR. TULK: We are going to give you one guy who is going to do as much as you have done in twenty-five hours.

MR. J. BYRNE: It's not going to be you, that for sure.

MR. TULK: No.

MR. E. BYRNE: All the time standing, interrupting, points of order. You have seen, I think, at least seven or eight examples tonight from the Minister of Education, but the minute people enter the galleries, Mr. Speaker, it is a completely different story. Members relax, they do not interrupt, they let the process unfold.

I was just saying, when people are in the galleries - I mean, my experience -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? Well, if we should do it when they are here, we should also do it when they are not here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I agree. I am not suggesting we should not be. I am just stating an obvious fact, I think, that at least during my time in the House, I have certainly taken notice of it on many occasions. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is one of the worst in terms of interrupting debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh yes, very partisan. Definitely the worst in this House, very partisan.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I will lay Hansard on the table for him tomorrow. He is going to lose sleep over it, I say to the Government House Leader, I am sure of it. I recall one afternoon when people were in the gallery - he was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation then, I believe, the Member for Port de Grave. There were about 200 students in the gallery on a particular private member's resolution. I would say he was interrupting, using points of order to interrupt the flow of speeches within the House, but as soon as those galleries filled up he was quieter than a church mouse. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was quieter than a church mouse.

I have seen it again tonight, seen the same sort of activity from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Previous to people coming into the galleries tonight, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture interrupted, I believe, on nine separate occasions, the Leader of the Opposition - trying to make a point, trying to be cute, all those sorts of things. But the minute people got in the galleries he sat down there and never said a word - not a word, Sir, not a word.

If I am not mistaken, I believe that earlier tonight as members of the House passed Bill 41, and the Premier congratulated the Minister of Education, offered some high praise for how he marshalled this particular piece of legislation through the Senate, armed with logic, I believe it went right to his head. Coupled with the insightful comments and my predictions for 1998 - off the rails. He went off the rails tonight. When the Government House Leader left, he believed he was the Government House Leader, because he behaved just like you.

MR. TULK: He did?

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, he did. Up on points of order, talking. Hon. members here will know. He got up on several points of order dealing with one point: relevance, repetition. The Minister of Education was throwing barbs across the House the whole night saying: Common sense, this is a waste of time, we should not be doing it, tying up the House, this is nonsense, sit down, you are making a fool of yourself, all that sort of thing, he tossed at members.

I would like to ask the Minister of Education a question for him to ponder, just one question: How does he feel about the President of Memorial University making $85,000 a year more than he does? How does he feel about Memorial's President getting $50,000 in interest-free loans to buy homes?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, it is true. It is very true. How is that? Is that something that every member of society can feed off the public chest? Are members in this House eligible to get $50,000 in interest-free loans for homes?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, it is true, it is very true. I can prove it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No. The point of the debate, Mr. Speaker, is this: that on some very serious matters that government have overlooked or not taken action on - but on not-so-serious matters where there is clearly no stated public policy requirement for this piece of legislation, government is proceeding at all costs, forsaking every other piece of legislation on the Order Paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Definitely.

I tell you now, I tell the Government House Leader now, that is what you have done. I think that in pursuit of Bill 48, this government and the House Leader have put in jeopardy every other piece of legislation on this Order Paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, you have put it in jeopardy, no question about it. You will eventually get it. The rules of this House, and the rules under which we operate, will allow you to get it; but when will they get it? that is the question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not today, not on Friday, not on Saturday.

MR. E. BYRNE: I said earlier, and I meant it, that it is just as well if you phoned Harvey's Travel now. Every member opposite will see he is right, Bob, there is no doubt about it.

MR. FITZGERALD: Old Whipper Billy has got her off the track, boy! Whipper Billy Watson got her off the track!

MR. MERCER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Look, it does not take a rocket scientist, I say to the Member for Humber East, to do the math. If each member of the Opposition only speaks for ten minutes on every piece of legislation that is left in here for us to do, we will be here for another twenty-five hours - that is with just ten minutes each.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is only on second reading. It has nothing to do with Committee stage, nothing to do with third readings, nothing to do with amendments.

MR. FITZGERALD: Ringing bells.

MR. E. BYRNE: It has nothing to do with ringing the bells, I say to the member, because the bells have rung here tonight, I guarantee you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Members opposite cannot accuse us of not being in the Christmas spirit. I tell you, if the Premier can light up the parkway, we can ring the bells in the House of Assembly just as easily, just like that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: They are not going to hold us down. No, Sir, they are not going to hold us down.

MR. FITZGERALD: Old Whipper Billy will have to have his (inaudible) because his own members have turned on him (inaudible) hours.

MR. E. BYRNE: No question about it. I am not going to go through each -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: He is in trouble. I am predicting he is in trouble.

MR. FITZGERALD: The Government House Leader is in big trouble. He cannot use legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No doubt about it.

The question is this, and I have to ask it of my colleagues here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Just hold on a second. This House, and the system under which we operate, was designed for debate; but it was also designed for negotiation. Government can put their agenda forward; that is their right. We have the right to debate it.

House Leaders traditionally, since I have been here, have made deals to get particular legislation, and it is part of the process, but never before, I can tell you this - and this is a question I have to ask my colleagues because if I have not asked it I would like to ask it of them. I tell you, with the antics that went on from Monday to now, there is going to be a price to pay. There will be a price to pay, I guarantee you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Now, my colleagues - I do not know, but I have to ask them - are you willing to go to the wall with me to make them pay the price? That is what I am going to ask, guaranteed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I can tell you this, that by the Spring Legislature, members opposite, the backbenchers, ministers (inaudible) beaten by what is going on: What is happening here? We cannot get any legislation. By that time they would have gone through - only if my colleagues are with me on it.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: By that time, I would predict that they will have gone through at least l50 sets of bells in this House, because we will keep them ringing, guaranteed.

The point is this, I say to the Government House Leader, the process of negotiation in this House is a time-honoured tradition. It is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, Sir, I do. It is.

MR. FITZGERALD: Ed, I predict that the Premier will call him home.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that right? Are you predicting a new job?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Premier will call him home because his government will not be able to find -

MR. E. BYRNE: Are you saying he is going to get the call that Brian Cleary got?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Ridiculous!

AN HON. MEMBER: Dan Cleary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Daniel Cleary, sorry.

The reality is that I have never seen the resolve in a caucus like I have seen in this caucus in the last five years, in my sitting here. Now that is enough. I think we have debated this piece of legislation some twenty-six hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. E. BYRNE: How long?

AN HON. MEMBER: Thirty-six.

MR. E. BYRNE: Sorry, thirty-six hours, and we can debate it for another thirty-six had closure not been introduced, I suppose, but the reality is that, again -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) talk about, now, finance bills?

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes we can, no question about it, no doubt about it, but for the record, there is no good public policy reason for this piece of legislation - none whatsoever.

The Member for Bonavista South said it clearly tonight, that while there were people in the galleries, what an opportunity - and he was right - for members and ministers opposite to stand and make their points on the legislation and to convince those people here who are against it. The number of people in the gallery is not the purpose, was not really in any way, shape or form related to the opportunity that they had. Because if government was so convinced about their policy on this - and they are not, it is the Premier's bill. It is nobody else's bill. If the Premier and ministers were so convinced, they had an opportunity tonight to tell the people who are being affected by it, but they did not tell them. As a matter of fact, not only did they not tell them, but over half of them left the House when they were up there.

From what I understand, the Minister of Education's performance here tonight on points of order - we did not see him stand up then, did we? We did not see him stand on points of order, articulate government's position, lay down the economic analysis and what kind of impact it was going to have, increased jobs, increased revenue, none of that - none of it, and there is only one good reason why there was none of it, which is because it does not exist, and because government says so does not necessarily make it so. That is an example of this piece of legislation.

MR. H. HODDER: Thirty-five bills on the Order Paper yet - thirty-five.

MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to speak for an hour on each one, thirty-five hours for me.

MR. E. BYRNE: Another point, Mr. Speaker, what we have seen this week, the majority of the legislation that we have seen has come down this week.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yesterday.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yesterday, but today in the parliamentary sense. Five pieces of legislation were dropped on the desks of members in this House today, with the full knowledge and expectation by members opposite that we would be out of here by 12:00 noon tomorrow - dropping pieces of legislation. There is merit, Mr. Speaker, to the suggestion the Opposition House Leader made, that legislation should be tabled for members of this House, thirty days before we debate it. There is merit to that.

There are legislation committees in place, there is merit to that. We are sending another issue, RNC and guns, to a legislation committee. One reason why that is happening is because the Premier wants to have an all-encompassing, inclusive approach to handle a controversial issue, but on this piece of legislation he does not want it because he needs it. Now why he needs it is the question. That is the question that has not been answered, why he is so intent on getting Sunday shopping, why he is so intent on ensuring that Sunday shopping goes through because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Smoke screen for what? I thought that last week but it is not a smoke screen. Last Friday, I thought it might have been a smoke screen to divert attention away from other issues, but they are serious this time, very serious about Sunday shopping. It is going to happen, despite everything else. To every other piece of legislation on the Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, this has been the priority. This has been the priority of government's agenda, Bill 48. Can you imagine?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) is coming back.

MR. E. BYRNE: He certainly makes a good member, better than the Member for St. John's North now. The former member was a much better member.

MR. MATTHEWS: He saw a good thing coming up behind him. I hate to be that modest but he saw a good thing coming up behind him.

MR. E. BYRNE: He did, but he did not know if it was a Tory or a Liberal. Because previous to his resigning, he was going to run against him and as soon as he resigned he ran in place of him. That is what happened; that is exactly what happened, he knew what was coming he said. The former member, he was lining up to take him on in the general election - it was so funny, Mr. Speaker, I remember it so well - lining up to take him on in the general election and then we -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Boy, it was, too, just like yesterday, left their offices with all the campaign literature - two days later, the former member resigned and we heard him on the radio running for the nomination in St. John's North. What a shock! What was even more shocking, he got in the Cabinet, that was even more shocking, but that is another story for another time.

That is another story for another time, Mr. Speaker, because Bill 48, I guess, on the urging of the Minister of Education and his points of order tonight, I am going to try to be as relevant as I can, Mr. Speaker. With respect to Shops closing -

MR. H. HODDER: The Port au Port member ran for the Tories but lost the nomination, and he is in Cabinet today.

MR. E. BYRNE: With respect to Shops closing, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) this one.

MR. E. BYRNE: Be careful, `Lloyd'. I say to the member, be careful boy, that is a -

MR. SULLIVAN: If we ever have a flood on the Humber, I tell you, we have `the sandbagger' there. We will never be flooded out on the Humber.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Who?

AN HON. MEMBER: Port au Port.

MR. E. BYRNE: Boy, he would have done a better job. That member would have done a better job had he gotten it.

Mr. Speaker, seriously, when we look at the lack of any documentation, any evidence, any supporting sort of information that would - I would like to apologize to the member, I am sorry.

AN HON. MEMBER: Catch your flight, `Roger', don't be late, now!

MR. E. BYRNE: `Roger' is not getting on the flight. It is not the minister, Mr. Speaker - hold on. I have to say to my colleague, it is not the ministers who are worried here, they all live in town, the whole lot of them. It is the backbenchers I am concerned about. I am concerned about the backbenchers, boy, I am really concerned.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: You have to hear me out. As private members, the opposition and backbenchers share a lot in common, an awful lot, but I am concerned about the backbenchers because I know behind the scenes, they are lining up talking to the Government House Leader: Look, are we getting out of here twelve o'clock today? Are we getting out or what? I have a flight to catch at 2:30.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: Here comes one, old Rip van Winkle himself. Come over, Perry, come over boy!

They are lining up. The pressure is on. I mean, Newfoundland's answer to Mr. Bean, the Minister of Education, really does not give a hoot about the backbenchers, he lives in town and he can go home and get a shower. He can go home and wrap his gifts, he can go home, sit down and have a cup of tea with his wife, but the backbenchers, Mr. Speaker, cannot. They are in here on shoestring budgets; they do not have the big ministerial expense accounts -

AN HON. MEMBER: Perks? No perks.

MR. E. BYRNE: Very little perks and they are looking forward to getting home. A lot of them were out shopping tonight. My colleague bumped into a few people who saw them at the mall, I understand, there is no doubt about it. They are still trying to clue up last minute gifts before they get home. But the Member for Torngat Mountains had the best suggestion here in the last week or so. He suggested that every Fall and every Spring, the House, in terms of when it opens and when it closes, should be prescribed. It is a good suggestion and we should visit it. I do not know where that initiative has to come from. Does it come from the Eighth Floor? It should be done. I mean, there is no need really when you think about it, nobody wants to be here at ten to six in the morning, nobody. The Minister of Education has been complaining all night. He has been saying: `a waste of time, a waste of time.' Seriously, nobody wants to be here at 5:50 a.m.; but I can guarantee you this, nobody here wants to be bullied either. Nobody here wants to be bullied, and that is the reason we are here at ten minutes before six this morning. That is the reason we have been here all night.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No doubt about it. We have been opened up for what, five weeks now? No doubt about it.

MR. SULLIVAN: And they have not called a bill, hardly, in five weeks.

MR. E. BYRNE: Hardly at all, complete abuse. I have never seen the like of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Look, it is ludicrous when you think about it, five piece of legislation dropped on our tables today for debate tomorrow. We want to get out of here tomorrow. Everyone wants to get out of here 12:00 tomorrow. There are about thirty-five pieces of legislation on the Order Paper. We have to go through second reading, Committee, and third reading all day, and if it happens, what are we going to hear tomorrow?

AN HON. MEMBER: Bells.

MR. E. BYRNE: We are going to hear more than bells.

Let us talk about the media fallout, what we are going to hear. Well, it was pomp and circumstance and then at the last minute all members conspired together and cleared the Order Paper in record time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on. That is what normally happens.

MR. FITZGERALD: Then the Government House Leader will be on.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am getting to that. That is what normally happens. Then you are going to see the Government House Leader publicly on, saying that this could have all been cleared up but the Opposition were obstructionist, and all of that sort of stuff. Then you are going to hear the Opposition House Leader get on and say: Really, there are ten members here; there are thirty-eight over there.

That is normally what happens. Every Christmas since I have been a member sitting in this Legislature, that is what happens; but there is a better way to avoid it. Two simple things need to be done, very practical things. They do not require a lot of debate. They do not require fancy policy changes.

AN HON. MEMBER: No big effort.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it does not. Simply put, open the House on October 10 and close it December 10. Put bills on the Order Paper in due time so we can have the opportunity to look at the impact of them. What is the problem with that? There is no problem with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: And get a new Government House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that is coming. There will be a big shake-up over there in January.

AN HON. MEMBER: Eddie Roberts will be back (inaudible) this situation.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible) I would say, if you do not smarten up.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is the point. He has gotten himself in a pickle.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, no doubt about it, there is a big shake-up coming, a huge shake-up coming in January.

On a serious note, that is what we should be doing here as Members of the House of Assembly, opening up the Legislature in due time, not hijacking an agenda and sitting members around the clock without appropriate time to debate, not dropping legislation on the table - five pieces of legislation on the table - a day before people expect it to close. Really. You wonder why sometimes, then, the public gets cynical about us. They kicked up a big fuss for five-and-a-half weeks and then all of a sudden on the last day in three hours we pass thirty-five pieces of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not going to happen.

MR. E. BYRNE: I can tell you, it may have happened in the past, I say to the Member for Humber East, but it is not going to happen tomorrow, I can guarantee you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: That is for sure. It is not a threat; it is not a strategic ploy; that is a promise. (Inaudible) going to happen. Those days are over.

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: You are exactly right, I say to the Member for Bonavista South. Those days are over. You can mark it down right now that this caucus is resolved to the fact that, `That is it; no more'. If it is going to be bulldozed -

MR. FITZGERALD: You are in big trouble, House Leader! You are in big trouble!

MR. E. BYRNE: I can tell you this. There are only ten of us. You may have a feast on us, but I guarantee you this, we will have a pick at the rest of you, too, in the process. Because that is what is going to happen, I say to the Government House Leader. It is happening tonight. It is going to happen tomorrow. If it has to happen on Monday or Tuesday, it will happen again. It is unbelievable. Just think about it, five pieces of legislation dropped on the Order Paper today - today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, it is the first time that the Opposition had the opportunity to look at five new pieces of legislation. You cannot disagree with that. At the same time, between the banter of the House and outside of the ability for Hansard to catch it, the Premier comes over: `Now, boys, when are we getting out of here? Come on, now, it is Christmas. When are we getting out of here?' You talk to him about stop dropping legislation in the House and we might be able to. `Boy, I do not have anything to do with that. That is my Government House Leader,' he said to the Leader of the Opposition. `The Government House Leader handles all of that.' It is going to have to be handled in a different forum from here on in, I can tell you that - that is what this caucus is saying.

Attendance has been up; attendance is here because this House cannot function the way it should function unless there is some degree of co-operation between members on both sides of the House. It cannot operate the way it should or could, unless there is co-operation, unless there is some give and take, unless there is some consensus-building. But I can tell you, dropping legislation on us the day before this House is expected to close is not my idea of consensus-building. It is not my idea of co-operation. It is my idea of a heavy-handed, high-handed approach. It does not provide the opportunity for us to do our job, simple as that. Whether we like it or not, as an Opposition, whether we want to do it or not is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, is that it is our job to do exactly that. We have to do it and it will be done.

Government has a role too, government sets the agenda. We see what government's agenda is in the legislation that it tables, but the reality is, Mr. Speaker, that for this House to operate the way it should there has to be a degree of co-operation and a degree of respect for an appropriate time to be allowed to debate certain issues or whatever policy initiatives that are tabled through legislation. I can tell you this, that when you see thirty-five pieces of legislation on the Order Paper and people opposite, government opposite are expecting that they want that by tomorrow –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: - it is not going to happen. It is not going to happen today and it stops today. That is the message from the Opposition, I say to government, it stops today! Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We are voting on the motion that the question be now put. All in favour of the motion?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye

MR. SPEAKER: Opposed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Johnny cannot figure this one out for you, I guarantee you. You need more than John's help to get you out of this one. Black Tickle will not get you out of this one.

MR. SPEAKER: All members in favour of the motion that the question be now put, please rise.

CLERK (Miss E. Murphy): The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods; Mr. Oldford; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Mr. Mercer; Mr. Reid; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow.

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

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

Twenty `ayes', nine `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion, carried.

It is moved and seconded that the said bill be now read a third time. Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a third time? All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: `Aye'.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: `Nay'.

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: I ask all hon. members to take their seats.

All those in favour of the motion that the bill be now read a third time, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms. Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, twenty `ayes', nine `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act No. 2" (Bill No. 48), read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair was well aware that there were members standing.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act", Bill No. 44.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House adjourn until Monday 22 December at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn. All those in favour, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: `Aye'.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: `Nay'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask all hon. members to take their seats.

The motion is that this House do now adjourn.

All in favour of the motion, please rise.

CLERK (Miss E. Murphy): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. H. Hodder, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Edward Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. T. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Mr. French.

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

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Mr. Barrett, the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Mercer, Mr. G. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow.

Mr. Speaker, nine `ayes', nineteen `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House now close and re-open at the regular hour for a Friday morning, at 9:00 a.m.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, to that motion.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we have -

MR. FUREY: You cannot move - there has to be intervening -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) point of order, he said.

MR. TULK: What point of order?

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

MR. TULK: The truth of the matter is -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Just listen now, `Jack'. Relax and learn something about the rules, `Jack'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FUREY: `Jack'! It is out of order.

MR. TULK: I would submit, Your Honour, that the motion is out of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the motion to adjourn was just put, and what the hon. gentleman has done is the same thing. After the motion to adjourn has been voted on, it is a well-established tradition in this House that there must be some intervening action take place in this House, and that is a vote on some other piece of business of this House. That is what makes this motion to adjourn now out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not acceptable in this hon. House that two adjournment motions be placed back to back, regardless of whether they are for the same day at a different time, or two different days. There must be intervening business. We have already had the Government House Leader move second reading.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act". (Bill No. 44)

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this particular amendment to the Public Utilities Act is designed to eliminate a duplication of regulation. With respect to the clause itself, when it refers to public utility, if you go back to the actual Act itself under section 2(e)(ii) it refers to the production, generation, storage, transmission, delivery or providing of electrical power or energy, water or heat, either direct or indirectly, to or for the public or a corporation for compensation.

The Member for Kilbride rightly points out to me that this could be interpreted as exempting a public utility. In that regard, I want to give notice, and I have passed an amendment to him, that specifically talks about this amendment not applying to Newfoundland Hydro, Newfoundland Power, or Deer Lake Power Company, that currently are public utilities and regulated utilities.

Essentially, if an independent power producer now wants to produce power they would have to appear before the Public Utilities Board. Also, if they are selling to a regulated utility, that regulated utility would also have to appear before the Public Utilities Board. It is essentially removing one layer of regulation. It is redundant to have both these corporations appear for the same matter before the Public Utilities Board. I will have more to say about it in Committee as I move the amendment.

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

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

I will take not a long time to speak in second reading on Bill 44. I believe it is an important piece of legislation. I believe as time goes on in debate on this bill that - I mean the obvious difference in policy or approach in terms of hydro development may become evident. Certainly, it is at this stage of the bill that it is more appropriate to discuss that.

From government's point of view, they outline clearly that this piece of legislation eliminates layers of duplication with respect to the Act, but what is happening is simply this: The Act, as it previously existed, was very clear in that there were conditions placed upon what - the acronym is called NUGs. What it really means is non-utility generators, or private operators, or private developers of hydro resources in the Province. The Act was clear. It said simply this: that either it becomes a utility after April 30, 1987, and it has a capacity to generate no more than one megawatt at any of its sites, or it first starts generating electricity after April 30, 1987, and it has a capacity to generate no more than fifteen megawatts of hydro-electricity at any of its sites, and it sells the electricity generated at such a site, and in brackets it says: under fifteen megawatts to another public utility.

There is a very good reason, in our opinion here, why that legislation was enacted and why that criteria was put in place. That criteria was put in place for a very important reason. It was put in place to look at the development of power on the Island, mostly to be generated, to be developed by, proposals to be called by, energy plan to be put forward by, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. What this bill does, make no mistake about it, it may be designed for a particular project today, but it does open up the floodgates.

By that I mean, if this legislation passes before the House, any other private development of electricity, or private proposal of our lakes, streams, or rivers, beyond fifteen megawatts, whether that be fifty megawatts - because the Act is not clear, it does not specify as it did before - seventy-five megawatts, 100 megawatts or even larger, it allows the opportunity, and more than allows, it presents the possibility and it presents the opportunity, for further privatization of hydro-electricity on the Island or off the Island, within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is clearly what it does.

AN HON. MEMBER: It allows what? Say it again.

MR. E. BYRNE: It allows for privatization of hydro resources on the Island.

Mr. Speaker, if we really want to look at a shift in policy, it has occurred since 1989. If we look at what government has before them in terms of the privatization proposals or proposals from private developers, if you like to say it that way, it all means the same at the end of the day, simply this, before government right now - and if the Minister of Mines and Energy may want to correct me at any point, feel free to do so, I say to him - that right now the government have opened themselves, more than opened themselves, they have taken a direct policy initiative, that will allow for the private energy generation proposals. And here is what they have received so far, Garia Bay Power Development Pros by Genergy Inc., St. John's South Side Thermal Plant Repowering Project by Newfoundland Power, Silver Mountain, the upper Humber, Hydro Electric Development by Deer Lake Power Company Limited, since withdrawn, I think it was, but it was there.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, put on hold.

MR. E. BYRNE: Since withdrawn for the time being.

Argentia Electricity Generating Plant by Newfoundland Power.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, these are the proposals that I believe are before your department right now for private development.

Argentia Multiple Gas Turbine Power Project by Duke Energy Corporation.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand. I am going through it, there are more than that there.

Come By Chance Co-Generation Power Project by North Atlantic Refinery Limited, Long Harbour Thermal Power Generation Facility by New Tide Resources Inc.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The minister is splitting hairs.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) for the general customer.

MR. E. BYRNE: I will get back to that. The minister is splitting hairs.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: But who owns the resources they are developing? We do, don't we?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh yes, but well, that is (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Why did you not explain that when you were up?

MR. E. BYRNE: Torn River Site, hydro-electric development by Torn Small Hydro Corporation, Sheffield Lake Hydro-electric Development by Deer Lake Power Limited, Grates Cove Wind Power Project, Cape Bonavista Wind Power Project, South West River, phase two, small hydro development, Port Harmon Co-Generation Project, Grand Falls Turbine Generation Beaton Unit, I believe, I am not sure if there are any more since I received this information.

Mr. Speaker, clearly, what this bill is allowing and what it is pursuing is the further privatization of our lakes, rivers and streams. We differ strongly on that. No one is suggesting - and I want to be clear for the record - no one is suggesting that government is going to privatize Hydro. We have to take the Premier and the Minister of Mines and Energy at their word for that, but things have changed with respect to further development.

You talk about the Voisey's Bay or the smelter refinery in Argentia, (inaudible) another way, I mean, the Hydro corporation in the Province was designed for a reason, was put in place for a reason. It does not count into what the debt of the Province is. It is self-sufficient, its debt to equity ratio is growing lower as each year goes on, correct? Every year. Last year - well, about thirty years ago, I am not sure if it was that long ago, Bay d'Espoir Power Generation Project cost this government or cost the people of the Province $150 million, it was a huge project, but it is owned and operated by the people of the Province through Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Today, that project is paid off in full. The power that comes from it belongs to us. It is not a private company, not a group of private individuals, but it belongs to the people in the Province. Clearly, the change that the minister is suggesting in Bill 44, would allow a private company to put forward a proposal, have it developed by a private entity or consortium or group of companies, and that would allow it then to sell it to Hydro.

Here is where the problem exists. It is fine to say that a private company can develop it cheaper. That is not necessarily proven and it is not fact either, but it is fine to say it. Let's look at the difference between Hydro developing a project, say, of $50 million like is going on in Star Lake right now, and a private company which is developing Star Lake right now. Let's look at the difference.

According to the legislation that is in this Chamber and this area, in terms of hydro resources and hydroelectricity which is regulated by it, a private company goes to Newfoundland Hydro and says: We want to develop a project; we want to do it ourselves. Hydro enters into a contract - correct? - for the sale of power to be put into the grid. So that particular project -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand that. If Hydro did that itself it would have to follow the same thing I understand, so that is a given.

Here is what happens: We will use the Bay d'Espoir project. Let's say, for instance, if government thirty years ago took the notion that a private company could develop that project and sell to Hydro, here is what would have happened thirty years later. Thirty years later Hydro would still be into a contractual situation with that company. We would not have owned outright -

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, how is that?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: So is the minister suggesting that government would put into the terms of the contract -

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, would part of the terms of that contract possibly be, if you want to get into a hypothetical situation, that at the end of twenty or twenty-five years it would revert to the Crown?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible) and perhaps get a higher rate.

MR. E. BYRNE: And perhaps get a higher rate.

MR. FUREY: Well now, just think about it for a second.

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I'm thinking about it. I know what I'm saying. Fundamentally, we disagree, and there is a good reason why.

MR. FUREY: Because this part (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: This party has always been the party of the people, I say to the minister; always. At least that is why I joined this party. The minute it stops being that is the minute this member will leave this party; as simple as that. The minute it stops being that is the minute I will leave the party.

The minister is interjecting, but the reality is that thirty years later had a private company, by his own admission, say within the terms and conditions of the contract, had to renegotiate with Hydro for a higher rate, it sounds good. Do you know what the better option is? It is the one we have now; at the end of thirty years the bond is paid off, we own it, we don't have to renegotiate with anybody, the power belongs to us. We can put it into the grid and sell it to industrial users of power like Abitibi.

I remember meeting with Abitibi with respect to Star Lake. Officials at Abitibi put the same argument forward to me. Actually, the manager out there went to University with me; a gentleman from Gander Bay, Pound Cove, a fellow Perry. a good young man, a good fellow. He said: I'm surprised that the Progressive Conservative Party is so environmentally against Star Lake. I said two things - let's be clear - one, our party was never against the project going ahead, that if it could be done in a way that was sensitive to the environment and protected the environment, then let's proceed. However, we were against a private consortium doing it.

Abitibi had a good point, because they do have a problem, as a good corporate citizen in the Province, and they are. There is no one can debate that. Certainly I'm not going to call that into question. They have a problem with winter availability. Just to give you an example: if one of their machines shuts down, it isn't as easy as coming in and turning on the switch. It takes days to get it back up, significant days, which incurs significant losses in money, significant losses in productivity. At the end of the day, when Abitibi comes before government and says: Look, we are trying to maintain an operation in a competitive world market, we have to maintain an edge.

In Abitibi's case, within their own consortium of ten operating plants like this one here, they have what they call a cornerstone, that if their mills reach a certain status of productivity that they are given cornerstone status. Now, as a result of being given cornerstone status, it elevates the company certainly and that is what the company was after. That was the reason that was driving the Star Lake project. Because winter availability was such a big concern to Abitibi that they wanted to ensure that there was a source of power close to their operation that they could put directly into the grid so they could ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that power would not be interrupted during the peak months; number one.

The other side of the coin is this, that under our proposal, as a party, what we would have done is that we probably would have developed a project nearby; maybe it would have been Star Lake maybe somewhere else. Abitibi, who are trying to protect their interests - so they should, that is what they are there for; good corporate citizen. Government ultimately should be protecting the interests of the people here. We, as a government, could have taken a different policy approach. We could have developed, we could have owned, we could have operated, and in the final analysis, Mr. Speaker, we could have provided to a good corporate citizen in this Province a rate of power that would have maintained their competitive edge and that would have probably given them the cornerstone status, but at the end of the day, the lakes and rivers that were developed would still be owned by people here. That is the difference.

The other side to the argument that Abitibi put forward, and so they should, that is what they are there for, they are a private sector company, was simply this - and probably it was not so overstated as the winter availability question and the criteria associated with it. But Abitibi, having a long-term contract with Newfoundland Hydro for a cheap power source, certainly improves the companies bottom line; no question about it.

When you are talking about a mill in Grand Falls, which is old, which probably needs a competitive edge, because if we didn't give it to them - and here comes the dilemma with the difference in terms of government's approach and the approach that I would suggest. Here is the dilemma, and I think this is what is facing government or has faced government, as one example, that if they did not get the proposal, that if they did not have a guaranteed cheap source of power and if they did not have a guarantee of availability during peak months they could have lost the competitive edge. As a result, Abitibi corporate office, which is constant in terms of productivity, may have said: It is time for Grand Falls mill to shut down, and 400 to 600 workers could have went out the door.

I understand the dilemma that government found themselves in, because what do you do? What do you do, as a minister responsible for a department, when a company that is involved, a good corporate citizen with a long history and hopefully a long future in the Province, comes to you and says: Look, we have a problem and if we don't try to find a solution to it, then we could be shutting down operations?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I spoke with him. I spent some time out there with their corporate fellows out there. I still think that at the end of the day we could have developed that project. I think that we could have provided Abitibi with not only a level of comfort but the level of comfort they required both financially and from availability of power that would have given them what they needed, and at the same time, would have given us what we needed.

One of the concerns, Mr. Speaker, that I initially had with the bill - and I spoke to the minister on it - was: What was the point of the bill. We have discussed that. To whom does it apply? Certainly I think those questions have been answered. Which companies generate electricity and sell to a public utility to which the act applies? I think it was opened up to interpretation and opened up probably, too, without the amendment that the minister put forward.

Another question: Does it continue to apply to Newfoundland Power? Another question that we had: Will the non-utility generators, now being assessed or approved, be exempt from this act? All of those things were concerns, but I think that this amendment goes a long way. I think that the amendment eliminates the need to even ask those questions, and it provides, within government's framework anyway - it doesn't satisfy me as a member of the Opposition, or as an individual; not necessarily as a member of the Opposition. It doesn't satisfy me as an individual who holds a different sort of policy outlook on the generation of hydro power specifically. I know there are other projects, such as wind power, and I think they should be pursued, but when it comes to hydroelectricity power, that is a different circumstance in my opinion.

I understand where government is coming from within their framework and within the vision that they see for energy development and an energy plan. I understand where this is coming from. I disagree with it, but I do understand it. I think, within the framework the minister has put forward in this bill, certainly the concerns that we initially had that would go outside the act, in terms of would companies be exempt, have been satisfied to that extent.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks on second reading and leave it there.

Thank you.

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

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

Just a couple of words on Bill 44. First of all, in regard to the Abitibi project at Star Lake, I'm aware of some concerns that have been put forward to the Minister of Environment and Labour regarding the Star Lake project. Namely that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: I realize that, but it still pertains to the non-utility generators, the NUGs. I would like to raise it.

Anyway, I understand that section 35(2) of the federal fisheries act has been violated under the Star Lake project. That is my understanding. Now I'm not sure if that is true or not, but I understand that is a concern several people have. I actually have in my possession here a letter from David Anderson, the federal minister, stating that indeed - now, that letter is dated, but still in that letter David Anderson does say that section 35(2) of the federal fisheries act has not been met. As a result, I think under the provincial act that project probably should have been halted until section 35(2) was fulfilled. I think the provincial legislation gave them the go-ahead subject to them receiving all permits federally as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: No, she won't go to sleep. If she does, she is just napping to recoup her energy for more bills.

Under the current act, the act does not apply to a public utility where the public utility becomes a public utility after April 30, 1987, and the total installed generating capacity of the public utility at each location within the Province, at which the public utility has equipment or facilities located, is less than 1,000 kilowatts.

Section 3(1)(i) reads: Notwithstanding section 3, this Act does not apply to a public utility which first engages in the generation of electricity from water after April 30, 1987, whose total installed electrical generating capacity from water at each location within the Province where it has equipment or facilities located is fifteen megawatts or less, and which sells the electricity generated from a location referred to in paragraph (b) to another public utility.

The act, as it would be now changed: This act does not apply to a public utility where, under section 3(a), the public utility becomes a public utility after April 30, 1987; and 3(b), the total installed generating capacity of the public utility at each location within the Province, at which the public utility has equipment or facilities located, is less than 1000 kilowatts. 3(1): Notwithstanding section 3, this act does not apply to a public utility which generates electricity and sells it to a public utility to which the act applies.

Previously, in order to be exempt from this act, a company would have to meet conditions: Either it becomes a public utility after April 30, 1987 and it has a capacity to generate no more then one megawatt at any of its sites, or it first starts generating electricity after April 30, 1987 and it has a capacity to generate no more then fifteen megawatts of hydro electricity at any of its sites, and it sells the electricity generated at such a site, under fifteen megawatts, to another public utility.

This bill broadens the second set of conditions. In order to be exempt under the act, a company would have to show that it only generates electricity and sells it to a public utility to which the act applies.

So, the questions are: What is the point of the bill and to whom does it apply; which companies generate electricity to sell to a public utility to which the act applies; to which public utilities does the act continue to apply and does it continue to apply to Newfoundland Power; and will the non-utility generators now being assessed or approved be exempt from this act?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: How can we be sure of that?

MR. FUREY: I will explain it to you (inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Okay.

Now, the backdrop for this amendment is relatively clear. Government has moved full steam ahead to clear the way for private energy generation. These private companies are doing work previously within the exclusive domain of hydro despite the fact that people of the Province have already said clearly they do not want hydro privatized; and that is pretty much the feeling of our caucus as well. We believe that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro should be the developers of hydro projects, that they should be done for the people and owned by the people of the Province.

The government is faced with an energy supply crisis because it refused to allow hydro to undertake its normal energy planning. In fact, the Premier has scoffed at the concept of energy planning. We have yet, really, to see an energy plan by the provincial government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: I have lots more to say yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: No, we will do it now. I might want to speak again later.

We have recommended an interim solution to address the immediate energy crisis, and that was put forth by Ed Byrne last year, Granite Canal, Holyrood and greater efficiency, but our long-term goal is the Lower Churchill development. The Premier has been talking about the Lower Churchill development lately.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: If the Minister of Fisheries keeps bothering me, I will talk for the full half hour.

We believe hydro should have exclusive power to generate energy for sale, and hydro should set the direction and do the planning for future energy developments; otherwise we undermine its integrity and shatter a winning cooperation which can take a lead role in bringing economic development to the Province.

Now, we applaud the fact that government is now talking on the Lower Churchill and we can only anticipate that that will be developed and it will be owned and operated by the people of the Province.

Jack?

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

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

I want to rise today and say a few words on this bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act," Bill No. 44.

As the Member for Kilbride mentioned when he got up to speak on this bill, it is a very important piece of legislation and, in fact, it is an important piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, because it is really changing the direction and the policies of government with respect to hydro development within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We now know, Mr. Speaker, that there are a number of applications to the government for private development of different rivers within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I do have some concerns about that, because we have seen the Premier go across this Country, with respect to the Upper Churchill Falls, and now there are discussions with respect to the Lower Churchill. I am just wondering - and maybe the minister might want to address this - for every river or lake that we develop on the Island, which are smaller projects, that type of thing, what impact that would have on the development of Lower Churchill. That's a factor, Mr. Speaker, that I think needs to be addressed and something that the Province should really be looking at with respect to this.

For example, the number of projects: I believe there are eighteen projects that are before the government now, and one of them I noticed is the Torrent River site. Now, that has been on the go for some time and that is a river where I know the salmon population is pretty good.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You will find out soon enough, I say to the Minister of Fisheries. Awfully concerned, aren't you? Why are you so concerned? Worried?

MR. EFFORD: Yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Continue to worry then.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Torrent River itself, that is where I caught my first salmon, in 1990. So, I have some -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Quaranteed - my first salmon back in 1990 on the Torrent River. I know a lot of people up in that area. That's in Hawkes Bay, I believe, the Torrent River, isn't it? I do a lot of salmon fishing up in the River of Ponds area each year, Mr. Speaker, and I know some people up that way. I don't think they are too fussy about the development of the Torrent River. There are other rivers here too that should be looked at with some concern.

There are a number of points, I suppose, that should be made, generally speaking, with respect to this bill. My concern with respect to the Lower Churchill is, if we have eighteen projects here on the Island, I think it is, or wherever, what impact would that have on the development of the Lower Churchill? If we have, say, ten rivers with fifteen megawatts each, 150 megawatts, fifty megawatts or whatever, it has an impact on the potential for the development of the Lower Churchill Falls.

As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, the Premier went across the Country last year with respect to the Upper Churchill, trying to renegotiate the contract. He was going to get every province across the Country behind him and then do something, maybe pull the plug on; something might go blank in the night. That is what the Premier said. I think that is something that needs to be looked at. As I said earlier, I have some major concerns with the whole policy direction change, Mr. Speaker, with respect to development of electricity in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Also, I suppose, something that should be addressed is the conservation of energy which may be a way to increase the supply in the Province itself, Mr. Speaker, in the interim. Is there any way we could look at the conservation? Is there any electricity on the Island now being over-utilized, or whatever the case may be, in certain areas, from Bay d'Espoir or what have you, from Churchill Falls, that could be redirected to the Province itself or for sale, I would say to the minister?

We know that the Province has had a long-standing contract with Churchill Falls with respect to the agreement itself, and how the Province, Mr. Speaker, is losing out on the amount of electricity that is flowing out of Labrador through Quebec, into the States or wherever it is being sold. Newfoundland has been losing millions of dollars each year and is going to lose it for a number of years yet, Mr. Speaker.

I would wish the Premier every success in his discussions that he was talking about today. Not negotiations now, discussions that he is having. I don't know if there is a difference. I suppose there is. In his mind there is a difference, and if there is a difference in his mind that is what counts, I would imagine, Mr. Speaker. Hopefully -

MR. DICKS: (Inaudible) Churchill Falls?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I flew over them. I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, yes, I have flown over Churchill Falls.

MR. McLEAN: You should go up and have a tour.

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say I would probably spend some time up there and you can take me on a tour, I would say to the Minister of Government Services and Lands. I would appreciate that. I've seen it from the air, I will admit to that, Mr. Speaker.

Another point we would have to look at, I suppose, Mr. Speaker, is the rate of return the Province would get with respect to a private development versus being developed themselves by Newfoundland Hydro. What kind of an impact would that have on the revenues coming into the coffers of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador? We know, Mr. Speaker, that the government a few years ago wanted to privatize Newfoundland Hydro. The former premier, Mr. Clyde Wells, was really pushing this for some strange reason, until we had the same type of uprising across the Province to oppose the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

I understand the minister is saying now that Bill 44 will not in any way impact upon the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, either directly or indirectly. I will take him at his word. I hope that is the case, because I wouldn't want to see government trying to do through the back door what they couldn't do through the front door, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the rate of return on these private developments, Mr. Speaker, would it more feasible or viable for Newfoundland Hydro itself to develop these small projects and own them, compared to a private developer developing them and maybe paying some kind of a tax to the government? Which is going to be best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? I really do have some concerns about that, I would say to the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Mr. Speaker, some other points I would like to address, I suppose, while I'm here on my feet with respect to this bill. I think there may be some other people who may want to speak to this in due course. As I said, Mr. Speaker, the number of applications would make one believe that if there are somewhere around eighteen applications at this point in time, we will see many more applications coming in. I would like to know what kind of conditions, restrictions, and what have you, are going to be put in place with respect to regulations of these companies, Mr. Speaker, that will be trying to develop the rivers on the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A concern of mine would be: How small a river would be suitable, or would be acceptable? How small are we going to go? I would say, when they look at rivers, Mr. Speaker, for development, they would look at the amount of water that flows through a river; so we would be looking at the volume. We would not necessarily be looking at the width of a river, Mr. Speaker, because you could have a pretty wide river but very shallow. Of course, you could have a narrow river and very deep. So the volume of water flowing through a given river would be a factor. Also, the reservoir itself that is feeding these brooks, rivers and what have you would be a factor. These are some of the concerns, I suppose, about which the people of the Province would be concerned.

I remember this past summer, I believe it was, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Kilbride had a news conference and looked at the potential for hydro development in this Province, and what we felt would be a proper way or policy, a proper way to go, with respect to hydro development in this Province. Our Party's stand, Mr. Speaker, was that we would prefer to stay away from the development of the smaller rivers because there is such an impact that these smaller rivers could have on tourism in the Province. I am sure, if the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation was in her place, she would have some concerns about which rivers would be considered for private development, Mr. Speaker, on hydro development.

I would think that there would be some very close negotiations and discussions between the Department of Mines and Energy and the Department of Tourism. I would imagine also that there would be some close discussions between the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology and those departments, Mr. Speaker. That is something that has to be looked at.

In the near future - we understand that the Premier now has decided that he would step away, I think, from the position as intergovernmental affairs portfolio and maybe we will end up having a minister who will go into that position who will also be playing a key role in these developments.

There is only one clause in this bill, with a subsection, and it does not look like much, Mr. Speaker; but, in effect, in the overall scheme of things, in the long haul with respect to hydro development in this Province, although it may appear to be a minor bill, in fact it can have a major impact on what is going to happen in this Province as time goes on. So, Mr. Speaker, it will have a major impact on what happens in this Province with respect to hydro development.

I said a few words with respect to the comparison between private development and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro developing hydroelectricity in the Province itself. These are some of the concerns that I would have.

When the minister got up to introduce the bill, I was expecting him to answer a number of questions which he really did not get into, I suppose.

MR. FUREY: We can get into that in Committee.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, that is true; we can get into that in Committee. The minister says we can get into a number of my questions in Committee, and there is no problem with that, Mr. Speaker.

A few of the projects that are being looked at are: the Argentia electricity generating plant by Newfoundland Power; the Long Harbour -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to be a while (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Someone else will be up. You can go on.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to say a few more words and continue on because this is a very important piece of legislation, and I think the Minister of Mines and Energy would agree with that.

Some of the other rivers: Long Harbour thermal power generation facility by Newtide Resources Inc.; Grates Cove wind power project; Elliston region wind power project; Cape Bonavista wind power project; what impact are these projects going to have on the development of the Lower Churchill? As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, there are many, many people in this Province who would love to see the Lower Churchill Falls developed. I suppose they would compare it to maybe Voisey's Bay or the Hibernia Project, Mr. Speaker, which created many jobs in the Province. I don't know if we have the full benefits from the Hibernia Project, Mr. Speaker, but we did get jobs and it is long term, which is a nice thing to see.

Of course, any hydro development in the Province would be long term. The energy itself is cheap to produce compared to other sources for energy within the Country, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. It has great potential. Well, I suppose it could go on for eternity. The development itself would require some upgrading as time goes by, Mr. Speaker, the upgrading of different projects. So I would think that the development of rivers within the Province, Mr. Speaker, has to be very carefully looked at because it has great potential to bring money, taxes, jobs and what have you into the Province as we move into the future.

A number of projects in the Province that we are looking at, Mr. Speaker - I am just going to conclude by saying that, hopefully, before the government decides to go ahead with any of these eighteen projects that are there now, that they would carefully review it with the idea of maybe looking at the Lower Churchill for hydro development as time goes by rather than dealing with rivers on the island that have so much potential for tourism and what have you.

Thank you.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Just the logistics of feeding the troops, I say to the Government House Leader, just discussing a few logistics of feeding the troops. There are certain things that one has to do, as the House Leader knows.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to have a couple of comments to discuss some of the things that have already been discussed by my colleagues who have spoken. We all know that the Upper Churchill contracts have been questioned in Question Period and we know the Premier has been attempting to renegotiate the Upper Churchill contract. We know that last year he went all across the Country raising the level of awareness, but thus far we have not seen much productivity. We were wondering, in some of the questions asked in the last few days, as to where all this is leading, whether or not Hydro Quebec is going to be willing to redo a deal on the Upper Churchill and, of course, then on development of the Lower Churchill.

We are encouraged with the Premier's comments in the House yesterday afternoon, relative to the work he has been doing strictly in the United States, and we know, of course, that in Ontario they have had difficulty with their nuclear energy programs. We know as well that in view of the Kyoto Conference and the summit that was held just recently, there is real potential for Labrador in terms of energy development. So we wanted to make some comments. I am pleased that my colleague has already commented on some of those matters. In the second reading in statements of principle is the time when we can make those general comments and then when we get to the more details in the committee stage, the critic will be able to deal with that in more precise language. I do believe there have been some amendments that have been agreed to between the minister and the critic.

We also (inaudible) point of doing more by way of conservation and of course using conservation as a way to increase and use better the supply we already have. We believe that there can be further improvements made to the energy grid.

MR. FITZGERALD: I just saw a big fish fly go in his mouth there.

MR. H. HODDER: Now there is the picture for hanging, a picture of the Minister of Education asleep with his mouth open. It is one that we should have; we should have it taken for future hanging. Now we know exactly who can stay awake and who can't at 7:24 a.m. I mean, here he is, a young man like that, sound asleep, and here we are trying our best to do the people's business. A shameful thing! He is dreaming now of being an NHL star or something like that.

Mr. Speaker, as well, we wanted to bring up the issue of the electricity rates in general. We know that Newfoundland Hydro's recent windfall means that it does have some flexibility. People of this Province still believe their electricity rates are too high, and we know there has been some talk about why the rates have not dropped down.

The other point I wanted to make is the use of the consumer advocate. I know we have been using Mr. Brown and his work, but we also would like to point out to the government that maybe we should have a full-time position of consumer advocate. Of course, we realize the work that has been done has been very good work. If we had a full-time office created and the person on staff in a more direct relationship with government, it might in the long run be a cheaper proposal for the government, to have a stronger consumer advocate division; not just for hydroelectricity, but for other issues as well. Right now we are doing some work with the cost of gasoline.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other issues we could discuss, but they have been discussed by the critic or by the Member for Cape St. Francis. I'm not sure whether any of the members who have just arrived have any comments to make. If they do, then fine. If not, then we will welcome the minister to give his concluding statements on second reading.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to add a few words to the debate on Bill 44, Mr. Speaker. The thing that bothers me is, here we are at 7:27 in the morning in this House of Assembly passing very important legislation which I would imagine will be dealt with at the Cabinet table, the final pieces of legislation, and we see one of the Cabinet ministers sitting in this Legislature, probably one of the most important Cabinet ministers, one of the people who will probably and ultimately be having the final word on this particular piece of legislation, sitting in this House in a stupor, I say to him; paying no attention, sleeping, napping, when the man should be home in bed. At least, if he is in this House, Mr. Speaker, he should be paying attention.

I say to the Minister of Justice: Minister, we didn't wake you up, that was your own colleagues who called you.

MR. EFFORD: At least he is here.

MR. FITZGERALD: I stayed here all night, I say to the minister.

MR. EFFORD: You stayed alone, and they all left.

MR. FITZGERALD: At least I stayed here all night, I say to the minister. This is another day, Minister.

Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation, when we talk about hydro development in the Province, I think the critic named something like seventeen or eighteen possible sources of energy that we were looking at in order to make up, was it - how many megawatts did we need for the smelter? Two hundred megawatts. I know, down in my particular area there was a wind power generation that would have supplied I think forty-five megawatts, fifteen, fifteen, and fifteen, if I recall. There was one identified for Grates Cove, which is in the Speaker's district, one identified for Elliston on Elliston Ridge, and another one for Cape Bonavista.

I remember TACKE, I think it was TACKE inc., came down from Ontario and there was a partner here in Newfoundland. They went down and had some meetings in my district, met with the town councils, met with some of the interested people, and it was a very interesting proposal, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, a very interesting proposal. When I thought of wind generation, I thought of the old-fashioned wind charger that we once used as a power generator to supply a bank of batteries in order to get a couple of lights in our house.

I remember when television first came to our area, this older gentleman from out around Bay Roberts would come out in the area repairing televisions and flat irons and this sort of thing, and he at one time brought a television out. It was the first television in the place and we would supply the battery pack with this wind charger, Mr. Speaker, dry cells -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it was a wet cell.

MR. FITZGERALD: It was a wet cell; yes, you are right. It was a wet cell. Sure it was a wet cell battery, sure it was. We would go there at night time and watch television.

AN HON. MEMBER: Six volt.

MR. FITZGERALD: Probably. On Sunday nights we would go there. That is the night we would go up to this particular house and watch television. When it would start off, at about seven o'clock - the first show that I ever saw on television was `Father Knows Best'. It was the first television show I ever saw and I always remember it.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was late.

MR. FITZGERALD: That was back in about -

AN HON. MEMBER: Father Knows Best came on three or four years after television came to Newfoundland..

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, I would say our area probably had power generation -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was 1989 before I saw the first power (inaudible)

MR. FITZGERALD: I would say our community had hydro power in about 1960 - probably 1962-1963.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) here in St. John's (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: In '58. No, no! I can remember coming into St. John's and was amazed at somebody being able to plug something into the wall and iron his clothes and wash his clothes and this sort of thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was sick of (inaudible) test pattern twenty-four hours a day.

MR. FITZGERALD: That's right.

So, what I was going to tell you about the television, Minister of Justice, is that it would start off with a full screen and, as the batteries got lower and lower, the screen got narrower and narrower. This big television set would end up with a picture on it about four inches by four inches and we would watch it right to the end. Mr. Speaker, that was still my idea of power generation. I wonder how far it has advanced.

When I saw the videos that this particular company brought forward, it was unbelievable, the progress that has been made in wind generation. The problem with it is, when you have a storm of wind, when the wind reaches a certain velocity -

AN HON. MEMBER: Away she goes.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it shuts down. It shuts down because even though there are brakes on it, it will just destroy itself. It was identified -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you remember the coloured television, the little (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes. That was your colour. You only had two or three colours - right? - but it did not matter, you pulled it down over it.

Speaking of television, Mr. Speaker, I remember going up - and we were a bit bashful going into this particular house. There was an antenna and I had a big argument with my brother that there was nothing on television on Sunday nights. That is how we looked at Sundays in those days. We were not allowed to cleave splits or bring water and my grandmother, who raised me, would not peel vegetables on Sunday. All that had to be done on Saturday night. My grandfather would sit with the old, straight razor and shave Saturday night. He would not do anything else.

We would go up to this house, stand outside the fence and have a big argument. I would say: No, there is nothing on on Sunday nights because nothing happens on Sunday. It goes back to Sunday shopping again; tie it all in. I am serious here now. We would wait, we thought that that antenna had to go around, and if the antenna did not move, we would not go in. We were up there nights waiting: No, there is nothing on because the antenna is not moving. We did not know any better.

AN HON. MEMBER: Just like radar.

MR. FITZGERALD: Like radar, it had to move in order to pick up anything. Nothing could go through the air unless it moved. Those are certainly memories. You could not get very close to the battery room in this particular house because the old gentleman who owned it had you frightened to death. If you stepped inside you would be electrocuted immediately.

Mr. Speaker, this is what happened and, I suppose, how far we have come. You talk to the younger people today - I don't consider myself old, but those were the changes that we experienced in our own rural communities growing up.

Then I went to work in Ontario, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you remember the story (inaudible) the inner sanctum?

MR. FITZGERALD: The inner sanctum? I remember it, yes. The biggest thing after father knows best, the thing that took precedence then, when the first television came around, when we had the lights - that is what we called it, we had the lights. You had your house wired for the lights. When your house was wired -

MR. TULK: Sixty amp service.

MR. FITZGERALD: Sixty! Thirty.

MR. TULK: Thirty, was it?

MR. FITZGERALD: Thirty amp service, just two wires. You had a hot and a neutral coming in; you had a thirty amp service. There was one plug by the kitchen table; that is all we had. There were people going around wiring house months before the electricity came, just two people and they did all the houses in the place. You had one plug and the rest was pull chains; nothing else. There wasn't much that you could use the plug for, I say to members opposite. We didn't have refrigerators or televisions sets, but we got the flat iron.

AN HON. MEMBER: Our plug was over by the radio set.

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, ours was right by the table; and that's how things have changes.

I remember first when the telephones came.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where was that Roger, Bonavista or where was it?

MR. FITZGERALD: Musgravetown.

I remember first when the telephones came, that was a big thing, I tell you. My grandmother raised me and I lived with - well they were my aunts and uncles, but I looked at them as brothers and sisters. I had one sister and she was the only one, because she had spent some time in St. John's, allowed to use that telephone for weeks and weeks.

I remember going up the road one night, what we called up the road, this other lady who had just recently had her house wired -

AN HON. MEMBER: Party lines.

MR. FITZGERALD: Oh, there were ten of us on the line and you had to count the rings. The member knows what I am talking about. There were so many long and so many short, and when the phone started ringing you had to stop and count them because once they went pass yours it didn't matter; but then everybody was accused of listening in. There was always one person on every line: Now, that is such a one, listening in today. She knew all the news and she knew all the gossip. Whether she was listening in or not, I don't know, but it certainly wasn't very private.

I remember going up the road one day when this particular lady whose son had gone out and left the radio plugged in - I was going up to the post office I think it was - sang out, came out to the road and stopped me. She wanted me to come in and turn off the radio. She wouldn't go near it, didn't know how to turn if off, afraid of it. Those are good memories that you cherish and you treasure. It is only times like this when it comes back and you can tell the story about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Roger, 1966 (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: In Greenspond. I believe we had telephones before we had electricity.

MR. SULLIVAN: We didn't.

MR. FITZGERALD: I think we did. There was a telephone there for a long time, but there was only one in the community; you had to go there. There was an operator. The calls would go through that operator and that operator would make the long and the short sort of thing, in order for you to identify your ring. There were ten of us on the line, Mr. Speaker. We have come a long way.

The last job that I had, when I worked in Ontario, was with Ontario Hydro. I worked on the nuclear power plant there in Pickering, Ontario.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) breakfast.

MR. FITZGERALD: Breakfast? Okay.

I worked on the nuclear power plant there in Ontario. There are still a lot of fears as to what nuclear energy can do. We have seen that in places like Chernobyl. We have seen it, Mr. Speaker, in other areas. We have seen it in Ontario where they have had some very close calls.

Here we are - which the minister knows full well and everybody here - sitting on one of the biggest and one of the best possible hydroelectric developments in the world. I am not so sure that we should be going around and flooding this river and flooding this piece of ground -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) district.

MR. FITZGERALD: In the minister's district, that is right. The minister knows better than I do what I am talking about, for sure; when we can go and enter into a partnership, if we can, with somebody else and develop the Lower Churchill. It will provide great opportunities for our people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) private sector.

MR. FITZGERALD: Private sector, nothing wrong with it, I say to the minister. There is nothing wrong with having the private sector develop it. There is nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the things that we should be looking at, and I do not think it is wise to be going around and developing fifteen megawatts here, and twenty-five megawatts somewhere else. I think if we can go and identify, which we already have, a power source that can give us that kind of power generation whereby we can go and not only use it and worry about which fish plant is going to open, and maybe not be able to supply enough energy, or what new industry might come, but we can go and have everything that we have right now looked after, power to spare, power to sell, and hopefully have electrical power in abundance, that in itself will attract new industries here to this Province.

I think we are probably the envy of a lot of countries and a lot of nations, and I think if we do it right, if we play it smart - we all talk about the Upper Churchill and the mistakes that were made there. That is another story. That happened in the past, Mr. Speaker, and we should not be in fear of developing another power source, being in fear that might happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Breakfast is here.

MR. FITZGERALD: Oh, I understand breakfast is here, and I will adjourn debate?

MR. FUREY: No, no. I have to adjourn (inaudible) second reading, and take a break after second reading..

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay, so I will relent to my minister.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy speaks now, he will close the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no!

MR. SPEAKER: So you want to keep this going for awhile? Is that what you are saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Can you do it in Committee?

MR. FUREY: I don't mind recessing, if you want to do that. If you want to come back to it in second reading, that is fine.

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn debate.

MR. FUREY: No, you don't adjourn debate. We agreed to recess.

MR. H. HODDER: We agree to recess until 8:45 a.m.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we agreed to recess for an hour.

MR. SPEAKER: Recess for one hour?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The House is recessed for an hour.

 

Recess

 

The House resumed sitting at 8:45 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few comments on this particular bill. I understand this is one with amendments forthcoming, I think, at many stages. Overall, I feel development of our hydro resources is important. We strongly believe that development of our resources should be under Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. We should ensure that the resources are developed in the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Because undermining and privatizing the various rivers and other particular aspects here in the Province is going to undermine the ability of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to function, and eventually it is a back-door, long-term process of privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

There are certain concerns with Bill 44, An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act. I do understand there are going to be amendments forthcoming at Committee stage that will clarify the exemption provided by the amendment, provided it does not extend to Newfoundland Hydro and Newfoundland Power and Deer Lake power, but it does extend to Corner Brook power, basically, this amendment that is forthcoming.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. That is one of the concerns, one of the points that we had with that particular bill. Overall it is the whole philosophy of development of private generation of power here in the Province.

We have a company, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, that is an efficiently operating company. It operates on a profitable basis. The very same company is providing $65.6 million into the budget of our Province this year, which is a lot of money. It is three times the amount of money we make on video lotteries here in the Province. Just a one-third increase in that would eliminate the need for any revenues from that source, technically, if you wanted to look at it in comparative terms. It is a major contributor to the total revenues of our Province.

Any piecemeal privatization all over the Province, not only affecting the ability of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to be the chief developer of resources here in our Province, in particular our hydro-electric resources, is important. Any attempt to undermine that could have negative affects overall. It could make it a smaller player in the game; it could affect the bottom line of our Province here, and revenues in the Province that are badly needed.

It was tried before to privatize it here. Eighty percent or more of the dollars would run out of our Province siphoned up by the shareholders; the shareholders in eastern townships, Bay Street, and other places. The dollars were only here in the economy to purchase up to a maximum of 20 per cent, and what happened with Nova Scotia and others, the dollars would not have been there to control any more than 20 per cent of that. Over time it would dwindle down probably to 10 per cent. So we would have a company, a power that is going out, that would profit, a guaranteed rate of return.

Newfoundland Power had over I think, a five-year period 13.72 per cent. It has had a guaranteed rate of return to go and further drain of revenues there. If we want to give a break to consumers, we could lower the rate, reduce profit or we could continue to take the profits to keep their taxes down and it is the same indirect process of putting dollars into the pockets of people here in our Province by not taking it away in taxation. It is the same process and we should look at; I think it is very important that we recognize it.

We released a policy on energy back some time ago, in February I think it was, when we looked at, that Hydro should be the developer of all our hydro power here in the Province. There is no reason why it should not; it has the ability and the technical expertise to do so. It has done a commendable job in its operations, it is a very profitable and efficient-operating Crown corporation, it is a model Crown corporation but the problem is, I am not convinced I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I am not convinced. I would like to see some more proof. I know the seal-oil capsules are a thing that is supposed to work wonders but I am still not convinced, I think they are good but we have to look at the results in the next year or two. I like to look at things on a more scientific basis I say to the minister and see what the results could be in the long term, but Hydro has a proven track record longer than the track record of seal-oil capsules I say to the minister, longer than that record -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I might say to the minister he had aspirations too. As I said to him before, until this big train across here came out of the gates in Ottawa and came bounding down through the Maritime Provinces and the people in his caucus said: `Johnny-boy, just get off the tracks, you are going to be run over'. The locomotive was named by the Minister of Mines and Energy, `get off the tracks, Reuben', he said, `get off the tracks'! John F. Reuben, yes, off the tracks, Reuben, you are going to be bowled over, said the Minister of Mines and Energy - Industry, Trade and Technology at the time. He said: I could hear that locomotive now coming down through the Maritimes, I can hear that trailer coming, I can hear that trailer coming, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he certainly could, and he backed out I can tell you. He backed out. My life-long ambition was first to be Minister of Fisheries in the Province from the time he was out in a boat, a little fishing boat he said, in Conception Bay. I got that but I am not satisfied he said, now I want to be Premier of this Province -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes - and all his plans were dashed. All his plans were dashed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Loyola, listen to this (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well the train had not started to move, I say to him. It is better to lose them before the train starts moving because then we could be on a collision course, I say to the minister. At least his colleague, the Minister of Education had the wisdom to extend his vacation and not cut it short in Mexico, to stay there. That is more than the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Then we had a major news conference, everybody gathered and were waiting for the big announcement, `I regret to inform you I will not be seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.' I can tell you, if I'm not running I won't be holding a news conference, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: They all beat Dougie by a week.

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you, his heart beat dropped twenty points when Dougie decided not to run. He was running scared -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is Dougie?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, they were running scared; the two of them together over there. Look, the two of them sitting together over there, in that neck of the woods I can tell you, were shivering. They were so worried about it that they were going to take up a collection to get him to go back in. Now that is how worried they were.

PREMIER TOBIN: Are you saying you could empathize with the members?

MR. SULLIVAN: Did I say that, I say to the Premier? Did I say that? Now the Premier has a knack of misinterpreting things, whether it is deliberately or accidentally I don't know. Listen here, I can tell you, I can sympathize with you though, having the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture with you. Yes, I can sympathize with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you reading into something, something that is not there? He does it all the time.

MR. J. BYRNE: He does it all the time (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't do that. I would not know anything about that word at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, well I could never be accused of that but I can tell you, the Minister of Justice can be accused of that on many occasions. I have seen him perform in the House here on many occasions before and I can tell you -

AN HON. MEMBER: You read his book.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I would not read his book. I don't read any books written by politicians.

AN HON. MEMBER: No Holds Barred.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I didn't read any books written by politicians. I don't think I have. I try to stick to the facts usually, I might add.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you saying Crosbie (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't say that did I? Did I say that? Once again, that's another example of the Minister of Justice talking. That's right, the Member for Fogo - Twillingate, is trying to give us an example of what the Minister of Justice was just talking about. That's right, reading into things that are not there and I challenge the Member for Twillingate - Fogo to stand up and take his turn here in debate and say what he has to say on the record and do not be like the sandbagger from Humber East, sitting back there - he asks me for my seat every day - the person who said he got sandbagged by the Premier of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, he is mad now.

MR. SULLIVAN: He got sandbagged by the Premier - no, I am not getting mad.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He is the sandbagee and that is the sandbagger.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as I indicated, is a very well run corporation. In fact, since this Premier came here, we have drawn the largest amount of revenues from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro that we ever had. This year we will be assuming - on January 1, you will take all the next twelve months in the first three months of the fiscal year because of an overlap and that will give us $65.6 million, we have taken out of the profits of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro into the Treasury of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that the one they were going to give away?

MR. SULLIVAN: Imagine if they had given it away. Can you imagine that? A Crown corporation - Bay d'Espoir paid off - in better fiscal shape basically, better standing then our Province itself, and we want to give away, the Cadillac that drives this Province that everybody is out looking for. Then the Premier cannot even get up and tell us now - he is becoming on expert now, he is writing a book. Yes, `Synonyms' it is called. It was negotiations, now it is discussions, now we are having conversations; we are having ad hoc talking back and forth casually.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What? It is a boring book, because the Premier is writing it, I told you.

Now, I felt it was important to speak for a few minutes. I have only spoken for five or six minutes, seven or eight minutes whatever, on this bill, and I certainly wanted to indicate that I believe Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro should be involved in the generation of all hydro-electric power here in our Province. It should - hear, hear! I am glad the Premier agrees. so those other proposals will all be turned down, I guess, and we are saying that it should be done for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the profits that are accruing to private enterprise on a publicly-regulated utility such as Newfoundland and Labrador Power -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not say that. That is not the topic. Put the bill in here and I will talk about it. I like to stick to the subject matter here, I am sure the Speaker would rule me out of order if I did not stick to the subject matter.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have a view? What is your view?

MR. SULLIVAN: I think we should maintain Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, I do not think we should be cutting off its lifeline by allowing all private generations around it so it renders it less effective in doing the job and keeping control, because it is a back-door approach basically to privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Power.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Where have you been for the last twenty hours? I ask the Premier. Then he comes in here after about twenty hours, trying to enlighten this House on some issues. The Premier comes in at the eleventh hour here, fires his Government House Leader, and tells him to go home. He is here five weeks, and every time he calls bills we have given him five bills every day - every day five bills - he has not called anything. He has jeopardized the whole legislative agenda here now because the Premier gave him orders to get the Shops' Closing Act off the agenda, get it out of there fast. We are taking enough heat on this one; let us move it out of the way. But he fails to realize that there are thirty-five pieces of legislation on the Order Paper, five bills circulated today that we had not seen, were passed out today, and he wants to have them dealt with, five bills.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not get my bills yet. I have not been to the mail in about a week. I have not been to the mail in probably two weeks, and now he expects -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I gave my House Leader a break for doing such a tremendous job. He got fired for a different reason. He got sent out for a different reason.

I warned the Premier on Wednesday to have a talk to his House Leader but he did not heed the warnings until it was too late. He did not leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He was there before, and the former Premier did not have him there. He knew the difference. It usually takes a couple of years to realize how much of a bully he is. The House deals on compromise and consultation, and we have facilitated every single bill that came through here, except the Shops' Closing Act.

We have had speakers. We did not unduly delay any bill, but this is an important one, the Public Utilities Act, and just because it is December 19 we should clear thirty-five bills off the Order Paper without comment?

I have warned the Premier, I have said before. I have indicated before that the House should be sitting at an orderly time. There should be a circulation of bills so we could have a chance to look at them. Five bills again today - can you imagine - five bills today, on December 19, that we had not seen, bills circulated and passed out today here in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. The Page went around today and gave us five new bills.

MR. FITZGERALD: What is the record? Is there a record?

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a record, fifteen bills, minor legislation: `We will not call the House together until November 17 - we have about fifteen bills,' and he named them. The Government House Leader did not name the Shops' Closing Act when he named them back six weeks ago. He released his agenda for the Fall. Fifteen grew to thirty-five bills, in fact, more than thirty-five. In fact, we have in second reading now, I might add - we have twenty-seven bills now sitting in Committee.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: One of these bills is the bill, An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act, that I am now speaking on, Mr. Speaker. How more relevant can you get than talking about the very bill that the Minister of Mines and Energy wants to talk about?

Can you imagine? Thirty-five bills ramming through a period - when we had actually five Private Members' Days. That left it for less than twenty days in the House to do three stages of every single bill in the House. We have been going through them at a breakneck pace, at four and five every day, and the record shows that. There will not be any undue delay of any particular bill, but we reserve our right to speak for a few minutes, to make few comments on a bill that we think is important.

This is significant. It fact, it was significant enough that the minister is going to move an amendment to change things. Had it gone through, or rammed through without the stage here, the amendment would not be put forward. There are other bills that need amendments here. We have been involved in some other amendments that are going to be coming up, I think the Minister of Environment and Labour on bills, at least three amendments that are going to be put forward I think that may be in agreement on both sides of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I think there are fundamental things. The role of a House is to have, I say, good legislation. I have been in this House and I have seen bills come back for changes on numerous occasions because they are run through this House. I have seen the same happen with ATV regulation when the minister was too stubborn and too pig-headed to listen to people out there. We went to a public meeting, myself and my colleague, a large gathering. Then they come back a year later and they find out it is not working. They have to do amendments. It happens regularly.

This process does not have to be. We can come in and set an opening date, the first Monday in October, the second Monday in October, or whatever, circulate the bills in advance, allow us to scrutinize the bills if we need to refer to Committee, or get on and deal with it there, instead of sitting around the clock here with, what?, thirty-six hours, whatever it took, on shop closing, when we could have dealt with every single bill in that period.

The Government House Leader decided to sacrifice the legislative agenda on the orders from the Premier to get this Shops' Closing Act through. Because nobody else here seems to care whether it goes through. Not one person rose from his seat to discuss it, not even to discuss the Public Utilities Act, not to discuss the Shops' Closing Act. There has to be some reason why.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I say, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be browbeaten into ramming through bills we want to comment on. We took time to prepare detailed notes and research on every single bill, and clauses pertaining to each bill, and there are points we want to make, there are amendments we want to move, and we will do it at the appropriate time and appropriate place when the opportunity arises.

We are not going to give up that right because they decided to sacrifice the agenda for the sake of one bill. We are not going to be party to that. We want to see business conducted properly. We have not been obstructionist by any stretch. We have been facilitators of moving business through. The record in Hansard shows it.

Except one bill that was denied. The Premier looks at the RNC and guns, and turned it over to a committee of the House, so he can duck his responsibilities in making a decision and put it down on the House. Here he gets a very controversial bill, I might add, and ignores the public on it. There are other committees he sends all around the Province on the most trivial of things. Here is a very major fundamental one, Sunday shopping, family structure, social implications, economic implications, that have an affect on our Province, on its people and its economy, and he does not even allow people to be heard on that. That is not acceptable.

I will just get back briefly to this particular bill. I will have just a few closing comments on this one and then sit down. If somebody else wants to get up and speak on it, they can certainly do so. I do not want to extend my time. I know I have an hour on it, but I don't intend to take anymore then another couple of minutes on this. Twenty minutes is not too bad.

I just want to add that undermining the ability of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to function as the sole generator of electricity here, it is a crown corporation of the Province and to cut off its life line and surround it with projects all over the place, it is not only affecting the bottom line financially in our Province, also it could be compromising certain aspects of the environment here in our Province.

The development of the Lower Churchill - and I have been asking the Premier about that particular issue for some time, - development of the Lower Churchill, 3,100 megawatts, Gull Island and Muskrat Falls is more than double the electricity that is consumed on the Island of this Province today, more than double. That alone could supply our needs, it could turn in greater profits because of that into the coffers to our Province in badly needed revenue, revenue that is really needed here and especially as our offshore - it is great to see it there, but we are going to have transfers affected on that, the net result to our Province is not going to be greatly impacted.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon. It all depends, but I have your costume, I ask the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I haven't in a number of years I say to the minister, I haven't - by the time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not so much at all lately. No, it is still done, but it is not as common an occurrence as it use to be. I don't know if last winter anyone came to my house. Usually some people do, but then usually Christmas time they get around to visit, but I don't be home as much at Christmas time.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with this bill so I stated my few comments - I know the minister would like me to keep talking forever on this bill, but I am going to say that it not only can have an economic effect financially on the bottom line of our Province, all these private generations, especially Hydro facilities here in our Province are going to channel other forms of revenue and so on off into the pockets - nothing wrong with private development, but this has been a regulated source of monopoly here to the Province. Why shouldn't the people of this Province benefit from the development of the hydro resources that are in our Province today?

Hydro now is producing a vast amount of resources here in our Province, about 1,500 megawatts consumed on the Island. Churchill Falls has what, 5,400 megawatts in the Upper Churchill? The Lower Churchill a potential 3,100. I mean it is massive compared to the consumption in our Province; we need it to develop secondary industries here in our Province. There can be spin offs from mining and other industries because one of the greatest factors in business locating to any area is a supply of electricity.

Hydro electric power is cheap, it is environmentally friendly, it is what brings business to an area. Why should we siphon off and channel out over transmission lines into the North American grid to satisfy and keep businesses operating and increase profits there on the Lower Churchill when we should be doing it to develop our own businesses here just to trade off and keep down emissions levels.

They have a responsibility to meet their standards here. We have to look at ourselves first within the standards that are established and other areas have to go the extra mile. Don't depend on our resources to bring us that extra mile in bringing down emission there as the Premier spoke when he was in the Untied States. We want to do it to develop businesses here in our Province within acceptable standards of emission. Not to help the United States or other areas do it.

If we have a surplus to our needs, we should be enticing industries that develop around hydro electric sites, that the cheapest locations will bring the greatest rewards back to companies and in enticing people to move there. I mean you can move raw materials to sites for processing; it is expensive to build huge towers to move the power to those particular sites. That is why it is important that we maintain the integrity of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; that we not interfere with the ability of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to be the developer of hydro electric resource in the Province that can maximize our returns here in the Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, with that I will conclude my few comments here on second reading on this particular bill.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize for being absent from the House for three or four hours. I understand the House was moving straightforward and I was unable to attend for the vote on Bill 48, Mr. Speaker, because I did not hear the bell ringing. I understand it was ringing for a brief period of time but I did not hear it, neither was the Member for Port de Grave here for the vote.

I understand we are now dealing, Mr. Speaker, at second reading with An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act, although I am inclined to think, Mr. Speaker, it is more likely that it should be entitled, An Act To Facilitate The Privatization Of Utilities In The Province.

MR. J. BYRNE: There is an amendment to that.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, there is an amendment to that so you are going to change the name from An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act to An Act To Facilitate The Privatization Of Utility Generation In The Province Of Newfoundland?

It appears what is happening here, Mr. Speaker, is that the government is trying to avoid public scrutiny of utility pricing in the Province, trying to avoid the public scrutiny of electricity pricing in the Province because, Mr. Speaker, we do have a Public Utilities Act, we do have a Public Utilities Commission and that commission is entitled, in fact, required to regulate the price of electricity in the Province; and while I am on that topic, Mr. Speaker, it appears that they have a job of work to do because the Newfoundland Light and Power Company, or Newfoundland Power as it is now known as of January 1, will no longer have a decision from the Public Utilities Commission on which to base its pricing and is really required to go back to the board to seek a new rate for the 1998 year.

The danger, Mr. Speaker, is that they will not go back. They will stand pat, Mr. Speaker, because in the last year, since the last order of the board, there have been some changes and the availability of funds to them, and they will be free-riding on their existing rates making more money than they were intended to make on the order that they received last time. So it is incumbent now, Mr. Speaker, on the Public Utilities Board itself to call them in and insist that a new application be made and that new hearings be held. But this process, Mr. Speaker, of the Public Utilities Act is designed to regulate the pricing of electricity in the interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is an attempt to get around that on the basis that, if one utility is selling electricity to another, the Public Utilities Act does not apply, and the Public Utilities Board does not have the right to set the rates and, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this seems to be, that if there is a private generator of electricity out there or one which wants to be created, and they want to sell electricity to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro or to Newfoundland Power, then the price at which they sell that electricity will not be controlled by the Public Utilities Act and, Mr. Speaker, if I read this Act here, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is no longer controlled in the way that it prices electricity to Newfoundland Power.

So Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro from here on in, unless we have some amendments which changes the whole point of the act, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro can now set whatever rate of electricity it wants to charge to Newfoundland Power. Newfoundland Power then comes before the Public Utilities Board and said, `Look at our costs, Newfoundland Hydro is charging us x mils, therefore we have to charge more.' At no point would the Public Utilities Board be able to examine the rates at which Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is charging to the private utility, which is called a public utility, within the act.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have a significant change here which takes the public scrutiny away from a very important part of the role of the Public Utilities Board. Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that the government is hot on deregulation, even to the extent of flying in the face of the people's wishes with respect to Bill 48 for example. They don't have a high degree of concern for the public interest with respect to the opinion of workers, of employees, retail workers, of employers, of people who are struggling in this economy to run a successful business, who are now going to have their cost of sales increased and this information has been before the government for the last number of days, Mr. Speaker, and yet the government has not responded to that and responded to the public interest there.

When I see a piece of legislation like this, Mr. Speaker, it is almost like the Minister of Education - when the Minister of Education says very little you know there is something up. When the Minister of Education answers a question in five or ten words you know he is hiding something. If he goes on and on and on, which is his usual response to a question, it means he is just skirting the issue which is the usual thing. You know there is nothing - not necessarily that he is up to anything but when he speaks tersely, Mr. Speaker, we know there is something going on that he does not want to make any mistake in how he talks about it.

So it is kind of like this act here, an innocent little act. As the Premier said the other day, `not too complicated, only one or two sentences.' They could not have been very carefully crafted, Mr. Speaker, these one or two sentences if the Minister of Mines and Energy is telling us he is now going to amend it, changing the whole sense of it. That is how I read it, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy because this would exempt the sale from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to Newfoundland Power and this is the kind of stuff that the government is trying to sneak past the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, the eleventh hour. That's the kind of problems that arise, Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of problems that arise when we are doing things at the eleventh hour, at the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour. The Premier says the thirty-fifth hour. I don't know if we have been going that long. We started 2:00 p.m. yesterday. I suppose we can go to 2:00 p.m. today –

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, tomorrow.

MR. HARRIS: Tomorrow? We might have to. Are we in yesterday or are we in today?

AN HON. MEMBER: We are in yesterday.

MR. HARRIS: Are we still in yesterday's parliamentary - I see the parliamentary day of yesterday has not ended.

MR. J. BYRNE: We didn't start a new day.

MR. HARRIS: The new day has not yet dawned.

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well I suppose if we stay on yesterday we can put Christmas off for a day or so, so nobody will be -

AN HON. MEMBER: We are going to old Christmas Day.

MR. HARRIS: We can put Christmas off for a week or so.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) next week so, who knows?

MR. J. BYRNE: Tomorrow is Friday.

MR. GRIMES: At this rate we are all going to be under.

MR. HARRIS: So now we have a new section which clarifies the first section. I say to the Premier, this is a little more complicated than even he thought.

Mr. Speaker, I guess we are going to have a number of speakers on this side. Perhaps the minister has already spoken at 6:00 or 7:00 this morning.

MR. J. BYRNE: He said about ten words and sat down.

MR. HARRIS: He said about ten words. You always have to be wary when the government says little. I remember when the Minister of Environment and Labour introduced Bill 48. He might have been on his feet for two minutes, Mr. Speaker, introducing the bill, and we got twenty or thirty hours of debate after that. Perhaps Hansard can tell us how many minutes the minister spoke for. A very simple amendment, just -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: No, it is a matter of substance. Yes, I agree with the Minister of Mines and Energy, it is a matter of grave substance, because behind very little notions here are very grave matters. What we are saying now is that if there is a private generator, say the Torrent River for example, in the district of the minister, now I think we are going whole hog. We are taking apart our environment; a little private generation here, private generation there. Paradise River gone, Paradise Sound. We have Star Lake. Star Lake is being taken apart, the environment taken to task for very little result in the way of added generational capacity. We are giving up all our pristine environment to allow that to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the minister says: Tie ourselves to thermal. It is the same government which in its other breath talks about the great expanse of nature of the Lower Churchill development; access to power, the cleanest power on the face of the earth, contributing to the lowering of the greenhouse gases, et cetera. How much of this do we really need?

I will tell you, there is one thermal generation project that I think I could get behind in a big way. It isn't even public. It is a private generating project, privately owned. There is no reason why Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro couldn't get involved in the project directly. At the moment the notion is private. Some of the ideas about it are very exciting; thermal generating, very exciting project.

It has a certain aspect to it which I find very exciting and enhancing, and that is a thermal generating project that North Atlantic Petroleum is interested in. There are some very interesting aspects to that. I don't know about pricing. I haven't seen what the minister has seen. The minister has the document. He has a whole bunch of documents. He hasn't made any of them public of course. No public discussion on it. There are some aspects of that that I find very interesting, because there is a lot of heat generated out there that I think is wasted.

There is a lot of heat generated at the Come by Chance oil refinery that is wasted, that goes up into the air. There is a lot of chemicals that go up into the air that could probably be looked after with the right kind of high-efficiency thermal generation. There may well be - one of the words I think is - I know the former Minister of Environment and Labour knows about the word synergy. It is a wonderful word. There are synergies to be obtained from using the heat that is generated to make electricity. There are synergies to be obtained from getting rid of the nasty chemicals by having a hydro generation at a higher temperature.

There are other offshoots that are possible to have less waste out at Come by Chance, less of a mess in the air. That is a good phrase for anyone in the environmental field, less of a mess with a project that looks after some of those things, and provides other opportunities.

I was listening this morning to the Vice-President of Norske Hydro. I am sure the Minister of Mines and Energy is one of his friends. He probably met him on many occasions. I have never met the man, but they have a very interesting company. Morton Rude was speaking this morning. It was kind of interesting in a way. We hear all of this talk from government about how: Oh, the offshore oil, the costs are enormous, an enormous investment; we can't make the rules too tough out here because the cost of production is so high.

The Premier's favourite interviewer asked him a question. He said, `Yes, but the costs of production are really high out there on the Grand Banks'. `Oh, no,' he says, `they are not inordinately high. They are about the same as they are in the North Sea'. No big deal. He wasn't intimated by the cost of production. He said, `No, they are very comparable to the North Sea'.

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about something that is a very `iffy' proposition. We are talking about something that is a `goer', that is a very vibrant, vital operation, and we have a very proactive public sector partner there. The only problem is, the public sector is the public sector of Norway that are the ones who are so proactive with creative ideas as to how to do things, working with the trade unions, working with the workers in a very directed way, involving them in establishing the proper offshore safety standards, ensuring that workers have a great deal of security when it comes to raising safety issues, and not fearing that they must place production first, ahead of safety.

Norske Hydro is also involved in a lot of projects within Norway itself. I mention Norske Hydro because the project at Come By Chance proposed by North Atlantic Petroleum is very much like another project in Norway where a very clean electric generation system is developed out of a messy situation with oil refinery production. This is the kind of way that we can reduce our environmental damages, have less mess, I say to the Member for Port de Grave, and at the same time –

I say to the Member for Port de Grave, this morning I was feeling in poor health after staying here all night, losing my voice, practically coming down with a strep throat. I got up this morning and took two of the seal oil pills that the minister so graciously sent over the other day, and it is doing me a world of good. I hope that I will be able to take another course of them now and will be able to report back to the House the great success in improving what ails me, in fixing up what ails me.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) seal oil (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Here you go.

MR. HARRIS: So we can look forward to a report to the House the next time.

Norske Hydro is a very interesting company. They have a lot of projects there, and I wonder if maybe the minister will address this. He may say, for example, that it is to allow projects like the North Atlantic Petroleum Refinery Project to exist that we are bringing in this amendment. He may say that. He may say it is in order to allow projects like that to exist that we are bringing in this bill. I do not want to anticipate the minister's speech; I see he is very busy there being inundated by requests from Cabinet ministers, backbenchers, a very popular man. I am not sure what is going on today that gives him that power. But, if we are going to do this, Mr. Speaker, if we are being asked to do this, we have to be told what we can expect. Do we have to do away with all public utilities board scrutiny, in order to facilitate projects like that?

While the minister was busy, I was saying that - and I do not want to anticipate your speech - but I am expecting the minister will say it is in order to facilitate wonderful projects like that, that we are passing this legislation. Is that what the minister would think, like the Come By Chance proposal, for example? I suspect that the minister might say that in response to my remarks, but I say to him that this is not the only way to do that. I mean, the minister has all the papers in his department. He has his officials scrutinize them. He has not made a thing public except to say: Well, we have seventeen or eighteen proposals -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Sixteen - sixteen proposals. They are all lapsing now, I think, as we speak, are they?

But I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has in his possession, a lot of information about what kinds of proposals are out there, what willingness there is on behalf of operators to do this sort of thing. And I think, you know, we are at an important point in time and I do not know if the minister has even generated any public policy document made available to the public to discuss how we should get involved with all this. Are we doing it in the back rooms? I ask the minister. You know, are we doing it in the back rooms or are we going to come out with something that the minister and the Premier and Bill Wells sit down and figure out some day and let us all know about it or, are we going to have some - How about a White Paper, how about something as mundane as that and say: Here is what the Province thinks about all of this sort of stuff, now criticize it, tell us how to improve it, tell us how to fix it up.

There are people –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: When is he going to release it? He is way ahead of me he says. Put it on the table or, if we get to Ministerial Statements or Reports, we may have it tabled later on this week or this weekend or something.

Mr. Speaker, we are being asked to support this legislation without a plan in place; we are being asked to support this legislation without principles in place and we are being asked to get into a situation which we thought most of the Province has gone past, Mr. Speaker, and that is, the generation of electricity is essentially controlled for the good of all. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are embarking on a new course, and sneaking into all this discussion is a new form of private generation of electricity. I note, and I actually went to the web site, Mr. Speaker, and got the speech of the Premier down in Boston talking about the Lower Churchill and I looked for a word, but I could not find it.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that?

MR. HARRIS: Equity Partners, not in the speech, Mr. Speaker, not in the speech, but somehow, in the news reports -

MR. SULLIVAN: Were there negotiations in it?

MR. HARRIS: No, there was no word. I was looking for equity partners, I was wondering whether he was telling the people of Boston something he was not telling us, but in the news reports, there was talk about equity participation. Now, Mr. Speaker, what does equity participation mean? It means giving up ownership, giving up a portion of the ownership of the Lower Churchill, selling it to a private corporation, the privatization of the Lower Churchill and what does that mean, Mr. Speaker?

Now, I mean the minister will get up and talk in general terms of partnership, public, private partnering. It is a great slogan, Mr. Speaker, but what does it mean? In this case, what it means is, giving up ownership, and not only that, even if you do not give up control by giving up equity participation, you put yourself into a whole different category. Public policy, Mr. Speaker, the public need and the public good is no longer the dominating influence on how this entity operates. Once you have equity partners you are ruled by a different set of guidelines. You are required to act in the best interest of the shareholders.

What does a private equity partner want? They want a return on equity, they want a return on their investment. They want to make sure their dollars are going to be earning more than they would earn if they put them in bonds, or more than they would be earning if they put them in debentures, or more than they would be earning if they were a straight loan. Equity in fact means ownership.

The ownership of the Lower Churchill, according to this new government policy which has never been announced, that the Lower Churchill is going to be developed by private enterprise - never been announced, but we have been there. Baron Rothschild developed the Upper Churchill. The Upper Churchill was developed by BRINCO. What was the interest of BRINCO in the Upper Churchill? Return on investment. They had their money in. They wanted to make sure they were going to get their money out, plus a healthy profit - end of story. A sixty-five year contract, long-term commitments, guaranteed to get our money out. That is the end of the story.

The public policy issues, the public interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador was not a part of their calculations. It was driving the bus, to use the phrase of the Member for Conception Bay South on another matter. The Rothschilds were driving the bus in the development of the Upper Churchill through BRINCO.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I was too young. If we develop the Lower Churchill with private capital driving the bus, if we let the Lower Churchill be operated by private equity driving the bus as equity partners, then the whole nature of the enterprise will be determined by the dictates of that international capital.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is a very dangerous thing. It is public policy by default, public policy by subterfuge. I look in the speech. There is nothing in the speech about that. Just talking in Boston, the Premier was, about the great potential of electricity, its low greenhouse effect, the green electricity coming from the Lower Churchill, and how we were very interested in developing it. And we are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Seven minutes left. Oh, two minutes. Well, Mr. Speaker, we are getting down to the last two minutes of my speech.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HARRIS: I do not know if the members opposite will grant me leave. I do want to see some creativity, some flexibility. I do not want to see all our rivers dammed off just to suit some particular private interest, or some relationships to satisfy the desire to have some projects going in different districts and different parts of the Province. We are allowing too much of our natural environment to get lost.

Every time something comes up there has to be a big racket about it. We are going to get rid of the Northwest River, we are going to destroy the Torrent River. We have various river systems. We do not have very many left. I am not a salmon fisherman, but I understand it is a great passion. I am a passionate lover of the outdoors and nature, and we have to preserve as much of that as we can. I did not think when the first change in the Public Utilities Act was brought in a couple of years ago by the former minister, Rex Gibbons, who is now in the environmental business –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave for just one -

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: Just to finish up a sentence? Just to finish up a sentence, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: We did see small changes made a couple of years ago in the Public Utilities Act to allow for these private hydro developments. I did not think then, we were going to get what we got, and I would hope that we do not pass something like this and end up in two years time wondering what we had done three days before Christmas in 1997.

I am very wary of this bill, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I figured I would straighten my tie and start this new day off, and be more pleased, I say right off the top, in speaking to this bill, a much more serious bill, than what we just went through last night and the night before, because the truth is that our job, as the Opposition, we are doing. We have taken this bill; my colleague, the Member for Kilbride has done his homework on it. The minister can see that we have notes on it that were brought up by all of my colleagues here this morning, some very important ones. The last note that the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi spoke on is the one I will start with.

Any time - and with all due respect to the minister, or any other minister - whenever we see a brief bill that is coming in, and one that we say, `let us do quickly', it is cause for some concern. But when it is a short bill like that, it is only a couple of sentences; often a couple of sentences could have major significance. That is why we have done our homework on that. That is why we have come up with the notes we have.

Basically, in the short explanation note at the beginning of this bill, of course, a lot of questions could start to come up and we could have some very good discussions, I say to the minister, on this, and a lot of questions. I think the Member for Kilbride will be back to speak on more questions.

Some of the questions I would ask, right off the top, of the minister, in introducing this, is to explain in a little bit more detail what is needed, what he is trying to achieve here. To whom will it apply? To whom will it not apply? What are the benefits, and to whom? What are the consequences? What are some of the negative implications that could happen from this? The Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi just referred to some of those.

Very simply, any time we start talking about water rights in this Province, the first thing that rings out to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is Churchill Falls, and how a mistake was made and we have lived with it for so long after. So any time we look at even a small bill like this, it raises concerns. It raises a lot of concerns.

A big problem I have with this now is that here we are, we have sat through the night on something that we do not even think should have been discussed, and now we are going to jump up quickly because everybody is tired and wants to get home for Christmas, in that mood, and say, `Let's flick it through and not raise the points.'

AN HON. MEMBER: Take all the time you want.

MR. SHELLEY: We are going to take all of the time we want. I just came out of a caucus room that made sure... They are in resting now, and they will be back out - wondering about the approach of electricity resource development, all of these questions.

A question that the member also asked was about the overall energy plan. Our critic has already announced some time ago our plan for energy in this Province, in which we are sadly lacking. That is a concern we all have. When the minister gets up to speak again in Committee, or when he concludes second reading on this, maybe he can tell us the benefits, stake out for us exactly what he believes the benefits will be to this Province, that we are going to be happy with that, and that he is going to have assurances that there are no loopholes we are going to find two or three or four months from now.

Of course, when we brought in the mining tax it was something we never thought about down the road and then we considered changing it. Things like that can happen with any bill, I say to the minister, because things change, times change. What happens with Voisey's Bay now, of course, in the electricity and so on is going to be in question. Those are all things to consider.

In the Explanatory Note alone it is very simple and straightforward. I will just read it. "This Bill would amend The Public Utilities Act to revise the conditions under which a public utility that generates electricity may be exempted from the Act. The only requirement a utility would have to meet would be that it sell the electricity generated to another, regulated, utility."

Mr. Speaker, all we are asking for when we raise this question - well, every member that I have heard here this morning had very constructive points. They just didn't come of the top, they were researched; a good job done by our critic of making the notes for all of us. We have discussed it in caucus as the leader has already mentioned here today. We thought it was a bill that we should watch very closely.

The last thing we want to do, after sitting all night and everybody waiting to get on the plane to go home today or wherever they are going back to their districts, that we didn't jump up because we are tired and cantankerous and so on after all night and say go ahead, we are going to trust you on this one.

Mr. Speaker, it does not work like that. We would love to be able to say that we trust the government, but there are not many people still around today that would say that. That is why any bill - when you talk about The Public Utilities Act is one of concern for everybody in the Province and it is our job as the Opposition to make sure that in two and three and four months or six months from now people in this Province say, how did this get through the House of Assembly? Didn't you question it? Were you concerned about it? And there are concerns Mr. Speaker, and the real shame of it is - not just this bill, I say to the Premier in the House, not just this bill, but we are about to or the approach is now that we ram through and us all the time on Sunday shopping, now we are going to come into the House this morning and be cooperative again and we are going to take thirty-five bills and push them right on through the House, no problem.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am here to serve notice on behalf of my caucus who we just talked about it and talked about it again - the sandbagger in the back should keep his comments to himself, it happened again, Mr. Speaker, but very simply to serve notice that we don't intend to let that happen, not one little bit. Whatever it takes, Mr. Speaker. To serve notice that all these bills - our co-operation up to this point to I remind everybody - that up to this point, as a matter of fact, we have had some days here when we actually congratulated each other and we said we did the job and we came - I remember one day when I was here -

MR. J. BYRNE: In moments of weakness.

MR. SHELLEY: - as the Deputy House Leader and all of a sudden back and forth congratulating each other, we are moving on this. As a matter of fact, we were looking down through the bills today and I think the next one that is about to come up involves the students, Mr. Speaker, we are about to co-operate on, make a couple of short points on, get through it, but there are some others that we have some serious concerns about. We are going to use our notes and our homework on every single one. Our homework has been done and we are going to do it and what I am saying to the members across the way, it is a shame that we have to deal with it under these conditions. They are certainly in no rush and the member can stay in his seat because nobody is leaving here until we take due diligence to do the job that we were elected to do and that is to be constructive in our criticism and on this particular bill we have been. On the other ones we will be. There will be times when we co-operate like the next bill that comes up to help our students, that is fine, but we are going to serve notice today that on bills like this, we do have concerns about it. What will the bill do? That is the big question that I hope the minister is going to make some comments on.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, on this bill and the other ones we had, we have our homework done on it. We will raise the concerns. We are not going to push it through for any matter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I always have my homework done, I say to the minister. Being a teacher he knows all about that. I am doing my homework and when we criticize, it is constructive criticism. It wasn't very constructive last night, I say to the minister. As a matter of fact, if I were a teacher I would have kept you all in and probably punished you because what happened last night is something that everybody in this Province should know about and they do know about, Mr. Speaker. Even the number of people that came here last night and what was done in that particular bill is unprecedented. Now, I don't have the long history of the veteran sitting here, but in my short four and a half years here I have never seen the like of it. Move it on, we will have the Opposition right where we want them they figure. That is what they thought. They would have them right where they wanted them, we will push this one through and bring in closure and then they will cool down in the morning, they want to get home to Christmas like everybody else, they will make sure that we get our thirty-five.

Well, Mr, Speaker, I think the notice has been served. The rest of my caucus, we are in shifts right now, there is somebody out having a little nap, there is somebody having a cup of coffee, then we are going to go out, but none of these bills I can assure you, will be blown through this House today without due diligence and due concern given to each and every single one if that takes today and tomorrow and Sunday morning and one week from today is Christmas day, if that is what it takes, that is what we will do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: What about it is one person? Are you criticizing the seventeen people who came here 1:00 a.m. because they were concerned? Is that what the Member for Topsail is saying, Mr. Speaker. For the record, I want to make sure the record shows that the Member for Topsail has now criticised the seventeen people that came and sat in the gallery 1:00 a.m. this morning because they were concerned for their jobs, Mr. Speaker. That is what he's worried about. He is criticizing these people, if it was one person or seventeen.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Topsail.

MR. WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, never, never since I have been in this House have I criticized anybody that was not sitting in this House. All I said, Mr. Speaker, was that they were on the Open Line show last night soliciting help. That is what they were saying, `Come in and help us. Come in and support us on this Bill 48,' and, Mr. Speaker, seventeen people showed up.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: No point of order, Mr. Speaker, that's a great ruling. It was not even a point let alone a point of order. What a load of garbage, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's all Tories that were dragged in here last night.

MR. SHELLEY: It was not Tories by the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: No boy.

MR. SHELLEY: Well they are now. I agree with you now, yes. After seeing what went on in this House last night, Mr. Speaker, a lot of them came in and said look at that, Mr. Speaker. I am telling you now.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Topsail, his neighbour was there.

MS S. OSBORNE: His neighbour and he got up and walked out of this Chamber.

MR. SHELLEY: His own neighbour, Mr. Speaker. These people who were here last night, Mr. Speaker, I have never seen them before. I just met them last night. They came for one genuine reason. We didn't ask if they were Liberals, Tories or NDP, Mr. Speaker. We didn't ask them. I honestly say I don't know what they were. They could be all your campaign managers for all I know. All I know, Mr. Speaker, is that they were here at 1:00 a.m., after just getting off work. They still had their tags on of where they worked on their shifts, Mr. Speaker, because they were genuinely concerned about this particular bill. That is why they were here. I don't know who solicited it; I don't know who called them. I don't really care. No matter who called them, if they were serious enough to come here - the issue was serious enough to them. It must have affected them, Mr. Speaker. That is what it is.

That is why when these bills come up today and we look back on this - we are ready to do our homework on every single one of these, Mr. Speaker, every bill that is there and all the notes - with our staff, Mr. Speaker, the great staff that we have and the critics that we have, we did our homework. That is what it was all about. This particular bill, any time you talk about utility and it's a short sentence, a short explanation note, Mr. Speaker, you have to question it at least. Hopefully at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, that it is not six or eight months down the road or however far it is down the road that we don't have to bring in more amendments like we just did with the Mining Tax Act, so we don't see, God forbid, another Churchill Falls situation or anything to that matter. That is why the ten of us over here and the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi are going to do diligence with all of these, do our homework, raise the concerns and raise more concerns when we come to committee.

I am going to just mention a couple of questions to the minister and hopefully he is going to react to them when he gets up, if he has enough energy left. He is the Minister of Mines and Energy. That is, Mr. Speaker, first and foremost to whom will this apply? To whom will it not apply? He has answered to a degree so far but not in detail, Mr. Speaker. What are the benefits and to whom the benefits are? What are the consequences? Why is it important right now? Why is the timing important now? Why do it this way and so on? Yes, I agree with the minister, the critic has said that these are the questions he is concerned about. Because, Mr. Speaker, besides the notes we have taken, our critic has done a good job on this, discussed this with our Caucus and himself, along with all of us, we are going to raise some of these concerns and we are going to continue to do that, Mr. Speaker.

So I will conclude my remarks on this particular bill. We have a lot more to talk about yet, Mr. Speaker, especially at committee.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. FUREY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a couple of short issues, Mr. Speaker, I am a little confused on where the Opposition is coming from on this because a number of members have stood up. I heard the Member for Bonavista South, who made some excellent points on this particular piece of legislation, say that he fully endorses the private sector and private sector participation and power generation. I thought that is what I heard. I made a note of his speech and I concur with that. I heard his leader talk about the importance of the private sector participating in power generation, particularly in the Lower Churchill. Yet I heard other members, the Member for Cape St. Francis, say that the private sector really has no part to play in power generation. I heard the Member for Kilbride say that the private sector has no role and that is the policy of the Opposition, that the private sector really has no role in power generation. And if I am confused I will yield to the hon. -

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. FUREY: I will yield to the hon. -

MR. J. BYRNE: I suppose you will on a point of order.

MR. SHELLEY: The minister can say all he wants but the one thing that he can't state is that we have stated a policy, Mr. Speaker. We are asking for the minister's policy on this bill, but we have not stated any policy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. It is just a disagreement between two hon. members.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis, on a point of order.

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

The Minister of Mines and Energy just stood in his place and made a statement to my colleague here that we did not have a policy. I would just like to inform the minister that back in June, our critic had a news conference and put forward our policy with respect to energy in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. If he wants to understand what our policy is, he can get a copy of that and read it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Again, it is just a matter of a disagreement between two hon. members.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I read the energy policy. It was a rather light and thin and flimsy document. It really was. If you look at it clearly it says that the private sector has no role in power generation. That is right out of your own policy manual, and I was just articulating -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, but the point was that some of your members, in speaking, contradicted that policy.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, they did not.

MR. FUREY: Of course they did. The Member for Bonavista South, to his credit, said that the private sector clearly has a role in power generation.

Mr. Speaker, a number of members were worried about private sector participation. I should tell members that in reality, when you talk about hydro on the Island, there is about 150 megawatts of clean, efficient, hydro power left. Half of that is governed by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in the form of Granite Canal and Island Pond. The balance could be taken up by the private sector.

I think that it is important to develop these projects as we move into a deregulated electricity market, particularly when you look at what is happening in North America, led by the United States under the FERC Ruling, Ruling 888(a), which says that everybody has to have equal access to the integrated grids for electricity purposes, and that it has to be provided at the cheapest possible rate. So what you are seeing is electricity rates around the world declining and in Newfoundland, because of our Island nature, without an interconnect from the Lower Churchill, we have this 150 megawatts left, and the forecast for normal growth level will see much of that taken up over the next number of years.

Once that power is developed, we are essentially going to be trapped by thermal generation, which means that we are trapped by world prices of oil. So if the world marketplace in electricity is declining, we on this Island, having used up all of our hydro resources in the next number of years, and they are limited - I just told you, there are about 150 megawatts left - we will find ourselves trapped into building thermal, if we are not careful; and prices of oil are going up, and therefore electricity prices would go up. So you can see the importance of generating these projects as quickly as possible, and it also ties in with the importance of the interconnect for the Lower Churchill, and just how important that is as well.

The Leader of the Opposition, I think, made a point as well during the discussion on principle of this bill that the Lower Churchill should not all be exported west. The 3,100 megawatts was never envisaged to be exported west. A portion of it was envisaged to be exported west, and a portion of it was envisaged to be held for an interconnect back to the Island, which will free us from being trapped by world oil prices.

Mr. Speaker, you raised some other points but I just want to talk briefly on those. With respect to the bill itself, we have a further amendment which my colleague, the Minister of Justice, will attend to and put on the table at the appropriate time.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently by leave. (Bill No. 44)

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

MR. DECKER: Order No. 30, Bill No. 53, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act". (Bill No. 53)

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will just take a couple of minutes to make a comment on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in whose name the bill stands.

The amendment that we are seeking here with this bill, Mr. Speaker, has been one that has been requested by the student organizations in the Province for some time now. I will just remind people that the Canada Student Loan system in the Province changed maybe four years ago now to the extent that it became a complete loans system instead of a loans-grant system. Because there was a tender process to get the best arrangement for students through the banking sector, and it fell under the Public Tender Act, there was no exemption, then only one bank could actually be declared to be eligible to give student loans to students and to disperse them.

That bank has been, for that whole period of time, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Newfoundland and Labrador. Different banks have the ability to disperse student loans in other provinces, other jurisdictions.

The banks themselves, other banks such as the Royal Bank, have indicated that they would be willing to get into dispersing student loans. CIBC themselves have indicated they have no objection to that. It would be on the same terms and conditions as they won the tender and it would provide more options for the students, plus it would spread any possible liabilities for defaulted loans over more than one institution. So it is an advantage for the banks. The benefit of the best cost for the students is maintained because anyone else who would provide this service would have to match the lowest tender which occurred a few years ago.

We have checked with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students and the Council of the Student's Union. They very much would like to see this service available to the students through more than one bank, and this exemption is required at this point in time to enable that service to be expanded and still guarantee that the tender process would get the best deal for the students. At least it would be available through more than one eligible tender.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will listen to the participation in debate and try to answer any questions either in closing of second reading or at Committee stage.

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

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

I want to stand in my place today and say a few words on Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act. I understand the statements made by the minister introducing the bill certainly to be correct. I believe the student organizations in the Province have been requesting this for some time. There is no doubt about that. I think it will be a positive step for the students in this Province attending post-secondary education throughout the Island of Newfoundland and into Labrador also.

The minister referred to the grants and loans system that was changed a number of years ago. That was changed not by this Administration but by the previous Administration that had many of the same Cabinet ministers in it at that time. Because of the change in that system, many of the students now who come out of the post-secondary education system have large debts. Some of them go as high as $20,000 to $30,000. Because the grants part of the process was dropped and it left the students with the problem of trying to finance themselves going through university or the post-secondary system.

The point the minister made with respect to the public tender itself and CIBC, that has to be a positive initiative, a positive step. Because the students who would utilize that system to get loans were forced, basically, to go to one bank in particular to get a portion of the money that the Province was supporting. With respect to the federal portion of 60 per cent, I think, they could have gone to any of the banking institutions and got funding, but with respect to the provincial part they had to go to CIBC.

That can be a negative situation when the students are forced to go to just one institution because a young person just starting out who may be eighteen or nineteen years old trying to go to University or to any post-secondary education institution, they would have to try to get funding. If their parents had an account at a certain bank, or if they had an account at a certain bank, if they were working during their high school years and what have you, they may have had some kind of a record made. They would have to go to CIBC which was not fair to them and possibly not fair to CIBC in the long run anyway.

So, if they could now pick their choice and go to any institution, they could benefit from that; there is no doubt about that. So I would have to say, this is a positive move. But there are some points I would like to make while we are on this bill, Mr. Speaker, about some of the problems that have been caused because of the changes in the system from the loans-grant system just to the loans system.

Many of the students now, and of course, history has it that was always the case, I suppose, to a certain extent, many of the students now have to have part-time jobs to help put themselves through these institutions and through university, and that could very well affect their attendance at courses and their marks which, in effect, could actually cause these students to take a longer time to complete the course or degree or whatever, that they wanted to get, thereby increasing the amount of debt that the students would incur. Many of the students coming out of high school, from what I can understand, are shying away from going to post-secondary institutions because of the debt load that they would have and, because, of course, they have problems getting jobs when they do graduate. So we have an area of concern right there that should be addressed.

The previous administration, by cutting out the grant section of financing for students going to university, placed a burden upon the students of Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe this bill should be going a bit further and re-instituting the grants portion of the system, so that the students, now, instead of coming out with a heavy burden of $20,000 or $30,000, Mr. Speaker, something that I had - When I started out, Mr. Speaker, when I built my home, it did not cost me $20,000 on the mortgage, some twenty-five years ago, but now, you have young people coming out with $30,000 in loans because of the policies of this and previous administrations. Also, Mr. Speaker, the stress that some of these students are under when they are going to university and to post-secondary institutions - they do not have enough money to feed and clothe themselves oftentimes.

Mr. Speaker, I know that over the past year-and-a-half we have seen the Premier's face on many magazines. On an airplane, Mr. Speaker, you open up, here we go - oh gee, open up this one, who is there? The Minister of Mines and Energy. Jeepers, my goodness gracious, Mr. Speaker. Well, well, how much money is this costing us, I wonder, Mr. Premier? Why can we not we take some of the money that you are putting into promoting yourself across the country, to the students and into grants that we are looking for, and that some of the students would love to get their hands on, that was taken away by this administration? Here we have the Premier's face on - what? Well, well, well, oh my goodness, I cannot believe what I am seeing here, Mr. Speaker. How much did you pay for that, I wonder?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a cent.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not a cent, no. A lot of freebie.

Relevance? Here is the relevance: The promotion that the Premier is putting -

MR. SHELLEY: Some of the names: The Turbotnator, the Great Talkative Ratpacker.

MR. J. BYRNE: Ratpacker?

MR. SHELLEY: We will stop there.

MR. J. BYRNE: Do not go any further. Do not embarrass the Premier. But just think about this now. What other magazines have we seen his picture in and how much is he paying for it, the promotion of the Province, commercials for the Minister of Mines and Energy, the former Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, a fortune being spent on promoting the ministers and the Premier of this Province.

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible) still has Atlantic Business, that is he and McKenna -

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

I remind the hon. member that he is debating the principle of the Public Tender Act bill.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, we cannot help it when the Premier shoves that at you all day long.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, are you are looking for relevancy, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I am looking for relevancy.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, no problem, Mr. Speaker, here is the relevancy on this issue.

Of course, we are talking about students in Newfoundland and Labrador who are having a hard time going to university and post-secondary education; trying to get their degrees and what have you, who come out of university with thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of debt load. We have this administration and there are many Cabinet ministers in this administration that were there four years ago when they cut the grant system out, Mr. Speaker, and they took the money to promote this administration - the Premier and the ministers, that is where they put the money. So, I think it would be better spent if we gave it back to the students in this Province; that is the relevancy. That is the connection that I can make with it.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to students; the stress of poverty takes its toll on their marks and forces students to repeat courses. As I mentioned earlier, because of the stress of the debt that these students are going through that they do not have enough money to spend on food and clothing and shelter, it affects their performance in the classroom. Therefore it is even more money that they have to borrow in the long haul to graduate from the course because they may have to repeat courses. That is where I am coming from, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is not in his seat again and he is over there making faces at me. I am trying to concentrate on a very serious piece of legislation here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Any more people speaking to it? I say to the minister, yes, I would say there is a few more that are going to speak to this. Look they are starting to come in now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, you will have lots and lots of time I can guarantee you that, I say to the Minister of Education, to use certain facilities within the building. I wouldn't go too far in the building though, just the same.

Now, what else do we have to say on this bill? Oh yes, Mr. Speaker, indebted graduates spend less in this Province, meaning less revenues to the Province because many of the students now that are educated here that do borrow here they end up leaving the Province, our young, the brain drain in this Province today is unreal.

So, Mr. Speaker, they are taking their education - the young of this Province, the people that we should be doing everything in our power to keep in this Province - they are leaving, right, left and centre, in droves. We are educating people to leave the Province and we should be doing something about that and maybe the Minister of Education can look at reinstating the grant system and help out the students in this Province and maybe that will help them stay here. Some of the young entrepreneurs within the Province would stay here and help create jobs, pay taxes to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and in the long haul not only would those people benefit, but the government would benefit, the people of the Province would benefit and the municipalities of rural Newfoundland may benefit. So, that is some of the concerns that I have, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, another very important point with respect to this bill; there are single parent students who have children and are trying to attend university, trying to attend post-secondary education, and these people - I have had a number of them actually in my office over the past few years who have had a hard time, a lot of them on social assistance, they have a hard time to get their education and try to get of the social services roll and I have nothing but the utmost respect for these people, both male and female, who are trying their best to get of the social services roll and to attend post-secondary education. So, maybe something can be looked at there to assist those people.

Mr. Speaker, there are many, many other points that can be made on this bill. It is a very short bill, again like the previous bill - you know, sometimes just because you look at it and you only see one clause you would think that there is nothing to the bill, but this bill in effect can be far reaching, it can affect the lives of many, many people in this Province, people who are attending university now, young people going to high school now, can be affected in the near future when the graduates from grade XII go on to university or some post-secondary institution. So those are some of the concerns that we have on this side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to sit down now. I had my say on this. What did you say, Minister of Education?

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am going to sit down now and let one of my colleagues have a few words on this very important piece of legislation.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill 53, "An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act." There are many contentious issues that we could talk about here today. Basically on this bill, I guess it amends the Public Tender Act to exempt banking services provided for students under the Newfoundland and Labrador Student Loans Program for services covered by the act.

Mr. Speaker, what are the implications, one would have to ask, of not tendering the student loans program in terms of getting the best possible deals for students? What would happen if we did not pass this amendment?. Mr. Speaker, why are student loans not being provided by government? Again, why are students thrown on the mercy of the banks? One would have to ask why government has introduced this bill at all. Why is government not doing something significant for students who are in debt by loosening up the loan remissions criteria? The current restrictions are far too harsh, Mr. Speaker. They leave students with debts above $22,000 even if they qualify for remissions. More often than not the restrictions exclude students. Many cannot complete their programs within a year of the prescribed date because government funding cuts have restricted course offerings and access for courses. Many have to work part-time to top off their loans and that prevents them from finishing their programs early. Mr. Speaker, the stress of poverty takes its toll on marks and forces students to repeat some courses. Unfortunately, students with high debt loads are leaving the Province for higher paying jobs elsewhere that they need to make ends meet and that means that we are losing the people we need to help rebuild our battered economy right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students have expressed its grave concern with the current system and is demanding changes. Where was the legislation in this sitting to address the concerns of our thousands of students, Mr. Speaker? Many young people are opting not to go to school because they cannot afford it and because they fear they will not get jobs that pay enough to cover their loan payments. Indebted students who cannot afford to pursue opportunities that would help the economy grow sometimes opt for employment as opposed to continuing their education. Indebted graduates spend less in this Province, meaning less revenue to the Province, less spending in stores and fewer retail jobs. The money our indebted graduates earn goes in a large part to the banks whose vaults are brimming over with profits while our economy spirals downwards and yet the Tobin Government does nothing but exempt banking services from the Public Tender Act. One would have to ask, where are the Tobin government's priorities?

Mr. Speaker, we don't have to elaborate on where the Liberal administration, since 1989, has strayed in regards to the Public Tender Act. In the past year-and-a-half we have seen it here. We have seen, under the bio-medical waste contract, Mr. Speaker, we have seen it. We have argued back and forth, Mr. Speaker, on the lucrative Trans City contract which was a fiasco as far as this Opposition is concerned, and many of the public of the Province. One doesn't have to wonder why the government would want to change the Public Tender Act. You only need to look through the Public Tender Act exemptions to really get a clear picture of the abuse that goes on within the Public Tender Act within our Province.

I think that in order to truly do our students a favour we should very seriously consider and review this legislation to find out exactly why the government is prepared to exempt the student loans program from the Public Tender Act. What exactly is the motive behind it? Why would they want to exempt the student loans program from the Public Tender Act? Maybe if we were to find out that answer it would unlock a whole new set of questions. On that, I will allow one of my other colleagues to stand and speak to this bill. I'm sure they are most eager to speak to this as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I trust you are well this morning, Sir. Had a good night's sleep, I trust, and you are up all invigorated, ready to roll.

I would like to take a few minutes this morning of the House's time to just have a few comments on this bill. Certainly to commend my colleagues who have been here now since 2:00 yesterday afternoon. I think it is great they are here, and of course we will continue to be here as the day progresses.

What are t