May 27, 1999               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIV  No. 31


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of my hon. colleagues the results of a recent independent survey of the New England Trade Mission participants, which was conducted by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS KELLY: As hon. members may recall, the Province participated in this four-day trade mission, along with the other Atlantic Canadian provinces, just over a month ago.

At that time, we were very pleased with how the mission went, and were confident that it would yield dividends for the Newfoundland and Labrador businesses that participated.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear from the results of this survey that our companies are indeed seeing very positive outcomes from this mission. The survey indicates that all respondents felt that the overall success of the Team Atlantic Trade Mission rated at least a four out of five.

When asked about how worthwhile the networking luncheons and receptions were, nearly 80 per cent of the respondents ranked the sessions as a four out of five or five out of five.

Although these statistics indicate a successful mission, we also have concrete results that show exactly how well our businesses fared on the New England trip.

Most of the companies said that they expected immediate sales, with initial orders for all of the companies combined totalling $615,000. Over the next few years, these companies expect that amount to increase by more than $13 million in total.

These are very encouraging signs that the New England market is indeed a lucrative one. Participants have indicated that this mission was instrumental in opening doors to that market that might otherwise have remained closed.

Many of these businesses also expect to hire new staff as a result of this trade mission. In fact, the companies which were surveyed estimated that a total of fifty-five full time-jobs would be created as a direct result of the trade mission.

I think it is important that we recognize the importance of these trade missions. The Team Atlantic Trade Mission to New England was well planned, and focused on a market that was researched thoroughly, which has clearly paid off.

The results of this survey indicate that the mission provided valuable contacts, and provided a key way to increase business and employment for Newfoundland and Labrador companies.

Prior to going on this trade mission, I was advised that New England was an area that held great potential for Newfoundland and Labrador companies. If there were any doubts before, they have been removed by this survey.

My officials are currently working on a strategy to intensify our efforts in this market. I have sent an invitation to the Canadian Consul General in Boston for her and her staff to visit our Province and help us refine that strategy.

Mr. Speaker, there will be more missions to New England, more sales, and more jobs to come.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of her statement. This is just to say to the minister that indeed it is good that we go on these trade missions. I feel like I am going to give the same speech I gave here a couple of weeks ago when you got up and read practically the same thing. The only thing in that one was we included Cuba as well as our trip to New England.

Minister, I say that it is great to go to New England. What I would like to see done in these things that we - you have an estimate there that it created fifty-five new jobs. I believe that somewhere in the department we should have somebody who really checks these things out, and at the end of the day can come back and say whether it is fifty-five or maybe it could be 105.

Again, I would just say that these missions are very worthwhile. I think it is something that our Province should keep pursuing. I said that the last time I was on my feet. I can only trust that you will continue as a government and we as a province to pursue all avenues of business for all of our businesses in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad that the participants are optimistic about the future of the trade with New England states. I will note that today also the Newfoundland and Labrador Manufacturers and Exporters are meeting with a conference to promote manufacturing and exporting activity. The exhibition opens tomorrow. I hope all members will take an opportunity to go.

I will say that in order to get to New England we have to go on the Gulf ferry. In order to get our products to New England, we have to travel on the Gulf ferry. I think we have to redouble our efforts to ensure that that Gulf ferry service provides an economic link to the people of this Province to the markets as well as just, as the Minister of Tourism says, shuttling people back and forth from one piece of land to another. This is an economic link for this Province. We need to have that upgraded. We need to have it more efficient. We need to have it cheaper, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform hon. members today of a new business venture to be established in Burgeo that will help strengthen the community and provide -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, it is called Sprung.

It will provide new employment opportunities for the people of Burgeo.

The Burgeo Diversification and Development Board Inc., which is Burgeo's community economic development arm, in partnership with Innovative Fisheries Development Inc., a private sector company, plan to establish a soft-shall clam operation in Burgeo.

From the harvesting at the farm to the processing at the plant, this will be a fully integrated operation. It represents a good example of how the traditional fishery is being diversified, thanks largely to the efforts of the provincial Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, this public-private partnership will fully commercialize the first soft-shell clam operation in the Province. Furthermore, it should lead the way for similar operations in other coastal communities.

This particular initiative was identified by the area's Regional Economic Development Board as a priority that would help diversify the economy in the Burgeo area. The Province worked with the Board, the community, the private company and the federal government to make this a reality. It is one of many examples of how our Regional Economic Development Boards are strategically targeting new growth and diversification opportunities that create new jobs for the people of our Province.

The Department of Development and Rural Renewal, through our Western Region Office, has been a very active member of the project team that has brought this opportunity to fruition.

In this regard, I am pleased to announce that my department is providing a development loan of $75,000 toward the start-up of the new soft-shell clam farm and processing operation. The total investment in this initiative will be more than $700,000, about half of which is from the private sector.

The primary benefit of this investment will be the creation of long-term employment opportunities in the Burgeo area. This will also mean a significant boost to the local economy. The project will employ twenty-nine people directly: twelve in processing and seventeen at the aquaculture farm. Some part-time work will also be created. This is a significant accomplishment for Burgeo.

The markets for soft-shell clam are good, particularly in the New England states. In fact, demand currently outstrips supply. As well, research has shown that there is an adequate supply of the resource in the area. The private partner - Innovative Fisheries Development - has the technical expertise to carry the job through. These factors, combined with the strengths that the community partner brings to the project, will help ensure the success of this venture.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good example of government's jobs and growth agenda in action, especially in rural areas. It is also proof positive that the work of the Regional Economic Development Boards is starting to yield real results. Our economy is being strengthened and new jobs are being created.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I thank the minister for a copy of his statement. Of course it is good news for Burgeo and for anywhere in this Province when we can talk about jobs being created at the end of the day, but it also raises a red flag many times to see how it will pan out at the end of the day.

We are glad for the people of Burgeo. We are hoping that something like this, a diversifying in the fishery, of course, which we talk about many times in this House of Assembly but indeed around this entire Province - a lot more of this has to happen.

The minister goes on to talk about the strategic plans and so on that have been happening. We commend those people out in the communities who are on these boards, who come up with ideas and so on that they think can work out. Those people put in some good hours and they put forward some good ideas. Like we have said many times around this Province, it is needed much more today than ever probably in rural Newfoundland as we see people leave this Province in droves still as we talk about it.

It is fine to talk about plans and strategic plans. We commend the people who work on these boards and come up with these plans but, as we said before, the best plan in the world is absolutely useless unless we can execute the plan and at the end of the day there is a job created not just for short-term, that is going to come today and gone again tomorrow. We are talking about long-term diversification of the fishery, which means long-term jobs for the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: - that are so desperately needed in this Province today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join in commending the work of Innovative Fisheries Development in the development of this new project in Burgeo. I know that a lot of time and effort and planning has gone into this and the people involved in this project, Innovative Fisheries Development, are in fact very innovative, as the name suggests, in developing this new type of aquaculture industry to the Province.

I am surprised the Minister of Fisheries did not have something to say. I do not know whether his department was involved in assisting. I will note that half of the investment comes from the private sector, which is a very good sign indeed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: I wonder where the government was when the people of Burgeo were losing their fish quota to Nova Scotia. Twenty-nine jobs are a few jobs, but they do not replace the jobs that were lost when the fish quota was sent to Nova Scotia.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) shot at this.

MR. E. BYRNE: Every day is a good shot, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, especially when you see this government three months after the election turn around and follow Tory tax policy, turn around on accountability. Not only that, if they would only now turn around and follow our stand on Voisey's Bay we might be all right, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let the record stand; the Member for Humber East asked me what our stand on Voisey's is. I know that his leader has read our Tory policy manual. Would he like me to read what it is for him, out of our manual today? I surely can. Maybe I will have a photocopy sent over to the Member for Humber East.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am about to, Sir. Settle down your crowd and I will ask my question, I say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: My question is for the Acting Minister of Mines and Energy.

In the last year-and-a-half when nickel prices were at $1.76 per pound, the Premier and the Minister of Mines and Energy, the former Minister of Mines and Energy at the time as well, said publicly that their cost analysis done by consultants who were, I guess, experts in the global nickel industry showed, and their numbers showed, that the Voisey's Bay nickel project vis--vis a full smelter/refinery was feasible as the original proposal stood over thirty years.

I am asking the Minister of Mines and Energy or the acting minister today, in view of the comments made last night by the Minister of Mines and Energy, is government in a position today to table for the people of the Province that cost-benefit analysis so we can see clearly the stand and what government's expertise said on this project?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I think what government said at that time was that as the price of nickel fell there was a certain threshold and we had not fallen below that threshold where the project was still profitable. In fact, at the prices that the Leader of the Opposition just quoted, there was still a rate of return. Now was there a rate of return that Inco was happy with? No. Was there a rate of return that supplied the capital markets with a return on their money? The answer was yes.

The hon. member knows about IOC and he knows that it was a sensible and proper business arrangement, but if he wanted to play politics with it of course he could play politics. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics, or he claims to have gone there, and if he read the documents he would see that it made business sense.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: With respect to tabling -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I am even getting heckled from my own side.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to get on with his answer.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, with respect to tabling financial analysis, I think that would be completely imprudent and irresponsible to table documents that the government are using privately to negotiate with a company to maximize full and fair benefits for the Province. That would be irresponsible, imprudent, and I do not even think the hon. Leader of the Opposition, if he were sitting over here as Premier, would table all the analysis used to engage in a private consultation and negotiation. You do not negotiate in public. When you have a deal, you present it to the public and see -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, you do not. You may negotiate -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: You may negotiate in public but this government does not negotiate in public. This government deals fairly and properly, deals with the financial analysis, will negotiate the best full and fair benefit package, maximizing benefits for the Province, maximizing tax returns for the Province, and until we reach some kind of accord that we can present to the people, that would be imprudent and irresponsible.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, tell the nurses that this government does not negotiate in public.

With respect to the analysis that I was looking for, government was very quick to release the study that they had done with respect to shipping ore outside of Labrador. Government have been not so quick to release the information regarding - and it says right here: Our analysis indicates a mine, mill and smelter refinery is feasible.

The former Minister of Mines and Energy - now, I know he must take some private joy with the fact that during July of 1998, when he speculated about shipping some ore out, as the present Minister of Mines and Energy (inaudible) come around to his view, the Premier wrapped himself in the flag.

The reality is this: Why can't you today, in view of the comments last night, in view of the comments on behalf of government by this Minister of Mines and Energy: Why can you not confirm for the people of the Province that your own analysis at $1.76 a pound showed - which you said - that this project would be feasible and that we did not have to ship any ore outside the Province? Why is government now, based upon your own comments, considering doing exactly that?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, a couple of points need to be clarified. The first is this: When the hon. member says, you released a copper study, of course we did. The analysis was completed. The study was fully completed by an independent company, so we made it public to the entire population to read and to analyze.

With respect to the IOC study, when it was completed we made it public. In fact, the member from Labrador City knows that I went in personally and presented the study. He was there with the other union leaders. We do not shirk our responsibility. We deal with it and present it as we find it.

With respect to the Minister of Mines and Energy's comment last night, he simply said we are awaiting a new proposal. It should be here -

MR. E. BYRNE: He said much more than that.

MR. FUREY: Well, you know, the Leader of the Opposition - I would love to know where his position is on this at some point, too. I did check the Internet under www.wishy-washy and there was nothing there. I looked at his comic book and there was nothing there.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, I saw what -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: I saw what the hon. member's position is. In fact, I have it here. Let me read it to him: A PC government will require that all Voisey's Bay nickel be fully smelted and refined in the Province. What he is saying is, he has no open mind. He is completed closed-minded. There will be no discussions with anybody coming in to spend billions of dollars; completely shut down.

So, if he was sitting here, he would be saying to businesses outside this country and outside this Province: Stay away unless it is Eddy's way. Go away unless it is my way.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: This government has an open mind. We are sending a signal to the international community and the business world that if you have a sensible proposition, a real proposition -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. FUREY: - one that maximizes benefits for our people, one that generates economic activity, one that provides a tax base for all the services that we require, then we will listen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I know government would like this to be like the Tide commercial: I can't tell the difference; can you? Fortunately for the people of the Province, they can.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Is it any wonder that minister was taken out of the mines and energy portfolio after a commentary like that?

More than that, Minister, the reality is this: Bill Rowat, former chief negotiator -

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill Rowe?

MR. E. BYRNE: Bill Rowat. Do you know him? Do you remember him? Where is he now?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Voisey's Bay is the lowest quartile; so, no matter what happens to nickel prices, it will be the other 75 per cent of the industry that is higher that will be the first to go out of business.

People are wondering legitimately this morning, what is happening? The former House Leader, Mr. Ed Roberts, in an article, talked about how the Premier, on his stand with shipping no ore outside the Province, had almost universal support; and he did, because the position was the right one to take.

The question is this: Why is now this government and this Cabinet moving away from that position?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FUREY: Gee, you have to love this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, nobody said the government is moving away from any position. If you read the Red Book - we have looked at the Blue Book - if you read the Red Book, we are insisting on full and fair benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and there will be no mine without a full smelter and full refinery.

Now, if you look at the environmental panel, even the environmental panel recommended a smaller mine and mill project at Voisey's Bay which would essentially just extend the life and create these jobs over a longer period of time, but it does not diminish the project.

The minister was asked last night: Have you received a proposal? Have there been negotiations? He answered quite honestly and quite forthrightly that there are no formal negotiations. There were informal discussions, that he does expect to receive a proposal from Inco some time in mid to late summer. What can we say? Should we reject the proposal outright? We do not even know what is in the proposal. Good Lord, you have to have an open mind and at least say to businesses: We will accept your proposal. We will review it. We will look at the contents.

The minister simply said he was going to have an open mind, and the government will have an open mind. We are not going to close our minds, as is the policy of the Tories, and we do not know what the socialists are doing. It depends on what day it is. We do not know what their policy is, but we do know what yours is: shut your mind to any possibility of any creative solution to get billions of dollars of investment, thousands of jobs occurring.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: I would like to know what the position of the member for Cape St. Mary's is; where the smelter will be built in Argentia? Is he saying absolutely no jobs, irrespective of whatever Inco proposes?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. FUREY: I say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the minister said he will have an open mind. We will receive the proposal, we will do a thorough and full analysis of the proposal -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. FUREY: - Cabinet will review the proposal, caucus will review the proposal, and then the proposal will be made public, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

No question, the minister is right. People know what the Tory policy is because when we say it in November we mean it today, unlike that crowd right there, unlike this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Depending on what the political wind is - this is the Cabinet, every morning: Check the wind out; that will be our policy for today in terms of -

The question is this: The Minister of Mines and Energy last night said much more than having an open mind. He did say that it may be possible and that it may be necessary for some of Newfoundland's resource to be shipped out of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I think we should have a look. Look at it again. The impression was clearly left by the present Minister of Mines and Energy that it may be necessary to ship some of the ore out.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: The question is this: The tough stand that was taken by this government, supported by the people of this Province, supported by the Opposition -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: - is that the stand that flies today? Is the stand that was taken in July 1998 the exact same stand that we are going to take today? That is the question for this government. Yes or no.

Is the tough stand - let me read it for you. I can, Mr. Speaker. It is the stand that the Premier said in 1998 in terms of that: We must demand full and fair benefits, that all ore from Voisey's Bay will be fully smelted and refined here. Is that the position of this government today? Yes or no.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the people chose in a general democratic election who they wished to govern them. I'm not sure, did you fellows have a pink book? I know there was a Blue Book and a Red Book. I'm not sure if there was a pink book. Our book was very clear -

AN HON. MEMBER: Orange book (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: A comic book, a colouring book, and a policy book.

Our proposal was very clear. In it, on page 15, we said, "The Liberal government with a new mandate will maintain a firm position on behalf of the people of our province that there will be no mine at Voisey's Bay unless a smelter and refinery are built in our province." That what we were elected for. That is what we said. It is crystal clear. I do not know what the Blue Book - what some have referred to as a comic book - or the pink book over there has said, but ours was very clear, crystal clear.

The minister in a interview last night was asked in a speculative conversation: Is it possible that this may happen? The minister's exact comment was: It may or may not. It depends upon the economics and the proposal. How can you ask us to judge a proposal we haven't even seen? A proposal that you, if you were premier, would not even accept if they even speculated that some ore may go out of the Province. Does the proposal provide offsets? Are there corresponding tax increases? Are there new royalty arrangements? What are the arrangements in the proposal? A proposal we have not even seen, you would reject. I do not know what the pink book and the socialists would do.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the pure logic of the minister's argument just does not fly. On one hand -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on now. Indeed I do understand.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that right? Let me see what is illogical. Let's flesh it out, Minister, and see who is illogical and who is playing cheap political games.

On the one hand, this government and this minister stands up and says that they have consultants, that they have investigated and determined that a full smelter-refinery complex is feasible, that there is a fair rate of return at $1.76 a pound. Today he stands in the House and says this: We are open to see what the economics are. I thought you already had the economics of the proposal, Minister!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: You told people in this Province that you had it. Yes or no? You did not answer the question. What you said in July, August, September, October and during the election, does it stand today? Yes or no?

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

MR. FUREY: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition is very confused. That is understandable. Mr. Speaker, we said at the time that the feasibility study showed clearly that even in a descending -

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) $1.76 a pound (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Now you want to answer your question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Did you want to ask the question or did you want to answer the question?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: The problem is that there are no answers (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Would you like me to attempt it? You are not satisfied with any answers, so you do not want any answers.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Fine.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services. I am sure the minister is aware of the CBC Morning Show interviews the past three mornings regarding problems with the Health Care Corporation on the Burin Peninsula.

I raised those concerns, I say to the minister, on numerous occasions, beginning in late November 1996. I even provided the minister and the Department of Health with the names of people whose surgeries were cancelled because doctors feared malfunctioning equipment could put their lives in danger.

The Whalen report was never made public in spite of repeated requests. You, Minister, even refused to return calls to discuss this issue. I want to ask the minister now: Will she table this report? Will she allow the public to know its contents and to end this cover-up?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

I really thought when the member got up this morning he was going to stand and apologize to the people, to the residents, of Hoyles-Escasoni. That is what I thought he was going to do first this morning.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: However, Mr. Speaker, it's not too late. You can still do it, I say to the member opposite. Do the right thing and apologize to the staff and residents of Hoyles-Escasoni. That would be the right thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have eighteen minutes to do the honourable thing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There is still time.

The member opposite knows that we have just gone through a process with respect to the Burin Peninsula -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: Apologize to (inaudible) while you are at it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, just to respond to the Member for Waterford Valley, I am not asking for a personal apology for myself. I am asking on behalf of the people, the residents, in Hoyles-Escasoni and their families who have been calling publicly for that apology.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Not to me, it is not an insult to me, only in so much as it insults those people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister I will apologize for nothing. Your remarks that you made in your statements, that this minister twisted and used her interpretation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: - when I was out of this Province, and did not have the guts to do it when I was here, I say to the minister!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Trying to drive it with her political campaign workers, I say to the minister! That is what you are doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, your appointed board on the peninsulas is not doing its job. The board has failed to address concerns that are compromising health care on the Burin Peninsula, and Minister, you are the one who is responsible for those appointments. The mayor of Burin who is representing the five major towns on the Burin Peninsula -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: - has called for the dismissal of that board. I ask the minister: Will she do the appropriate thing, as the representative of all five major towns on the Burin Peninsula has called for? Will she give the people on the Burin Peninsula a fresh start and fire the board that is there now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

In response to the former comments made here, there was absolutely nothing asked in this House in the absence of the member that was not asked in the presence of the member. That was for an apology. He remembers that first day in Question Period I stood up and asked him to apologize to the people of Hoyles-Escasoni. He was in his seat and he knows it. He sat down red as a beet because he knew what he said was wrong. He insulted those people. He should read the papers if he is not clear.

He is asking now about the boards. His clear and utter disrespect for boards is obvious. He released a report, for one thing, that the staff did not even see. I know how he feels about boards. He has made it very clear publicly. On one minute he wants them elected, on the next minute he wants them disbanded. Know who your enemy is, know that there is no respect on that side of the House for the boards, but we respect the boards. We value their work and we will continue to let them do their work. The member also knows, because I have been very clear in this House, that we have put in place a new facilitator on the recommendation of the person to whom he refers on his recommendation to make all the necessary assessments required and bring it to this House, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the minister made reference to, Dr. May has been appointed to do yet another review. I ask the minister: What are the terms of reference given to Dr. May? When is the report due? Will the minister do the right thing this time and make the report public and stop trying to hide what is happening on the Burin Peninsula?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There is time for an apology, there is still time, Mr. Speaker.

In response to that, I just answered it in a previous question. Dr. May has been appointed on the recommendation of the very group that asked for it. All the parties are in agreement. Dr. May obviously has to do his assessment before he makes any recommendation. I have asked him to make that report available to me, to meet and speak with all of the parties, put that in writing to me. I know that Dr. May -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

The Chair is not going to tolerate continuous interruption like this. We will not proceed unless we have some order and decorum in this House. The hon. member has asked a question. We should give the hon. minister an opportunity to answer it.

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

As I said, Dr. May, a very reputable individual, will be going down to do the work that is required in that area. He will be meeting with all of the parties identified. He will meet with whoever has any opinions to offer. He will formulate that report.

I think we have been very clear and very quick to respond to the issues that have been identified. There have been some issues as well brought forward from the past, communications being one, on behalf of all of the parties. We will endeavour to resolve those issues.

I will not stand in this House and call the board in disrepute. Mr. Speaker, I want it for the record that we respect the volunteer boards and the work that they are doing. We will let the process work, unlike those people over there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions this morning are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Minister, as you are aware of course, in 1998 the government changed the process by which companies obtained information about tenders to obtain government contracts.

The first question I have for you this morning is this. Has the government yet awarded the contract to the company that will provide information to companies which want to bid in the public tendering process? As well, is it being considered that they will have to apply to one company or is it three? Can the minister provide more details about this?

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

MS KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My assumption is the member is talking about the electronic tendering process, the electronic tendering bulletin board that is being developed by government. This process is under way. We have been following a set procedure. The initial announcements have been made.

Our hope is that as this is all finished it will be both an aid to businesses and to government. For instance, when it is done all of the government work will be listed on it, but also businesses through our Success~Works network will be listed. When government is putting together its tenders it will be able to look - for instance when they are doing major infrastructure like hospitals or anything - you will be able to look and see what window manufacturers, for instance, are in the Province, and design the tenders so that Newfoundland companies will be able to bid.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would also like to ask the minister: Does she know what the cost will be to a company, whichever company you decide to award this particular contract to, and whether it would be one or three? Does the minister know what the cost to a company would be to be registered with this particular company in order to find out? You know, will the fee be $350 a year, will it be $400, will it be $500? Does the minister know if there will be a cost involved for a company in Newfoundland and Labrador to register with any of these companies which will be able to provide the information?

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

MS KELLY: I would like to inform the hon. member that the cost of being on Success~Works - there is no cost. The electronic billboard, I do not have the facts here in front of me but I can certainly get you the cost of it.

A lot of this is being done through Works, Services and Transportation, the tender side of it. The business side of it is being done through my department. So the cost, I don't know if the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would have these facts available but we certainly can get them for you.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, I have certainly received feedback about the fact that a company will now have to pay an annual fee to another company in order to find out exactly what public tenders are now going to be placed before they can receive information. Also, this information at one time was available for free, of course, through the news media and so on; but, minister, I have received a fair bit of feedback from small business around the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, I have, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, something that you should probably be concerned about.

I would now like to ask the minister: Does the minister feel that imposing such a fee is really fair to the small businesses of Newfoundland and Labrador? Even after that, Minister, will there then be a monthly fee so that the small businesses in this Province will be continually upgraded?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What we are moving to is a process of licensing server providers on the electronic bidding process, the electronic bidding system. There are a number of service providers who have identified themselves and who meet the criteria of being registered with GPA, the Government Purchasing Agency, for purposes of being able to access the information that we go to tender with in terms of the provision of goods and services.

These service providers will be licensed under a licensure arrangement with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. They will then receive the information. The information they receive, they will put it on their system but at the end of the day they will take their service and sell it to the private sector; in order words, people who want to bid on government business. At the end of the day, it will essentially be a user pay system in terms of businesses wanting to draw down from a private server information on government tenders.

Government will save money in as much as we will not be advertising as frequently or at all in certain instances like, for example, in the newspapers. On the other hand, the user of the service will pay for the benefit that he gets of drawing down the information from the server that he is using to provide it to him, and essentially that cost will be determined by the server that is providing the information to the private sector.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Petitions

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition to the House of Assembly. The petition reads:

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland;

WHEREAS Route 235 from Birchy Cove to Bonavista has not been upgraded since it was paved approximately twenty-five years ago; and

WHEREAS this section of Route 235 is in such a terrible condition that vehicles are being damaged, including school buses serving schools in the area, and schoolchildren are finding their daily trips over the road very difficult;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to upgrade and pave the five kilometres of Route 235 from Birchy Cove to Bonavista.

Mr. Speaker, today will probably be the last day of sitting of the House of Assembly for this spring session and I have about another 600 names here on a petition that I will put forward to the Clerk today. It is another petition in the same format that has been delivered here almost every day since the House of Assembly opened, from residents of the Birchy Cove, Newmans Cove, Upper, Middle, Lower Amherst Cove area, who have been sending petitions to me to be presented here in this House with their plea to have five kilometres of road leading from Birchy Cove to Bonavista upgraded and paved in this construction year.

The residents there - the schoolchildren, the parents, the business community - have held several meetings in the area; have had the deputy minister out in the area to meet with them; have had the assistant deputy minister out in the area to meet; have had the administrator in Clarenville, Mr. Goodman, down in the area there. I know there is a continuous flood of telephone calls going into the administrator's office. I know that the minister's office has been getting faxes and letters on a continuous basis. Probably as many as 600 or 700 pieces of correspondence have come to the minister's office from different people living in the general area there, asking the minister to look at the needs of the students and the needs of the concerned residents that are being put forward in order to have this section of roadway upgraded and paved leading through the communities, especially Upper Amherst Cove.

If you were to go out and drive through this community, you would see probably one of the worse sections of roadway in the whole area, but the people from those communities have identified this section of roadway - the five kilometres leading from Birchy Cove to Bonavista - because it is the busiest part of the roadway. It is the part that all the children travel over on a daily basis to go to Matthew Elementary and to Discovery Collegiate.

They say: We know we are not going to get all our roads upgraded and paved in this construction season. We know we are not going to get a construction company to come down here and pave everything that needs to be done, so realistically we have identified five kilometres of roadway. We are going to concentrate our efforts on this particular section of roadway and say that we need this to be given a priority. Priority needs to be given to the five kilometres from Birchy Cove to Bonavista because it is the section of roadway that is most travelled.

I have had calls from delivery truck drivers serving the area there, who have threatened not to use that piece of roadway. They are saying that maybe it is not worth our while to leave Bonavista and go up to those five small communities. There are two businesses there. They are saying maybe we should expect them to come to us because it is costing us money to put our vehicles over this section of roadway and we do not think that it is even feasible to use it anymore, to have to put up with the expenses incurred in driving the five kilometres from Bonavista to Birchy Cove.

It is a section of roadway that needs to be done not next year but this year. This particular section of roadway, I think the requests have been coming in on an annual basis this past five years. They have been putting up with the deterioration of the roadway. Finally it has come to the point where it has to be done now. It needs to be done this year and I fear, if it is not done this year, what action the parents and the students will take when they return back to school come September. Up until now they have been very responsible. They talked about blocking the roadway. They talked about stopping all vehicular traffic on this section of roadway. Somebody in the gathering said: No, let's not do that. We believe that if we approach this in the right way, bring the need forward to the proper people, maybe they will see fit to attend to our needs without having to take such drastic action.

That is what they have decided to do. They have been very responsible in saying that we are not going to block the roadway, we are not going to stop traffic on this particular section of roadway. We feel that we will have our voice heard in the House of Assembly. We feel that we will get in touch with the minister's office on a continuous basis -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - by way of letter writing, and hopefully somebody will listen to our request and attend to our needs.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

(Inaudible) the minister wants to speak to that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale speaking to the petition? Is it a new petition?

MR. HUNTER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: A new petition.

Is the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs responding to the petition?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have just one or two comments with respect to that petition. I think the hon. member will admit that on this side of the House we have done the best we can with the resources we have, spread them around as evenly and equitably as we can, consistent with the needs in the various districts, to address road repairs and road needs.

Every district has a considerable requirement for roadwork. That has always been the case and it will continue to be the case but, as we have in the past and as we have this year, we have been fair in the distribution of the money that we have for the provincial capital roads program. We appreciate, frankly, the responsible approach that citizens now seem to be taking in parts of the Province with respect to putting their case forward for roadwork.

I remember two or three years ago when we had massive demonstrations on the Baie Verte Peninsula and one or two other areas. I cannot recall seeing any of those in the last couple of years and I believe it is a testament, I believe it is an affirmation, that people are taking a responsible approach and they are recognizing that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. We will continue to do that not only in the district represented by the hon. Member for Bonavista South but in other districts that are represented by people on that side of the House as well as people on this side of the House.

There are needs out there that need to be addressed and we are doing the best we can with the resources we have, and we will continue so to do.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of parents and students of schools in the Avalon West School District who are dissatisfied with the further teacher cutbacks that this government implemented in the Budget, the reduction of 182 teacher units.

The petitioners say that they are totally dissatisfied with further teacher cutbacks and;

WHEREAS when teachers get cut, programs and courses available to students get cut as well;

THEREFORE the parents and students in the Avalon West School District call upon government to take action to guarantee current levels of programming in our schools.

Mr. Speaker, these petitioners are amongst a number of petitioners who have signed petitions to this House seriously concerned about the effect the teacher cuts will have on their programs.

I attended a meeting at the Whitbourne school, to which a number of members of this House on both sides were invited. I know the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was invited, the Member for Bellevue was invited. Others were invited who did not attend, but there were several MHAs there and any MHA who showed up was invited to address the gathering. So, if the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs had been there he would have been asked to address the gathering on this important issue.

It was quite a lengthy meeting, a little bigger than the ones the Member for Virginia Waters has. There were several hundred people there, all very concerned about how the teacher allocations were going to affect their students. They were from all over the district. They had school council leaders from all over the district, and they were not there for political partisan reasons.

I know the Minister of Education has done her best to deflect criticism of the teacher cutback program that this government has engaged in by suggesting that it has been politically motivated.

What I saw was high school students near tears, concerned about the program cuts to the program they have this year compared to what they are anticipating next year with the teacher cuts. I heard students complain about the fact that they will have to do distance education programs for two and three subjects where they already find one distance education program quite alienating because it is not something that the students are used to. They do not have the same advantages, of course, as having a one-to-one or hands on or person-to-person contact. The students are just not used to it.

It is a strange thing; here we have a school in Whitbourne, for example - and this is one example - in Whitbourne, an hour's drive from St. John's or less, and in order to provide school programs the government feels distance education is an adequate answer. I always thought that the whole idea of distance education was that you could provide a whole series of programs to a remote location that could not or perhaps never possibly have the number of students to justify teaching a particular specialized course.

I see the Member for Burin-Placentia West listening. If you lived in Paradise River in Labrador and you had a school of thirty or forty students, you probably could not have thirty or forty high school courses. You still might want to be able to provide a program. Distance education seems to be a very appropriate way to deliver programs to a school in that place.

I would not expect Marystown to have distance education programs, I would not expect Whitbourne to have distance education programs, I would not expect Gander. I would not expect it in schools that are not in the remote areas of the Province where people want to continue to live, where we can deliver services through the technology. That should not be happening in Whitbourne, it should not be happening in St. John's, it should not be happening anywhere unless it is a place where the school population is so small that it is very difficult, almost impossible, to justify a variety of courses.

There are serious problems that have been identified by parents, teachers, students, school counsellors, educators and the Department of Education itself. The Dean of Education at Memorial has criticized the government's approach to all this. These parents and these students need to have government to listen to them. They should back off on the teacher cuts, ensure that there is a standstill position of programs, that no programs will be cut next year. If the minister can guarantee that, these petitioners will be satisfied.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise and present this petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents and supporters of the residents of Sheppardville.

WHEREAS paving of Trans-Canada Highway is in progress this summer near the town of Sheppardville, and with equipment and workforce nearby, it would make economic sense to take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade the Sheppardville road to pavement; and

WHEREAS the short section of road, approximately 1.6 kilometres is in a continuous poor condition, although the Department of Transportation has made a constant effort to keep it drivable;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to consider paving the 1.6 kilometres section of the road near Sheppardville along with the other TCH roadwork in the area this summer.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I do get several calls a week from residents of Sheppardville and people going into Sheppardville. I think the children in Sheppardville deserve this project to be completed this summer because their health is in jeopardy from the dust created by the gravel roads in that community. It could seriously jeopardize their health.

I think that even though there are still a lot of gravel roads in Newfoundland and Labrador today, there are not too many gravel roads right in the communities, such as Sheppardville. I think that because the equipment and projects are being carried on near the community that this 1.6 kilometres of road could easily be done this year at a less cost than it would if they had to move in equipment and supplies to do it another time.

I think if government want to take advantage of that, this is the summer to do it. People out there deserve a chance to have a paved road right in their communities, just the same as people anywhere else in other communities. It is hard to believe when you go in to a community like that that the pot holes are so big the children just cannot ride their bikes along the roadside or on the roads in that community. I'm concerned more about the children in the community because they are the ones on the roads daily. They are the ones that are playing around there and travelling from house to house meeting their friends. If something serious happens in the next while, who will take the responsibility in saying something could have been done to prevent this?

In my mind it is our responsibility to lobby government. It is my responsibility, particularly for Sheppardville, to lobby the minister and make sure he will consider doing that at least in the near future, as soon as possible, and as soon as the funds are available to do it. This summer is probably the best time for the government to do this project.

This community is a community of a lot of working people. They do contribute a lot to our economy. These people travel daily to their workplaces and come back in the evenings to face a pothole devastated road. It seems like they are out there working, contributing to the tax base of Newfoundland and Labrador, and they are wondering: Why us? Why do we have to drive over a road such as this in our community when it can be easily taken care of? Just 1.6 kilometres, and with the equipment in the area, I do not see why the government cannot take care of that problem this year.

These working people have to come home and sit down to the table with their children. These children are asking their father: Dad, why can't we have a paved road? Why do we have to go out and play in and breathe in this dust. They travel from house to house, go back in the nighttime, and cannot sleep because they are up choked with the dust. I think in this day and age our children should be most in our thoughts for the concerns of their health and safety.

Mr. Speaker, the minister should look at this project this summer, look at the feasibility of it and the cost saving that government could get from having this project done this summer because of the contractors, equipment, and materials in the area.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HUNTER: This is the year to do that project, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think what we are going to do is call third reading. We will go down the line. I think we will leave the Public Tender Act maybe till last. Or do you want to do it now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: Or do you want to take them in order?

AN HON. MEMBER: Take them in order.

MR. TULK: Take them in order. Mr. Speaker, we will start with Order 2.

On motion, the following bills read a third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Denturists Act." (Bill 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Control Act." (Bill 11)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill 5)

A bill, "An Act Respecting Municipalities." (Bill 14)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act." (Bill 4)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill 6)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act, 1991." (Bill 17)

A bill, "An Act To Amend the Internal Economy Commission Act." (Bill 19)

A bill, "An Act To Amend the Environment Act." (Bill 21)

MR. TULK: Order 7, Bill 16, An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act.

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

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

No, I have just a few concluding comments on third reading. We have gone this far with it now. I think we made a lot of specific points yesterday. Still, after the questions yesterday, and after doing as much as I could in the time from yesterday to today, I have to say to the minister that I'm still not comfortable with the bill. I am comfortable with the intent and we have discussed that. If we are talking about local service and long distance service, I think we can understand that. I understand the intent of that

I am still worried and still concerned that small businesses which provide some of these -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, Mr. Speaker, my hair will not turn grey for a long time, but I will say to the minister though that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SHELLEY: I am going to try to finish this statement now in a second when I stop getting interrupted.

Mr. Speaker, we are still concerned, and I still do have fears that the small businesses which provide such services as the telephone sets, equipment, message managing, voice services and so on, the ones listed in the Annex B the minister provided to us, I am still concerned that it is not tight enough to protect these companies so they will still have the same fair, equitable chance of providing those services to government when so requested.

That is the fear of it. I still want to go on record as saying that. The legislation is not tight enough, as far as I'm concerned. I do not know if changes can be made. The minister talks about redefining them in regulations. That sounds okay. Maybe it is okay, I say to the minister. My point I guess is this. I am still not sure and I am still not satisfied beyond any doubt, I say to the minister, that it will protect these companies. These are Newfoundland companies, most of them for the most part, small companies that have started over the last few years because of technology changes and the IT sector growing in this Province. That is why it is growing, because small businesses like this - and I have always believed that these small businesses are the real engine to our economic growth.

Those are the ones we have to be careful of, that we do not put in jeopardy, and that they are able to foster and, of course, have an equitable opportunity to provide these services that hopefully government will be needing for the next short while.

We had that concern and we still have that concern. We are still not totally satisfied with the bill - it is not tight enough - but the general intent of long distance and local services we do not have a big problem with, although that is not 100 per cent. I still believe people like AT&T and Sprint and so on will have some concerns, and I understand that, but our biggest concern is with the small companies, and if they will be able to have their fair opportunity.

I want to conclude with those remarks.

Thank you.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have just one or two concluding remarks on the bill. We have heard the representation that the hon. members on the other side made. Beyond that we have had a number of inquiries, I say to the hon. member, with respect to the implications or the feared implications of this amendment on the smaller firms that do business with government in terms of equipment and services related to the IT sector and the telephone industry.

I can tell the hon. member that we are addressing these concerns and again reiterate that our intention is to ensure that this bill, as it is intended to be, is not exclusionary of anybody, it gives no exclusivity to anybody, it will permit current purchasing practices of government to continue. Beyond that, I do give an undertaking this morning that before we move to conclude the regulations to ensure that the intent of this bill is reflected in the regulations, we are going to give ample opportunity - thirty or maybe sixty days - to anybody out there who is in this industry to come forward and address any concerns they might have to us. We will consult with NATI, the organization that represents this industry generally. We will ensure, before regulations are put in place, that they reflect the spirit and the intent of this particular amendment.

I gave that undertaking directly to those whom I talked to, small suppliers. I think that was welcomed and gave them a higher level of comfort that what we are going to do here will be, in fact, what is intended to have been done. That is to deal essentially with per minute services that we get in terms of local and long distance call charges.

The consultation will be as extensive as the industry wishes it to be in terms of whoever wants to come forward and talk to us and express their views. We will move forward from there with regulations to ensure that this is a good amendment that benefits the telephone industry in the Province, that benefits the high-tech industry in the Province, and that benefits and does not in any negative way impact upon the small business sector in the IT industry that have come forward and asked some questions.

Mr. Speaker, with those concluding remarks I move third reading.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I do want to say a few words at third reading on this.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I thought we were going back and forth.

If I may, the issue that was raised yesterday - there were a couple of issues raised - I am glad the minister has clarified the consequences to the small business sector in the IT industry, and the concerns that were raised. I had asked as well if the minister would double-check with officials and with legal advice as to the use of the phrase in the legislation of, "voice telephone services".

I know the minister has the power to make regulations but I am not sure he could make regulations that would have the effect of expanding the meaning of the words "voice telephone services". I know the list that he provided included telephone sets and other things. Whether or not "voice telephone services" includes facsimile services over a telephone line... It may be a term of art in the industry, I do not know. I was hoping that the minister would be able to say that he had, in fact, double-checked with legal counsel in the Department of Justice on the use of that phrase "voice telephone services". If the minister can address that, that is really all I have to say further on it.

I am glad the minister has now clarified that we are not dealing with a particular type of agreement such as the Andersen consulting agreement or the Kodak agreement. What we are talking about merely is doing business in the way we have before, with presumably the government having to justify dealing with one company on the basis of the benefits of the arrangements. That is something we can deal with on an ongoing basis in the House of Assembly, if need be, or in the public airwaves.

If the minister can clarify that issue of the wording being chosen, those will be my concluding remarks on that issue.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the hon. member's comments and concern. To that, yes, I did take the time last evening to again speak with legal counsel - in fact, the drafter of the bill itself - and as well consulted with my officials in Works, Services and Transportation. The advice they gave me, the information that they put forward to me, was that after long and considered consideration of this amendment, the three words chosen are the three words that best reflect the intent of what the government is intending to do here, and advised that any other wording would be less sufficient to meet the intent of what we are doing.

I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that this amendment has been proposed in a number of different forms in terms of wording and this, at the conclusion, was affirmed to me again yesterday as having been the decision of the best minds that work for us in government, as being the appropriate wording.

I did say earlier that I have undertaken and committed to ensuring that we will do consultation prior to writing the regulations to ensure that the intent of this amendment is, in fact, reflected in the practice of government as we go forward under this new regime.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 16)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I understand that His Honour will probably be here about 10:30 a.m. We might want to take a recess until that time and then -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Pardon me? What did you say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: I say to the Member for Baie Verte, it is about that time.

Mr. Speaker, we might want to recess until His Honour arrives and then ring the bells to notify people to come back in.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that we recess until 10:30 a.m. or until the arrival of His Honour?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: This House is now recessed.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Admit His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is wish of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor that all present please be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour, it is my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her faithful Commons in Newfoundland and Labrador, to present to Your Honour bills for the appropriation of Supply and Supplementary Supply granted in the present session.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of the Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2000 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service." (Bill 15)

A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Additional Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 1998 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service." (Bill 8)

A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums of Money For Defraying Certain Additional Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 1999 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service." (Bill 13)

HIS HONOUR, THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (A.M. House): In Her Majesty's name, I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I assent to these Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's assent.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act To Amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957." (Bill 7)

A bill, "An Act To Authorize The Raising Of Money By Way Of Loan By The Province." (Bill 12)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Denturists Act." (Bill 10)

A bill, "An Act To The Tobacco Control Act." (Bill 11)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act". (Bill 5)

A bill, "An Act Respecting Municipalities". (Bill 14)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act." (Bill 4)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act." (Bill 16)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill 6)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act, 1991." (Bill 17)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Internal Economy Commission Act." (Bill 19)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Environment Act." (Bill 21)

HIS HONOUR, THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: In Her Majesty's name I assent to these bills.

Mr. Speaker, we would like to wish all Members of the House of Assembly a well earned break and rest, and be prepared for the next time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I understand we are about to adjourn for the summer.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. TULK: Jack, you finally got it.

Before doing that, Mr. Speaker, I would like on behalf of the government and the members on this side of the House to express our thanks to the people who serve us in this Legislature, regardless of where they are, whether they are at the Table, at the microphone, or copying off, or trying to take some of the dictation that we say and put it into print. Of course, I would like to take this opportunity also to wish members of the Opposition -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: Absolutely.

MR. FUREY: The media, for their impartial and diligent reporting.

MR. TULK: I wish them a good summer. I would also like, as my friend the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation (inaudible), to wish the media a good summer, and to wish and to hope that they come back in the fall with their usual -

MR. FUREY: Their diligent and impartial reporting.

MR. TULK: - diligent and impartial reporting, as he says. I wish them a good summer as well. I want to particularly note in the media the patience of Mr. Chafe up there from VOCM.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: I think of all the media, Mr. Chafe is probably the person who we see around here most often, regardless of whether it is early in the morning or late at night.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Is he?

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go any farther, I say to the hon. gentleman. I do want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a good summer, and to say to the Opposition House Leader that it has been a privilege working with him, in spite of his comments yesterday in The Telegram. I want to say to him that I was tempted to go a little farther, but no. We have had a very good, productive session and a very good cooperative session.

I would also like to say the same thing to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and to wish that Party as well the best that the summer has to offer. I wish them a safe summer and a return early in the fall to a very good legislative and very good productive session in the fall.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly, I too would like to wish all members of the House, the members in government, and as well on this side of the House, a safe and happy holiday during the summer. We will be looking forward to sitting by our telephones for a call right after Labour Day weekend to get back here and do the people's business here that we are so eager to do.

I must say that my comments he made reference to, if we rolled back the clock to a former Opposition House Leader who sits across from me, I actually quoted him. There is only one difference: I really believed what I said. It is up to the other member to say whether he really believed what he said.

It has been, I must say, a productive session. Members here in the House have behaved in a professional manner and took government to task, as it is supposed to do, on the issues of the day, I must say. Government did do their best to try to defend those attacks, I might add, albeit unsuccessfully but... No, seriously, we wish everybody a good summer. Enjoy it. Get out around your districts and say hello to people you did not have a chance to see for the last three or four months.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: At last, Mr. Speaker, I do not have to ask leave for these sorts of things. I would be happy to also join with the Government House Leader in thanking, in particular, the staff of the House of Assembly.

I see we have some new visitors in the gallery, some young men and women who are coming to see the closing of the House. I will give them a chance to move in and sit down and say a few words. To those who are watching, this is the closing of the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: I have an audience, Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to take advantage of it.

To those who are watching, this is the closing of the House of Assembly now. We just had the Lieutenant-Governor in to sign legislation that has been passed in the House. They are constituents of the Member for Lewisporte, who no doubt will get up and say a few words when I sit down.

I want to welcome you all to the House of Assembly and say that we are about to close. We are in the process of thanking the staff of the House of Assembly and all of the people who make it possible for us to operate in the people's Legislature. I also would like to wish all members of the House a safe and worthwhile summer, and in all summer endeavours, in terms of your constituency and your activities.

After what we heard this morning and in the last day or so, I would not be surprised if we are back here some time this summer to pass some special legislation. It would not surprise me if we were. I look forward to being back, as the minister said, early in the fall, shortly after the Labour Day weekend I would think, to hear all this legislation we have been promised for many months. In the meantime, I hope all members have a safe, useful and productive summer period, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today thirty-eight Grade VI students from Greenwood Academy in the District of Lewisporte. They are accompanied by their teacher, Ms Kane.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With the concurrence of my colleagues I would just like to take a moment or so to welcome the students from Greenwood Academy and to say that you arrived in the nick of time. You almost never got here. I have been searching around, looking in the galleries ever since about 9:10 this morning, wondering if you were going to make it in time, because this is the last day of the spring session of the Legislature. You will be the last group of students that will have an opportunity to see us in this place until some time in the fall. I want to say that I am delighted you arrived in time. I welcome you here to the people's House. Enjoy your visit to the capital city, and I will see you back in the constituency in a week or so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the Government House Leader, the Chair would just want to join with the members who have already spoken and to wish all members of the House of Assembly a very pleasant and enjoyable summer. I look forward to seeing you all again this fall.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that when this House adjourns today it stands adjourned until the call of the Chair. The Speaker, or in his absence from the Province the Deputy Speaker, may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time and date stated by the notice of the proposed sitting. I also move that this House now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until the call of the Chair.