November 18, 1999 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 34


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

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

During this week, Addiction Awareness Week, I am pleased to inform hon. members that government has moved ahead on initiatives aimed at reducing or stopping people of all ages from smoking tobacco. We are concerned for the health of those people who are currently smoking, and for those who might decide to smoke in the future. The dangers are evident when we look at the number of people being diagnosed with heart and lung illnesses.

On January 28, Premier Tobin and I announced the establishment of the Provincial Tobacco Reduction Coalition, now called the Alliance for the Control of Tobacco. The Alliance has been working on a tobacco strategy for the Province. I am pleased to report that during this session of the House of Assembly, the strategy, targeted at all age groups, will be unveiled.

Mr. Speaker, as a result of a consultation with various stakeholders, in May of this year I introduced legislation to amend the Tobacco Control Act regarding licensing of wholesale and retail vendors of tobacco products. With the new amendment, all tobacco vendors are required to have a license to sell tobacco. The Tobacco Control Act prohibits vendors from selling or giving tobacco to those under the age of nineteen.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell hon. members that the department is moving ahead with another initiative focused specifically on youth tobacco strategies. This morning, at Holy Cross Junior High School here in St. John’s, I announced the formation of a Teen Tobacco Team. I believe it is very important to discuss tobacco issues directly with our young people if we are going to develop effective strategies for dealing with smoking amongst our youth.

I will work with the Teen Tobacco Team on issues relating to tobacco use by all teenagers around the Province. Mr. Speaker, we know that smoking kills more people than traffic accidents, AIDS, suicides and murder combined. The next best way to prevent smoking deaths is to keep people, especially our youth, from starting smoking. Our Teen Tobacco Team will assist in the development of policies, programs and services as well as public education initiatives, and they will ensure that the work to reduce youth smoking will remain focused, realistic and effective. Ten youth between the ages of thirteen and eighteen will be chosen from all six health care regions within our Province. I would like to thank the many community organizations who are currently assisting us in choosing the team members.

Members of the Teen Tobacco Team will be announced in the next few weeks. The goal for the team is to work with me and my department officials to provide input and consultation in developing Youth Tobacco Strategies for the Province. The work will be done in consultation with the Alliance, and will fit in with the Provincial Tobacco Strategy.

Every year, smoking kills nearly 1,000 people in this Province alone. Our children are smoking as early as eleven years of age. Over 50 per cent of Level III students say that they smoke at least some cigarettes during the year. The statistics speak for themselves. I look forward to working the Teen Tobacco Team to learn the best way to approach this issue with our young people of the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We certainly applaud the initiative to set up a Teen Tobacco Team here in the Province. We supported the Tobacco Control Act when the legislation was introduced. I was a very loud proponent of the initiative, and I have spoken many times.

In high school, as a teacher, I addressed, actually in my area, working to keep smoking down in young people. The question I asked - we should have started even earlier with young people because they are the people we have to influence. They are the people who are probably subject to forming opinions at an early age, and it is difficult to break those particular habits.

We certainly are delighted to see it finally under way, and we certainly hope it will be a success. If there is a role that the Opposition in any way can play in helping to promote discouraging people from taking up a very bad habit, a very addictive habit that is injurious to their health, that has caused severe hardships in families and immense cost to our health care system, we certainly applaud that, and I congratulate the minister on getting it moving.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for an advanced copy of her statement and commend her on this initiative.

We need to involve our youth in any campaign that is targeted at cutting the use of tobacco. To ban tobacco products alone will not be successful. We had a meeting here a short time ago with a group of people from Ontario who work in the tobacco industry. There have to be things put in place for them, even as workers, when tobacco eventually will not be used in society, but to ban products is not enough. Education is the key, and I think it is steps like this that will go a long way to reduce and hopefully eliminate smoking among young people.

Hopefully young people will be able to convince us, as adults even, about the harmful effects of smoking and the dangers that evolve from that.

I would like to thank the minister for this initiative.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. COLLINS: I think it will go a long way to helping the young people of this Province to stop smoking, or not start in the beginning.

Thank you.

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand before my colleagues to announce that government is bringing in legislation effectively prohibiting bulk water removal from Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LANGDON: The legislation will impose a permanent ban on bulk water removal from this Province and effectively stops the Gisborne Lake and any other bulk water removal project from proceeding in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has asked all provinces and territories to support a permanent ban on bulk water removal. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador agreed to this request and we will now meet our commitment to the federal government with this new legislation.

We are taking this step now because it appears that a national consensus is emerging in opposition to bulk water removal. This consensus is widely supported in this Province, as demonstrated in the recent public debate.

Government recognizes the need to consider an appropriate royalty regime for bottled water, and the importance of consulting with all affected industries prior to introducing such measures. To carry this out, a Ministerial Committee will be formed to review the appropriateness of applying royalties to bottled water. In addition, the committee will be tasked with considering the need for royalties for other water uses. This committee will report back to government within 90 days.

Mr. Speaker, until such time as there has been a full review of this issue, government will not be imposing royalties on affected industries. However, the Bill does contain provisions which enable royalties to be established by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council through regulation.

Let me state here today, Mr. Speaker, the very firm position of this government with respect to our freshwater resources. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to manage our water resources in a sustainable manner and will ensure that this resource is developed to the maximum benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to note the extraordinary circumstance of half of the members opposite giving a standing ovation to the Minister of Environment, the hon. Oliver Langdon; but some of the credit, too, goes to the member opposite who has also worked hard on this issue.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

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

 

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

This is welcomed legislation, I say to the minister opposite, Mr. Speaker. I say that if consultation had taken place three years ago, this issue could have been resolved a long time ago.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I am glad to see that the minister has been brought up to date on the serious implications of international trade. We are going to review this legislation. We welcome the legislation and we hope that the legislation meets the requirements that the people of this Province are demanding. This is a very important resource. We have to demand that we get maximum benefit from this resource, maximum jobs, maximum royalties, maximum spinoff.

Mr. Speaker, this is good news for the people of Grand Le Pierre, because if we can get a bottling plant in Grand Le Pierre they will be much better served than they would be through the bulk exportation of water.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We certainly welcome the tabling of this legislation that we called for in September of this year. I am pleased that the government has come on strongly on this issue. I look forward to discussions about the appropriate royalty regime, and I would ask -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. HARRIS: We have only one province in this country with a royalty regime, Mr. Speaker, and that is British Columbia. I look forward to some public discussion about the nature of the royalty regime before one is put in place, as an example of how we should do royalties -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. HARRIS: - not only on water or on oil, but for minerals in this Province as well.

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I would like to update Members of the House of Assembly on the status of underground fuel storage tanks located throughout the Province.

On September 17, leaks were discovered at the underground fuel tank in St. Bride’s. A total of 5,600 litres of diesel fuel leaked from the tank at that time.

Since the spill in St. Bride’s occurred, I have instructed workers in my department to take daily measurements of the tanks and to submit the results to me every Friday. I am pleased to announce that the reports submitted to me so far indicate that no additional leaks have been found.

There are currently eighty-seven underground tanks in Newfoundland and Labrador, all located on the island portion of the Province. The department has issued an order that none of the gas tanks are to be refilled, and our intention is to minimize the number of government-owned fuel sources and maximize use of commercial sources where available. Where no commercial operator is available, we intend to replace underground tanks with above ground tanks as soon as possible.

Already, there are standing offers put in place over the last couple of weeks for approximately thirty-nine tanks, at twenty different depots, that have access to commercial operators who will provide the service. It is estimated that the fuel and gasoline presently located in these tanks will be depleted in one to six months. This estimate may be reduced if there is an increase in fuel consumption, which usually occurs when we increase operation of winter equipment.

For the remaining forty-eight underground tanks, the same steps will be taken to find commercial operators to provide the service. If there are no commercial operators available, we will install above ground tanks early in the new year.

The Department of Works, Services and Transportation is taking corrective action to rectify the situation and to prevent other leaks from occurring.

My department’s plans have been discussed with the Departments of Environment and Labour and Government Services and Lands and they have been made aware of actions to resolve this issue.

Within the next week, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation will notify all other departments within government which use the tanks to make alternate arrangements.

I look forward to updating members on our progress.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

First of all, I just received the statement, so I am reading through it now, but I do understand that there is all kinds of steps put in place now. That it is something serious for this Province when we talk about oil spills and so on with the environment.

The real question has to be asked, what is in place now? What would we do if there was a private gas operator and what would be the fine to those people? Are those things going to hold the same for the department now? Are there going to be fines? Where is the responsibility going to lie with what has happened in St. Bride’s and so on?

Those are the questions that have to be asked. Who would be knocking on whose door today if that was a private operator and we had a spill in somebody’s own backyard? There is negligence there. The question has to be asked to the department and we look forward to some answers on those.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For the minister to have to have personal weekly reports on the amount and number of gallons of fuel in a tank in order to manage his department speaks to the total inadequacy of procedures in his department to prevent this kind of spill from happening in the first place. This ought not to be an excuse to close down tanks and go to private operators. This ought to be reason to have proper procedures in place to look after the government’s responsibility to protect the environment and carry out its operations. Not to abandon the field, but rather to replace inadequate procedures with proper ones to look after the environment and to look after the minister’s responsibility.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of hon. members today that this week is Crafts Week in Newfoundland and Labrador. This week is being celebrated around the Province with a series of events, including craft fairs in Corner Brook and here in St. John’s.

The craft industry is an important part of our small-manufacturing sector. Craft production employs more than 2,000 people and contributes $25 million a year to the provincial economy. So I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the important contribution that the small business people who produce crafts make to our economy, particularly in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I had the pleasure this morning of attending the opening of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador’s 26th annual craft fair at St. John’s Memorial Stadium. I would hope that hon. members can find some time over the next few days - this weekend, as a matter of fact - to attend the fair. To help them, my department has purchased a number of tickets which we will be providing to them. I hope they take advantage, get in the Christmas spirit and buy some beautiful Christmas gifts.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. SHELLEY: No, Mr. Speaker, I will say that is two statements today and I do not have a copy of that one either. Anyway, it is easy to respond to that because it is good news. It is something -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: I will check. Maybe it is at the office, but I left early.

I say to the minister, it is good news. It is something that we certainly do support. It is a very important part of the industry, as we go around this entire Province. It is very unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, the crafts that are produced in this Province. We certainly do support it, and I commend the minister.

Thank you.

 

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

 

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think it is important to recognize as well the contribution that the craft industry makes to our Province. A lot of the time they become overshadowed by the big, major developments that are going on and they get overlooked in many instances. I think it is important to recognize that in the small towns and communities across this Province the contribution they make is quite significant, when you look around and see all the things that are happening within the craft industry.

Thank you.

 

Oral Questions

 

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: I want to ask the minister if she was aware, or had been informed, that the environment minister had in his possession a report showing that at least forty-nine municipalities in this Province had water so toxic that it exceeded acceptable Canada Health levels of chemicals that cause, I might add, cancer - it has been proven - and birth defects.

These people, Minister, were essentially drinking poison and harming their health. Surely there is something that you should be aware of, Minister, because you are responsible for the health of these people in these municipalities.

I want to ask the minister: Minister, were you told of this report?

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That question is totally irresponsible, and the member opposite knows it, because these particular THM reports that were gathered for the communities have been sent back to them. Every council in every one of those communities, 190 of them, have these reports that were paid for by them, distributed to them.

To suggest that I, as minister, or the department, have been ordering these is completely false. It is the same type of alarmist situation that was done, as I said yesterday, in Westport. It is the same thing. You just get people riled over nothing at all. That is the situation that you have.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to ask the Minister of Health and Community Services, who is responsible for the health of people in this Province, if she was aware of the report that was in the possession of the Minister of Environment, that there were at least forty-nine municipalities here in this Province that were drinking water that could have caused cancer and numerous birth defects.

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

As I indicated in the House yesterday, and indicated to the press at that particular time, we are now drafting a letter; the letter has already been drafted. I am getting the names of all of the municipalities that have been tested, and the letter will be sent directly to the particular municipality asking if I can release the information here.

The thing is that the communities already have it. The media asked me if I would do that, and I took it upon myself to do it. I am contacting the municipalities, but the municipality of Gander and every other community would have that information so it is old news.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Based on the potential health hazard of drinking this water - and it has been scientifically proven that it causes cancer, in scientific studies - did you inform the Minister of Health that there were potential health hazards in reports that you had access to in your department?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if the person doesn’t want to hear or if he has tunnel vision, or he does not want to listen to anybody’s question or answer other than what he gives himself. He has a habit of doing that in the House; he doesn’t want to listen to anyone other than himself.

What I said yesterday, I will say again. These reports are in the hands of the councils. The councils are elected by the people. They are reputable people, and I am sure they have the ability to disseminate that information to the people they represent.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Minister of Health and Community Services: Isn’t it a fact that had you been informed of the health risks to people in those forty-nine communities in our Province, your department could have advised the public in those communities what they could have done to protect themselves, whether it is filtering, whether it is boil water orders, whatever the case may be?

Minister, nobody told the people in those communities that were receiving it. I ask you, the minister: Did these people in the communities know, either from you, as the Minister of Health... I ask you again: Were you aware? If you were, did you take any steps to inform people in the communities?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, these particular results, as I said, have been given to the municipalities. It has been done over a number of years. They are being tested every three months - collected. Our people will help the communities disseminate and go through the information. That is why we want to get the permission of the councils, so we can get this particular material out.

What I want to say to the hon. member opposite as well is that this is not a Newfoundland problem alone. This is a Canadian problem. This is also a North American problem. There is a committee in place across the country, and a member from my department sits on that particular committee now.

The impression that you are giving to the people is that they should not chlorinate. The Department of Health will tell you, it is better to chlorinate than not to chlorinate.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader. This is a final supplementary the Chair has already called, because other members have been standing.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader. I will give you one more supplementary.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: I will be very brief, Mr. Speaker.

I am asking the Minister of Environment, in light of the fact that he had reports in his hands of potential health hazards, proven, scientifically documented - THMs; they cause cancer, it has been proven scientifically - did you inform the Minister of Health of this potential health hazard, yes or no? That is all I want to know.

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, I have already told the member opposite that these reports are in the hands of the municipalities. They have known the results a dozen times. You are pressing the panic button - that is what you are doing - and trying to disseminate that I have had material that I have not given out. The towns have the material, and they get it four times a year.

 

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

 

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

My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I want to know if you knew about the report in the possession of your colleague, the environment minister, showing there are at least forty-nine municipalities in the Province of water so toxic that it exceeded acceptable Health Canada levels of chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects.

The Premier says he was not told in Cabinet. I am asking you, Minister, were you told as the minister responsible for financing municipal water projects?

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would assume that when the hon. member was the Mayor of Logy Bay-Outer Cove-Middle Cove, or whatever that particular community was, that they did the testing and had results, too, if you have water in the municipality.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. LANGDON: Did you? I am sure the other member did as well.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is a good thing the Minister of Environment is not the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs because he would know the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove is not on a water supply system.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Artesian wells, surface wells.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the municipalities in this Province operate under provincial legislation. Yesterday, the environment minister tried to sidestep and wash his hands of responsibility for water supplied contamination in forty-nine communities by saying it is a municipal issue and he had to get permission from the towns to release the information. That, Sir, is a cop out!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Isn’t it your department that is ultimately responsible for the Province’s municipalities? Shouldn’t you have made sure, Minister, that the citizens of these municipalities fully understood the risk and fully understood what they could do to protect themselves with respect to the water supplies in this Province?

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the hon. member opposite that I did not say yesterday that I did not release the information. The media wanted the information, not the municipalities. The information on the THMs that have been collected for the towns have been given back to them, have been disseminated to them, and have been paid to them by the town. Whether you want to believe it or don’t want to, that is the information that I gave.

I also want to say to you, you talk about the Mayor of Clarenville, Fred Best, who was a community leader and worked with the federation, and Claude Elliott in Gander. You are saying that those people and the people who have been elected in that particular town by the residents, by the constituents, that you have no faith in them to disseminate material, and if there is a problem they cannot relate it to their people? They already have the information. That is why we are working with the Town of Gander to establish a pilot project, and that is why we work with the Town of Clarenville to help them. That is why we work with Botwood for beaver fever. That is why we work with Musgrave Harbour, to do their water supply. We are being proactive all the time.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

What we are saying here today, or what I am saying, is that you and your department, Sir, are using the municipalities in this Province to deflect your responsibility, the same as you do with the school boards and the health boards in this Province.

I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs again, isn’t it his responsibility to see that the municipalities and the people in those municipalities, because of provincial legislation, that it is you, Sir, who is responsible for informing the people of this Province with respect to any health issues in those municipalities - ultimately you?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very plain to anybody who is paying any attention to what is happening, that we have members of the Opposition taking an issue which has been a matter associated with the use of chlorine in water in Newfoundland and Labrador and in nine other provinces of Canada. Because it is a matter that is raised in association with the use of chlorine in water, the national government has established a national committee - of which Newfoundland and Labrador is a member - to try and deal with it.

These reports and this analysis has been done for years. The information that arises out of it is given back to communities over the years. That is done in Newfoundland. That is done elsewhere across Canada. I read a report in one of the papers this morning where one council said that they lowered the amount of chlorine being used. It dramatically reduced levels. In their case it provided a solution. Others are looking at other pilot projects.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what the Opposition are doing here today, in a very irresponsible fashion - the same kind of alarmist talk we heard yesterday from the Member for St. John’s East who has quite wisely decided to stay in his seat today - what they are doing today is trying to suggest that somehow there is a huge public health issue, and I guess they are suggesting that chlorine should not be used and that whatever risks are associated with the lack of chlorine are preferable to whatever risk is associated with the use of chlorine.

Mr. Speaker, all I can say to the Opposition, after six months of thinking about it, is you would think they would bring more pressing and real issues to the floor of the House of Assembly.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Let me get this clear, in the Premier’s words, so we can all understand. What you are saying here is that the people will have to make up their mind in the Province which poison is best. Is that what you are saying?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that the real poison that is flowing today is across the floor of the House of Assembly with irresponsible questions designed to alarm people in an unrealistic fashion.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: That is the poison we are seeing around here today.

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: The reality here, Mr. Speaker, is that the Minister of Environment and Labour hid a damning report from the media, from his own ministers -

 

MR. MANNING: Cover up!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: - from the general public. The Premier himself has just said that this is a public health issue. This information should have been given to the general public so they could have made an informed decision.

I ask the minister: Why is it that you did not share this information at the Cabinet table as the Premier yesterday had admitted to?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the level of questions from the Opposition reveal a level of desperation and lack of preparation for a serious discussion in Question Period. It really does.

The fact of the matter is this testing of water, in which chlorine is used, is routine. This problem, although it is a serious problem, is not new to the Province. It has been dealt with for some years and is being dealt with all across Canada, so much so that there is a national committee in place.

The testing results are routinely given to town councils. That happens in Newfoundland, it happen in other provinces of Canada, and there is no declaration by Health Canada or any other national or provincial agency which would warrant a general call for everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador to either stop using water or to cease using chlorine. In fact yesterday I had in my hand, which I read in the House, from Health Canada’s website, a declaration that the risk of using chlorine is outweighed by the benefits of using chlorine in the water system.

I say to the members opposite that this is pathetically transparent, this attempt to cause alarm needlessly in many communities all across Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John’s South.

 

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

The Health Canada officials said that this is the type of information they would not hide from the public. A matter of routine should be informing the general public of this type of activity. Not even the members of the House were aware of this.

I ask the minister again: Why did you withhold this information when the general public could have made alternate arrangements for at least their drinking water in this Province? Why did you withhold this information from the members of the House of Assembly and from the general public on this very important health issue?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this dire message is brought to us by the same rocket scientist on the other side of the House who went down to Westport and tried to convince people that their entire ecosystem was poisoned.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: There were tens of thousands of dollars spent to prove it was nothing but another phony declaration. You should be ashamed of yourself because you are doing it again today.

 

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

 

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I ask the minister today: Will you table a copy of the government’s agreement with Friede Goldman, the agreement that sets job targets the company is not likely to meet and penalties the government seems reluctant to impose? Will you table a copy of that contract today in the House?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, the penalty contract does not need to be tabled. We have been talking about this for years. One point two million person hours is the contract. It is correct that maybe this year it will not be met. Last year was a record year. If there is any other information you would like about the penalty contract, that is all there is to know.

 

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

 

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I also say to the minister that when Friede Goldman were here selling the people of Marystown their proposal to take over the Shipyard and the Cow Head facilities, they told the workers and the people of Marystown that Friede Goldman had enough work on their books to keep the Shipyard and Cow Head going for the next ten years. I ask the minister today, where is the work?

 

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

 

MS KELLY: Here we go again, I guess, with these hypothetical speculative questions. May I give you some information?

Last year, we all know, was a record year. This year, in spite of what we are hearing, there is a seventeen-year record. This year this company will have on its books its third or fourth best year. We will not know exactly until the end of the year. In spite of a worldwide slump in the shipbuilding industry, Marystown Shipyard has produced more work than any shipyard, I dare to say in all of Canada, but I know in Atlantic Canada, compared to the others.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS KELLY: This has been a very good year. You have to realize that in spite of the fact that there was the global slump there has also been a very big decrease in oil prices until recently, but just over this past few weeks there has been quite a bit of work go into that yard. The very first submarine went into that dock several weeks ago. Last week, the Henry Goodrich arrived to be refitted. There have been thirty vessels this year from the Coast Guard and others. This is an exemplary record for an industry that is in a slump.

 

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

 

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister that I was in Marystown yesterday. I saw the anguish on the faces of workers. I watched the signs from one gentlemen who was a thirty-two year worker at the Marystown Shipyard who today is now classified as a casual worker. I say to the minister, go down and tell the people what you just told us and the people of this Province here in the House.

I say to you again, Freide Goldman must have sold the same bill of goods to this government, otherwise why would you give them $100 million facility debt free for one dollar? Isn’t it time you told this company the time has come for them to account for the promises they made to government and to the people of this Province? I now -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. FRENCH: If we cannot get what they promised us, we would be better off closing her down!

Minister, I now ask you today, isn’t it time that you told them to deliver on their promises to the government -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question. He is on a supplementary.

 

MR. FRENCH: - or take back the Shipyard at Marystown and the fabrication facility at Cow Head?

 

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

 

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I find some of these comments absolutely incredible. Just ten days ago, I was in Marystown and did a tour of the Shipyard.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MS KELLY: I will be down there on Monday. We will be down there on Monday signing a new contract. This company has been responsible.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, some of the work that has been done down there this past year is a very long list of work, but, you know, the work that I do is proactive, it is not negative like you have just been doing.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS KELLY: We talk about expansion in this area. I have been to Aberdeen with Friede Goldman looking for new work. I have worked with them on the first submarine contract they ever had. I worked with them to make sure the Henry Goodrich came to this yard. Besides all of that, this list is very long but would you like me to read it out?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MS KELLY: An oil rig, first off; fabrication of fourteen steel jackets for phase two of Whiffin Head -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

The hon. Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

 

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Minister of Education. At a recent council for exceptional children held at St. John’s last weekend, Dr. Patricia Canning, author of the 1996 review of special education report, told delegates that your department has ignored almost all the recommendations of that report three years ago regarding effective delivery of special services. Why, Minister, is this report simply collecting dust?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame!

 

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

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we take our responsibility to children with special needs very seriously as a government, just as we take responsibility for all of the children in this Province.

I cannot confirm what Dr. Canning said but I can tell you that we certainly have acted on the Patricia Canning report. In fact, my predecessor, the hon. Minister Grimes, was responsible for ensuring that a great deal of that report was put into play.

Let me just give you an example of how responsible this government is when it comes to special needs for our children in this Province. If you look at our expenditures in the four Atlantic Provinces, Newfoundland spends more for our children with special needs than either of the four Atlantic Provinces.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS FOOTE: To give you one example alone, if you look at our expenditure on children with special needs and the special needs student herself or himself, Nova Scotia spends $2,800, Newfoundland spends $4,200.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, $4,200 per special needs student in this Province. So for Dr. Canning or anyone else to suggest that we do not take our responsibility seriously, they are out to lunch.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

 

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, again I take exception to the remarks from the minister. Regardless of the amount of money that you are spending, you are not spending enough. Again, I ask you: Why won’t you spend enough money to make sure that the services are certainly taken care of?

 

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

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, that is an amazing quote from the member opposite, that regardless of how much money we are spending we are not spending enough. Clearly, there is no way that we can ever spend enough money in this area. I would love to find out where we are going to get the additional resources, because if you look at our K-12 budget, right now over 14 per cent of that budget is spent for our children with special needs. We take our responsibility very seriously here. We realize how vulnerable these children are. This is why we spend so much money on children with special needs. Will we ever be able to meet all of the needs? I doubt it, Mr. Speaker, just as we will always have needs in some other sector of society, but we work very hard with the resources that we have, always trying to ensure we have additional resources to put into our education system, especially for our students with special needs.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

 

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Madam Minister, the special needs programs in our schools today are in crisis. The teachers are certainly over-stressed, our students are under served, our parents are desperate. Minister, you have a problem on your hands, no matter what you say about how are you going to deal with it. I am asking you: What are you going to do now to address this very serious concern in our schools even as I speak? Now!

 

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

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we are spending $700 million on our education system in this Province. That is no small change. That is a lot of money to be spending in a province where we are seeing a severe decline in our student population. In fact, back in the 1970s we had 162,000 students in our population. We now have, in school, 93,500 students. Ten years out we will have less than 60,000 students. We have not seen any reduction in the amount of money going into the education system.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, when we look at a 30 per cent reduction in the number of students in our population we have only seen a 10 per cent reduction in the number of teachers that have come out of the system. That has been a deliberate move by this government not to reduce the number of teachers comparable to the reduction in the number of students in our student population.

We continue to put more money back into the system, we continue to reinvest. The member opposite knows we put $125 million back in for new structures, for clean air, for whatever was required in the system to ensure that our students have clean, safe learning environments. We put back additional teaching units. We are putting more money back into the system, irregardless of the decline in the student enrolment.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude her answer.

 

MS FOOTE: We are very responsible when it comes to educating the students in this Province.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

I have time for one question today, to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Again it is the time of year, of course, with the weather upon us and so on, on the highways of Newfoundland and Labrador, that people make that transition from summer driving into winter driving. Of course it is the responsibility of government to make sure, to the best that we can, that our highways are safe, when we hear of fatalities and so on around the Province.

My first question, and probably my only question for today: Does the minister feel satisfied now, with his report back from depots, that they are already equipped and ready for this winter maintenance season?

 

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

 

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I say to the member, I am satisfied with the proceedings put in place by all the depots in the Province. In fact, usually the winter maintenance does not come in and start until December 1. We have all that moved up, ready some weeks ago. Also, the dispatching services throughout the Province will be totally implemented by Monday. We put Western Newfoundland in just Wednesday. We put Central Newfoundland in just yesterday or today, and Eastern Newfoundland will all have the 1-900 dispatching service in by Monday, so everything should be in place.

I will take this opportunity to say, in answer to the question - and it was a good question - by the hon. member, that this time of the year we always have many accidents taking place when there is a transition and so many fluctuations in the run of a day in temperatures around the Province, and people should be very, very careful. We had, the other day, an accident in Deer Lake. The plough went out about an hour-and-a-half or two hours before. The pavement was wet, the salt was down, the sand was out, but - take it easy. I have cautioned people in this transition to take it easy and slow down on the roads around the Province.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

 

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible), Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

 

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova, on a point of order.

 

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to rise on a point of order in relationship to a breach of a couple of the rules in Question Period today, and I thought this was the appropriate time to raise them.

I felt it an obligation to raise these points because it is an obligation of all members to follow the rules of the House, and this particular rule to which I refer today is Beauchesne, page 121, 409.(8). It says, "A question that has previously been answered ought not to be asked again."

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, the reason that rule is there, as are so many other rules regarding Question Period, and by Beauchesne, the guidebook that is followed right throughout Canadian jurisdictions, is one to expedite Question Period so that as many members as possible can have a chance to ask a question; and, secondly, to prevent badgering, harassment and debate, neither of which are permitted in Question Period.

Mr. Speaker, the corollary to that is this: page 123, Beauchesne, 416, subsections (1) and (2).

I don’t know whether hon. members want to know the rules or whether they just want to go on in ignorance. The corollary -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. LUSH: Maybe hon. members, if they listen, would learn something about the rules.

Another reason, Mr. Speaker -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. LUSH: Hon. members can badger all they like. This point of order is going to be made.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LUSH: This member has been around too long to be railroaded into sitting down.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good reason, what we are seeing today, why this House should be televised - a good reason why this House ought to be televised - so they could see the behavior, so the people of this Province could see how members do not want to know the rules of this House and they want to turn it into a bear pit.

Mr. Speaker, the corollary to that particular rule that I read, that a question ought not to be asked a second time, is this: 416.(1) "A Minister may decline to answer a question without stating the reason for refusing, and insistence on an answer is out of order, with no debate being allowed. A refusal to answer cannot be raised as a question of privilege, nor is it regular to comment upon such a refusal. A Member may put a question but has no right to insist upon an answer."

I raise these issues, Mr. Speaker, so that Question Period can be run smoothly, the way it is supposed to be run, in the interest of the people of this Province.

Thank you very much.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member for Terra Nova did make reference to the fact that a question that has been previously answered ought not to be asked again. It did not say that a question that has previously been asked ought not to be asked again. If you interpret it, it says answered, not asked, I might add, and you can look at the corollary. I know the minister doesn’t have to answer a question. That is why I asked another minister: Did he tell her?

 

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked the minister, was she informed by the Minister of Environment? She did not answer, so I asked the Minister of Environment, did he tell her? He did not answer, so I still did not get an answer. Maybe it is a question I might ask again.

I consider it a responsibility, on matters pertaining to health, to ask the Minister of Health, and she refuses to answer. I asked a different question to the Minister of Environment to see if he told her about those levels.

Mr. Speaker, the point he is making is certainly valid here in this regard but it is not the wording, the interpretation. Do you want me to apologize for asking the Minister of Health, was she told her responsibilities under the department?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to -

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, I would be delighted to apologize, but it does not say a question that was asked. It said a question that was answered, and that was not answered.

 

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

 

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to speak to the point of order raised by the Member for Terra Nova who, as all members know, is probably one of the longest-serving members of the House, having served in the Speaker’s Chair as well.

His comments about Question Period, I think, are well taken. Question Period has come to the point in this House where it is haphazard and I think it is also lawless, Mr. Speaker. There has to be an opportunity - we have gotten to the point where people are raising points of order during Question Period in order to get a few more digs in at the other side, and this happens on both sides of the House. We have sixteen people here in the Opposition. There are two many supplementaries being asked and we have to have, I think, more -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to make his point quickly.

 

MR. HARRIS: I am speaking to the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Make your point quickly, please.

 

MR. HARRIS: Te point is, Mr. Speaker, is that there ought to be some rules governing the operation of Question Period so as to allow people to have an opportunity to ask questions, to participate, and to get questions answered.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will review the comments and the points raised by hon. members, will take it under advisement and report back to the House.

 

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

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

 

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the Report of Public Tender Act Exemptions for March, 1999.

 

Petitions

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

 

 

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

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition today on the bulk export of water.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I see the Premier laughing. Mr. Speaker, this is no laughing matter.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I am going to present them.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Day after day after day.

 

MR. MANNING: Just like a bad drip in your tap. That is the way we are going to do it.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I perused the legislation quickly and there are a couple of points on the petition that were not addressed in the legislation. So I think the petition is still very pertinent in this House.

With water being one of the few resources remaining where we have the opportunity to deliver maximum benefits through jobs, spinoff, secondary processing as well as royalties, we demand that any water sold must be bottled and processed in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, as the prayer of the petition says, we must demand that we get our full and fair share from this resource. That is true, and that is the whole intent of this petition, to ensure that not only is the water bottled in this Province but that we ensure we get a fair royalty on it. That is covered under the legislation, but what is not in the legislation - we would like to see it perhaps go even further. We would like to ensure that there is an opportunity there to manufacture the bottles, to put the labels on the bottles and the packaging for the bottles as well. If we are going to talk about getting our full and fair share from our resources, we should drive that point all the way home, not half the way.

This is an important issue. It is an issue that has caught the attention of the people of this Province, and most of the people in this Province agree with the fact that we have to get maximum benefit from this resource, that we have to ensure that the maximum number of jobs that can be attained from this resource are attained.

That is what this is about. That is the reason this debate has gotten so heated throughout the past number of months. It has gotten heated because we have a large number of people unemployed in this Province. We have a large number of people on social benefits. We have a very high dependency on food banks and the like in this Province. We have to ensure that we start to manage our resources in a manner that will give the maximum benefit, the maximum spinoff, to the people of this Province. As one of the wealthiest provinces resource-wise in Canada, we have done a dismal job to date of ensuring that the people of this Province, the owners of the resources, derive the maximum benefits. That is what we have to start doing.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to this petition which the member has just presented. May I say it is a little bit unusual to have a petition calling upon the House and the Legislature to ensure - and I am very happy to see the words because they are words, I think, that I have used on more than one occasion - that full and fair benefits accrue to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador from the use of our own water, and that that be accomplished by ensuring a regime for bottled water.

That is exactly what the government announced today we are going to do. We have put in place a ban on the export of bulk water, and we have put in place a ministerial committee which will consult with the industry over the next ninety days to put in place a royalty regime. The member knows that.

The member also knows that in all of Canada only one province collects royalties on bottled water. That is the Province of British Columba. In the Province of British Columbia there are forty bottlers, as of last year, and those forty bottlers who are exporting all over the world resulted in a grand total of twenty -

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John’s South.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, this legislation has not been passed in the House yet nor does it define a royalty regime, but when it does I will be happy to have the Premier lecture me.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the member attended a press conference outside the House with myself and the Minister of Environment, he sat in the room, he heard all of these explanations, he knows the legislation is now before the House, and unless he and his party hold it up we are prepared to pass it right now. We are prepared to seek unanimous consent to pass the legislation right now!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: We will put that question to the Opposition in just a moment because it is an urgent matter that should not be delayed.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, there are forty bottlers in the Province of British Columbia. They export water all over the world in quite substantial volumes. The grand total of the royalties in that province is $28,000, from forty bottlers. There are two other provinces with a royalty regime. They do not collect it. No other province has a royalty regime.

If the member opposite is trying to convey the impression that there is a lot of money to be collected from these bottling companies, or that we are going to prescribe how they manufacture their bottles, how they are going to be labeled, where the label is printed, and that we are going to impose a massive royalty regime, what the member opposite is proposing is closing down the bottling industry of Newfoundland and Labrador. What we want to do, on this side, is build it up, create jobs in many places in Newfoundland and Labrador, and especially in Grand le Pierre. The member opposite, if he is really serious, will prevail upon his House Leader to take now my request, formally given, to suspend the rules of the House, or the ordinary procedure of the House at this time, and to grant unanimous consent to put the vote right now on this legislation banning bulk water exports.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: The Premier has just put a request to the Opposition to put aside the ordinary rules of the House, the ordinary procedure of the House, to deal with what the hon. Member for St. John’s South sees as an emergency, to get it done, to pass the legislation now, to get the committee on the road. He has asked for leave to do that. I wonder if the Opposition House Leader is going to do it right now.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We don’t have any problems with endorsing resolutions banning the export of water, but a bill has just been circulated in this House in the last few minutes. We were just given the bill in the last few minutes. We will do what we can to expedite and move legislation we have been calling for, but we are not going to do it today when we just got the bill in our hand a few minutes ago.

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: The truth of the matter is the hon. gentleman knows what the principle of the bill is. It is second reading. Let’s put it now. I think the NDP will indicate that they will pass second reading on this bill today and get it done. Will the hon. gentleman stand up and do the same thing?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: In response to a request from the Government House Leader.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, to the point of order that the hon. member has raised.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: I would say to the Government House Leader, as I said, we are very eager to expedite things but it would be irresponsible to pass a bill without reading a bill which has just been passed out in the House this afternoon. It would be irresponsible to do it. I did not read it. I would like to read the bills, as Opposition House Leader, to look at it too, which I do. I haven’t had sufficient time.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the answer is that until we have a chance to read the bill we are not prepared to debate it in the House. It has not even gone through reading stage.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) read the bill (inaudible)!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Speaking to the point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

 

MR. HARRIS: To the point of order, and the request made by the Premier and formally made by the Government House Leader. The principle of this legislation is obviously one that we have called for for some time. We asked in September in a press statement to bring in legislation to ban the bulk export of water. I certainly have no difficulty supporting approval in principle of this bill in this House today.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. HARRIS: I have read the legislation and it does effectively bring in a ban to export bulk water. The principle I do not think is something we need to debate any further. Obviously, on the detail of the bill, a detailed study, clause by clause, Committee, we need time. If there are defects in the bill that need to be strengthened I think that we are prepared to debate them at length, and give us time to next week go into the clause by clause study. I do not see a problem giving this bill second reading today.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s.

 

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say a few words on the petition put forward by -

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier on a point of order.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, point of order. I want to prevail upon the Opposition House Leader. He is an experienced parliamentarian who knows there is an opportunity, through clause by clause, to examine the bill in great detail, offer up whatever amendments are deemed appropriate by the Opposition, to send a clear and strong signal from this government for the first week that we sit - today is Thursday - to now move to the next stages of deliberation of this bill.

I would ask the member, who is quite experienced and knows that there is still room for clause by clause, to move now. We have the agreement of the NDP, the agreement of the government. Let us proceed. This is the expeditious thing to do and the right thing to do.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I have made it quite clear. If you want to call the bill tomorrow on second reading and deal with it, that is fine. The bill is not going to be passed today or tomorrow, naturally. It is only a political request. We will approve in principle basic things. We are not going to approve a bill without having read it. The critic said he just perused the bill. He quickly went through it, he has not read it. There may be things we might want that would guarantee better protections. We are not prepared unilaterally to do something without having read it. It is irresponsible and we are not going to do it. We will read the bill thoroughly and we are prepared to debate it tomorrow when we have read it.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me tell the hon. gentlemen what is being asked of him. We are being asked to debate the principle of the bill which bans the export of bulk water in this Province, which the NDP have agreed to, which we have heard from the Opposition for four or five months that they want to do.

I say to the hon. gentlemen that if there is some little comma not in place or some little word not in place, that is usually done in Committee. He knows that. We have also heard his critic say this evening that he has no problem with the principle of the bill. He might want to have it exported in square bottles as opposed to round, but he has no real problem with the principle of the bill. Let’s get this done. Let’s end the cry coming from the Opposition to ban bulk water. Let’s get it done! It is time to send a signal to the people of this Province that we are all as one when it comes to the principle of exporting bulk water. Let’s do it this afternoon.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: 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: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, yes, it is on a point of order.

It is my understanding that to do this in this House of Assembly today we need unanimous consent. Well, this man here is not going to give it, so it is over.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

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

The hon. gentlemen has now informed this House by withdrawing leave that he is not prepared today to pass a bill in principle banning the export of bulk water.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s.

 

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I finally get to have the opportunity to say a few words on the petition put forward by the Member for St. John’s South. I guess the reason why we are not prepared to jump when the government says jump is it comes down to trust. We have not had the opportunity to look through this bill. Looking at the record of this government we would have to study this in detail. The water debate that has happened in this Province over the past number of months has been a very important debate for every Newfoundlander. It started off very smoothly and then before we knew what happened the water debate in the Province had come to a full boil. Everybody in the Province got a part of that and the debate came to a full boil.

Then we had the Premier on one radio station steamed off while the Member for Bellevue was on the other radio station and had fizzled out. So it is important. `Sir Gisborne’ himself fizzled out, the Member for Bellevue. The Premier got steamed off on one radio station, the Member for Bellevue was fizzled out on the other, and therefore the water debate came to a screeching halt. That is why we have petitions coming forward here today.

Then in the House yesterday the Member for Bellevue took on a new honour. The Mayor of Grand Le Pierre was here and the member stood up in this House and said he had a very important meeting. He had to leave the House because he had a very important meeting to do with starting a bottling plant down in that man’s community. He left this House at 2:58 p.m. and came back here at 3:11 p.m. The `thirteen minute man,’ I’m going to call the Member for Bellevue now! An all important meeting he had with the Mayor of Grand Le Pierre yesterday about a water bottling plant took thirteen minutes from the time he left the House until he came back. He was thirteen minutes gone and he tells us about the all important meeting! That is not even enough time to boil the water!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. MANNING: It is not enough time to boil the water, and he is going to start a bottling plant in thirteen minutes. That is why we have petitions coming to the House of Assembly. That is why we have people contacting our offices with these petitions. Because they want to make sure that this piece of legislation is not fizzled out like the Member for Bellevue fizzled out. They want to make sure that this piece of legislation is long-lasting. They want to make sure that this piece of legislation protects the last major resource that we have in this Province. That is why the people of this Province are asking us to take our time. That is why the people of this Province are asking us to make sure that this legislation brings in the protection that we need on the last major resource we have in this Province.

Now I know that the `thirteen minute man’ is anxious to get on his feet. There you go, he is on his feet. It took two seconds for the thirteen minute man to get on his feet. I say, Mr. Speaker, (inaudible) -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Bellevue.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. BARRETT: No, we do not do that over here. That is a common practice over there.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible) do it in public, Percy. A sign in Marystown yesterday said: Where is Percy?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. BARRETT: The hon. Member for Waterford Valley, if he is talking about signs in Marystown saying where is the Member for Bellevue, well, I walk the track in Mount Pearl all the time and there is a sign saying: Harvey has gone.

I want to remind the hon. Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s that this hon. member can accomplish more in thirteen minutes than he has accomplished in his four years he has been in active politics.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

Orders of the Day

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

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we in the government today - and I ask for unanimous consent to do this - feel that today it is important enough to abide by what we want to do, to get this concern out of the way. I’m going to call Order 6, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide For The Conservation, Protection, Wise Use And Management Of The Water Resources Of The Province." (Bill 31)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide for the Conservation, Protection, Wise Use and Management of the Water Resources of the Province". (Bill 31)

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak to Bill 31, An Act To Provide For The Conservation, Protection, Wise Use And Management Of The Water Resources Of The Province. I do so with a great sense of sadness, in a sense, because we have had in the House today an expression of the understanding of the importance of setting aside partnership and partisanship and dealing in a constructive way with this bill.

We had a submission just a few minutes ago from the government that we set aside the normal rules of the House and deal with this bill today. When such a request was made, I have to acknowledge that the Leader of the NDP on behalf of his party stood and immediately agreed -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I agreed with the Government House Leader to allow Notice of Motion on first reading to one day to forego the rules of the House to give unanimous consent so we can have first readings done on bills so we can get bills circulated. Many of them were done yesterday, and granted then we had an opportunity to go through those bills.

Today we did not receive this bill until sometime after Question Period.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he went through it quickly, he told -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Let me finish, please.

After Question Period we received a bill. We did not have an opportunity to read it. I spoke to the Government House Leader who gave me a list of seven bills in the order they are going to be done today. This was not on the list. We did not have the bill today when the House started, and therefore it is unfair, I think, to try to expect us to move on this when I agreed to forego the normal procedures on several bills in this House so we could get them printed and circulated here so we could have a chance to read them.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, is he raising a point of order?

 

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Is he raising a point of order? Is the hon. member raising a point of order?

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the hon. gentleman on a number of occasions has said yes, we will go to first and second reading, but to say that you did not know about the bill? Your critic said in his seat, and said standing, that he was familiar with the bill, that he knew the principle of the bill. He was at the press conference today and he left. I say to the hon. gentleman that I asked him twenty minutes ago if he would take it and do what his own member wanted.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill 31, An Act To Provide For The Conservation, Protection, Wise Use And Management Of The Water Resources Of The Province. This is not, as the Leader of the NDP pointed out when he spoke, a very complex bill. It is literally about a page. That is about it, one page. It is a one page bill because it is not complicated and it has a -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will not tolerate continuous interruption like this. When a member is standing to speak, that member has a right to be heard in this House and members who are interrupting should not do it. The Chair will not continue to tolerate this kind of thing that has happened here the last few minutes.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this stage of the debate on Bill 31, an act to provide for a ban on the bulk removal of water from our Province, because government regards this matter as sufficiently important to want to proceed expeditiously with the bill. I choose to believe that all members of the House regard the question as sufficiently important as to want to proceed expeditiously with the bill. I take, as an act of good faith, the words of the Opposition House Leader that the bill can be dealt with during the course of this week. What we are dealing with today is one stage of the bill.

As I said a moment ago, it is not a large or complex bill. It is literally one page. It is one page. It is a few clauses. It is not meant to be large or complex because the purpose of the bill is to ban the removal, in bulk form, of water from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Let me go through the relevant sections. They can be gone through literally in two minutes. Under section 5 it states: "...water may be removed from the province where (a) the water is contained in containers of not more than 30 litres in volume." Thirty litres is a little larger than the water containers or the water tanks that you can find in most offices, water coolers.

Under section 5 (b) it states: "the water is being transported in a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft and is necessary for the operation of the motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or is intended for the use or consumption of persons in or on the motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft." In other words, you can have some bulk water for Air Canada, or for Marine Atlantic, or for a bus which is carrying passengers in and out of the -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understood the Government House Leader said the bill was circulated today. Myself and the Member for Windsor-Springdale do not have copies of this particular piece of legislation. If it was given out then somebody must have passed the two of us.

 

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, we will have the Pages distribute the bill to all members.

 

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John’s East.

 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, there is an issue that I think we should raise at this point, and that is in terms of how we are going to proceed on a daily basis for effective governance within this Chamber.

The reason why we have a Government House Leader and an Opposition House Leader is, in preparations for House proceedings, to deal so that their respective caucuses are advised as to what the proceedings are for that particular day.

Yesterday it was read into the record in this House - it can be read in Hansard - that we would be dealing with Bills 9, 30, 26, 27, 28 and 29. The respective critics are prepared to speak to those particular pieces of legislation. When an arrangement and the spirit of cooperation has been breached we do run the risk of entering into chaos in this particular Legislature. In principle, the sprit of the legislation that is now being debated will be supported. The hon. Premier does not have to worry about that. It will be supported. However, the critic who obviously has spent a significant amount of time, would like significant time again to prepare for meaningful debate, as would other colleagues on both sides of the House.

If the Premier is serious about this legislation, he will take that into account and allow significant preparation time. Albeit, it is brief legislation, I acknowledge the fact, but there may well be points of significance and importance that members on both sides of the House will want to raise.

There is an opportunity, I now say, for the House Leader to reconsider whether or not we enter into this particular debate at this time, or will we now return and deal with the proceedings that both House Leaders had in fact prepared for. We can enter into the relevant debate on the legislation as entered into Hansard and as members on both sides of the House have anticipated for the proceedings this afternoon.

There is an issue of precedent, I say, and if in fact the continuation of cooperation is going to exist in this House it is important that the Government House Leader reconsider what in fact he has done, to allow us to deal with the issues that have been anticipated by both sides, and then tomorrow, or Monday, we can enter into the debate on the bulk water export.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: To that point of order.

Indeed there has been cooperation in most circumstances from the hon. Member for Ferryland, the Opposition House Leader.

His own critic, this afternoon behind him, said that he was ready to do the principle of this bill and he was ready to debate it, I say to the Member for St. John’s East. He said: I’m ready to go. I said to the Opposition House Leader: Are you ready to proceed? Then in attempt to filibuster they said no. That is what went on here.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: The member here said there is no way (inaudible)..

 

MR. TULK: While there has been cooperation - well, I hope there will continue to be cooperation, let me say.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. TULK: When one of his own members calls to debate the bill, then the government is obviously obliged to call the bill if he wants it called and if we are ready, and we were ready.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: The Leader of the NDP called for it.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order.

It is really not a point of order. What agreements are reached between hon. members and House Leaders and what legislation is called the Chair is not in control oft. It is up to the government to call whatever legislation or whatever bill it wishes to deal with. The Chair has no jurisdiction over those agreements, if they exist.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the Hansard of this exchange today is going to be read, because the public of Newfoundland and Labrador need to make an assessment of who is serious about dealing with the issue of a legislated ban on the export, the removal of bulk water, and who sees it as nothing more than a political game to be played only when they are ready.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we had the member opposite on a petition calling for the bill. While speaking on the petition raised by the Opposition member, I stood and said: Our party is ready to move the bill right now in response to the petition. The Leader of the NDP stood and said: This is a straightforward bill. There will be an opportunity for clause by clause study. The NDP is ready to move right now into debate on this bill. In the spirit of cooperation and responding to the tone of the petition which called for the bill to be dealt with as soon as possible, two of the three parties said: Let us make progress.

One party and one party only, the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, said: No, we are not prepared to debate the bill. The gentleman opposite, Mr. Byrne, stood and said: No way will I give consent.

Mr. Speaker, are we passing a bill to ban the export of water, or are we playing politics on an important issue in the Legislature of Newfoundland and Labrador?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: Another point of order. This is with respect to having something clarified by the Premier. He referred to a member on this side of the House by his name. If there are two people on this side of the House with the same name. Use the district, I would say to the Premier.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair did not quite get the point of order that the hon. member had raised.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: The point of order is that members in the House of Assembly are supposed to refer to the members by their district. The Premier just referred to a member on this side of the House by his name, and there are two members on this side of the House with the same name. I want him to refer to the member by the district. It is straightforward, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

To that point of order.

All hon. members are aware that in this Chamber members are referred to by their districts, and we have dealt with this issue before. All members are aware of that, and ought not to refer to members by their first names.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, of course the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis, and concurred in by the Speaker, is absolutely correct. I would not want to inadvertently convey the impression that the Leader of the Opposition is here today. He is off, no doubt, on other appropriate duties on behalf of his constituents or his Party. Indeed, it is the Member for Cape St. Francis who, when there was otherwise consent and goodwill to pursue this bill at this time, it was the Member for Cape St. Francis who put his Party and his House Leader in a box by standing and saying: I don’t care what the Opposition House Leader says or what my colleagues might say - I think I am quoting him - this member will never give consent.

That is why the House is in this procedural wrangle, because one member thought he was in a position to deny unanimous consent and to refuse to allow the elected House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador to deal with a matter of great urgency. We now have the absolutely incredible spectacle of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador filibustering, or attempting to filibuster, passage of a bill designed to put in place a ban on bulk water shipments out of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Let the record show that the governing Party, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party, despite the vigorous, energetic objections -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, for the record, to make sure it is accurate, the Member for Cape St. Francis - it was on the Order Paper and the Government House Leader had every right to call second reading today. The Member for Cape St. Francis did not deny proceeding of this bill; it was the Opposition House Leader who indicated he was not prepared to move on the bill because I had not seen it. It was only circulated today.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: There was an agreement (inaudible).

 

MR. SULLIVAN: We had a prior agreement.

I want it on the record that it is not the Member for Cape St. Francis who is responsible for it not proceeding.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Perhaps, if there has been some misunderstanding, I am prepared to sit. If the Opposition House Leader is now prepared to indicate that we can, in a collaborative way, proceed with this bill -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

PREMIER TOBIN: I am asking the question. It is for clarity. If the Opposition House Leader is now - the Leader of the Opposition is here; maybe I can address my comments to the Leader of the Opposition.

Let me assume there has been some confusion on the question. Let me now ask - now that there is an opportunity for a moment of reflection - whether or not we cannot agree, all of us together, since we all agree on the purpose of the bill, to proceed to the next stage of debate with the consent of all members. Let us at least demonstrate on this issue that we can collaborate and work together to go to the next stage of debate and have the Opposition - second reading - participate with us in a collaborative fashion and go through the various procedures to bring about passage of this bill in a timely fashion.

I recognize that the Leader of the Opposition has just come into the House. What we are asking for is to move speedily, through passage of this bill today, to bring about a ban on bulk water export in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition might address whether or not his Party is prepared to cooperate, as is the NDP, to see this bill pass without undue delay.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The bill is now being debated; it is 3:35 p.m. We have another hour to debate the bill, and in due course if we see that the comments - we will certainly permit the Premier to have his comments without interruption on this bill. It is duly called in order. We will have our comments on the bill, and if we have sufficient time to conclude and have the people who want to be on the record as supporting this bill done by 4:30 p.m. today, which it is scheduled to be, so be it. If somebody does not get their time in, who wants to complete it tomorrow, who wants to be on the record because it is an important piece of legislation, we will take it as it comes; but we will not give the guarantee at this time, at 3:36 p.m., but it may or it may not happen.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, then let me say that the response of the Opposition House Leader is fair and reasonable. I respect and appreciate the manner in which it has been given and that is a reasonable basis, I think, on which we can proceed.

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking for today - and if the Opposition critic has an opportunity, together with the Justice critic, to examine the bill - is that it be given speedy passage; that we send a signal that Newfoundland and Labrador is moving expeditiously to put in place a ban on the removal of water in bulk form from our Province.

There is going to be a meeting at the end of the month which the Minister of the Environment, on behalf of this Province, will attend between the national government and all of the provincial governments, and at that meeting the national government will be attempting to put in place, and to ascertain whether there is a will in Canada to put in place, a ban on the bulk removal of water from Canadian provinces and indeed from this country.

Mr. Speaker, I think we in Newfoundland and Labrador have an opportunity to send from this Province an early message, an early signal, a clear and unambiguous signal of where we stand with respect to this matter. What we provided for today is a bill that bans the bulk removal of water from our Province except where it is reasonable, in cases like where it is used for aircraft maintenance; where it is used by Marine Atlantic, that requires some bulk shipment across the Gulf; where it is used by bus companies. Beyond that, bulk water cannot leave the Province for commercial purposes whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, we have put in place - it is a straightforward bill - a system of fines. The fine would be up to $50,000 in the case of an individual, and the fine would be up to $1 million in the case of a corporation if this ban is in any way violated. In addition to this, we have put in place in this bill, clause 7. I want to read clause 7.(1) and 7.(2)

Clause 7.(1) "A right or privilege to remove water from the province, other than water referred to in section 5, vested in, acquired by or accruing to a person, by whatever means, before the coming into force of this Act is cancelled or abrogated."

Clause 7.(2) "An action or proceeding, including an action or proceeding for compensation or damages, does not lie against the Crown, or a minister or employee of the Crown, for or in respect of a cancellation or abrogation of a right or privilege under subsection (1), or in respect of a statement made or an undertaking given, whether orally or in writing, which a person may have acted on to his or her detriment."

In other words, Mr. Speaker, we have also provided in this bill that no liability or request for compensation may be made against the Crown, either in actions arising in the future by those seeking to move bulk water from the Province or, for that matter, actions arising out of past actions as well.

What we have is a simple bill. It does three thing. It bans the bulk export of water; it provides sufficient penalties directed against both individuals and corporations who would seek to violate that ban; and, three, it provides protection for the Crown so that no compensation may arise against the Crown, or liability against the Crown, for putting in place this bulk water ban.

Those are the matters that have been debated in public. Those are the matters that members of the Opposition have raised. Those are the questions that government promised to respond to.

This is not a complex bill, it is not a complicated bill. It is clear, it is direct, it is simple, it is unambiguous, and I submit it deserves to be given speedy passage in this place. It ought not to be the matter of a long procedural wrangle. It ought not to be a question that causes us to call into question the future cooperation and goodwill across the floor of the House for the business of the House. We ought to see it as an opportunity as a Province.

The issue is closed now. The Legislature is going to deal with it, but there is an opportunity for us as a Province to send a very unambiguous signal, to send it to the national government, to send it to the other provinces of Canada, and to send it to those beyond this country - elsewhere - who may thing think there is any division in this Province over the right of the people of this Province to make our own rules, in our own best interest, for our own reasons, for our own best use of our own resources.

Mr. Speaker, that is what the bill does, and I would again invite members opposite - I appreciate the indication of support from the Leader of the NDP, and once the Leader of the Opposition has a moment or two more to reflect, I would appreciate consideration of a speedy passage of this bill so that a clear and unambiguous message may be sent about where Newfoundland and Labrador stands in this regard.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

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

There is no question that the piece of legislation that government has tabled today is an important piece of legislation. It is one that our Party has called for. We even took the time to set out what we would like to see in it, in terms of the principles within the legislation dealing with the bulk exportation of water and the type of industry that it is, the type of industry, more importantly, that it is becoming, and the possible impacts financially, job-wise, and the potential impacts that is has not only across the nation, certainly, but across the globe.

It is an industry, if handled properly, that our Province is on the ground floor of globally. We are not behind the eight ball. We are not necessarily in a position by where we are playing catch-up. We are in a position by where, if we do it right, we take the opportunity and the time to do it right, which is what we have called for, that this could be a significant contributor to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I know there is always an opportunity for a partisan shot to and fro across the House. That is part and parcel of the makeup of the Legislature, it is part and parcel of the makeup of the type of system that we operate in, but obviously there are times when that sort of partisanship needs to be put aside and that sort of partisanship on particular pieces of legislation of such great importance that need to take place.

The Premier has asked for consideration on speedy passage of this bill, and every consideration will be given to the speedy passage of this bill. I have been in this Legislature close to seven years and there have been times when we have moved quickly on pieces of legislation without due course, without the proper amount of debate happening, and what has happened? The next session we have had to come back and clean it up. The consideration, and the only consideration that all of us have to be concerned about with this piece of legislation and all pieces of legislation - but in particular we are dealing with this one today - is the consideration of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, what is in their best interest. That is what is at stake when we debate legislation.

All members know intimately that the most important debates in this House take place when we debate legislation. Unfortunately there is no opportunity for the public or the media, in terms of covering those debates, because this legislation and other pieces of legislation that this Legislature debates and ultimately passes, that is the law of the Province. That is the legislation that the Lieutenant-Governor in council eventually enacts. The legislation that they enact eventually affects the individual lives and everyday lives of every person in the Province, but very little coverage is given to it.

When it comes to the appropriate amount of debate in this House, there are Standing Orders that allow for debate to occur in a timely fashion, in a very professional fashion, but ultimately the Standing Orders of this House are a tried-and-true test. They are in place to ensure that the level of debate occurs but also that the process by which debate occurs is not hurried, it is not fast, so that every consideration can be given to any piece of legislation.

There have been pieces of legislation debated in this Assembly by where government and the opposition’s points of view have varied and have been at both ends of the spectrum, have been at opposite ends of the poles. When we have come to those points in time with pieces of legislation where that occurs, it takes longer for the debate to occur because consensus has not achieved. When that occurs, it gives time and opportunity for every person to be informed on what is taking place.

The converse has been true, that there have been times in this House when government and the opposition have concurred on the spirit and intent of legislation. I am only reminded of the fact of last year when we passed amendments to the mineral mining act. That was passed speedily, but not at the expense of proper debate. That was passed in an effort to ensure, on another significant resource issue, that this Legislature stood its ground, but it did not happen in two-and-a-half hours. Even though there was consensus on the spirit and intent of what was contained in that bill, even though both the members of the Official Opposition and members of government were in tune and in concert with the legislation, the clauses in the legislation, it did not happen in two hours, because that would have been a travesty. If that had to happen, the appropriate amount of debate would not have taken place.

I can say to members opposite and I can say it to the Premier, because I know he has to dart out - and I do not mean to refer to the member in his absence, but I know he had to go - be assured that we will pass this legislation if the principles contained in it, and when we have the appropriate time to assess it - that does not necessarily mean it has to be unduly dragged out for a long time, but we are going to do our job with it. Part of our job is that when we get legislation we evaluate it properly, that our critic has time, because there is nobody in this House who understands this issue better than the Member for St. John’s South - nobody.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: In two-and-a-half years, the implications of free trade.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: It is a true statement. How broad it may be is up to you to decide, but it is a true statement. The implications under NAFTA were first raised in this House by the Member for St. John’s South. He understood clearly what this industry was.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: It is all nonsense.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: What is nonsense?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: That is an interesting statement, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I want the record to show that the Minister for Mines and Energy said the implications of NAFTA are all bull and we know it.

If that is the case, how is it that your federal cousins and your buddies in Ottawa have asked for a national ban because of the implications on NAFTA, and they have asked the provinces to participate in a national ban.

The reality is, the Minister of Mines and Energy will have his opportunity in this debate like anybody else.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this is a living, breathing example of why we should not move too fast with this debate; because my good friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy, would not have his opportunity to put his two cents worth in. If we had to move swiftly and pass it immediately, he would have been denied his opportunity. I am not going to be accused of denying that member his opportunity to speak on this piece of legislation. That I can tell you.

The reality is that when it comes to the impact of bulk water, the Member for St. John’s South clearly understands the implications of this nationally and internationally. There is no question in my mind about that. For those who are in the know, they understand that too.

This is an opportunity today to clearly focus in on this legislation, an emerging industry, and what it means to the Province. Had we proceeded without this legislation, it would have been the wrong thing to do. Every other resource in this Province, where it is being exploited, is done under a legislative and regulatory framework. The Minister of Mines and Energy, the former Minister of Mines and Energy, and the former, former Minister of Mines and Energy, know full well that in this House we debated a generic royalty regime dealing with how royalties would be impacted from our offshore oil and gas industry - there is no question about it - so that any company coming to the Province to participate or exploit that resource came here, will come here, has come here, will come here in full knowledge of what the rules of the game are, they understand what the rules of the field are, and that will have to do so under that regulatory and legislative regime.

The same way in the fishery. We control the processing sector; the minister does in terms of licensing, the federal government in terms of the quota system and harvesting. Any company who wants to get involved in the fishery, to develop it, to make a profit, can do so, but the Crown, that minister, is responsible for telling them how they will do it and how it will be done in the best interest of the people of the Province.

The same way with the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, so that we have a vibrant forestry industry - Abitibi and Kruger, who are involved in the industry, who are developing the industry - the minister, on behalf of the people of the Province, the minister of the Crown tells them: If you are going to do so, if you are going to continue to exploit that industry, then here are the rules. Here are the rules by which you are going to do it. Here is how much you must invest in siliviculture programs. Here is the rate of return to the Province in terms of being a corporate citizen. The same must be true for this industry, and until and unless we pass legislation putting into law how this industry will be governed, how future developers and entrepreneurs who we want to come here are going to be told how this industry is going to be developed and what this Legislature, on behalf of the people of the Province, want on behalf of the people of the Province, then we should not move forward.

It has been pointed out to me, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy - and he can reflect upon it and talk about it when he gets up - when it comes to the national ban on bulk exports, the Minister of Environment and Labour wrote the federal government, calling upon the federal government to comprehensively address the trade and national policy impacts of this project as part of its ongoing review.

So obviously that minister, on behalf of the Crown, who I can only assume represents the will of Cabinet on this particular issue, wrote the national government asking for issues of clarity on trade implications. What was the impact of this project on NAFTA? So it is not clear. If it was clear, the Minister of Environment and Labour, on behalf of the Crown and on behalf of the Cabinet, would not have written that. He would have been able categorically to stand -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, on a point of order.

 

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. Leader of the Opposition has just made my point completely.

In his speaking and addressing the Legislature, he made a comment which cannot be allowed to stand on the record of this Legislature as fact. He stated that the Member for St. John’s South knows the international trade implications with respect to bulk export of water. The fact of the matter is that the Free Trade Agreements are silent on the matter and the government has asked the Government of Canada to give a clear statement as to whether there are implications or not.

The Premier of the Province raised it in New England, with a meeting of the New England Governors and the Premiers of the Atlantic Provinces, with the two ambassadors for Canada and United States in attendance. Nobody has given an answer. Mr. Crosbie, who wrote and was the Minister of the Free Trade Agreement for Canada at the time, says that it is silent on the issue. It may be contested at some point in time but you cannot have the record of this House suggest that any one member here, no matter which side and who he or she is and may be, knows the full implications of Free Trade Agreements and bulk water, because we are asking - and the Minister of Environment and Labour did ask - the Government of Canada for clarification because only the Government of Canada can speak and they have not spoken on the issue.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. It is a disagreement between two hon. members.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

 

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

The Minister of Mines and Energy just proved my point. Just because he does not know does not mean that the Member for St. John’s South does not know. The reality is that you said that there were no implications on free trade. That is what he said. There were no implications on the bulk export of water in free trade, that is what you said. The point is that the government were so concerned that they wrote the federal government to ask for an assessment. The point of the matter is that it is unclear and that we have to proceed with caution.

 

MR. GRIMES: You just said the Member for St. John’s South knows everything about it, and knows for a fact. Now you are saying it is unclear.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I said you were unclear.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) there again, muddying the water.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: It is that muddy on him right now, he doesn’t even know where the sunlight is. He doesn’t even know which way is up and which way is down. That is the way he is. There is a real edge to the Minister of Mines and Energy in the last year or so. I don’t know why. I can’t figure it out. He is a different member.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: That’s right.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: You did? Very good.

Mr. Speaker, the point of the matter is that when it comes to the implications on NAFTA, that the Member for St. John’s South has pointed our clearly on any number of occasions in this House, outside of this House, in speaking engagements, that there are serious concerns about the implications of exporting bulk water.

Government themselves obviously must have the same opinion because they have written the federal government to ask for an assessment of those implications. If there were no implications, I would say that we would be having a different debate in this Legislature today, because it was clear that this project was on and that the plug was pulled on it because of a federal request, because the federal government needed time to assess the implications on NAFTA, and that is what we called for.

Mr. Speaker, this is going to be an interesting debate. It is going to be a debate about how this industry should emerge on behalf of all of us in the Province. It is going to be a debate on what will be in the best interest in the Province, and I can assure the government and the Government House Leader that once we have - and we will - a full assessment and an evaluation of the clause-by-clause pieces of this bill - because the spirit and the intent is one thing. We have seen the spirit and the intent of the Atlantic Accord compromised in the last four or five years. Any law worth its salt, once it is passed, if it is not fought for vigilantly, the rights that were obtained in law are lost. The clause-by-clause sections of this bill are the most important because the devil is always in the details.

We will, in time, in the best way possible, in the fastest way possible, move to implement the spirit and intent of this piece of legislation, but not without being given the appropriate time to evaluate it, assess it, and where we think that it should be enhanced, and where we think and where we can demonstrate that sections should be added, or that amendments should be made that will strengthen and enhance the opportunity for the people of this Province to benefit from this industry, then we will make those amendments and those assessments known to this Legislature, but not on a simple request to be done immediately because the government has asked. That is not something that we are going to participate in. We will do it as fast as we can based upon the assessments and the evaluations that we get.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before recognizing the Member for St. John’s South, it being Thursday -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to read the questions for today’s Late Show. The first question is: Mr. Speaker, I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Education, re my questions on the use of the Canning Report. That is a question from the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

Mr. Speaker, I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Health and Community Services, re my question on knowledge of unacceptable levels of chemicals in the drinking water of at least forty-nine communities. That is the Opposition House Leader’s question.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to forego the Late Show to allow for people who need to speak on this debate. At least that is some extra time, because we have people here who would like to address this issue. Then you won’t have to track down (inaudible).

 

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

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to tie this up unduly. There are a couple of issues here that I would like to get some clarification on from the environment minister, if he would do that for us prior to going into third reading. I would like to have these clarified prior to that.

This is a bill that we have been calling for, so I am very pleased to see that this bill is brought before the House. We have been asking for this now for almost three years. We have been asking for the ban of bulk water export from this Province for almost three years, and it is something that has gained great public acceptance and great public support.

We in this Party on this side of the House support the intent of what this bill is intended to do, and that is to ban the bulk export of water from this Province. Let me be very clear on that: we support the intent of this.

There are a couple of areas that I would like clarified, and I will be very straightforward with the House of Assembly and with the Minister of Environment. We are going to seek legal advice on this prior to giving our consent on it. We are going to ensure that this is in the best interest of people of this Province. That is the reason we were hesitant to move as quickly as the Premier wanted us to today. It is not because we want to tie this up. We agree with the intent of this legislation. We agree with the banning of bulk water export.

If we had to have an advance copy, or if we had to have a copy even this morning, we would not be hesitant to move forward; but, as our leader pointed out, we have seen legislation pushed through this House very quickly, such as the mining act, on which we have had to come back, and we have regretted having it pushed through so quickly.

While everything looks great on the surface with this, we want to make sure that it is good, that it is in the best interest of the people of this Province, and that we are protecting our resource and our rights to our resource.

If I can catch the ear of the Minister of Environment for a moment because, as I have said, there are a couple of areas here that I would like clarified prior to moving into third reading. Under section 5.(c), I say to the minister, "the water is used to transport food or an industrial product out of the province...".

I would ask the Minister of Environment if he could explain to us exactly what that clause means and where it would be used, and whether or not there are any restrictions on what it means. I would give leave to the minister to do that now, if he would, so that we could clarification on that article within the bill.

 

MR. LANGDON: Do you want to make the other points and do it all the one time?

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: There is only one other point.

 

MR. LANGDON: (Inaudible).

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Okay.

The other point that I would like to make on this is again under section 5 -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) after you, I presume the Speaker will come to this side. It will be the minister, if he is closing debate, or whenever he closes debate, and then he can clarify any points you have.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Actually, if I could ask the minister, as opposed to having the minister close debate, I would like to have the opportunity to have it come back in case I need further clarification on what he says.

 

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) committee stage.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I was saying that I would like to have that clarified before going into Committee, clause-by-clause.

I will give the minister leave on that one item, if he would.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John’s South.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Just a clarification on that one item, and then there is only one other item I am going to ask you for clarification on. If we could get clarification on that item, then I will proceed.

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: If water is used to transport food, I guess, by ship - if your ship is at the dock here and you are carrying food away in boats, then obviously you will be able to do that for industrial purposes. If you have some manufactured stuff, for example, in Marystown and you wanted to put water in the ship to take it to Voisey’s Bay, or wherever they are going to do that particular outfit, then you would be able to do that. It is a form of bulk water, but it is used in ship or truck, whatever the case may be.

 

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

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I ask the minister: Is it limited to that? Is there any way we can perhaps tighten up the wording there to make sure that it is limited to what you are saying?

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: I will take these questions and work with you in Committee to make sure that it is done.

 

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

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: The other item that I would ask the minister for some clarification on is item (d) under section 5 as well. "The water is removed for a non-commercial purpose approved by the minister, including for safety or humanitarian purposes." The comment, "for safety or humanitarian purposes", I have no difficulty with that whatsoever, but I would ask if the minister could clarify exactly what is mean by "the water is removed for non-commercial purpose..." and why it would only require the approval of the minister. With no prejudice to the current minister - it could be any minister, it could be me after the next election - why would it be on the approval of only the minister?

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

"The water is removed for a non-commercial purpose approved by the minister, including for safety or humanitarian purposes", is self-explanatory.

Let’s suppose, for example, and God forbid that it would ever come to that - I don’t know, I am just using hypothetical cases - that somewhere in Africa or in South America or Central America there was drought and people were actually dying because of water, or whatever the case might be, then, from a humanitarian point of service where there was no money involved, there was no contract, then probably we might be able to use that water in these circumstances. I cannot even think of a situation, as the Premier already said today. It is not for commercial usage; it is just for humanitarian purposes.

 

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

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Under item (d), if it were to read that the water is removed for non-commercial purpose approved by the minister, intended for safety or humanitarian purposes, I would have no problem with it, but it says including. That is very broad. It opens it up to almost any non-commercial purpose. That could go almost as far as your mind can imagine. That there, I think, is a cause for concern. Other than that, I say to the minister, I have no real concern with any of the other clauses here.

I will say that, pending advice - we are going to seek legal advice on this - but right now, on the surface, I have no problem with any other parts of the bill pending the advice we get from legal council. I see no reason to hold it up, but I would like to hear back from them before we proceed into Committee, voting and approving this.

I am certain that once we get into Committee and third reading I think we are going to ask for some amendments to those clauses, just to ensure that they are tightened up, to ensure that the people of this Province are protected and that this resource is protected. These are very broad and very open-ended statements and can be applied to almost anything for any reason and at any time.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my comments on this for the time being and look forward to third reading.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

 

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to rise in support of this bill as well. Clearly it is a bill that the people of the Province have cried out for and have said that they want passage of to protect one of the resources that, as time goes by, will become clearly more important than it was in years past.

Fresh, clean drinking water today is something that is a very precious commodity. Not every country in the world has it and we have an abundance. I think that as we market that water for export, we should be able to realize the most benefit for us as a Province that is possible to realize.

I would like to say that even though we talked here today about the Free Trade Agreement and the implications or ramifications exporting bulk water would have had, since the Mulroney government negotiated the Free Trade Agreement, the things that we are afraid may happen to us with water are also happening in other areas of natural resources as well. We fought that on every street and corner throughout this country but in the end the legislation was passed that permitted free trade to go ahead.

We have today, in the Province, a number of sources of good clear water. As I said earlier, the pressure will be on in years to come to be able to access that water for other purposes. I can assure you that if you travel around this country, if you go to the United States and if you go to Europe and Japan, you will pay much more for a litre of water than you will for a litre of gasoline. Clearly, it is a valuable commodity and one that we should take full advantage of.

I don’t think there is any point in unnecessarily delaying this bill. I think that it is clear, it is brief, and it is one that clearly the people of the Province and hopefully all members of this Legislature are in favour of. I support the bill fully and I look forward to its passage.

Thank you.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

 

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

I want to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the debate this afternoon. I first want to recognize the tremendous work done by the Member for St. John’s South in his capacity as the critic. That member has been following this particular principle, this particular policy and this particular use of our water for several years, and he has looked at it both from a provincial and national resource basis. He certainly has done his job very well.

As noted, we on this side do not have any great difficulties with this bill. I sincerely regret the manner in which it came before the Legislature today. When our caucus met this morning and we went over the bills to be debated today, Bill 31 was not on the legislative agenda. As a matter of fact, we did not have that particular bill in our possession at that time at all. So it becomes somewhat difficult, when one is getting ready for the debates in the House, when one arrives here and then finds that the whole procedure has been hijacked. Then comments are made by the Premier and by other members on the government side that we on this side are not being cooperative.

We are being very cooperative. As a matter of fact, our House Leader consulted with the Government House Leader yesterday, consulted with him this morning, and we on this side were given a list of the bills that would be brought before this Legislature and the order in which they would be presented. I have to say that Bill 31, as of this morning, was not on the legislative agenda to be debated in this House this afternoon. That was a dialogue that occurred between the Opposition House Leader and the Government House Leader. That was our understanding on this side of the House. Having that as a gentlemen’s understanding between two hon. members - and we agreed to it - and having had our research staff go and make the necessary preparations for the debate, then we come in this afternoon and come to the Orders of the Day, suddenly there is a proposal put forward by the Premier that we would move immediately into debate on Bill 31.

If that was such a priority of the Premier, why did the Premier not discuss that matter with his House Leader this morning? That shows that the government does not have its act together. In fact, just a few days ago we saw the Premier making one statement to the press and the Member for Bellevue making a different statement to the press on this very issue. On this very day we have the Premier coming to the House saying: I want this bill discussed in this House this afternoon, I want you to give it speedy passage, I want you to give it the green light. As a matter of fact, for a while, of course, we never knew whether the government had its lights on red or green, because the Minister of Environment was saying it has the green light, then he was saying it has the red light. We did not know whether he was color blind or not for a while.

We agreed in our caucus this morning that we would have an order for the discussion of bills. That order was done in consultation between the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader. Then we come in here this afternoon and suddenly, for very cheap political purposes, the Premier stands in his place and says: I want this Bill now. What that did was simply confuse the whole dialogue, so there isn’t any purpose any more in having a dialogue between the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader as to the order of the bills that will be carried.

We might as well say we will come in here and we will go willy-nilly, because this morning we had an agreement made on the order and the sequence. It would have been a very easy thing for the Government House Leader to consult this morning with the Opposition House Leader and for them to make an agreement. We could have dealt with this. The truth of the matter is that this was not distributed yesterday because the Premier and the minister wanted to call a press conference and make this grand big disclosure, this great big media event, earlier today. They said: We cannot distribute that on Wednesday afternoon because that will fool up our press conference on Thursday morning.

What we see here is a twisting of the media. We see here the Premier and the minister saying: We cannot distribute that on Wednesday because that will fool up our schedule, our media event, and so therefore we will come in and we will not tell the Opposition what we are going to do. We will try to play a very quick thing with them and we will try to trip them up. That is not what should happen. We have seen a failure here today of regular parliamentary rules and parliamentary precedents because when we met this morning, as I said earlier, we should have known that this was coming forward.

It is no big great thing, because I have few notes on this particular piece of legislation. I have only brought down a few of them. Members saw me go to my office. I brought down a few of the notes that I have here. There is only about fifty pages of notes that I have relative to this. People who know my tendency for being able to carry on for a while in public debate will know quite well that if I set to read this then I have lots of material to keep us going for a long time.

That is not my intent. I just want to see if whether this particular piece of legislation is consistent with the policies that we, in our caucus, want to put forward for Newfoundland and Labrador relative to this issue. That takes a little time. For example, we issued a press release under the name of the Leader of the Opposition on October 29. The press release was three pages long. We want time to be able to see whether there is consistency between what we want see happen in this Province relative to the bulk export of water and the issues that are before the House in this Bill, and whether there are consistencies between our policies and the policies contained in this piece of legislation.

Our critic has done a commendable job. However, we do, on this side of the House, want a little time. This afternoon we will take that time, because while we are going to speak here we will not sit in our places and we will not permit this debate to conclude this afternoon. Because we want to have more time for discussion. Each member on this side over here, each member in their turn, will take up as much time as is necessary, so that we can have the appropriate amount of time. We will not let the Government House Leader hijack this House on this issue. He will not make an agreement with the Opposition House Leader in the morning and then come into the House in the afternoon and change it. Therefore, what we are saying to the Government House Leader is that if he wants to have honour, if he wants to have truthfulness, if he wants to have us believe that when he meets with our House Leader he is supposed to meet in confidence, then he is supposed to be able to tell us what exactly is going to happen and there should not be any changes. What we saw happen today is not proper procedure.

We want to look and see if, for example, this bill provides for sound management and sustainable development of our freshwater resources. We want to be able to see what management principles we are going to have here. Who is going to have control? Already the critic has mentioned several items here that need clarification.

I know that government would like to have this passed very quickly. Probably there is a media event unfolding somewhere in the next little while. The Premier is known to be able to go out and have media events set up, as he did today. He is good at it. We will not take away from his ability to be able to do that. He likes to control the media. Consequently, we suspect there is an agenda that is unfolding here. Part of it was the press conference today, part of it was to get it through second reading here this afternoon, and probably there is some big grand thing to be said later on in some forum later on, maybe today or tomorrow.

Certainly we on this side want to look at some of the issues. For example, the member has already said he wants clarification on some of the language that is here. Because, you see, very often it is not what is written here that causes the trouble; sometimes it is what is not written here. We want to have time to have this analyzed by our research team. It is our job to make sure this is consistent, as far as possible, with what we believe is best for Newfoundland and Labrador. That might take us a few hours, it might take us until tomorrow, it might take us until next week, but part of the thing that we will do here this afternoon is we will continue in second reading until that work can be done. That is being done as I am now speaking in this Legislature.

We want to look at, for example, section 8. Section 8(1) says: "A royalty on all water resources that are the property of the Crown is reserved to the Crown." Section 8(2) says: "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations (a) prescribing the amount of a royalty on water resources." We want to know a little bit more about what is going to be contained in the regulations.

One of the problems we have is that the government brings in an act which, of course, provides for the making of regulations. Certainly, the regulations should now be available. They should now be available because if they are not available then we certainly do not have a full impact of what this legislation contains. I’m assuming that this afternoon our research group can go down to the Queen’s Printer and we can pick up the regulations as they would pertain to section 8(2). We will see if they are there. We will see if they are down there.

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Surely to goodness the very experienced legislator who has just spoken and been roasted for thirty years of exemplary public life, certainly he has been here long enough to understand that before a bill passes the Legislature - it is not even yet passed second reading because he has been up mouthing off and won’t even tell us what he feels about the bill. He talked about a lot of other stuff but has said nothing about whether he agrees with the banning of bulk water.

Now, he is suggesting that in the absence of a bill passed, which is going to enable the minister to put in place some regulations, that he should be able to go to the Queen’s Printer and get the regulations this afternoon, before there is even a bill passed by this Legislature to give anybody the authority to create the regulations.

Surely to goodness he does not want to embarrass himself any further. He will stand and admit that he just made a mistake, he was wrong, he did not mean it, and that it is not reasonable and he knows it is improper and it would be an absolute abuse of due process if the government had regulations already printed in defiance and in expectation that the House would rubberstamp a piece of legislation that he is expressing a great interest in wanting to debate to the full.

 

I hope that he is going to apologize or admit that he just made a mistake or maybe he was joking. He has to be doing something because he cannot be serious.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

 

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

The hon. member that just stood in his place last spring made thirty-four points of order. He just made his thirty-fifth, so that is thirty-five points of order that have been rejected by the Chair.

As to the regulations, I know that they are not down there. They could not be there. However, this will give me the opportunity to ask the appropriate minister, because they are not at the Queen’s Printer, if he would share them with this side of the House. We would like to know what is the intent of the government in terms of these regulations. Because when you say you are going to make regulations, it is a case of where we want to know what is in these regulations. We know before the act passes they are not going to be at the Queen’s Printer. They can’t be. However, we do know that government has them drafted. They would ordinarily have them drafted. We would ask the Minister of Environment, under whose name this bill stands, if he would dialogue with our critic so that we can know what these regulations will contain.

We are saying on this side we are willing to cooperate with the government on this piece of legislation. We are asking for a little tiny bit of consideration. We wanted a little bit of notice as to when the bill would be called. We asked for that. We did not get it.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. H. HODDER: I just say to the member over there that the proportion of members on our side of the House is far higher than the proportion of members on his side. I would just say to the government that we would like to have a little bit of consultation on those regulations. That is where the guts of the action really are.

We say to the members on the other side that we would like to have some dialogue, to have some idea, as to what is in those regulations. Because very often if you have a good piece of legislation and a very weak set of regulations then the act becomes circumvented by the lack of government’s, shall we say, ability to put teeth into the regulatory process.

We will be asking for consultation on section 8. Section 8 is very important to how we go in the future. As well, we will be asking for some further statements from the government on section 7. We know what has happened relative to the McCurdy group in Gander. We will want some consultation because we have concerns, particularly with what has happened to British Columbia, and we have some concerns about where this Province stands in its liabilities.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. H. HODDER: We know that. We would like to have some definitive statement, some explanation, from the government relative to section 7. As well, we will want to get some idea from the government as to how they are going to deal with the issue of value-added. We want to talk about value-added processing in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot we can say in this legislation that is not here and we certainly call upon the government to be forthright. If this is a good piece of legislation, take the time and talk about the value-added processes. We believe there should be a fully integrated water resource industry in the Province. We say to the government that we put forward very clearly from this party what we stand for when it comes to the bulk export of water. We will want to know how this piece of legislation measures up to what we hold up to be best for Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to have some idea of a fairness in the regime for assessing royalties and taxes.

We read what is in section 8, as I said a few moments ago. We want to have more details as to what is going to be contained in the royalty regimes and the taxation regime. We want to have some commitment from the government that when we start to develop this water industry in this Province we are going to have a commitment that there will be a procurement policy in place to make sure -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

 

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman is obviously like the great, big old sculpin up there, blown up and ready to be thrown overboard. He is obviously just up spouting off, because he is not stunned. There is nothing stunned about him. He knows there is a ministerial committee to report within ninety days to put in place a regime for royalties and all of that. What is the hon. gentleman just standing up and blowing off for? I wish the hon. Member for Bonavista South would throw him over the side of the boat like the big old red (inaudible) that he is. Why don’t you do it to him?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

 

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries has arrived to take control of the House and to get some sense of normality on that side.

I will quote here from the Leader of our party in a statement of October 29. Again, it applies to this legislation. I will read the entire sentence. He said: If these policies are enshrined in law and their intent is expressed in every government and industry agreement to develop our water resources, this Province and entrepreneurs in this Province will have the opportunity to become global players in what may well be the dominant industry in the twenty-first century.

We believe on this side that the freshwater industry has tremendous potential in Newfoundland and Labrador. We believe fundamentally in that. Our Leader has had extensive dialogue with the industry, extensive dialogue with the caucus, extensive dialogue with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from all parts of the Province in the attempt to develop this particular policy for our party. We spent a great deal of time this summer on it, when the government did not know which way it was going. It did not know whether it was going to approve bulk water one day, and not going to approve it the next day. Our Leader over here had a clear policy as to where we should be. That is the kind of thing that we want to see in legislation.

I just want to have a few more comments, because I understand there are at least four more speakers ready to go on this particular matter, and we will get a chance to speak again.

 

MR. FITZGERALD: Leave room for the Member for Bellevue.

 

MR. H. HODDER: We want to leave room for the Member for Bellevue to tell us whether he is in favor of it today or not in favor of it today. On Monday we did not know where he was going. He was telling us that in ten or twenty years this would be a big industry. He was telling us that he did not agree with his Premier and all that kind of thing. We did not know where he was going on Monday. I think he thought he was still talking to Ann Budgell on CBC. He was saying: Ann, bulk water export is good.

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Member for Bellevue will, in the next little while, take advantage of the opportunity to stand up and tell us where he stands on Thursday because on Monday we did not know where he stood at all on that (inaudible). He has had time now to be adequately spoken to by the Premier who will make sure that he is onside.

We have outlined our party’s policies. We offer them to the government. We recognize that on this issue we have been in the drivers seat all the way through. We have been on the people’s side. We have been driving the issue. We have listened to the people. We are the advocates for good in Newfoundland and Labrador. We recognized, right up front, that bulk water export was not in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador. It took the government a long time to come onside but thank God, they finally did. They finally saw the light. They finally borrowed another one of our policies, just like in the taxation issue. They borrowed our policies on taxation. They borrowed our policy on bulk export of water and borrowed our policies on an accountability regime. I can tell you right now that we have lots more policies we are willing to share with this government because our policies are sound and good for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. We look forward to having more and more of our policies adopted by that government, Mr. Speaker, because our policies are good for the future of Newfoundland and all the people in our Province.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just wanted to make a few very brief comments with respect to this very important piece of legislation.

I have been disappointed so far in the tone and tenor of the debate, particularly with the super sleuth and snoop from St. John’s South who is now described by his leader as being the expert of everything to do with free trade in Canada. I think he should probably now resign his seat and go and be hired on by the Government of Canada because he seems, at least according to his leader, to know more about it than anybody else in the universe.

There are a couple of points, though, and a couple of statements that have been made. The experienced member there from wherever it is, who has been around so long now, has gotten so confused about matters now that he is now assuming that the government is so presumptuous or else so efficient that even while a very important piece of legislation is being debated in the House of Assembly, that in one of its component parts suggest that the Cabinet might be given the permission, if the bill passes - just beginning debate now, which could go on for weeks, because they do not seem to be inclined to give speedy passage. They have their researchers locked away upstairs as he was speaking, he said, a great research team.

It used to be Sue Kelland-Dyer,. They fired her. She does all her own research, the self-proclaimed expert on everything. The only problem when the former Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Opposition House Leader, had the great `Telephone Sue’ on as the researcher - that is the caliber of the research. That was the best research they had. The problem was they had to let the real good researcher go because she also insisted on calling the open line after Question Period and asking the questions properly because the Leader of the Opposition did not ask them in the Legislature the way she wanted him to. That is the kind of research that is going on now as they speak in the House, because it is here in plain English to ban the bulk export of water.

The hon. Member for Waterford Valley got up and spent thirty minutes and did not say a word about whether or not he supported the principle of the bill. He talked about a whole pile of foolishness and the kinds of things that went on before. Even the Leader of the Opposition - maybe in error, because I am sure he will take advantage of the opportunity to correct some misinformation; he would not want it on the public record - made a statement with some sense of authority that the Government of Canada has asked the provinces of Canada to sign on to a ban of the bulk export of water - which is scheduled to happen later this month - because the Government of Canada had concerns about bulk water under the Free Trade Agreement.

That is his statement. You can get it in Hansard and read it. That is exactly what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said: We are considering a ban in the country because the Government of Canada has asked the provinces to put in place a ban because the Government of Canada has concerns under the Free Trade Agreement, and that the Member for St. John’s South is the brainwave and the expert on this and he also knows that that is what the concern of the Government of Canada is and that is why they brought up this issue some time ago.

Let me just give this piece of information for clarification. The Government of Canada has asked the provinces to sign on to a ban of the bulk export of water at a table of Environment Ministers - not of trade ministers for inter-provincial trade, or for any other ministers that have to deal with trade issues - at the table of Environment Ministers. The express reason that the Government of Canada has given at meetings, in writing, in correspondence, is because they have environmental concerns about preserving fresh water in the country. If there becomes too much water in the country available for export, either in bulk or in bottles or containers - but because most of the water, and the most rapid way to get it out of the country is in bulk, they think the prudent first step to protect the environment of Canada for fresh water supplies into the future is to ban the bulk export of water for environmental reasons.

There has never, ever been a discussion at the meetings of federal/provincial ministers or elsewhere to suggest that the Government of Canada has a concern about bulk water or fresh water in any form under the Free Trade Agreement. The Government of Canada has never, ever once issued that statement in any context.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition might want to clarify where he got his misinformation.

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: I know my good friend is always looking out for my best interest, as I am his, so I would like to ask him this question: If that statement is true, then why is it that your own colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, wrote the federal government asking them to address the implications of trade of NAFTA? He wrote them, asking them to address what the implications were of NAFTA with respect to the bulk exportation of water.

 

Obviously there must have been some concern that there were trade implications. If there were not trade implications, logic would dictate that he would not have written to ask for a clarification on what the trade implications are.

By the way, if you are in the habit of providing pieces of information, why don’t you table the letters that you are talking about? It may be a new thing for you, but maybe it would be something that all us would like to see for a change.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, as I have pointed out, there has never been a statement made by the Government of Canada, never once in the history of the world as we know it today. The Free Trade Agreements are rather recent, but you will not find a document from the Government of Canada saying that we have concerns and that the actual trade of water as a bulk commodity is a problem under the Free Trade Agreement.

As I mentioned before, it was raised in the meeting of the New England Governors and the Atlantic Provinces Premiers with the ambassadors of the two countries present. Our Premier raised the issue and said: Is there a concern under free trade?

The reason we did put it in our letter to the Government of Canada is because people like the great expert who has just joined us from St. John’s South, the great super sleuth, the great sleuth that knows everything and knows all, and is the expert in the whole of the world on matters of free trade - I don’t understand why he is wasting his time here. You could be making an absolute fortune working for the Government of Canada, or maybe for the Government of the United States, or maybe even for the Government of Mexico, but you are certainly undervalued and underused if you are an expert on free trade, to be sitting in the Legislature in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are many other things, I am sure, you could contribute -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: I know the minister would like to continue to spin on, but let me ask him this, a point of information. It is the opinion of the federal government - it is our opinion, I am sorry, that the federal government is the only government which can assess whether the project creates a precedent -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, hold on. That is why I am reading it correctly.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: You slipped.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I didn’t. I want to be clear. One second.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I am reading. This is important: ...that this project creates a precedent which could impact Canada’s sovereign right to control its own water resources. Then, he wrote the minister to ask him that.

Has the minister written back indicating whether this has trade implications? Has the federal minister written the provincial government back, saying that there were trade implications, or has the federal government written back that there were not?

If you are saying that they have written you back, if that is what you are saying, that the federal government has written this government back saying that there were no trade implications, would you like to table that in the House so we can have a look at it, Minister?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, as I have indicated, there has never, ever, ever, ever been a statement from the Government of Canada that there is a problem under the Free Trade Agreement.

Now, there has been a very definitive statement by the expert from St. John’s South. Why would, when the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has asked repeatedly, both ministers and officials in Ottawa, and the people even that were responsible for offering the Free Trade Agreement - like Mr. Crosbie here in Newfoundland - is water defined as a commodity under the Free Trade Agreement - a good or a commodity - the answer is: No, it is not.

The answer is that in the Free Trade Agreement there is no reference to water.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: There are two self-proclaimed experts on the issue in the country. One is on tour and has a nice job speaking for the Council of Canadians or something like that, makes all kinds of speeches, travels around the country - Maude Barlow or something, I think her name is - very well respected in certain circles. Certainly the New Democratic Party thinks she is the best thing since white sliced bread. The Conservatives usually think that she is a bit off the wall. Nevertheless, their Newfoundland and Labrador based self-proclaimed expert from St. John’s South -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. GRIMES: - the self-proclaimed expert, and backed up by the Leader of the Opposition who is willing to say that the Member for St. John’s South knows more than anybody else in the world on this issue, even though it is not mentioned in the Free Trade Agreement, has never been referenced by the Government of Canada - because these self-proclaimed experts are going around saying and stating in Newfoundland and Labrador that this is a fact, water is a commodity and a good under the Free Trade Agreement, and any water from any jurisdiction going out in bulk will cause a problem - because that was stated with such conviction in Newfoundland and Labrador -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. GRIMES: - we asked the Government of Canada to answer whether it is or it isn’t, and we will get an answer some time soon.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John’s South.

 

 

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

I wanted to introduce, to enlighten the private eye across the floor -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Magnum.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Magnum.

- that, according to the International Joint Commission, just as one, which is comprised of members of Canada and the United States - just one brief that I have here because we have been advised by many people, as opposed to the group on that side who have taken their lessons from this side.

The strategy adopted by the International Joint Commission respects Canada’s trade obligations because it focuses on water in its natural state. Water in its natural state is not a good or a product, and it is not subject to international trade agreements.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Continue.

 

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

They go on to say that if water is traded as a tradeable good, then NAFTA kicks in and all provisions relating to items of commerce then relate to water.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: The International Joint Commission. You should try reading some of their documents.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are always open to be enlightened by Newfoundland’s member of ‘The Mod Squad’ and the rest of his crew. I am sure he will get some great research done again and he will actually tell us which expert will put their name to a piece of paper, other than himself and Maude Barlow, who will say that they can definitively state that water has been determined under the Free Trade Agreement to be a good in the definitions of that particular agreement.

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: I have here a release put out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for Canada, and they say that: This strategy of banning the bulk export of water reaffirms the government’s long-standing position on opposing bulk water removal. It is also consistent with the statement by the three NAFTA countries in 1993, that unless water in any form is entered into commerce and becomes a trade or product of commerce, that it is covered by the provisions of any trade agreement, including NAFTA.

Your cousin in Ottawa -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I have indicated, the Government of Canada has never ever stated that water is a good defined under the Free Trade Agreement, under NAFTA.

The other point that I was making - because they threw up the big boogie man about that for months and months, and continue on - secondly, the other thing that I find problematic with this, instead of addressing the whole notion of the bill, they want to talk about things that occurred in the past.

Here is the problem with the group: Now that I have an opportunity to clarify the issue once and for all with a pretty straightforward bill that bans the export of bulk water from Newfoundland and Labrador for all the right reasons, that I am assuming is going to have unanimous support of this House, they want to go back. They do not want to go back, thought, and talk about the representation in the public, how they want to play politics with it again.

Let’s talk about playing politics with the issue, as the Member for Waterford Valley or whatever it is called said. I will have to refresh the names of the constituents here. I’m on such a friendly first name basis with them, I usually call them by their first name. We are not allowed to do that here. I will have to look up their titles by district.

Here is the level of debate and the level of sincerity that the Official Opposition brings to this issue. The Member for St. John’s South and the Leader of the Opposition were in the public just a few weeks ago saying these kinds of statements. To cover themselves, because they knew they were saying something that was not true, not here in the Legislature but outside, they went on to the public airwaves and said: We have no proof of this. Now that is a pretty good start to a statement. Both the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for St. John’s South repeatedly made representations in the public saying: We have no proof of this. However... Then they would make the big lie and try to make it stick. Not in the Legislature. I am not suggesting that they have lied here in the Legislature. Outside the House of Assembly in public commentary -

 

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

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. Member for Waterford Valley.

 

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the minister just made a statement in which he accused the Leader of the Opposition of communicating, directly or indirectly, a lie to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is not true either (inaudible), but it is very unparliamentary.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair certainly did not interpret the remarks of the minister, in any way, to disparage the hon. member, so I would -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) lying (inaudible)!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: So it is okay to accuse members of (inaudible)?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: No, that is not what he said

 

MR. SPEAKER: That is not what the Chair interpreted from the minister’s remark.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The point that I was making is that in public commentary outside the Legislature both members -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. member to take his seat. The Chair has not yet recognized him.

The Chair has exercised a fair amount of latitude here this afternoon in recognizing points of order but we are getting to the point now I think where we are verging on abuse of the rules of the House. I would ask hon. members that in order to keep the debate moving - the Chair has no problem with recognizing hon. members who wish to rise on points of order, but try to be succinct in your remarks and try to put forward your point of order. Because the Chair will now start exercising that if you go on to make a speech, when you are rising on a point of order, I will be ruling there will be no point of order, and you will be ruled out of order.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Both sides.

The Chair recognizes the hon. Member for St. John’s South on a point of order.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

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

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just to finish the point before I take my place and adjourn debate for the day, again, the point was this. They would both cover themselves by saying: I have no proof of this. Then they would say: However, I believe that the government has already made a deal with the proponent out in Gander and that the government has already entered into an agreement. There are even press releases issued to that extent. That is the kind of lowdown dirty politics that the Official Opposition has wanted to play with this issue from the very beginning.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. GRIMES: So to cover themselves and wrap themselves in some kind of cloak of purity, they start out saying something that they know has no basis in fact by the prelude and the premise of saying: Okay, we will cover this up. We will throw out something that we know is not true, but we will say: I have no proof of this, however, I am led to believe... Then they would go on and rant about the big lie that they wanted to spread in Newfoundland and Labrador to make people believe that things were happening that had never happened and will not happen.

Now they have a chance to stand and support a bill that makes sure it will not happen and they want to play some more politics here in the Legislature today, tomorrow, next week, because they do not want to deal with the issue, Mr. Speaker. They just want to play politics. That is all they know. It is all I have ever seen them know in ten years. With this group it is all they knew for seventeen years before that. We are seeing more evidence of it here in this debate. A straightforward bill in English to ban the bulk export of water from Newfoundland and Labrador, and they want to play politics with it instead of debating it, saying they agree with it in principle and voting for the bill and getting on with it so we know it will be a fact.

I would like to adjourn debate, Mr. Speaker, at this point. I will come back to it tomorrow.

 

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

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m. Before we adjourn, we will continue debate on this bill in the morning.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Are you sure now?

 

MR. TULK: I’m sure.

 

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. TULK: Harvey, my name is not Hodder.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until 9:00 tomorrow morning.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.