March 29, 2001 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 9


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our routine proceedings today, the Chair would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the Speaker's gallery the St. John's Curling Club Team who won on Sunday, March 25, the World Junior Men's Curling Championship. They are: Skip, Brad Gushue; Third, Mark Nicholls; Second, Brent Hamilton; Lead, Mike Adam; Fifth, Jamie Korab; and Coach, Jeff Thomas.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, if I could, by leave. I did have the fortunate opportunity to meet this group of fine young men and their coach at the airport when they returned just a couple of evenings ago. We have publicly congratulated them, but I think the significance of having them here in our Legislature today, in the Speaker's gallery, as guests of the Legislature -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, on behalf of everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador I would like to say to Skip Brad and to Coach Jeff, and the team, this is an incredible accomplishment for a group of young men from Newfoundland and Labrador. It has, indeed, put our place on the map again in the whole of the world. As a team, you are a source of encouragement and inspiration for everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador, not only people who participate in sports, like yours being curling, but for people generally. This has been a boost in terms of a sense of confidence in what can be accomplished by people in our Province who turn their attention to a particular task. Not a task for you people, lots of work, but a lot of pleasure too, I expect, in a game which you very much enjoy; a source of encouragement and inspiration. As I say, we are all extremely proud, almost too proud for words. I must say, we are delighted to have them here today. Congratulations!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I would like to join, obviously, with the Premier in echoing the sentiments that everybody feels in the Province. You have done this place very, very proud, not only yourselves, but you stand as a testament to who we are and the type of determination that exists amongst our people.

I will say one other thing, the Skip happens to live in Southlands, which is in the District of Kilbride.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on, I don't want anybody to get confused. His skill and ability with the curling rocks does not necessarily translate to the member's skill within this place here.

On a serious note, I do want to say that this is a sporting achievement unparalleled in Newfoundland and Labrador. The importance of the accomplishment of this group of fine young gentlemen and their coach forever and a day will go down in the annals of sports history as probably one of our defining and most distinguished moments.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Even though we all expressed our pride and praise the other day in this House, on Monday, it is a great pleasure to have an opportunity in person to tell you how proud we are of you. I know you have your pride in your accomplishment but vicariously every Newfoundlander and Labradorian feels a little taller as a result of your accomplishments. It is something that shows the people of this Province what can be done, what talent we have, what can be done with focus and hard work, and what ability there is in the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to wish you all the very best in your own future careers. You have inspired a lot of young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I think you have also made a name for yourselves as individuals. All have a future both in your sport and perhaps with opportunities for coaching and teaching internationally yourselves. Good luck in your futures. Thank you very much, on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, in making us feel prouder and proud of your accomplishments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well today, I would like to welcome to the gallery, on behalf of all members, six students, Levels I, II, and III, from St. Stephen's All Grade School in Rencontre East, in the District of Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune. They are accompanied by their teacher, Mr. Shawn Tibbo.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I would like to welcome to the gallery, Mayor Bob Mesher and councillor Boyd Noel from the town of St. Anthony.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before I call members statements I want to address the point of order that was raised yesterday.

Yesterday the Government House Leader, at the end of Question Period, rose on a point of order that the Leader of the Opposition had used unparliamentary language when directing a question to the Premier. The Chair took the point of order under advisement to review the records of Hansard.

The Chair has had an opportunity to review the Hansard as well as listen to the taped recording of the proceedings. I have also checked the use of the word viper. In addition to being a venomous snake, the Webster's and Oxford dictionaries state that viper means a vicious or treacherous person.

Paragraph 409(7) of Beauchesne states: "A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House, in terms of inferences, imputing motives or casting aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it."

Clearly, to imply that a member is a treacherous or vicious individual is inappropriate and it is certainly unacceptable to the House. I now ask the hon. member to withdraw his remark.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

I am certainly not going to question the Speaker's ruling. Obviously, I certainly did not, in any way shape or form, mean to be unparliamentary to the Premier yesterday. If my word had that affect, which obviously it is ruled that it does, I certainly withdraw it.

I will go on to say, Mr. Speaker, in your quieter moments, would you also be able to review the word puppet for me please?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

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

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

I would also like today to stand and pay tribute, on behalf of my colleague from St. Barbe who was called back to the district on an important matter, to issue the following statement: pay tribute to Helge Ingstead who died in his sleep yesterday at an Oslo hospital at the age of 101. Though his home is obviously very far away from us, Helge Ingstead has played a very crucial and important part in the history of our Province; a part that last year culminated in putting us on the international map in the biggest way ever.

Mr. Ingstead, along with his wife, Anne Stine Ingstead, helped prove conclusively that the Vikings reached North America. In the 1960s he visited the area known now as L'Anse aux Meadows. With the help of local residents, he found traces of the Viking settlement there that dates back 1,000 years, and laid the groundwork that exposed their international historical significance. It is because of this work that last year we completed what has become known as the Great Circle, showing how two vast migration patterns around the planet came together and culminated on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Speaker, before I make my statement I would like to say today that I, too, am honoured, like the Leader of the Opposition, of having a member of the team from my district represented here today as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Our Fifth, Jamie Korab. Hi, Jamie.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, March 23, I had the pleasure of attending an e-business symposium at Conception Bay Regional Center in Carbonear. This event organized by Keyin College, Carbonear Campus, in conjunction with the Mariner Resource Opportunities Network and Human Resources Development Canada, highlighted aspects of the fast rising information technology sector and how it affects the provincial economy.

One example of this growth is the Mariner Resource Opportunities Network were doing their part in growing information technology. Through an e-merge partnership they can help local companies go online. As well, they have the portal project called: Around the Bay, which highlights the Baccalieu Trail area. They also serve as regional facilitator to seven local community access program sites and will soon offer information technology training to volunteers at these sites.

Mr. Speaker, e-business is here to stay and symposiums such as this one, show that information technology remains an important facet of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, as minister responsible for heritage, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to Dr. Helge Ingstad, who passed away this morning in Norway. This gentleman was an anthropologist, lawyer, author and explorer.

There are a few among us who can the commitment to a vision, and ideal as Ingstad did. With his wife, the late Dr. Anne Stine Ingstad, he left Norway and made this Province his home while he toiled for more than seven years to uncover the evidence needed to prove the Norse sagas correct that the Vikings discovered North America at L'Anse aux Meadows 500 years before Caboto.

Ingstad, born in Norway in 1899, trained as a lawyer there but left his practice to explore the Arctic. In the 1950s he travelled to Greenland to investigate the Viking settlement where he became increasingly more interested in the Vinland colony in Newfoundland. Dr. Ingstad became convinced that the most likely site for Vinland was in northern Newfoundland, so he and his daughter explored southern Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula. With a local member of the community, George Decker, he was led to an area of L'Anse aux Meadows that we now know as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The discovery of L'Anse aux Meadows is hailed as one of the most significant pieces of archeological and historical research to have ever taken place in this Province. To Dr. Ingstad and his wife we are grateful for this. Helge Ingstad was awarded an Honourary Doctorate by Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1969 in recognition of his work.

He and his wife have the admiration and thanks of a Province and a people for the archeological and anthropological work which has given us L'anse aux Meadows; but, more than that, their unselfish and unfailing commitment to this work has retrieved for us an unknown part of our history, a history that has allowed us to proudly recognize the arrival of the Vikings at L'anse aux Meadows more than 1000 years ago.

During last year's millennium event we celebrated our heritage as a people, we were awakened to a past that is proud and strong, and we came to know better the history of those who lived here before us and those who visited them.

On behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I wish to extend condolences to the daughter of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, Benedicte. As we remember her father's life, we celebrate the unparalleled legacy he left to this Province.

Let me leave you with the following excerpt from Erik's saga which was written as Erik prepared for the return journey from his explorations:

These oak-hearted warriors

Lured me to this land...

Let us head back

To our countrymen at home;

Let our ocean striding ship

Explore the broad tracts of sea.

Helge Ingstad, Godspeed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, join with the minister in paying tribute to an individual who has made a significant impact and is tied into the history of our Province. We all saw the effects last year. It was a tremendous event marking that 1000th Anniversary. It has great historical significance and it added great tourism value and dollars to our Province. I think our leader has addressed that quite well in a statement on behalf of our colleagues on the Northern Peninsula.

As the minister made reference to, I would like to extend condolences to the family of Helge Ingstad on this particular occasion, the passing of a very renowned individual who has made a significant impact on the history or our Province and the world in general.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to join with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the Opposition House Leader in paying tribute to the life and work of Dr. Helge Ingstad. Certainly, he made a great contribution to our Province in unearthing and discovering some of the roots of historical adventure in this Province, and its discovery by the Norse 1000 years ago. He has also inspired, I think, those who have a vision to pursue that vision. I think there is much in this Province, in our history, in our past, that is still to be uncovered. Those who have a vision, or have a dream to make a discovery, can be inspired by the work of Dr. Ingstad, who, in our own adulthood, has made a great accomplishment, a great discovery, which has provided very beneficial effects to this Province, to knowledge, to our own culture and our own history.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Yesterday, the former Premier and now federal Industry Minister, told the press that he was bewildered and confused by your stand on water exports. In fact, he said, and I quote: You know my position. It was very well articulated when I was there, but Premier Grimes has raised the issue again. I am not sure why he has, and I think I will wait and talk to him before I comment.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are confused, too, Premier. This debate was a very serious one in this House and in this Province for some time. The question I have is: Why have you pulled this issue out of the thin air without so much as consulting the people of the Province, consulting your Cabinet, consulting your colleagues. In fact, the question is, who did you consult on this ill-conceived, hare-brained scheme?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is interested in having an informed debate about a very important issue in the Province without the details and the information which we are now gathering, and would already like to come to a conclusion that something is hare-brained, I think would be the phrase he used. He tends to use those kinds of statements fairly regularly.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this: It should be understood, and I believe the people of the Province do understand it, that Minister Tobin decided that he no longer wanted to have a say in public policy in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is in Ottawa.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: He left this job voluntarily, Mr. Speaker, because he wants to make a contribution on another stage, in another scene, and we will work very closely with him in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador. Those of us that are here will do anything and everything every time with respect to all of the issues, to try to decide on matters that are in the best interest of this Province.

With respect to water export, what we have said, and what I have said in this Province, is that we will have all of the information gathered again with respect to the Free Trade Agreement, all of the information gathered again with respect to the status of the federal legislation, all of the information gathered and examined again with respect to royalties and revenues, all of the information gathered again with respect to options that are available to us under the water ban that we have signed as a Province, and we will present all of the information to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: If we are to make a change, we will bring it to this Legislature in the fall and have an informed debate about the export of water from Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: This seems to be, to me, that this may be the first major recycling initiative of the provincial government.

The Premier's linkage yesterday, or the day before, of water exports to free tuition is the most crass act I have witnessed from a decade of Liberal administrations and premiers who have done some crazy things, with one exception; maybe with the exception of interim Premier Tulk. Did the Premier consult with representatives within the government? Did he consult with his own deputy ministers? Did he consult with representatives of post-secondary institutions in the Province? Or did he consult with representatives from the student movement in the Province before he flicked this cockamamie idea out to the public?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, there was no intention from the government to try to coerce or blackmail, as the language has been used, students into being in favor of a particular proposal that we may bring in the fall. I did not consult with students to suggest that if you agree with the government on a public policy issue we may be able to provide free tuition. That is not the nature of the way we do business.

We are dealing with a public policy issue with respect to what that opposition member admitted this morning is the new generation of oil, the equivalent of oil for the future. Value, unbelievable value, I believe he said this morning in a public interview, white gold; and we should sit here in Newfoundland and Labrador, as the government, we should sit here as the government and not examine the issue as to whether or not we can take the benefit of that today.

I heard a statement this morning as well, suggesting that we should wait eight or ten years to look at doing it right. Well, Mr. Speaker, we are examining it today, to find a way to do it right so that we can start doing it as soon as possible and reap the benefits at the earliest possible opportunity for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not to wait eight or ten years. We will try to do this in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as soon as we can.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier would like to refresh his memory, if he wants to have a look at the numbers, on September 29,1999, when we did our analysis, we presented it to the public. So, if he would like to have a copy of it, I can present it to him.

I do know this: people in this Province do not want bulk water shipped out with the expense of jobs and the public Treasury going behind it

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: People in this Province want value-added processing in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I do know that!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: People in this Province do not want to see two tankers a day leave this Province to sell water somewhere else, to create wealth and employment somewhere else, Premier. I do know that!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me ask him this: Does he agree with the comment made by the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students, who said yesterday: My first impression, this is the most asinine, ridiculous statement that I have ever heard for quite some time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. The hon. member knows that preambles of any sort should not include quotes from statements, from telegrams, from papers. I ask the hon. member to get to his question.

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

You may try to slow us down but you are not going to stop us. I will ask the Premier: Does he agree -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to consider the comment he just made.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I will get to the question.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If I correctly understood the member, he indicated that the Chair was trying to slow him down? Is that what...?

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if that was the impression, I apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier this: Does he agree with the assessment by the president of the Federation of Newfoundland and Labrador Students that says this is the most asinine, ridiculous statement that they have ever heard, that it amounts to blackmail? Does he agree with their statement saying, we know a lot more about free trade than this Premier and this government gives us credit for?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do regret that the president of the Federation of Students would make such a statement, not knowing whatsoever what the intention of the government is and how this would unfold, because we have not presented anything to the public yet. We have given absolutely no detail as to whether or not this will occur or how it would occur. We said that we are willing to have the issue examined fully and publicly debated in Newfoundland and Labrador, and hopefully find a way to do it.

It is unfortunate that some people would be willing to jump to a conclusion to say - because I think the other words that were used by that student leader were that we do not want to be selling off our water.

Mr. Speaker, we are not interested in selling off anything. We are interested in reaping maximum benefits from Newfoundland-based resources for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: The only thing I do regret is this: I do regret - because the Leader of the Opposition has been making some fine speeches lately. They are supposed to be questions, but he is making some fine speeches. For the life of me, I do not why he was so anxious to give up the job. I think he is doing a great job as Leader of the Opposition, and I think you should reconsider maybe in a week's time and maybe challenge to your own job.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

It is unfortunate that he voluntarily decided to apply and lend himself to a recycling program which will occur next weekend here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may see it as unfortunate that I am leaving the job but I can tell you that my kids, Olivia and Isaac, are very excited and fortunate about the fact that I am going to be around a little bit more.

I would like to ask him this question: This is not the first time this Premier was involved in this sort of scheme. If you look at Hansard back in 1989, particularly around 1990, he was involved when he was Parliamentary Assistant to former Premier Clyde Wells, when he stood in this House and said that the payroll tax had to be introduced for health and post-secondary education, which was going to be used to lower tuition costs; he said then. The tax brings in today over $70 million a year; enough, according to the Premier, to do exactly what he wanted to do in shipping out bulk water. What happened then, Premier? Is it not a fact that students did not get any free tuition or even lower tuition, and that from the time you stood in your place and introduced the payroll tax -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: - on the premise that it would provide lower costs, that tuition fees escalated by some 300 per cent?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Leader of the Opposition wants to spend the time in the Legislature re-debating an issue from ten years ago, instead of a current issue today, that is fine with me.

AN HON. MEMBER: Words are important (inaudible).

PREMIER GRIMES: Words are very important, Mr. Speaker, and the Opposition does a good job of trying to twist them on a regular basis.

Everybody - because he was not in the Legislature at the time - understands the debate at the time where - and this is what he conveniently forgets to add and put into the debate as a reminder - that debate occurred in the context of a government that was eliminating schools taxes, a tax that was the most regressive tax in Newfoundland and Labrador's history, brought in by the Opposition when they were there -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: - a tax that they encouraged us to get rid of, which we did.

Now, the government of that day, no more than the government of any day, could do without the revenue; so the school tax was eliminated, because it was not a fair and progressive tax, and it was replaced by a health and post-secondary education tax.

Everybody in this Province knows that despite what happened to tuition rates from 1995-2000, because they are going down now - that is the reality of the day, they are going down - despite what happened in that period, everybody recognizes that without the revenue that the government collected from what is now commonly called the payroll tax, that we would have had less money to put into post-secondary education, and tuition rates would have been even higher. We would have had less money -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: - to put into health care, and there would have been more service cuts which did occur five and six years ago. If he wants to have that debate over again, instead of debating an issue of today -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: - then let's have the debate from ten years and do it all over again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, people made up their minds on the export of bulk water from this Province two years ago, and they have not changed. The only person who has changed his mind on that in this Premier.

Premier, do you realize that not only outside this Legislature but inside this Legislature, on both sides, people are asking: Why has this Premier moved so far and so fast away from the policies that brought them the government?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Why is it, people are asking - not only outside but inside this Legislature, Mr. Premier - that you are not standing up for rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Why is it that you have taken so many directions away from the mandate that you sought? They are the questions that are being asked of you, Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition finally got around to the question that he was instructed to ask today by the leader, by the puppet master.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: It took him a little longer today to get around to the daily question from the puppet master. It is a serious point and needs to be clarified. They talk about the mandate from 1999. The only one of the three issues that he mentions in the mandate in 1999 that was in the public domain, being publicly debated in this Province at that time, was Voisey's Bay.

The issue about FPI, that he suggested yesterday, that we had a mandate in the election. It was not even on the radar screen. It was not being talked about in Newfoundland and Labrador. It happened long after the election. It was an issue that the government dealt with because it arose after the election. It was not being discussed during the election. It was not being contemplated during the election.

With respect to water exports: Guess how much debate there was about water export in the 1999 election? Zero. It was not in their platform. It was not in our platform. It was an issue that arose because a proponent came forward well after the election and said: I would like to export some water from Gisborne Lake. The government of that day dealt with it and the government of this day will deal with it again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: Once we have information, we will find out, with full information, whether or not the people of Newfoundland and Labrador support the export of water in bulk or other forms from Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is wrong again. He has only read up to page eighteen of the Blue Book. If he reads pages nineteen and twenty he will find the quote there: that a PC government, if elected, will not export bulk water from Newfoundland and Labrador. So read on Premier!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: You raised the issue of FPI. This is my last question: Have you decided yet, on the issue of FPI, if you are interested enough -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

I want to know if the Premier has decided - now it is the last day in the House for this week - if he can answer me frankly and straightly; Mr. Straight Answers. Have you decided if you are interested enough by today to stand up for places like Harbour Breton, the Northern Peninsula, Bonavista and other places which are going to be affected by a significant altercation or alteration in the structure of FPI? Have you decided if you are interested enough, Premier, to do that today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Leader of the Opposition, I would encourage you to stay on, you are doing a great job. I would assume that you have read the front page of The Telegram today where the whole point that I have been making about this is exactly stated on the front page of The Telegram. Nobody knows whether or not the issue that is before FPI and its shareholders is going to go one way or the other in terms of who runs the organization. We have stated in this Legislature that, over that issue, we do not have a great deal of concern. We are only concerned, with whoever is running FPI, that they do it and continue to do it in a fashion that protects the interests of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the rural communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development. Before asking the question I would like to welcome him back from his pilgrimage to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven in Ottawa.

I have a very serious question. Minister, in 1996 Canada and the United States signed a Softwood Lumber Agreement that caps the total amount of duty-free lumber that four Canadian provinces sell into the United States. The Atlantic Provinces are now exempt from that cap and can sell any amount of lumber into the United States market, duty-free. Lumber production in Newfoundland and Labrador has nearly doubled, I say to the minister, in the last five years from 68 million board feet to one 125 million board feet, and half of this lumber is shipped out of the Province into markets, primarily, in the United States.

Minister, this five-year agreement expires on March 31, just a couple of days time. All indications are that Washington is looking for extra tariffs and duties on all softwood lumber entering the United States, including those from this Province. I would like to ask the minister, since this is a very serious trade issue, what the minister and his government has done in order to protect this Province's interest?

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

MR. TULK: Let me say to my friend from Bonavista South, first of all, if ever I should leave this place I hope that he leaves with me so that I don't miss him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: I think it would be a tremendous loss in my life if I couldn't look across at you everyday and see you.

Now to deal with the issue. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we recognize, and recognized some time ago, that there is a problem with the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think we met with the Maritime Lumber Producers Association about a month ago, had a discussion with them and we recognize that we are fighting the rest of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: He is at it again over there. Can somebody feed him?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: We recognize that there is a serious problem and that the rest of Canada is trying to put pressure on the federal government to see that, indeed, there be one fee structure, or if you want, one trade structure for Atlantic softwood. We made representation to the federal minister, through the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, that that not be the case and that they keep the agreement with the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement the same as it is now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister, just to tell you how important this issue is, probably as you already know, over 3,000 people are employed in the lumber industry in this Province on either a full-time or part-time basis. That is equivalent to the total number of people employed in the mining industry in this Province. It is about the same number as the number of people employed in the pulp and paper industry, and three times the projected employment for Voisey's Bay during peak production.

I ask the minister: If Canada agrees to restrict duty-free lumber exports from this Province to appease the Americans, has the minister raised the issue of compensation for companies and workers who make their living from this industry because of lumber export duties being provided by the United States?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Softwood Lumber Agreement, yes it is well known and public knowledge that that agreement is up at the end of March, that five-year agreement. As the minister has already said, we have made representation to the federal trade minister, Pettigrew. I brought it up with the federal agrifoods minister a couple of weeks ago in Montreal, Quebec. I have also written and copied our representative in the federal Cabinet, Mr. Tobin. Every five years they come up with this - the last fifteen years, it goes right back to 1985, 1986. There is always a problem at the end of the agreement. This year there is a crack in it, in the fact that B.C. is looking to go it alone, or they were there for a few days. Now, today, it is at the stage whereby the United States, the Bush administration is saying that Atlantic Canada may be exempt. Our view on this is that we have to negotiate as a nation and as Canada. This is where we stand today as a Province. We are making sure that our views are heard on the federal scene and making sure that this is taken up with the Bush administration in Washington. It is very important. We exported 62 million board feet out of this Province last year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Minister to conclude his answer.

MR. WOODFORD: There was 1.3 billion board feet in Atlantic Canada, but the ceiling in the whole agreement was 14.7 million board feet before there was any tariffs or countervailing issues put in place before in the old agreement. We want at least that and then some. We want Newfoundland to be exempt as we did before.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Baie Verte, unless the hon. member wants to give way for one final supplementary to the hon. member.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the two ministers who stood on their feet: Premier Hamm, from the Province of Nova Scotia, has seen fit to get involved in this discussion himself. We have not heard a word uttered from people opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: The minister states he wrote a letter. I am not sure how effective letter writing is, I say to the Premier.

The minister and his colleagues made a great hoopla over transferring a couple of hundred public service jobs to rural Newfoundland from St. John's. Three thousand jobs in this industry are in jeopardy here, I say to people opposite, and this government have not uttered a word. I wonder if the minister can explain why the government appears so unconcerned about rural industries in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It is true!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, as a government we have made representation. We have been talking to the Newfoundland Lumber Producers' Association, who in turn recommended and accepted the fact that the Maritime Lumber Bureau would represent all of the Maritime Provinces and all of the Atlantic Provinces on the national scene. Yes, there were different premiers of different provinces who got involved. Yes, there are ministers in each province who got involved. We know how important this is to Newfoundland and Labrador. That is why we made representation on several occasions. That is why we are still monitoring the situation and we are -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) on the weekend about it.

MR. WOODFORD: Pardon me?

MR. TULK: There is discussion (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, and we -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier. Since the Premier has dismissed the right of former Premier Tobin to talk about policy in this Province, I am going to quote to him his statement in the House on November 30 - this Premier's statement: The government has heard the people, the government has listened to the people, the government has already, with the approval of the opposition parties, passed second reading which is approval in principle on the whole issue that is outlined in the petition that water is not to leave this Province in bulk for export. That issue is dealt with.

I say to the Premier, if he was listening to the people then, can he tell us who he is listening to now on the issue of bulk export of water?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to address the issue again, because it needs to be addressed in the Province several times, obviously; because both parties in opposition, for some reason, do not even want to talk about it.

What I have put forward is that I do believe that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve, because it is such a valuable resource, admitted by the Leader of the Opposition, it is such an incredibly valuable resource, that the people of the Newfoundland and Labrador deserve to have a full, informed debate again about whether or not it makes sense and is to our benefit to export water from Newfoundland and Labrador either in bulk form, bottle form, or both, and we will not be deterred from gathering the information and having the debate.

We did hear before, but people like the Member for St. John's South wanted to fearmonger -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer.

PREMIER GRIMES: He wanted to fearmonger about implications under NAFTA.

Mr. Speaker, just let me read one quote from the NAFTA agreement where it says: If you let them export water, it means they can rush in here from the United States and take our water and run off with the water.

That is what he was saying. The words say this: If an investor comes forward, there shall be accorded to any other party the same treatment as an investor in this Province, which means they have to go through the same environmental process, the same permitting, go through all the same regulations as anybody else in Newfoundland and Labrador. They cannot come and take our water. They make you believe they can come and take the water!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: They do not want to have a real debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So, not only is former Premier Tobin ignorant on this issue; so is federal Minister Anderson who said yesterday that, once you turn it into a good, it will be subject to export elsewhere.

I would ask the Premier to tell us about what his government has done since November of 1999 on the issue of royalties on bottled water, when they announced a ministerial committee would report in ninety days. Have they done anything in terms of supporting the bottle water industry in this Province, developing a system of royalties, and increasing this Province's gain from $6,000 to somewhere approaching a reasonable royalty on bottled water?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When we have the informed debate - and words are important - when we have the informed debate about the issues of exporting water from Newfoundland and Labrador for the benefits of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in bulk and/or in bottles, all of these issues will be presented in the public with a factual basis, and anyone who wants to suggest that someone could come in to Newfoundland and Labrador bypass the government, ignore the people, and just run in here with anything they want and scoop up the water and run away with it - we will have an informed, rational debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees; Notices of Motion; Answers to Questions for Which Notice has been Given; Petitions.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I am looking for the appropriate Order of the Day. I have it.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, it was a little noisy. With the permission of the Government House Leader, we have a couple of petitions to present - in fact, we have three petitions to present - if we could revert to that item on the Order Paper.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition that was circulated not only in my district but in the area of Trinity and Conception Bay. It is a petition that amazingly has 13,000 names on it. The petition calls for a review of the zoning with regard to insurance, from Zone 1, which includes the St. John's area, to a Zone 2. A recent re-zoning of the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas will enable that particular zone, Zone 2, to get much cheaper insurance rates.

Now, the rationale for keeping the Avalon region - that is the whole Avalon Peninsula - in Zone 1, is that all of the drivers, all of the automobile drivers in the Avalon Peninsula region, really use the same roads. The argument of the movers of this petition clearly point out that is not true.

When you look at the driving patterns of the people in and around St. John's, it is completely different than the driving patterns of people out in the Whitbourne-Markland area, upper and lower Trinity, down Bay de Verde region, up along Carbonear-Harbour Grace, and these 13,000 people are suffering with regard to high insurance rates.

What these people want is, they want the government to do a review so that the rationale for this becomes obviously very, very clear to them. They cannot understand how they can be penalized. They live well beyond 100 kilometres outside of the St. John's region. Not only are we hearing from these people, but if you look up the Southern Shore, down around Placentia area, these areas as well are under that same zoning. I would suspect that my colleagues may speak on that at some later time, but the reason to bring it to the attention of this House is again to encourage the minister to review and come back to the people, these 13,000 people and more, who have signed this petition, to come back to these people and give them a very clear reason or reasons why the driving patterns of people - for example in Bay de Verde - are called similar. When we are talking about this particular region, we are talking about a region made up of -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: The region that I am referring to is mostly, for the most part, a rural area. The density of the population on the Avalon Peninsula is in and around St. John's and Mount Pearl. So when we talk about looking at rezoning we are asking the government to look at the people who are living in these areas. These are mostly senior citizens whose driving patterns are just a kilometer or two a day.

I call upon the minister - again, if he would look at the names behind this petition. If the minister would look at, once again, reviewing this entire situation. We are not looking at the whole Avalon Peninsula. We are looking at drawing the lines where the patterns certainly are different. These people cannot understand why, in Bonavista and Burin, they could be put in Zone 2 whereas parts of the Avalon Peninsula have not been considered. Again, a plea to the minister to change it.

I especially congratulate the mover of this petition, Victoria Harnum of Harbour Grace. She is in the gallery today. I congratulate her for taking the initiative of sending around these petitions to the local stores, the local areas, and getting 13,000 names. I believe this petition certainly indicates that this issue is not dead. Again, a call to the minister to review the situation.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the gallery today Mayor Walwin Blackmore of the town of Grand Falls-Windsor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Order 2, Committee of Supply. We will be debating the Legislature and Executive Council.

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

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I did have some questions for the minister, the President of Treasury Board. The questions I had were more particular to the Estimates themselves. I had hoped that she would be in her place and be able to respond to these, but I understand that she is going to be absent for a few moments. We do understand now that the President of Treasury Board is available for some questions.

I want to go to 3.1.05, 3.1.06 and 3.1.07, to kind of finish up this section that we did not complete yesterday afternoon. This is the Executive Council under Treasury Board, 3.1.05, the Strategic and Human Resource Policy. I did note last year that you had budgeted $547,800 and the revised budget went up to $618,300. I want to ask the minister what is the occasion for this rather significant increase? I notice it is back this year to $599,800. Under Salaries, 3.1.05.01, salary changes over the last two years.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

I apologize to the member, I was on my way out of the House for a moment. I think I got the question as it relates to the increase in Salaries in 3.1.05, under the Strategic and Human Resource Policy. Is that correct?

MR. H. HODDER: Yes.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: What we have done here is added a permanent position during the fiscal year, and that has accounted for the increase.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: You said you added a new position. Would that be a permanent position, a temporary position with a years' contract, or is this person on some kind of contractual basis?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: It is a new permanent policy position.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Madam Minister.

In the issue of Transportation and Communications, .03; you had $28,200 last year but it went up to $51,000. I wonder if the minister could explain why the increase was nearly 100 per cent? Also, this year it is back to $28,200. What happened last year to drive those travel costs and communication costs to almost 100 per cent more than you had allocated?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

As the member opposite would know, this particular subsection covers Executive Council, the Department of Finance, the Department of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, as well as the Public Service Commission for the Training and Development Division piece. As a result of all of the departments and increases in training demands, travel was increased because obviously we don't just do that sort of thing only in St. John's. We travel around the Province to do the training for our employees, all across the Island as well as Labrador.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: If that is the rationale, Madam Minister, then one would think that this year you will be doing the same level of training that you were doing last year. Last year you used $51,000 but this year you are back to $28,200. Does that mean that you are not going to be doing as much training in out-of-town locations this year as you were doing last year?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

Again, you can see that the original budget was at what the current budget is estimated for this year. Right now, we are planning just to do our usual. The way it works is that there are needs that arise throughout the year that you have to meet those requirements based on the requests that would be made. Right now, we are budgeting what we had previously budgeted last year. Hopefully, we will not spend as much if we do not need it, but if we do, you can see we will, to meet the training needs of our employees.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Madam Minister.

If we could go to the next item there, the Opening Doors, up front I want to say that I am very supportive of this particular initiative of government. This is employing opportunities for persons with disabilities. It is an initiative, I think, of which all members of this House are quite supportive. Certainly, we give encouragement to the government to provide equal opportunities for access to jobs.

Also, I compliment the government, because when government does something good, I want to be the first to say that they are doing something right, and not criticizing for the sake of criticizing.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: A breath of fresh air, I say to the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: We do not get the chance very often to compliment the government but, when it comes to hiring people with disabilities, this is an area where I can compliment the government and say to Madam Minister that she herself has show a strong interest in this particular program for a long time.

MR. FITZGERALD: Stop praising her, Harvey. Don't go praising her; it might go to her head.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes, come on, get with the program. Get back to criticizing.

MR. FITZGERALD: She is not tuned in to being praised from over here.

MR. H. HODDER: I do say to my hon. colleague, the Member for Bonavista South, it is a rare occasion.

On behalf of all of those people with disabilities, the challenges are still very great, I say to the minister. We have not gone as far as we should be going, but there have been significant improvements. I certainly have some complimentary words to say to the minister on behalf of those people who are participating in the JEEPS program.

Madam Minister, under Salaries, however, we do note that last year you budgeted $1,847,200, you actually spent $1,748,800, and this year you are going to spend $2,048,500. I want to ask the minister what new positions we are going to be putting in place to account for this increase, and also whether these positions will all be in the St. John's region. Could you give us some idea as to how these opportunities are spread throughout the Province as well? Are we providing the same level of opportunities to rural Newfoundland communities under this program as we would be to the St. John's or Corner Brook areas?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

Again, I want to thank and acknowledge the comments made by the Member for Waterford Valley with respect to this program. We do agree, it is a good program. The program is focused around increased positions by ten, as you know. As far as I am aware right now, not all of the positions are filled. I guess they would have to go through the posting process and look at the needs.

From what I can gather, a number of various regions have submitted the needs for positions. I guess they will look at the total needs, what they are for, and make the decision on exactly where they go - I do not think that has been determined yet - but there is no intent to harbor them all in one area or the other. It would be based on the application process, the types of jobs that would be required, and the needs of a particular region.

As far as I know, those ten positions have not been allocated by population or by any other reason except what is needed throughout the regions and the requests that they have put forward.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Madam Minister.

I just hope that when you get the chance to bring forward the discussions to the federal level, and we talk about allocating money on the basis of need, that we can convince the federal government, of course, that should be the philosophy that they should be allocating money to our health care system on the same basis.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Absolutely.

MR. H. HODDER: In this program, as the minister has said, we try to look at the needs of the people, and where they are located, and how we can most conveniently find job opportunities for them in the regions closest to where they are. Certainly, I say to the minister, the change in the federal formula, which, of course, is based on population only in terms of our health care dollars, has really constrained the ability of Newfoundland and Labrador to be able to provide the same level of services in health care as we know exist in other provinces.

I wanted to move over, if I could, to the French Language program. That is 3.1.07. I want to note again that the budget is basically the same as it was last year. I did notice that you allocated, under 01. Salaries, $335,900 last year, you spent $377,400. That extra $40,000, is that because the recently-retired Premier, the moving-on Premier, in preparation for going back to Ottawa, he needed more intense language lessons? I did note that he did speak in the House of Commons a few days ago in French, so we assume that we spent $40,000 making sure that former Premier Tobin's French Language skills were up to scratch?

MR. TULK: Former former.

MR. H. HODDER: Former former. I apologize to the Member for Bonavista North. He is a former former Premier. We forgot you so fast, I say to the member, we had not expected you back actually. We had expected you to be sending us a note and saying to your former colleagues here how good it was to be in Ottawa, how red the carpet was. We certainly had reason to expect that we would hear big announcements on behalf of the member.

Why did we have such an increase last year, I say to the minister? We went from $335,900 on French Language instruction to $377,400. There must be a reason for that. Why did that occur?

CHAIR: Before recognizing the President of Treasury Board, the Chair would like to recognize the presence in today's galley of Mr. Tom Osborne, the Mayor of Arnold's Cove.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

In response to the question, there was an increase in the temporary instructors' positions for French training. I cannot speak to exactly who received the benefit of the extra temporary positions and instructors in French training.

AN HON. MEMBER: It wasn't me.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: And it wasn't me.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Minister, how many French Language instructors do we employ, and how many students in the civil service - I will call them clients within the civil service - are now actively engaged in the French Language instructional programs?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

We have a manager of the French Language unit; we have a staff training and development office; we have three language training officers. One is provided by the federal government. We have a bilingual liaison officer and a bilingual administrative assistant; and we also have the temporary assistants as well. With respect to the exact number, I would have to find that out. I do not keep a running tab on who is taking French lessons, if you are registered or not, but I can certainly find out. It is not an issue.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. EFFORD: Harvey, the (inaudible) question will depend on what is going to happen with the Dow Jones tomorrow.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes, I was thinking there was a few other issues I have been paying attention to lately, I don't mind admitting to my colleagues.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There are a few other things on the go recently, I would say to my colleague, like a Budget and things like that.

MR. H. HODDER: I would say to the hon. the President of Treasury Board that yes, we understand that her mind might be occupied in other places these days, particularly over the next few days. As we hear from the media this morning, there is a lot of activity occurring in and around St. John's with negotiations with the public service, and that kind of thing.

If I could move over to the Office of the Comptroller General and we note that again there has been some changes. Last year there was $2.26 million allocated, the actual spending was $2,089,700, but this year it is back to $2.278 million. I was wondering if the minister could tell us why there has been an increase in the allocation of funds for the Comptroller General?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

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

There were some vacancies which occurred during the year which we would be planning on filling, then you add that on to the other salary benefits and costs. That would attribute for the increase.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Just a couple to finish off this section here under Comptroller General. Professional Services was budgeted at $50,000, spent $120,000 and back to $50,000 this year. That must have been an historic amount. Why the extra $70,000, 140 per cent, over the expenditure in that area?

CHAIR: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I just ask for clarification, under Professional Services you are referring?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it is.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The reason that is higher is because there was an increased use of consultant services for various projects under that particular section.

MR. SULLIVAN: What type of projects might be over and above the normal?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I think one of the issues was around the accounting systems. Looking at the accounting systems and also -

MR. SULLIVAN: Following the Auditor General's advice, that type?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The payroll systems. Those kinds of initiatives, from what I can gather.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Under 06. Purchased Services, there was an expenditure of $65,500 over and above last year and of course, in this fiscal year now it is budgeted at the same amount again. Would that have been along the same lines, the same reason for that too?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The reason for this particular one is that there was an increase in the usage of the credit card payments.

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There was an increase in the fee cost because of the increased usage in the credit card payments associated with this section.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: More credit card use than historically, is that basically -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, the fee was higher for the usage, not the usage itself.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, the fee has gone up.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Right.

MR. SULLIVAN: So wouldn't that reflect in the next year again?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, from what I can gather, there was some sort of an arrangement where I think we are going to get it back to where it was.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. So there was some dispute or it was challenged and you went back and requested that it was too high? You said the fee was too high, you wanted it rolled back and you got a positive response back. Would that be it?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, we are under the impression that this year the rates will be more stable than they were. From what I can gather the cost was higher because of the usage. I guess what we are looking at doing this year is having a better planned usage of the credit cards with respect to the payments.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay.

That pretty well completes that section there so I am going to - I think my colleague, the leader, has a few things he wanted to touch on under Executive Council.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

On Tuesday, before Private Members' Day, we concluded some remarks on the Budget specifically dealing with the Intergovernmental Affairs Department. As I indicated at that time, my feeling, this is a department that plays a crucial and critical role in all aspects of government but yet, at the same time, it is probably one of the most - or I should say it this way - the least understood ministerial department in government.

The last day we got into the heading dealing with Policy Analysis and Coordination. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs today, who happens to be also the House Leader, represents this provincial government in all interprovincial relations. In fact, in all relations outside of Canada. That is the line department that takes the lead, coordinates, assists, provides analysis on government policy, vis-- vis, our sister provinces. We got into the discussion on Tuesday, vis--vis, of what approach or what has been provided on the whole notion of Upper Churchill, Lower Churchill and the position of the government. I would like to ask the minister a few questions today dealing with - on page 20, budget subhead, 2.3.03. Policy Analysis and Coordination. Obviously, with the debate that is occurring, the impact of bulk export of water, et cetera: What positions has government put forward recently, if any, on this debate to the federal government?

MR. LUSH: I don't think, Mr. Chairman, that the department has put anything together recently to the federal government. We are presently coordinating and gathering information for the Premier. That is basically what we are doing now, collecting, gathering information so that we can be enlightened as to what all the factors are in this situation. That is basically what we are doing now, collecting, gathering information for the Premier. At that point in time, when we have gathered the information, I think then the Premier will decide whether or not he wants us to proceed to the federal scene.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Under this section, Salaries; $521,300. Do you have somebody specifically on this file, or do you have somebody specifically on the Lower Churchill file? Do you have someone specifically dealing with the federal government, for example, on the Canada Health and Social Transfer Act? How is the department organized based - I have the salary details here. I am not worried about the salary details and the explanations, that has been provided. But, what I am interested in are some of the duties that the minister may have provided to his staff related to these important files.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, I am sorry.

MR. E. BYRNE: I will be finished in a moment, I say to the Clerk.

If he could elaborate. How do you have that staff structured in terms of duties and responsibilities, what files they have, vis--vis interprovincial relations, the federal government on Canada Health and Social Transfer, on issues that are emerging like bulk export, for example? I wonder if he could elaborate a little bit on that, please?

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The department is divided into three areas really. We have the administration, we have people dealing with policy, and we have people dealing with the regionalization. So, yes, there are people in policy. These people do work on advising the government on a variety of issues, not only the issue on Gisborne, but on a variety of issues. I say to the member, it is not a large department. There would not be large numbers of people, but there would be people in policy who would be committed to, dedicated to, and assigned to working on a large variety of problems. So yes, there is a division of policy and these nine or ten people would be working in a number of areas. I am just trying to think now, I don't think that they would be specific. They are sort of in a general capacity. For example, we have people who advise on defense. That might be the most specific one, people who advise us on defence, but in other matters - we also have another person in French. There is a person who advises on Quebec affairs. The others would be more general and they would work on a variety of files.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

In terms of outside of the intergovernmental relations within Canada - I throw this question out more as an opportunity than anything else to the minister. Do you play a role, for example, in providing analysis and support say to the Department of Tourism in terms of any market analysis in developing tourism in the Province? Do you provide a role in any way, shape or form with the Department of Industry and Rural Renewal now in terms of possible opportunities that you have identified, or does the departments from time to time make requests of the Intergovernmental Affairs secretary, their department, to play a role? Do you provide on the one hand, and proactive, and at times upon requests from other line departments - do you get involved in that aspect or is it on a more general basis?

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: With respect to tourism and culture, particularly - the hon. member is using that as an example - it would be more on a general basis in terms of facilitating and assisting. If they were looking for some particular assistance in federal matters, or they wanted this department to facilitate what they are doing, but in getting down to the actual details of formulating policy with respect to markets or determining markets, no. With the Department of Tourism it would be more of a general matter. In the specifics itself, the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs in specific matters would deal with defense. That is a real big one, really. A lot of members are probably not aware of how large defense is to the economy of this Province. For example, Goose Bay itself, with respect to its military training, the low level flying, that last year meant $91 million to this Province. So that is a direct line with this department. The IGA is the direct line in that department.

Labour mobility; we are presently working with labour mobility with Quebec. We are in a line situation there. Honourable members will know that with Quebec, for a long time there have been some complaints with Newfoundlanders, in particular, that we cannot work in Quebec but Quebecers can work in Newfoundland. It has been a sore point with Labrador City. No, I should say Labrador. It has been a sore point there with Labradorians where Quebecers come in and work. We don't have the reciprocal agreement but we are working on that, and I might say, we have made some headway. We have made headway now with workers. We had an exchange of workers in Fatima in Quebec, and we are now working with contractors. We think, within time, we will have that worked out where there can be interaction between companies in Quebec and Newfoundland, and with the workers. That is a large area.

The other thing that we are responsible for is the Ministerial Council of Social Policy. The IGA minister is a minister of that particular organization that develops social policy for all of Canada, and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is an active participant on that committee and hopefully, is instrumentally in developing social policy for Canada.

Also, we are a line department - which is not very big at the moment but we hope that it becomes bigger - with respect to immigration. The hon. member mentioned that the department coordinates - that is the big word - and assists with the other departments that have federal connections, and we participate in all agreements for economic development in the Province. I do not think there are any exceptions. I think we are a part to all of the agreements being signed for the Province. All in all, it is a very important department.

I want to say, in conclusion, to the Leader of the Opposition, that I want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to say this. He mentioned Tuesday, I think it was, when he raised this matter of what we were doing with other - he talked about what active files there were. I should say, one of the most active files to the minister now is equalization. We are working diligently to assist other departments that work on that to ensure that we get a better deal re the development of our resources. So equalization, working on that particular file, is a large area at this particular moment. We intend to contact and meet with all IGA ministers right throughout the country to impress upon them the importance of Newfoundland getting a better deal and somehow a better share of the development of our resources, particularly our offshore oil, as it applies to equalization and related matters.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is certainly a pleasure to hear the Member for Terra Nova, my member, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, asking some pointed questions about his department. We are curious over here about what the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs does, and what their involvement is, because we saw so little action from the former minister. We saw a minister sit in this House before, for a full term, who did so little and never stood on his feet to answer a question, we wondered what the Intergovernmental Affairs Department was all about.

MR. NOEL: The questions are supposed to come from that side.

MR. FITZGERALD: The questions came from this side. I remember, as one person who questioned, I say to the member, who stood up and asked you some questions on Employment Insurance. You stood up and talked about going before your own party up in Ottawa and introducing a resolution that would allow changes to the Employment Insurance Program. I might add, it was a resolution that was brought forward that you didn't even have the interest to hang around and debate. When that particular issue was brought to the floor at your meeting up in Ottawa, at your federal meeting with your federal cousins, the resolution was introduced and when it came for discussion there wasn't one member, not one member, I say to the people here, from that side, who attended that meeting, who had the courage to get up and talk about the hurt that was going to be installed and inflicted on rural Newfoundlanders because of the changes that were brought about to the EI program.

MR. NOEL: We got changes.

MR. FITZGERALD: You got changes, but what changes did you get? Did you bring about the changes that were really needed? The one thing that hurt people more in rural Newfoundland as it relates to Employment Insurance, and this is what your former Premier campaigned on. This is what your cousins up in Ottawa, the leader of your cousins up in Ottawa, when he stood up before the people and said, I apologize - remember that a few short months ago? - I apologize to the people of Canada for bringing about such draconian changes to the EI program. I was wrong.

Premier Tobin campaigned, and the Member for Terra Nova was with him, by his side, going out and saying that we are going to make those changes. We are going to change the legislation. We are going to re-introduce it to the House of Commons so that it will reflect your need, so that it will reflect the hurt that has been brought about to people who are unfortunate enough to find themselves on Employment Insurance.

I say to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, he knows the topic very well. His district is not a lot different than mine, where I would suggest to him there are high unemployment levels. Many people there are fortunate enough, if you would, to have a seasonal job, but unfortunate enough to have to draw EI somewhere during the year. That particular program, that particular piece of legislation, as it is introduced to the House of Commons today, certainly has not gone far enough to reflect the need by the people who have to access that particular program.

The minister knows full well what I am talking about. He knows full well that the divisor rule for the Employment Insurance program is hurtful to the people who have to access EI. I think of our fish plants. I think of the people who work at seasonal occupations, especially in the fishing industry. That is the first industry that comes to mind when you think of rural Newfoundland. The logging industry is another one. It is seasonal work, I say to the minister. The people themselves do not determine when they go to work. The people themselves do not determine when they get laid off. It all happens by forces outside of their control.

Up until those changes that your now minister was instrumental in bringing about back in 1996 when it came before the House of Commons, when they brought in the divisor rule, they lengthened the amount of time that somebody could draw EI and they increased the amount of time the people would need to qualify for EI. They brought in the intensity rule, where they almost made people think they were criminals because they had to draw Employment Insurance. Then they go and pay lip service by introducing it back to the House of Commons again, no mention of the divisor rule, no changes in the length of time that people can draw EI.

Right now in this Province today, especially in our fish plants, people who work - and I think this time of the year normally we see some activity in the shellfish processing plants around the Province. You do not have to drive very far to see the ice conditions around our coast. Most of our seasonal workers today, Minister, because of those rules and regulations, are now finding themselves with their Employment Insurance about to expire at the end of this month. Most of them will lose their Employment Insurance as of this weekend. Most of them will find themselves unable to feed their families. Most of them, through no fault of their own, will probably have the find and make their way to a social services department in order to ask for a handout in order to be able to keep body and soul together.

Those are the issues, I say to the minister, that I would feel a great comfort if I knew that you, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, could tell me that you are actively pursuing that and, yes, they have held it up in the House of Commons and, yes, we are looking at changing it; but I do not hear a word.

I brought up a topic here today on softwood lumber. Premier Hamm up in Nova Scotia got involved in it himself because it was so important. It is an industry worth $30 million in this Province today. It employs 3,000 people. That is more people than work within the mining industry of this Province; that is double the number of people who will work at Voisey's Bay at the peak of production; that is more people than work in the pulp and paper industry of this Province, but we have not heard one sound from over there.

The minister of forestry got up and said he wrote a letter. Did Premier Hamm write a letter? Was he satisfied that it was enough to write a letter to show somebody I am interested? Maybe I should ask the minister to table the letter that he wrote. Maybe that is in order. I ask the minister what he has done to protect the lumber industry in this Province today.

The lumber industry is very prevalent in my district. I have two major sawmills, two major employers. One industry, one company, Jamestown Lumber Company Ltd., a company that came from a group of people forming a co-op, going out and taking their own money and putting it together and saying that we believe in this industry and we are going to make this industry grow. I am not sure how many people started out in the beginning. I think it might have been six or eight people. Today, that same company employs anywhere from sixty to eighty people. If you talk to the owner there, Mr. Bob Dingwall - a lot of people know him here - he is a real good business man. A person who, when you talk to him, I say to members in this House of Assembly, does not talk about the price of lumber, he does not talk about a new machine that he put in, he does not talk about the need to have other things done with the company. The first thing he talks about is how proud he is to be able to employ local people from that particular area coming to work at his sawmill. You go there today, you drive down between Jamestown and Winter Brook, and see the business that this man and that board of directors have created, and I can tell you that if we are going to be looking for something to happen in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a great lesson to be learned. There is a great lesson to be learned by people like Bob Dingwall. Those are the people who are going to drive the economy of that particular area, and I do not think it is good enough for this government to sit back and rest on their laurels, to write off a letter to - I do not know which minister they wrote; he did not say. He said he sent a letter off to some -

MR. LUSH: Minister Pettigrew.

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon? Who?

MR. LUSH: Minister Pettigrew.

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister Pettigrew. I do not think it is good enough, Mr. Chair, when you see benefits that are derived from this particular industry, to say that we wrote a letter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: March 31, two days' time? Sunday, March 31, we should all be wary of the Ides of March, is it? A lot of things can happen on March 31.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) the Ides of March?

AN HON. MEMBER: March 15.

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not know when it is, but I use it as a date. It is date that, if we do not step up to the plate and if we do not step up and protect the industries that mean so much to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, then I fear what will happen.

You just come up a little bit further, up to that particular section of Bonavista Bay that we know as Goose Bay and you come to another sawmill there, Bloomfield Lumber Ltd. I have to say this to the minister: only two summers ago, I drove up to Ottawa and I was driving through Montreal - it is pretty fast traffic going through Montreal, in places, especially at rush hour - and I got behind this transport truck. There was only myself and my wife and I said: Just look at that. Here I am, in Montreal, nobody knows us, driving with thousands of cars passing you by and meeting you, and you look at a tractor trailer in front of your car and what do you see? You see a tractor trailer full of lumber with Bloomfield Lumber Ltd. written across it. You almost want to stop somebody - I do not know who owned the truck. I did not know who it was, but I did pass it and I had to honk my horn because there was something in common there. There was something that made you feel good. You knew the people, and when you saw the Bloomfield Lumber Ltd. sign you could relate it to the owner. You could relate it to the people you know who are going to work there. A lot of that lumber, I say to people here, from Jamestown Lumber Company Ltd. and Bloomfield Lumber Ltd,. and I am going to use those two industries because they are the two industries I know best because they are in my district and I know what they do for that particular district.

AN HON. MEMBER: Roger, were you playing (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know what I was playing. I don't know anything about that.

I say to the minister that looking after our industries is not unlike running in an election. If the election is called today, you don't go out, or at least I don't - I suppose everybody has their own way of how they campaign and how they electioneer - but you do go out knocking on doors that you don't know first. The first thing you do is support up what you already have. You make sure the support that was there for you is there for you now, and that it is firmed up, and you touch the people who you know first. Then you move on. That is what I say to the minister. There is not a lot of difference. If you are going to do something to help rural Newfoundland and Labrador, then you have to support what is already there first. You have to support the industry that we know is doing alright. You have to support the industry that we know has a future. We have to support the industry that you know is a viable industry, but part of making that a viable industry is to protect -

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) those people know that I support them.

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?.

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I am not doubting that for one moment, Mr. Chair, but it is a situation -

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Pardon?

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: For obvious reasons, I say to the member, but that is no reflection. The minister knows where I am.

There are two great industries, and it bothers me. If people saw me here the last number of days that I have been standing, and we have had our plate full of questions, you stand up at the end of Question Period and there is only a minute or two left. So it is not something that was only dreamed up today. This is something that I wanted to ask for days.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: That is right. It all goes by getting what you feel needs to be on first and then you identify a time slot. The clock does not always work with your list.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Speaking of the clock, your time is up now.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: The clock does not always agree with the list. I would encourage the government to, for God's sake, do what needs to be done. Up until now it has not been a great big issue with - well, I shouldn't say it hasn't been a great big issue, but this past five years it has not been an issue, because we could produce and those sawmills could hum. Whatever product came out was taken somewhere else, and if it wasn't sold locally, the majority of it went South of the Border. Now, we can see that closed off, and that causes me great concern. Already the price of lumber is not what it was a few years ago. Already the stockpiles in those mills have grown from what they used to be.

I say to you, Mr. Chairman, we are not talking about mills here that are sending out squares or sending out round timber, we are talking about secondary processing. That is what we are talking about. We are talking about two mills today that are taking part in secondary processing. The product that you see leaving Jamestown Lumber and Bloomfield Lumber is taken to the extent that they can take it, and ready for the supermarket shelves, ready to go in and build a house. When it leaves it is either 2x4, 2x8, 2x10 or 2x3, whatever it is that that market demands.

The other thing is, far different from what happened a few years ago, now it is kiln dried. You drive down through Bloomfield now or Lethbridge or you drive down through Jamestown and you will see, any hour of the night, a light and you will see the smoke powering out of a couple of big houses or establishments, right on that particular lot, known as kilns.

AN HON. MEMBER: Kilns it is.

MR. FITZGERALD: Kilns, that is what it is, yes.

One company had the unfortunate experience of having their kiln burned just a couple of short years ago, and within months after the site was cleaned up, a construction company moved in there and there was another kiln built, and they are back processing and back producing lumber now as they did years ago.

So, you are not talking about a small employer. You are not talking about an employer who is in here every day looking for government handouts. You are not talking about an employer who closes up shop today and comes back and says: Mr. Minister, I employed fifty people last year and now I need x number of dollars or else I am going to close up shop and we won't be employing those people anymore. You are talking about a solid company. You are talking about two companies that are operated by solid management, and they are going to be there for the long run.

I would like to, since I am on leave, ask the minister a couple of questions and let him respond to it. I would like to ask the minister, number one, if he would table the correspondence that was written to Minister Pettigrew explaining the need to have those tariffs not continued with or not brought about in Atlantic Canada. We would like to operate in the same environment as we have operated and nurture this industry and allow it to unfold and expand and create jobs as it has done before.

Even though the question was asked of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, I would think that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would have played a part in that as well. I would think that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would be the liaison between this government and its federal cousin up in Ottawa. I would think that this issue, being as big as it is, that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would have had some correspondence back and forth to Minister Pettigrew and the other people in Atlantic Canada who would have taken part, because it affects Nova Scotia and New Brunswick just as much as it affects Newfoundland and Labrador.

I wonder if he would allow us access and provide us with a copy of the piece of correspondence that the minister referred to here today. While he answering some of the concerns that I have raised, maybe he would also like to tell us what he has done, since he has been the minister, to change back the changes that have been implemented with the Employment insurance program to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, because I can assure you that the way it is right now, it is no great help.

Also, yesterday we heard the former Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stand, a fellow with a great knowledge of the fishing industry - naturally you would expect him to because look at from whence he came - and he talked about this new board that was struck to look at future allocation of stocks and quotas within the fishing industry.

Maybe the minister, while answering those questions, can also ask if he has made any representation there to have a member of the board appointed as a Newfoundlander; a Newfoundlander appointed to that board? While we stand here and say that the members of the board are from British Columbia, New Brunswick and Quebec, we all say: Why haven't we got representation? Well what representation have we made in order to made sure that we have had representation? I would think that the minister would have been involved in that particular debate as well and would have put forward his concerns and talked about the need to have this government and his government's views and opinions implemented to make sure that we had equal representation on that board. Here again, it is a board whose decisions affect greatly the rural areas of this Province of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians because it goes much further than a fish plant or a company decision. You are talking about thousands of Newfoundlanders who are employed in the fishing industry. Although most of it is seasonal, it is very important work. It allows most people to be able live in their communities and be able to provide for their families.

I ask the minister if he would respond to those three or four issues. I will probably have another talk about Government House and ask the Minister of Finance some questions about Government House and what is included and not included (inaudible).

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) the hon. member. I wonder if hon. members would concur?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Yes, will we do it after?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Yes, that is what I think. Before we close.

AN HON. MEMBER: What time?

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) is working our something here for the hon. members.

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not have a problem with it.

MR. LUSH: You do not have a problem with it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Yes, just before the House closes. Did you say you have to go?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Yes, Okay. We just want the minister to table a document.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

I appreciate leave to table two pieces of information pursuant to section 49(2) of the Financial Administration Act. I wish to table the attached list of temporary loans raised under section 48 of the Act since the last report to the House; and further, pursuant to section 55(3) of the Financial Administration Act, I wish to table the following list of guaranteed loans paid out by the Province since the last report to the House.

Thank you very much.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: I would just like to make a brief comment. I would like to welcome back to the Chamber the Minister of Health and Community Services. She looks fabulous. I understand that she had good news. She is an inspiration to us all!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, obviously the minister is not going to answer some of the concerns that I have raised. That is okay. It is not uncommon to ask questions in this Chamber and not have answers, but I can tell you those are very serious concerns.

I am just going to chat a few minutes about the other lumber company. I talked about -

MR. REID: On a point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. REID: With regard to the board that you are talking about, it was not fully set up before I arrived in that job but apparently the intent of the board was not to have individuals who were directly involved in the industry so that it would be an impartial board. For that reason we welcomed it as well, because we did not want to have an individual from Nova Scotia on that board who is directly involved in the fishery who would have his own self-interest. It was supposed to be an independent board, independent of the industry.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, I can understand that, but I say to the minister, I thought that we would have a representative from the Province. I am not saying we should have a representative from the industry. In fact, I agree with you, that sometimes people are self-serving, that is human nature. My problem is, I say to the minister, that we don't have any representation from the Province, and I think we should. I do not have to get into a litany of what the fishing industry means to this Province, the minister knows it very well. I stood up and put forward the industry as I see it here many times and I am not going to get into that again today because we know what the fishing industry is worth. We know what it means. I do not think there are any of us here who would want to see something done that would hurt people, hurt the industry, or hurt a company.

I say to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I agree that your department is an important department but I think we have to be more proactive and we have to make sure that we have representation on some of those boards. I am not suggesting somebody from the fishing industry, but I am suggesting somebody from the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why not?

MR. FITZGERALD: Well if it has to be somebody from the fishing industry, I have no problem with that either. I would rather see somebody from the industry there than not have somebody from the Province there, have nobody there. Sometimes, as the minister knows, people's attitudes are self-serving and whether that would be a problem or not with other fishing industries - if we could find somebody that everybody agreed with, fair enough. There are lots of capable people in this Province who are willing, I am sure, and very capable of expressing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) fine fellow.

MR. FITZGERALD: Absolutely, I say to the minister, and I can name another dozen fine fellows.

AN HON. MEMBER: I wouldn't say that many.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would, that the minister would agree with, I am sure.

Mr. Chairman, I talked about the lumber companies and I am going to go on a little bit in that vein until my time is up. I am going to refer to Bloomfield Lumber again. Here is a little lumber company which was started back long before I was even born, by a gentleman by the name of George Sexton. I have always said that George Sexton has probably put more food on people's tables in Bonavista Bay than any other person there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The present George Sexton. I know the man very well. I can remember stories about him and how he had the first old truck. He would go around working with the Department of Highways. I don't know what it was called then, I guess it was roads or something. He was going around filling potholes. Then he started going in the woods with his horses and started employing people. He put in his own woods roads. He had his own sawmill. Then he progressed from the sawmill to have a planer. Now he has progressed - and his son has pretty well taken it over now, Kevin Sexton. Good business people. They employed a lot of people. Salt of the earth, I call them, salt of the earth people.

If you go out in Bloomfield now - well it is Bloomfield Lumber. They live in Bloomfield. Just across the bridge is their sawmill, I say to the ministers opposite. You should see the set up that they have out there now. He is a Newfoundlander employing local Newfoundlanders, and that is the reason why I feel a little bit peeved and I feel a little bit disappointed that your government, I say to the minister opposite, has allowed this particular agreement to expire without making the representation that is needed. That is what bothers me.

If you go out there you see the lights on nighttime, you see the smoke coming out of the kiln and you see the barges coming in the bay, bringing lumber in from other places, employing truckers, employing people to unload it, employing people in addition to the eighty or ninety people who are employed year round in that sawmill. And we should take that kind of thing for granted?

AN HON. MEMBER: What would you do?

MR. FITZGERALD: I will tell you what I would do, Sir. I would make sure that if I was the Premier of this Province that I would be there front and centre to make sure that our interests were looked after. That is what Premier Hamm did. Is there anything wrong with that?

MR. EFFORD: Did he (inaudible) what he wanted?

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, we do not know. It does not expire until March 31. The problem is, what help did he get? What help has he gotten from here? We heard the minister say today that he wrote a letter.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said more than that.

MR. FITZGERALD: He wrote a letter. That is all I heard. Okay, maybe he attended a meeting, but we need representation, I say to the Minister of Justice. We need representation there, and if there is a meeting that is going to concern rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - well, I don't care if they are from rural Newfoundland or urban Newfoundland. They are all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, they are all this Province, they are all taxpayers. It is people that employ you and I. If we have a meeting on the go, or if there is an agreement that is about to expire, and if it is helpful and convenient the way that it is, then we should make every effort to protect the industries that employ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

There is a great future in the lumber industry of this Province, a great future. This same company, Bloomfield Lumber, I say to the minister, have recently gone to I believe it is Roddickton and opened up another sawmill on the Northern Peninsula that closed down, could not function. All of a sudden new management, new ideas, new business sense moved in and have gone up on the Northern Peninsula and opened up a sawmill that has been closed for years, employing Newfoundlanders in rural communities again.

I do not know what is going to happen if the United States, if good old America, Uncle Sam, decides that they are going to slap tariffs and duties on our lumber imports going into the United States. I do not know what is going to happen, and I fear that, because while we go to work and we see the sawmills and we hear the mills humming, there has to be somebody out there to buy it. There has to be a market.

If we do not reach out and make sure that we protect the markets that we have, then there is no point in us going out and shouting and standing here on our feet and saying how happy we are because we created another half-a-dozen jobs. How about the fifty or sixty or the eighty, I say to the minister, that we are going to lose in the meantime?

AN HON. MEMBER: French people (inaudible). You know that, don't you?

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not have anything against the French, I say to the minister. I do not know what the minister has against the French people of this country, but I have nothing against the French.

I say to the minister. I am also saddened that she has not stood in her place and told us what she has been hearing from her constituents about their fear of what is happening to Fishery Products International.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not have to worry, I will deal with my constituents; you deal with yours.

MR. FITZGERALD: I can tell you that I will deal with them, and I have dealt with them, and I have reached out and spoken out. I do not keep my thoughts in here. I let people know where I stand. I say that the minister has not done that. I have talked to the people. I have talked to some of the mayors down there and, I tell you, they are waiting for you. They are waiting for you to speak out, to speak up and let them know where you stand. Let them know where you stand.

I say to the minister, she has to let them know where she stands. There are a lot of people who work in her area, employed by FPI, who have grave concerns. The minister right here, who is rolling up his shirt sleeves, it is time for you to roll them up and represent your people. Tell us about Harbour Breton.

MR. LANGDON: A point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR (Ms Hodder): On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. LANGDON: I do not need the Member for Bonavista South to tell me to roll up my sleeves. I have already done that. I have talked to the union and I have talked to the mayor. I am in contact with my community

MADAM CHAIR: There is not point of order.

Continue.

MR. FITZGERALD: Maybe the minister can tell us where he stands on it. It is not enough to talk; you have to know where you stand in this world. You have to know where you stand. It is not enough to be on the fence. You have to be on one side or the other side. You know what happens if you stay on the fence. You have to represent the people who put you here. You have to dance with the one that brung you. That is what you have to do.

The people down in Harbour Breton have some great concerns, I say to members opposite. The people down in Marystown have concerns. The people in Burin have concerns. In Fortune, in Dildo, people in Port Union and Bonavista, all have great concerns about what might happen if something happens to Fishery Products International.

I have, too, myself. The thing that bothers me is, when you hear and you see outside interests stepping up and saying: we are not happy with the way this particular company is operating; we are not happy with the management team; we are not happy with the profits we are making, then why did they put their money there in the first place? There are lots of places to put money. The Member for Port de Grave tells everybody he has made all kinds of money. He has lots of money. I do not know where he made it, but he did not make it by putting it into companies that were not profitable. That is not the way to make money.

MR. H. HODDER: You made your own companies, didn't you, John?

MR. FITZGERALD: He has also had some investments. I would assume he has.

When the former minister, who should be Premier, when that man makes an investment, he doesn't go and invests his money in a company that is not profitable and say: I am going to get in there now and I am going to buy that company, take it over, put some new people in there to run it, but I will only own 10 per cent or 15 per cent of it. That is not the way you make money.

MR. EFFORD: The difference between John Efford and John Risley is that John Risley cares only about (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: That is what I am getting at. You are like the Panasonic television. You are slightly ahead of my time.

What do they do? They reach out and try to take over the company. They take over the company and say they are going to make it more profitable. How do you make a fishing company more profitable? The way you make a fishing company more profitable is, number one, number two or number three. I see three ways of doing it.

Number one is, in order to access the product, in order to access the fish, you are going to pay a lower price to fishermen. Number two is, you are going to strip wages and benefits away from your employees. I would venture to say that Fishery Products International and Beothic Fish Processing Ltd. are probably two - I am not going to say that they are the only two, but they are probably two - of the fishing company employers in this Province today to pay the higher wages to their employees. I think they are. I am almost sure of that.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: So, what do you do? You either strip away the benefits and the wages by your employees, you lower the cost of what you are going to pay for fish, or you get rid of the plants that are not making a profit.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: By leave?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: You either do one thing or the other. I see it being done in three ways.

I say to the senator who just rolled in there, if this was happening with Beothic Fish down in Bonavista North, I doubt if he would be quiet.

MR. EFFORD: It is up for sale.

MR. FITZGERALD: Beothic Fish is?

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Sir.

MR. FITZGERALD: So, it is up for sale. Fair game, if it is up for sale, not a problem. It is a privately owned company. It is certainly a reputable plant. It is certainly a reputable company.

MR. TULK: When did Beothic Fish go up for sale?

MR. EFFORD: Last year.

MR. TULK: Listen, you stop spreading rumors about the best fish plant in the Province. (Inaudible). Beothic Fish is not for sale.

MR. EFFORD: You stopped telling me what to do six months ago.

MS S. OSBORNE: Good for you, John.

MR. FITZGERALD: Beothic Fish is a great processing company. It is probably a model, it is probably a flagship, I say to them. When you hear tell of this group of people going on strike, or this group of people unhappy because there are a number of jobs being done away with through new technology, Beothic Fish always seems to be able to come up and provide new opportunities to do new initiatives, to make new ways of doing things in order to look after their employees. If you do not have good employees, if you do not have happy employees, then I do not see how you can have a successful business. Beothic Fish has been very good at doing that. They have good people there, and they have had them over the years. I think of people like Harry Harding, I think of the Way's, and I think of a lot of the people I know who worked in the fish plant.

MR. EFFORD: I will tell you one thing, if John Risley gets his hands on FPI, it will have some impact on the (inaudible) fish.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, you have that right. It will have an impact on the whole fishing industry.

MR. TULK: John, let me tell you, I think I made that statement to you about a year ago.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is what concerns me.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is over now, isn't it?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is not over. There was a little deflection thrown in there, I say to members opposite, to try to deflect attention. I spoke with some people this morning and that is still a work in progress. All they have to do, even though they may not have a group of dissident board of directors put in place for the meeting on May 1, I say to the minister, all they have to do is serve notice that they are going to do it within 90 days and there has to be another meeting and they probably will have a new board of directors there at that time.

What they will do, Mr. Chair, is strip the company apart, they will go out and we are right back to the old fish merchant scenario again, right back to where we were back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, that kept our forefathers and our own fathers slaves to the fish merchants. That is what you will go back to, and that is what is happening.

Mr. Chair, we have some great concerns and the people that I know, Minister, are looking to you to bring about some of those changes. They are looking to you to make representation on softwood lumber. They are looking to you, I say, Minister, to make representation on the EI system to show that those people who are in need of it are able to access it. The unemployment insurance system was never meant to create a $30 billion profit where they could out and use it as a slush fund in order to generate money to get people elected. It was never meant to go out and take it from the poorest of this Province and this country in order to go out and put in water and sewer to communities that could afford it; because in all the things that come down from Ottawa, it shows you how much attention they pay to this particular Province. You see that in the infrastructure system, and I could keep going because, as I talk, something else comes into my head and I can tell you about how unfair that is.

Minister, you have your work cut out for you, and probably some of the first things you are going to confronted with are some of the things that I just talked to you about, and you are going to be called to task on it. You are going to be called to explain. It is not going to be enough to get up and just say, well, we wrote a letter, or we are going to plan on meeting with them, or we are looking to talk to the federal minister. They are going to want to know what you have done. They are going to want to know what you, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Member for Terra Nova, have done in order to protect their interests.

When you go to a community out in your district, a community that cannot access provincial-federal infrastructure money because they do not have the one-third in order to access it, they are going to ask you, Minister. Up until now you could always slough the blame off and say, I know where you are coming from, and I have tried and I know it is unfair. Now they are going to look to you for guidance. They are going to look to you for answers.

Those communities that want to have their streets lights put back on, that are going to want to go and service their community with water and sewer, that want to be able to maintain the infrastructure they have in the ground, they are going to be coming to you, Minister, and they are going to say to you: Minister Lush, what have you done to make sure that small communities without a tax base like ours, are included and can access the infrastructure program?

I do not think the infrastructure program was ever put in place to help the Grand Falls-Windsors and to help the St. John's and the Mount Pearls of the world. Great, let them access some of the big money there and get on with their projects, but do you know the reason that we applied for infrastructure money? Do you know the reason why we asked the federal government to partner with us? It was asked to be done so we could help rural areas. It was asked to be done so we could help the small communities.

Only a few years ago, government went out and encouraged people to become organized and form a local government. They encourage people to go out and say, look, Mr. Community Leader, why don't you incorporate your community, bring about some minimum tax, and here are the benefits that we can provide you with. We are going to provide you with street lighting. We will give you the right to apply on a 75/25 for fire protection. We are going to give you some payments from the provincial government that will reflect the number of people living in your community. We will allow you to access money to pave your local roads. We will allow you money in order to keep up your waste disposal area. People said: hey, this is something that we would like to be a part of because we are going to be living here all our lives. We are raising our family here. Maybe we should form and incorporate our communities. You had three choices at that time. It could be a town. It could be a local service district. There was another one. What was it? It was a community - what was the other one? There was another one.

AN HON. MEMBER: City.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it was not a city. It was a town council, a local service district -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It was a community council. That is exactly what it was. A local service district, a community council and a town council. A local improvement district. They have done away with the community council part of it. Now it is either a town council or a local service district, one or the other. There is nothing wrong with that. Even with the local service district, for the most part they do not get into water and sewer and those kind of things. They see a need and they respond to it. They have input to deal with government in order to bring about some changes and some positive things for the communities.

Then, at that particular time, whether it was right or wrong - I was not here to say, but I do know the hurt that has been reflected on communities out there. The people were encouraged to apply for money. No matter how much money you applied for all you had to do was be responsible for paying back 20 per cent of your gross revenue to government. So the big race was on, Madam! You know it very well, you served your community. The big race was on as to who could get the most money for water and sewer, roads, street lighting and fire protection, and the list goes on. It made sense. You only had to pay back 20 per cent of your money. So no matter what money you had, no matter how much money you got, you only had to pay back 20 per cent.

Do you want to ask a question? Go ahead.

MR. TULK: How well have FPI done for the Province?

MR. FITZGERALD: How well have they done? I will need some extra time after I am up. So you give me leave because I want to finish this train of thought, and then I will talk about that.

Madam Speaker, the race was on to access government funding. Then in comes the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development's friend and colleague, and mentor, the former, former, former Premier.

MR. TULK: No, no.

MR. MANNING: Two formers.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, former, former, former Premier. He said: I am going to change this. This is not right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I am talking about the chief justice. That is exactly who I am talking about, who was the former, former, former Premier.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the fellow who brought in income supplementation, wasn't it?

MR. FITZGERALD: Brought in income supplementation. I can hear the former Member for Terra Nova now out in the Holiday Inn talking about what a wonderful plan it was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You probably supported it, I say to the Member for Terra Nova. Don't leave! Listen to me because you are part of this. This is part of what you are all about. I'm talking to you. You are my member and you are leaving the House. Sit down and listen to it.

Here is the situation, and you can try to get out of this one all you want but you did support it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) supported what?

MR. FITZGERALD: He supported the Income Supplementation Program. He was a member of Cabinet, I know he did! I still have petitions here. Just imagine, and this is when the new Industry, Trade and Rural Development minister, soon to be senator, was sitting back in my colleagues -

MR. MANNING: The nosebleed section.

MR. FITZGERALD: There you go, it is the nosebleed section. He came in and he put his hand under his head and he would not even look at him. The only time he came here was when the cameras were here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You were not here very often. I do not know how you earn your money because you had just gotten a slap on the wrist. I say it to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, a likely story.

AN HON. MEMBER: I'm serious.

MR. FITZGERALD: I am serious too.

I say to the minister: How could you go out and support a program like the Income Supplementation Program?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I hope you are making a note of all those questions because I am going on with them.

Here was a program - sit down and listen, I say to the member. Sit down and listen while I tell you about what you supported because you obviously have no feeling for it! Sit down!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, we will take a break until you come back. I am going to tell you about the Income Supplementation Program. There is a lot of people over there who supported it. The Minister of Fisheries was not there then. The minister from Burgeo was not here. The former Premier supported it. A couple of people over there who sit in Cabinet. Not a lot of the ones who are there now. The Member for Virginia Waters, nobody ever knew where he was and they still don't know. He still hides. He has a public meeting every three months but there is never anything brought back here about the public meetings and the changes that he wants brought about. Never.

I have to speak for a minute about the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans. Yes, a lady that I respect over there, but I have to refer to a comment in the paper today. It reminded me when I seen the former Minister of Finance, and when I see the present Minister of Mines and Energy walk in, about a poll that he did during the Hydro debate. Do you remember that unpolluted poll? The Member for Grand Falls-Buchans referred to a poll today. She said: I have evidence now that the transfer of jobs from the urban areas to rural areas, people agree with. Do you know the reason why they agree with it? Because she responded to a poll in the Downhomer magazine. The Downhomer magazine, she said, did a poll. Just imagine! It is too bad there are not more people here in the audience to see the way that this government operates.

Just imagine! This minister said that we know it was a good program. We know we did right when we took 278 jobs from urban areas and put them in other urban areas, because the Downhomer magazine did a poll.

AN HON. MEMBER: Up in Fort McMurray.

MR. FITZGERALD: Up in Fort McMurray, probably. Just imagine! It really bothers me.

I am going to get back now to the Member for Terra Nova. My MHA is back.

MS THISTLE: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Labour.

MS THISTLE: Madam Chair, I would like to respond to the Member for Bonavista South and tell him that the policy which was brought forward by this government was brought forward on the premise of two reasons: One, that the services could be brought to the people from any location in this Province outside of St. John's. That was one of the reasons, and two: that it would be more effective to bring the services to the people.

I said yesterday in my interview to the media that we had received positive reports from around the Province by way of letters, phone calls and, in fact, personal visits. I am on the road every week, as you might well know, travelling to my district. I have been elected now for almost six years and I have missed four weekends. So, I would know from travelling from St. John's to my district every weekend. I speak to many people along the route. I speak to my constituents. I speak to my colleagues right here in this House of Assembly, and as I said yesterday, we have received letters and phone calls. In fact, mayors have been on Open Line shows saying how well received the regionalization policy has been around the Province.

I might also add that in my district, which is Grand Falls-Buchans, we cover a service district of 75,000 people. You ask: How well is this regionalization policy affecting rural Newfoundland? Well, I would have to tell you and tell the members in this House that regionalization is affecting rural Newfoundland in a positive way. I want to also say, Madame Chair -

CHAIR: I must remind the minister that she has to get to the point of order.

MS THISTLE: - that a clear indication of how well rural Newfoundland is doing because of regionalization. In my district alone, for the relocation of the MCP offices we have had in excess of 3,000 quality applications. I would also have to say to the member opposite, just sorting through 3,000 applications is clear evidence that the program is well accepted. This is not only in Grand Falls-Buchans, might I add, this is completely throughout the Province. It has been an economic spinoff that would not have occurred.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: There is no point of order, Madam Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Madam Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Madam Chair, when I drive from here and the minister talks about all the things - sure that is what you get paid for! You get paid for visiting your district. You get paid for talking to your people and representing them. I say to the minister, all I am responding to is that you said it was a wonderful program because the Downhomer did a poll and you agreed with it. From now on I suppose we should be looking in the Downhomer and the Newfoundland Herald to find out which direction we should be going.

CHAIR: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Labour.

MS THISTLE: Madam Chair, I did not solicit the poll of the Downhomer. I happened to be travelling from St. John's to Gander. It was in the pocket of the seat. I picked it up as other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who travel that airline would have done. That was indicated in full view. We did not rely on that. I relied on the support from all over the Province.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Madam Chair, the minister is taking to much of, I suppose, a job description from her former leader when she talks about taking the plane. We drive over here on this side, I say to the minister. I did not say that you went out and solicited the poll. I said that you were using your poll that the Downhomer did as a source of backup for what you, yourself, said was a wonderful program.

There is nothing wrong with regionalization; not a thing in the world wrong with regionalization. The problem is that it was not done right. It was not taking jobs or positions from urban areas and putting them in rural areas. It was taking them from urban areas and putting them in other urban areas, I say to the member opposite. That is what happened. That is why people were not happy with it. If you are going to be sincere about something, and if you believe in helping rural Newfoundland and Labrador then put the positions in rural areas.

Madam Chair, I will continue. I just had to throw that to the minister there. I will talk about the income support program again. Some of the people over there sat and supported the now chief Justice Minister on this Income Supplementation Program. Do you know what that program was all about for those people who were not here at the time and wondering why the big hoopla was made about it? Why I was concerned with it, and why other people were concerned with it? It was not that we were concerned that our people were going to have an income. We were concerned with the way that that particular income was going to be calculated, because one of the things they were going to do was take into consideration family income. Family income, I say to my member. That is one of the things that you supported. Here is the way it would have unfolded. Here is the way that it would have worked. If myself, my mother, father and brother lived in the same household - say the four of us lived in the same household - and my brother was fortunate enough to be working out at Hibernia making $60,000 a year; well guess what? Neither my mother, my father nor I would have been entitled to apply for unemployment insurance or any other form of income because somebody in that household was making over and above the rate of pay that this government, my member, the present Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said: You are not entitled to it because somebody in the household is working. How draconian can you get? How far would we have regressed if that particular program had been implemented? Shame, shame I say to people!

Madam Chair, now is the time of year when we talk about roads. We talk about roads in our districts, roads in our communities. I think about the Bonavista South Highway where there was a program negotiated. There was some shouting across the House here the other day as to: Mr. Crosbie never got enough money or Brian Mulroney never gave us enough money in order to attend to road work. All that might be very true. I do not know how much the scope of road work would cost us if we had done it right. That is my problem, that is my concern. It is that we did not do it right.

Look at the condition of the roads today going down through Winter Brook, Jamestown and Princeton; going down between Birchy Cove and Bonavista, the main thorough fair; going down around Plate Cove, Plate Cove East, Plate Cove West. Look at the condition of the roads going out to Open Hall, Red Cliff, and Tickle Cove. People there are screaming and saying: I hope we get a couple of kilometres of road work this year. We don't want the full amount of your budget, Mr. Minister, but we would like to be included.

You look at the waste, boys, that has been carried out in this Province! Does anybody here think that we needed a twinned highway all the way out to Whitbourne? Imagine! Did we?

MR. TULK: Out to where?

MR. FITZGERALD: Out to Whitbourne.

Did we? When you take into consideration the condition of the other roads, does everybody agree that we needed a twinned highway out to Whitbourne? Do we need it? Guess who could have changed it? Does anybody here think for one minute that that twinned highway would have been just as well served if it had stopped at Roaches Line?

AN HON. MEMBER: Of course. (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes. Does anybody here agree that we need that big barrier, that great big wall, between Grand Falls and Windsor? Does anybody here think that is needed? It divided two towns, killed businesses.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the fellows who negotiated it, Roger.

MR. FITZGERALD: Not `you fellows'. I wasn't part of the negotiations. I am talking common sense here, and I don't have to speak out or support anything.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can't have it both ways.

MR. FITZGERALD: What both ways? I am telling you right now, people could have changed. When you right things, things could be changed.

The Outer Ring Road: Do you think there is any need of it going the distance it has gone? Mr. Chairman, as we talk about those, we have the people living in those areas who are saying: We don't want the road to come out here.

In the meantime, we have people down in my district, we have people in other rural districts, who are screaming for money.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody wanted it.

MR. FITZGERALD: That is what I am saying. That is exactly what I am saying. Boys, there is such a thing as legislation. If the will is there to change it, it can be changed.

MR. TULK: That is not legislation, it is a federal regulation.

MR. FITZGERALD: Then, that is all the more reason. If it is a regulation, a regulation can be changed without even taking it to the House of Commons.

What we should be doing, is reaching out and being more conscious of the money and the need of where to spend it. We don't need a divided highway any further out than Roaches Line. We didn't need the big, great divider through Grand Falls and Windsor. If you drive out there in the nighttime you don't know if you are going through Grand Falls-Windsor or Mississauga, Ontario, I say to the minister. You don't know where you are. Businesses have closed up. Where are the economic benefits to it?

Did we need the Outer Ring Road to go any further than Allandale Road, when the people there are saying now that they don't want it, they don't want it coming onto their street, they don't want it coming into their neighborhood. Do we need it? A good question. I have raised it here before. Do we need it? All you have to do is get up ten minutes earlier in the morning and you can pretty well get where you want to go in any length of time in this city.

Boys, there are only enough of us here for a good game of cards, I say to the minister.

Less than 540,000 people. But I will tell you what, the people down in Kings Cove and the people in Open Hall, Red Cliff and Tickle Cove, and down in Winter Brook and Jamestown and Princeton, down in Bonavista and Port Union and Catalina, have as much right to be able to drive over a decent road as the people living anywhere else in this Province. They pay the same price for their gasoline, they pay the same price to register their car, they pay the same price for insurance, they pay the same price for their driver's license, and there is no reason whatsoever, I say to people opposite, that some of that can't be done.

Boys, we have to get realistic. That is what we have to do, we have to start getting realistic. I know that we don't have all the answers over here and I know you are going to say, it is all right for you to be getting on with your bull here today, you don't have to answer for it, you don't have to explain anything. It is the forum that you have. But I think if we all, if both sides of the House, got to be a little bit realistic of what our rural areas need and what we need to support them and allow them to survive, then I think maybe somebody might start taking a look at our rural areas around this Province and do things a little bit differently.

I mean, how do you go down to Winter Brook, even if somebody wanted to build a house down there today, and if you are not from Winter Brook and if you don't have any relatives there, or any connections there, who else would go there today with the way the road is and say: I think I will move down to this beautiful community. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs knows the community very well, one of the most picturesque little communities in Newfoundland, the finest people that you ever met in your life. I say that about a lot of communities, but I single out Winter Brook and Jamestown because of the conditions that their roads are in.

I have no doubt in my mind, Madam Chair, that if we had a decent road to go over in those communities, you would have - even though there is some growth there, they are not dying communities, they are communities that are, for the most part, most people work there, there are some seniors there. Most people get up in the morning and drive to work. It has gotten to the point now that I am even getting calls and letters from school children in that particular area.

I refer back to Jamestown Lumber again, and a conversation and a meeting that I had with the Deputy Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the director of roads down there just a couple of years ago. I had the minister down there a couple of weeks ago as well. I remember the meeting that we had two years ago, when Mr. Dingwall, the manager of Jamestown Lumber, one of the owners, talked about his business there. He has gone out and actually done road work on the public road there in order to carry out his business. He has gone out, I say to the minister, and paved his parking lot and said: Look, I have to be responsible here too. I know that, because we are having problems with carrying on our business. We can't keep our knives sharp, we can't keep our saws sharp, and it is all because of dust particles that come from the local road there, with the normal flow of traffic back and forth there. He went on to say that lumber leaving this yard goes to any point in Canada and a lot of points in the United States. He said the only piece of dirt road that it goes over is the 1.8 kilometers from where the pavement ends in Jamestown out to my mill. Because of that 1.8 kilometers it is causing him all kinds of grief. I don't know what it cost him to pave his parking lot there, but it had to be a tremendous amount of money, because you don't put pavement down today for nickels and dimes.

If we went and paved that road, then it would help the community and it would help the business.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) do it for Roger Grimes? The Premier is (inaudible)

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know. We talk about all kinds of benefits. If you live in a district where a member of the government lives, they tell me you will have no problem with roads, you will have no problem with getting funding, you will have no problem with infrastructure money, but I will tell you what. Talk to the Member for The Straits & White Bay North, and talk to the Member for St. Barbe, and find out what their districts got by being represented by the former Premier of this Province, and talk about what their districts got by being represented by one of the senior Cabinet ministers.

They got shag all. Go up and look and talk to them. I don't know what you were doing when you were up there, but I know that I knocked on a few doors and the things that I heard and saw, I can tell you now that they were not gifted because they have had -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Madam Chair, I have never been in Roddickton in my life. I have never been there. I tell you, I have never been to Fortune in my life, I have never been to Grand Bank. Seriously, I have never been there. Lots of times I go down there and I want to make the circle -

AN HON. MEMBER: Thank you very much. I wasn't sure whether it was you or Paul; now I know.

MR. FITZGERALD: It might have been Paul. It wasn't me. I have never been to Roddickton. I know I am missing something, and I am going to go there. I know lots of good people from there, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I have never been there.

I say to the Member for Trinity North, I have knocked on a lot of doors. There is no place I have not been in Trinity North. I will tell you now, they were not treated full and plenty either. Nobody there fed off the public trough in a great way, when you go down around Southwest Arm and see some of the roads the member there has to contend with. The member has some bad roads down there. I will be the first one to agree with him, out in some of those areas there is nothing but paths and it needs to be done.

There is a great need in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and there is no reason whatsoever why we should continue to do it. If there were mistakes made - I am sure there were - if there were mistakes made in directing some of that funding, then we should change it. I think you can pretty well change anything. I mean, if we can change the Premier and if we can change government then there is no reason why we cannot change a piece of legislation or a regulation, or change policy, in order to do things differently. There is not reason whatsoever. There is a great need out there and we should not be afraid to step up to the plate and bring about changes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I just gave you all kinds of ways that you could make money, and I understand that. I understand when the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation talks about the people in Grand Le Pierre. I understand that. I mean, if somebody went to Bonavista or if somebody went to Bloomfield and said that they could create fifty jobs, well, if there are fifty people looking for work then that is the most important thing for them, to find a job, and they would give me a rough time if I did not support whatever needed to be done in order to create those jobs. It is much bigger than that. It is like somebody getting an education. Everybody says you should have a great education. Everybody should have a good education. Well, I will tell you what. The only way that education is any good to you is if you find a job. You can have all the education you want, but if you cannot find a job then what is the point of having an education? The reason why people go to university; the reason I went to trades school - they were called trades schools back then - it was not to get a trade as such. As much as I wanted it, is was to get a job. That is the reason I went.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, it is his department I am debating here right now, I know that he is a well-educated man. Do you know the reason he got his education? Do you know the reason the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs got an education? The Minister of Fisheries got a Master of Arts, is it? Do you know the reason why you got a Masters degree? You got a Masters degree so you could get a job, and you can have a Masters degree or a Doctors degree or any other degree and if it does not supply you with some benefit, what is the good of it? The only reason you can say that education or anything else has helped you is if it has helped you to get a job and to deal with life as we know it.

So, there are lots of things that can be done differently. We do not have all the answers, but I will tell you what, there is nobody that I know over here who will speak out and speak up to hurt the people in this Province or to speak against the wishes and the will of the people and the majority of the people in this Province; because if we do not believe in that, then what are we doing here? The only reason we are here is because we believe in the democratic process, that we believe in the majority rules. If we are going to go out and make decisions in isolation of the people, and if we are going to go out and do the things that the Premier is doing here, I do not know what is happening over there, boys, because you fellas - and I am going to conclude with this because there are other people here want to speak. I am going to sit down. I have some other things to talk about. I want to talk about a meeting that myself and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Member for Trinity North had with the Vista School Board. I want to bring some of those points up and talk about those.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: A couple of weeks ago, a few weeks ago, that myself and you and the Member for Trinity North had. After that, I went to Bonavista and met with the school council down there. There were some very serious issues raised, and there are some issues that I would like to talk about in this Assembly. We had some extra money granted and put forward in the Budget the other day. I am not sure how far it is going to go with addressing the problems there, but there are great problems existing in that particular school board, Madam Chair, and there are some things that this House should be informed about.

With that, I am going to relent to somebody else here on this side.

Thank you very much.

I hope the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs will stand and answer some of the concerns that I have raised, because it is your department. A lot of them (inaudible) should be in your department, and the answer to the problem should be - I know you are not going to go to Ottawa as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and change the world. I know you are not going to do that, but at least you can make sure that the things that are happening here that reflect back negatively on the people of this Province and on local and rural industries in this Province, that we give them a fair hearing, we put our best foot forward with all the information we need, so we can allow those industries and those people to continue and to continue to be employed.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I say to the Minister of Education, a very heartfelt thankful and I have learned my lesson. Not to worry, I have learned my lesson.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) honorable.

MR. MANNING: Pure honorable. Always honorable here in the House.

Madam Chair, I have the opportunity to stand and make a few comments on the Estimates of the Executive Council. I certainly enjoy the opportunity to sit and listen to my colleague from Bonavista South who sits here in front of me here in the House. He is always very well spoken, with well researched comments that he brings forward here to the House, and it is certainly something that we can all learn from. He speaks from the heart on behalf of the people he represents. I guess in all aspects of public life, we all try to do that.

I would like to make a few comments, if I could, on the Executive Council, and certainly, as I elaborate on the Executive Council, to extend my comments to other concerns that I have in relation to how this Liberal Government is governing the great Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We look around and we find things that our people cannot avail of for the simple reason of the shortage of money. There is always a concern that there is not enough money, not enough dollars in place to go around. We always wonder, how could we trim the budget or how could we trim the expenses so that we could have the opportunity to avail of more services here in the Province.

Under Executive Council, we have, I would think, Government House, the Premier's Office, the Cabinet Secretariat and Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat, and we have a fair amount of dollars of the Budget that are spent here. If we wanted to, I am sure, we could arrange to save a few dollars. I touched on a couple of these the other day, and I just want to reiterate some of the concerns that I raised at that time.

As I look at my district of Placentia & St. Mary's, the people are finding it very difficult since the cod moratorium in 1992, in a lot of cases finding it very difficult to make ends meet. We have situations no different than many other districts here in the Province where we have a massive out-migration over the past eight or nine years. The reason for that, I guess we feel and a lot of the people in my district feel, is that this government has turned its back on rural Newfoundland, and has decided that rural Newfoundland is not important for some reason or other, and that we have to remain urbanized. We have to try support and foster the organization of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, which is a major concern for me as a rural member and certainly a major concern for a lot of people here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: They are trying to urbanize us. They are trying to urbanize the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. HEDDERSON: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: No, it makes me very concerned, I say to the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne. It makes me very, very concerned. This is a very serious matter.

I listened as the Deputy Premier spoke a few minutes ago concerning road work in the Province, and has the Member for Bonavista South was so aptly putting it, we have, in this Province, a great need for a large provincial roads program. We have, in this Province, a great need for improvements to highways, byways, trunk roads and local roads throughout this Province. We find that, for some reason or other, government does not see that as a priority. They do not see that as a major need within the Province. That amazes me, that the government does not see that as a major need.

Madam Chair, in 1989, in the last year of the Peckford administration - I am sure the Minister for Forest Resources and Agrifoods is fully aware of the last year of the Peckford administration, because if memory serves me correctly, he was sitting at the Cabinet Table on the PC side of the House at the time. So I am sure he remembers. In the last year of the Peckford administration, in which the minister was a minister - my God, it is hard to keep track of you - there was over $40 million spent on the provincial roads program, if memory serves me correctly. This year we have half of that.

I say to the minister, you got a fair chunk of that $40 million for yourself, in your district, I mean, not for yourself personally but for your district. Now, we have half of that budget of 1989 that we are spending on the provincial roads program this year in the Province. That really concerns me for the simple reason that I have many roads, byways, trunk roads and local roads in my district that need assistance.

As I look around my district, I could start in the Community of St. Shotts and come right up through St. Mary's Bay, in the St. Vincent's, St. Stephen's, Peter's River area, right up in the Gaskiers, Point La Haye, St. Mary's, Riverhead, Mall Bay, right up till you come up to where you turn down to St. Joseph's, O'Donnells and Admirals Beach, right up through the Forest Field, Newbridge, Mount Carmel, St. Catherine's area, right out through Colinet, Harricott and North Harbour in St. Mary's Bay; all of these communities, all of these areas need some road work done, Madam Chair.

I spoke, just last week, to the Mayor of Mount Carmel. He is very concerned about the road work in his community, not only the roughness when you are driving and everything else, but it has become a safety issue in a lot communities for the simple reason that the roads are in deplorable condition and they need some work.

You come out on the Cape Shore, out through North Harbour to Branch, down to Point Lance, out to St. Bride's, right into Placentia; a desperate need for road work in that area also. That road was paved in 1979 from Patrick's Cove to St. Bride's and through the communities of Branch and Point Lance; but once again in desperate need of work there. You go in through Placentia, the local roads in the Town of Placentia and throughout Point Verde, Southeast, down through Placentia, Jerseyside, Freshwater, Ferndale, Dunville, right down to Ship Harbour and Fox Harbour, down in the Community of Ship Harbour- there is a desperate need of road work in the Community of Ship Harbour.

Madam Chair, in my district alone I would need about 100 kilometers of re-capping, and they tell me it is $71,000 a kilometer to re-cap. That is $7.1 million. I am not naive enough to think that I am going to be able today to have $7.1 million out of a total budget of less than $20 million, but I think the issue here is that we need more money put into the roads program in the Province.

I am hoping, over the next few days, to have a meeting with the minister on that to bring forward the concerns of the people in my district, the communities in my district, and certainly to see what we can address in this coming year. I think the big picture here is that we need more money put into road work in the Province. We need more money put into the roads program in the Province, I am sorry, and until we address that issue we are still going to have major problems.

I understand, from conversations I have had with members on this side of the House and the opposite side of the House, that we have a fair amount of requests, over $200 million if my information is correct, of emergency requests for road work. That is not counting your improvements. This is emergency work. Over $200 million worth of requests have gone into the minister's office already. Now, with a $20 million budget, 10 per cent of the requests for emergency funding is what the budget is for this year. I would think that we have a big problem.

When I look back at almost twelve years ago now, we could have had in place at that time over $40 million in the roads program, and that is slashed in half now. I think it begs the question: What are the priorities of the government. When I look at the priorities of the government and I look at - as an example in the Premier's Budget, for the Premier's office, we have Transportation and Communications. We had a budget approved here for the year ending March 31, 2000. We had a budget of $145,000 for the Premier's Office for Transportation and Communications. The Premier increased that budget over that time to $220,000. When we look at an increase there of $75,000 for Transportation in the Premier's Office it begs the question: Where are the priorities. I think the priorities are not with the people of the Province but they are with a handful of people that sit in the Premier's Office or sit in Cabinet or whatever the case may be. I think it is a major concern that we have and one that needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed very quickly.

On the issue of regionalization - and I heard the Member for Windsor-Buchans -

MS THISTLE: Grand Falls-Buchans.

MR. MANNING: Grand Falls-Buchans. It is Windsor-Springdale on this side. It is a job to keep track of all of the districts, I say to the minister.

I heard the President of Treasury Board on her feet earlier today talking about regionalization. I have some major concerns with the regionalization. I truly believe, as I am sure all members of the House believe, that regionalization is a good thing. It is good to take the services that are within the confines of the City of St. John's and Mount Pearl and put them out into the rural communities, but put a plan behind it, not just wake up some morning with an idea that we are going to take 270-plus jobs and put them out in rural Newfoundland, or what you would think, or try to make us believe, is rural Newfoundland.

We are talking 270-plus jobs that you put out in communities such as Grand Fall, Corner Brook and Gander. Come on, I say to the President of Treasury Board. Are you trying to make me believe that some of these communities are rural Newfoundland. They are very urbanized areas, they are growth centres, they are centres where there is a migration of people. These communities, Madam Chair, are not, in my view, rural Newfoundland. I come from a rural district and I believe, very much so, that it is not rural Newfoundland that we are sending these jobs out to. Regionalization to rural Newfoundland is a plus. Regionalization to the communities like Grand Falls and Corner Brook is not helping rural Newfoundland, I say to the President of Treasury Board.

I am very pleased -

MS THISTLE: Point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Labour.

MS THISTLE: Madam Chair, I would to respond to the member opposite who said that the jobs that were going to urban centres are not going to benefit rural Newfoundland. That, Madam Chair, and I would like to direct to the member opposite, is not a true statement.

I had the opportunity last summer to visit a computer company, an information technology company called DPSI. It was started at the College of the North Atlantic a couple of years ago as a small company with just five employees. Last summer, I has the opportunity to actually walk through that building and there was in excess of sixty employees there. I asked each and every employee: Where do you come from? Where do you live? I think there might have been 10 per cent from probably the nucleus of Grand Falls-Windsor. All of the others were anywhere from Leading Tickles to Springdale to Baie Verte. Not only that, most of the other people were Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who had been away on the Mainland working and saw this opportunity to get a job back home in their home province, had applied and were actually working in Grand Falls-Windsor. That is only one example.

Let me tell you, the people who work in Grand Falls-Windsor are not exactly from just Grand Falls-Windsor. They are from a radius of 75,000 people, anywhere from Baie Verte to Leading Tickles to the South Coast, and everywhere in between. So, what is good for a regional centre is good for all of rural Newfoundland.

Thank you.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

MR. MANNING: Madam Chair, the President of Treasury Board can believe what she wants. She has a right to do that. All I can say is that in regards to the announcement - the Minister of Labour, I am sorry. In regards to the announcement on regionalization, all I can say is that you can fool some of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. The question and the comment I have is that, when you take people out of the City of St. John's and move them to the City of Corner Brook, and try to convince us, try to convince the general population of Newfoundland and Labrador, that it is regionalization that is doing something for rural Newfoundland, I have a problem with that. I question that, because I do not think for a moment that Corner Brook - and I will use the City of Corner Brook. It is a growing area, Corner Brook, it is not totally rural Newfoundland. That is the question and the concern that I am raising with that.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. MANNING: By leave, Madam Chair?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

No leave.

MR. MANNING: By leave?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

MR. MANNING: I am just making a few closing comments, if I may.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. MANNING: Regionalization is a major concern in this Province. We have a situation here where we are moving people out, as I say, to the City of Corner Brook.

Let us take for a moment, I say to the Minister of Labour, Corner Brook. We have Corner Brook. We have a bus service out in Corner Brook. We have a major industry in Corner Brook. We have a Wal-Mart going up in Corner Brook. Now, they are not building a Wal-Mart on the Lower Road in Cuslett, I say to the Minister of Labour. They are not building a Wal-Mart on the Lower Road in Cuslett. They are building a Wal-Mart out in Corner Brook.

Where you are putting a Wal-Mart, you are not putting a Wal-Mart in a small rural community. You are putting a Wal-Mart in a growing city, and Corner Brook is a growing city. If they were putting a Wal-Mart on the Lower Road in Cuslett and you were sending jobs out there, I could understand that, but they are not doing that, I say to the Minister of Labour. Corner Brook is not rural Newfoundland. Quote, unquote. It is not rural Newfoundland. Therefore, if you want to do something for rural Newfoundland, that is one thing, but if you are going to do something and try to put it under the umbrella of doing something for rural Newfoundland, that is another thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Makkovik rural Newfoundland?

MR. MANNING: Is Makkovik rural Newfoundland? I would say it is. Are they sending any jobs down to Makkovik? No. They are sending them out to Corner Brook and the larger centres here in the Province. I say, it is important that we try to do something for rural Newfoundland. While I agree with regionalization, I do not agree with getting up one morning and deciding that we are going to move 270 people out there without a plan in place, without these people being even notified, without talking to these people and trying to do it in an orderly fashion that will do something for the area, do something for rural Newfoundland. No, I do not agree with the process that was done. I agree with regionalization. I do not agree with the Liberal process of regionalization.

Those are the comments I make on that. I say, in all honesty, that rural Newfoundland is rural Newfoundland. Let's not try to say that growing communities where they are building a Wal-Mart and a Tim Horton's and all those places - there is no Wal-Mart, Tim Horton's, Zellers or any of those on the Lower Road in Cuslett, I say to the Minister of Labour.

If I could get back for a few moments to the Office of the Executive Council, in regard to the Premier's office and into the travel budget, the Premier had a budget last year in his office of $145,000 for travel. That increased to $220,000. It certainly begs the question of a $75,000 increase in the travel budget for the Premier's office. To me, we have to really sit down and ask ourselves a question: Who can answer that question, why we end up with a $75,000 increase?

Then when we pick up The Telegram last week and we hear tell of plane trips here and plane trips there and charter flights here and charter flights there to make connections. It begs the question to me: Is there anybody in control or is she on automatic pilot? I mean, the planes are going all over the place. Is there anybody in control, or is the whole thing on automatic pilot?

I would like to have a breakdown of how much of the travel budget was spent by the former, former Premier. I would like to have a breakdown of how much of the travel budget was spent by the former Premier. I would like to have breakdown on how much was spent by the present Premier. From my understanding, we have had three Premiers under this particular budget. Now, the present Premier has only been there for a couple of weeks.

We have $145,000 travel budget that went to $220,000 under Premier Tobin and Premier Tulk, if I am correct. Now, the last couple of weeks of March, or the month of March, we had Premier Grimes in place. We have a $75,000 increase in the travel budget and nobody seems to want to answer any questions on it. Nobody seems to want to say - where did all this travel take place? How many people were on the move on behalf of the Premier's office? When you look a budget for a year, I would like to know how much of that was spent during Premier Tobin's time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: So, you are telling me the debt of the Premier today, the former Premier of the Province, when he was Premier, he made three trips outside of the Province as Premier. Would that be correct?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: Three or four trips, maximum, outside the Province.

MR. TULK: I never went outside the country.

MR. MANNING: Never went outside the country, three or four trips outside the Province. You became Premier in November, was it?

MR. TULK: October.

MR. MANNING: So, from October to February, you made four trips outside the Province. Well, that be so -

MR. TULK: I am not even sure it was four. It may have been.

MR. MANNING: Okay, so you did not leave the country; you went outside the Province three or four times, on four trips, from October to February, five months.

If this is correct, what you are saying, and I believe what you are saying, I say to the Deputy Premier, in the months of April, May, June, July, August, September, and part of October, the former, former Premier was in office a little over six months the last fiscal year.

MR. TULK: I know (inaudible).

MR. MANNING: What I am trying to get at - in the last fiscal year, the former, former Premier spent a little over six months in office and he had a travel budget of over $200,000, or pretty close to it. I think to myself, aren't we lucky, and we are lucky on all sides, that he got on that plane and went to Ottawa and stayed there. Going at that rate, we would want some budget this year. He would have bankrupt us on travel alone. He must have enough aeroplan points to go all around the world, I say to the Deputy Premier.

MR. TULK: How much does your budget (inaudible)?

MR. MANNING: Nowhere close to that, I say to the Deputy Premier. You can point fingers all you like. My travel budget did not come up to $220,000, I can tell you that. I did not have any chartered flights anywhere either, I can tell you that.

I am talking about the Transportation and Communication budget in the Premier's office. I am begging the question, for a six-and-a-half-month period, how much he spent. You did a good job in your three or four months there, if you only made two or three trips outside the Province and didn't spend very much money, I say to the Deputy Premier. I am begging the question here of how much.....

Now, when I look at the estimate for this year, it is $145,000. So, we budgeted $145,000 last year, we went to $220,000, an increase of $75,000, but we are back to $145,000 this year. So we must not be planning on doing as much traveling this year as was done in the last summer. So, this summer is not going to be a travel summer. It is going to be a less traveled summer than last summer was, according to what I am reading here.

It is a concern that I had to raise, because I see it as a glaring example of not caring about the public money and just spending it as we see it. That certainly concerns me, as the member here for a rural district that is looking for potholes to be filled and infrastructure improvements; to see that type of, what I would think is blatant, blatant expenditure of funds. I think if we get to the point where we cannot ask questions on these things, I say it is time for us all to go home. I say that to the Deputy Premier.

Madam Chair, concerns that have been raised, and will continue to be raised, are the concerns since the reforms to education in 1997. We had reforms that were brought forward and we thought at that time that we would see major improvements to the education system here in the Province. We have a desperate need out in some of the schools for repairs and maintenance and a definite need for supplies and things that are available in the schools. We have a definite need for improvements to the education system, and we thought that the money that was going to be saved would be used for that purpose. I am sorry to see that a lot of it is not going back into education, not going back into the needs of the children of this Province. Certainly that is a concern that I have, as a member, Madam Chair.

Health care: health care is always an issue here in the Province. It has, for the past number of years, been a front and center issue. Certainly, I, as a member, see it every day in my district, the concerns that people have with health care; people on waiting lists trying to get in to see specialists, concerns that have been raised because of the shortage of staff in different hospitals throughout the Province, the shortage of specialists, and the shortage of doctors. We have some major concerns in health care in this Province. I have, on occasion, visited different health care facilities here in the Province over the past couple of months, to see what the cutbacks are doing, to see how the reduction in expenditures by the Province is hurting the basic health care system in this Province.

Certainly, once again, I, as a member, think that more emphasis - not more money, Madam Chair - more emphasis and more planning should be put into the health care system in this Province; not to be flying by the seat of their pants as this government has been doing for the past couple of years.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

Could I remind the hon. member that he was not granted leave, so I think he has had ample time now to conclude.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I will conclude my remarks now with the comment that it is not the amount of money that we have here in government, it is how we spend it. I have watched over the past couple of years an immense amount of waste in this government and an immense amount of mismanagement in this government. You know, spending like a bunch of drunken sailors for the better part of the time, Madam Chair. I think it is very important that we take a very serious approach to running this Province, run it like it should be run, like people are expected to run their own affairs in their homes and everywhere else. Madam Chair, we can't spend like there is no tomorrow.

You have been put in positions of trust here in the House of Assembly. People who have been elected to the government are put in a higher level of trust. It is something that we all should be very cognizant of when we are here in the House of Assembly.

With those remarks, Madam Chair, I will leave the rest for another day, if that is okay with you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

It is a privilege again today for me to rise and say a few words on the Estimates for the Executive Council. It is important that I make a few points with relationship to how ministers, and how the Premier, use taxpayers money at a whim when they want to do certain things. In saying that, there are instances where employees of the government are left out in the cold because the Budget says we do not have it in our budget, or the government says we do not have it in our budget to take them back on.

It is unbelievable when the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans can get up and praise the relocation program when in her own community several and probably dozens of people, that I know, have to leave because they cannot get a job. Some of them are government employees who are left out in the cold because there is no money in the Budget to rehire them or to bring them back on. Where did the money go, Madam Chair? The money obviously went to a scheme, a whim, that the ministers had. Probably they came up to a party or something, or even on the golf course - as our leader had mentioned one time - a whim of relocating hundreds of people into, supposedly, rural Newfoundland. The way I see it, because of this move that the minister and Cabinet have come up with we are seeing an out-migration of a lot of experienced, young, intelligent people out of rural Newfoundland, because the jobs that are being relocated are not new jobs. They are being shuffled around and the money that it is costing to shuffle the jobs around is being taken from people who have worked for the last fifteen to twenty years.

I can tell you of one case. I have a friend in Grand Falls-Windsor who was left out in the cold because the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods never had the guts to come up and say: instead of moving around this money and these relocation jobs, I want money back in my budget so that I can rehire temporary workers again in my department. Madam Chair, I can tell you this person was here yesterday. I met with him and we met with the minister. No money, was the excuse in the Budget for this year. He was a conservation officer who worked for many years. He worked hard and did his job really, really well. He did his job so good that the only thanks he got was: See you around boy, we don't have the money to hire you back. But, we do have the millions of dollars to shuffle people around this Province that does not create any new jobs. Yes, maybe there might be thousands of applications come from the mainland saying: we want to move back into the Province. What about the people who are left here now in our communities in rural Newfoundland who need a job, who need to get back to work? This is not being done. The ministers are sitting on their hands and saying: we hope this issue goes away. We hope this turns out to be a good move but we are afraid to make too much out of it because in some areas we know it is not going to be a good move.

I can assure you, Madam Chair, that in a lot of places that I visit, where the relocation program is going to be implemented, the people are saying: this is not going to work because of all the displaced workers. Any person who was in those communities looking for jobs, who need something from government other than promises, are saying: When the next election comes, sir, I am going to do everything I can to make sure that this government does not get back in power. I would like to just advise the government today that this plan is going to backfire on them in a lot of areas.

Madam Chair, it seems like government people, ministers, when they go around and come up with these out of the pocket views and promises they never work. I seen it in my district with our federal representative, Mr. Baker, who went around before the last election promising everything but the sun; going to communities and saying: don't apply for $175,000, that is not enough. Put in a request for $400,000. I am going to have the money for you. The money is going to be there. Put it in for $500,000. Ever since the election my phone has not stopped ringing because of communities, associations, and groups in the communities calling and saying: Where is the money Mr. Baker promised? Where is the money? He had it before the election. He does not have it now.

These are the kinds of things we have to deal with as provincial politicians, going around our communities and trying to explain why government promises so much and delivers so little. That is the truth in my district, particularly, but I see it in other districts too. Particularly when it comes to infrastructure; particularly when it comes to tourism related projects, when hundreds of thousands of dollars are promised just to gain votes, but after the election where are they? Where is the money? Where is the money for the Long Island causeway that Mr. Baker promised? It is not on the table. We do not see it. The minister of the day was at the table with his share. I was at the table waiting for Mr. Baker to come. He did not show up. No money, but the former Premier Tobin was out campaigning in 1999. He promised: well boy, we will do the project. We will have the money. Our money is there and I will guarantee you this project is going to be done. Now he is in the federal Cabinet. So now we are going to go after Mr. Tobin: You promised a causeway back in 1999 and you are gong to deliver it. From now on this money is going to put on the table, it is going to be put there with the Province's money, and we are going to see that causeway done. These are the types of things that we see from politicians which give our residents, our community, and people, a reason to be doubtful when it comes to promises from politicians.

Madam Chair, the other day I was speaking in regard to a sickness, as I see it, in this Province; a sickness of discouragement. Only today I got an e-mail from a resident, not even from my district. One of the words he used in it was discouragement. He was very discouraged because this government is not delivering on the promises, not being there for the people, not delivering services, not ensuring that protection in the things which are important to them are not in place and not implemented.

Madam Chair, we could be faced with a very important issue in the next little while - God forbid, if it ever comes to our Province - the foot and mouth disease that is in Europe and Britain. I get calls and e-mails from farmers who say we are concerned but we do not hear what this Province and what this Country of Canada is doing to make sure that we are going to be protected when the time comes, and God forbid, if it does come here. What measures are in place to make sure that people are going to be protected?

It is not easy when you go into our rural communities today and see young people leaving. This alone can tell a big story: Investing in Our Youth. I could speak all day on stories of how we could invest in our youth, how we can do something for our youth, train our youth and provide opportunities for them in rural Newfoundland; not by saying we are going to shift this employee from here to there but saying we are going to take the money, the same money that it is going to cost to move employee A over here into another location. Why can't we create another job, employee B, with the same money and deliver the services that we need? Particularly when it comes to protecting our environment, protecting our wildlife -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about your causeway?

MR. HUNTER: My causeway? I just dealt with that. You would not listen so back to sleep.

I am going to deal with an issue that is very important in this Province today, and I am glad that the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods is here. It is an issue that came to me a little while ago and it is an issue he is aware of and has gotten advice from his department members. It is an issue concerning Conservation Officer IIs. I just mentioned it a few minutes ago, Madam Chair, and it just blows my mind to think why we cannot have dollars in a budget to recall people like the conservation officers when we do have major problems in our wildlife resource. Major problems when it comes to pouching and misuse of our wildlife. I know it is not the minister's fault that the money is not there. It is the fault of the government, as a whole, that the money is not there to make sure that our wildlife is being protected, and the rights of our future generations are being protected, and that, instead of moving people around, we will hire these temporary conservation officers back and put them back into the field where they can do the most good.

Madam Chair, like I said earlier, sometimes people do a great job and all the thanks they get is: See you around, we don't have time for you any more. We don't have room for you anymore. I think the government should be responsible enough to find a way to give credit to our employees who commit their lives - the ones who do really great jobs for us as taxpayers and people of this Province - and thank them and reward them. Not only in saying thanks, but rewarding them when it comes to increases in their pay. When they get their pensions then we must have a way that we can say thank you for the long time and work that you have done in your careers with government. We need a way so that when you retire then our public service pensioners can be happy and taken care of and live a decent life, which a lot of them are not doing now. They are not getting any increases. They have been kept down for so long. There is so much discouragement in our public service pensioners. It is so disheartening to see how some of them live and know that everybody else can get a raise but they cannot get any extra money. I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that some day we are going to be retired and we are going to be pensioners. Everybody deserves a descent way of life and deserves to be recognized for the work and commitment they made over the years.

It seems lately that everybody is concerned about what is going to happen in the strike. It could be serious if we do have a strike. It could be very serious, particularly when it comes to people waiting for medical attention and medical services. I visited the hospital here this week several times. People are lying in beds waiting for operations, waiting for tests, and now the threat is there that they are going to be sent home before the strike. They are not going to get the services or the operations and surgeries that they need. God only knows how long it is going to be before they do get them, but for some it is very important that they get them as soon as possible. Not lie in a bed for forty days or more waiting for tests. It is unbelievable how they do that.

When I talked to one person a few days ago, not even a constituent of mine, he was there for two weeks waiting for major surgery. He was very scared, I must say. I felt so sorry for him. He was so scared wondering if his surgery was going to be done before the strike - if there is going to be a strike. If there is a strike people like him, with serious cancer problems, are going to be left to wait for another day; which every day is precious to them. Every day means a lot to them. He has been waiting on the list for so long, now he is going to have to wait longer again. I think that is ridiculous in this day and age with the technology we have. As the minister said, we can do things anywhere in the Province. We can do the same job in one community as in other communities. It does not matter. We have the technology to do it but we do not have a way to get someone in for an operation when they need it, and when they have to have it. They have to wait forty days and more for it. That is unbelievable. It just does not add up, people who committed their lives and did work on our behalf. Were there when we needed them and worked their lives and now end up needing -

CHAIR: I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. HUNTER: By leave, Madam Chair?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

It is an important issue. It is an important issue that when we budget, we budget for the things that are very essential, budget for the things that have to be done, and we don't misuse the budget in times when we take money from one pot and put into another because there is an election on the go and checkbooks come out and people are all over the place. There is no shortage of money at election time. Six months before an election there is not shortage of money, but you go to an employee who has not worked for nine months and say: We can't take you back because we don't have any money in our budget to take you back. Try to explain that to that person. Try to explain that to him when he is saying: I have no other choice only to pack it in and go to the mainland. No other choice. Explain those things. Explain the way that government operates, to people who are desperate. Explain to them that you cannot have an operation, you cannot have a road to drive on, you cannot have a job, you cannot have anything because it is not in our budget.

Why do we budget it, if we don't mean to use it in the place that it is budgeted in then? Why do we go back to our young people and say we are investing in your future, but your future is not here in Newfoundland and Labrador; your future is somewhere else in this country, and maybe not even in Canada. Your future could be in the United States.

As one young fellow told me last Thursday night when I went to the airport with a nephew of mine who was leaving for Alberta, a constituent of mine came up to me and told me that he was leaving for New Jersey. That is the kind of investment that we are making for our youth, to give them heavy debt loads, no thought of the future, no plan for the future for them in this Province, other than if you can get a job then we may shuffle you around to some rural area probably in a few years, but it is not a new job. So, what do you say to these young people, Madam Chair, when they are packing their bags and leaving?

I have another gentleman, another young man, who called me yesterday and asked me to pick him up at the bus terminal, asked me could I keep him overnight and give him a ride to the airport tonight at 9:00? Tonight I have to go to the airport again to take a young man from this Province, put him on an airplane and send him to Alberta. I am after doing that time and time over again the last two years that I have been elected to represent the people in this Province. To have to do that, it is heartbreaking for me to have to do that. They look at us as politicians and say: When are you going to start doing something to keep us here in this Province? Not shuffle us around like a deck of cards, not promising us things that you are not going to give us, not telling us that you can have this, you can have that, but at the end of the day the only thing they are going to get is a ticket to Alberta. That is unbelievable.

How do we look these young people in the face and tell them that? Your job is not here, your job is in Alberta, your job is in B.C. your job is in New Jersey. We will train you, sure. We will get you in and train you. We will give you an opportunity to have a job, but it isn't going to be here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Madam Chair.

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn the House for the day, now.

MR. HUNTER: Give me another half hour.

I do hope the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods does take control of his department and make sure that funds are in that department to protect our environment, to protect our wildlife, our wildlife resource. The budgeting is not sufficient enough to hire our young, experienced, aggressive, capable people in this Province who could go out and do that job.

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn the House now for the day.

MR. HUNTER: I have one minute yet.

Thank you, Madam Chair, for leave. I will adjourn -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). It is interesting.

MR. HUNTER: It is interesting? Oh, I will keep going. Never mind them. We will keep going.

I understand that the hon. members on the opposite side are falling asleep, they are not listening, they are not paying attention, they couldn't care less what goes on in rural Newfoundland. The Premier doesn't care. He is going to give away rural Newfoundland. He is going to allow what happened back years ago when we had mines all over this Province, and today all we have are big holes in the ground, no mines, no jobs. The hon. the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans has one in her district, up in Buchans, where one time it was a prosperous community, a mining community. Now he wants to repeat this all over again. We are going to give away our minerals, give away our water, give away everything we have, do nothing, skate around the issue, stickhandle around the issue, but you are falling asleep, you are not listening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I do not care if you listen to me. Listen to the people of the Province. Hey, look at this. What do you see on this? Tell me what you see here.

AN HON. MEMBER: I can't see that far (inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Okay, well, get glasses.

MR. SULLIVAN: The youth of the Province, young people.

MR. HUNTER: This is young people. I am talking about in rural Newfoundland, and I am very serious, because my heart and soul goes into representing the young people of this Province. I tell you, no one is going to stand in the way of my speaking for the young people of this Province. This says: Investing in Our Future.

Our future is in our resources. Our future is in how we handle our resources, and the benefits we are going to get from our resources. If it is your policy to give it away, give away the minerals, give away the forest, give away the water, then these young people will not be appearing on anything we print in this Province. These young people's pictures are going to appear on something you are going to see in Alberta or B.C. or Ontario. It is very important that we understand that we are not here for ourselves. We are here for the people we represent. We are here for our future generations.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: They are trying to get me to sit down.

If it means we are going to do the job right, do it right now, do the right thing now. If it is done right, you will get credit from me. I am afraid, because of the way the Premier is acting, the way the Premier is moving so fast, that good things are not in store for our resources in this Province. I am worried over it. I am worried that things could be done that should not be done.

I would say to the hon. members on the other side, invest in our future, make sure the decisions that this government makes now are going to be best for these kids in years to come.

Madam Chair, I adjourn debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, I want to ensure the hon. gentleman that he need not worry. The government is in good, caring hands. Everything here is going to be looked after effectively, efficiently, so he can sleep well tonight.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Having said that, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House on its rising do adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 1:30 p.m., and that this House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Monday, at 1:30 p.m.