December 4, 2001 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 42


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to inform this hon. House that Paula Power of Corner Brook has been recognized by her peers for a service in promoting literacy by being awarded the first ever Susie Day Laubach Literacy Award for Volunteers.

Over the past twelve years, Paula has held executive positions with a large number of literacy related groups including the Humber Literacy Council, the Books for Babies Advisory Council, the Newfoundland and Labrador Literacy Council, the editorial board for First Time readers, and the Summer Reading for Fun trainer Program, to name a few. But, most of all, Mr. Speaker, she has kept literacy in the forefront of public attention.

Paula is passionate about literacy. In a recent article in The Western Star she is quoted as saying: "When I see people who cannot read, something inside of me wants to help them. Reading has so much to do with people's lives - their work life, their social life, their family life - it is not just helping one person."

Mr. Speaker, I ask all Members of this hon. House to join with me in congratulating Paula Power of Corner Brook in receiving this prestigious award and her day-to-day commitment to literacy.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to acknowledge and extend congratulations to Herbert and Elsie Pittman of Englee, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on October 17. Last night they were joined by their six children, thirteen grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a wide circle of family and friends to mark the occasion.

Mr. Speaker, like most people of their generation, Mr. and Mrs. Pittman are strong individuals with a deep sense of community, a strong work ethic, and a great commitment to family.

While they are both remarkable individuals, I would be remiss if I didn't mention something significant about Mr. Pittman, and that is that at the age of nine he lost the lower part of his arm in an ice crusher. Today, on the Northern Peninsula, that would certainly be a bit of a challenge to live and provide for your family with part of your arm gone, but sixty years ago it was much more of a challenge. In spite of that, Mr. Pittman and his family lived a very good life. He fished and sealed and was quite well known throughout the Northern Peninsula and all over the Northeast Coast. Some time ago Land and Sea did a show on Mr. Pittman, and he was well known for carrying on and providing for his family in spite of the challenge that he was presented with.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I am sure everybody in this House would like to extend sincere congratulations and best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Pittman on their 50th wedding anniversary, on October 17.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to bring to the attention of the House of Assembly a historic legacy of the Gibbons Family on being involved with the postal service in Red Bay for over 100 years.

On March 10, 1899, James Gibbons of Red Bay received a letter from the then Postmaster General of Newfoundland, Mr. J.O. Fraser to the effect that he was to take charge of the winter mail in that community.

Red Bay has been settled by fishermen and their families mostly from Carbonear during the mid 1800s. Petitions to improve mail service to the Labrador Straits region and to establish a proper year round post office at Red Bay "in a convenient place with facilities for the registration of letters and the issuing of money orders..." were sent to both Fraser and Governor Herbert Murray during 1899.

A permanent post office was finally established at Red Bay in 1906. James Gibbons became Postmaster and retained that position until about 1920, at which time the position was filled by his daughter-in-law Eliza. She served as postmistress at Red Bay for over forty years. Her grandson, Walter, became Postmaster after she retired in 1961, at the age of seventy. Walter retired from that position in 1977 and his wife Linda has been Postmaster for the past twenty-two years.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members to join with me in recognizing the legacy of services to the post office in which the Gibbons family has shown for over 100 years.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On Saturday, November 24, I had the opportunity to attend the fire department's annual dinner and dance in Placentia, Mr. Speaker. It was a celebration of another great year of fire prevention and fire protection for the Placentia area.

I had the opportunity also to present awards for long-term service to seven of the firemen on behalf of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and the Fire Commissioner's Office. Terry O'Keefe, one of the firemen, received a thirty year award, Jim O'Keefe, Val Careen, Gerard Wilson, and Frank Coombs were all presented with twenty year certificates.

Mr. Speaker, also very interesting on that night we found that the fire department had accepted their first lady, first woman, as a member of their fire department this year, in the name of Edna Traverse.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: I thought this was a great opportunity to bring forward those issues here today and to say congratulations to Chief Wayne Power, and all the members, for a job well done in creating peace of mind in the Placentia area in relation to fire prevention and fire protection.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize in the House of Assembly the achievements of the Bay Roberts Sea Lions Swim Team in winning their seventh consecutive provincial championship.

The Bay Roberts Sea Lions Swim Team is made up of ninety-nine swimmers, ages seven to eighteen, who come from the area of Roaches Line to Upper Island Cove. Along with winning this competition, many members of the team also set provincial records in this event. Also, many of the swimmers posted personal best times and were awarded awards and ribbons for their efforts.

Sports in an important part of the physical and social development of our young people. I had the opportunity to travel with this team to their competition in Gander earlier this year and witness first-hand their enthusiasm and commitment. The approximately 400 swimmers from all over the Province who participated and gave their best deserve to be recognized in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all Members of the House of Assembly to join with me in congratulating the Bay Roberts Sea Lions on winning this, and the past six provincial championships, and also to recognize the efforts of all who participated in this sporting event.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am happy to inform people in the Province that plans for the first ever come home year for Labrador West are progressing well. The committee is hard at work, with help from many volunteers, to make sure everything will run smoothly.

Mr. Speaker, July 20 to July 27 promises to be the biggest event ever to occur in Labrador, and probably the largest come home year that has ever been held anywhere in our Province.

Since our website, labwest2002.net, was posted on March 17 of this year, a little more than eight months ago, we have had, as of this morning, over 40,683 visitors to the site, all of whom are residing or have resided in Labrador West for some portion of their lives.

This overwhelming response, Mr. Speaker, demonstrates the great sense of pride and attachment current residents and former residents have for Labrador West. People who live in Labrador West, and even those who left, by choice or otherwise, always refer to their years spent in the North as the best of their lives.

Mr. Speaker, we are eagerly waiting for July 20 to July 27 when we will welcome, from many countries around the world and every province in Canada, old friends, former co-workers, and classmates back to Labrador.

In closing, I would like to thank the committee for all the work they have done to date, and I am certain our come home year will be an astounding success.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Premier. Yesterday, in response to a question to the Premier on whether debate would be held in this House of Assembly before a deal was finalized on Voisey's Bay, the Premier shocked some of the Members of this House of Assembly and indeed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. He made a statement, and I will repeat it, "If we have a debate in this Legislature, and if the government has already commited to the deal, which has twenty-eight seats, and if we bring it in here and vote for it, regardless of how the Opposition votes, it will pass in this Legislature. That is the practicality of how this Legislature operates."

That was the Premier's quote. In other words, why bother to bring it in here? Why have hon. members opposite talk about it or debate it? Why bring it before this House?

I would ask the Premier: Does twelve years in power breed the arrogance and disrespect that you now show no respect for this House, for the members of this House, and indeed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

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 level of indignation shown by the Leader of the Opposition. The fact of the matter is this, Mr. Speaker: I tend to be honest and straightforward with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people in this Legislature.

I do not recall, and I stand to be corrected, when an arrangement was made to start the mine in Bell Island, which contributed greatly to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the deal that was struck to have the company come here and invest came to this Legislature as a pre-condition of the mine opening.

I do not recall an arrangement in Labrador West, where we still have a great iron ore operation continuing in Labrador City and Wabush, whereby the arrangements and the negotiations that went on in providing the mining lease, that there was a pre-condition that no deal should be entered into unless it was debated in the Legislature first. I have never said, Mr. Speaker, that it will not be debated in the Legislature. It is being debated in the Legislature today. It was yesterday; it was last week; it was six months ago; it was five years ago. It will be debated everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador but as a precondition, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, as a business person, knows that you cannot negotiate an arrangement which has a private company looking for a mining lease. That is what they are looking for, and as a condition of it, that they would then be bringing in some $2 billion in investment that we would make an arrangement and say: We will accept your investment. We will grant you the mining lease on these conditions, but I must tell you, I cannot tell you for sure as the government, even though we are the government of the Province, that we might have to go to the Legislature and change half the arrangements. That will never work. That will never get you a deal. That will never be the way any negotiations occur, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition knows it. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador know it. It is a nice try at representing feign and fake indignation, Mr. Speaker, but it is not the way things operate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier is being cute with his words. The Premier knows that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have every right to debate the future of their Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Premier, outside this House last week your Deputy Premier said: I think this place in here - referring to the House of Assembly - can be used to do almost anything we want it to. Doesn't that statement reflect an arrogance and a disrespect for this House which is reflective of your own attitude, which you have already shown us?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the questions - as shallow as they are, in my view. There is no arrogance, no indignation with respect to this side of the House, Mr. Speaker. We tend to expect and believe that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador understand and recognize honesty and sincerity in a straightforward approach, when they see it. Mr. Speaker, I do not believe for a minute that the Leader of the Opposition would suggest that a business negotiation, which this is, with respect to Voisey's Bay, what the government is being asked to do is to grant a mining lease. That is what we are being asked to do. Pretty simple. What we are trying to do is find out what benefits we can guarantee will accrue to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians before we grant the mining lease, Mr. Speaker.

That discussion, as the Leader of the Opposition knows, where a private company is about to invest $2 billion of their shareholders' money in Newfoundland and Labrador so that we can benefit, cannot take place in a business environment in the public. He has been a businessman, he knows that he did not do any of his deals in the public, even though he made a great speech yesterday about thinking that all of the negotiations should happen in the public.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: That is very different from debating legislation or the Constitution or rules of general application.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: This is a serious business deal and we take it very seriously, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my business belonged to me. The government does not belong to (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Premier, I can tell you that if I was in your seat I would make sure that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador had a full debate on this issue before any deal was ever signed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: That would be my guarantee and commitment to the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, when I was elected to represent the good people of Humber West I understood that my role in this Legislature would be to debate issues of importance to the people.

Premier, why are you denying the members of this House the right to debate an issue of such importance to the people of this Province? What are you trying to hide?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Contrary to trying to hide anything, what we are trying to do, Mr. Speaker, is come to an arrangement with a private company that is looking at investing $2 billion in Newfoundland and Labrador, so that we can maximize some benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador from a natural resource that belongs to all of us. Very simple and very straightforward.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to hide because, unfortunately, for five years now we have been unable to come to any level of satisfactory benefits agreements with that company, that we would recommend to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador or that we would sign on their behalf. The only commitment that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have from us is twofold: First and foremost, that they will know every single detail of any arrangement that we enter into, after we enter into it.. We have to enter into something first before you can tell them what it is.

Mr. Speaker, I do not spend my time speculating about what might happen or what if, and what if the sky falls and so on. Every single detail of an arrangement that we will enter into, because we are empowered to do so - and there might be some suggestion of a difference of opinion from the Opposition but we certainly do not buy into that - will be known to everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the second part of the twofold commitment is that we will only enter into it if we have met the terms and conditions of the mandate that we were given in two elections, and that we maximize the benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Premier, you seem to be awfully concerned about the $2 billion that Inco is going to spend. What about the $50 billion-plus asset that you are going to negotiate away on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? That is what we are concerned about on this side of the House, not about what Inco does. We do not care what Inco does; couldn't care less.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Premier, in the past, bad deals have been negotiated - we have had some deals - bad deals have been negotiated on behalf of this Province. The Lower Churchill is a gleaming example.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have seen deals that have not been debated in this House: Lower Churchill; Friede Goldman is another good example. I would ask you, Premier: If the Friede Goldman deal had been brought before this Legislature, do you -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind hon. members, when they are asking questions, questions should be directed to the House through the Chair, not to individual members.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier: Would he not agree that if the Friede Goldman negotiation had been brought before this House, perhaps some of the hon. members in this House, either on this side or that side, may have realized that was a flawed agreement and would not have agreed to give it away for $1, and would put a safeguard in that contract that would protect it against possible bankruptcy? Wouldn't that be a useful exercise?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again we can see that the Leader of the Opposition would like to deal with the past and a bunch of what ifs. Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this: everybody who was involved with the Friede Goldman deal, as an example, understood what the choices and the options were in Newfoundland and Labrador at the time. The choices and the options were for the government, which I understand the Opposition would do, I understand that the Opposition would still have the government running the shipyard and losing $50 million a year. The government of the day, Mr. Speaker, decided that was not an option.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: The government was not going to take taxpayers' money and try to run a shipyard and lose $50 million a year. I understand the Opposition would do that, unless he is going to change his speech from Marystown; because in Marystown that is what he said, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the choices at the time were to close the yard and have nobody doing anything, close it and mothball it, or sell it to the only interested bidder at the time which was Friede Goldman, and we tried to have another provision put in.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: They said, if you put in other provisions we will not buy it and you can go ahead and close it.

Everybody knew that there were two options at the time, Mr. Speaker, not ten or twelve or fifteen or twenty options, just two options (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What I did say in Marystown, Mr. Speaker, was that I looked at that contract and I would have picked up the fact that there was no protection there on a bankruptcy. I can tell you that, Premier, and I did say that publicly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we also have another glowing example of a situation where the will of the Cabinet and the will of the Premier were being imposed on the people of this Province. That was the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Premier, isn't it a fact that if this issue had not been debated in this House, and the views of the members and the people of this Province had not been heard, that a government of which you were part would have given away one of the jewels in the crown of this Province and given away a big asset?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition mixes up two very different circumstances. There was a circumstance with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which is a provincially owned Crown corporation, in which to change the mode of operation for it, it required legislative approval. Required, because the law of the land, which only this Legislature can do, needed to be changed.

There was a full debate and the government - not because of any amendments proposed by the Opposition - decided to change its direction and keep the Crown corporation as it is today. We have committed to keeping the Crown corporation as long as we are the government. They can decide to put forward another position if they would like. There is no requirement and no law that needs to be changed with respect to a mining lease; there was no law that needed to be changed with respect to Labrador West; there was no law that needed to be changed with respect to Bell Island, and there was no law that needed to be changed with respect to Buchans. Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a mining lease.

With respect to an earlier representation by the Leader of the Opposition -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Voisey's Bay is very valuable to Newfoundland and Labrador if, and when, it gets developed. If somebody does not come forward with a couple of billion dollars to develop it, it will always be of some value but worthless if it just sits there in the ground.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, we are trying to encourage someone to come forward and invest now rather than later.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: I understand from your answer, Premier, that if you did not have to bring it before this House then you would have given away that jewel. Is that correct? That is what you are saying, Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is this: Isn't it true, Premier, that the people in this House, and that the people of this Province, want to have this matter debated, even some members of your caucus. Some members of your own caucus do not even know what the deal is, just like we do not know what the deal is. We have no idea what the deal is. Isn't it true that some of the members want to debate it? Wouldn't it be proper, Mr. Premier? What is wrong with a full and open discussion in this House, by an open and accountable government like you say you have?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have been completely open, Mr. Speaker. There is nothing to be open with, with respect to a deal on Voisey's Bay because, unfortunately, we do not have one.

With respect to debating in this Legislature; let us understand one thing, there has been one opportunity here about ten days ago in a private member's debate about research and development of Voisey's Bay; which the Leader of the Opposition said is the most important issue here. He never, ever stood in his place to engage in the debate. The people of the Province do understand that a research and development component for hydromet may possibly be part of the deal. That is what Inco is interested in. The Leader of the Opposition is opposed to it, just like he is opposed to anything to do with this deal because he is frightened to death that we might inflict some prosperity on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and he will not be able to suggest that it is a gloom and doom; it is all a disaster; it is falling apart. There is nothing happening, Mr. Speaker. Nothing can be further from the truth. When there is something to let the people know about, including in this caucus, we will let everybody know what the deal is, if and when we get one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am at a loss to understand why the hon. Premier is the champion of Inco. He is so concerned about the $2 billion that they are going to spend, and he wants to give them a gift of another $100 million from the federal government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the Premier: Brian Tobin, John Efford, and Paul Dicks were opposed to unprocessed or semiprocessed ore leaving this Province, why have you and your party been so keen to see this deal happen since you were elected Premier by your own party? Why are you trying to ram this deal down the throats of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador without full and open debate?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I would suggest that maybe the Leader of the Opposition knows something about a deal that I, or any of us, don't know.

Mr. Speaker, let me say again clearly for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador: The government has no deal with Inco. Mr. Speaker, we would like to reach an arrangement that does - and I have spelled out, as has the Minister of Mines and Energy on several occasions, these fundamental components, that all of the nickel ore that is in the ground in Labrador over the life of the project will be turned into a finished nickel product in Newfoundland and Labrador. I think everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador understands that, Mr. Speaker, and I believe they see that as a full attainment of the mandate that this government was given if we can accomplish it. We haven't been able to accomplish it yet, which is why we don't have a deal.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we are going to try to maximize each and every single benefit that we can for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during that process.

Mr. Speaker, if we can reach that deal, which the Leader of the Opposition thinks we have and we are trying to ram down somebody's throat, then we won't have to do any ramming of anything. What will happen is, if we reach those fundamentals, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will gladly see a project go ahead, will gladly see the development occur and will recognize that we have reached our full mandate, and I believe they will support us and applaud us in finding a way to do something that governments for five years have not been able to successfully accomplish.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Mines and Energy, and they also will deal with the Voisey's Bay development.

I would like to ask the minister: As part of a deal -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MANNING: This is a very important issue, I say to the members opposite.

I would like to ask the minister: As part of a deal, will there be an absolute enforceable guarantee that all of the nickel concentrate from Voisey's Bay will be processed to a finished nickel product at Argentia? Mr. Speaker, will there be an absolute enforceable guarantee?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think the Premier has already dealt with that question amply, but for greater certainty: Any arrangement that we will make with respect to the development of Voisey's Bay, that falls short of a certainty that all of the nickel that is in the ground in Voisey's Bay over the life of that project is developed in Voisey's Bay, anything that falls short of the commitment that it will all not be developed in Voisey's Bay, will not be a deal and will not be signed.

We are committed to seeing 100 per cent of all of the nickel that will come out of that ore body in Voisey's Bay, over the life of the project, processed into a finished nickel product in this Province, through a refinery in this Province that will do that processing. That is our commitment, that is our marker, and we are striving to reach a deal that will give a surety and clarity and certainty with respect to finished nickel product processing in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister: If the hydromet process is proven to be unsuitable for processing nickel concentrate from Voisey's Bay, will the contract -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister: If the hydromet process is proven to be unsuitable for processing nickel concentrate from Voisey's Bay, will the contract with Inco contain an absolute enforceable guarantee that Inco will build a traditional smelter refinery at Argentia to process Voisey's Bay nickel concentrate to a finished nickel product?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear to everybody, including the brightest and the best minds in the industry, and in the area of new technology for processing hydrometallurgical type activities, that the hydromet process is the way to go. We are looking forward to getting a research and development opportunity in the Province that will allow us to prove up hydromet and continue to operate to do other proving up processes on an R and D basis for a long time in the future. In essence, it is sort of a small, new industry, in and of itself, aside from the commercial plant that we will have over the thirty year life of the project. For greater certainty, whether or not hydromet can be proved up to the extent that it can be used as a technology to process through a commercial plant in our Province is the question we are trying to answer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: If we for some reason find out, if the technology for some reason falls short of the expectation and does not work, I can assure the hon. member that there will be, in any event, full processing in this Province of nickel to a finished product by some other type of technology.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask questions today because I believe the people in Newfoundland and Labrador want guarantees before the Voisey's Bay deal is signed. I want to ask the minister: Is he afraid to bring the contract on Voisey's Bay to this House of Assembly before it is signed? Is the minister afraid to bring it here because the guarantees I have asked him about today are not and will not be part of the contract on Voisey's Bay?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would suggest that we would have to rename the member, the member with the great crystal ball, because he seems to know with certainty and with clarity in his own mind, between his own ears, what will be in a deal that we hope we will reach with Voisey's Bay.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member does not know what a deal will contain and will not know until, in fact, we arrive at one. What the people of the Province can be sure about is that any deal we reach will be faithful to the commitment that they have entrusted to us with respect to obtaining full processing in the 1996 and 1999 elections. It will remain faithful to the commitments that I have given. It will remain faithful to the commitments that the Premier has given with respect to ensuring that we will get full processing of 100 per cent of the nickel over the life of the project, and that anything short of that will not constitute a deal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Justice. As the minister is aware, councils in Labrador West have been requesting a 911 service be extended into Labrador West. The minister has stated that this is not under active review by his department. Mr. Speaker, the St. John's area and the Corner Brook area have a 911 service funded by government, and 911 is known throughout the world as an emergency response number.

According to a Ministerial Statement in this House on March 21, 1995, the then minister stated that he was pleased to announce today that Cabinet has given approval in principle for the establishment, on a Province-wide basis, of an enhanced 911 emergency telephone system.

I ask the minister: What will he do to ensure that residents of Labrador, and the Province in general, will have the services of a 911 emergency response number?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I certainly cannot speak for the minister five years ago but I will speak for myself. The hope is to eventually have a 911 service throughout this Province. It is obviously a resourcing issue. I met, in fact, yesterday with Mr. Letto and representatives of the Combined Councils of Labrador. They are in the gallery again today. That was not one of the priorities that was discussed.

Policing issues are very important to Labrador, and we have been successful in the last two year, I would say, very successful, in addressing policing safety issues in Labrador. We have added additional constables in Cartwright, also in Makkovik, and also in Goose Bay, and, no doubt, with the road improvements that this government is making in Labrador, we will need additional resources to police those roads; but, the actual issue of 911 did not come up from the councils yesterday. We would like to have it eventually, but it is a matter of money. If the money is there, eventually, we would certainly like to have it.

We only have it right now in St. John's and Corner Brook. In fact, there are still some technical difficulties being encountered with the system which we are reviewing as well. Given the insurgence of people who use security systems, for example, and the number of false alarms that impact upon the use and cost of 911, we are actively investigating that matter as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PARSONS: Not only is it a case where we do not know how far we can go; we have to re-evaluate where we have gone now, in fact, and the impact that it has had.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr .Speaker.

If I understand the minister correctly, now we have to be grateful for good policing in our communities.

I want to say to the minister, and I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker: Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and other provinces in Canada have 911 as a province-wide emergency number to respond. I want to say to the minister that this is an issue in Labrador West and it is an issue throughout this Province. I want to ask the minister: Is he willing to commit to take a leading role and meet with groups throughout the different regions of this Province to see how 911 can be installed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, first off, the people of Labrador West do not have to feel grateful because they have policing service. They deserve and will get the same level of policing services as everyone else in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Secondly, I am accessible to meet with anyone in this Province, at any time, who wants to discuss a policing issue. My door is never closed, and will never be closed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: In accordance with Section 273(3) of the Elections Act, 1991, I hereby table the Annual Report Of The Chief Electoral Officer On Election Finances, for the period January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2000.

In accordance with Section 35 of the House of Assembly Act, Part II, Conflict of Interest, I hereby table the Annual Report of the Commissioner Of Members' Interests covering the period April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday I raised a couple of issues in debate here in the House. I brought forward certain incidents that happened on a forestry resolution debate that happened here with names of people that were charged under the act, which I thought were charged in an improper way.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the member on a point of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: I want to table some information, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The chair knows that private members do not have the right nor the obligation to table reports in the House or table documents. That has been ruled on for many years.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, on a point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Deputy Premier asked me if I would table information -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The chair just ruled on tabling of reports. The chair is not going to deal with this point of order.

Answers to Questions for Which Notice has been Given

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table today answers to two questions that were on the Order Paper.

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling today answers to a question from the Member of Harbour Main-Whitbourne; a detailed breakdown of the cost of producing and airing the Read and Succeed television advertisement. The answer, in fact, covers the total cost of the program.

Petitions

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

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

Today I rise to present a petition on behalf of a number of people on the Northeast Avalon regarding the Torbay Bypass. I would like to read it into the record:

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Legislative Session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREAS the population of the Northeast Avalon in the Towns of Pouch Cove, Bauline, Flatrock, Torbay, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove is growing rapidly; and

WHEREAS the traffic on Torbay Road has increased to significant and dangerous levels, approximately 12,000 vehicles per day, and is growing daily; and

WHEREAS the Torbay Bypass route has been decided and land acquisition has taken place; and

WHEREAS the Torbay Bypass was a significant part of the Department of Works, Services, and Transportation roads agenda and would alleviate the concerns of residents on the Northeast Avalon regarding traffic flow;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to make the Torbay Bypass a part of their New Road Construction Plan and put funding in place to start the construction of the Torbay Bypass as soon as possible; and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, last week I presented a petition from a number of people in the Pouch Cove and Flatrock area with respect to the same issue. Today, there are a number of names on this petition from Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove and some from Pouch Cove, and I expect in the near future we will be receiving more petitions from the area of the Northeast Avalon with respect to this very important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I support this petition. I have signed the petition, of course. You have to do that when you present a petition in this House of Assembly. This proposed Torbay Bypass affects thousands of people on the Northeast Avalon. As I said before, Mr. Speaker, it affects people from Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, through Torbay, Flatrock, Pouch Cove, Bauline, and people living on Torbay Road - and in Portugal Cove, because now we have some people coming across the Indian Meal Line and out Torbay Road. It is a very serious situation.

The traffic on Torbay Road, Mr. Speaker, is horrendous. It is growing rapidly every year. As a matter of concern, as recently as today I received a letter from a former mayor of the Town of Flatrock concerning the conditions of the roads in that area in the wintertime. It is a strange happening, every year we see that the Torbay Road is done fairly well. I have to compliment the Department of Works, Services, and Transportation, as far as the north side of Torbay, through Torbay to the WindGap - where the WindGap leaves Torbay Road goes down through Flatrock and goes back onto the Pouch Cove highway. From Gallows Cove - that intersection of Gallows Cove Pond and that intersection of the WindGap - from that area of the Pouch Cove highway right to Pouch Cove, down through Flatrock, the WindGap, there always seems to be not enough salt and sand put on that stretch of the roads.

In Torbay, of course, we have the Pipperstock Hill and the North Side Hill. The Department of Works, Services and Transportation, the people at the White Hills, are always saying every year that I contact them - the same issue - there is not enough salt and sand put on the Pouch Cove highway -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker. Just to clue up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

MR. TULK: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just let it be known that the Deputy Premier is refusing leave to speak on this very important issue, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition. The petition reads:

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

WHEREAS the speed limit of 80 kilometres an hour along the residential section of highway situated on Route 230 in Lethbridge between the depot of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and a business known as Blundon's Esso is too high;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately reduce the speed limit in this area from 80 kilometres an hour to 50 kilometres an hour, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition that has been circulated by the eighteen residents who live on Route 230. They have school children accessing a bus stop on this particular route where the speed limit right now is 80 kilometres an hour.

Up until this year, all the elementary students in this particular area - their parents would take them to school because they lived less than a kilometre from the school in Lethbridge. This past year seen the Lethbridge elementary school closed. Now the students in this particular area have to be bused to Anthony Paddon Elementary in Musgravetown. In order to access the school bus, they have to walk and wait on the side of Route 230. The parents there have written the minister and have raised it with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation in Clarenville, and their efforts up until now, have not been attended to, if you would, in having the speed limit reduced.

Their concerns are very real. It was only yesterday that I received a call from a parent who happened to be at the side of the road waiting for the school bus with their children when a tractor-trailer came by, driving the normal speed limit of 80 kilometres an hour, with a load of wood on - sixteen cord of wood - and had to try to stop. Everybody here knows what trying to stop a tracker-trailer is like on a busy highway driving 80 kilometres an hour. You just cannot stop it on a dime.

What the people are asking is for the minister to direct his officials to lower the speed limit from 80 kilometres an hour to 50 kilometres an hour on this particular section of road. It is not uncommon. It has been done in other sections of the same highway. They are asking that their area, the residential area of Route 230 by Lethbridge, that the speed limit be reduced to 50 kilometres an hour, as it is in other places on the highway, for the safety of their children. They have to go there every morning; have to be dropped off every evening; have to walk the side of the road, and have to wait by the side of the road of this busy highway. That is what they are asking for. They are in fear for the safety of their children.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would ask the minister if he would take this petition into consideration, and I also fully support the recommendations and suggestions put forward by the residents.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I have another petition today that I will present on behalf of the residents of Shea Heights who wish to petition the hon. House of Assembly to address the need for wheelchair accessible housing units in the Shea Heights area. We are asking government to consider the fact that people with disabilities and their families need to be able to utilize the support of family and friends within the community of Shea Heights. If persons are forced to live in units outside the community, it compromises the help and support families so vitally need.

We are asking that serious consideration be given to the construction of wheelchair accessible units in the Shea Heights area so families with physical disabilities may avail of essential support networks.

Mr. Speaker, I would start today by congratulating the minister responsible for housing. Over a year ago I spoke to the minister requesting money for wheelchair accessible housing units. He told me he was working on the funding for $30 million. I congratulate him, I know he worked hard on that funding.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I hope that he will listen to the pleas of the people of Shea Heights when they ask for wheelchair accessible housing units for that area.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, throughout the Province there is a need for additional housing units, which is the reason for the funding, obviously. There is a need for single housing units and so on, but the issue today - and this petition that I am presenting - is for wheelchair accessible housing units. Families in the Shea Heights area, who are living with a disability, are forced to move from their community, the community that they grew up in, the community that their families live in, the communities that they have lived in all their lives. They are being asked to move from that community into a community where they do not have the support network available to them, where family members have to travel - because in some cases the persons with disabilities are unable to travel, so families would have to travel considerable distances in some cases because of the location of wheelchair accessible housing units, to be able to help the family member with the disability.

This is a very serious issue. It is a very reasonable request by the people who are signing the petition and I ask, Mr. Speaker, that very serious consideration be given to allow wheelchair accessible housing units to be constructed in the Shea Heights area.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Order 17, Mr. Speaker, Bill 41, An Act Respecting The Protection Of Farm Practices In The Province.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Farm Practices In The Province." (Bill 41)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to rise to introduce Bill 41, An Act Respecting The Protection Of Farm Practices In The Province.

This new legislation is aimed at protecting farm operations from court action relating to nuisance complaints from farming activity. I guess from time to time all of us in this hon. House have heard reference to situations where farming operations, that have existed for years, found themselves in conflict because people built homes in the vicinity of the farming operation, then afterwards they raise some objections as to concerns with regard to the farming operation. To address that, the main element of the act that we are debating in the House today is the Farm Practices Review Board. This new board will help mediate disputes between farmers and their neighbours. The board will consist of at least five members representing municipalities, the farming community, and the general public.

The intent of the legislation is to provide for a more effective and quick way to resolve public complaints due to farm practices. The board will be responsible for hearing and ruling on complaints about such things as odors, noise, dust, smoke, and light. Concerns of any other nature will continue to be addressed by the appropriate government departments or agencies. The act does not affect the rights and powers of municipalities to enact their own regulations related to farming activity.

Our focus, in this act, is to deal solely with nuisance complaints which have increased over the last few years. Concerns of any other nature will continue to be addressed by the appropriate government departments or agencies. We are confident that this comprehensive legislation will meet the need to protect farms that operate in an acceptable manner from court action, while at the same time ensure the rights of those who live near farming operations, make sure that these rights are not compromised.

The new legislation will contain new environmental guidelines for farm management practices. These guidelines, Mr. Speaker, were developed in consultation with the Departments of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Environment, Government Services and Lands, and the Agrifoods industry. They will be key to the review board in determining whether a farm is complying with the required guidelines when a complaint is issued. Government is committed to ensuring farming operations follow all environmental and health guidelines. I want to stress that only farmers whose operations fully comply with necessary guidelines will be protected by this legislation. We want to ensure that there is a balance between safeguarding family practice operations and protecting the public from unacceptable disturbances from farming activity.

This new and important legislation, Mr. Speaker, was developed in consultation with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities. Both groups are supportive of this legislation.

We believe this piece of legislation is long overdue in our Province. In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador is the only Province in Canada that does not have, at present, some form of farm practices protection legislation. Mr. Speaker, we are confident that this legislation will enable us to more effectively strike a balance between protecting farming operations and addressing public complaints.

It is well for the hon. members of this House to remember and recognize the importance of the farming industry to the people of this Province. At the present time, there are some 700 farming operations in the Province with an additional 100 companies that are doing some further processing and value-added production, for a total industry value in excess of $500 million.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation serves to strike a balance, first of all in protecting this very valuable industry and also allowing a mechanism to deal with situations where citizens and communities may feel aggrieved and feel they have a concern. I think the review board will serve a very useful purpose, and I certainly commend this legislation to the hon. members of the House and suggest a speedy passage.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me today to rise and say a few words on Bill 41, the Farm Practices Protection Act. I am certainly in support of this act. It is legislation that we have been waiting for, for many, many years. With respect to our farming community, they have certainly been encouraging government and lobbying government to get this act in place and passed through the House. Mr. Speaker, I am certainly in favour of it and support it, and I would like to say a few words on it.

It is an act that certainly would eliminate some of the nuisance complaints that could end up in court, through court injunctions and court actions, and that could be drawn out for many years. Mr. Speaker, this act will certainly make these things a lot easier to deal with, these nuisance complaints.

We find in our farming community, in this Province especially, that acceptable farming practices differ from areas and regions throughout the Province. We must recognize that the guidelines that are prescribed by the minister would have to be under consultation with all the stakeholders involved in the farming industry in this Province.

The policies and these consultations have been done. They have be done through consultation with the Federation of Agriculture and the Federation of Municipalities who certainly would support this legislation, and they are representing the different people within the Province, especially the Federation of Agriculture who represents the poultry producers, the dairy producers, the egg producers in the Province, who see a lot of problems arising from their operations, particularly when it comes to different times of the year when they have to use pesticides, storage of manure, and spreading of manure.

We have to realize, too, that we have to create an environment in our farming community where it does not create problems, especially with respect to stockpiling manures and spreading manures, and we do not create a situation that is similar to what happened in Walkerton, Mr Speaker. It is too important to the residents who live near farming communities, that we do it right. If there is some discretion in the way that these practices are carried out, then there is an avenue which the public can go to make their complaints known. It will be dealt with through the board of review and will be done in a timely manner so that these situations do not end up in court. This legislation will prevent a lot of hardship for not only farmers but residents who live near farms.

We are supporting this legislation and we are behind the Federation of Agriculture and the department, to see that this runs smoothly and that the consultation does involve the guidelines prescribed by the different stakeholders. That is very important, Mr. Speaker, that the people who are in the industry do have a say, and I encourage the minister to implement the guidelines that they have. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I am certainly proud to say that we do support this legislation and hope that it does make the industry a lot easier for the farming community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say a few words about the bill before the House, Bill 41, An Act Respecting The Protection Of Farm Practices, at second reading.

Second reading is approval in principle of a bill, and I have to say that wholeheartedly I endorse the thrust of the bill, the intention of the bill, to provide protection for farmers and farm operations from nuisance actions for the things that the minister outlined: odour, noise, dust, vibration, light, smoke. Those are normal aspects that form the basis of nuisance actions, and the situation that he described, of people who live in one place, moving into a farming area and then deciding that it should be like an urban area, that they should not have to put up with the smell of manure or the other aspects of normal farm operations.

I have no difficulty at all with the provision of the act. I think, as previous speakers mentioned, and as the minister mentioned, there have been a lot of complaints about that, some of them taking the form of demonstrations. I know we have had them in Conception Bay South, in the Avalon, and in other places as well, where the urbanization of a rural farm area has caused problems for people moving in there, who all of a sudden decide they do not like the odour that emanates from an agricultural operation. I recognize that this is a sincere attempt by government to do something about it.

I have some concerns that I want to put on the record here. I am not really sure how this is going to operate, and I have to say that we are dealing with a very serious measure here. We are actually saying that individuals have no right to the courts, that individuals have no access to the courts, for matters that are covered under this act. When we talk about odour, noise, dust, vibration, light and smoke, I have no problem, but there are three more words after that, I say to the minister, and they appear in a number of sections of the act. It says: or other disturbance.

When we look at the definitions that are contained under the farm operation, a farm operation includes applying fertilizers, manure, pesticides, or biological control agents. We are going beyond the normal odours, the application of manure, the smell of manure, the light that might emanate when somebody is working late at night or has lights on for growing their crops or tomatoes, or whatever it happens to be, or noise at certain hours of the night or day because farm machinery or equipment needs to be operated. These are the kinds of things that might give rise to a nuisance, a public nuisance type or private nuisance type, application to the court. When we are dealing with issues like biological agents or fertilizers, pesticides and that, we get into an area where there is a different order of magnitude of problems that are created there, and issues that relate to perhaps a neighboring farm or a neighboring property which is trying to operate an organic farm.

If you are trying to operate an organic farm on your property and the fertilizer of one type or another, pesticides of one type or another, actually emanate from one farm property to the next one by airborne measures, by wind, by an over spray, or spraying too close to the area, or by water coming into an adjoining farm, then I think you have serious problems. Some people also have particular sensitivities to this type, whether it be biological agents, pesticides or fertilizers. I say to the minister, these are matters that are of great controversy in many circles, and there are different farm practices that may apply.

When we look at, how do we deal with that, well, the farm practices are either established by the minister, which is not necessarily with the approval of anybody else. Section 17.(1) says, "The minister may prescribe guidelines known as the farm practices guidelines and may issue policy directives for acceptable farm practices." Now we have the minister saying what is or is not the method whereby a person can be denied access to the courts. I think we are going a bit too far when we start giving that kind of a discretion.

When we look at the board itself, it has three representatives of the agricultural community, two members from the Federation of Municipalities, and one additional member who does not carry on a farm operation. So, half of the members are from the agricultural community. The Federation of Municipalities has two people - or one, rather, which is nominated, and one from the public, so three, one, and one. In fact, the Farm Practices Review Board consists of a majority of people from the farming community.

I would submit, Mr. Speaker, we have the basis for problems and for controversies between what might be an acceptable farm practice from people in the agricultural community and what might be a problem for people with an adjoining property who do not want to have fertilizers, pesticides, biological control agents, or other matters seeping onto their property, flowing onto their property, or affecting their own operation.

I think we have a problem there. I do not have a solution for the minister. It seems to me that we have too broad a definition when we talk about, or other disturbance. I know we do have, as the minister has indicated, this matter being subject to the Environmental Protection Act, but we are not talking about the Environmental Protection Act here. We are talking about an individual who may own an adjoining property, who, for their own reasons, may not want to have chemical fertilizer, pesticides, or other chemical applications - biological control agents is another one mentioned - encroaching on their property because simply they do not want this to interfere with their use or operation of their own land. That is principally what a nuisance application is all about.

I think the minister ought to have a closer look at this legislation. I realize we are at a second reading at this point, but we have a situation where the majority of this board will be farmers, or people representative of the agricultural community. We have a situation where the minister may or may not impose guidelines or policy directives that relate to farm practices. We have no actual requirement that they are going to be acceptable - I think they prefer the term acceptable farm practices related there. What may be acceptable in one place, as the act recognizes, may not be acceptable in another.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that we have legislation here that is open to a fair amount of arbitrariness on the part of a particular board. I do not think that the act itself quite properly states out the nature of the conflict. If the conflict is between an expectation by someone moving a residential use very close to an agricultural one, and objecting to the kinds of odours or noise and vibration and other things like that, I do not have a problem with that. When we get into the area of the potential for pesticides, for other chemicals, fertilizers being overblowing onto someone else's property or going onto someone else's property, then I think the courts are the ones that have had a traditional role in determining whether certain types of encroachment on someone else's property are acceptable or not. I think that those guidelines, if there are any, have to look after that. There is no indication whatsoever in the act that that is being attended to.

I think the intention is good, the principle is good, that we cannot have people moving into a farming community in Kilbride, for example, and saying: I do not want to have to smell manure. We cannot have that, because that prevents a farm operation from operating. In a sense, they were there first. It was a rural community. It was the operation of a farm, in fact, that grew that community in Kilbride, in Conception Bay South, in the Codroy Valley, in Cormack and many other areas of the Province where we have farming communities which grew up as a result of people's interest in farming as a way of life and to make a living. We do need to prohibit or protect people from being driven out of business, as it were, by the fact that somebody moves in next to them, buys a piece of land, builds a house and then expects not to have to deal with the fact that there is a farm nearby.

When we get to the area of chemicals and pesticides, biological control agents is another one used, these are things that can encroach on other people's property whether they be other farm properties, in the case of an organic farmer, or whether they be residential properties, that there should be a different regime for. While it may well be an acceptable farm practice to extensively use pesticides and fertilizers and biological control agents, that may be a matter of choice for a particular farmer whereas the adjoining property may want to have a different type of farm operation and may want to be protected from being encroached on by a neighbor, whether it be through runoff, whether it be through wind blow, or whether it be through an application of a particular agent that does not stay on one property and in fact affects the others.

With those qualifications, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that we support, in principle, the legislation that would protect farm practices but we see some significant problems in how it might be applied through the use of guidelines that may or may not be prescribed by the minister, and by the fact that there are considerable controversies within the agricultural community over the variety of farm practices that might be chosen by individuals but that might cause problems for others within the farming community or outside the farming community if these disturbances are permitted on other people's land without them having the right to take action in the court. I want to underline, that is what we are doing here. The Legislature is being asked to prevent people from access to the courts to have a dispute of this nature resolved.

The other thing I see, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps the minister could address this: there is no appeal for this. There is no appeal. You have a five person board, three of whom are from the agricultural community, one from the municipalities, and one member of the public, and if you do not like the decision, there is no appeal. There is no appeal to the court, there is no appeal to the minister, there is no appeal to anybody. That seems, to me, to be a wrong principle, that we are giving a board this kind of power without having any appeal to the court if they do not like the decision that has been made.

I think these are serious problems with the legislation. I don't doubt that there is legislation of this nature in every other province, but I would be surprised, Mr. Speaker, if every other province had a situation where a board is given this kind of power to exclude people from going to court on a nuisance application without there being any right of appeal.

As I say, the principle is good but I think the legislation itself is flawed and I would not want to see it passed without having serious amendment.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I would like to make a few comments on it. Let me preface my remarks by saying, Mr. Speaker, that I live in the District of Kilbride, married and raising my family there. About 25 per cent of the milk that people consume in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is produced within the district that I have the privilege and honour of representing.

Again, the district that I represent has significant farming activity, both from a dairy producer's point of view, root crops, and people who, through the winter months, through greenhouses, et cetera, grow a variety of plants, a variety of flowers. For example, Lester's on Brookfield Road has a retail shop where many of these products are sold, and elsewhere, along the side of the road. If you drive in through Kilbride or on the Ruby Line or on the Back Line through different seasons of the year, particularly in the summer months and fall months, even now, you will see much of the produce that is grown in that district for sale in that district.

I think we need to question why this piece of legislation is necessary to get a true understanding of why government has felt it important to bring it forward. The Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi briefly mentioned, particularly in the more urban areas of the Province, the encroachment of land development on what has traditionally been, up until this point, agricultural land. It has been a big issue. It is a huge issue.

In reading through the bill, when it was first tabled in the House, every section of the bill I could identify with, because I have dealt with it. I have dealt with homeowners' concerns and complaints as related to legitimate, bonafide farming practices in terms of spreading of manure and a variety of other matters that the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi mentioned.

The issue of encroachment is a big issue, from two points of view. The issue of encroachment upon traditional agricultural land and its ability to continue to contribute to the Province is a very big concern for people who are involved in the agricultural community, whether in the root crop industry or in the dairy industry. It is a legitimate concern. I mean, after all, I think it needs to be said, that if there is a component of our economy that definitely offers the most attractive and the best growth potential to create jobs in this Province today it is the agriculture and agrifoods industry, bar none. It is not Voisey's Bay, although that is important in terms of growth development, employment and revenues to the Province. It is not the fishing industry in terms of what it represents in terms of jobs in the processing sector, from those who are in the harvesting sector, while it is important. In terms of growth potential, it does not even come close to offering the type of economic spinoff, direct jobs, indirect jobs and secondary processing jobs that the agrifoods and agricultural industry represents, or has the potential to represent.

When you talk about the agrifoods industry, it was a $2 billion industry in Newfoundland and Labrador last year; $2 billion. Of everything that we consume as individuals in the Province, from what we eat to what we drink, to what we buy in the grocery stores, to what we buy at the corner stores - I mean it is a shocking statistic - less than 10 per cent of what we consume ourselves we actually produce. We have to import much of what we consume. And it is directly related to the bill.

I know it is probably a little stretch, and I appreciate the minister and the Government House Leader allowing me just that little bit of latitude, because it is important in terms of the backdrop to why this legislation has come about.

Recently there was a project supported by the Deputy Premier's department, Development and Rural Renewal, in Lethbridge, for example; talked about a farmers' co-operative and the cold storage facility. That is where we need to go.

The Minister of Tourism is the former Minister of Agriculture. When you hear the vice-president of Sobeys, for example, talk about: Why wouldn't we enter into these agreements with farmers' cooperatives when they can give us a ready, steady, supply of root crop vegetables? The only reason that we have been unable to provide huge outlets, like Sobeys and other huge chains, supermarket chains and other chains, with those types of ready supply of root crop vegetables, as an example, because we have not had the necessary infrastructure in any part of the Province to be able to guarantee that over a period of years. So we get fluctuations on the market. During the summer months, after it is produced, bang; there is a flood of local product and produce in the marketplace. This time of year, come December, January, February, October, there is no local produce. So we have not been able to level out the supply, which has created unusual demands. It is basic economics.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible) commercial root cellars.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, commercial root cellars. That goes for many other parts of the agrifoods business. It is important to mention how important the agrifoods business is to the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the dairy industry alone, for example, in this Province directly employs a little over one thousand people and is worth $100 million to the provincial economy this year, and each year and every year. Next year and in subsequent years, because of what the dairy industry themselves - aided and supported, to some extent, by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifoods - have been able to negotiate on a federal agreement, for example, with the industrial milk quota, provides us, for the first time, with the opportunity to get into huge secondary processing and potentially could employ another thousand people. Think about that; another thousand people could potentially be employed as a result of it. But one of the challenges associated with that, that we have to overcome, is what is in this legislation, and that is the ability for the industry to grow and have access to more land, and then how that industry is able to live side-by-side or in harmony with its neighbours in the community who are not involved in traditional farming practices or in the industry.

Now, the bill itself, in trying to accommodate and trying to put in place - essentially what it is, is that we have defined a dispute resolution mechanism. That is what we have done here. We have set up parameters - not unlike what we have done, for example, on a workers' compensation appeal tribune. We have set up a process where, if somebody feels aggrieved, whether it is the individual or a group of individuals who are involved in a legitimate, bonafide exercise in terms of agriculture, or whether it is a neighbour who is not but feels as a result of living next to a farming operation, that they have some serious concerns and issues, and feel that their home, their land, and them living adjacent to it, that they may feel they should not be in those circumstances, or the set of circumstances that they have been presented with, are somehow not in keeping with provincial law, an act respecting the environment, or any other associated stature or act of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, let me say up front that this legislation, in my view, is a good piece of legislation. I support it wholeheartedly. What it does is set up independently, of the ministry, a body that if somebody feels aggrieved a process is immediately kick started. It is outlined in the legislation so that either a legitimate farm enterprise who may feel aggrieved because of a complaint lodged against it by a neighbour, they can aggrieve to it, or the converse is true, that a neighbour... So it outlines, a board is going to be established to deal with it that essentially, in keeping with the practice, I suppose, and tradition, but most importantly the law and statue of the Province and other associated acts, particularly the environment that may be involved, that they have an independent process to appeal to, and legitimate and bonafide complaints - I say legitimate and bonafide complaints - can be heard in a very unpolitical sort of way, but in a way that allows concerns to be put forward without anyone feeling that, because they have put their complaints forward or concerns forward, they are, in some way, shape or form, going to be jeopardized because they have done it.

I think that is what is important about it. I do share, and it must be said that I do share the concerns on one level raised by the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, and it was one of the things that struck me in first reading the legislation. When we talk about the freedom of information legislation that was debated in second reading here yesterday, one of the things that government, in presenting the bill in second reading, was so proud to say about the legislation - and I am not going to get into debate on that because we have done that - but one of the things they highlighted was the ability to appeal, once a decision was made to allow an opportunity to appeal that decision to another body. Now, whether we do that directly to the courts, to the Trial Division or Civil Division, or whether we allow another opportunity for appeal once a decision is raised, I think it is a legitimate concern.

I ask the minister and the people within the department to look at that section seriously, or the lack of it there. The opportunity for everyone to appeal a decision, essentially, is a basic right. I think it is something we assume and we see it in all sorts of legislation. We see it in freedom of information, we see it in the act respecting workers' health and safety compensation commission, with respect to not only internal review but the chief adjudicator, the single adjudicator system that we are into now with - who is the chief review commissioner now? - Mr. Eric Gullage, former member of the House, but that mechanism was put in place. From that point of view, I think it must be said to the minister, on the issue of appeal, that we should take it seriously.

I would like him to consider this. Maybe we can talk about it once second reading is done, because there are two other stages of the bill that we have to go through yet. One is Committee stage where we have an opportunity, as members in the House, to make amendments or to suggest additions to the bill, that maybe he give some consideration to the notion of appeal, when speaking with officials today, so that once we get to the Committee stage of this bill, which may be the latter part of this week or certainly next week, that we may be able to rectify or come up with a - and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of examples of an appeal process and procedure contained already in many acts that we have talked about in this House. So, I would like to recommend to him that maybe, between us all - the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, who has raised it, myself and the critic, Mr. Hunter from his district, and yourself - that maybe between us all we can rectify or come to some conclusion how we can best handle the notion of appeal in this act.

Mr. Speaker, let me conclude my remarks by saying that I think there has to be a realization today, not only by members in the government, individual members, but by the community at large, that when it comes to the agricultural industry and agrifoods industry, the significance of that industry for growth, the potential for growth, is tremendous, is great, is exponential, is real, and it can happen very quickly.

I recall being involved, for example, in a project that really did not get off the rails but involved Newfoundland turnip. Just a quick story. Most members probably wouldn't realize, but for food connoisseurs around the world, I suppose, Newfoundland turnip is probably the best turnip in the world - and I am not speaking off the top of my head - simply because of a couple of reasons: one, climatic conditions. Because of our climate, the weather systems, and the nature of our soil, it produces a very sweet product - a true story. As a result of that, and I want to get to a point of a project that almost went that didn't go, that should have, as a result of that we had an opportunity some time ago - a gentleman by the name of Eric Williams, who has passed away now but was a significant contributor to the agricultural community in the Province and in Canada, was involved in a project that was looking for some assistance about exporting turnip to markets outside the Province, particularly in Toronto and the larger areas. He had actually some booths set up, I believe, where Newfoundland turnip - did you ever see those taste-test booths that you go into if you go down to, say, the Price Club or into Sobeys or Dominion, or any other store - IGA, wherever it may be. Now and then you will have the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Sampling.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? I cannot hear you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sampling.

MR. E. BYRNE: Sampling, yes, or taste-testing or whatever. Sampling, I guess it is.

Some of this was actually set up in some outlets in Toronto and the surrounding greater metro area, where actually turnip was boiled and then fried with garlic and butter, and they were giving samples. Because of the lack of funding, I suppose, and investment in a possible market opportunity, or lack of funding and foresight through a number of agencies, and I am not pointing fingers at anybody, I am not trying to do that, or trying to provoke debate. The point was that we lost an opportunity to export significant amounts of Newfoundland-grown turnip, the best turnip in the world, because again of our climatic conditions, the nature of our soil, and the place where we live.

These are the types of opportunities that we have to start winning on, identifying in a small way, building and expanding and making it happen, because it is only at that point, if we do that, that we can begin to turn around that stat which is 90 per cent of what we consume we import, 10 per cent of what we consume we grow here. At some point, some government - it could be this one or any future government - has to look at what needs to be done in the industry as a whole because of the potential that it has.

I would say to you that in the last number of years, as a result of times we have lived in, we have lost sight of that and we need to get back to some basics when we look at this industry because it does represent some very significant opportunities for economic development all over the Province and truly year over year create full-time sustainable opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, not only to work in an industry, Mr. Speaker, but at the same time to become entrepreneurs and leaders in an industry. I think that is where we need to go, but unless we understand that has that potential, unless we work towards putting together a long view, long-term plan to make that happen, and then step by step and systematically implement it, then somebody ten years from now will stand in this Legislature and probably give the same sort of speech that I have just given.

With that, I will conclude my remarks. I appreciate the opening remarks made by the minister, and I look forward to the possible resolution on an appeal procedure.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment. If he speaks now, he will close debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the hon. members opposite for their input in this debate. Certainly I have listened with interest to the suggestions that have been made opposite and I assure them that I will certainly take it under advisement with my officials and we will pursue that as we move forward in debate on this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, as has already been pointed out, and all members have agreed, there is no difficulty with this legislation in principle. It is something that is intended to protect and promote the agriculture industry in this Province. It is interesting to hear the hon. Member for Kilbride reference the fact that he lives in the district. Well, when I am not residing in the beautiful community of Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula, I also have a residence in the wonderful community of Kilbride and I am delighted to live there for part of the year. Those of us who do, do recognize that when you go in there - I remember, it strikes me, Mr. Speaker, my first visit to Quebec some years ago. Traveling through rural Quebec, there were some large dairy farms, and we were driving by with the car windows open. This was back before we had air conditioning in our vehicle. I might say, Mr Speaker, the impact was certainly significant, significant and sustained, I might say. I do recall it continued for many, many miles because their industry was much more established than ours. Someone remarked to me at that time, and I guess I have heard it referenced in terms of, we have had the same thing with the fishing industry as you would relate in some of the areas of your district where you have fish processing operations. Sometimes people who visit the area complain about the odours that emanate from there. I think what we have to remind ourselves at all times is, that is the smell of prosperity.

The industry we are speaking of here today, the agriculture industry, as has been recognized in this House, is a very important industry as it exists today. More importantly, we also need to remember that it is an industry that has tremendous potential. I feel that this progressive piece of legislation that is presently before the House will serve to enhance the industry and will serve to promote the industry.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and pleasure right now to move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Protection Of Farm Practices In The Province," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 41)

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

MR. LUSH: Motion 5, Mr. Speaker, Bill 47.

I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the advancing or guaranteeing of certain loans made under The Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957. (Bill 47)

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

Bill 47, speaking to the resolution.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957." (Bill 47)

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

I am very pleased today to introduce an amendment to The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957. This amendment will provide the legislative authority for new loan guarantees and for revising those that are currently existing. It is a regular item in the financial administration of the Province.

Mr. Chair, this amendment again is basically a housekeeping matter, as the act requires that all guarantees approved and issued be ratified by the House of Assembly through an amendment to the act's schedules. Once these guarantees are ratified, all guarantees that may have to be honored as a result of a default would become statutory payments. Under the Loan and Guarantee Act, and subsequent to the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Minister of Fisheries is authorized to provide guarantees on behalf of the private sector and Crown corporations covering a variety of financing requirements, the most common being operating and term financing credits. Government provides loan guarantees to both public and private corporations in order to achieve its policy objectives and benefit regions of the Province.

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to inform the hon. House that the use of the government guarantees as a means of providing financial assistance has declined significantly since the early 1990s. Bill 47 speaks to each of the various guarantees that are outlined here in the bill. They are very clearly explained, with the amounts included here, the expiry dates, as well as minor amendments to the act to allow these in some cases to be increased, and in other cases just a listing of the amount that was approved this year to be ratified in the House of Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: With reference to those guarantees; there is listed in this particular bill, I believe, several different companies mentioned here. In certain cases there has been a change in the guarantee of the amount here. I am just wondering also - maybe the minister might comment on those. Would these - who are looking for an increase in their guarantee - be companies that have needed to utilize, I would assume, beyond that amount? Is it for just a portion of the year when their cash flows may not be as such to do business that they might need more, but at other points they are not calling any of that guaranteed amount? I am just wondering, has the status changed? Because in certain instances companies may have a fair amount of receivables at certain times of the year, and they may need a guarantee at a certain point, and then their cash flow improves and they do not need that; or is this an amount that is sealing what this government has, in addition to any of the guarantees the company has, and they might be utilizing this guarantee on an ongoing basis? That could certainly change in instances. For example, a company may be guaranteed by government, or a loan guaranteed with the bank on their credit, and they may have large sales in July and August. Let's take a fishing company, for example, it might have large sales in July and August - or any months of the year - and they may have receivables in the millions of dollars and may need a certain guarantee so they can operate and do business through their banks, that they are not going to stop-payment on cheques, and then later on they may be into a surplus situation.

Some of these things, I think, are important for us to have a knowledge here in the House of exactly how they operate; if the guarantees are being utilized fully or only during certain short periods of the year. Overall, I know our opposition have not been opposed to guarantees in certain circumstances. We have not been opposed to that. One thing we have stated, and I stated on record here - where I have been opposed in the past is guarantees to companies to go out and compete against other companies, and they can't do it on a level footing. That to me is bad for business. It gives a crutch to businesses and does not promote efficiency in business; and that can be very detrimental. That is the last thing we want to see, aiding one company at the expense of another. I don't think, to be honest with you, that that is the case here. I do not know all the details. I do not wish to ask all the minute details indicated here in the House at all. We are not asking for that, I say to the minister.

For example, I see one like Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative Society. I think traditionally in certain parts of our Province, and especially in that area, it has not always been easy to get competition to go into certain areas; and the cost of doing business in more remote areas is very expensive. Sometimes that is needed, in many instances, to be able to carry on business there. I understand that - probably in that case - maybe they are not utilizing even the guarantee; that they may need it just for certain short-term periods. That may very well be the case here in this instance too, but that has been, to my knowledge, of that one generally.

We do have certain guarantees here in Item 1. We have one for the Consumer Protection Fund for Prepaid Funeral Services. I do know legislation came before the House on that particular one there. Anybody who prepays - we do need to have protection for these people. Right now with the legislation that came into this House - I think it was just this past year, about a year ago - we have protection now for prepaid funerals - into a trust where that is set aside to the satisfaction of government, where that money is going to be there when someone eventually passes away, because eventually we are all going to die. In the cases of people who do, that their money is protected there. I think a particular instance arose in the past which really necessitated, I think even making it retroactive to protect that, at that particular time. So those types of things protect the public, and you know they are positive in that regard.

We have to be very careful overall, I say to the minister, with guarantees generally here in our Province. Guarantees should be used to enable companies to operate and employ people and to do business in our Province where it would be difficult to do otherwise, and where they are not given an unfair advantage to that company over another competing company. That would be one of the conditions or bases upon which we should give guarantees.

I would like to hear from the minister here in Committee on whether these increased amounts, for example, are because a company - just to make it clear - at a certain point, had a cash flow problem, but that problem was only temporary, therefore they needed a little lift to get them over that difficult period, or is it because they have been drawing the full extent of that guarantee basis and now they need to have that increased? We would like to know the answer to that.

I know in one particular company here - I will not specify. I think it is public knowledge anyway, because the bill is tabled. There is a reference here - there is an ongoing dispute that might put that company in a difficult situation in the short term, and it does employ a large number of people. The last thing we want to see are companies having to stop doing business here, that employ people in our Province and contribute to our economy. We certainly do not want to see that happen. I do not think, in this case, there is any competing factor with other companies in this regard. The minster should be able to clarify that particular point too, so we can rest assured that in the use of public money and using guarantees, that the public interest is protected. Just because a guarantee is there does not mean it is used; and it may cost this government nothing. If it doesn't, that is great. Even if it never has to be called in - but there are ones that had to be called in. The banks called in the loans and this Province had guarantees in the millions, and tens of millions of dollars in guarantees and loans because companies eventually went into receivership or they called in the loans and companies are still operating today. That has happened in a lot of cases.

We just want to make sure that the guarantees given are going to a very productive use; are going to continue to employ people here in a positive way and not in a competitive way with other companies that are doing similar types of business here in our Province.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I conclude my comments on Bill 47. I certainly would like to hear the minister's response on some of those points.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

I am happy to provide further clarification and explanation of these loans guarantees. I can start first of all, by the Consumer Protection Fund for Prepaid Funerals Services. As the member opposite identified, we brought in legislation in the last sitting of the House to assure people that when they did their prepaid funerals, they would have every confidence that the money would be there when they need it. As you know, we had one instance in the West Coast of the Province which raised a significant amount of concern and put the whole issue of prepaid insurances in jeopardy for the people of the Province. This is a loan guarantee for that purpose. Of course, this has not been called obviously because it is in the process of being set up.

Moving on to the next one, Torngat Fish Products Co-operative Society Limited; the increase in this is related to the consolidation of both the Nain and Makkovik operation. In addition to that, I can say, that this organization is strong. It has made all the payments and is not in any jeopardy, as far as we are concerned.

The third loan guarantee, Newfoundland Ocean Enterprises Limited, was increased because of environmental concerns and issues in Marystown, as you know, which consisted of lead paint, as well as asbestos. Those panels had to be physically removed, cleaned, repainted and replaced. As a result of that, it cost a significant amount of money.

Moving on to the next one, as you mentioned, I prefer not to mention the name of the company because of the potential court implications but it is a huge employer in a regional part of our Province. We made a decision to increase the loan to help them with a cash flow basis until they can rectify this hopefully outside of court, but quite possibly within the judicial system.

The next loan guarantee is for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. This is a really an operating line of credit, more or less, for them because they are in the process of fund-raising. It is a very strong cultural part of Newfoundland and Labrador, and one that we felt was safe, inasmuch as they are actively fund-raising but they are having a cash flow difficulty.

Marble Mount Development Corporation is another one which has increased from $1.1 million to $1.45 million. Last year, I think particularly, was a difficult year because of operations and snow at the beginning of the year, and that is increased again. It is a huge employer. It is a huge regional attractive employer with a lot of spinoff industry, and that was increased for that reason.

The last one is the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Corporation, as pointed out in the note, which resulted from additional costs and construction to a fairly significant project, and as a result of that increase in the amount of a loan guarantee.

So, that covers all of the ones outlined in the bill. Again, if there are any questions, I would be happy to answer them, but basically what we are doing is tabling these, as you know, in compliance with the recommendation of the Financial Administration Act, and also recommendations of the Auditor General to do so in a timely way.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, Bill 47, as mentioned, is, An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957. I guess what is provided here is a schedule of amounts that the Cabinet have decided, you know, for decisions that were made to provide additional amounts of money to groups, organizations, businesses, et cetera.

We are in what we call the Committee stage, which allows us to have an exchange of information, I suppose, similar to Question Period. You can make a few points, ask some concerns.

I would like to deal with, "Clause 2 of the Bill would amend the Schedule to the Act, as enacted by chapter 31 of 1987 as follows: (a) by increasing the loan guarantee of Newfoundland Ocean Enterprises Limited from $1,250,000 to $4,850,000 as authorized by Order in Council 2001-185...". This specifically deals with the Marystown Shipyard. "After the province sold the assets of Marystown Shipyard and assumed $70.9 million of the $72.15 million operating loan guarantee in place at that time, a $1.25 million line of credit was left to cover environmental and other divestiture costs."

I wonder if the minister could take a few moments, when I sit down and she rises, to talk about what environmental costs were outlined. Obviously there was a $1.25 million line of credit provided for, what is called here, to cover environmental and other divestiture costs associated with the sale of those assets. It goes on to say, "This increase to $4.85 million was approved to cover additional costs for which the province is responsible at the site. The loan guarantee has no Expiry Date."

I wonder if the minister could talk about that $4.85 million to cover additional costs. What were those additional costs of almost $5 million associated with this divestiture? Also, the $1.25 million line of credit which the Province left in place to cover environmental and other divestiture costs. I wonder if the minister can expound and explain, in more detail, what those costs actually were?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

Your colleague, the Member for Ferryland, just asked a similar question, and what I explained at that point in time - and I can certainly elaborate in more detail, just to give you an idea - the $1.25 million was deemed insufficient because the environmental concerns were of such a nature that they required a significant amount of manual labour to correct them.

As I have pointed out, in addition to asbestos there was also lead paint on the panels of the shipyard. So they had to be physically removed, asbestos taken out, lead paint removed, and then reapplied manually. So it was quite a labour-intensive and, as far as I know, still is a labour-intensive process which continues. That is for the most part. I guess it is not just the painting, it is all the extra precautions that are required in the removal of asbestos, in the removal of lead paint, and then human resource requirements to do that and replace it with an acceptable product, an acceptable paint, and then to replace the panels on the building.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: In clause 2, Mr. Chairman, it does say that the $1.25 million for the line of credit was left to cover environmental - I guess you just answered the question, over and above that - and other divestiture costs. What has been defined as other divestiture costs associated with that $1.25 million? What would be those other costs that you talked about in clause 2 of this particular piece of legislation?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

I would confer with my colleague, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, on the actual other divestiture costs, but I know around the environment, to the best of my knowledge, the most significant amount of this money was in cleanup of the environment as it relates to lead and asbestos. The other actual divestiture costs, again I would defer to him for that part of the agreement, and I am sure he would be happy to answer that.

The very bulk of this amount of money is a very labour intensive, very specialized job of dealing with the asbestos, as well as the lead. Any further divestiture components I would certainly defer to my colleague, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I will await the return of the minister. I know he is here and I can ask him those questions.

With respect to the liabilities, I guess, associated with the sale of the Marystown Shipyard or Newfoundland Ocean Enterprises Ltd., the minister alluded to the costs associated with what they thought was going to be $1.25 million and has increased to $4.85 million to cover environmental and other divestiture costs.

Is the minister, Mr. Chairman, in a position to tell us: Have all of those environmental concerns been alleviated to date? If not, what is left that the Province and the Crown, in other words all of us, still liable for? Would she be able to expound upon that? In other words, I guess: Have all of those environmental concerns identified at the time of sale or transfer of the assets of Marystown Shipyard to Friede Goldman been met? If not, are we likely or are we still liable for any outstanding environmental concerns in terms of the present situation? Is it likely that the expenditure that you talked about here of $4.85 million - could you indicate categorically that the amount, from $1.2 million to $4.8 million, will that meet any outstanding liabilities or will we be in a position where this time next year, possibly, we could be looking at another bill, An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, where we actually have to increase the line of credit or loan guarantee to it, because the outstanding environmental concerns and our associated liabilities, the amount of money that you are talking about, was not there and was not enough to meet those? Could you expand upon that, please?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

Obviously, the member opposite is very aware, as most of us in this room and anybody listening knows, that whenever you are dealing with an environmental cleanup it is always a tenuous situation, because you never quite know what you will deal with. As you can see from the loan guarantee, it has been increased from $1.25 million to $4.85 million. That is the best assessment and evaluation we have at the moment of the cost, because of its labour-intensive nature.

Again, if you were to say to me last year, would we have a consumer protection fund for prepaid funeral services as a new item, I would have said no. So I cannot predict what will be on the paper next year but I can clearly speak to the items that are on the paper this year. I can say that is our best estimate of what the environmental cleanup will cost us based on the labour-intensive nature of this cleanup.

Again, this increase to $4.85 million is again done - it is not my number, it is not the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development's number; it is given to us on the best advice of the environmentalists who are out there cleaning up the place.

Whenever you look at cleaning up a site, it is always a case of the deeper you dig oftentimes the more you find. I can honestly say that this our best assessment of what we will need. I hope we will not need to bring any more forward next year. What you have here is all the information we have with respect to potential environmental cleanup, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I appreciate the answer provided by the minister. I understand that, as a Minister of the Crown or any member, you make decisions based upon the best possible advice you are given. Then it is up to each one of us, I suppose, to either choose to accept that advice, modify it, or reject it completely out of hand.

With respect to the environmental concerns, it is my understanding - and please, if I am incorrect in any way, let me know immediately - once the transfer of assets took place, or the assets were sold by the Province or transferred to Friede Goldman, the amount initially set up to cover our liabilities as identified in the contractual arrangement entered into by the government was $1.25 million. That is what you are saying here.

What you are also saying is that as a result of the time that has elapsed between the actual transfer and now that there was an additional, we had to top that $1.25 million for environmental considerations and liabilities on behalf of the Crown, plus other divestiture costs.

The question I ask is: My understanding is that after the sale took place, there was then a study done about what the impact or what the scope of the environmental concerns were. Based upon that study then, a course of action was outlined. Based upon that course of action, I suppose then, a cost was attributed to living up to our responsibilities under that contract.

I guess what I am asking is: If that study has been done, which I am led to believe it is, a course of action must have been identified and, in identifying that course of action, you must have put a dollar figure to it. Assuming all of that was done, and it should have been done, and I understand that it was done, at what point now are we in that plan of action? Are we 75 per cent there, 85 per cent there, 100 per cent there, is it all done, or are there still - just on the environmental concerns - are there still outstanding obligations and liabilities to the Crown, in other words to the people of the Province, with respect to the environmental considerations and concerns surrounding the transfer of assets of Marystown Shipyard and Cow Head fabrication facilities to Friede Goldman?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, let me, if I could, first deal with the question that the hon. gentleman has put forward in terms of the Environmental Remediation Program, that was required.

As I understand it - and I can get the exact details for him, and I will, no problem at all - when the deal was signed to transfer the assets of Marystown Shipyard, to sell them to Friede Goldman, as I understand it, the Province accepted the environmental responsibility. A study was done to see what the environmental responsibilities were, and this year, as a matter of fact, I think we spent the extra funds that were necessary - I do not have the exact figures, but I will get them for you - we spent the necessary funds to ensure Environmental Remediation, in other words, an environmentally clean bill of health. If you are going to try to sell the thing to somebody else, obviously that is one of the things that we were responsible for under the contract and now, as far as I understand, the place has a clean bill of health when it comes to the environment.

Can I answer another question there for you?

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, there are a couple more.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

In asking an earlier question to the Minister of Finance, the initial sum of money associated with the divestiture of $1.25 million, what this bill has asked us to do is to approve an Order in Council, which Cabinet has already done, and the money is already allocated, but it is asking for the approval of the Legislature to confer, or to say yes, that the money that you allotted, the $1.25 million, had to go up to $4.85 million and the explanation in the bill, under clause 2, says that is for environmental and other divestiture costs.

In asking the question to the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, I asked her: What would the other divestiture costs be? Then she said I can only defer that to you, as the Minister of Rural Development, so I ask the question to you then. What were those other divestiture costs associated with that? Could you provide more detail than just saying other divestiture costs? What exactly were those other costs? What could they entail? The big question, I guess, is: Are we presently in any situation, or are we presently in any way, do we have any outstanding liabilities associated with the contract we entered into to Friede Goldman, with respect to the sale of the Marystown Shipyard? Do we still have, as a Province, contractual obligations to Friede Goldman? So, two questions in summary: What are those other divestiture costs that you refer to? Secondly, do we still have outstanding obligations, contractual obligations, or any liabilities associated with the sale of, or the transfer of assets of, the Marystown Shipyard?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the name of the project escapes me. Marystown, as I understand it, and I will get the figures for the hon. gentleman, I will give him his answer, I will call over now and get them. The name of the project that was undertaken by the Marystown Shipyard escapes me, but there was a liability that occurred -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: I do not want to name it until I am exactly sure, because I am not sure whether it was the Quest or there was another one, too, in terms of liability that was incurred by the Marystown Shipyard. That was a liability that the Province incurred because the Province was the owner of Marystown Shipyard at the time that project -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, at the time the shipyard was owned by Marystown Shipyard. I will get the exact details. As a matter of fact, I will go out and ask my deputy to dig it out for me now and bring it in before the House closes this evening, for the hon. gentleman.

As far as I am led to understand, there are no additional liabilities that we have, as a Province, to anybody in terms of liability owed by Friede Goldman or owed by the former Marystown Shipyard. I am almost absolutely certain. I will go out and check that for you, but I want to make absolutely certain that what I say is the truth, that the liabilities have all been cleared up, and the Province is free and clear of any liabilities for the Marystown Shipyard with regard to Friede Goldman. I will go, get the information for the hon. gentleman, and get back to him.

Is that it?

MR. E. BYRNE: I have a couple of more, and then you can go and get it. I will get onto another clause after that, and then you can go and get it for me.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I appreciate the frankness by the Deputy Premier. I would like to ask this question. Obviously, given the current environment, these are legitimate questions and the people have a right to know. They are here for us to debate; that is the purpose of the bill.

In terms of outstanding liabilities, it is my understanding as well that it may be that the project you are talking about refers to - I believe the Minister of Mines and Energy already indicated in singing out the Quest, which was a federal contract, I believe -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Okay, fair enough, but in terms of outstanding liabilities that the yard presently holds, have there been any discussions, either between your department, the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, or the Department of Finance, with respect to outstanding liabilities possibly owed to the federal government, and the possible impact of those liabilities on the future sale or any future arrangements that you may make or hope to make or, to use your words in the Legislature last week, an attempt to broker a sale of the Marystown Shipyard? Have there been any negotiations with the federal government or any of its agencies or departments associated with outstanding liabilities which that yard has to them associated with the Quest? Again, if the question I am asking is wrong, certainly I do not think it is, based upon my own sources where it has come from, I just leave that open with respect to the shipyard. Have there been any ongoing negotiations with the federal government, again, any of its agencies or departments, associated with the brokering of a deal of the Marystown Shipyard?

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

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman and I made a commitment to each other just now that, before the week was over, we would put each other on television, again, before the week was up. That is the kind of question, I can tell him, that is not related to the bill. Any negotiations that are ongoing with regard to the Marystown Shipyard - and I am not going to get into it, to be frank with you - anything that is owed by Friede Goldman to any other partner or anything that Peter (inaudible) wants to get into at this point. I will be frank with him, I am going to maintain the same stance in regard to the negotiations that I have maintained until they are done, and as soon as they are done they will be readily available for all and sundry to either say: Job well done, or we do not agree and we want to be very critical of the agreement that you have reached with Friede Goldman or anybody else that is out there negotiating for the sale, takeover, or running of the Marystown Shipyard.

I say that for a reason, not to be a secret. I have no desire, and I will go out - this is obviously something that is passÚ, that has been done, that was part of the negotiations for the previous sale of Marystown Shipyard. It is a very legitimate question because this is on the Order Paper. I will go out and get the details for the hon. gentleman immediately. As soon as the ink is dry on the paper, for the sale of Marystown Shipyard to anybody in the world, if I do not walk into this Legislature, if it is not open, I will call a press conference and announce it to the world, lay out the plan, and I will tell you what: I will even go so far as to say that for my friend from Kilbride, I will send him an autographed copy. That is the best I can do for you at this point, but I will go out and get this detail for you immediately.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that because he is your member, or what?

MR. TULK: Because he is my member.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

The reason I asked the question is because the Minister of Mines and Energy suggested -

AN HON. MEMBER: That you ask it.

MR. E. BYRNE: That I ask it, no, but the Minister of Mines and Energy suggested that part of the divestiture that you were covering was an outstanding liability on work done on the Quest. I was not necessarily searching for information vis-Ó-vis federal-provincial negotiations, but if what he had suggested was the reason for you having to increase the Province's commitment from $1.25 million to $4.85 million, then it would be a legitimate question.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I just want to qualify why I asked the question. It wasn't any attempt to try to get through the back door, what I have tried to accomplish through the front door in asking questions to get information on the sale of the shipyard under the present environment. Specifically what I am asking is dealing with the bill.

If the minister is going to get that information, then I will go to another clause of the bill and see if he can update the House in a few moments or shortly on what were those other divestiture costs that essentially meant the Province had to increase its commitment from $1.25 million to $4.85 million. That is a big difference. It is $3.5 million essentially that we further exposed ourselves on, and that we did not anticipate exposing ourselves on, so they are legitimate questions.

I guess my next question deals with clause 2 of the bill 2.(b), dealing with increasing the loan guarantee of A.L. Stuckless & Sons Limited to $1.2 million as approved by Order in Council. It says, "The guaranteed loan had previously been converted to term debt and paid down to approximately $800,000. The guarantee increase was requested by the company due mainly to a legal dispute with its major wood chip customer. This dispute put a severe strain on the cash position of A.L. Stuckless & Sons and forced the company to temporarily shut down operations. The guarantee has no Expiry Date."

I wonder if the minister could elaborate further. I do not know if she already has. I was not here, unfortunately.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I am sorry then. Well, it is mentioned in the bill. Even if it is your other explanation, because when the bill was first introduced I was unavoidably outside doing business with respect to the House in terms of what is coming up next, in a quick discussion with the Government House Leader. If you have already covered it, and if you want to give the same answer as before, fair enough.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

I am happy to again response to the question because what I did, in fact, is, I went through each of the loan guarantees, I say to my hon. colleague across the House. I went through each of the ones outlined in the bill and spoke to each one of them about the situation.

In this particular case, it was a cash flow problem. As you know, it is a significant employer, with about 200 people. As a result of that, and, because of the potential court case that may result, we made a decision to increase it. They have been a good client. They have paid down their debts in the past. We feel quite confident that they will see their way through this, so that they will maintain themselves as a good employer and keep people working in this particular region.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I appreciate the answer. I just want to be sure that people understand that, in asking questions like I just asked, it is certainly in no way meant to cast any aspersions on anybody, or any company contained in the bill, that the government does business with. The purpose of the question is to seek information on the expenditure of public funds, the reasons behind it. The government has outlined the names of companies and individuals that they have extended loan guarantees with there, and that is the purpose of it, to ask those questions.

With that, Mr. Chairman, my brief questions related to Bill 47 are concluded. I will await the opportunity for the Deputy Premier to return at some point with information on this bill associated with the sale of the Marystown Shipyard on environmental and other divestiture costs on why our exposure had to go from $1.25 million to $4.85 million at the time of sale.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957." (Bill 47)

Resolution

"That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Loans and Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the advance of loans to and the guarantee of the repayment of bonds or debentures issued by or loans advanced to certain corporations."

On motion, resolution carried.

On motion, clauses 1 through 5 carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, I move 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 Humber East.

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report that they have adopted a certain resolution and recommend that a bill, Bill 47, be introduced to give effect to the same.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole on Supply reports that the Committee has considered the matters to it referred, have directed him to report progress and to recommend that a resolution be adopted to give effect to the bill.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957," read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 47)

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

MR. LUSH: Order 15, Mr. Speaker, Bill 28, second reading of An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill 28)

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

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

I am pleased to speak today to the proposed amendments to the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Act, or the payroll tax. Again, this is a housekeeping bill in as much as it was announced in the Budget, that we would increase the threshold for businesses from $400,000 to $500,000 in the next fiscal year, because, of course, our fiscal year begins on April 1 o f the year and the calendar year begins January, and there are twelve months in the year. I think we had that discussion yesterday. Because of the fact that three months of the year had already passed when the Budget was brought down, it was retroactive to April 1, but it was not retroactive to January 1. As a result, the deduction this year is for $475,000 based on the fact that it is nine-twelves of the year. Then effective January 1, 2002, the full exemption for $500,000 for payroll tax will come into effect.

It is important to note that the member opposite, the finance critic, at one point in some commentary, I think, about his finance plan, if I am not mistaken, mentioned that this was a rollback. In fact, it is not a rollback, Mr. Speaker, it was an announcement that was made during the Budget Speech. I think it is important for the people of the Province to note that since 1998, in each of the last three consecutive budgets, we have increased the threshold for payroll tax. In fact, in 1998 we moved it from $100,000 to $120,000. In the Budget Speech for 1999, we increased the threshold from $120,000 to $150,000. In the Budget Speech of 2000, we increased the threshold from $150,000 to $400,000. Mr. Speaker, in this past budget year we announced a threshold of $500,000. We are very pleased that these measures have been taken. They are significant, because since 1998 over 2,000 small to medium-sized businesses have been dropped from the tax roll with a savings to employers of over $8 million. Our goal, of course, is to eliminate this altogether, eventually. We made it very clear that we would do this as we were able to do it, taking into account our current fiscal position, and at this point in time we could not support the total elimination of the tax. We certainly do hope in the future that we will be able to do that, but we are quite proud of the fact that over 2,000 small to medium-sized businesses have been dropped from the tax role. We remain committed to lowering the provincial tax burden, and we are aware of our own financial situation. As in the past, any future payroll tax relief will have to be predicated on fiscal performance of the Province.

Again, to conclude, I would like to say that this is a follow-up bill amendment to the Budget Speech. It is amended at $475,000 for this year for the simple reason, the taxation year has already seen nine months of the year go and obviously our Budget did not come in until April 1. Therefore, based on nine-twelfths it was a $475,000 exemption for this year, but effective January of 2002, it will be the full $500,000 threshold. There was no rollback and there is no rollback. This is a commitment that was made in the Budget and we are honouring it today through this amendment to the Health and Post-Secondary Tax.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER (M. Hodder): The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Under this particular bill - the minister did announce back in her Budget that $500,000 would now be the exemption.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, you did not announce $500,000?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am saying that you announced that $500,000 was the exemption beginning April 1.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right, it is now going to be moved - on Budget Day it was announced that it was moved from $400,000 to $500,000, basically. That is what was announced, but now this legislation is looking at the specifics of it. We are saying three-quarters of the year - three-quarters of that $100,000 is $75,000. So $75,000 would be applicable to the taxation year which is January 1 to December 31, because prior to April 1 businesses were being exempted up to $400,000. The minister could have said, we will leave it at $500,000 and therefore that other $100,000 they would have had the benefit. But right now they are going to average on the tax year - they are going to pay payroll tax on anything over $475,000. That means that businesses which normally have payrolls in excess of $500,000 are going to pay the tax on an extra $25,000 overall in this year as opposed to leaving that $500,000; compared to leaving it for a part of the year at $475,000. That is the difference; $25,000.

The payroll tax for companies is what, 2 per cent? I think it is 2 per cent. So 2 per cent of $25,000; what is that? Five hundred dollars. There are about 200 businesses affected. So that is $100,000 really - other companies because they are hiring people - are the companies because they have payrolls. While it is being mentioned that 200 companies have benefitted; 200 companies could have benefitted more, I might add, had we applied that $500,000 to this fiscal year, not the $475,000 on an annualized basis, or $400,000 for a quarter of the year. This is basically the point I want to make because the payroll tax is a bad tax. It is a tax on jobs. It is a tax on payroll. The more people you are going to hire and create jobs to pay income tax and sales tax, the more we will tax you. That is what they are telling us.

Payroll tax is a tax on jobs, that is what it is. It is counterproductive to growing an economy. It is counterproductive to encourage people to hire students and other people because they are going to push the payrolls above that amount and they are going to have to start paying out tax for every person they hire. For every dollar that every person makes over that amount, we are going to pay a tax. Can you imagine telling somebody, the more you hire the more payroll tax you are going to pay on that job. In addition, for each one they hire government gets income tax from that person, they get sales tax from that person, they get taxes of all sorts, all consumption taxes out there in society today; because you are hiring we are going to put a tax on you.

Economists will tell you, and studies have shown, that jurisdictions that apply payroll tax are jurisdictions that are turning over the wheels. In fact, they are even going backwards and it is putting a damper on growth in the economy. Because companies that are at that borderline, what is going to happen? Many people will tell you that there are a lot of people who try to avoid tax. They do not like to have to pay taxes. There is an underground economy existing in Canada today, in Newfoundland and Labrador and all over the country, in the world, because people want to avoid paying taxes. The lighter the tax burden the more receptive they are to hiring people. It eliminates underground economy.

The United States - and I have made reference to this before, we will use that example - in 1919-1920 went through a major tax cut; the Coolidge-Harding years. In 1963 - well implemented in 1964 - John F. Kennedy implemented after his death, and Ronald Regan in the 1980s, three of the major tax cuts in the United States history. These tax cuts brought in more revenues into the coffer on income tax alone than they did before the cuts.

This Province, in the past two years, has reduced personal income tax. What does that mean? That means that individuals in this Province at all tax levels, because they changed it at all tax levels, pay less income tax, more money in their pockets and more consumer spending; and do you know what? Our Province, this past year, took in $65 million more dollars in income tax than it took in two years ago. Why didn't we see year three? Because the minister said it would be so small of an impact that we would have to have major amounts of infusion of capital. You have to look at it, the major infusion has to start with smaller amounts because you cannot just look at it in isolation, I say to the minister. You cannot just look at what our Province puts in. The federal government is giving concessions too and they are trying to stimulate the economy and that, on the effects of what we are doing here, has an effect that will be positive on the economy. We have to look at those particular areas. In fact, there are various theories out there on the way taxation should be, in general, for businesses and corporations. Maybe we should revisit the whole particular area of taxation.

I just read an article recently - actually this morning it came across my desk - I read a particular article dealing with going through overhauling provincial taxes on business to improve Canadian competitiveness said the C.D. Howe Institute. It is worth reading, I say to the minister. Maybe she has read it. It is just a little comment there. It is only a page and a part, but there are some positive things in this by looking at a value based tax. Not a type of tax that we look at, a tax on jobs, but a business value tax. So you can level the playing field. You don't have to be looking at certain aspects to improve your bottom line. You can take away the disincentives to improving your bottom line.

The article makes reference to various areas. Adding interest costs to the tax base, for example it says, would bring equal treatment to equity and debt finance. It says tax regime favors debt because dividends are included in income tax base; interest payments are not. Those types of things, looking at areas where companies are not looking at ways to avoid it. There is a lot of merit in that article there. It is very interesting because if we could reduce these burdens to give a level playing field to doing business and, I might add, they are indicating that we will not lose any taxes as a result. We will take in every bit as much tax. If you could take in the same amount of taxes and lighten the burden, take away some of the areas where they are trying to avoid the taxation base, and having to manipulate and do things, or increase their labour content. They can increase their labour aspect then and employ more people because of the burden.

Companies are going to look at the margin, they are going to look at trying to maintain a margin of return, a margin of profit. If that margin is getting pinched with taxation, they are going to make up for it in less people working in the job market. That is what they will do. They will get by with one less person in an office because they want to maintain. They will get by with one less down in the production area. They will automate faster in an area. They will do another particular aspect here, because it is saving money in the long term. You will drive people to it, and there is nothing wrong with being driven to automation in some areas, but when you force it because of taxation, you are shrinking the labour force. Granted, there are lots of automated operations that require skilled people to operate them, and that is another factor and another area where there are demands in the job market.

Overall, I want to indicate, I say to the minister, that we shouldn't have to be here talking about a payroll tax. I mean it is a health and post secondary education tax. That is one that was brought in. It is a tax that should soon see its early demise, because the faster we lift a tax on jobs, the faster we contribute to an increased workforce. It is a good chance to do it when our employment levels are going up, as opposed to going down, and we can get the effects then of a growing workforce, because we have had some periods of economic growth in terms of our GDP, but it hasn't really equated in certain instances with improving the bottom line in terms of our profits.

The plan to reduce taxes, beginning even with personal income tax, was positive for every single person in Newfoundland and Labrador. Not only that, when it was introduced and reduced in the United States people in the highest tax brackets paid a higher percent of the tax. They continued paying higher amounts. When you reach a certain level and you are being taxed to death, it takes away your incentive to earn more at diminishing rates and, therefore, it affects basically the whole workforce.

If you don't invest and push to reach higher levels, the workforce around you that you need to help achieve those income levels is going to shrink and that is a disincentive, because the working class people today, the middle class people, use a lot of their disposable income, when they get beyond the necessities, on various luxuries. If you could have people spending on those high priced items, bringing extra dollars in, you keep your money in our economy.

The whole basic concept of taxation needs to be looked at, I say to the minister, not just the payroll tax. I think the minister did admit that eventually they hope to get rid of that. I think there are 2,025 businesses overall now being exempt with the change in the level since its inception. This latest change has dropped another 200 from having to pay any taxes at all there. Still we are seeing significant amounts of money paid on that, because the bigger companies are paying a big amount of it anyway. You have to keep in mind that big companies too employ most people. They are more receptive to hiring people when their bottom line is better as opposed to when they are squeezed on their bottom line and they are over hit with taxation.

The whole taxation issue has to be looked at, in general, and this particular payroll tax here, which is basically a very regressive tax, is a tax on jobs, and we all pay the price in our Province by having such a regressive tax in place.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Madam Speaker, I would like to say a few words on this legislation. I recognize, as the minister said, this is housekeeping legislation in that it complies with the budget statement and which is designed to reduce the number of businesses affected by the payroll tax.

I would like to make a few remarks, because we are dealing here with an important source of government revenue. In fact, one that produced $77.5 million, or estimated to produce that much money, in this taxation year, despite the reduction in the amount. In the year 2000-2001 produced $76.5 million. The $76.5 million in tax revenue that has been produced by this, the previous speaker talked about reducing or eliminating this as a source of revenue. I have a great deal of difficulty with that. In fact, I have a great deal of difficulty with the minister's statement, that we are in such a great financial position that we can reduce these taxes. We have daily concerns expressed by ministers opposite that we do not have enough money to do the things that we need to do. We have the Minister of Finance, herself, putting the financial squeeze on hospital boards, resulting in reductions in services in some cases, lowering services in others, layoffs in other cases, resulting from the financial squeeze when people are trying to get services.

In the case of the Minister of Health, we have circumstances brought to this House, brought to the minister daily, of people stuck in hospital because there are no home care services available to them. The Member for St. John's West raised a case last week of someone in an intensive care unit who was medically discharged, who was occupying an intensive care unit in a hospital, and cannot go home because there is no money made available to care for that person in their home, that the home care budget has been frozen and that people are now on waiting lists.

I have a constituent of mine in hospital today, was discharged ten days ago, able to go home. In fact, the first problem we had was that she was not approved for additional home care and the doctors would not release her. She needed an additional four hours of home care in order to be medically discharged because of the needs that this person had. She remained in hospital until that was approved. Well, it has been approved and I thought the problem was solved, but now I find out that the problem is not solved. She has been approved for additional hours of home care, an additional four or five hours a day, which might cost an additional $50, $60 or $75 a day, but instead of that she continues to occupy a hospital bed at a cost of $700 or $800 because there is no home care money available to allow this person to go home. So, she is still on a waiting list. Even those she has been approved, she is on a waiting list to get home care because the lists have been frozen.

We have had circumstances where people have gone out of a home care situation, gone into a hospital, somebody else takes up that home care place and now they are on a waiting list. That is just not acceptable. There is obviously a clear and obvious relationship between the sources of revenue that you have and your ability to pay for services. If the minister has a comfort level in reducing the health and post-secondary education tax, because that is what it is, a health and post-secondary education tax. The minister is saying we can reduce that tax burden because we feel comfortable with our financial position. Well, Madam Speaker, I do not feel comfortable with the position that my constituent, and many, many others are facing in this Province, where they are unable to get the proper care they need to live in their own homes, and are now occupying hospital beds at a tremendous cost to the system. Not only a cost to the system, but what about somebody who is on the waiting list, someone is sicker and needs to get into a hospital, cannot get into hospital because that hospital bed is being occupied by someone who should be able to be looked after in their home at a fraction of the cost of the bed that they are occupying now; but because there is a backup in the system these people not being able to get services in their own home.

That is the kind of problem you get into when you start saying: In theory, payroll taxes are a negative thing. Well, in theory, they might be. It might be, in theory, that all taxes are a negative thing, but if you follow that logic you will not have any revenues to be able to operate a proper government service. Sure, there are certain taxes that operate in different ways, but to call this a tax on jobs, it is like saying income tax is a tax on income. If that were the case, nobody would go out and earn any money. It is a disincentive to earn money because the more money you earn, the more taxes you pay. Well that doesn't stop people from going out and making money, I say to hon. members. I haven't heard anybody yet go broke paying income tax. They might go broke if they did not pay it, when it finally caught up to them, but nobody ever went bankrupt paying income tax because you do not pay income tax unless you have income. You do not pay income tax unless you have income. To call a payroll tax a tax on jobs and suggest that if you eliminate the payroll tax all of a sudden there are going to be more jobs, it just does not make sense. We have to have the revenues, we have to ensure that the revenues are available to provide a service.

The Member for Bonavista South was up yesterday talking about the individuals in his district who needed jobs, individuals who needed support, who needed an income, who needed food on the table. All of these things have to come from taxes. If we start eliminating our taxes, we will not have the revenue to provide decent services.

I want to say that the payroll tax, the so-called payroll tax - it is even called the payroll tax in the estimates. I do not know why it is called the payroll tax. Actually, under the legislation, it is the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax. That is where money comes from to provide for health services and post-secondary education services. All the people who need to go to university or the College of the North Atlantic benefit from the fact that there is a payroll tax paid that helps to support the College of the North Atlantic. Are we going to say that we will eliminate this source of revenue and we will equally eliminate the expenditures for post-secondary education and health to go along with it. If we start talking that way, Madam Speaker, we will be talking about the American style where if you have the money, you get the health care, if you have the money, you get the education, if you have the money, you are able to led a decent life and you do not have the (inaudible).

The previous member talked about the payroll tax as being a regressive tax system. Our income tax is suppose to be a progressive tax system, but there are many elements of that that are actually regressive. People who pay a larger portion of their income in income tax are actually the poor people. People who are making less than $15,000 or $20,000 a year pay a significant portion of their income in income tax, a much higher proportion than someone making $40,000 or $50,000 or $60,000 or $70,000 or $80,000 a year, because they are taxed after the basic exemption is taken out and they end up paying a larger portion; and from the income that they have, they go out and everything they buy there is a 15 per cent HST on it.

If you look at the actual level of taxes paid by people who are making less than $20,000 or $25,000 a year, they are paying a bigger percentage of their income in taxes. We really have, in fact, a regressive tax system based on - if you look at the combined effect of property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes you would see a larger percentage of the income of a poorer person or working poor people going in taxes than people paying a higher amount.

If you look at the amounts here too, I think it is kind of interesting to see that the Health and Post- Secondary Education Tax of $77 million, in fact, is just slightly more than the Tobacco Tax and about $25 million a year less than the revenue the government collects for selling liquor. The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation produces $100 million a year in revenue to the government and the Health and Post- Secondary Education Tax Act produces $25 million or $23 million less. In fact, the government has $20 million-plus more in lottery revenues than it has in the Health and Post- Secondary Education Tax.

To put that into perspective, Madam Speaker, we are dealing with a level of taxation for the Health and Post- Secondary Education Tax that is less than some of the other revenues that we get from things like the sale of liquor and beer, Liquor Corporation revenues. The gasoline tax revenues are about $50 million more than this. The payroll tax comes in at about $10 million a year more than is collected by this government on the sale of tobacco. We see that in perspective, Madam Speaker, as an importance source of revenue because it provides $77 million a year, which we need desperately in our post-secondary education system to try and keep up with the other provinces and to keep up with the demand for our young people to have a proper education, and we do need to keep up, Madam Speaker.

I have not heard the Minister for Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education talk about this yet, although she and I discussed it the other day. I notice that the Memorial University has - I am surprised that we did not have a Ministerial Statement from the minister on the position of Memorial University in the ratings that Maclean's Magazine puts out every year. We see that Memorial University is now ranked fifth out of eleven universities in the comprehensive university category indicating a rating system that recognizes a variety of factors, including class sizes, the size of the library, the number of PHDs on the teaching faculty, the amount of research, the money that is available, and a whole list of factors indicating that, in this case, Memorial University is five out of eleven. In fact, I think they went up one position. Last year they were sixth and this year Memorial University is fifth, which is a very positive circumstances, in that they are ahead of certain universities, like Carleton University, another important university in Ontario, and other universities which I recognize from coast-to-coast as being important and good universities.

I am pleased to see that happening, Madam Speaker, and I am pleased that we have the ability to support a Memorial University to the extent that they are able to compete on a national level with other universities of the same type in this way. We would like to see Memorial, of course, go higher in terms of these ratings. Although there may be quibbles about how they actually work, and I know Memorial University itself has complained about it in the past, I guess they are very happy these days to have themselves ranked fairly high in the pack with respect to the ratings that are received by Memorial University. Some of the other factors include the reputation that the University has with it graduates, with its alumni, and with other employers. The amount of alumni support, the people who are giving gifts to the university, gifts of money in support of the university, people who were once students. These are all important contributors.

Important as well is the $77 million a year that this government gets in revenue to support post-secondary education and health. I do not see the comfort level that the Minister of Finance seems to feel with respect to lowering the amount of these revenues. We do see a slight increase projected from last year to this of $1 million, but obviously the government does not want to rely too much on this area of tax. It is seen by some employers as a disincentive to hiring, but I would say that, I suppose, it is not only the disincentive to hire, you could argue that it is a disincentive to pay well too, because the more you pay, the larger the amount of the percentage the tax is. That does not stop employers from carrying out the recruitment drives, employing the best people they can, paying them what they have to in order to attract good employees and conducting business and, hopefully, being successful at it and contributing to the economy.

Madam Speaker, some of this is a question of balance. I know small employers, in particular, have complained about the payroll tax as being a burden, and it is very popular in Chambers of Commerce circles and business groups and boards of trade, to complain about payroll tax, to complain about employment insurance, to complain about any contributions that end up on your bottom line as so called payroll costs. These are, in fact, the costs of doing business and we need to ensure that the governments, while being fair, has adequate revenue to do the job.

In saying that, Madam Speaker, I think the revenue we have is important. I do not think we are ready to let it go because we have not achieved a substantial revenue. If we had, Madam Speaker, we would not be getting equalization payments. If we had the kind of tax base that we needed, if we had the kind of tax base that the other provinces have, if we had the kind of tax base that was available in wealthier provinces, we would not even qualify for equalization payments, so I do not think we should be too cavalier about getting rid of taxes that are an important source of revenue for our public services that we need so badly.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. If the minster speaks now she will close the debate.

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

I am very pleased again to speak and to respond to some of the comments that were made here throughout this afternoon's presentation on amendments to the health and post-secondary tax. First of all, I think it is important to note that in our first two years of the tax reduction program, we did put about $200 million back into the economy. We said at each of those two years we would assess at the beginning of the next budget year, Madam Speaker, if we were able to do it. We made a conscious decision this year, having $25 million in hand in light of a deficit, in light of knowing the actual money was there. I have to say to the Member for Ferryland that senior economists will say, whether he believes it or not, that unless you are prepared to invest huge significant amounts of money into your economy - huge and significant - and you cannot compare what the United States are putting into their economy, Madam Speaker, and you cannot compare what Newfoundland is putting into their economy compared to the federal government. It is just not the same. Twenty-five million dollars in hand will go a long way to providing health care, which he is such a big proponent of.

Madam Speaker, we made the decision. We recognize that we will continue to do that as our economy allows us to do it, and significant, huge, potential increases in the short term is not likely unless you inject huge, significant amounts of money. With all due respect, $25 million on our scale is a big contribution but it is not big enough, from all of the information that we have gotten, to get the short-term benefit that we would look for, Madam Speaker, in the short run to address our deficit, as we know is growing.

The other point, and I find it quite interesting, the member opposite says: Well, give up the $25 million. Then he says: Give up the $100,000 for this payroll tax, give it back to them. Then every other minute of the day he is talking about the deficit and the health care file. You just cannot have it both ways. It is all part of that old voodoo economics that he keeps talking about. Again, it is a mystery to all of us, and please God he will never have an opportunity to explain it in any detail. We will stay clear of the voodoo for now.

I was also quite happy to hear that he is supportive of the direction that we are going, and it is important and I acknowledge that and I appreciate the comments from the member opposite because it is another form of fiscal prudent management, and that we have moved significantly since 1998 to take 98 per cent of the small- to medium-sized businesses away from the payroll tax. That is important and we will continue to do that as our budget allows us, Madam Speaker.

We said from day one that we would analyze our own situation and we will continue to do that; but, Madam Speaker, it is important for the people of the Province to know that if you are to look at our economy, it is a strong economy. We are proud of it. We are predicting the largest GDP growth in the country next year. We know it is volume driven and we know it is very much focused around the oil industry. If you were to look at our basket of taxes, not any individual tax but our basket of taxes in this Province, if you factor in the corporate income tax, the payroll tax, personal income tax, and the lowest corporate tax for manufacturing, Madam Speaker, you will see that we have the most competitive rates in the whole country, and we are very proud of that.

Madam Speaker, we have also, this government - and it is important - we have moved the payroll tax from $150,000 to a $500,000 threshold. We have lowered the HST from 20 per cent to 15 per cent. Everyone in the Province can appreciate that as money in their pocket, and that is something again that this government has done

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: We recognize the importance not just for business but for everyone. We speak for all people in the Province when we talk about how we are addressing taxation. We have invested in the tax credit system and we have - my colleague, the Minister of Mines and Energy, is quite proud of the Junior Exploration Program, a $22 million initiative, fifty-fifty. We know that we have been promoting business, we know we have been promoting a diversified economy, and we will continue to move in that direction; but, Madam Speaker, we will continue to reassure the people of the Province that we will maintain fiscal prudence in our management of the Province's finances. We will continue on the same path and I know, Madam Speaker, that the member opposite, as he said, is supportive of the direction and we look forward to further discussion.

Madam Speaker, I move second reading of this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 28)

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Madam Speaker, Order 13, Bill 45.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Environmental Protection." (Bill 45)

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

I am pleased today to introduce the Environmental Protection Act and to say, Madam Speaker, that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation and will certainly provide government with the legislative framework necessary to ensure the protection and preservation of our environment. This act, Madam Speaker, consolidates and revises five existing acts: The Environment Act, The Environmental Assessment Act, The Pesticide Control Act, The Waste Management Act, and The Waste Material Disposal Act. It also, Madam Speaker, creates a number of new provisions.

This act will be binding on the Crown and expands government authority to establish new regulations as necessary; however, all environmental regulations will remain in effect. The Environmental Protection Act designates members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as inspectors. I want to point out to hon. members that this provision is consistent with at least three other acts passed in this Legislature: The Liquor Control Act, The Tobacco Tax Act and The Wildlife Act.

Madam Speaker, I want to make it very clear that this act does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or provincial laws. This act will increase the authority of inspectors, giving them the same powers, Madam Speaker, as peace officers, as defined in the Criminal Code. For example, inspectors will be able to ticket for environmental offences and issue immediate stop-work orders. In addition, Madam Speaker, this act broadens the scope of ministerial orders to require remediation of impacted areas. A new fine structure is created for environmental offences. It will establish minimum and maximum fines with separate levels for individuals and corporations.

This act creates whistle-blower protection prohibiting employers from disciplining or threatening an employee who reports an action that may be in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act. Public input is an essential step in developing progressive legislation and, as such, I felt it important to give the people of the Province an opportunity to review and comment on both the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Resources Act.

This fall, Madam Speaker, I traveled throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador conducting public consultations on these acts. Nine public meetings were held across the Province. In addition, officials from my department met with several environmental organizations such as the Newfoundland Environmental Industry Association and with municipalities. Interested stakeholders were also encouraged to submit written comments to me by the end of the consultation period, and over thirty written submissions were received.

Overall, there was a very positive response to the Environmental Protection Act. The fundamental viewpoint expressed from participants was that they wanted to see government move to enact this legislation. The comments received during the public consultation process were used to finalize the act and help to ensure that our Province has solid, progressive, environmental legislation.

Most of the environmental legislation in Newfoundland and Labrador was enacted over two decades ago. Our Province needs up-to-date progressive legislation and I am pleased to be introducing today the Environmental Protection Act in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

MR. TULK: Madam Speaker, the Opposition House Leader asked me for some information just now on a bill, which I promised him that I would get. I wonder if I could be granted leave to give him that information.

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MADAM SPEAKER: Leave granted.

MR. TULK: As the bill said - I think the bill has gone through second reading - Bill 47, An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957, the guarantee increase from $1.25 million to $4.85 million, of that amount the environmental cleanup was $3.6 million, which left, obviously, $1.25 still; severance for senior management was $700,000; professional fees, $250,000; and outstanding legal liabilities, $300,000, which is a total of $4.85 million.

I think the Opposition House Leader, my member, my most famous member on the other side, asked -

AN HON. MEMBER: The best one they have.

MR. TULK: Oh, the very best one they have over there, there is no doubt about it. I do not know why he is out of that chair. I cannot understand it. I was so proud, Madam Speaker, to have the Leader of the Opposition, who I knew was going to be the Leader of the Opposition for a long, long time, as my member. Now they have him moved. I tell you, the quality has gone downhill on the other side.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. TULK: Absolutely, the quality has gone downhill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: The quality over here has gone up. I hate to admit it, it burns me up to admit it, because if there is anything a politician does not like to admit is that there is somebody better than him. I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, that the potential in the Premier's chair has gone up tremendously since last February 2.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: The potential liabilities, I say to the hon. gentleman, I am sure he will understand why I will not name them because they are in various stages of court proceedings. There are some - I said I thought that was all of them. No, I told him that there is $450,000 left in potential liabilities with three companies in total. That is what they figure it will come out in the court case, but it is in various stages of the court proceedings. Not to do with FGH; it is a liability that was owed by the Marystown Shipyard, okay? -

AN HON. MEMBER: Prior to (inaudible)?

MR. TULK: - prior to the signing of the deal, and obviously you take over the liabilities as part of the deal you sign off on.

They are in various stages of court proceedings, and have been there for several years, and where they will come out at the end, nobody knows for sure, but they figure it should be about $450,000. Do you see the clarity which I tried to give?

Is there anything else you want? What is it? Tell me now. You do not have to bother to get up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, we are not going to have another debate on this, are we?

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Madam Speaker, if I may, by leave.

Prior to the debate and introduction of Bill 45, An Act Respecting Environmental Protection, we were debating Bill 47, which is loan guarantees which respect to the transfer of assets of the Marystown Shipyard and the associated liabilities and extension or approval of a $1.25 million line of credit up to $4.85 million.

I appreciate the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development providing the information and damming me with faint praise, to be honest with you, in respect to -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) praise.

MR. E. BYRNE: It was only six months and he and the Premier were taking me on. Now they are saying I was the best thing since wholesome bread. That is fair enough. I appreciate that. I think it is obvious what it is all about, but if I may, just for a moment -

MR. SULLIVAN: They lack consistency.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, the lack of consistency. It is amazing how people's opinions change.

Madam Speaker, I wonder if I could ask the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development - he has just indicated that there was $300,000 for legal fees, $250,000 for professional fees. I wonder if he could just take a moment, and again this is by leave of the House, certainly. We do not mind doing it just for a few moments because these are outstanding issues still emanating from Bill 47, and we appreciate the opportunity to clue this up in a few moments.

Who were the legal firms involved in the $300,000? How were they chosen, and what were the professional fees for? Were they for economists, lobbyists, firms?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am just wondering: You say professional fees, that is a pretty broad category. I think you would agree that professional fees is a pretty broad category. So, who were the professional fees given to, $250,000? There were $300,000 worth of legal fees. Who were the legal fees paid to either individually or what firm, and on what basis where they chosen?

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

MR. TULK: Madam Speaker, let me just go back to the original comment that my friend made. Right now we have something to compare the hon. gentleman to, and the comparison, I have to say, makes him look like - well, I don't know. It almost makes him look like he could be Prime Minister. When you look at the difference, you were expecting the other fellow to be the Premier. It almost looks like you could be the Prime Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Don't go getting mad. Don't get upset with me. I am praising you up, and it is not faint praise either I can tell you.

Let me just say to the hon. gentleman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, I didn't say the former Premier. I said the fellow who sits there now.

I tell you what, I don't have that level of detail. I will have it for you tomorrow.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

We have a lot to say on this bill, and I would imagine this bill will be debated for quite some time in the House.

Some of the minister's comments I will address. It is a comprehensive act and it combines five acts, and I believe that to be a good thing. We have been asking for that for quite some time. It creates new provisions. He mentioned that it is binding on the Crown. We will get into that now in a few moments in my debate, as we have some concerns about that statement.

The RNC and RCMP now have increased authority to inspectors. They can ticket, issue stop orders, and we have some concern about that. How well are these inspectors going to be trained? Are all of the inspectors going to be trained to be qualified to put in place a stop order on a project? So we have some questions regarding that.

There is no doubt about it, our Province needs updated legislation, we need new legislation, regarding the environment and the protection of our water resources and so on.

Madam Speaker, some of the concerns we have: The minister can determine environmental standards; what proposals to accept or not accept; what standards to apply; whether a preview is needed or not; whether or not an assessment is needed; whether his rules have been broken or not; whether an investigation is needed; when to halt an investigation. The minister has discretion over all of these items. If an act has been contravened, whether or not to impose a fine or enter into a compliance agreement. Madam Speaker, the minister even has the discretion to exempt something from this act. So there is a lot of discretion placed at the minister's hands.

There are numerous locations throughout the act where it says the minister may, instead of the minister shall. We will address some of those as well throughout debate. The minister has broad discretionary power and we feel that the discretion that is given to the minister in some areas is very appropriate and in fact we are glad to see that, it is very acceptable; however, there are some areas throughout the act that there is far too much discretion given to the minister or in fact to Cabinet. We will address those issues as well as we debate, as each of the members on this side of the House debate this particular bill.

The definition of an undertaking, definition, (mm), page 11: "undertaking" includes an enterprise, activity, project, structure, work or proposal and a modification, abandonment, demolition, decommissioning, rehabilitation and an extension of them that may, in the opinion of the minister, have a significant environmental effect.

There are a number of areas throughout the act where it states, in the opinion of the minister, or as the minister determines necessary. The definition of undertaking, in my opinion, because of the fact it includes in the opinion of the minister in defining what may have a significant environmental effect is perhaps a little broad.

Page 12, section 3.(1) states, "This Act is binding upon the Crown, its corporations, agents, administrators, servants, employees and agencies.", as the minister has indicated in his introduction; however, there are areas within the act that give the minister the discretion that could override this clause. We will look at some of those areas as well as we debate the act.

Section 4 states very clearly that where there is a conflict between this act and another act, that this act prevails. Does this mean that this act will prevail over the new Freedom of Information Act? Because within this act there are also areas where the minister has the discretion to deny access to information. If that is the case, and this act overrides or prevails over the new Freedom of Information Act, then how much teeth does the new Freedom of Information Act have when it comes to the environment?

Under Environmental Education and Research, Part II of the act, it states: "For the purpose of fostering an understanding of and responsibility for the environment the minister may..." Again, the word may; and then lists a number of subclauses. Because the section uses the phrase: "...the minister may..." it does not guarantee that the minister will - as is the case with a number of areas throughout this bill. The minister may, also means the minister may not.

The environmental education role is one of the most important roles of the department, and of the minister. Ideally, we would rely less on proscription and enforcement if we had a well informed public who understood the values of the environment and what those values mean to sustaining the economy. Environmental education would allow for the general public who are commited to protecting the environment.

Page 14, Part III, Release of Substances; again, Madam Speaker, here it says: "A person shall not release or permit the release of a substance into the environment in an amount, concentration or level or at a rate of release that in the opinion of the minister causes or may cause an adverse effect..." - here is the real kicker in this - "...unless authorized under this Act or an approval issued under this Act."

One would have to ask: Under what case would we allow the release of a substance that would be harmful to the environment? The release of substances that are harmful to the environment are left to the opinion of the minister. The amount in which these substances can be released is also at the minister's discretion. These decisions would be make case-by-case, day-by-day, by the minister without a universal standard, should we say. There is too much discretion in this clause again. Because of the pressure to create jobs, in some cases, the environment may take a lower priority, and that causes us some concern.

Madam Speaker, page 15, section 11.(1) of the act: "Where an inspector is of the opinion that a release of a substance into the environment may cause, is causing, has caused or may have caused an environmental emergency, the inspector may take those emergency measures that the inspector considers necessary to prevent, reduce and remedy the adverse effect and the emergency." Again, we are talking about giving much greater powers to inspectors. Are these inspectors going to be trained to determine what an emergency is or what measures to take in the event of an emergency? Where is it defined what an emergency is?

Section 11.(2): "Subsection (1) applies whether or not the substance release is or was expressly authorized by and is or was in compliance with this Act or an approval issued under this Act."

Section 11 gives substantial power to an inspector. The power is not time limited and leaves open to question how an inspector might go about doing his or her job under the circumstances.

Again, not all inspectors are trained in the area of environment; not all inspectors should be given this power.

Page 16, section 12 of the act: "The minister may classify -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: I say to the Deputy Premier, this is an important act. You should listen instead of private conversations across the floor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't be a sook now.

MR. TULK: No, I am not being a sook. I just want to say to him that I was listening to every word he said; every single word that he said. I mean, if he thinks you cannot listen and say one word to another person in this House, he has to learn that indeed that is possible. I don't want to upset the hon. gentleman; I don't want him to get upset. We are listening. I tell you what, we may be paying a lot more attention to him, not the bill, than he deserves.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

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

Page 16, section 12: "The minister may (a) classify or allow the release of substances for the purposes of this Part; (b) determine the concentration, amount, level and rate of release of a substance into the environment; and (c) determine the manner in which a report of a release of a substance is to be made and the contents of the report."

Mr. Speaker, it appears that under the above noted section the minister has absolute discretion regarding not only the nature of the substances to be released into the environment but also the manner and content of the report of the release of the substance. We would have to ask: Just what would guide the actions of the minister in such a case? Just what would guide the actions of the minister?

Again, under section 12, it states: "...the minister may classify or allow..." This is obviously too much discretion. Using the minister's discretion: Will only the one set of rules apply to everybody or will there be separate rules for individual people? Shouldn't there be a universal classification of substances that are permitted to be released into the environment, the concentrations and levels of those substances be allowed to be released, and under what conditions? It is merely left to the discretion of the minister.

The minister may establish restrictions and prohibitions on waste management systems. Again, here the minister may establish restrictions, develop codes, et cetera. This is far too much discretion for the minister. Once again, the discretion would allow for different treatment for different proposals and different people.

Mr. Speaker, a person who is the owner of a motor vehicle in the Province, and any other person, shall not abandon the motor vehicle in the Province. This section deals with the people who abandon motor vehicles such as the last registered owner who is reliable for the abandoned vehicle. What would be the consequences if it were a corporate body registered as the owner of the vehicle? What actions would government take against the directors of a (inaudible) and what would be the liability in each case? This section of the legislation is not clear on these particular matters. It should be written more clearly to outline what would be done in such cases. Are the same liabilities going to be for an individual who abandons a vehicle as for each individual director of a corporation? Would each director get the same penalty? There should be greater detail as to the guidelines that would apply to exercise this particular discretion.

Under Part VI, Air Quality Management, 22.(j), the minister may, "establish regional air quality management programs to address the combined effects of multiple sources of air contaminants;" (k), the minister may, "enter into agreements respecting air quality management issues;" (m), the minister may, "establish requirements with respect to the design, operation or maintenance of equipment, devices or services that may emit or limit the issuance of contaminants into the air and require alterations to them where they are not functioning in the manner that the minister considers to be appropriate." Again, here, establishing standards is at the discretion of the minister. When standards are being set on such an important issue, those standards should be universal.

Under section 23.(1), "The minister may establish air quality management areas in the province." Are we saying here that there will be different areas of the Province that will have different standards, different management levels? (2), "The minister may develop an air quality management plan for an area established under subsection (1) and may, in accordance with the regulations, establish for that area an air quality advisory committee which may investigate air quality issues and make recommendations to the minister with respect to air quality management plans and programs for that area."

It states that the minister may establish air quality management areas in the Province. Again, different standards for different areas of the Province, or would it be a universal standard? Mr. Speaker, these standards should perhaps be universal throughout the Province.

Page 23, section 25, says: "The minister may enter into compliance agreements and other agreements and establish programs and other measures that he or she considers necessary to (a) restore and secure a contaminated site and the environment affected by a contaminated site; (b) pay the cost of restoring and securing a contaminated site and the environment affected by a contaminated site...". Does this mean that compliance agreements would be put in place of fines? Who would regulate the compliance agreements? That is not clearly defined in the act. Who would ensure that the parties for this agreement do their part? Again, at the discretion of the minister.

Mr. Speaker, again it displays how much discretion is put in the hands of the minister in this particular act. Does it mean that different people will be treated differently when it comes to compliance agreements? Who will regulate, who will determine, how different people are to be treated?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Who will regulate the regulator? A good point. Exactly!

Section 25.(c) states that the minister may "impose levies and establish a fund for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b)," which would be used to restore and secure a contaminated site and pay the cost of restoring and securing that contaminated site.

Mr. Speaker, who will be responsible for paying these fees or levies? Who will have to pay these fees and levies? That is not clearly outlined in the act. How much would these imposed levies be? Who will administer the fund, and will this fund be used in the same manner that the beverage container recycling fund is to be used? Is it open to the same abuse by the minister that the beverage container recycling fund is under?

Section 26.(1) says, "Where the minister is of the opinion that a substance that may cause, is causing or has caused an adverse effect is present in an area of the environment, the minister may designate that area of the environment as a contaminated site. (2) The minister shall establish standards, criteria or guidelines with respect to contaminated sites before making a designation under subsection (1).

In essence, we are being asked here to pass legislation without knowing what the standards are going to be, without knowing what standards will be put in place regarding contaminated sites. We are asked to put forward and vote on legislation that is basically a blank page. The standards will be filled in later.

On page 25, section 29, it says, "The minister may (a) determine the manner in which the contaminated site must be rehabilitated or managed and establish a time within which that rehabilitation is to occur...". Again, Mr. Speaker, (b) the minister may, "issue standards and criteria to be used in determining whether rehabilitation and management have been completed in a satisfactory manner..." Satisfactory to what standards? Again, we do not have standards here. We are not looking at particular standards because we do not know what those standards are going to be. We will find out later, after the bill is passed, what the standards will be. What standards will be implemented? There is no clarification on that. That is no determination as to what those standards will be. Again, they want us to approve an act without prior knowledge of the standards. Those standards will be at the discretion of the minister at a later date.

Part VIII, Dangerous Goods, handling of dangerous goods, 30, "Unless authorized under this Part of the regulations a person who handles dangerous goods or waste dangerous goods shall do so in a manner that ensures that the dangerous goods or waste dangerous goods do not cause an adverse effect.

31.(1) The minister may (a) stipulate the quantity or concentration of dangerous and waste dangerous good that may be released into the environment, either alone or in combination with another substance from any source; (b) stipulate the manner and conditions under which dangerous goods and waste dangerous goods may be released into the environment, either alone or in combination with another substance..."

With respect to this part of the act, the minister may stipulate the quantity or concentration of dangerous and waste goods that may be released. As well, the minister may stipulate the manner and conditions under which they are to be released.

Under section 30, it states that, unless authorized, a person who handles dangerous goods or waste dangerous goods shall do so in a manner to ensure that they do not cause an adverse effect. Minister, in what cases would a person be authorized to cause an adverse effect? Why would we authorize a person to cause an adverse effect? In what manner would we authorize a person to cause an adverse effect? Basically, this is saying that the minister can authorize a person to cause an adverse effect. Again, here it is up to the discretion of a minister, as it states: "The minister may stipulate the quantity or concentration..." Therefore, it is at the discretion of the minister as to how persons are treated and what set of rules they should follow. Again, shouldn't it be the same set of rules for everybody? Shouldn't we put in place a standard set of rules instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the minister? Are we going to allow for a scenario where different people can be treated differently under this act? That there are different rules for different people under this act? That is obviously what is written here. That is what we are saying.

Under this section there is no accountability measures whereby the minister's actions can be reviewed. The minister has a great deal of discretion over what rules to put in place; over what rules for different individuals; over what standards for different individuals. Who will regulate the minister? Who will oversee what the minister does? Who will review the decisions of the minister? There does not appear to be any requirement for the minister to report on such activities involving the handling of dangerous goods.

Under Part IX, Pesticides; section 33.(2): "A person shall not store, use or apply a pesticide unless (a) the person has a valid licence of a class prescribed by regulation for that purpose and except under the conditions for storing, use or application prescribed for the pesticide; or (b) unless the pesticide or the person is exempted under the regulations." Will ordinary homeowners be exempted under this act? If so, how do we regulate the pesticide usage by private citizens? How do we regulate what concentrations a private citizen will apply, or how often the pesticide will be applied by private citizens? If we are going to regulate industry for the usage of pesticides and we are not going to regulate private citizens, it is not really a level playing field. This section of the act needs clarification. When will a list of pesticide exemptions be published? Until that list is in place, will it be a contravention of this act to use a pesticide? Mr. Speaker, again, we need clarification on this particular section of the act.

Section 40 of the act; this section makes it illegal to dispose of a pesticide or to dispose of a container that has been used to hold a pesticide. That's good, we agree with that. This is a good thing. However, how will government ensure that this part of the act is followed? What are people supposed to do with their old pesticide containers? Shouldn't government acknowledge, by this section of the act, that we need more hazardous waste disposal days? Clearly, there are not enough hazardous waste disposal days. How are people to dispose of containers if they do not have access to a hazardous waste disposal site? What about people in the Province who are in remote areas and there is no access to approved disposal sites? Is government going to make available more sites that are accessible and available when and where people need them? Obviously, this is a flaw. While the section looks good, without hazardous waste disposal sites to dispose of pesticide containers or pesticides, what are people to do with them?

Page 30, section 41(a): "A person shall not (a) wash or submerge in a body of water an apparatus, equipment or container used in the holding or application of a pesticide; and (b) allow a pesticide or water used to clean an apparatus, equipment or container used to hold or apply a pesticide to enter a body of water." This is clear, no problems with that. This section prohibits the disposal of pesticides or cleaning of pesticide containers in a body of water. Does this include city sewer systems? Because, ultimately, the end destination when you flush it down a drain or down a sink, is a body of water; it is a city sewer system. Will this include city sewer systems, and if not, why not? And if so, what types of measures will be put in place to ensure that this section of the act is followed? How will we ensure that people are not pouring pesticides down the drain? How do we ensure that people are not washing pesticides containers in their sink which will, ultimately, end up in a body of water? We need a little bit of clarification on this. While, I agree that it is a good section of the act, how do we enforce it? Again, we need more hazardous waste collection days. In order to enforce this so that people, realistically, have a place to dispose of unused pesticides or pesticide containers, we need hazardous waste collection days.

Section 42 of the act: "Where a crop, food, feed, animal, plant, water, produce, product or other matter is shown, upon inspection or analysis, to be contaminated by a pesticide, the minister may, by order, (a) prohibit or restrict the sale, handling, use or distribution of the crop, food, feed, animal, plant, water, produce, product or other matter permanently or for the length of time that the minister considers necessary; or (b) destroy or make harmless the crop, food, feed, animal, plant, water, produce, product or other matter." Define contaminated? What would this mean? Would it mean most vegetables, fruits, plants, and so on that are sprayed with pesticide could be considered contaminated? This allows for the minister to prohibit or restrict the sale of a property that is contaminated by a pesticide. How do we monitor or control what is sprayed on imported vegetables and fruits or, for that matter, household plants? Does this prohibit the use of pesticides on local farms? If local farmers use a pesticide, to what extent can they use it before it is considered contaminated? Will this prohibit the importation of foods that are sprayed with pesticides? Again, how do we regulate what is imported? How do we determine what pesticides, what quantity, what extent, has been sprayed on an imported good? Will this give a disadvantage to local growers of plant and vegetables, because we are better able to monitor our pesticide use or abuse in our own local market, whereas it is hard to determine what has been sprayed on a food product or plant that is imported? Again, what constitutes contaminated?

Under section 43, it says, "A person shall not be entitled to compensation from the government of the province for a loss or damage arising from an order made under section 42." What if government makes a mistake? They are automatically not liable? We have seen this government make mistakes before. It is possible. Government can make mistakes. So if government makes a mistake and orders a food destroyed or a crop destroyed or plants destroyed, they are not going to be liable for the loss or damage arising from that order? Who would compensate the farmer in the event of an order made by government where government made a mistake? Would the farmer have to deal with that himself? Would he have to deal with the loss because government had made a mistake? It is a little bit unjust.

"The minister may, by order, prohibit or restrict the sale, distribution or use of a pesticide in the province or a part of the province specified in the order, for those periods and at those times that may be considered necessary or advisable." Why would part of the Province have a restriction while other parts would not? It may be perfectly legitimate, but there is no definition as to how this determination would be made. There is no definition as to why a part of the Province would be prohibited from having a pesticide use while another part of the Province would not. There are no universal standards here. Again, it is at the discretion of the minister. It is at the discretion of the minister to decide if one part of the Province is okay for a pesticide use and another part is not.

It is okay for the minister to determine the air quality in one part of the Province and a different set of standards for another part of the Province. It is okay for the minister to decide if somebody can use a toxic substance, and to what extent, how much can be used. It is okay for the minister to decide if a substance that can be considered harmful to the environment can be used, and how much and in what areas. There is no universal standard. There is a lot of discretion given to the minister, a lot of discretion, I say, Mr. Speaker. That discretion is not always good. In some areas of the act, undoubtedly, we agree that the minister needs discretion.

We will certainly look at making amendments because in some of the areas of the act the minister has too much discretion. The minister has too much ability -

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: A point of order, Mr .Speaker.

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

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Just to save the hon. member some time in terms of going through the act clause-by-clause, I want to advise him he is on the pesticide control part of the act right now, and there is no change in that particular section except the prohibition against pesticides being washed into a water body. That is the only change. The rest has been there since 1970.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

Why would part of the Province have a restriction, Mr .Speaker, while other parts have not? This gives the minister the discretion to make those restrictions. Perhaps this part of the act should be more clearly defined. Perhaps this part of the act should have clearer definition as to what abilities the minister should and should not have. It is the language that is used here. It is the language, it is not the intent, it is not the proposed intent of the act. Many parts of the act, in fact, most parts of the act, we agree with. Most parts of the act, Mr. Speaker, we agree with, other than the language that is used in putting the act in place. It is the language in many cases that creates the problem here in this act.

Mr. Speaker, section 46, "The purpose of this Part is to (a) facilitate the wise management of the natural resources...; (b) protect the environment and quality of life of the people of the province..." It is just an observation, but perhaps the level of importance that is placed on the environment, by this government, is shown by the order of (a) and (b). This is the Environment Act and we place the importance, section 46(a), "to facilitate the wise management of the natural resources of the province; and (b) protect the environment and quality of life of the people of the province."

What about preservation? It does not make any statement of preservation. It does not give any allowances for preservation. It does not even mention preservation. This is an obvious omission, Mr. Speaker. There is no express purpose of preservation here. While it clearly outlines that the purpose of this part is to facilitate the wise management of natural resources of the Province and then to protect the environment, it does not even mention preservation.

Section 47(1) states, "This part and regulations made with respect to this Part apply to all undertakings carried out in the province, unless it is an undertaking or a class of undertaking exempted under this Act." Why would we have a class of an undertaking exempted under this act? What would be exempted under the act? It does not give any indication here as to what would be exempted under the act. By clear definition of what is written here you have to ask: Does the minister have the power to exempt under this act? It seems to me the minister does. Why? Why would the minister have the power to exempt under this act? This act is supposed to be binding on the Crown. Does the minister have the power to exempt the Crown or applications made by the Crown? If so, then is this act truly binding on the Crown? Does the minister have the ability to exempt under this act? I believe the minister does have the power to exempt under this act, because that is what it says here. Why would we give a minister the ability to exempt the Crown, to exempt under this act, under what conditions? It is not clearly defined. Can the Crown be exempted on such large projects as Voisey's Bay, the Lower Churchill, and other projects? Can the minister be exempted for proposals made by the Crown? Can the Crown be exempted under the act?

Clause 4 states that this act is binding on the Crown. If it was truly binding on the Crown, then why would we give the minister the power to exempt? Again, we refer to section (2), the definition of undertaking. In undertaking, there is discretion given to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I have a problem with the minister being able to exempt under the act. It almost begs the question: What is the purpose of the act? Why have the act put in place if the minister has the ability to exempt?

Mr. Speaker, section 49.1, "A proponent shall, in the form and with the content that the minister may require and before proceeding with the final design of an undertaking, notify the minister of the proposed undertaking and that notification shall be considered to be a registration of an undertaking under this Act."

What about public notification of the registration? Where is there mention of that? What about public notification of registration? There is no reference to notification or to this notification in the act. That is noticeably absent, Mr. Speaker. There is no indication or reference to this notification in the act. Section 54.(3), "Upon receiving an environmental preview report, the minister shall (a) require that the proponent provide copies of the environmental preview report to the minister who shall make those copies available to all interested persons; and (b) examine the report and determine if the environmental preview report complies with this Act and the guidelines, and shall, in writing, advise the proponent of his or her determination under paragraph (b)." This is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with that. All interested parties will be notified, and we agree with that, and that should be in the act; however, in subsection (4), "Where, in the opinion of the minister, and environmental preview report is deficient, the minister may require the proponent to do one or more of the following: (a) conduct further work; (b) amend the environmental preview report; and (c) revise and submit another environmental preview report or amendment to that report, within the time period required by regulation."

It fails to mention whether persons of interest will be notified or informed of the minister's decision on the environmental preview. While it is there for section 54.(3), it is noticeably absent when it comes to the minister's decision on the preview report. Will interested parties be notified? If they were informed of the preview report, will they be informed of the minister's decision regarding a preview? Any mention within this subsection that they will be informed is noticeably absent.

We are writing new legislation here, we are putting in place new legislation. These are the things, Mr. Speaker, that should be here. These are the things that we should have within this legislation.

Page 38 of the act section 62, "The minister shall, in the course of granting an approval or making a determination under section 50, 51, 53, 54or 60 make every reasonable effort to consult with and obtain the opinions of all other ministers of the Crown whose departments may have an interest in an undertaking that may be subject to an environmental assessment."

I am going to read that section again because I had to read it a second time when I was reading the act. I find it amazing, Mr. Speaker. It is unbelievable. I will read it again: "The minister shall, in the course of granting an approval or making a determination under section 50, 51, 53, 54 or 60 make every reasonable effort to consult with and obtain the opinions of all other ministers of the Crown whose departments may have an interest in an undertaking that may be subject to an environmental assessment." It is simply not good enough, Mr. Speaker. What does it mean that the minister shall make every reasonable effort to consult with other ministers? This is very vague. Does it mean you are going to fax them? Does it mean you are going to e-mail them? This is new legislation. These are things that should be here. This is new legislation.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: I understand, Mr. Speaker, the advantages of having cameras in the House. When the hon. member stands up and he is going through this Environmental Protection Act, which is usually done in Committee, I do not have any problem with that. But the point is that he is saying that this is new legislation. I have made it very clear to the public that the environmental assessment part of this legislation; there is no change. There is no change.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, we are putting a new act before the House, and while we are doing that we should make every effort to get it correct. We should make every effort to get it right. What we are doing here is expanding the discretion and the powers given to the minister, but we should also protect the people of the Province. We should also expand the protection that we give to the people of the Province, and to say that the minister shall make every reasonable effort to consult with other ministers. I mean, we are all working here out of the one complex, out of the one building. To make every reasonable effort to consult with the minister. It is simply not good enough. Why would we simply leave it at: the minister shall make every reasonable effort to consult with another minister? We are in the one Province here. We are operating out of the one building. Like I say, does it mean that the minister is going to fax or e-mail them? It is not like they do not meet or that they are not in constant contact with each other.

The fact that he only has to make every reasonable effort is really a joke, Mr. Speaker. This should be rewritten to say that the minister shall consult with other ministers, or officials of the department, who have an interest in the undertaking. To simply make every reasonable effort to consult with another minister is not good enough. What constitutes to make every reasonable effort?

Section 63.(1) says: "Where the minister believes there is a strong public interest in an undertaking for which an environmental impact statement is required..." - Cabinet - "...may, on the advice of the minister, order public hearings and appoint an environmental assessment board for the purpose of conducting public hearings relating to the environmental assessment of the undertaking."

"Where the minister believes there is strong public interest...". Again, it gives the discretion to the minister. This leaves, at the minister's discretion, as to whether or not the people of the Province will be consulted or informed. Is this another example of this Administration's promise to be open and accountable? Instead of saying the minister may order public meetings and leave it at the minister's discretion, this section should be tightened up to ensure that there is adequate public input when there is an undertaking that would be of strong public interest.

Mr. Speaker, by our parliamentary clock I will adjourn debate for today and pick this up at another time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I remind hon. members that tomorrow is Private Members' Day and we will be doing the resolution put forward by the Member for Waterford Valley, which is dealing with child poverty. It is child poverty anyway, the Opposition's private member's resolution.

Mr. Speaker, being the time that it is, I move that this House do now adjourn.

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