March 26, 2002 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 5


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcomed today sixty Grade 5 students from St. Kevin's Elementary School in the Goulds. These students are from the District of Kilbride and Ferryland. They are accompanied by teachers, Ms Kelly and Mr. Bruce, along with chaperones, Diane Gulliver, Kevin Power, Randy Connors, Ingrid Connors, Charlotte Carey, Jeannette Putt, Ann Marie Miller and Jim Power.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to pass along congratulations to a local student at Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts on having received a $300 scholarship.

Chantal Barrett of Bay Roberts was this year's winner of the Con-Tri division, Retired Teachers Association scholarship. This scholarship is the fifth such award presented by the association, and to qualify, a student must reside in the boundaries area and write the Department of Education's scholarship exam.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Chantal on this award and wish her well in her future studies. Also, I would like to congratulate the Retired Teachers Association in sponsoring this scholarship.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Provincial Girls 4A High School Basketball Championship was held at St. Kevin's High School in the Goulds this past weekend. St. Kevin's Mavericks won the championship for the second straight year.

The team had an outstanding year going undefeated. In fact, it did not lose a game in two years sporting an 81-0 record over the past two years.

On behalf of the Kilbride MHA, Ed Byrne, and myself, and I am sure all members of the House, we offer our congratulations to their coach, Clarence Sutton and the entire team on an outstanding year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today, and I am very pleased to send congratulations to two students in my district.

Matthew Healey of Marystown has made the University of New Brunswick's Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management's Dean's list, one of only thirty-six students to receive this honour, which at the minimum requires a grade-point average of 3.7. Matthew is currently in his fourth year of the bachelor of science in forestry.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Stephanie Lundrigan of Burin for her recent award of a $300 Burin Peninsula Arts Council Scholarship. Stephanie is a graduate of Pearce Regional High in Burin and is currently enrolled in her second term in the music program at Memorial University. Stephanie is a member of the MUN Chamber Choir and is a member of a local band, Southern Reflections. Stephanie excels in piano, violin, piano accordion, button accordion and the tambourine.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate both these students for their achievements and I wish them further success in their academic studies.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to note the recent passing of a constituent, Mr. Gregory P. Devereaux, of Avondale who passed away February 20, 2002 at the age of ninety.

Gregory was a teacher. He began his career in 1931 and spent over forty years in service to the students of this Province. He was certainly a very well respected member of his community and his hard work and dedication have often been acknowledged and did not go unnoticed.

Gregory, in 1953, was awarded the Bene Merenti Medal by Pope Pius XII in recognition of his contribution to Catholic Schools. In 1976 he was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Softball Hall of Fame, and in 1998 the local ballfield and playground in Avondale was dedicated in his name.

He was instrumental, as well, in erecting a monument to the CBC youth of yesterday at the once popular Bridge of Avondale. He was a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus, active as a member of the senior's group, strong parish worker and certainly very well respected.

As an historian, he certainly has written many poems and stories. His writings were to ensure that the local history is remembered and relived through his word. He maintained a keen interest in all aspects of his community.

Although never married, he had been a devoted family man, especially active in the lives of his nieces and nephews and their families. His gifts to his family were considered, by him, to be his greatest achievements. His commitment to his community, parish and school shall never be forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this House to join with me in offering condolences to the Devereaux family on the passing of Gregory.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, recently the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth of the Year Awards were awarded to students across our Province.

This program is administered by Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador's Youth ( FINALY), a dynamic youth driven organization, which empowers youth to be active participants in the decision making process.

The winners were: Jillian Parsons of Corner Brook for the Expression Award; Chris Dakins of Carbonear for the Innovation Award; Rita Broderick of St. Brendan's for the Legacy Award; Zachary Goudie of Grand Falls-Windsor for the Linkage Award; Danny Huxter of Springdale and Julia Benoit of Burgeo were co-winners in the Vision category.

These six winners were selected from more than thirty nominations received for the five awards. The awards are meant to recognize volunteer efforts in social and economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of the House to join with me in congratulating these award winners.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have been forwarded some names of people from the District of Placentia & St. Mary's: from Dunne Academy, Jeremy Kielly; from St. Catherine's Academy, Michelle Healey, Corrinna MacDonald, Shane Butland and Julia Dunphy; from Laval High in Placentia, Peter Benoite and Sandi Ennis; and from Fatima Academy in St. Bride's, Georgie English, Jenine Browne, and Carl English.

All of these people have left their schools and travelled to Memorial University, in most places, and made a mark in basketball in Newfoundland and Labrador. These respective schools have sent these people forward and they have been great role models, not only for their schools but, indeed, for the young people, not only in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, Mr. Speaker, but for young people throughout the Province.

We look everywhere for heroes and in my own district we have all these people who have been excellent heroes and excellent role models for the young people.

I just want to take the opportunity today to bring their names forward in the House and say congratulations and thank you for a job well done by these young people. When there is so much wrong in this world to see all these people doing something right and leaving a lasting impression on the younger people who are coming through our school system, I think is a positive thing and I want to say congratulations to all these people today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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. Mr. Speaker, the Premier made a commitment to build phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway over a six-year period. Given the fact that the Premier and the Minister of Finance have indicated that the deficit for next year will be in the range of $400 million, and of course that is by their own creative accounting methods, the cash method, the deficit will probably be closer to $6 million, $7 million, $750 million next year: Could the Premier tell us how he will come up with the additional $17 million to commence Phase III, as well as the $18 million that will be necessary to run the ferry service, when he cannot even find enough money to open hospital beds and recruit cancer specialists in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I take it from the line of questioning from the Leader of the Opposition, that he does not have further questions; two days later he does not have any further questions about this year's Budget. He would now like for us to discuss next year's Budget, and the year after and the year after. We will gladly do that, Mr. Speaker, next year and the year after and the year after, when we are here presenting Budgets on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, I take it that the last part of the question with reference to the serious issue with respect to the oncologists, that has been in the public the last two days, that the Leader of the Opposition would state, as has been done six times already now since last Thursday, that we should spend more money for oncologists and cancer treatment services in Newfoundland and Labrador; because the position of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, on Thursday past, was that we are spending money that we do not have. He referenced the deficits, and seven times now, since then, counting this one, their suggestion has been that if they were the government, they would spend more money on roads, on health care services, on job creation in Humber West, now on oncology services. Mr. Speaker, we will gladly deal with the issues with respect to the Budget and we will gladly deal with the future years in future Budgets, Mr. Speaker.

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.

Mr. Speaker, the reason we are concerned and the reason that we forecast and we look ahead is because we are concerned about this government's ability to keep its promise to the people of Labrador. That is why we are so concerned.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, in the Liberal Red Book in 1999, this government was elected on a commitment that the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund would be used exclusively for transportation in Labrador and that it would not go into general revenue. Yesterday, the Premier said that, if necessary, he will take money from other parts of this Province to replace the money they have taken from the Labrador fund and use it to construct Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

My question for the Premier is: If the entire provincial roads budget is in the range of $20 million, does that mean that there will probably be $2 million or $3 million left for all of the other roads in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The people of the Province know exactly what our commitment is. What they are waiting for, I would suggest, is: What is the position and commitment, if any, of the Official Opposition? Because, just like on all other issues, Mr. Speaker, there is no commitment.

The real question is this: What would the Progressive Conservative Party do if, by some fluke of nature, they happen to form the government in future, with respect to a commitment to finish Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway?

Our commitment is so strong, as I stated yesterday, if it means exactly that, that the provincial priority and that the provincial funding is going to be spent in Labrador, because Labrador is a crucially important part of our Province and it is their turn for us to spend our money in Labrador, that is our commitment, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: What the people of the Province are looking for is, what would they do about it? Because, as with all other issues, there are some questions asked but there are no suggestion as to what would be done by the group opposite if, as I said again, by some fluke of nature, they actually happen to form a government in Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: I would like to hear an answer maybe at some point in time, and I am sure the people of the Province would as well.

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.

So, Premier, you have broken your commitment to the people of Labrador in your Liberal Red Book, upon which you are elected. I can just imagine what he is going to do with Voisey's Bay when we get an agreement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund was a pledge, a guarantee, a trust, and even an insurance policy for the people of Labrador, which was protected by legislation. The Premier proposes to strip away that guarantee and replace it with a cheap political promise. The wording of that legislation is very clear. I read this legislation myself, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Section 8 says, it can only be used for transportation initiatives in Labrador.

The only way that the Premier can get at that money is to break the law and break the trust, or change the law and then steal that money from that fund.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: Will the Premier tell the people? What is it, will he break the law or will he change the law and break the trust?

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 inflammatory language that has become very well associated with the Leader of the Opposition, the trademark of the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that people break the law or that they do things that are improper and illegal.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that this is the Legislature. This Legislature is empowered to make the laws of the land, and as a matter of fact, in just one year, since I have been the Premier, we have brought sixty pieces of legislation to this Assembly, about ten or fifteen of which were brand new and about forty-five of which were amendments to the current law, which is a process that if the legal opinions are such that we cannot take this money as revenue without changing that particular act, we will bring an amendment here. Not break the law. Change the law, Mr. Speaker, which is a process that this Legislature does on a regular basis, because things are not static in this world. We give our commitment, and if the commitment requires a change in the law so that we can live to our commitment, that is what the people of the Province know that we will do. They are still waiting as they have been every single day, Mr. Speaker, on every single issue to find out if there is anything that the Leader of the Opposition would suggest that he might do, because again, he asks questions and poses things that might be problematic, but when asked would he still want to talk about a $2 billion tunnel -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: - while not giving a commitment to $100 million road, he does not want to answer the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: So, Mr. Speaker, questions go both ways in this Legislature and the people of the Province know where we stand. They have no idea where they stand or for what.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can tell the Premier that the position of the Opposition is very clear, specifically the PC caucus. We would not have raided that fund under any circumstances.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the members of the Opposition, together with Liberal MP Lawrence O'Brien, are going to fight to ensure that fund is protected for the people of Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Unlike the Premier and the MHAs opposite from Labrador who do not care, who are going to walk away and are going to let it happen, we are going to make sure that we use every legal and parliamentary safeguard that we can use to make sure it is not raided.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. WILLIAMS: This is the time to change your mind, Premier. Stand up in this House and tell the people of Labrador that you will abandon your scheme to raid that fund, that you will keep your promise that your government made in 1997, that you will keep the promise that was made in 1999 in the Liberal Red Book, and that you will not force them to rely on a cheap political promise to trust you in the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: The issue, Mr. Speaker, is this, that in the Budget that was read on Thursday past by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, we indicated to the people of the Province that we made some choices, such as this one, to strike the right balance because we are going to run a deficit of $93 million, which the Leader of the Opposition said: I have concerns about that, they are spending money they don't have. Now he is saying he would not take this $97 million in as revenue, which means the deficit is going to be $180 million or $190 million. Is that what he would do if he were the government, Mr. Speaker? I think not, but he will not answer the question. Is he going to rollback the salaries which he said he has concerns about because he thinks we have offered too much to the public servants and to the teachers so far? He has said it, it is on the public record, that he is concerned about the level of salary increases. Maybe he sides with Mr. O'Brien from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business who said we should roll it back. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, it is like the weekend where he said -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: - we are not spending enough money on job creation and health care in Humber West, they should be spending more. People know where we stand. We will defend our particular actions. We are proud of them and -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: - Mr. Speaker, people are waiting to find out if they stand for anything on any particular issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Over the last couple of months there has been great debate about the foreign overfishing that is occurring outside of the 200-mile limit on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. In all of this debate there has been one vital, important issue that has not gotten the attention that it deserves, and that is the issue of the American fishing boat, Mister B, that was charged last August by Canadian authorities for fishing crab outside the 200-mile limit.

Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture aware that Canada's right to manage the sedentary species outside the 200-mile limit on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks is being challenged? And is he concerned about the implications of the loss of this right on crab stocks and the industry in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We certainly are concerned about is happening on the Nose and Tail of the Grands Banks, especially those sedentary species to which you are referring. We are talking the clams and we are talking the crab outside of our 200-mile limit. I agree with the member opposite that, that American vessel should be charged to every extent of the law.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the UN recognizes the jurisdiction of the coastal state over sedentary species on the continental shelf outside the 200-mile limit. Maintaining the right to manage and regulate the crab fishery outside 200 miles is of utmost importance to this Province. What has the minister done to ensure that the best case possible is put forward to defend Canada's right to mange this stock? Has he asked for legal advice on this matter? And has he asked for intervener status for this Province when this jurisdictional issue comes before the courts?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the issue of foreign overfishing is not a new one. All governments since 1949 have fought that issue with Ottawa. We are doing everything in our power to convince the powers that be in Ottawa that they should act on foreign overfishing and do everything in their power. What we have proposed, Mr. Speaker, is that we take custodial management of the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks along with the Flemish Cap and I ask the members opposite to also support us with that.

With regard to the issue that he is speaking about, Mr. Speaker, we will do everything to ensure that not only the crab but also the clams outside of our 200-mile limit are protected for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, my question if for the Premier or any other minister who may have knowledge of what I am about to ask. Under documents obtained under the Freedom of Information, the use of consultants or the hiring of consultants through the Department of Industry, Trade and Rural Development poses many questions. I would like to ask them in particular - the Premier or any other minister who may have any knowledge - who is Peritus Canada Inc., and what have they been hired for at the tune of $380,000?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I will gladly have one of the ministers who are acting, instead of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, answer that question, if they have that detail. I do not have it myself, but we will gladly provide it.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, there are people over there who do have knowledge of it. My question is for the Minister of Human Resources.

This company was hired, a $380,000 contract, the administration under the Jobs and Growth Strategy, the administration of it was transferred to the Department of Human Resources, and I have a copy of a contract that was entered into.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment is this: Is he aware that his department is managing a contract between a company stationed out of Winnipeg, and that this company has been hired to conduct Phase I of a study called The Newfoundland and Labrador Work Culture Project? If he is aware, could he inform the House what exactly is the Newfoundland and Labrador Work Culture Project, Phase I?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not have the detail at my disposal, to the question that the member has raised.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to respond honestly to the hon. member. I certainly will undertake to provide him with that detail. I do not have it here with me right now, but I will certainly undertake to provide him with the detail in short order.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this is interesting. On July 24, this company was hired. On July 27, Industry and Rural Renewal transferred administration of the project to that minister's department. On the same day, they paid them $50,000. To date, $309,000 has been paid out; and you are saying to me, Minister, that you do not know what Phase I of the Newfoundland and Labrador Work Culture Project is?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, surely in your capacity as the minister, you would have some knowledge of what your department is doing specifically to this contract.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is not uncommon for departments to be cooperating. My department has responsibility in the area of employment and certainly it is not uncommon for my department to cooperate and to collaborate with other departments in delivering programs on behalf of the people of the Province. As I have indicated to the hon. member - and I do not know what he is looking for here in this - I do not have the detail that he is referencing, but I have given him the undertaking that I will provide him with the facts in short order.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

In a letter dated July 27, the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Renewal transferred his authority to your Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Employment. Are you telling me today, and the people in this House, that your deputy minister has not informed you whatsoever, of what the Newfoundland and Labrador Work Culture Project is? Are you saying that you have no knowledge of it and that your deputy minister did not inform you? Is that what you are telling the people of the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the hon. member for his question. I do say that I do not know what he is angling for, but obviously he feels he is onto something and he is trying to push it. Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member were really interested, truly interested in wanting to get the detail, and not trying to play some political games with it, I have given him the undertaking that I will try to provide him with the details that he has asked for. Beyond that -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again I will try to speak to the issue. It is a serious issue the hon. member raises and I have given him the undertaking that I will try to provide him with the detail. In the meantime, if hon. members opposite want to relegate themselves to the ravel that they get into whenever this sort of issue comes up, then they are free to do that. In the meantime, I am honestly trying to respond to the issue. I said to the hon. member already, that I will undertake to provide the detail that he has requested. I do not have it at my disposal, but I will say to him that if he is suggesting that something is afoot here, that he is onto something -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: No. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member shakes his head but I can assure you that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SMITH: - this minister takes his responsibility seriously. When I say to you that I will undertake to provide you with the details, I will indeed do that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier. Yesterday, I asked the Premier why his government is contravening in some of the legislation, namely the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, by taking $97 million out of that fund to pay down the deficit? Section 8(1) of the act clearly states what can be targeted to pay out from that fund, and nowhere does it say to pay down the deficit. However, since the Premier chose not to answer my question yesterday, but did say in an interview later that as long as he was committed to making sure that the equivalent of the money that is in the fund is going to be spent for transportation, then they fall within the mandate of the legislation.

I would ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: Can the Premier point to and quote, the section of the Trans Labrador act that provides him with the ability to do that? Can he quote that section for the people of the Province, and Labrador in particular?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The issue, again, has two components to it. One being the political component in which, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, the political commitment of this government is unquestionable. We are going to build phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway because it is the right thing to do. That is unquestionable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: So, the politics of it is clear.

Also, Mr. Speaker, as is the case with any issue because that is a fund that has its own piece of legislation, we will comply with the legislation or amend it to make the removal of the money appropriate. We will do what is within the law or this Legislature will do what it normally does, which is amend the law. We do not break the laws. We are not allowed to, and we would not even think of doing it. Mr. Speaker, this is the Legislature. This is the place where we create and amend laws on a daily basis. We will respect the current law or we will amend the law as we have done over fifty times in the last year to make sure that what we are doing is right and appropriate, but the politics of it is clear: our commitment is unquestionable and undeniable. There is no commitment from the Official Opposition, and, for the life of me, I do not understand why the New Democratic Party does not support the building of phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: - because we sure do and we are going to do it, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the Premier, maybe one reason that we do not believe it is because you are going way beyond any mandate you have in this Province to deliver on a promise for the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: I will also say to the Premier, yesterday you were also quoted, Mr. Premier, in saying that as along as you are taking money from that fund and if you promise to put it back over years in the future, there is legal opinion that suggests that this falls within the current mandate of the legislation.

I ask the Premier: Would he table those legal opinions, and could he give us a briefing now on where they came from and what they say?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to going beyond a mandate, I think what the people of the Province and the people of Labrador and the Northern Peninsula are really asking the question about is: What mandate is the Leader of the Opposition referring to when he talks about building a tunnel? Because his first issue, when he became Leader of the Opposition and went to the Northern Peninsula, was that the answer is to build a tunnel from Labrador to the Northern Peninsula. So I wonder what mandate that is.

Mr. Speaker, the issue that we are dealing with, with respect to whether or not the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund legislation needs to be amended, that is an issue that will be dealt with in the fall, during the legislative session in the fall. If the legal opinions are conclusive in suggesting that it has to be changed, because there are legal opinions on both sides right now. There are one, two, three, four lawyers on the other side, and I bet you what money I have in my pocket, I can get four different opinions if I pay the right price. So, Mr. Speaker, probably five from the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: The only difference right now, Mr. Speaker, is that the other four lawyers, by virtue of their position, not in the government, are free to practice law; this one is not. He is a minister of the Crown and is precluded from charging us at this point in time.

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

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again there are legal opinions on both sides of that particular argument. We will have them examined through the spring and summer, and if it requires an amendment to the legislation we will do that here in the fall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment has been testing for haloacetic acids in the Province's water supply for some two years. The American government have determined that haloacetic acids are more harmful to human health than THMs. The Environmental Protection Agency has set new standards for both THMs and haloacetic acids. The standards for haloacetic acids are far more rigorous than those for THMs.

I would like to ask the minister: Why, after two years of testing, has the significance of the testing results not been posted to the Province's water quality Web site, and why hasn't the minister made public announcements to inform the general public of the effects of haloacetic acids?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is true that the department has been testing for haloacetic acids for a couple of years now. The reason they are not posted on the Web site is because it is not part of the Canadian drinking water testing standard, which is required under the Canadian Drinking Water Standards.

What I find unusual with all this, Mr. Speaker, is, one minute my hon. critic wants us to follow the Canadian Drinking Water Standards, and the next minute he wants us to follow the American Standards.

Mr. Speaker, what I can say, though, is that the testing we have done in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will be very helpful to the Canadian government when they start to look at what they should do in terms of haloacetic acids. The information that we have has been given to the communities that we have tested, so it is not the kind of knowledge that we are keeping secret. The hon. member ought to know by now that this government is pretty wide open. In fact we are giving out more information than people want to hear. Anytime the hon. member would like to be briefed in my department, he would like to see those results, then the door is always open.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the information being sent to municipalities has no explanation of the possible effects of haloacetic acids, and no advice on the possible precautions that can be taken where the numbers are high. If haloacetic acids are important enough for this Province to be testing for two years, why is it they are not important enough to be posted on the Web site?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne it states here, -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: - ".... My Government will keep the public informed of the results of its testing program, consistent with its openness and accountability agenda."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is this: Will he follow the lead of the City of Ottawa and use the Environmental Protection Agency Standards as a benchmark until Canadian standards are put in place, and post those standards, as well as the testing results, to the Province's water quality Web site?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

As I said, we are doing this because we want to get a profile of what is happening in all public water supply around the Province. The reason it has not been posted on the Web site is, there is no parameter on the particular Web site that has been created for haloacetic acids because it is not in the drinking water standards.

The hon. member, only a few weeks ago, put out a press release that I absolutely refused to pay for testing out in Carbonear/ Harbour Grace where dioxin is burned. Mr. Speaker, there was no request made by the Town of Harbour Grace for us to do it, and he had the audacity to put it out saying that we refused to do it.

Mr. Speaker, one minute he wants us to follow the American standards, when it is to his convenience, and then on the other hand he wants us to follow the Canadian Drinking Water Standards.

Let me make it very clear: We are following the Canadian Drinking Water Standards. We are doing all the tests. We are notifying the communities when the results are available. I do not know what the hon. member is up to, unless he wants to fear monger.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

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

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a point of order on a couple of questions asked in the House today, and the direction in which they were going. At least two or three questions centered around legal matters. Was it legal to do something, or what legal advice the government had. For Your Honour's benefit, and for the benefit of all members of the House, I quote for hon. members Beauchesne, 408, Oral Questions, page 120. Here they are giving the parameters of what questions should be asked. 408.(1) says, "Such questions should: ...(c) not require an answer involving a legal opinion." Oral Questions in the House should not require an answer involving a legal opinion.

Mr. Speaker, I also quote -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: Maybe hon. members are not interested in the rules of the House because it would not be to their benefit to follow the rules of the House. Maybe they would not like that.

The next clause, Mr. Speaker, is 410 of Beauchesne, again where they are further defining the rules for hon. members, what they should follow, and it says in 410.(13), "Questions should not seek a legal opinion or inquire as to what legal advice a Minister has received." And, that question was asked today in that area.

Finally, 411, page 122, Beauchesne quotes, "Some further limitations seem to be generally understood.. A question may not: (1) ask a solution of a legal question, such as the interpretation of a statute." Again, questions that were asked today, Mr. Speaker, and the reason for these are rather obvious because many times there can be many sides to a question and the solution or the answer can be very complex and would only serve to waste the time of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I present these cautions for the future direction of members of the House.

Thank you.

MR. E. BYRNE: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: To the point of order, the remarks and commentary made by the Government House Leader are taken as they are intended, but he has failed to point out one important fact in terms of Question Period. Mr. Speaker, it is Beauchesne, Erskine May, and certainly standing tradition of the House, when a minister or a Premier stands, in answering a question, and refers to any document or legal opinion, then, Mr. Speaker, it is fair game for the Opposition to seek -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: - because in this case, Mr .Speaker, that is exactly what happened. The Premier opened up the debate when he referred to the legal opinions. They were not sought by the Opposition or another member. However, in referring to a legal opinion in his possession, as Premier, it is completely within our right and it is, in fact, our duty to seek that legal opinion.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, let me say to the Government House Leader and the members opposite, if they want to quote Question Period, in terms of the proper decorum, parliamentary debate in Question Period, let me refer him to the following, 408(2), "Answers to questions should be as brief as possible...", Premier, "...should deal with the matter raised, and should not provoke debate."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Secondly, Mr. Speaker. This is important.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member raising a new point of order?

MR. E. BYRNE: No, Mr. Speaker. The Government House Leader, I submit to you, has raised the issue of Question Period. I am responding to his point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has raised a specific point about Question Period, and I think the comments should remain and be focused on that point that he has raised.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: A new point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: A new point of order?

The hon. member will hear the point of order once we have heard on the first point of order from the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government House Leader quotes Beauchesne but I think he misapplies it to the circumstances that arose in Question Period here today. No one asked the Premier or the Minister of Justice for a legal opinion. The Premier was asked, by the Member for Labrador West, on what authority was he making a statement, and under what section of the act did he feel he could do what we believe, on this side of the House, he cannot do, which is take money from this fund. He did not answer that question, so I do not know what the problem is, but he was asked what authority, what section of the act was he relying on; a perfectly legitimate question.

He was also asked a second question, because he said outside the House yesterday that there were legal opinions to the effect that they could do what they are proposing to do. He was the one who raised the issue of having, in his possession, legal opinions. He was asked to table those opinions. A perfectly legitimate question, Mr. Speaker. It is not good enough for a Premier or a member of the House to say, well I have a legal opinion, and not have to produce it, when, in the past, the Premier has been quite happy to produce legal opinions that he liked, Mr. Speaker. If he produced legal opinions that he received from other Provinces, on other issues -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member now to conclude his comments.

MR. HARRIS: - he tabled them in the House, and there is no reason - and I will ask the Speaker to rule on this issue as to whether or not the questions asked in this House today were proper and legal and appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will take the point raised by the hon. Government House Leader under advisement. I will go back and review Hansard to find out the exact context of the questions asked by members and rule on it at a later date.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave for on tomorrow to present the following private member's resolution. The motion states:

WHEREAS foreign overfishing off our coast is a situation which needs immediate attention; and

WHEREAS the closure of Canadian ports to vessels from countries who do not follow proper conservation methods is an important first step in dealing with this issue;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly supports the action taken by the federal government to close ports to countries such as the Faroese Islands that are not following proper conservation measures; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House of Assembly reaffirm its position that Canada should extend custodial management over all fishing areas off our coast; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House of Assembly calls upon the Government of Canada to contact officials from France and request that St. Pierre also close their ports to countries who practice foreign overfishing outside of our 200-mile limit.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Petitions

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

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to present a petition on behalf of over 4,000 people from this Province, indeed from this country, as well as other countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark. Evidently it was posted on the Web and there were many who hit from other parts of the world.

The pray of 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 and their supporters;

WHEREAS Gary and Karen Smith of South River, have applied to adopt an orphan child from Kazakhstan; and

WHEREAS Gary and Karen Smith have been denied a letter of recommendation in obtaining the adoption;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide the necessary documentation to Gary and Karen Smith allowing them to proceed with the adoption of an orphan child from Kazakhstan.

In my time in this House, Mr. Speaker, I have presented any number of petitions asking this government to consider action on behalf of groups of individuals but this is the first time, I say, Mr. Speaker, that I have presented a petition asking this government to grant a couple, Gary and Karen Smith of South River, to write to bring a new citizen into this Province; to allow the adoption of an orphan child from a country far away from our shores.

This couple, Mr. Speaker, have done everything required of them in preparation for this international adoption; endless hours of researching their country of choice, which is Kazakhstan, endless hours of filling out the required forms, going through months and months of investigation by provincial, federal, as well as international agencies, such an Interpol. Always confident though that they were getting closer to the day they would travel abroad to complete the adoption and return to this Province as proud parents of a darling child. Everything was letter perfect. International approval from Kazakhstan was pending. Canadian Immigration granted approval. All preparations were in place except for one small detail, a letter of recommendation from the Director of Child Welfare in this Province, a formality, as far as the Smiths were concerned.

Two other couples who had adopted children from the same country had been issued letters from the director; couples who had used the same agency, who completed the same application as did the Smiths, who now have certainly brought two orphan children from Kazakhstan into this country, into our Province.

When the Smiths asked for the letter of recommendation, they were denied. All their efforts were in vain. The Director of Child Welfare would not issue the letter because it was against policy, although there was no official policy in place. Legislation evidently would have to be enacted in order to legitimize the draft policy. The minister refused to make allowances, although she did admit that she had granted another couple permission, but indicating that it had been a mistake and, of course, two wrongs do not make a right.

The injustice was further explained by the fact that the Premier had used his influence, his office, to have a letter of recommendation issued for the successful -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Smiths reside in the District of Harbour Main-Whitbourne and could not get any intervention on their behalf to further their cause. After months, indeed years of planning, Karen and Gary Smith are still waiting for this government to step up to the plate, treat them fairly, to allow them to complete a process the officials of the Department of Health and Community Services mapped out for them.

Reaction from the general public has been very supportive, and anyone familiar with the plight of this couple cannot believe that they have been treated so badly; that literally bureaucratic muddling can get in the way of a loving couple welcoming an under-privileged orphan into their home. In one week, Mr. Speaker, 3,625 people in this Province and outside the Province signed a petition, and every day more and more names have been added.

I would ask the minister and the Premier to listen to the pleas of the thousands of people who took the time to sign this petition, to the plea of this couple who have worked so hard to make this happen, to the cries of a child in Kazakhstan so much in need of a family setting with loving parents. Do the right thing, I say to the minister and to the government, eliminate the barriers in order to issue a letter of recommendation to allow the Smiths to become parents, to allow them to open up their home to a child. Do the right thing. Do the human thing. Show the true spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador so evident in our culture, our history, our very souls. Find a way, I say, Mr. Speaker, to make this couple's dream a reality.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

Yes, indeed it is another petition on roads, I say to the hon. member. I will read the prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker, and then make a few comments.

To the hon. House of Assembly in legislative session convened:

We, the undersigned residents of the District of Baie Verte, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to upgrade and pave our roads. The deplorable and unfit conditions of the roads in our area make travelling to and from school unsafe for our children, as well as jeopardize the safety of the travelling public, hurt the economic growth opportunities, and, most of all, betrays a lack of commitment to rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there are hundreds of names on this petition again today. This particular petition is referring to the La Scie highway, of which some eleven communities take access from, Mr. Speaker; eleven communities on the Baie Verte Peninsula.

Mr. Speaker, many times, the minister knows, his officials have told him about the deplorable state of some of the roads in the area, and many times it has gone unnoticed. This particular road is some thirty years old; it is thirty-year-old pavement. As I said yesterday, we have the double problem of old paved highways, as well as roads in this Province still that have not seen the first lot of pavement, Mr. Speaker. So the problem grows day by day.

The current minister knows, as well as previous ministers, that every year the problem gets worse. The problem is worse year after year. There are more roads that are coming in a more deplorable state, and year after year it gets worse. What happens, Mr. Speaker, is, every single year this Administration waits until March or April and then finds out - it has maybe another skirt across the Province to try to see which ones are kicking up the most fuss. Where are we going to go this year, Mr. Speaker?

Eighteen million dollars, $18 million to $20 million dollars is what will end up finally for provincial roads in this Province, Mr. Speaker. Here is a part of the Province which had a very active and prosperous fish plant in La Scie for years, as many as 600 people working there. They have contributed to the economy of this Province, Mr. Speaker, and they expect to be treated with some respect and dignity. They have paid their dues and they believe - and I know members opposite, especially the Member for Bay of Islands, because he has driven down over it with me. He knows the deplorable state of that highway, Mr. Speaker, and how many people go back and forth.

Mr. Speaker, I just received a call before I came down this morning - and I have been in contact with the Department of Health and hopefully will get an answer back some time today - a call from a fireman in the area, Mr. Speaker, who has a situation today where there is no ambulance service in La Scie. The reason why there is none, Mr. Speaker, is because just three weeks ago they lost their front end of the ambulance, and today it is in the garage with the read end gone on the ambulance. There is no ambulance service because it is beaten to death going up and down this road. We are hoping, Mr. Speaker, that this is another example that this government will see and do the right thing and start to really address the problems we have with roads in this Province which get more serious as time goes by.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: These people and the other eleven communities have contributed to the economy of this Province, not just through the fish plant in La Scie ,which has a long history, but also the only operating gold mine on the Island of Newfoundland. Mr. Speaker, also down that highway, with trucks going back and forth every day. Also, Mr. Speaker, with the reform in education, the long distances that children have to go -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: -up and down that road, every morning, every evening, over a long stretch of road, Mr. Speaker, that is in a lot of cases worse than gravel roads.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I present this petition today on behalf of these people, and hope that we will see some action on it in the very near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition on behalf of approximately 350 people from the Town of Catalina. The petition is brought forward here in this House today to ask the government to provide funding in order to repair a bridge in the Town of Catalina.

This particular bridge is located on what is known as the Bar Road. Anybody who has been to Catalina would know the configuration of the community, where approximately one-third of the population live on an area known as East Point. In this particular point, Mr. Speaker, there is an area known as the Bar Road which is a shortcut, if you would, to get from Catalina to East Point. This particular bridge that I am referring to is a wooden bridge. It is on a local road, and the bridge has deteriorated to the extent that the Town of Catalina has had to bar off the bridge. They have had to close the bridge. You go to Catalina today and try to drive across the Bar Road and get to East Point and you will come to a barricade of rocks on a particular bridge because the bridge has been deemed by the town engineers to be unsafe for vehicular traffic, Mr. Speaker. The people in the area of East Point would like to have that bridge restored to a condition of safety whereby traffic can use it again, where they can go from East Point to Catalina by the shortest route possible.

Mr. Speaker, the Town of Catalina certainly does not have funds from their budget to carry out such a repair to this bridge. What they are asking for is that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador make money available to the Town of Catalina in order to repair this bridge on the Bar Road. A lot of our communities, including Catalina, have seen their taxes, if you would, their tax base, decrease and, for the most part, disappear when we saw the downturn in the fishery back in 1992. The all-party committee that went to Catalina and Port Union was taken on a tour. Port Union saw first-hand the devastation that has been caused by the closure of the fishery and the closure of businesses in the area. So, Mr. Speaker, this particular town cannot afford to maintain the infrastructure as it exists today. Without special help from government, this bridge will stay barricaded by rocks and closed off.

The plea of approximately 320 or 330 people from the Town of Catalina is to ask government to provide capital expenditure, capital funding, in this year's capital works project, to allow the Town of Catalina to repair this wooden bridge so the residents there can access that bridge and use it as they have done over the period of years that bridge has been accessible.

That is the plea that has been brought forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is the plea that I make here in this House today, to ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to make money available so that the Town of Catalina might be able to repair this bridge and put it back to use again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present this petition on behalf of approximately 160 people in the area from Eddies Cove East to Sandy Cove in the Strait of Belle Isle area. I will read the petition:

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 roads on route 430 in the area of Sandy Cove and Eddies Cove East are in very poor condition and are in desperate need of upgrading and new paving; and

WHEREAS this road is twenty-five years old, and is in such a deplorable condition making it a hazard for the large volume of traffic, including residents, the many tourists, and transport trucks;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to make this road a top priority and commit to begin the upgrading and paving of this area of route 430 this season, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

As the petition says, this is route 430, approximately a 15 kilometer section; specifically in the area from Eddies Cove East to approximately Pines Cove. This area of road was upgraded twenty-five years ago. The pavement in this area is now twenty-five years old and for anybody who has ever driven this area in the past couple of years can see why the people in this area are petitioning the government today to make it a priority in the roads work budget that the minister is about to - in the next couple of months - announce.

Mr. Speaker, this road handles approximately 30,000 tourists. Approximately 30,000 tourists visit L'Anse aux Meadows every season and they all have to travel over this piece of road in order to get there. Tour buses - on the other hand, coming out of the area, on its way south there is approximately 50 million pounds of crab, shrimp and turbot that is hauled over this road. I submit that the people on the Northern Peninsula are sick enough of seeing fish being trucked out of their area, and to add insult to injury, they now have to watch their roads being worn out by this and see the government throw up their hands and say that there is nothing that can be done, and go and do upgrading in other areas of the Province that probably is not needed as badly.

We have tour buses, transport trucks that are going north on this road; school buses in this area where we have students travelling back and forth to school everyday on this road. The amount of damage that is being done to the vehicles is certainly increasing dramatically in the last number of years.

Mr. Speaker, this is an example of where the lack of planning by government, the lack of a federal-provincial agreement on roads, is causing a road to really deteriorate, and it is not like it is a secondary road. This is one of the primary -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TAYLOR: Just ten seconds to clue up, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This just exemplifies why we need a federal-provincial agreement on roads, why trunk roads, like the Viking Trail need to be maintained. If we are going to have any kind of an economy on the Northern Peninsula we have to provide the basic infrastructure for fish trucks, for tourists, for school buses, and what have you, to travel over. Without it, Mr. Speaker, I think that the economy in rural areas, like the tip of the Northern Peninsula, will continue to decline and we will continue to see the effects of out-migration in this area.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion one, Bill 2.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

Bill 2, continuation by the hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Last evening, when I adjourned debate, there were a number of other things that I wanted to also speak about in terms of the Labrador Initiative.

Mr. Chairman, if I heard correctly today in Question Period, the Leader of the Opposition said we should put that money back in the fund. If I heard that correctly, Mr. Chairman, then he is telling me that he is not interested in what we have to do in terms of infrastructure development in Labrador. That appalls me, because let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, if we put that money back in the fund and leave it in the fund all that happens in that fund is that money is drawn down over the next five years to provide marine services to Northern Labrador, and also to the Coast of Labrador.

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am elevated to the (inaudible) already. I might say, I am as good as the baker today I would say.

 

On a point of order. What the minister is saying there, Mr. Chairman, is not correct at all. In fact, that minister in this House, in 1996, said by the year 2006 this government will have a paved Trans-Labrador Highway within ten years. That was 1996, that in ten years a paved Trans-Labrador Highway.

That statement came from the minister on that day in the House, that I sat here, when he made that statement. We do not even have a dirt road yet complete and it will not even be done in the ten years that he said.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader, to the point of order.

MR. LUSH: The hon. member knows that that is not a point of order, to get up to try and clarify a statement. It is just an attempt by the hon. member, he was doing it yesterday, to cut into the time of the hon. minister who is speaking. The hon. member knows he ought not to do that.

MR. SULLIVAN: You're cutting into it too. (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Of course, I have to try to correct it. I have to try and correct it, that is what I have to do. To stop the hon. member from getting up continuously and interfering on spurious points of order.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am glad that the Member for Ferryland decided to bring that quote up from 1996 because, Mr. Chairman, let me tell you one thing, that if that crowd over there gets on this side we will never get a highway to pave. What we are trying to do now is realign the money so that we can have funding in place to build a road because members on this side understand that you have to have a road before you can pave it.

Let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, there are people in Western Labrador and some in other parts of Labrador who would rather see the road from Goose Bay to Labrador City paved before we do the other section. I am not of that mind. I am of the mind that we build the full network of highways in Labrador before we start looking at pavement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Chairman, let me also say something in conjunction with what the Member for Labrador West said yesterday about the Roads for Rail Agreement. I have to correct him, because there was $19 million from that Roads for Rail Agreement put into the Trans-Labrador Highway in the early 1990s. He said yesterday there was no change in any of those agreements. There is, Mr. Chairman, there are ways that you can change these agreements.

Let me go back again and tell these guys, and the Leader of the Opposition, that one of the things that we are trying to do is build infrastructure in the part of the Province that does not have infrastructure in place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: I heard three or four members on the other side this afternoon talking about re-paving, talking about bad roads, have to get them fixed up. Well, Mr. Chairman, I can tell you and I have been saying that since 1996, we are still trying to get roads build so that our people can have some access at all.

I agree that they need those roads fixed up too, I certainly do. I do not dispute that, that they need to be fixed, but I cannot let that stand in the way of allowing this government to put the money into the building of infrastructure in Labrador. It is not only the Trans-Labrador Highway, we also announced last Friday a whole new configuration for the main transportation along the north coast of Labrador and also along the south coast where there is no road to be built.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: It is a huge investment, because we have gone with the same boats, the same routes, for years and years and years. I understand the Member for Lewisporte having concerns because there are always concerns when you change a configuration, but the time has come that we need improved services, both marine and land links in Labrador. I think we have to try and help the people in Lewisporte.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. McLEAN: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with that, and we will do whatever we can in that regard.

Let me get back to one thing. If we go back and say put the $97 million back where it is, we will get nowhere. We will not be able to see at the end of six years anything other than the Province having to take over the marine service anyway. But the way we are doing this, we will be able to see in six years time a full highway across Labrador in which we will be able to reduce the cost of marine services because we will not need to have that service between Cartwright and Goose Bay, which is another expense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Chair, beyond that, I am sure that over the years the Northern Coast will also request the assistance of governments to build a highway up to the North Coast, because that is progress. That is the kind of thing we want to see from this side, Mr. Chair. I can read off all of the things we have done on this side of the House since 1996, when I came here. I am very proud of the record that we have, Mr. Chair.

I think one thing we have to understand is that we do not want to see progress stopped. We do not want to see the people of Labrador have to sit another six years or ten years and perhaps wait for the federal government to think about coming onside, putting a bit of money into infrastructure in Labrador. I do not think we deserve to be treated that way. We need to have the ability for the Province to at least put money into infrastructure work in Labrador, which is a part of the Province.

MR. SULLIVAN: But you didn't have to take the fund to do it.

MR. McLEAN: We did not take the fund. The Member for Ferryland - we did not take the fund. We just announced $134 million in projects, and they range from docks, shipping, roads, and infrastructure work.

Mr. Chair, what I will say is that the people of Labrador who are not in favour of doing this really need to sit down and start going through the areas and the issues that we need to deal with in order to see progress. We have the Combined Councils, and they represent every community in Labrador, come out today saying we are doing the right thing because we are providing infrastructure work for people who never had it before.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Chair, I have no regrets in what we are doing because it is a good plan. It is the right thing to do. Mr. Chair, we will always try to move forward on this side of the House. This government has been very good to Labrador, and what we said in the Budget is that this is the decade for Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. McLEAN: No, Mr. Chair, I have no regrets for the decisions we have made because they are in the best interest. You will see, in six years time, that you will be able to drive across Labrador, which is something that I have looked for, for fifty-six years: to have the ability to drive across the country in which I grew up. Mr. Chair, if somebody is going to take that away from me just because you are talking about a pile of money you do not really understand what is going on with it, then, Mr. Chair, I have a problem with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: There are also other areas, Mr. Chair. I understand people are concerned. I certainly accept the challenge to sit down with those people and get them to understand why we made these decisions. I have no problem with that. I will accept that challenge any day. We did last weekend, and I am going to do it again this week. I will travel right throughout Labrador to do that, which I have said I would take my Easter break to do. I have no problem with that, Mr. Chair, to get people to understand what is happening and the reasons why we always look forward. We do not look back. We look forward, and we always look towards the day that we can have better infrastructure, when the people on the North Coast can travel in a boat that carries vehicles, carries passengers, has night accommodations, and doesn't take fourteen days to get to their destination.

Mr. Chairman, that is the kind of progress we are looking at. We want to service the areas on the South Coast, where there is no road to be built, with a smaller, faster vessel.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will get another opportunity to get up again, and I certainly will take advantage of it.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am pleased today to stand and make a few comments on Interim Supply. Of course, as we said earlier, and many colleagues as they stood: It gives the members in this House an opportunity to cover a wide variety of topics. I am certainly going to do that, especially with roads, municipal operating grants, and infrastructure for rural Newfoundland. Those are some points I will make as we move further into this debate.

Mr. Chairman, I can't stand today, after listening to the member for Labrador, and not make at least a few comments about the particular issue that is unfolding in this Province, that has surprised and shocked a lot of people, especially the people of Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, the question that the member for Labrador, and the other members for Labrador, has is: As the people in your districts and the people in this Province listen to you today, what is so different -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not all members.

MR. SHELLEY: Not all members for Labrador; that is right. I understand that, Mr. Chairman. What a lot of people of the electorate are looking at, and the people who give us our jobs are asking is: Are you representing us and what we believe is our right to that fund, Mr. Chairman, something that was brought into law in this House? It wasn't just a flippant promise, it wasn't just something thrown out during an election campaign, it wasn't just something written in the Red Book. It was, Mr. Chairman, brought before this Legislature and put into law. The word is trust. It was put in trust. It was the insurance that this was certainly going to happen.

Mr. Chairman, in a complimentary way, I will say this: It was a plan that was brought to this Legislature, voted on unanimously because we all believed, every single member, with the utmost respect for every member in this House, right down to the Premier of the day, that that would be the end result, that Labrador would get the infrastructure, the infrastructure that they so rightfully deserve.

I know Labrador. I have lived in Labrador also, Mr. Chairman. I know how the people of Labrador feel. I lived in Labrador, I know how the people feel about Labrador, and how they contribute to the economy of this Province. I understand it very well, I say to the members for Labrador. I can tell you, that the feedback I have gotten - and I still have family in Labrador, I say to he member for Labrador, and I have spoken to them, as a matter of fact, in just the last couple of days. They still refer to the fact, Mr. Chairman: Do we trust you to put the money back into the fund, to finally complete the project? That is what it all comes down to. The member for Labrador, or any member opposite, can get up and go on all day long, hours and hours, but the people of this Province are wondering about the trust. What is different today, Mr. Chairman, than what it was in 1997 when we stood in this House and put this into law in this Province? That is what they are wondering about.

I have to, Mr. Chairman, link these comments to what the Member for Terra Nova was talking about yesterday, because this didn't happen yesterday. This is not something that just fell in our laps. This is a culmination of things over a number of years. An interesting number, Mr. Chairman, is thirteen. This is thirteen years that this government, this Administration, has been in power. This is thirteen years that they have been planning. This is thirteen years that they have laid before the people their promises and commitments, in the Red Book but also in law; and this happens to be one that was in law. This is the one, Mr. Chairman, when he stood up for Labrador and waved the flag and said: We are going to follow through. I remember it very well, the former Premier, the former former Premier, who is now the CEO of Kruger and whatever else, stood in this House wrapped in the flag from Labrador, when we all supported him, saying that, yes, we are going to finish this commitment to Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, like that former Premier, and as we stand here today, people in this Province, throughout the entire Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, are wondering about the trust that they have in this government. At the end of the day, are we really going to see the infrastructure that was committed to the people of Labrador? People are questioning that.

The Member for Terra Nova - I have gone through a few quotes he said yesterday - uses a phrase, and he can correct it if he wants to. He wouldn't use financial mess; I will give him that. He said we shouldn't use that. We have been using it, he said, and we shouldn't be using that. But, he did use, Mr. Chairman, a financial bind, a tight squeeze. I think I will agree with that.

That is what it all comes down to, after thirteen years of administration of this government, it is a bind. That is exactly what is happening today. It is a domino effect. All of a sudden today we are hitting the Labrador fund, and now they are talking about the measly $20 million on a provincial roads program in this Province. I ask the Minister of Health: Next year, is it going to be the Health Department? When is it going to hit the pension fund? When is it going to hit the Department of Education?

Mr. Chairman, sooner or later, after thirteen years of great planning of all these policies, I am wondering, at the end of the day, where is this commitment? Where are we really going to end up for the people of Labrador? Because, a lot of people have a lot of doubts about how this government has performed over the last number of years. Thirteen years. Maybe the number thirteen is that particular number of how lucky we are going to be, or unlucky, because the truth is, there has been no plan for anything in this Province.

I have talked many times, Mr. Chairman, and I was asked to sit down yesterday, on a petition. I am talking about the commitment to a roads program. Let's do the general roads program, which I know very well, because I travel the road on a daily basis, and people in La Scie today told me to stand up and say: Listen, if they are not going to commit to a pavement for this area, come down and tear up the pavement and we will go back to gravel roads! That is what a resident said down there the other day. That is how sick and tired they are of this government, year after year, waiting until April month so everybody can go over and stand in front of the minister, like I have done year after year, different ministers, and beg: Give us two kilometers. Give us five kilometers.

Imagine, $18 million. We do not need the Minister of Finance to stand up today and tell us that with $18 million and $300 million in demands, at least - I think it has gone up again this year - for provincial roads in this Province, and we are going to face it with $18 million, $20 million again. We do not need a financial genius to tell us it is not going to work. The people in this Province know it is not going to work because there is no plan to it.

What is happening again this year, the minister is over there sitting down listening to us do petitions, waiting for phone calls to come in, and he is going to decide where all the fire is. Then he is going to throw a little bit of water on the fire to keep it all down like he did last year in my district. Mr. Chairman, he did it and I tried to help do it. I feel guilty for that at times, because I am trying to settle people down. You know, talk about a gravel roads.

MR. J. BYRNE: Crisis management.

MR. SHELLEY: Crisis management, as the member said, every year the same thing. The roads program is the perfect example. It is ironic, actually. It is ironic that the roads program is now, Mr. Chairman, highlighting. The roads program is now highlighting in this Province what this Administration is all about, which is crisis management. Every year, year after year. The same thing with the infrastructure in communities. To listen to the minister stand up on her Budget the other day and, in a guilt complex, five times, if I am not mistaken - maybe five, but at least four - referred to the 63 per cent of the employment in the Province as outside St. John's.

Mr. Chairman, we were getting double takes here because we were looking around to see who she was talking about. I was wondering whether I was going to go home the weekend and everybody was going to be back to work . That is what we were sort of expecting. Sixty three per cent, 63 per cent of what, I say to the minister? Sixty-three per cent of the jobs are outside of St. John's. Listen, we have to come back to the real world in this Province, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Myself and the Member for Bonavista South, when we talked about jobs going outside of St. John's a couple of years ago, and the then Premier stood up and said, we are going to help rural Newfoundland, you know, we were excited about it. If you want to see rural Newfoundland - and the Member for Fortune-Cape la Hune, the same thing, Mr. Chairman, a rural district, he understands what I am talking about.

Just for an example, myself and the Member for Bonavista South listened to that. We figured there was going to be a lot of jobs coming to rural Newfoundland. That was the quote. I have thirty-three communities, the Member for Bonavista South forty-four. That is seventy-seven communities. You would figure, with a bit of luck in lottery, you would get at least one job. Not one. Not one single job, out of seventy-seven communities, came to our area, Mr. Chairman, not one single job.

I wonder, actually, if other members across the House, rural districts - I will ask the Member for Twillingate & Fogo, Mr. Chairman, if in his rural district, or any rural district in this Province, Mr. Chairman, because the truth is, as we look at the statistics, statistics do not lie, Mr. Chairman. The realty is this, as I look down through the census again, in my district, I look down through the numbers: -27 per cent from Little Bay Islands in population, -27 per cent from Beach Side, Mr. Chairman, -23 per cent, -18 per cent, -25 per cent from Seal Cove, once a thriving community with mining developments, forestry, fishery.

That is what made my district diverse, Mr. Chairman; we had all three. We had the forestry, we had the fishery and mining. Now we are losing population like this, after thirteen years, and that is where this is all coming home to roost, I say to the member from Labrador. This is not something that just fell in your lap the other day, because I do know it fell in your lap during caucus meetings also. This has been coming for a long time. What it is, Mr. Chairman, we are at a point in this Province where the backs are against the wall. It is a scramble, it is desperation. When desperation hits, Mr. Chairman, there is not logical thinking. We are about to embark on probably some of the biggest decisions in this Province's history within the next two to five years: Voisey's Bay, Churchill Falls, the offshore.

Probably, Mr. Chairman, I am no economist but I would say that most people believe that those three things alone, if they are done right, is our best chance, our best chance for reviving rural Newfoundland and Labrador, probably our only chance in a lot of areas, because we do know the fishery that has been the backbone for so many areas has gone through a major change in this Province. When you look at places like La Scie and Little Bay Islands in my district, and all the way around this Province, people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador as they see 68,000 people - get your heads around that now, 68,000 people - left this Province in the last decade. In the last decade. As a matter of fact, it was within the mandate of this government since they took over, Mr. Chairman. That is what has happened. Sixty-eight thousand people, just think about it.

I do not know the population exactly of Corner Brook and Mount Pearl now because they are down quite a bit.

MR. SULLIVAN: Corner Brook is just over 20,000.

MR. SHELLEY: Twenty thousand, and how many in Mount Pearl?

MR. SULLIVAN: Mount Pearl is 25,000.

MR. SHELLEY: Let's put it this way, at least we could wake up tomorrow morning and Mount Pearl and Corner Brook gone, disappeared. Sixty-eight thousand people in a decade. It just so happens to be the decade that this government has been in this Province. I will say, we all know with the situation in the fisheries which, of course, we can lend our hands to Ottawa and we have all done that, how they mismanaged the fisheries. We will give you that, that certainly was an impact. That is what government is all about. That is why you ran on a campaign and got elected - the people who had a mandate - because you knew these times were tough. That is what you take on as a government, for better or for worse.

When you take on that responsibility to govern this Province, you take on the responsibility to provide at least the basic necessities that people throughout the entire Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, not one or the other, not rural and urban, the entire Province of Newfoundland and Labrador - it is just over 500,000 people these days - and provide them with a bit of dignity. When I am talking about dignity I am talking about a decent road and decent water to drink. They are not looking for large museums or big stadiums or anything else, they are just looking for the basics. That is what people in this Province - and until they see some commitment - and every single petition that I have presented, because they present it to me, and they have always used a quote at the end of it, it was the lack of commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what has been lacking in the last decade. As a matter of fact, the last twelve or thirteen years.

So people in this Province are going to be asking a lot of questions in the next little while. That is why the members for Labrador who stand today - and there have been previous members from Labrador who did not stand with their people, and they felt the wrath at the right time. People have the ultimate say. They decide who gets their jobs in here. You are speaking (inaudible) you stand shoulder to shoulder with the people you represent, the people who gave you your job. Mr. Chairman, the people of the Province have the last say. That is what we always have to remember, everyone of us in this House, stand with the people who put you here. At the end of the day, trust is what it is going to come down to.

If the member for Labrador thinks that will carry the day - I do not know which hon. member, but there was a news clip where one of them said recently -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: - one of the members from Labrador, that it would take trust.

I will wrap it up, Mr. Chairman, and I will -

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave to clue up.

MR. SHELLEY: Just a minute to wind it up, Mr. Chairman. I will wind it up but I will come back again because I have a few more notes here that I certainly want to relate to, but I got off on a little tangent today because of what the member from Labrador was saying.

I will leave it to this, that at the end of the day the people who gave us our jobs are going to be the ones to say: Look, I trust you, we will put you back in. I guess that is what we will have to answer to.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I wanted to rise today and certainly have a few comments on Interim Supply, and especially the debate that has been ongoing within the public in the last couple of days with regard to the Trans-Labrador Highway Initiative Fund. It has certainly been raised in this House on a number of occasions.

Mr. Chairman, I have lived in Labrador all of my life and so have my family through many generations before me, and I can honestly tell you that there is no member in this House who has made any greater contribution to Labrador than what I have as a member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: I can stand here today and I can say that with my head held high because I have been a living resident of Labrador all of my entire life. Long before I walked into this House of Assembly, long before the day I came to take my seat in this place, I could hold my head high knowing I had made valuable contributions to Labrador and to its people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Chairman, in the days that I grew up in Labrador we went through some very challenging times like a lot of communities across our Province. Like a lot of rural communities we, too, faced issues of resettlement, employment and so on. Most communities on the Island through the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s were given proper infrastructure in transportation and their communities were connected, one at a time, from one bay to the next bay, to the next bay, until finally most all the areas in the Province were connected with transportation networks. Labrador has never had that privilege or that opportunity until this government, in the recent years, took office -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: - and made a commitment, not to just segregate the people in Labrador West, and not to segregate the people in the Labrador Straits, but to make an honest, genuine, commitment to start bringing these communities together. That started with the phase II of the highway from Red Bay to Cartwright.

I am a person who lived in this district before there were roads. I am a person who is living there today as the highway network is being completed, unlike other members in this House. I have seen the change, the progress, the tremendous benefits that have accrued to communities in my district because of this piece of transportation infrastructure.

It is not good enough to connect communities and do half a job. Building the road from L'Anse au Clair to Cartwright, and from Goose Bay to Labrador West is half a job. We have to complete the network, and that is building the section of road between Cartwright and Goose Bay. Only then, Mr. Chairman, will we realize the full economic benefits that this transportation investment will bring to Labradorians.

Mr. Chairman, in the last couple of days I have listened to all the debate. I have listened to the political spins that have been given this issue. I have listened to all the innuendos, the people who played to the cameras, and the people who played to the public, but I was on the ground in Labrador on Thursday evening. I was there all day Friday, all day Saturday, and I was there Sunday. I met with communities. I met with the people in my district. I did so prior to the budget coming down, I did so after the budget came down, and I can tell you that there are many people across Labrador who are applauding the commitments of this government, are applauding our efforts to have a full transportation link in Labrador from one end to the other end.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Chairman, this weekend alone - and I want to tell you this for the record - I travelled to three public engagements in my district, three public forums in which I spoke on this budget and this initiative; three public forums, Mr. Chairman, where there were standing ovations for me and this government on the contributions that we were making to Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Chairman, I can tell you that until the last seven years, six to seven years, there has been very little contribution made in infrastructure in Labrador. Through the twenty years previous, the infrastructure money that we got were in special agreements from the federal government, not in revenues from the Province. I can tell you, Mr. Chairman - and I hope that hon. members listen to this because this is an indication of the progress that has been made in Labrador.

In 1992 I sat in a (inaudible) council meeting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. It was a meeting of all the leaders from around Labrador. I walked into that meeting - and I was fairly young at the time, just getting involved in community development and municipal politics. I walked into that meeting and for two days, Mr. Chairman, the discussion in Labrador was resettlement. It was resettling the communities in Southeastern Labrador. That was the topic of the day. Which community was going to be phased out first? Which community was going to be closed first? Which school would disappear? Mr. Chairman, that day I stood in that room and said I would be no part of an agenda that was focused on resettling communities in Southeastern Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Chairman, I committed that day that I would lead a charge and I would work with the people on the Coast of Labrador to make sure that our communities were built for the future and not left to go to the wayside and to be resettled. Mr. Chairman, I asked the people in that room that day, I said you can stand up and you can be a part of changing Labrador or you can sit here and you can wallow in self-pity and let things just disappear. People stood up that day, Mr. Chairman. It took us a long time to get from where we were then to where we are today. Do you know where we are today? Today, Mr. Chairman, we have communities on the Southeast Coast of Labrador that will be there, not for the next fifty years, but for the next 150 years, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: They will be there simply because they have had a government that has invested; they have had people that have been leaders, that have had a vision, that have known the right direction in which to follow. Mr. Chairman, I can tell you that in my district today, in the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, some of the strongest, most visionary people that you will ever find exists, and they have a vision for Labrador and their vision includes Labrador being first, not only in the Province, but in the country. In order to do that, they need to ensure that they have proper infrastructure in place. This is the role that our government has to play. We cannot leave Labrador out of the picture. We cannot do that. You talk about this fund that is there. We could let this fund sit and pay for marine services or we could do what should be the responsibility of the government, and that is to fund marine services in Labrador the same as they do in every other region of this Province. That is a provincial responsibility, and that is the way that those services should be mandated and the way that they should be operated.

The people in Northern Labrador deserve to have a long-term commitment, marine services the same as the people in Fogo Island, Bell Island, the Southeast Coast of Newfoundland or wherever they may live. They are no different. They can be assured, Mr. Chairman, that they will have their marine services. They will have a first-class marine service, they will have the best service that they have had ever had in their lives, and they know that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: When the highway was announced for Cartwright to Red Bay, I am going to tell you that day, Mr. Chair, in my hometown in Mary's Harbour in 1997, with about 600 people in the room that day, most of them were crying because that is how much it meant to them. Crying because they were so happy, could not believe that finally they were going to get a road. Well, I thought that was very much one of the biggest highlights in my entire life. Two years later, Mr. Chairman, I was part of an announcement -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS JONES: Can I have a couple of minutes, Mr. Chairman, to clue up?

CHAIR: Does the hon. the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

MS JONES: Two years later, Mr. Chairman, I was part of an announcement in which this government decided to build a road into St. Lewis, connecting it to the highway. Two days ago, I had the privilege to go into a small community, probably one of the smaller communities in this Province, in Pinsent Arm, by snowmobile, with my colleagues the minister for Labrador and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, a community that has 100 per cent employment, fully serviced with water and sewer infrastructure, but, Mr. Chairman, cut off from all other services and everyone else on the Coast of Labrador. Well, that will change today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: We will build the road to connect Pinsent Arm to the Trans-Labrador Highway, and this community, too, Mr. Chairman, will be given an opportunity to continue to grow and to continue to build.

In concluding my remarks - and, believe me, I have lots more that I want to add to this subject and I will in the coming days, you can be sure - in concluding my remarks, I want to say this: In order for my district to be able to prosper, foster good economic growth and protect the communities for many years and many generations to come, we have to ensure that all the traffic in Labrador passes through our district. We cannot continue to build our communities on seasonal industries. We need to make sure that we have a year-round industry, and that will only come with a full transportation network.

Mr. Chairman, I will tell you today that in six years from now, when I am driving the Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway and watching the dollars pouring into the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, I will be the first person, you can be sure, who will be on the podium and will be telling the people, the naysayers who are out there today, the people who do not want to commit to Labrador, I will tell them, that day the real change will be taking place in Labrador; the real leaders will be emerging. We will be let out, and once we are let out you can be sure that the investments, the growth, and the economic base of this Province will be far greater than it is today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: I am going to let the hon. members across the floor know, I want to let them know, that there are people in Labrador who have waited all of their lives, not the last couple of years, all of their lives, to have a road across Labrador. They have waited long enough. They are a part of this Province. They deserve to be treated with the respect - and that is what this government is showing, respect for the people of Labrador. No one is taking $97 million and letting it go into other revenues with no return for Labrador. That is not what is happening here, Mr. Chairman. There is return for Labrador. There was $130 million in returns for Labrador only four days ago.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: As long as I am the member, Mr. Chairman, as long as I stand in my place in this House, you can be sure that the people of Labrador will always be looked out for, their interests will always be represented, and the progress that they make will be forward not backward.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to have a few comments on Bill 2, which is commonly referred to as the Interim Supply Bill.

For the people who do not know it, this bill needs to be approved and passed by March 31 to give government the authority to pay the bills, to pay salaries, and to pay other costs of government before the Budget is approved some time in April or May. Probably May.

Mr. Chairman, what the government is looking for today is $1,214,081,000 to be approved for that purpose, to pay the bills, et cetera.

Over the past couple of days, I have listened very attentively to the previous speakers. I have listened to the Government House Leader, I listened to the Minister of Mines and Energy, I listened to the Minister of Finance, and I have listened to the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair. But I have never, since I have been in this House of Assembly, heard such a self-serving speech. Mr. Chairman, I will tell you this: Obviously there is no support from the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair for the other members, her colleagues, in Labrador: the Member for Lake Melville and the Member for Torngat Mountains, when she says, and I quote: There is no other member who contributes more to Labrador than her.

Now we have the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Chairman, who has been in the Cabinet for a few years now. Obviously, the Premier will now take him out of that position and put the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair in that position. I would say that is what she is looking for, that is what she is bucking for.

Basically, forget my colleagues, Mr. Chairman. Take care of myself. That is her attitude. With that attitude, we can see why this Province is in such a financial mess, as the Member for Terra Nova, the Government House Leader, said yesterday, that this Province is in a financial mess, is in a financial bind. That is why they have to take this $97 million out of a trust that was put there a few years ago by the Government of Ottawa and the Province for the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Now, I do not know if I have this quote right, but I will try it, Shakespeare, I think, said: Me think thou dost protest too much.

We are getting that from that side of the House, Mr. Chairman. They are trying to justify, trying to rationalize, this move, Mr. Chairman, which cannot be done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I won't go there.

Mr. Chairman, when the member was up - and I remember her when she was sitting on this side of the House of Assembly, when she was sitting as an independent. I would recommend that the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair go back, dig up Hansard - a record of what is said in this House of Assembly - and read some of her speeches and see what she thought of the government at that time, just a few short years ago. People's mind obviously change pretty dramatically.

Now, Mr. Chairman, this Budget, you can say what you like - and I am not going to have enough time this afternoon to say what I have to say on this. We will get into debate after the Easter break on the Budget itself, Mr. Chairman. We will be discussing the Budget itself and we will have much more time. Now we are discussing the Interim Supply, and basically we only have ten minutes this afternoon to say a few words on this. But the Budget itself, Mr. Chairman, the government members have been up and said, and I think the Minister of Finance said, there have been no job cuts in this Budget. Yet, if you look at the Budget itself, and talk to the teachers of the Province, there is going to be basically over 200 jobs gone from the teaching profession in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the schools across this Province. There is going to be 200 teachers gone, there is going to be 100 positions gone out of health care in the next year, and 300 public servants.

The minister may say that there are no job cuts, but if you have a position and someone retires and it is not filled, then we are losing people out of the public service. That, in itself, increases the workload of individuals within the public service, within any sector that is going to lose hundreds and hundreds of jobs.

Mr. Chairman, I heard the Government House Leader saying that the Opposition only had one objective. The one objective is to grasp power in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, Mr. Chairman, we have thirteen years of Liberal Administration. We had the Minister of Finance stand in her place the other day, when she read the Budget, and said that the unemployment rate now is the lowest since 1989. Now, I thought about that, and said to myself: Isn't that a backhanded slap in the face to the very government that she is representing? Since 1989 when they first got elected, this Liberal Administration, the unemployment rate is now lower than it has been in the past thirteen years when they have been in power. If we look at it, she also said that there have been thousands of jobs created, and 63 per cent of those jobs have been created outside of the Northeast Avalon. If I do recall, I would say that some of these jobs are in the urban centers. Most of them are in the urban centers outside the Northeast Avalon, such as Grand Falls and Carbonear, and these places, where we have the call centres. Again, this Budget is doing nothing for rural Newfoundland. They may try to stretch it as much as they want, but it is doing nothing at all for rural Newfoundland.

The Government House Leader said that this Budget is not cutting jobs, which is obviously not true. The Government House Leader said that this Budget did not raise taxes. Well, Mr. Chairman, it did raise taxes. We saw cigarettes go up. I am not complaining; I never smoked in my life. I have no problem with that to a certain extent. The income tax, as the critic for Finance talked about in this House of Assembly - we had liquor; aren't they taking $10 million out of the liquor board?

MR. SULLIVAN: They could have taken it last year but they deferred it (inaudible). In other words, they are deferring (inaudible) to manipulate to get the results they want.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, they are going to be taking $10 million out of the liquor board. So where are they going to come up with this money? Either borrow it or they will have to increase liquor taxes down the road.

The Government House Leader says the Province is in a financial bind so they had to take this $97 million. Now the government is trying to say that there is only a deficit - only now - of $93 million. Last year they said it was $22 million and it worked out to be over $200 million, according to the Auditor General. This year they are saying it is $93 million. If you take that $97 million - if they left it in the fund where they should leave it - now we have a deficit of $93 million plus $97 million; $190 million. They still have to come up with this money.

The Member for Lake Melville, the Minister for Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, is trying to rationalize it by saying that this $97 million is a good thing for Labrador; to take this $97 million and put it into general revenues because they are committing to build phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. Well, Mr. Chairman, I would not bank a lot of money on that, I can guarantee you. If I was a betting man, I would not put a lot of money on that scenario, I can tell you that. Not at all, because they have the money there now. They are saying that this $97 million was never allocated for phase III, but it was allocated for the Labrador transportation system. I do not think it is a stretch to say, if they have $97 million there that they can put into phase III, that the federal government would oppose it.

The government members, the Minister of Finance and others over there, are saying that we have gone to the federal government and, hopefully, they will cost-share the phase III. Now, how realistic is that, Mr. Chairman? How logical is it, to take $97 million of the money that was given to them by the federal government for the Trans-Labrador Highway and for the transportation system in Labrador and put it in general revenues and now go back to those very same people and ask them for more money to cost share the Trans-Labrador Highway? Is it logical? Does it make sense? Not in my books it doesn't, Mr. Chairman, not at all.

I want to say a few words about the deficit. The deficit now, according to government as I just said, is $93 million. That is what they admit to, but I will say this time next year, when we get the Auditor General's Report, it will be somewhere up over $400 million. Why are we in such a financial crisis today in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador? Why? There are a number of reasons, of course. Over the past few years, and I have referred to this many times, is this: one shot fixes that this administration seems to have a habit of going after. They have, in the past, taken $50 million out of the Labrador Fund, similar to what is in place now in Labrador that they are going to raid - $50 million that was to be put away, in perpetuity, so the interest off that money could operate the south coast ferry system. They took that money and put it into general revenues to help balance the budget in previous years. Now each year the Province has to come up with millions of dollars to run the south coast ferry system which the money should have been there and is not there now.

They took money out of Term 29 when we joined Confederation. Millions and millions of dollars they took upfront, one shot deal, when the previous premier, Tobin, was there and pumped it into general revenues. Money that we were getting every year, millions of dollars from the federal government. What happens now, Mr. Chairman? That is more money that we have to come up with each year out of general revenues. No wonder we are in such a financial mess.

The HST, Mr. Chairman, they did the exact same thing with that. They took the money from the HST upfront and left us in the lurch again. In my mind, as we said in the past, this is very, very poor planning on behalf of this administration. We said in previous years that it was going to come home to roost. I said in the past, where and when are we going to get to the point where we have no more rabbits to pull out of the hat? What is coming next? Is it going to be the -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: - Public Service Pension Fund?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I will not take advantage.

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

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

Just in conclusion, I had a lot to say on this, as I said in the beginning. There is so much to say on this Budget and as was said, we only have ten minutes this afternoon. I will sit down now but I want to say this, when the Budget debate is brought before this House, after the Easter break, I will have much, much more to say, as I am sure all members on this side of the House will have.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to have a few words as well on the Interim Supply. First of all, I want to say that I can identify with what Yvonne said a few moments ago about the isolation. I talked about that here last week. This past weekend was a typical example of that. I had a function in the town of Gaultois. I went there in the morning with the intention of going to Bay d'Espoir that night, but because of high winds we had to stay in the community overnight. If there had been an emergency there, then I do not know how we would have gotten out; too much for an helicopter and too much for a boat. These people who live in isolated areas, when they have an opportunity to be connected to the outside world, it is a feeling that those of us who have never had it can never enter into. It is an awesome feeling to realize you are in a community and you cannot get out. I understand that, and I am sure that every person in Labrador who is connected to the highway can say it to themselves. What a feeling it is. There is no way to describe it unless you have been there and done that.

I want to take a couple of moments to talk about my own department here, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. I hear across the way many, many times government does nothing for rural Newfoundland. Just leave them out there stranded and, in a sense, let them fodder for themselves.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: If you didn't, some of your colleagues across the way just said it. It is in your own news release. I can say to the Member for Baie Verte, when you talk about the MOG grants, and you were saying that the smaller communities in the Province will receive less this year. That is not going to happen. We have made a commitment. If you had read the Budget Speech 2002, the things that we had talked about - said that they would remain the same, and they are not going to be lessened.

I want to say to you, when you talk about Municipal Operating Grants - I said in the House once here before that the Federation of Municipalities, the Newfoundland and Labrador Administrators Association, with us, we are working at. We recognize that within the department and also within the federation and every small municipality and large municipality out there, that a status quo cannot maintain. We have to change the Municipal Operating Grants. It has been in the works for a long, long time, so therefore we have made a commitment to do it. As I speak, we have those three groups that are working toward it and, hopefully, a resolution before it comes to (inaudible) this fall. But, it will be done in partnership.

Mr. Chairman, that is just one part of what this government has done for rural Newfoundland, and it is primarily for small municipalities. Since 1996, and that is only six years, this government has put in $35 million primarily in small rural Newfoundland communities for debt relief, and we have taken care of more than 103 of the communities. Guess what, this year, Mr. Chairman? We have fifty-three communities left that their debt has not been restructured. Some of them over across the way have come to me and seen about it. You know what this government has done? We have said that this year we will put in an additional $12 million to take care of the fifty-three communities out there that their debt has not been restructured. That is a commitment from this government. That is a commitment for small communities in rural Newfoundland. That is the second prong of it.

We also, Mr. Chairman, had representation from many of the larger municipalities, from the different cities: City of St. John's, City of Mount Pearl, Corner Brook, larger towns like Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and even from the towns of Torbay, Conception Bay South and other communities looking for multi-year capital works programs. They said to me: You know, that is the type of program that we want where we can plan. Guess what, Mr. Chairman? We delivered. In the Budget we delivered for those people, for the larger municipalities. Do you know what that does? It allows the smaller municipalities like the Westports of the world and like the Gaultois' of mine and for the Pacquets in the Member for Straits & White Bay North, for small communities in Labrador where we can do more. Do you know what? This government also - you talk about commitment to rural Newfoundland. Last year, I said to my colleagues and the previous minister, the Minister of Finance, who did some of the work when she was there herself, to the federation and the small communities said: Look, our small communities, 500 people or 1,000 people or less, we cannot expect to ever get infrastructure in our communities if we are going to go 50-50, which had happened years previous to that.

What did this government do? We changed the formula and in my critic's district, the Member for Baie Verte, there were communities last year that we, as a government, took up approximately 94 per cent of the communities contribution. This government did so, so we could help the small municipalities; not only his but the people in mine as well. That, to me, says one thing: commitment to rural Newfoundland. If we did not, then there is no way that communities in Westport or in Gaultois or in any other town could ever hope to have infrastructure within their communities. It could not happen.

You know, I sit here some days and I do not say a lot in the House. Sometimes I should probably say more. I think the House Leader said it yesterday; we get the impression that there is no patriotism here, that no blood flows through our veins, that we do not care about rural Newfoundland. I have been here for thirteen years. I won't say that I am the best MHA that has every been here. I would never say it. That would be condescending for the other people who are here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LANGDON: She didn't say that. She did not say that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: No, she did not. She said nobody has ever done any more than I did.

That is what she said, and she probably has the right to say it. Every one of us here work at that. What I can say to you is that, for the thirteen years that I have been here, I have done my part to represent the people who sent me here, especially in small rural municipalities. There are people over here who have done no less.

I think of the guy from Bonavista South. I had a delegation from Bonavista a few days ago. I talked to them and said, we will do our best for you. It is a town that is struggling. You know what? I have been there; I have done that. I was with the Federation of Municipalities for five years. I was elected as a councillor for thirteen, and there was nothing worse than ever wanting to see a minister who says, no, he does not have the time or his time table does not allow you to do it.

I have said to people in my area, over in my department, do not cancel out on one request. That is why I have had a number of occasions when the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne has come to me with the problems from Harbour Main and the other community just down the road from them, Chapels Cove and Avondale. We worked with them and we found a solution, in conjunction with the member, not in isolation of him, not telling him they are coming. We want to work with him, and I made an opportunity to do that.

That is the other part. In addition to that, we talk about the MOGs, we talk about the millions of dollars that we put into debt relief, we talk about the multi-year capital works, and there is another part - the regular capital works. You know what? This year we will see, in this Province, more than $100 million spent in municipal infrastructure in this Province, more than $100 million. The thing about it is, it shows commitment to the people in rural Newfoundland.

The thing about it is what I find more and more. I found it last year when I was at the convention. We have more, better educated people involved coming forward in the communities in rural Newfoundland than we have ever had before; and, I will tell you what, people who care. Like Yvonne said, they are not going to say, in small communities in Newfoundland, that they are going to turn off the lights to go out there. That is not what they are about. They want to work with their communities.

I must use the example of Gaultois. A few years ago the plant was closed. Do you know what? When we were in Gaultois on Saturday night and we were storm bound and could not get out, there was a longliner from up on the Northern Peninsula that came in Gaultois, loaded with redfish from out on the Grand Banks. These people today are working as we speak, over 100 of them working in the community, and they thought a few years ago that they would have no other resource only for social services. It is community people, communities that care, communities that show leadership, communities that do care. This where this particular government is coming from when it talks about municipal affairs and other things.

When we talk about education as well, quite a commitment, and for those people who are in the rural areas, the teacher in a rural school might have to plan as much as every subject for five or six grades. It is quite a commitment. We talk about, if there are fifteen or sixteen children there are three or four teachers, but look at the preparation. Look at the work they have to do. Sure, education is very important with us.

I think about when I was back in my own community, in a small community. Think of the number of people who graduated then compared to the graduates now. We have made significant strides in education, and will continue to do so, Mr. Chairman.

These are some of the things that we talk about when we talk about this Province. Someone said a quote the other day. I did not hear it myself, but it was recorded for me, that the previous Premier Peckford - or the previous, previous; I am not sure what line he was - said that we would lose half of our population after the collapse of the Northern cod. We have lost 80,000. That is 80,000 too many, but we did not lose half. Guess what? He did not stay around to help us do it, did he? He didn't have faith in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am telling you, the people who are here, who have faith in the Province, will continue to build and continue to do things. That is what it is about.

The thing about it is, across the way, I know we have played politics with it. That is the nature of the House. As someone said the other day, when you are in the House and you see two people walking down the corridor, they cannot believe that you are friends. Well, I am not going to be in this House and, at the end of the day, when I leave here, not be able to look everybody in the face and be friends with them. That is the whole purpose of it.

What I will say to you is that many, many times you say things that are not right, are political, and I guess we all say that.

MADAM CHAIR (Ms Hodder): Order, please!

MR. LANGDON: The thing about it is, when I talk about roads, I know $20 million is not enough. We would like to have $100 million or $200 million. But, do you know what? Only a few years ago I did not know what it was to drive on a paved highway. For seventeen years when the Administration was across in my way we never got that much for road work because we were in an opposition district. I challenge anybody here to say that I am not fair with the people who are in the House. That is the way it should be done. We would have had more roads if it had been properly done, and we would not have been in the situation we were.

That is what it is all about, accountability, and being able to do the right thing. Sometimes you get the idea again across the road that we are here because thirteen years - do you know what? I am just as invigorated today after thirteen years as the first day that I came.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: I look forward to coming back to this House again after the next election, like many of my colleagues do. Do you know why we will? Because, we have made a commitment to our people in our districts that we will do whatever we can to improve the lot of life for them, to work with them, not on ourselves, but work in partnership. They being one of the stakeholders, one of the shareholders. I am sure that if we do that then we can make our society and make our community a better place in which to live.

I thought about, only a couple of days ago - a couple of Sunday's ago, it was - how I was watching the news. It was in a Christian church in Pakistan, and these people were worshiping in their church, quietly, and guess what happened? Four hand grenades came in through the window. Seven of these people were killed and forty-five were injured. Do you know what? I can go any day of the week to any church here in the city or in Newfoundland, and I do not have to worry about that. It is like the expression, where we complain about having no shoes until we see somebody with no feet.

Sure, things can be improved in this Province. We recognize that. I believe that by working together and working with the people who are in the Province, in the regions where we live and where we work, we can improve the quantity of life that is here; and, by doing that, we can make it even better for us. I see a bright future for our Province, a bright, bright future. I want to be a part of it, and it is the people in my district, and it has already been said across the floor, if they decide to send me here, then that would be their choice. If they do not think that I have done my part, if they do not think that I am worthy of coming back, then they will send the message and I will accept whatever verdict they have. I am confident that if we continue to work together, I can still represent these people in this House of Assembly for years to come, and I look forward to doing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Madam Chair, in concluding. I did not hear you say the time was up. I apologize for that. I will have further to say later on, but I apologize for not hearing the Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: Before we continue with the debate, I would now like to rule on the point of order made yesterday by the hon. the Opposition House Leader concerning the use of the words: The member opposite is misleading the people of the Province, by the hon. the Minister of Finance.

We have had rulings on this terminology on a number of occasions. For example, on December 1, 1999; on November 6, 1989; and November 17, 1989. It has been ruled that it is not out of order to state that a member has misled the House, but it would be unparliamentary to allege that a member has deliberately misled the House.

I refer hon. members as well to Maingot, Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, Second Edition, pages 223 and 224: An allegation of misleading the House is not out of order or unparliamentary. However, an admission by a member that he misled the House would constitute a matter of disorder and an admission of deliberating misleading the House would constitute a breach of privilege or more promptly contempt.

The Chair therefore rules that there was no point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I have the opportunity to say a few words on Bill 2, and certainly the concerns of Bill 2 and the concerns of the Budget are front and foremost here today. I guess the major concern that has come out of the Budget and has gone on in discussions here today, is the fact that, of the money that has been taken out of the Labrador growth initiative for $97 million to help offset a blooming deficit, I guess that is the concern that we all have. I listened with interest to the Minister for Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, and I listened with interest to the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair. I listened with interest to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and I certainly accept the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in his comments in saying that he has certainly reached out and tried to help people here on this side of the House and the other side of the House, and the people of the Province. One of the better ministers on that side of the House, Madam Chair, and I have no qualms in saying that. But, we do have a concern raised where we have a situation in Labrador where we have the MP for Labrador, we have the NDP Member for Labrador West, and we have those two people on one side of this situation in relation to the $97 million and we have the other members for Labrador on the other side of the situation.

I would like to refer, if I could, Madam Chair, to some comments that have been made by the MP for Labrador, and I would certainly like to understand what the members opposite think about these comments. Madam Chair, these are the words from the MP for Labrador, "This is the biggest Labrador sellout since the days of Joey Smallwood." In another part, the MP for Labrador said, "They threw Phase III into the mix, and said it was their number one highway priority. However, there has been no formal proposal to fund Phase III under the Strategic Infrastructure fund, or any other funding arrangement. There has been no separate proposal for cost-sharing the Trans-Labrador Highway."

Now, we hear time and time again about the proposals that have gone to Ottawa. We have heard many times here in the House, Madam Chair, the concerns and the issues that are raised with the cousins in Ottawa, and we have asked here about proposals that have gone to Ottawa for a new roads agreement. There is no doubt about it, we heard the Member for Baie Verte up today. We heard the Member for Bonavista South up today. There are road concerns right throughout the Province. There are road concerns in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, Madam Chair, and we have a situation here where there is no proposal gone to the federal government for a new roads agreement. We have a situation here where we have been told there is a proposal gone. We have the MP for Labrador saying, "However, there has been no formal proposal to fund Phase III under the Strategic Infrastructure fund...There has been no separate proposal for cost-sharing the Trans-Labrador..." agreement.

The MP for Labrador goes on and says, "In February, I told the Premier in person to get a formal proposal on Phase III into the federal government. I told him to give me and my colleagues something to support, something to run with." This is the MP for Labrador, Mr. O'Brien. "I told him to give me and my colleagues something to support, something to run with. I re-iterated this in a letter to Premier Grimes and his ministers on March 11th. The delegation from Happy Valley-Goose Bay who were in Ottawa in mid-March pressed the same points on Ministers McLean and Barrett and their departments." The MP for Labrador says, "It is almost April now, and there is still no proposal."

Now we stand up here in the House and we listen that you are going to make a commitment, that you are going to make a commitment for the next six years. There is no trouble to make a commitment when you may not have to fulfil that commitment, Madam Chair.

Then the MP went on to say: "There is only one page of a PowerPoint presentation." I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: Where is the proposal for another roads agreement for this Province, a federal-provincial roads agreement? Madam Chair, a PowerPoint presentation. That is all that has been put forward to the federal government. Because of that, Madam Chair, we have a situation where we have to take $97 million out of a fund to try to help pay the bills for the next fiscal year.

The MP said: "I got a more detailed and more professional presentation from the Community of Pinsent's Arm, in support of a road to their community, than I have for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador for Phase III." Madam Chair, another interesting comment to make and the importance of contacting Ottawa for a new roads agreement is that, "Since the project began in the early 1980s..." the MP for Labrador says, "over 85 percent of the funding that has gone into the Highway has come from federal sources." These are the words of the MP, Madam Chair. As he said, there have been promises made over and over again; there have been promises made by this government.

The Member for Ferryland told us today about a promise that was made ten years ago to have the road paved in 1996. The MP for Labrador says, "If a road could be built out of provincial promises, we'd have a four-lane autoroute by now." That is what the MP for Labrador said, Madam Chair: "If a road could be built out of provincial promises, we'd have a four-lane autoroute by now." If the Province had been wishy-washy about the Trans-Labrador Highway, they would have come to the table with their feet dragging and they always leave with their wallets behind.

Madam Chair, we have a situation here where last year we had a deficit projected in the range of $30 million. We were told by the Auditor General that it was close to $350 million. We are told this year we have a deficit of $93 million, we add $97 million to that, we add funds that have been taken out of Newfoundland Hydro to that, we add $10 million extra coming out of the liquor corporation, Madam Chair, and the list goes on and on and on. The reality of it is we have a deficit that may be upwards of $400 million, 450 million and again, we have been led down the garden path.

Madam Chair, the MP for Labrador talks about the Province over and over again - and certainly if any member opposite wants a copy of this they are welcome to it. He goes on and says, "Five years ago they promised they'd provide funding for Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. They promised that planning work for Phase III would begin during construction of Phase II. They promised that they wouldn't stop until there was a paved highway across Labrador. They promised that the $340-million that the federal government paid under the Labrador Transportation Initiative would be kept apart, for marine and road transportation in Labrador. They promised to do a better job with coastal marine transport than Marine Atlantic."

The MP for Labrador says, "Forgive me for being skeptical...". Forgive him for being skeptical.

MR. REID: Sit down.

MR. MANNING: No, Madam Chair, I won't sit down. I say to the Minister of Fisheries, I won't sit down. I am saying here what - it is strange that we have the minister for Labrador in the provincial government on his feet today defending the $97 million being taken out of the Labrador Fund. We have the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair up on her feet saying that she is the best member that ever came into the House of Assembly and justifying why $97 million was taken out of the fund. At the same time, we have the MP for Labrador across this Province, across this Country, asking: why did they take the millions? Giving a number of reasons why - how they have broken the trust of the people of Labrador; how they have broken the trust of the people of the Province, and now they are going to say - in the budget they say we are going to call on the federal government to partake in a new roads agreement I will give you a situation, we are going to call on the federal government to take part in a new roads agreement.

I have two children, and if I give one of my children $5 to go up to the store to get a bottle of Coke and I say bring me home the change, I hope that the child brings back the change. If the child does not bring back any change from the $5, I am not going to issue out another $5 tomorrow, another $5 the next day, and keep on going. There has to be a level of responsibility. There has to be a commitment made. If my child says: Dad, I will bring back the change. I hope he does bring back the change.

We have an agreement, a $340 million agreement, that was signed with the provincial government that said it is going to be used for a, b and c. What do we do? We break that commitment. We are in a position here, we are going to break that commitment. The provincial government is going to break that commitment that they signed because they said they were going to spend it on a, b and c, Madam Chair, and now they are going to spend it on something else. They are going to take that $97 million, and then they are going to try and justify it to the people of Labrador by saying we are going to spend it on other things; at the same time make a commitment for seven or eight years down the road, which they know that they will not have to fulfil. They are going to deal with the situation that we have here now.

This government is going to go back and ask the federal government to partake in a roads agreement. They are going to say: Sign a deal with us. Sign a contract with us for another roads agreement. Trust us. Trust us to take that money and do with it as you say. Madam Chair, they trusted you back a few years ago when they signed a $340 million agreement. They trusted this government and now that government has not only broken the trust with their Liberal cousins in Ottawa, they are breaking the trust of the people of Labrador. The Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair tries to stand up in the House and give the impression that everybody is delighted, that everybody is jumping up and down in Labrador, that everybody is happy with this - sent around the other day a speech given by somebody in Pinsent Arm, I believe it was, in Labrador, saying how wonderful everything was. Well, I beg to differ. When you read what the MP for Labrador states in this commentary here, that everybody is not jumping up and down.

Here is what the MP said: "The Province has fumbled the ball badly on this file. They broke the trust of the federal government, but more importantly, the trust of the people of Labrador and the province."

This is a serious commentary by the MP for Labrador. They have broken the trust of the people of Labrador and the Province. Five years ago they promised that they would provide funding for Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Madam Chair, I hear the heckling from the other side of the House, the commentary on the situation. But, the bottom line here is that we have $97 million that has been taken out of a fund that was set aside for a certain purpose, that was set aside in perpetuity -

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MANNING: A few moments to clue up, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

By leave.

MR. MANNING: I felt today, when I seen this document - and we had the MP for Labrador who was so forthright in his explanations and comments on it. I felt that it was important to bring this to light here today, especially to the members from Labrador on the other side, and I understand the bind they are in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: You and your PowerPoint presentation to Ottawa is doing nothing for this Province for a roads agreement. I say you should do your homework, get a proper proposal up to Ottawa and hopefully we can get another Roads for Rail Agreement, another Trunk Roads Agreement in place or something along that line, so that we can have the concerns of the roads in this Province, the concerns of the roads in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, and the concerns of the roads in all the districts of the Province addressed. We will only do that with help from the federal government; but when you break the trust of the federal government, Madam Chair, that is where the trouble starts.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I just wanted to offer a few brief comments with respect to this debate in the committee with respect to Interim Supply. Of course, Interim Supply, the bill that we are actually debating - just so that the people of the Province who are watching will know - has nothing to do with this particular issue of Phase III of the road in Labrador. That is a road that will be built by this government as soon as the environmental assessment is complete.

The previous speaker, the Opposition member for -

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: I want to indicate, as Finance critic, that when the Minister of Finance introduced this bill they asked for $175,336,600 under the Works, Services and Transportation budget in this Province; and that is very much a part of this Interim Supply Bill and is very much for debate here in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I recognize the sensitivities of members opposite who do not want to talk about anything other than the issue they have talked about.

The fact is this, Madam Chair, this government is the first and only government to ever commit and state publicly, without any qualification whatsoever, that we will build Phase III of the highway across Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Madam Chair, the federal MP has expressed some views, this time he is dead wrong. He is entitled to his opinion, as always, and I am dead sure that he will work diligently as a partner with us to secure some federal funding, if at all possible.

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: Madam Chair, I want to correct an inaccuracy. In 1996 the Minister for Labrador stood in this House in a ministerial statement and indicated that they were committed to achieving a paved Labrador highway within ten years from 1996; that would be 2006. This is not the first government that committed to doing a Trans-Labrador Highway, but it was done by the Minister for Labrador in 1996, in a statement in this House on November 19, 1996.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, I rise to the point of order, again, to point out that the hon. gentleman knows that it is not a point of order. He knows that all he is doing is interfering with the Premier, taking away his time. We only have ten minutes. If the hon. gentleman keeps doing it he can expect others to rise too. To stand just to correct a statement is not a point of order, all it is, Madam Chair, is to waste the time of the Premier.

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

I recognize the hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Let me begin again. For the first time, there is an absolute, definitive, stated commitment - and let me put this qualification into it - in the Budget that says that we will fund the construction of Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway, Madam Chair, and there have been political discussions about this before. What we are trying to get to the bottom off here is this: The speaker who just spoke talked about the disagreement of the federal MP at this time, for Labrador. He is entitled to his opinion; we respect his opinion. We do not agree on this issue at this time. We are convinced he is dead wrong. We are also just as convinced that he will be an absolute ally of ours in approaching the Government of Canada, that he is a part off, to try to secure whatever partnering and cost-sharing is potentially available for Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway, as well as other highway initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador that have been, by the way, placed before the federal government, that he is a part of, by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, by the Minister for Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, and by others representing the provincial government. So he happens to be dead wrong, as the MP. We do not condemn him or criticize him for that. We just acknowledge that we have a disagreement, but he will partner with us - I am dead sure - to see if we can find a way to have the federal government participate in the funding.

The problem is this, and the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's just said it. He said the government has made a commitment they will not have to fulfill. That is the view of the Official Opposition. We will fulfill the commitment, Madam Chair. We intend to be here. This is the question that begs from the assertion by the member opposite; a commitment that we will not have to fulfil. The question, then, is: If, through some circumstance, because there will be an election in the next year or so, some time in 2003 - let me remind him again, some time in 2003 there will be an election - when we have an election, the people will decide whom they want to be the government. We, if we are the government, will build this road. What the people of Labrador want to know is: If they are the government, will they fulfill a political commitment given to build Phase III? Is it a priority for the group opposite? The answer so far as we can ascertain, is absolutely not.

The Member for Waterford Valley has not spoken yet, but I am sure when he gets up he will declare that he is not for Phase III because there are other priorities. The Leader of the Opposition says - here is a political ploy that he uses - he does not make any promises. He promises what they will not promise. We will not promise anything - and we will see how true that is when a Blue Book comes out in an election - that has a price tag on it. So it is going to be a pretty dull and uninteresting election, I would expect, when you have a Blue Book that does not promise anything that has a price tag on it, because we will live to a commitment.

What the people are going to ask the group opposite, Madam Chair, is whether or not they will live up to a commitment, and what kind of a priority they give to Phase III of the road, because we will fulfill it. I know the Member for Labrador West, our NDP friend from Labrador West, supports Phase III. I think everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador - I am not being unkind here, or mean-spirited - understands that he, unless he changes parties, will not be part of the government next time around. That is not going to happen. I think we are just being realistic about that. The NDP will not form the government after the next election; will not form the government after the next election! So the question is: Will the Official Opposition, if they should happen to form the government, commit to Phase III? We have and we will deliver.

So, when the member says, the problem is they have made a commitment that they will not have to fulfill, the question is: Will you stand up again in this debate and say whether or not you will commit to Phase III, if you are elected part of the government? Because these members will stand up and say: All of us will commit to Phase III, and all of us will make it happen, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Every single member on this side will make it happen.

We have already established a reputation for being a government that says what they are going to do and then does it. We have done it in the last year with respect to fuel price regulations, we have done it with respect to the Citizens' Representative, the Ombudsman, we have done it with respect to Freedom of Information review, we have done it with respect to the Child and Youth Advocate, and we have done it with respect to tuition reductions. When we have said we are going to do things, our record is that we do it. We are going to build Phase III, and I would like for the members opposite to stand up and talk about whether or not they will build Phase III if they should ever become the government.

That is the real issue for the people of Labrador, Madam Chair: whether or not the government of the future is going to honor the commitment to build Phase III. We certainly will, and I invite any of the members opposite, as the debate continues, to never mind suggesting things they wouldn't do. They are saying they wouldn't take the money out of the fund. The question is: What would you do? If you wouldn't take the money out of the fund, that means, the first thing is, there would be a $97 million bigger deficit. So, would members want to stand and say whether or not they would support a $190 million deficit, if they were the government? I would like to hear the answer to that question, and I am sure the people of the Province would like to hear the answer.

They have mentioned things they have already asked for more money for, while saying we are spending money we don't have. On eight occasions so far there have been requests for even more funding. Maybe I should refer to just a few of them again, so people are reminded of the tone and tenor of the discussion and the debate.

Roadwork: The money spent on roadwork is laughable, said the Member for Baie Verte. I guess that means we should be spending more. So, a $93 million deficit is not enough. On the one hand we are spending - laughable is the phrase that is used, expressed in the media. We have the Member for Lewisporte saying: We need a development fund to help the Town of Lewisporte cope with the fact that the ferry services for the North Coast are going to move to Cartwright. We have the Leader of the Opposition saying: ....very disappointed that Humber West did not benefit in the Budget, because there is funding desperately needed in the area of job creation and health care, and it is not provided; asking for more money. The Member for Trinity North saying: There is no money in the Budget to deal with the long-term debt of health boards. There should be more money in the Budget for that purpose. So, now the deficit is well over $100 million, and climbing.

We have reference by the Finance critic from Ferryland on an Open Line program, very critical of the government's decision to lay off 208 teachers.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: The teachers, I assume, should have been left in; 208 teachers is $11 million.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: Just to conclude, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. the Premier have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: By leave.

PREMIER GRIMES: Yesterday, the Member for St. John's West asking for more funding for mental health services, and today the Member for St. John's South asking for additional and extra water testing of elements and components that are not even in the Canadian Drinking Water Standards.

Madam Chair, just to point out, that is the nature of the debate. The people would really like to know: Do they support phase III? What would they do? Would they run a bigger deficit? If they are against the deficit, what are they going to do about all these requests for extra funding? I look forward to further participation in the debate by members opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I, too, would like to have a few words on this debate on Interim Supply. In particular, I would like to have a few comments on the proposal by government to raid the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund.

I think that the press release by the Member of Parliament for Labrador, Mr. Lawrence O'Brien, says it all when he says, Highway Robbery. "...Lawrence O'Brien today condemned the provincial government for raiding the Labrador Transportation Fund in order to reduce the provincial deficit." The MP says, "One more time, the province is looking to a Labrador resource to bail itself out." The MP goes on to say, "This is the biggest Labrador sellout since the days of Joey Smallwood. ...The Labrador Transportation Initiative. Five years ago we got $340-million for ferry and highway transport in Labrador, and a promise that it would be used wisely." What do we see today? He goes on to say, "I can only imagine the outrage if the federal government had done the same thing to the province that the provincial government has just done to Labrador. And now there's going to be a Royal Commission into the place of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada? The commissioners and the provincial government ought to take a long hard look in the mirror first."

I will read on, Madam Chair, because it is unbelievable that he has to come to this point to say these things about his provincial counterparts, the people he has to work with to try and get federal-provincial agreements on transportation for Labrador.

PREMIER GRIMES: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

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

PREMIER GRIMES: Madam Chair, I might ask why the hon. member would want to quote the federal MP who we are having a difference of opinion with, instead of quoting himself who said, on March 4 in The Gulf News: It is time for the federal-provincial governments to investigate the economic benefits of a tunnel and how it can be accomplished. It would be huge for the whole Province. It is our priority.

Why doesn't he talk about that, which is something that he knows about and supports, and explain to the people of the Province how it would be funded, rather than talk about the federal MP, who is quite capable of making his own comments to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Just to quickly point out that the Government House Leader - and here is the hypocrisy of this - the Government House Leader stood in his place not seven minutes ago and chastised the Member for Ferryland because he was on a point of order, interrupting with his Premier.

MR. SULLIVAN: Correcting something that was wrong.

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly, correcting an inaccurate statement. Now, the very time the Member for The Straits & White Bay North gets up, where is the Government House Leader? My advice, Madam Chair, is that the government should be practicing what they are preaching.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for The Straits& White Bay North.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Of course, we knew there was no point of order and expected you to rule as such.

Madam Chair, I stand by my comments of a number of weeks ago, or months ago, about the merit of evaluating a tunnel across the Strait of Belle Isle. I never said it had to be done at the exclusion of a Trans-Labrador Highway.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: I think, Madam Chair, unlike the narrow-minded, short-sighted visions of the people across the way, I happen to think, Madam Chair, that a tunnel across the Strait of Belle Isle - and there are many people in Labrador and on the Quebec Lower North Shore and on the Northern Peninsula and on the West Coast, the Southwest Coast and all over Newfoundland and Labrador who think that a tunnel across the Strait of Belle Isle would actual enhance and contribute to the viability of a road through all of Labrador and on the Quebec North Shore, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Of course, Madam Chair, we would not expect that kind of vision from people across the way.

Madam Chair, I will go on and read some more. "This winter, Minister Barrett made a PowerPoint presentation to Minister Collenette, looking for nearly a billion dollars in highways funding for the entire Province. ...In February, I told the Premier in person to get a formal proposal on Phase III into the federal government." The Member for Labrador goes on to say. "It is almost April now and there is still no proposal."

"Without a formal, concrete, cost-benefit, business case for Phase III, there can't be an agreement. I can't take a PowerPoint show to caucus. Our federal Ministers can't take that to cabinet. There had to be something formal and professional, not amateurish." Not amateurish, Madam Chair, is what the Member for Labrador said. He says that the presentation by the provincial government to the federal government looking for funding for roads in all of this Province was amateurish. That is what he implies there.

"And then later that same week, Minister Barrett told the media he'd take any cost sharing formula for Phase III: 50/50, 40/60, 30/70, even 10/90." He goes on to say - and this is the telling tale, Madam Chair - "With last week's budget, the province negotiated itself right down to 0/100, without ever starting formal talks with the federal government."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: That is one of seven members that we have in the federal government. That is one of four Liberal members - or three now, I guess - that we have in the federal government. This is the Member for Labrador. This is the member that the Labrador provincial members have to work with on transportation initiatives in Labrador, calling this government amateurish, calling -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TAYLOR: Just going on - I won't use it. Anyway, we all know what he says.

Madam Chair, I will just talk about promises because this is about promises. It is about a commitment in exchange for raiding the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. In exchange for taking $97 million immediately from Labrador in order to balance - not balance, not even come close to balancing - the Province's books, they promise $103 million over six years to do Phase III of the highway.

Let's talk about a promise that was made last year, if I could. Let's talk a little bit about some promises that I am very familiar with, a promise that the people of Conche are very familiar with, a promise that was made last winter upstairs in the school in Conche when the provincial by-election was on the go in the area, where there were a couple of ministers there who promised the people of Conche that within two years they would have their road done. I can tell you, Madam Chair, I have not seen too many drills down there, I have not seen too much rock blasted, and I have not seen too many tractors on that road yet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Chair, if I were a person living in Labrador now - and I am familiar with Labrador. I still have family living in Labrador, and I came from Labrador, grew up some of my younger years there. The people of Labrador, as Mr. O'Brien goes on to say here, "Forgive me for being sceptical about the new marine service that is supposed to be put in place for the North Coast, or improvements to marine and air transportation on the South Coast, or Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway." Mr. O'Brien, the MP for Labrador, goes on to say, "If I was a business owner on the North Coast, or a tour operator in the Straits, or a construction company looking to bid on Phase III, I wouldn't bank on any of these promises until the day the ribbons are cut."

The proof of the pudding, Madam Chair, is in the eating. The proof of the pudding and promises from over on that side of the House is in what we have seen and we have lived through. I saw many of the promises last winter and the people of The Straits & White Bay North saw many of the promises last winter for a three- and four-week period there. We have not seen too many of them materialize yet. The government that was in power at the time is the government that is in power today. The member might have changed, but the promises were made and the promises have not been kept. That is the fact of the matter.

In closing, I will make some brief comments on - I do not know what it is, but when the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair stands up and talks about the district, some of the success stories in that district, and how that area has turned around over the years, I find it so offensive when the member takes so much credit for what is after happening in that area.

Madam Chair, I said it last fall, I said it last spring, and I take no credit for what is after happening in Southern Labrador, but I will give credit where credit is due. The Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company Limited deserves the majority of the credit; their management, their board of directors, and the vision that got them a couple of shrimp licences back in 1978-1979.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: That is who deserves the credit for the turnaround on the South Labrador and the Southeast Labrador Coast. Those are the people who built the plant in L'Anse-au-Loup, the plant in Mary's Harbour, the plant in Charlottetown, the plant in Cartwright. Those are the people who contribute to 100 per cent in employment in Pinsent Arm. Those are the people who finance the boats in that area. Those are the people who put probably fifty or sixty people on the offshore shrimp trawlers. Those are the people who are involved with the Northern Osprey and the Northern Eagle. Those are the people who deserve the credit for what is happening in Southern Labrador.

I will say this, Madam Chair, that before the current Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, when the district was called Eagle River, I could tell you when the road was done from the Quebec-Labrador border to Red Bay. There was not a Liberal Government in power. There was a Liberal member there but it was not a Liberal Government in power; there was a PC Government in power when that road was upgraded and the majority of it paved, Madam Chair. That is what happened, just like on the Northern Peninsula.

The Northern Peninsula highway, from Deer Lake to St. Anthony, was done when there was a PC Government in place. That is what happened there, Madam Chair. Just about every bit of pavement that is on the Northern Peninsula was the result either of direct investment by a PC Government or in the case of the cross-country road from Plum Point to Roddickton-Englee area, and the road around Hare Bay, was done through the funding from the Trunk Roads Agreement negotiated by Premier Peckford and John Crosbie at the time. That is where the roads were done on the Northern Peninsula, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: The work that was done on the Northern Peninsula was done through federal-provincial funding agreements that were negotiated when we had a government and we had a transportation minister who could negotiate with the federal government and get results, not like we have today. Today we do not have a provincial government that is negotiating effectively with the federal government and we do not have a transportation minister who even has a proposal in to the federal government, or at least according to the member from Labrador, there is no proposal in.

We heard about this last spring. Last spring, when the Member for Baie Verte was a transportation critic, he brought up about the need consistently. Everyday the members opposite got up and criticized and chastised him for bringing forth petitions looking for road work in this Province. When he gets up, every time he talks about how we need a federal-provincial agreement on roads in this Province and how our transportation infrastructure is deteriorating daily as a result of the lack of one. And what do we find out today? That again, a year - I have only been here a year but I have heard it numerous times. I have called for it myself, just an hour or so ago when I presented a petition here, that we need a federal-provincial agreement; and lo and behold out comes the press release. "Highway Robbery" it is called, from the member for Labrador; and lo and behold we still do not have a formal proposal to the federal government for a transportation initiative in this Province for a federal-provincial funded highways program.

CHAIR: (Mercer): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

MR. TAYLOR: That is fine, Mr. Chairman. I am going to wrap up right now, and thank you very much. I am sure I will have more comments at a later date.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a few moments to outline some of the information that was included in the proposal. I wish the Member for Waterford Valley would - he has not spoken in this House since the House opened but every time somebody gets up to speak he is continuously interrupting. I would like to be heard in silence because this is a very, very important issue for the people of Labrador and the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to go on the record and say that on February 5 of this year the hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs and myself, travelled to Ottawa and submitted a proposal to the Minister of Transportation for Canada, David Collenette. As a matter of fact, I will quote from the proposal. This is the proposal that was submitted to Collenette. It was not a PowerPoint presentation. It was a bound copy of a proposal that was submitted by the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: This is the proposal!

AN HON. MEMBER: One page?

MR. BARRETT: No, it is not a one-pager.

For our viewers on television this afternoon, I want to indicate to the people of Labrador and the people of the Province of Newfoundland, that the Official Opposition thinks that a proposal from this government to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway is a joke.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BARRETT: Well, I was in Labrador this weekend, and I can tell you that the people in Pinsent Arm, Port Hope Simpson, Charlottetown and Mary's Harbour do not consider it to be a joke. As a matter of fact, we had record turnouts in the communities of Pinsent Arm, Charlottetown, Port Hope Simpson and Mary's Harbour, and these people are delighted with the government and delighted with their representation that they have in Labrador.

I did a presentation in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the Mayor of Wabush and the Mayor of Labrador City were there. When I announced that we were going to do some work on the road between Ashuanpi and Esker and the initiatives that we are going to do in Labrador, the Mayor of Wabush and the Mayor of Labrador City said this government is on the right track.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: The Mayor of Wabush and the Mayor of Labrador City heartily endorsed this proposal that I took to Ottawa which (inaudible) the Trans-Labrador Highway as the number one priority.

MR. COLLINS: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think the minister is misleading, and I will not say deliberately, but he is misleading the people of the Province and the people of Labrador because both of these mayors have concerns about what is happening to this fund. I have been speaking with them, I say to the minister. Both of them have concerns about what is happening to these funds, and for the minister to give the impression that they are overjoyed about this, is wrong.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. BARRETT: Well, I dealt extensively with Mr. Farrell, the Mayor of Wabush, and I dealt extensively with the Mayor of Labrador City, Mr. Letto, and in the conversations that I had with these two gentlemen in Goose Bay on Friday, they were very happy and very enthused that this government has committed to complete Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: As a matter of fact, that is what they indicated to me in Goose Bay, and I think the hon. members were present at the same time, that these two gentlemen were very enthused because, do you know something? These two gentlemen have the concerns for Labrador at heart. Their two leaders in Labrador who have concerns for Labrador at heart, they see the great benefit of this Trans-Labrador Highway.

Lawrence O'Brien, the MP for Labrador, he was not at the meeting that we had with Collenette. It is wasn't a PowerPoint presentation. I laid a proposal in front of the minister of -

MR. SULLIVAN: Seriously, could we have a copy of those?

MR. BARRETT: I could table this document.

The number one objective was to initiate ministerial discussion between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada on cost-shared future highway funding for, number one, the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. Number two, the provincial real (inaudible) of the program on the Island.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: Oh, you are a lawyer. I suppose you know everything, do you?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: Yes, we create the impression, sometimes, that those people who grew up in rural Newfoundland really do not know what they are talking about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BARRETT: The other request to Collenette was this: That the Province request that the Minister of Transport commit to a process for negotiating a long-term cost-shared agreement. Two, the Province is requesting that the Minister of Transport disseminate timely information on potential to access the new $2 billion infrastructure fund and encourages the federal government to provide the flexibility within that fund to fund the Trans-Labrador Highway and other highway initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador. If that is not a proposal, I do not know what you would call a proposal!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: The Province will continue to provide opportunity to meet the need for constructive federal-provincial partnerships to address the highway needs in Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: I never said I would table it. I never said -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BARRETT: In addition to that, the hon -

MR. HARRIS: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR (Hodder): On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

The minister, when he spoke, said he had a proposal and he was going to table it. When he was questioned as to whether it was a proposal or not he tried to make some jokes, but now he is not prepared to table it so that we can determine whether it is a proposal or a request for a meeting. It sounded to me like a request for a meeting. If it is only a request for a meeting I can understand why the minister does not want to table it. If he claims it is a proposal, well put the proposal on the Table and lets have a look at it.

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. BARRETT: In addition to that, as a follow-up to the meeting, there was a letter written to Minister Collenette which outlined every priority for roadwork in Newfoundland and Labrador.

To give you an example, we listed for the regional trunk roads: Pitts Memorial Drive, the Torbay bypass - the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis is very, very interested in the Torbay bypass - the Burin Peninsula Highway which was part of the regional trunk road that wasn't completed, Fortune Highway, the Bay d'Espoir Highway, the Bonavista Highway. All this was part of the proposal for Ottawa.

The Member for Baie Verte would be interested to know that we also have the LaScie Highway here as part of the proposal for Collenette, and major rehabilitation on the Trans-Canada Highway. This was all part of the proposal. It wasn't a powerpoint presentation, it was a request, it was a negotiating document with Collenette to continue the dialogue and to ask the federal government to cost-share the Trans-Labrador Highway; and, of course, this government decided we would do it on our own. We are calling on the federal government to come onside. I mean, if they come across and say that they will cost-share, I would call on Lawrence O'Brien to make representations upon that. The proposal is there in front of Collenette. All he needs to do is follow it through the system.

So, there is a proposal before Ottawa.

MR. MANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary s - I went to Ottawa looking for $100 million to do the Trans-Labrador Highway, and while I was there I also talked to Paul Martin to see if he could come up with $100 million for the research for Placentia & St. Mary's so we could start negotiations with Inco. The people in Argentia are really concerned about jobs in that area. I know that your leader is against that. So, it is about time that you stood up and spoke for the people of your district.

MR. MANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: You are completely against it, right?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to get up and have a few words on the Interim Supply Bill, or Bill 2, Madam Chair.

I would just like to say to hon. members across the way that we understand what the budgeting process is about. We understand how we should take the taxpayers' dollars of this Province and spend them in a wise and responsible way. It is a financial pie that must be cut in different portions to be spent in the most responsible way possible. We understand that. We understand that when we go looking for money from the federal government to do projects and infrastructure agreements and things like that, Madam Chair, then we have to be responsible enough to make a commitment for the long-term, make a commitment for the long haul where we would make an investment.

Madam Chair, all investments are spending, but not all spending is an investment. We have to look at the way we make our investments, the way we do our spending, so that when we commit money, whether it be for projects in Labrador or on the Island portion, it has to be done in a way where people can trust a government, trust our elected people, to make that commitment for the long-term, in a way that was promised in the beginning, so that they can come to us as elected people and say: We trust you, in the future, for making proposals and keeping to your commitment. The Premier knows that we are only doing what people expect us to do, as elected officials. They expect us to hold government accountable for the promises that they make and for the long- term.

Madam Chair, the problems that we are seeing today did not start yesterday. Problems that we see now are a result of things that have been happening over the last thirteen years. Madam Chair, thirteen years of spending and cutting the financial pie and dishing it out in ways that are not responsible and not accountable leads to a situation that we have today, where we have to find money in the system, to take away money from projects that has been committed, and to pay the bills on what the government has been doing for thirteen years. The bills are due and now we have to pay those bills, so some projects are going to have to be cut, and things are going to have to be left undone. It is our responsibility to prove to the people that this government is going to be held accountable and we are going to do that.

We have a leader, a dynamic leader, who understands the situation in Labrador, and our leader knows that the people of Labrador deserve, and are entitled to and should have, all the benefits that it is possible to give to the people of Labrador that we enjoy on the Island. We are not against doing anything in Labrador that makes life better for the people of Labrador. If it means roads or hospital care or education or anything else that the people of Labrador should have, then we are for it.

We may have a different way of doing it and we may have ideas, that our leader portrays, on what we should be doing to give these necessary things and equal things to the people of Labrador. I know our leader is compassionate to the needs and the people of Labrador. We are too, Madam Chair. We know that the people of Labrador contribute $88,000 per capita to the Gross Domestic Product of this country, compared to a $2,700 contribution to GDP in this country. That alone tells us the commitment and the quality and the intense contribution that Labrador is making to our country. We understand that, and we are not going to stop until we see that, if this government does not do the right thing for Labrador, then we surely will, when the time comes.

I congratulate our caucus for recognizing that, our leader for recognizing that the right things have to be done. Whether it is a tunnel for Labrador or a highway or health care, then we are certainly going to be fighting there to do the things that are necessary.

Madam Chair, when I mention government spending money in a responsible way, we can look around and look at the investments and the spending. I see, in this Province today we are not investing in the future, in the long-term plan, for every department in this government. I have seen in wildlife alone, in the past year, where the investment that we need to continue a growing, vibrant, very important industry in this Province with wildlife management and big game hunting, is not being done. It is not in the Budget, I say to the Premier, to do the things that should have been done this year, when we should have been doing scientific research and we should have been doing classification of different aspects of big game, particularly the moose. I say to the Premier, moose jawbone classifications have not been done this year. There are six boxes sitting in Gander at the wildlife office with hundreds of jawbones that have not been counted and classified. The research has not been done. The allocation this year has been based on pure prediction, not on scientific research. If we are going to keep the investment in our future for any resources, what is in the Budget is not going to do what needed to be done this year.

The Premier said himself, when he spoke the other day, and I will quote what this Premier said the other day - I am not saying we must make investments in the future that are going to bring back big dividends, that are going to protect. In the last thirteen years this government has not been responsible, to take the money that this government has taken in from the taxpayers of this Province and invest it back into our resources, invest it back into places where we could get dividends, where we could make money over the last thirteen years, instead of out spending money that is not going to bring back dividends to this Province.

I would just like to quote to the Premier something that he said the other day when he spoke on the Throne Speech, "What we are looking at now is making sure - because we have some disturbing information that we are sharing with the public with respect to our natural resources; ...." Particularly wildlife, he was indicating.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I apologize to my colleague for making the interruption, but this is important.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, while standing in his place, referred -

AN HON. MEMBER: Foolishness.

MR. E. BYRNE: Is it not foolishness, I say to the minister. What we are about to do is get a report that the Premier does not want released, because the looks at the minister, by the Premier, when he said he would give it to us would almost cut him up. The fact of the matter is this: The minister said he would table the report and then said, no, he did not say it. However, the record of Hansard will clearly show that the minister read from that report. He sited references from that report and the title of that report. On page 151, Beauchesne,495(1), under Documents Cited, it says clearly: "A Minister is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other state paper not before the House without being prepared to lay it on the Table."

Now, those are the rules of the House. Madam Chair, what I am asking for is that a ruling be made on this right now, and we are prepared to give leave to the Chair to assess it. The document that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation referred to and read from must be laid on the Table, because he read from it, according to the rules, for all of us to see.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I had the same point of order but I chose not to interrupt the speaker; I was going to wait until he was finished. The point of order, I think, is very well set out on page 151 of Beauchesne and it goes further in reference to what is cited. It says, under 495.(5) "To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate. The admission that a document exists or the reading of the salutation or address of a letter does not constitute citing."

Very clearly, Madam Chair, the minister referred to two documents. Number one was the document that he was calling a proposal. The first document was the document that he was calling a proposal that was made to the Government of Canada, and he referred specifically and he read several paragraphs from that document - at least three paragraphs from that document. It was designed to influence debate, Madam Chair, because there was allegation from this side of the House based on the comments of the MP for Labrador who was quoted as saying that there was no proposal made; all there was, was a one-page powerpoint document. The minister, in trying to refute that, quoted from a document that he called a proposal. That is clearly within rule 495.

The second document that he read from was a document that he called a letter. He said there was a follow-up letter, I believe - I do not know if he mentioned the date - a follow-up letter, and he quoted specifically from that letter at least a sentence or two, Madam Chair. He was waving the letter around. He had the letter in his hand and he had the other document in his hand, which he called a proposal.

Madam Chair, the rule is very clear. There are some exceptions. I am sure we will hear from the Government House Leader, trying to suggest somehow or other that there is an exception to that, and the exception says, under 495.(2) "It has been admitted that a document which has been cited ought to be laid upon the Table of the House, if it can be done without injury to the public interest. The same rule, however, cannot be held to apply to private letters or memoranda."

I want to argue this, because I am sure the Government House Leader is going to say that. The public interest in this case, presumably, is the disclosure of what this proposal is. If the minister is allowed to come into this House to try to answer an allegation that he has no proposal, by saying: Oh, yes, I have a proposal - and start reading from it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said he would table it.

MR. HARRIS: He also said he would table it. Hansard, in fact, requires him to table it. Not the whole file. It specifically said, not the whole file, but there is a requirement. It is not simply an opportunity to table if he wishes. It is a requirement that, if he reads from it, he has to table it unless there is some injury to the public interest.

Madam Chair, I do not know what injury to the public interest the Government House Leader is going to allege. In fact, the willingness of the minister to table the document, which he said he would do, should indicate clearly that the public interest is in tabling the document and not otherwise.

I would ask you, Madam Chair, to rule that the minister is obliged by the rules of this House to table the two documents that he referred to: one being what he called a proposal to the Government of Canada, and the second one being a letter that he quoted from as a follow-up letter from which he quoted sentences, and these should be tabled on the Table of this House.

Thank you.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I don't know what significance this has to debating Supply, that we have come to a standstill for the matter of tabling a document.

I am as familiar with the rules as anybody around here, Madam Chair. I was not, at the moment, paying attention to what the minister was saying, so I am not sure that the minister cited the documents or read directly from them. The minister is not here, so I do not have the document to table. That is problematic. The minister is not here. I would suggest that if the document is such as to be harmful or injurious to the public interest, then, of course, it cannot be tabled. Only the minister can decide that. I cannot decide that. The Chair will take that into consideration as to whether or not tabling this particular document would be harmful to the public in terms of negotiating with the federal government.

The other point that needs to be made, Madam Chair, is that a document referred to does not need to be tabled. Someone can refer to a document without tabling it. I do not know whether the minister was referring to the document, but I have to leave that to the discretion of the Chair, which I do.

MADAM CHAIR: At this point, we will recess for a couple of minutes to listen to the tape to see exactly what was spoken. We will report back to the House in, say, five minutes.

Recess

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

We have listened to the tapes and it sounds as if the member is reading from a document. Therefore, the rules of this House, according to Beauchesne, if a member reads from a document, it has to be tabled.

I rule that the document be tabled.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Works, Service and Transportation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: Madam Chair, it is with great pleasure that I will table the document.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: This particular document was a request for funding, a presentation to the hon. Minister of Transport for Canada. As a matter of fact, the night before I had the meeting with Collenette, this presentation and the proposal was given to the MP for Labrador, our regional minister in Ottawa, and the hon. Bill Matthews, and these MPs at the time concurred with the proposal at that particular time. It is a request for a new cost-shared highways agreement between the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada, February 2002, when it was submitted.

In addition to that, I, with pleasure, table a follow-up list that I sent along to the MPs, which indicated the Regional Trunk Roads on the Trans-Canada Highway, the projects that needed to be done, and that they should lobby John Manley under the infrastructure program. With great pleasure, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on now. The member also referenced, during his discussions, a letter - and I believe he held it up - to the minister, if I am not mistaken. Isn't that right? Obligated by the same rule, if that is the case, and I believe it to be the case, he is obligated to table that as well.

MR. HARRIS: To that point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Madam Chair, the minister, when he spoke, and I think this will be reflected in Hansard, said that he called - he has now tabled the proposal. Then he said there was a follow- up letter to the minister and he read a paragraph or two from that. I do not know what he is tabling now, except that he talks about a list he sent to MPs. He referred to a follow-up letter to Minister Collenette and then he read a paragraph, or a sentence or two from that, and I would have expected that is what he would have tabled. It is not a personal correspondence. It is a correspondence from him, presumably, as minister, to the federal Minister of Transport.

I believe that is exactly what he said, and the transcript of Hansard will indicate that it was a follow-up letter to the Minister of Transport, Collenette. That is what he read from and that is what we expect to be tabled.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) order, Madam Chair.

Again, it is a decision that the Chair will have to make as to whether or not the minister read from a letter. The Opposition House Leader, when he spoke, didn't talk about reading a letter. He said that the minister referenced a letter, and there is no requirement to table anything when it is referenced.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not what he said; it is what he did.

MR. LUSH: I listened to the hon. Leader of the Opposition make his point and I would appreciate it if hon. members would listen to me.

When a document and a letter is included as a document, is referenced and not read from, it does not have to be tabled. The hon. the minister has tabled the documents from which he quoted. We were prepared to table them long before this, and he has tabled the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) letter.

MR. LUSH: Yes, we did. We were willing to table them long before this but the hon. the minister has tabled what he has been required to table; has tabled willingly and gladly but, Madam Chair, as for a letter, whether he waved a letter, the hon. minister is the person who would be happy to address that. I can only say what the Chair has ruled, and the documents have been tabled. But, again, a letter waved and referenced, if the minister did that, it is not required to be tabled, I submit.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Madam Chair, on a point of order.

We are prepared for the House to recess again for you to review Hansard, but it is clear that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in debate, referenced and read from, as my colleague from Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi indicated, and that the same rule would apply, that he cannot read from a document. It is quite clear. A minister is not at liberty to read or quote from a dispatch or other state paper not before the House without being prepared to lay it on the Table. We submit to you, Madam Chair, that the minister is also obligated to table for the House the letter that he has referred to, to Minister Collenette.

MADAM CHAIR: In the interest of time, and I think we have four tapes, I wonder if we could reserve ruling until tomorrow?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MADAM CHAIR: Okay.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I distinctly heard, and recollect, the minister saying a followup letter to Minister Collenette. I distinctly heard him read from the document he held in his hand, which he referred to as a letter, and he read a sentence or two.

Your Honour will have to read the document unless the minister is prepared to acknowledge the fact that he did read from the letter and table it without going through that exercise again, which took fifteen or twenty minutes.

MADAM CHAIR: I guess the only thing we can do at this point is recess again and we will go over the tapes once more.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. BARRETT: This hon. minister has tabled all the documents that I read from.

MR. E. BYRNE: I guess we will have a recess.

MR. BARRETT: What I read from was the proposal and the list of the projects that were submitted to Collenette and the other MPs as a follow up. I read from them in terms of listing the projects. That is what the hon. Member for Signal Hill saw me read, the listing of the projects in terms of the Baie Verte Peninsula and the Bonavista Peninsula. These documents I have already tabled.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

It is very clear, the record of the House will show it or not, that my suggestion is that we recess, that you have a look at the point of order before you.

The minister has said - he has put on the record that all he read from was that. You can have a look at the documents that he has just tabled, reference that against his statements when he was up on Interim Supply and we will see if he did or did not refer to a letter that he sent to Collenette.

The fact of the matter is that you had to be shamed into tabling it. If you were any kind of minister you would stand up now and table it, and we would be done with this exercise.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: I rule that we recess for ten minutes to observe the tape once again.

Recess

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

We have listened to the tapes, and as far as we can gather from listening to the tapes the minister referred to a letter, but he read from a list which he tabled. I have the list here. So I rule no point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am just going to conclude my remarks. I would like to say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I am happy that we have -

MR. LUSH: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

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

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, the hon. member's time can be deducted the time I am here, if he so desires. I just want to know where we go now. The understanding was that we would finish at 5:30 p.m. It was an understanding that we would pass Supply. It is now past 5:30 p.m. The rules are that, when we pass beyond 5:30 p.m., if we follow the rules - and I am not suggesting we are - we can, by agreement, say that we are going to continue for another hour, and that is fine, but I think we should establish the parameters of where we are going.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: What happens when the proceedings go beyond 5:30 p.m., if we have not adjourned the Committee, the Speaker is supposed to leave the Chair. I would interpret that Madam Chair leaves and we come back at 7:00 p.m., unless the House can agree. Other than that, without agreement from the House, we had an agreement that we would finish at 5:30 p.m. That was the agreement. The solution now is that we agree that we will carry on for an hour or whatever, or, if the agreement is null and void, then Madam Chair leaves the Chair and we come back at 7:00 p.m.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: My suggestion to the Government House Leader is that we deal with it now. There are a couple of speakers who are on our side of the House, who had indicated to me earlier today, in terms of our own preparation for the House, that they wish to participate in the debate; that being the Member for Windsor-Springdale and the Member for Waterford Valley. My suggestion is that we continue on now. I understand that the Member for Labrador West also wanted to participate, because we spoke about it, and then we can conclude.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is up to the Call of the Chair. It is not up to me. Certainly it is up to the Government House Leader if he wants to do it right now or come back at 7:00 p.m., and take a break for supper.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: We would be happy, on this side, to come back at 7:00 p.m.

MADAM CHAIR: It is agreed, then, that we will recess now. We will be back here at 7:00 p.m.


March 26, 2002 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 5A


The House resumed at 7:00 p.m.

MADAM CHAIR (Ms Hodder): Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: [Technical difficulties.]

He was concluding his remarks.

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would just like to make a few concluding remarks.

Madam Chair, I would like to thank the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for tabling his report on his powerpoint presentation. I would just like to read something that the MP for Labrador, Mr. O'Brien, had to say about his meeting on February 5 with the federal minister. Madam Chair, I will just read this out, "This winter, Minister Barrett made a PowerPoint presentation to Minister Collenette, looking for nearly a billion dollars in highways funding for the entire Province. They threw Phase III into the mix, and said it was their number one highway priority. However, there has been no formal proposal to fund Phase III under the Strategic Infrastructure fund, or any other funding arrangement. There has been no separate proposal for cost-sharing the Trans-Labrador Highway. They have worked harder on a cost-sharing agreement for the Long Island Causeway down in Notre Dame Bay."

I would like to say to the minister, I would like to thank him for making a presentation. I am looking forward to looking at the presentation that he made so that the people of Long Island can see how hard this government is working to keep a commitment that they made to the people of Long Island, and the Premier, and everybody else on Long Island campaigning during the leadership. Thank you, Minister, for that. It looks favourable that you might keep that commitment. Thanks to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for trying to be transparent to the cause of suppling the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to highway construction and repair, and making sure - the management that his department does, I think that he should be more accountable when it comes to doing these presentations, Madam Chair, so that all of us in this House could have a look at the importance of making a presentation of such magnitude, $1 billion. A billion dollars is not something that we should take lightly, Madam Chair. This money is going to be spent all through the Province, including the Island and Labrador.

Having said that, Madam Chair, I have many points that I want to make at this time but I am going to leave it now until the Budget debate so I can get all my comments in at another time so that I can give my colleagues a chance to have a few words to say about the Interim funding.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Madam Chair, I could use my allotted time to talk about the Labrador Transportation Initiative. I could spend my time talking about the apparent breach that exits between the Liberal Member of Parliament for Labrador and the Liberal Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I could talk about a review of the Premier's record to date, in the last year he has been here. As a matter of fact, I have twenty-two pages of documentation which review the entire Premier's record from 1989 right up until the present time. Madam Chair, we could talk about the record of this Premier and what the word trust really means. Madam Chair, we could mention that in 1989 this Premier and his team campaigned on building a second university in Central Newfoundland. Madam Chair, we know that on November 28, 1990, this Premier voted to cut the funding at MUN. We know that, in the days of November,1989, he opposed a student aid review providing relief for students who wanted some help.

Madam Chair, we could go through the entire record of this Premier when he gave his word and then afterwards something different happened. That is the trouble with the Labrador Transportation Initiative. That is the trouble when we do not know what the Premier means when he talks about: trust me. Madam Chair, we have twenty-two pages here of this Premier's record, and a good bit of it involves cases of where the Premier said one thing and then later on did something else.

Madam Chair, I want to say to the House, however, that I do not intend to spend a lot of time talking about the Labrador Transportation Initiative. I do not intend to spend of lot of time talking about the Premier's record to date in the last year, or the Premier's record over the past thirteen years. What I want to talk about is a group of people who didn't merit one single word, not a word, in the Throne Speech, and that is the 25,000 children who go to school hungry every single day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. H. HODDER: In 1981, the Newfoundland child poverty rate was 21.6 per cent. By 1989, it was down to 19.8 per cent. In 1998, it was at 25.3 per cent. The latest data shows it has gone up to 25.7 per cent. In that very same time, our friends in the other island - well, (inaudible) islands that are provinces in this case - Prince Edward Island, their poverty rate has changed dramatically. In 1981, Prince Edward Island's child poverty rate was 22.7 per cent. By 1988, that poverty rate was down to 13.2 per cent, and in 1998 it was at 12.5 per cent.

Madam Chair, last December 5, I brought forward a resolution in this House that talked about child poverty. I talked about the child poverty issue. Madam Chair, in every Canadian province child poverty has gone down, except in Newfoundland and Labrador. I will repeat that, because that is worthy of repeating. It is a sad commentary. In every Canadian province, except in Newfoundland and Labrador, child poverty has gone down.

Last week, when I was coming into the building here after lunch, I happened to run into a group of civil servants whom I know quite well. They were talking about skipping a lunch. They were saying how they had participated, and we encourage them to participate. At that particular time my mind said: What about the 25,000 children in this Province who skip a lunch every single day?

Madam Chair, we know the impact of child poverty. In December, I asked this government, I said: Would you pass a resolution that will call upon the government of this Province to reduce child poverty to the national levels, or below, by the year 2005? This government said: No, we cannot do that. We cannot give a commitment to the children of this Province, the most vulnerable, sensitive people we have in the whole population. They cannot vote. They have no voice here except in ours. I tried to speak up on their behalf, at that time. I said to the government: Will you go and give the children of this Province - the children in the school system and the children who are not in the school system yet - a commitment? Will you say, by the year 2005, we will reduce child poverty to the national level? This government, this Liberal government, amended a resolution, put in some wishy-washy words that said: at some reasonable level. In other words, there was no commitment.

I speak tonight on behalf of the 25,000 children who go to school every day without a lunch. I compliment the schools that have breakfast programs. One school in my district has a breakfast program. I encourage it. I support it. I financially support it because I happen to believe it is a very, very good thing to do. So, I say to the government: What are you doing for the children of this Province? What are you doing when you know that 25,000 children go to school every day hungry? It has been studied since 1973. The first study I found on this issue is now twenty-nine years old. Every department here has looked at it, and yet Prince Edward Island could reduce their level from 22.7 per cent down to 12.5 per cent; and in the same period of time we have stood still.

Madam Chair, we know that at the same time the Minister of Human Resources stands and talks about all the jobs that have been created. We know that some jobs have been created, but I say to the government opposite that many of these jobs cannot be very high-paying jobs, because you will note that there is no increase in the income tax payable by the total citizenry, in the Budget that was presented. Therefore, I say to the government: What is it that you are going to do for the children of Newfoundland and Labrador? What is it that you plan to do to address the issues? This really means that if you do not do something about this issue, it does not really matter whether you build new highways. It will not really matter what other things you do, because we have 25,000 children falling through the cracks every single day.

Madam Chair, I know that we all participate in things like Skip-A-Lunch, but when we know that all these children look to the government for help, what they got last December does not help. So, it brings me back to the question of trust. Why would the children of this Province trust this government? Why would their parents trust this government? Our children, every single day, bear the burden of the failure of this government to address a very important, crucial issue and that is when they can have food in their stomachs when they are trying to learn in their school system.

I want to also mention as well the impact that this lack of nutrition has on educational achievement. We know, and studies have shown, that when children are hungry they do not achieve well and their social life is affected. We find that they certainly have great difficulty concentrating on their school work, but also their physical health is in jeopardy. You will find that the higher proportion of poor children need intervention by school counsellors, intervention by family physicians, than is the norm for those children who are not poor.

Madam Chair, just yesterday I had a constituent who said that her husband had a job that paid just above the minimum wage and the decision yesterday in that household was whether or not they would have money to pay the rent. There was a carton of milk in the fridge yesterday, in their home, in my district. The parents said to me: Harvey, we have a choice, we can drink it ourselves or we can have it for our child.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Madam Chair, just a few moments to clue up?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. H. HODDER: Just a minute to clue up and to say to the government, this parent found herself yesterday having to make a choice between feeding her child and having food for herself. She made the obvious choice. This is what poverty really is. Poverty means that parents feel that they cannot get ahead, that their government is not providing opportunities for them, and 25,000 children cannot be wrong. This government has failed our children. They have, therefore, betrayed the trust that the parents of this Province gave this government. Therefore, I say to this government: Why should they trust this government on anything else? If you fail in your trust to the children of Newfoundland and Labrador, what else really matters?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to say a few words in this debate on Interim Supply, which is the granting of authority to the government to spend $1 billion of public money. As the previous speaker has said, not one mention in the whole Budget Speech about the plight of children in this Province. I am pleased that the previous speaker raised this topic. It is an area of public policy that is near and dear to my heart. For the past number of years in this House I have been making speeches, presenting petitions, asking this government to concern itself with the issue of child poverty, with the issue of children going to school hungry in this Province, with the need for a universal, comprehensive school lunch program. I thank the member for supporting the numerous petitions that I have presented in this House calling for a universal, comprehensive school lunch program, a school meal program, which would ensure that every child in this Province is able to go to school with a meal, with food in their bellies and able to learn.

That has become more and more of a concern of mine, and more and more of a painful realization to me as I see my own children, who are now seven, almost five, and two, growing up, going to school and taking advantage of the things that are offered to them, and that they can be offered in our society. I know what a difference it makes to my children when they are well fed and when they are feeling hungry and how it affects their behaviour, how it affects their attention span, how it affects their ability to do anything other than worry and concern themselves about whether they are hungry or whether they can get something to eat. I know that, unfortunately and sadly, is a reality for about one quarter of the children who go to school in this Province every day.

I think that the member, in speaking on this issue, is raising a matter that should be of concern to every single member of this House. Of the billion dollars that is being spent or being asked to be authorized today, it would take but a very small fraction of that, Madam Chair, to fix the problem of the school lunch program to ensure that every child in this Province is able to go to school with a satisfied stomach and able to learn and enjoy the fruits of our education system, which we spend an enormous amount of money on and continue to spend an enormous amount of money on despite the declining enrolment. If some of that money were taken, Madam Chair, and if some of that money were used to ensure that every child in school had a full stomach, we would be assured of a greater educational return for our children and a little more happiness amongst families and children around this Province.

That is a very important point, Madam Chair. It is a very important point in this debate too, because we have seen the Premier of this Province denigrate and put down the fact that people in this House of Assembly, who do not happen to be in the government, have suggestions, have ideas, have priorities, and are prepared to make commitments to the people of this Province about what they would do if they were government and what they would fight for if they were in Opposition. That is the democratic process, Madam Chair. If the Premier of this Province does not like it, that is too bad about him. He happens to be in government right now, but that is only an election away. It is only an election away and when the next election comes he may be looking to see what the policies of parties opposite are in this House of Assembly because he will want to know. He will want to know what is going to happen in this Province. He will want to know, as well, who is going to be the government.

It may be that he may look down to this corner of the House and say today that it does not matter what the New Democratic Party says because we are not in government, and we are not likely to be in government the next time around. Well, that may be, but it may not be. Well, you never know, Madam Chair. We never know. Not only do we not know who is going to be in government, we do not know who is going to have how many seats after the next election either. There could be four or five seats in this corner of the House, and the Premier may be wondering whether he is going to be able to form a government or not. So it could be important what people on this side of the House say whether they are that party or this party because they could affect the future of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: So, when he gets up in the House and says it does not matter what the NDP says because they are not going to have to do this or they are not going to have to do that, they might be (inaudible). He may have to be very careful as to what is on the list of priorities for the New Democratic Party after the next election. You never know, Madam Chair. You never know. So, it is important.

MR. BARRETT: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, I want to say to the Minister of Transportation, you had your chance to speak in this debate and you spoke in this debate.

MR. E. BYRNE: He got himself in lots of trouble when he did.

MR. HARRIS: He got himself into more hot water than he planned to, I say to the minister. He got himself into a lot more hot water than he planned to, and only by the skin of his teeth did he save that letter to Mr. Collenette that he says he had; that he did not have to produce because he said he read from a list.

This presentation, Madam Chair - I haven't got a copy of it. I tried to take the original from the Chair but I was accused of theft or something. It was suggested that I should not take the original, but copies are being made. I want to see this alleged proposal, the one that the Liberal member for Labrador has said was not a proposal. I want to see whether it qualifies as a proposal or just a suggestion that we get together and have a meeting. If he wants to call that a proposal - then I suppose he can call or propose what he wants. He can claim that anybody over here do not know what they are talking about or knows too much, whatever way he wants to put it, but it is up to the people of this Province to decide whether it is a suggestion that we have a meeting to discuss something is a proposal, a concrete proposal, for the future of Labrador or not. That is something that the people of this Province can decide, Madam Chair. That is something that will not be decided until after we have seen the copies that are being distributed.

Is that copies of what was tabled in the House? Well, I have asked for a copy, and I am speaking. I wonder if I could have a copy here?

I know the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair might be very interested to see whether it is really a proposal or not as well, but she will get a chance to speak again in this debate. In the meantime, I would like to be able to decide for myself whether I think it is a proposal or just a suggestion that there might be a meeting to discuss the possibility of sharing the cost of something that has not been costed, and suggest that that might be the way to go.

The interesting thing about this government is that they have a lot of faith or a lot of expectation from what is going to go on in Ottawa. I want to go down through the list. Who are their friends in Ottawa? I suppose that is the question that I have to ask. Let's go through the list of friends. Do they have any friends in Ottawa? They have the member for Labrador. Is he their friend? He is a member of the same political party. He got elected as a Liberal. He sits in the Liberal caucus. Is he one of their friends in Ottawa? I do not think so, Madam Chair. The Member for Gander-Grand Falls, George Baker, was he one of their friends? Gone! He is not even there.

Now we have John Efford. John Efford wants to go there. Is he their friend? I don't think so, Madam Chair.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he?

MR. HARRIS: Where is he? He is gone from here, Madam Chair. He was here yesterday with his buddy, Mr. Dumaresque.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he now?

MR. HARRIS: He is gone. I asked him what he was doing here. I think he might have been looking for donations to his campaign, and I am sure that the Premier and members opposite would like to give him some money so he would be gone further away.

Who are their friends in Ottawa going to be, Madam Chair?

AN HON. MEMBER: Loyola Hearn.

MR. HARRIS: At least Loyola Hearn had enough sense to bring the fisheries committee down here to talk about the offshore resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I have to give him full marks for that. It was Loyola Hearn, Member of Parliament for St. John's West, who suggested that the fisheries committee come here and make a report on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. I have to give him full marks for that. I made a presentation, as did the Minister of Fisheries.

Who are their friends in Ottawa? If we wanted some action from Ottawa, you might say that we do not need the Tory caucus; you might say we do not need the NDP caucus; you might say that we do not need anybody but the Liberals. They have a majority. So, what are we doing begging and scraping and passing unanimous resolutions? Sure, they have all their friends in Ottawa to do all these good things for the Province. Why aren't they being done?

They cannot even seem to keep peace with the member for Labrador. I forgot one of their other friends, Gerry Byrne, their good friend in Cabinet; another one of their good friends whom they tried to throw out. They tried to beat him for the nomination. He is one of their big friends. So, when they go to Ottawa looking for help, who do they go to? They cannot go to Gerry Byrne, they cannot go to Lawrence O'Brien, they cannot go to George Baker, because he is gone, and they cannot go to John Efford because he is not their friend any more. So, who are they going to go to?

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: What a disappointment, Madam Chair, what a disappointment!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi makes some important points, some very important points; and, after the news tonight - my dear old friend, the Member for Bonavista North, has just arrived in the House. People are interested to know what is about to happen in Gander-Grand Falls. Will it be Tulk?

AN HON. MEMBER: I think (inaudible) what the people will say on it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Will it be the Member for Bonavista North? Will he be the Liberal candidate? Let me get my Hansard transcript. Let me get my Hansard transcript. At the end of these comments comes an offer. So stay tuned and we will see if you accept the offer. Maybe the Premier - I will talk about the Premier in a second. CBC Radio transcript - nothing silly about it. The affairs of the nation are important, and who represents us at the federal table is extremely important. There is nothing silly about it. The Premier makes a big deal about a Senate committee and equalization and now we have the Deputy Premier saying how silly we are talking about who we are going to send to Ottawa to try and do something on equalization and other issues that affect the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nothing silly about it, I say to the member. With that attitude, it might not be you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I said: Who is going to be the Liberal candidate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Who will it be? Who will be the Liberal candidate? is what I said. The real question - now, this was before the departure of King Brian. This was before the departure. This transcript was taken before the departure of one King Brian.

AN HON. MEMBER: Go on, no.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. To be honest, I think that Mr. Baker probably, most probably, could have been in the Senate a lot sooner had not the news leaked of his departure. That is what I was told. He would have been in the Senate a lot sooner than now, probably before Christmas, some time in November or December, had the news not leaked of his departure. How did the news get leaked, of the imminent departure of one Mr. George Baker? Well, here is how it happened. As best as I could piece together, not in possession of all the information -

MR. REID: What does this have to do with Interim Supply?

MR. E. BYRNE: An awful lot. Interim Supply is a wide-ranging debate about the affairs of the Province, our place in Confederation and the nation, and who we send there, and the people who have put themselves forward to run federally. That is what it has to do with Interim Supply, I say to the Minister of Fisheries. Now, here we go. Here is how the story broke.

There was a phone call made - now, this is as best as I can piece together - that led to the following interview. Rumor had it that Mr. Baker was about to be put to the Senate, and then Mr. Tulk was interviewed the next morning. The CBC host - let me quote here, it is important - said: Well, there is news of Mr. Baker's departure. Would you be interested, Mr. Tulk?

Now, this is the Deputy Premier of the Province, said: Yes, absolutely. If there was a vacancy, then I would be absolutely interested in running for that seat.

MR. WILLIAMS: He didn't say that, did he?

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes he did say it. Right here. I have the transcript.

MR. WILLIAMS: The former Premier?.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, he did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, but if you recall - I will tell you what the Member for Gander heard. Here is what she heard. I will tell you when she first knew, and it broke in this House before Christmas, because one night - I will tell you how you knew, and you did know, and you got upset when you found out what was going on because it was right on the floor of this House. Do you recall? Because the Government House Leader came to see us about legislation. I said: Look, we can sit tonight if you want to. Well, he said, brother, we probably can't sit tonight because there is a function -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, brother, there is a function that some of us have to get to. Guess what the function was? It was a fundraiser for the Member for Bonavista North. This was two days after the story on CBC Radio; and when the Member for Gander found out, guess what happened? There was such a fuss, he had to split the pot with her. Now, that is how she found out. Absolutely!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Cousin or no cousin, you cannot come into my district and bleed money from my future campaigns, and he had to split the pot. However, he was only counting on a two-way split, not a three-way split. Half for the ambitions of a future prime ministerial candidate that went off the rail, and half for himself; but then, as the Member for Gander said: Yes, I heard that too. Indeed you did. It went from a two-way split to a three-way split. That is what happened.

Now, I must admit, I am wrong on some occasions. About a year ago -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I was wrong twice, when it comes to yourself and the current Premier. I didn't think the former Premier was going to run for the leadership. I thought, when the Senate seat came open - and I predicted it in the House but I was wrong. I said it was that minister who now is the Premier who took on all the tough jobs to try to make the former former Premier, one Mr. Tobin, look good, and for his reward I felt that he was going to the Senate. Then, after that, based upon emerging information that was coming towards me, I reworked it and said: No, that could not be necessarily true because, from what I was led to believe - I was given false information.

AN HON. MEMBER: False information. Not your fault.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, by a member opposite too.

I am not imputing motives, because I believe that what they were telling me she also felt was true. Then I predicted that the current Deputy Premier would be going to the Senate. That is what I heard. I also heard that he was up and had a look at houses and all that sort of stuff.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, absolutely! But, it wasn't assured.

He made the prediction, he told me in this House it would be one or the other and that I would always have a bedroom at his house in Ottawa if I came up for a visit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: That is what he said. The jig was up then. One of two things was going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on now. We will get to that because there is more to the conversation that took place which I am about to elaborate on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely.

Then, he said one of two things are going to happen. This is one of my favorite constituents. I actually have a picture of his house during the 1999 election in the Goulds with a re-elect Ed Byrne sign right on the lawn. Absolutely! I do have it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: As a matter of fact, we won the poll that he was on. The street that he was on, we won the poll. When I remind him of that, one of two things are going to happen, he said. Either this hon. gentleman, a constituent of mine - as members we are obligated, even if it is a stretch, to support our constituents - but he said that one of two things were going to happen. Either he was going to be the Senator, or George was going to be the Senator and he was going to be the MP.

Now, back to the transcript. It was very clear, very, very clear at the time in November, that the game was afoot, but it went off the rails because someone leaked the story on the Prime Minister of the country. He was not too happy about it, from what I understand. George was not too happy about it either. He was not too happy at all, as a matter of fact. He is happy tonight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I was going to get to that. He is happy tonight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it is 7:40 p.m. I know we are in agreement, we will be here until 8:00 p.m. I will conclude my remarks by then.

However, something happened. The water on the beans changed. No one ever could have predicted that one, Mr. Tobin, would have pulled the plug on himself and so many others, and exited so quickly. I remember seeing the member on the news the next night. He had a face on him as long as that. As long as your boot, some fellows would say. It was unbelievable in terms of what happened. So things started to glide land, sand started to shift, right under his feet. Now the question is: Who?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, yes. He had to find his balance, got his bearings, got the ballast control back, but now the question is: Will he go? I think he will. But who else is going to go and challenge him because he is not going to be there alone, from what I understand. Is it going to be the Government House Leader, who had his own aspirations in Bonavista-Trinity-Conception?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely, no question about it.

I remember during the 1999 by-election in Trinity North -

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave? Just to clue up.

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: The Government House Leader, while knocking on doors for our now new caucus member, was also signing up cards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, at that time for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception.

So the question is: Who is it going to be? Who is going to lead the fight in Gander-Grand Falls for the Liberal Party? Will it be under door number A, the Member for Bonavista North? He probably has the best chance. Will it be the elder statesman in the Liberal caucus, the Government House Leader, under door B? Or, will it be the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans, the Minister of Labour? Will it be the Minister of Labour? No question.

The real issue is this, from what we understand from John Efford today, who told publicly about his conversation with the Prime Minister, of when the actual by-elections were going to be called - it is going to be tough enough to handle up in Ottawa, that John Efford. He is going to be a hard fellow to get your arms around and control. You fellows already know that, don't you? They already know that. The Premier knows it; he knows.

AN HON. MEMBER: Free-spirited.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, free-spirited.

The question is this, who will it be? Certainly, you would think, it might come from the rank and file because the sooner that happens, the sooner that we will have another seat on this side of the Legislature, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I was in full flight when my time ran out the last time and I did not get to finish my list of their friends in Ottawa. It is a very short list, but I did not get to finish it.

I am delighted to hear the exposition of the Member for Kilbride, the Opposition House Leader, in suggesting that one of the people opposite should go to Ottawa. I think, from their point of view, he is right. They should send someone from their caucus to Ottawa because if they do not they will have no friends there at all.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I am not talking about the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, whose friend Mr. Martin is in Ottawa. I am not talking about that friend. I am talking about friends who are going to do things for the people of Newfoundland.

Going through the list here; Brian Tobin went up there to make room for the current Premier. He went to Ottawa to be our friend. He is gone. Byrne, well we talked about him before. They tried to get rid of him. They could not get rid of him so he is no friend of theirs. They had Mr. Baker, who was a some time friend, but he is gone. Mr. O'Brien has declared himself unequivocally to be not their friend. Mr. Efford is on his way - maybe. If he gets there he is no friend here. He has no friends around here. The only friend they have left is Bill Matthews, and he is a Tory. He says he is a Liberal now, but when it is convenient to be a Tory he will be a Tory again. He is what I would call a fair-weather friend.

The only people they have to rely on in Ottawa at the moment is Hearn and Doyle. You know where they stand. They stand for the Province. You hear them giving their speeches, unequivocally. They are not trying to defend the Government of Canada.. They are not trying to defend the fact that we are not getting the proper equalization payments. They are not trying to defend foreign affairs positions. They are not trying to defend the status quo. All your friends up there you have made enemies with.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, that's why we are having a royal commission.

MR. HARRIS: That is why you are having a royal commission? Well, that is going to be interesting. Who are you going to put on the royal commission? Do you have any friends? I hope you don't put your friends on the royal commission. I hope you are going to put some people who are -

AN HON. MEMBER: We can always count on Svend.

MR. HARRIS: You can always count on Svend, you sure can. You can count on Svend to take a very strong position for the people of this Province. You can count on Svend. You can count on the NDP caucus to take a strong position for national equity. You can count on the NDP to take a strong position in support of health care in terms of the elimination of child poverty, in terms of federal programs regarding the redistribution of wealth. You can count on the NDP caucus, I say to the Minister of Fisheries, far more than you can count on your so-called friends in the Liberal caucus to do the right thing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and for the people of Canada. I will say that to the Minister of Fisheries, who does not want to hear the rest of this speech, because he is gone too. He is gone with the Member for Bonavista North who is hoping to find another place to go to after the next few weeks.

Madam Chair, this is the problem that we have here in this Province, that the members of the party opposite who find themselves in Ottawa cannot seem to make peace with each other. They cannot seem to pull from the same oar. We are trying to find a way - we do it in this House from time to time. We have all-party resolutions. We had an all-party committee on the FPI. We have resolutions on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. We are trying to work together to fight for a stronger equalization payments formula for Newfoundland and Labrador. What do we have? We could have unanimity in this House amongst three parties, but the party opposite cannot find friendship, let alone unanimity between their federal and their provincial caucuses, between their federal and their provincial counterparts, between the people who supposedly are working for the common good with a common philosophy and a common network of people, supporters and friends, but they cannot do it.

We are in a pretty sorry state at the moment. We are in a pretty sorry state when members opposite cannot find friends in Ottawa to work for the good of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Parliament of Canada. I find, Madam Chair, a great deal of concern in this Province about that. We have one upmanship between federal and provincial counterparts. Why would this Province pick a fight with Lawrence O'Brien up there fighting in the House of Commons in Ottawa for the people of Labrador, for the things that this Province needs to better the opportunities for the people of Labrador? Why would this government pick a fight with him? Why would they pick a fight with Gerry Byrne doing his job on behalf of the people of his constituency, working hard in Ottawa? I am not saying that I agree with everything he does, but why is this government picking a fight with him? Why do they not have the support and the trust and the cooperation in Ottawa that they require? Why does the Minister of Transportation have to come here and try and pretend that a document that says, what we would like to do is initiate ministerial discussion - I think this is the proposal here. Here is the proposal, folks. I finally got a copy of the proposal.

The proposal is to initiate ministerial discussions between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada on cost-shared future highway funding for the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway and the provincial highway rehabilitation program. The second objective is to seek a commitment for a follow up negotiation process. Now, this is what is called a proposal. What did the member for Labrador, the MP for Labrador call it: A one page piece of a PowerPoint presentation. Was he wrong? Was he wrong, I say to hon. members? What we have is a piece of a document, and it says at the top of it: Objectives, to initiate ministerial discussions. Is that a proposal? How much money are we talking about? How much money is the Province prepared to put up? How long is it going to take? What are the expectations of the Government of Canada? What are the expectations of the Province of Newfoundland? What kind of proposal is this that we want to have ministerial discussion? They want to pretend that this piece of paper is, in fact, a proposal. Instead of that, Madam Chair, what we have is a suggestion that this is some sort of proposal that follows as a sensible proposal, in the words that Mr. O'Brien talked about

Then we have a reference to a list; the three-page list. It says nothing about Labrador in the list. I have the list here and there is not a word on the entire three pages, which is supposedly the follow up - this is the follow up on the proposal for the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. I invite members to have a look at this so-called list. There is not a single word about Labrador in it, not one word. Three full pages. A list of an overpass in Come by Chance; the Trans-Canada Highway between Terra Nova and Glovertown; the completion of the Conception Bay South Bypass - there is something here for the Member for Conception Bay South - the Southern Shore, Route 10 on the Avalon; the Bonavista North loop road; the Baie Verte Peninsula, La Scie Highway; the Great Northen Peninsula. There is not a single word in the so-called follow up letter, that the minister referred to, that mentions Labrador. I know the Member for Labrador West has not had a chance to look at this, but there is not a single word there in that so-called follow up that mentions Labrador at all.

I think, Madam Chair, that the Minister of Transportation was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of this House, and the people of this Province who were watching on TV today. It is very unfortunate that the people of Labrador are not able to watch the continuation of this debate this evening, because they would know that the Minister of Transportation was trying to pull the wool over their eyes. They would know that his so-called proposal was not a proposal at all. It was a suggestion that the ministers get together and initiate discussions, with no proposal at all, and that the so-called follow-up did not mention Labrador at all. They would be disgusted to hear that. They are going to hear it, because the Member for Labrador West, thankfully, sits in this House and he will be able to tell them. He will be able to tell them in a press release tomorrow.

Madam Chair, it is unfortunate that this is not broadcast tonight. We should do something about that. I do not know what we can do. Perhaps the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader - there should be a discussion about how we ensure that if we are going to have the House televised, that we have the House televised. You cannot shove things into the evening so that when the Leader of the Opposition makes a dramatic speech, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador cannot see it. When he tries to rain on the love-in that was going on between the Opposition - on prime time at 7 o'clock - when he tries to tell the people of the Province of the love-in going on that he wants to put a stop to between the Opposition and the government over FPI.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: By leave?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: I will clue up, Madam Chair, only by saying that perhaps the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader - we should try and find a way to ensure that the whole House is televised. If we have to go into the evening, we should be able to get that on television, too, so that people can see the full gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Resolution

"That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 2003, the sum of $1,214,081,000."

On, motion, resolution carried.

On motion, clauses1 through 3 carried.

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

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report that they have adopted a certain resolution and recommend that a bill be introduced to give effect to same.

On motion, report received and adopted.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

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

MR. LUSH: I move that the Interim Supply Bill, No 2, be introduced and read a first, second and third time.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2003 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service," carried. (Bill 2)

On motion, Bill 2 read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to let the members know that His Honour the Administrator is here, and will be here in the Chamber shortly.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Admit His Honour the Administrator.

The Administrator takes the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: It is my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her Faithful Commons in Newfoundland and Labrador, to present to Your Honour a Bill for the appropriation of Supply granted in the present Session.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2003 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service." (Bill 2)

HIS HONOUR THE ADMINISTRATOR: In Her Majesty's Name, I thank Her Loyal Subjects, I accept their benevolence, and I Assent to this Bill.

His Honour the Administrator leaves the Chamber.

Mr. Speaker returns to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do now adjourn.

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