May 7, 2002 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 19


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our Routine Proceedings, the Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today thirty-five Grade 8 students from the North Shore Collegiate in the District of Trinity-Bay de Verde. They are accompanied by their teacher, Joan Kelly, Bill Drover, Cindy Kennedy, Peter Taylor and teacher aids, Bonnie Parsons and Mary Doyle, and bus driver Carl Hudson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I want to welcome to the House today eighteen Grade 7 students from Dunne Academy, St. Mary's, in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, and they are accompanied by their teacher, Mrs. Marjorie Gibbons.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This past weekend it was my pleasure to attend the 5th Annual Western Newfoundland Heritage Fair which was held at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook.

The Heritage Fair is a celebration of Canadian History and Culture and is based on the idea that students learn more effectively when they are actively involved in seeking out the living history around them and when they develop their own way of communicating what they find.

Organizers of the Fair estimate that approximately 1,000 visitors viewed the more than 150 displays prepared by the 270 participating students.

Based upon the display's attractiveness and the knowledge demonstrated by the students, judges will now select one display to be entered into the National Heritage Fair which will be held for the first time in Newfoundland in St. John's, June 7-14.

This year' Patron of the Fair was Mr. Trevor Bennett, a former MHA for the District of St. Barbe and a former Mayor of the Town of Steady Brook. In addition to his record of public service, Mr. Bennett was instrumental in conceiving the idea of a Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Tree and overseeing its carving and erection.

Amongst the many displays at the Fair, Newfoundland and Labrador's many historical figures, including Nurse Myra Bennett, Mr. Bennett's mother, played a prominent part.

I ask all members of this hon. House to join with me in congratulating the many students and teachers who took part in this Fair and who are increasing awareness of our diverse history and culture.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer congratulations to the entire production team associated with Etcetera 16, a musical production of students attending Mount Pearl Intermediate and Mount Pearl Senior High schools.

Etcetera 16 opens tonight at the Mount Pearl Glacier and over the next five evenings, it is anticipated that as many as 5,000 friends, family and visitors will patronize this wonderful celebration of Mount Pearl's youth. In addition, approximate 2,000 primary and elementary children will attend the matinees.

The fact that as many as 7,000 patrons will attend the various performances is, in itself, a testament to the shows quality. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, Etcetera 16, with its total cast of more than 200 students exalts and celebrates the creative artistry of Mount Pearl's youth.

Special congratulations are due, Mr. Speaker, to the musical director, Carl Goulding; the production manager, Jackie Goulding; the stage director, Robert Power, and to all those students who shared their knowledge and expertise in interpreting the music and choreographing the various selections.

Mr. Speaker, as a former administrator at Mount Pearl Junior High, I can attest to the deserving accolades for which the Etcetera Shows have become known. Carol Goulding is not just an outstanding teacher; he has the rare ability to capture the imagination of the teenage mind and to inspire them to strive for personal excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members of this hon. House would join me in offering congratulations to the teachers, the entire cast and to the many volunteers associated with this year's production.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS M. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a fourth year visual arts student from Marystown, whose work is being showcased in an exhibition at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook.

Gino Collins of Marystown is one of fourteen emerging artists from around the Province taking part in the Doodlist Manifesto, an exhibition that features works from the fourth year visual arts students at the college.

This exhibition, Mr. Speaker, includes painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, video animation and book works that is based on the themes of nature, landscape and the environment; a sense of place; and the figure and sense of self.

Mr. Speaker, this exhibition continues at the gallery at Grenfell College in Corner Brook until June 8 and there will be a public reception for the artists on May 11 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

I congratulate Gino on being part of this exhibition and I wish him further success in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On Friday, May 3, I had the opportunity to attend the high school prom at Laval in Placentia. I would just like to take the opportunity to bring forward to the House what a wonderful night of celebration that took place at Unity Parc Arena in Placentia. Approximately 500 people gathered to look back on thirteen years of schooling for over eighty graduates. An immense amount of hard work went into turning a normally cold arena into a warm, pleasant banquet hall with all the trimmings.

I would just like to take the opportunity today to congratulate the principal, Mr. Len Hickey, all the teachers and staff, parents and guardians who were involved in having this wonderful celebration. I would like to also congratulate Mrs. Catherine Kelly, who was the guest speaker for the evening, a former teacher, who brought some great insight and gave some great advice to the students at Laval who are heading off into a new era in their lives.

I would like to take the opportunity today to ask all members to join with me in sending special congratulations to the Level III students of Laval High School in Placentia on an exemplary night. I certainly want to wish them well as they move forward in life. Whatever we can do to help them along, we will be there for them, as all legislators, I am sure, here in the House.

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.

I am pleased to rise today to congratulate a Carbonear native, Physicist Davis Earle, for his groundbreaking discovery of the mystery of subatomic particles called neutrinos.

Mr. Earle, the son of Captain Guy Earle, one of the chief figures in this Province's fishing industry, is among a group of scientists with the Sudbury Neutrinos Observatory in Ontario that have discovered proof that neutrinos actually have a mass, something that was unknown for the last thirty years of study.

Mr. Earle is a former student of Memorial University and the University of British Columbia, and was named a Rhodes Scholar in 1960. He went on to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics and had worked with the Atomic Energy of Canada as a nuclear physicist before his current position and now lives in Deep River, Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, this scientific achievement comes after extensive work on this neutrino project since the late 1980s and this discovery is a significant achievement on the study of such an important building block of our universe.

On behalf of all Members of this House of Assembly, I congratulate Dr. Earle and his fellow scientists on this discovery.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege today to rise to congratulate the under-seventeen women's table tennis team from Bishop White All-Grade School in Port Rexton on winning the gold medal in the Atlantic Table Tennis Championship held here in St. John's on April 27 and 28. The team, Mr. Speaker, consists of: Kayla Butler, Ashley Rex, Cathy Bartlett and Stacey Fowlow, and were accompanied by their coaches: Barbara-Lynn Randell and Cecil Piercy. Mr. Speaker, they earned the right to represent this Province in a provincial competition in March of this year.

Mr. Speaker, it is worthy of note that Bishop White All-Grade School has been active in table tennis for a number of years and, considering they only have about 100 students at the high school level in which to pick from, this is a significant achievement. The team is looking forward, provided they can raise enough money, to attending the National Table Tennis Championships slated for Laval, Quebec, in July.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in congratulating this team from Port Rexton on winning this Atlantic Province Championship and wish them well and every success in both their fundraising efforts and their ability to be able to go and compete at a national level with this very small group of people which they use to pick from.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform my hon. colleagues that this week, May 6-11, is International Youth Week.

Youth Week began in 1995 as a small grassroots movement in Canada and has grown into an internationally recognized event. It is an occasion to honour the talents, ideas and abilities of young people in our Province and the world over.

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we recognize the abilities of our youth and are committed to ensuring that their voice is heard in this Province. There are several exciting initiatives underway to realize this goal. For example, this government remains committed to establishing the new Office of the Child and Youth Advocate who will represent and protect the youth of this Province.

My Department of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education has, and will continue, to focus on issues important to youth and their future success through youth initiatives such as debt reduction grants, apprenticeship programs and career counseling.

As well, Mr. Speaker, through our support of community based youth organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Sisters, Scouts and Guides and the cadet movement along with our Community Youth Network and our Youth Advisory Committee and the Allied Youth Program, we demonstrate our commitment to youth and making sure they have access to services that will aid their personal and social development.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask all hon. members to join me in honoring the outstanding contributions of the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador and to recognize this week as International Youth Week in our Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, on this side of the House, certainly join with the minister in taking the opportunity to congratulate the youth of our Province and indeed, the youth of the country who partake in International Youth Week. We send our congratulations to all the young people in our Province who partake in school and different functions in their communities. It is a great opportunity to highlight some of the concerns.

I listened to the minister as she talked about the things that government is doing. We applaud any positive initiatives that are put forward by this government, or any government for that matter, in relation to something that helps the students and the young people of our Province. I would just like to remind the minister that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MANNING: There are 20,000 young people in this Province who go to school every morning hungry, and that is something that needs to be looked at.

When there is such a variety for our young people to partake in, we have guidance counsellors who are being shared between five and six schools. We have an ABE program that people can fund Level II and III, if they do not fund Level I. You have to be an olympiad expert to get from Grade XII or Grade X up into Level II and Level III.

There are a lot of things that are of concern. Student debt is crippling some of our young people in this Province. There are a lot of issues out there. We hope government will continue to look at those issues, and we hope that government intends to address some of those issues that are facing our young people in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Although we did not have an advanced copy of the statement, I am happy to join in recognizing Youth Week in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would say, Mr. Speaker, if this government was truly concerned about the needs of youth, they probably would have a better idea than they did not have the other day when they were asked where the 3,000 students who had been removed from the income support - young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave.

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member doesn't have leave.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand that the rules allow a person on this side of the House to respond. The first speaker gets an opportunity to speak for half the time of the minister and the second speaker gets to speak for half the time of the second person. Now, I had to use up some of my time to advise the minister she hadn't provided me with an advanced copy of the statement. If the minister doesn't want to offer leave to respond, I think she is performing a disservice to this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

There is no point of order.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Mr. Speaker, this government has done, and is continuing to do, everything possible, everything in its power to hide the terms of the pending deal on Voisey's Bay. In fact, this morning, four government members of the Standing Committee on Resource voted down the Opposition's request to provide evidence by officials of Inco to that committee on the development plans and the stage of negotiations on Voisey's Bay.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister today is: I want to ask the minister why the members of his government have refused an opportunity for the Opposition, and indeed, and more importantly, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to have more information about a pending Voisey's Bay deal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: You are denying them information about their business here in the Province. Shame! Shame!

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame on you. Six-and-a-half hours in committee. Last year you only spent fifteen minutes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say, that as a minister of the Crown appearing for the last eight years straight before various committees of the House to defend estimates in five departments of government, at no time have I witnessed or experienced the functioning of a committee that occurred with respect to the Resource Committee hearings on my department's estimates over the last two days.

Mr. Speaker, we sat in this Chamber, I sat over there Wednesday morning for three hours which is, in the normal course of events, the maximum length of committee hearings.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I said the normal.

There have been estimates that I have sat on. There have been departments that I have defended estimates that have had budgets many times larger than the department I currently have, and estimates have been passed in twenty minutes. Estimates have been passed in half-an-hour. Estimates have been passed in an hour. In no circumstance have I, in eight years, gone beyond three hours as the minister defending estimates.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have sat over in that chair for two successive days for an accumulated time of six and one-half hours defending the estimates of the department that I am currently the minister of. As far as my willingness to sit before the committee of the House, I am prepared to sit, and I was prepared before, before the committee examining my department for sixty hours if it was the thing to do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: My department was in - me, as a minister, I was in the hands of the Chair of that committee. I was in the hands of that full committee. The committee dealt with the resolution that came forward, and this morning they disposed of that resolution and I answered questions to the extent -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: - that I was permitted under the rules and with the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier of this Province isn't interested enough to ask any questions. We, as the Official Opposition, are interested enough to ask the questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: The problem with the government is they do not like to be asked the questions. That is the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WILLIAMS: Shame! A 50 per cent increase in your department and you dispute our right to ask any questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary, he ought to get to his question.

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, less than a year ago there was a full review and a discussion of Husky Oil's benefits and development plans for the White Rose field, cumulating in a report that was made public and discussed in this House.

My question for the minister is: What is so special about Voisey's Bay that makes it different than White Rose? Why have public disclosure or discussion on one project and not on the other?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, with great respect to the first part of the hon. member's comments, if not a question; at no time, to my knowledge, did I display any unwillingness to answer questions. If the hon. member had been here at 12:20 today, he would have realized that his members were still asking me questions. I think the Vice-Chair of the committee, who sits behind him, would indicate that I more than willingly answered the questions. As the matter of fact, the members of the committee on your side came over and congratulated me and shook my hand for being so willing to answer the questions that I did today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: So I say to the hon. member, just by way of clarification, that there was no unwillingness on the minister's part to answer questions in the House, today or at any time, with respect to my Estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to get to his answer quickly.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the White Rose process, the hon. member knows that the process, the mechanisms, the procedures for examining an offshore project as proposed by any proponent, is handled under the auspices of a board known as the C-NOPB. It is a board that is jointly responsible for and jointly responsive to both levels of government, being the federal government and the provincial government.

What we are doing with respect to the Voisey's Bay project, Mr. Speaker, is attempting to negotiate with the company, an arrangement that will allow this project to go forward. What we witnessed during the White Rose hearings process -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: - was not a negotiation. It was an application for a proposal to go forward. The application, as a proposal, was examined through the C-NOPB and the outcome is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: - as we all know, (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: This morning, not only did the government deny the people of this Province evidence that would be valuable, valuable to them, to their knowledge of the pending deal on Voisey's Bay; they then shut down that committee today. The minister shut the committee.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is: If you are so interested in answering questions, will you tell me why that Resource Committee was shut down at noon today?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, after six hours and twenty minutes of hearings before the committee, the committee concluded its work this morning because it was, in the judgment of the committee, finished with the proper and appropriate level of examination of the Estimates of the Department of Mines and Energy. I know of no other reason that would be in the minds of the committee members and the Chair, who decided this morning to call a vote on my Estimates. I know of no other reason why they would have concluded that it was time to call the vote and pass the Estimates as presented. If there is any other reason, I would not be aware of it. But, I would conclude that they thought - the committee thought - by way of a 4 to 3 vote, that sufficient time had been given to examine the Estimates of my department.

The fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, is this: The committee members were discussing, in large measure, not the Estimates, not the budgetary allocations proposed for my department for this year, and not the allocations that we spent last year. They were wanting to talk about project negotiations that were ongoing between government and the corporation, Inco.

The hon. member knows that we cannot, no more than he could if he were over here, negotiate that in public.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: We have to do the negotiations with respect to the interests of both sides and when the thing is done, one way or the other, we will (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what a farce. What a hypocrisy this government is. This government, who says its trademark is: It is the most open and accountable and transparent government since Confederation. What a farce!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is: Will he agree with the position of Deputy Premier Tulk, last spring, and agree to a full and open debate in the House of Assembly prior to an agreement between Inco and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and prior to such an agreement being final and binding on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? Will you agree, Minister, to a full and open debate in this House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the hon. member this: At what point, if we are fortunate enough to conclude successfully the negotiation for the development of Voisey's Bay, we will be more than happy to have a full and free and fair and open debate before the people of this Province so that, not only the forty-eight members who sit here, or the 200 or 300 that can sit in the gallery, but the tens of thousands out there who have a genuine interest in this project, will hear first-hand from this government what it is we have negotiated proudly on their behalf, if we can do it, and what it is this project will offer up in terms of benefits to the people of the Province. We intend to get it done right, and if we get it done we will be happy to go out and defend it and to offer it to the people.

Mr. Speaker, let me say this: If, by some unfortunate circumstance, we do not successfully conclude, we will be just as happy and just as willing to explain to the people of the Province why it is we could not get it done in the best interest of them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province, the people of our Province, are virtually unanimous, that there should be full and open debate in this House of Assembly before a licence is issued and a deal is signed.

I ask you, Minister - I just cannot understand the logic - what possible reason could there be why the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not have an opportunity to have this debated in this House of Assembly before our ore is shipped to Manitoba and Ontario? What are you trying to hide, Minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are indeed hiding, or attempting to hide, nothing. On the contrary, we will be happy to expose everything to the people of the Province at what point we have something to conclude. The fact of the matter is this: Until we conclude the negotiations successfully, any individual parts of it that may be signed off on, or that may be finished in terms of the negotiation, means virtually nothing. Until we have an agreement on everything, there is actually and factually, and in reality, an agreement on nothing.

Today, we have nothing to put to the people of the Province. We hope that we will have something to put before them, and if we have something to put before them we will put it before them on the basis that there will be the widest possible level of debate, the widest possible level of dissemination of information, so that the people of the Province will hear from us what the deal is; the people of the Province will be able to speak back to us and tell us what they think of it in many and varied ways.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in response to my questions, the minister said: Inco wants to bring conclusions to their discussions with the Aboriginal people, the discussions in Ottawa and discussions with us - meaning the government - to clean up the two or three big issues that are left.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is: Is it two or three big issues left, and what are they?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: I would ask the hon. member now to lay aside one of his hands and start counting on his fingers because one hand will do it for him, and let him decide whether it is two or three, once I describe to him what it is that is outstanding in terms of the negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, we have said that we need to conclude on whether or not we are prepared to allow any concentrate to move out of the Province for a period of time. Contingent upon that decision, there are two other issues that will be subsumed in that decision. It will be the issue of: If we allow a period of concentrate export, how much volume does that represent, and if we allow it, what is the form, the type, the nature, the language, the certainty of the guarantee that we will accept to ensure that it does come back over that period of time? These are the issues that are left to be resolved.

I have also said publicly, and I say it again in the House, we have to ensure around that issue of concentrate period of export that may be a possibility in a final deal, that if we allow that to happen, the development timelines for the project - that is the execution of the project, from the day the announcement is made until the day the new commercial processing refinery in Argentia is fired up to be a process that produces finished nickel - we need to be sure that from the date of the announcement to the date that the plant goes into operation, that the timelines are right so there is no undue delay in the completion of the project.

The project has two main component parts: the development of a mine, mill and a smelter in Labrador; and the development of a demonstration testing plant for hydromet in Argentia together with a processing facility that will be built if we get the deal done. That you can be assured of. There will be, one way or the other, processing to a finished nickel product in this Province at the conclusion of any negotiations that we successfully come to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is to the Minister of Education.

Allocation of teachers in this Province is based primarily on the number of students, when primary focus should be on a provision of programs.

I would like to ask the minister: Why do rural schools, like Baltimore School in Ferryland, not get the same access to programs as high schools in urban areas, such as St. John's?

AN HON. MEMBER: Student-teacher ratio.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, there is no discrimination against students in rural Newfoundland. In fact, if you look at the formula that is being designed under the William-Sparkes report, they have given additional units to rural schools to ensure they are able to have courses offered that would be required in terms of our core curriculum, Mr. Speaker. So clearly, there is no discrimination against rural schools in Newfoundland, therefore against students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador because again, that was taken into account when the formula was devised by these two credible gentlemen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This current year, PWC offers ninety-four programs in high schools; Mount Pearl, 103 programs; Booth Memorial, eighty-four; Holy Heart of Mary, 118 programs; and Baltimore School in Ferryland, the high school offers only fifty-four programs. They were told when they combined four schools into one it would save programs.

I have a copy of a letter here outlining numerous cuts, Minister, that are going to occur next year. One of these involves eliminating physics, for the first time in almost fifty years, from the curriculum in schools in the area -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: - and the position has been declared redundant.

I want to ask the minister why students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador are being subjected to a different standard of education opportunity than students in urban parts of our Province? I want to ask the minister, does she believe that rural students should expect less than students in urban areas of our Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. Let me say again that the formula we have out there takes into account rural Newfoundland. With respect to the course that the member has asked about -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: If he wants the answer I will give it to him, if he could stop talking long enough. I know that is hard for him, Mr. Speaker.

Having said that, Physics 2204 - the decision has not been made to cut Physics 2204. In fact, the principal has not made a decision yet. To date, only six students have registered to take the course. (Inaudible) the principal is still trying to decide how to accommodate those six students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rose in this House last week and raised this issue in Budget. The minister went out and phoned the school board. I spoke with the principal. I have a letter from the Chair of the student council. I talked with the school board member. I have dealt with this issue, Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Minister, will you stand and tell me here now that programs in this Province are based - allocations are based on programs and not based on the number of students? Is that what you are saying here today, because that is not correct?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, commonsense will tell you that if you have a larger student population in a school, you are going to be able to offer more programs. But, Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility to offer a core curriculum in our educational system in this Province and we are doing just that. We ensure that our students have all the courses that are required to graduate, Mr. Speaker.

As for calling the school board, I will call them everyday if I think students are being negatively impacted. That is my job and I will do it again and again -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: - to make sure that students get the courses that they need and deserve. It is not fair for you to suggest that that physics course has been cut. It has not been cut and the principal is considering how to accommodate the students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

I would like to ask the minister this: What does a person do who qualifies for home care but who is unable to access it for a period of six to eight months? I will be specific. There is an eighty-six year old woman who lives alone, has a bad heart, is unable to cook for herself and she has other medical problems. Her son and his wife normally take care of his mother but he has to leave the Province to get work for a period of six months. She needs help, while he is gone, for a couple of days a week. I would like to ask the minister what suggestions he has for this woman in the interim?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I regret the fact that the hon. member chooses repeatedly in the House to rise and raise individual cases. In any given day my office, and I am sure the offices of most hon. members in this House, deal with specific cases and concerns that people are bringing forward, certainly in terms of the circumstances as the hon. relays them, Mr. Speaker. It is not a situation that any of us find particularly appealing. I certainly have great sympathy for the family involved, and I would suggest to her that it might be more productive in terms - and I cannot even say. What we have to recognize, in terms of the demands that are made on the health care system and, certainly, in terms of home support, is that it is an area that is growing significantly. We recognize there are increasing demands there that we are going to be challenged as a Province to meet, next week and looking further out. For example, as the hon. member would probably be aware, in the presentation that I, as minister, made to the Romanow Commission - I suggested in that presentation, quite frankly, that this is an area that the federal government needs to make a decision on; to look, in a very serious fashion, with us because this is an area that they need to come onboard and start providing some funding.

In the interim, we are trying to deal with the situations as they are arise. In individual cases, where they exist, as the hon. member has described here today, certainly, if she were to call me at any time I would certainly try to ensure that the situation is being dealt with as effectively as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SMITH: But I cannot guarantee, without knowing the particulars or further what the hon. member is referencing, whether, in fact, there is anything that we could do there.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: I will say this to the minister: a couple of weeks ago I raised an issue in the House and you said you don't micro-manage. I asked another issue, you said, outside in the scrum, for people to call you. What is it minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: I would like to ask the minister this: In light of what we know to be true, that living at home is far better for the patient's well-being and certainly more economically sound, wouldn't it be better to give this person a couple of hours of home care now rather than leave her at the risk of something happening to her that would cause her to be institutionalized?

For the minister's information, this person has gotten in touch with officials in your department and has been told that the wait is six to eight months.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I find it very, very difficult to rise in this House and respond to specifics of cases as they apply to certain individuals. I really would question the hon. member as to this line of questioning. I would suggest to her that perhaps she would serve her constituents and the broader constituency of the Province much better to stand and rise and speak to the principles in terms of what we are trying to do in the delivery of programs of that nature. To ask this minister to respond to the specifics of a case as they apply to a certain individual, I think, first of all, it is inappropriate to be doing it in this type of forum; but I say to her that I am certainly open to sit down with her, to discuss with her at any time particulars of a case that she has before her, to see if, in fact, there is anything that we can do to assist.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The FPI Act committee, the all-party committee, made a report at the end of February; one of the recommendations of which had to do with the processing and the handling of quotas that FPI had both being harvested by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and processed in the Province. We agreed, Mr. Speaker, with the suggestion of FPI that enforceable agreement was better than legislation.

I want to ask the minister whether or not he is in a position today to table the agreement negotiated at the suggestion of FPI, to have a binding agreement to ensure that FPI would not process its quotas outside the Province or harvest them with people from outside of Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Leader of the NDP Party for his question. I would also like to thank him for the honourable way in which he conducted himself during the whole FPI hearings. With regard to the question, he is right. We were considering putting a clause in the legislation that would say that all quotas of fish that were traditionally harvested and processed here in the Province would continue to do so, and continue to be processed here in the Province, but during our debates around the Province we had a letter from the Board of Directors of FPI saying that it was not necessary to put it in the legislation and that they would give us an enforceable contract, and, as such, not make it necessary to put it in the legislation.

We did have some correspondence from FPI shortly after that time and it was unacceptable to us at the time. We have gone back and talked to them again, but I think in recent days or weeks that FPI, along with the FFAW, have been involved in contract talks, so we do not have that agreement today but I am hoping that we will have it. If it is not forthcoming, we can still come back to the Legislature and introduce another amendment to the act, to include the processing of all quotas by FPI in the Province for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The actual recommendation of the committee was to allow what we call a reasonable period of time. Now, it has been two-and-a-half months, Mr. Speaker. I do not think the complexities of the suggestion were that grave.

I wonder, is the minister prepared to tell us today what his deadline is for this reasonable period of time? Will we have legislation before the end of this session, if we do not have an agreement from FPI? Is the minister planning to inform FPI when he expects to have this agreement in place, or will we have to see legislation - or is the minister prepared to commit to legislation - before the end of this session of the House of Assembly?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we would prefer if FPI came forward with the enforceable contract. As for the time frame, you say it has been two-and-a-half months. I think the legislation pertaining to the FPI Act was brought into the House some five weeks ago, if I am not mistaken. As for a time frame, I would be glad to sit down with the members of the committee and discuss what would be a reasonable time frame, because it was an all-party committee that went around the Province. We made the recommendation, so I would not want to act unilaterally and do that. I would rather speak to the other members of the committee, and I am willing to do that any time they wish.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

Notices of Motion

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, on page 719 in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Edition 2000, by Marleau, it states the following, and I quote, "In 1986, provision was made for the Leader of the Opposition to extend the committee consideration of the Main Estimates of one department or agency beyond the..." normal reporting deadline "...for a period not exceeding 10 further sitting days."

Again, on page 737 it further states the following, and I quote, "The rules provide for one exception to the May 31 reporting deadline for Main Estimates. The Leader of the Opposition may give, not later than the third sitting day prior to..." the deadline "...notice of a motion to extend the committee consideration of the Main Estimates of a named department or agency. The motion is deemed adopted when called under "Motions" during Routine Proceedings...".

Mr. Speaker, according to our Standing Orders, the deadline for committee consideration of the main Estimates is Monday, May 13, 2002. In view of the fact that our Standing Orders are silent on this matter, then I move that in accordance with Standing Orders 81(4)(a) of the House of Commons that consideration of the Department of Mines and Energy votes 1.1.01. through to 3.1.05. of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003, by the Standing Committee on Resources be extended beyond May 13, 2002.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Further Notices of Motion?

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of privilege, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Mr. Speaker, the Estimates Committees in this House are a way in which members of both sides of the Legislature have an opportunity to debate the Estimates of each and every department. According to the definition of what the Estimates Committee is: It is a Standing Committee of this Legislature, number one. The scope of its enquiry is not limited to only the Estimates or the subheads in the Estimates as presented and put forward under motion by the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. In fact, Estimates, according to Marleau, in the description of what Estimates Committees are, Beauchesne and Maingot, the authorities that we govern ourselves by in this House, talk about Estimates Committees: have the absolute right and privilege to investigate policy matters of the government, administrative matters dealing with the government, and, in fact, can question the government, particular ministers or departments, on what future spending priorities may be.

Mr. Speaker, today in Question Period - and it is worth nothing in the point that I make in terms of privilege - the Minister of Mines and Energy stood and said that after six hours and twenty minutes of deliberation, that he had never seen so much deliberation on one department in his life in this Legislature, that the Committee was called, the vote was called and moved on because an appropriate amount of time had expired. Let me remind all members of this House that it is not a particular member or minister who defines what is an appropriate amount of time - or Estimates.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: This is a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. I ask to be heard on a personal point of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member now to get to his point of privilege.

MR. E. BYRNE: I will, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to make the case and I will get to it as quickly as I can, under your direction.

Mr. Speaker, for the minister's information, in 1993, when he himself was a member of the Department of Government Services and Estimates Committee, the committee process in 1993, the Department of Mines and Energy went beyond six hours and twenty minutes - I apologize, in 1994 - in debating another significant public policy issue, namely, the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, let me say this: The definition of privilege can be best defined by a couple of references to Maingot. In establishing a prima facie case before you, any member - me in this case - has to do the following: A prima facie case of privilege in the parliamentary sense is one where the evidence on its face, as outlined by a member, is sufficiently strong for the House to be asked to send it to a committee to investigate whether the privileges of the House have been breached or a contempt has occurred, and report back to the House.

It goes on to say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Would you like to hear it?

It goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, that furthermore members have a tendency - sorry - because of a more relaxed practice in the House of Commons, it is accustomed to entertaining many allegations of privilege. Nevertheless, Speakers continue to urge members to restrict a privilege procedure to rare occasions where a case can be made.

That is what I am about to do.

On page 12, Mr. Speaker, of the same general definition, it says: Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively as a constituent part of the High Court of Parliament and by members of each House individually, without which they could

not discharge their functions and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals. Thus privilege, though part of the law of the land, is to entertain the extent and exemption from ordinary law.

Mr. Speaker, what happened this morning is that at 12:00, in the Estimates Committee procedure, members of the committee were still questioning the Department of Mines and Energy on the Estimates. They were at section subhead 2.1.03. when a motion was put forward that effectively stopped and shut down debate on this particular department.

It is unprecedented, Mr. Speaker, that this would happen. A motion was put forward, while members of the committee still had questions of the minister and his officials, to automatically vote on every subhead and stop members from pursuing their parliamentary duties.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I submit to you that the member's privilege -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to advise members of the House that committees, as we all know, are masters of their own affairs and matters. Issues that occur in the committee ought to be dealt with in the committee. The House and the Chair - the Chair will only receive a report from the committee or deal with matters from the committee when the committee itself reports. I deem it inappropriate for the Chair to be hearing a point of order or a point of privilege on something that occurred in committee, but I will take it under advisement as to whether or not it is appropriate for the Chair to be dealing with that matter.

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

(Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

My understanding from the member is that he is dealing with a point of privilege on a matter or an issue that occurred in committee. I will hear the hon. member's point of privilege but I must advise him that it is inappropriate for the Chair to be dealing with a matter that occurred in committee, and that has been ruled on a number of occasions.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, when I conclude, which I will in a second, maybe you can advise me on: Should I bring it back to committee, which ultimately has to come back to the House?

The fact of the matter is, this morning, that in order for the privileges and rights and duties of members in this House.... One is the freedom of speech, which was denied this morning. Secondly, and in order for a prima facie case of privilege to be established, we must establish that the members, the parliamentary work of that member, was interfered with; and it was this morning. Members were not allowed to question further subheads of the committee.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I say to you, all members understand that there is a time limit on Estimates Committee meetings. Whether the deliberations are concluded next Monday on the thirteenth, or not, they are deemed to be done. I have never seen, in my days in this Legislature, a committee take such unnecessary and restrictive action. Therefore, I submit to you that members of the committee's privileges were breached today because: one, the decision taken by the government members on the committee interfered with their parliamentary work, duties and responsibilities; and, two, that it secondly denied their freedom of speech in the pursuance of such work, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, based on your intervention, I will not belabour this point very long, other than to say that committees are masters of their House. They are an extension of this House and they should look after their own affairs, Mr. Speaker. That is about all I want to say, and I leave it in the capable hands of Your Honour.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not going to speak. I rise on a point of personal privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We are dealing with a point of privilege raised by the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

The Chair has indicated that points of order and privilege, the committees are masters of their own affairs, and there is where they should be resolved. I will certainly take it under advisement to see if it is appropriate, what process happens in other jurisdictions to hear a point of privilege that is raised by a member of the committee. In the past, the practice has been that we will deal with matters when they are reported by the committee.

MR. MATTHEWS: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, on a point of privilege.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I won't deal with the motion that has been put by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, or deal with the comments that were made directly by the Opposition House Leader, but I think it is important, I think I have a responsibility to, for the record, indicate to the House that, in terms of the committee's examination of the Estimates of the Department of Mines and Energy, there was, in fact, Mr. Speaker, no hesitation or no reluctance on the part of the minister or his officials to -

AN HON. MEMBER: You never said that.

MR. MATTHEWS: I want to be on the record as having it clear, that there was no reluctance on behalf of the minister or the department officials to answer questions.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is also fair for me to put this on the record, so that people will understand what is, in fact, going on here - while I acknowledge that most of the questions that were asked today had to do with line items in the Budget, the fact of the matter is that the intent of the hon. members who sit on the opposite side of the House was not to debate the Estimates of my department but rather, Mr. Speaker, to debate and to ask questions and to seek information about a negotiation that is ongoing on a very sensitive and a very particular file in the interests of the Province. I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that to insinuate that government, as represented by this minister, was unprepared to answer questions in Estimates is not factual.

Mr. Speaker, the issue that I raise is this, that the intent -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to get to his point quickly.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The intent of what this is all about is to ask questions with respect to a negotiation that cannot be discussed in private -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has listened to what the hon. member has said, and again it is certainly no point of privilege, and really not a point of order either, because the hon. member -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member wanted to clarify a point that was raised earlier, and probably that is what he was doing, clarifying his position or his point on a certain matter. It is certainly not a point of order or a point of privilege.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before we heard the point of privilege raised by the hon. Opposition House Leader, I believe we were on Notices of Motion under Routine Proceedings.

The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could revert to Presenting Reports for a moment, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that we revert to Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees?

AN HON. MEMBER: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: We have agreement.

MR. NOEL: I table the annual report of the operation of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, Mr. Speaker.

 

Petitions

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of residents of Labrador West. The petition, Mr. Speaker, is:

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in parliament assembled;

WHEREAS the Province provided funding for four new multiple sclerosis drug therapies; and

WHEREAS the Newfoundland and Labrador Drug Prescription plan only provide for medication coverage for seniors under the Senior Citizen's Drug Subsidy Program and people on income support; and

WHEREAS these drugs can cost between $1,800 to $3,600 a month; and

WHEREAS all citizens in other Canadian provinces can receive assistance with these high cost drugs, using co-payment or sliding scale programs, not limited to social assistance income levels; and

WHEREAS these drugs can significantly improve life for people with MS.

We the undersigned, petition the House of Assembly to direct the government to implement a co-payment or sliding scale program for Betaseron, Avonex, Copaxone and Rebif so that people who do not qualify for assistance under the existing programs can get financial assistance with these high cost drugs, as is the case in every other Canadian province.

Mr. Speaker, as I stated yesterday as I presented this same petition - because I think it is important and people of the Province deserve some type of coverage. The only people who are not covered under these drug programs that the Province offers are people who are out there working for a living, trying to provide for their families and are affected by MS. That is very unfortunate, very unfair, to many hard-working people in this Province who have to reduce themselves to poverty level before this government will step in and offer any assistance.

As I repeated before in my questions in this House - and this is what baffles people the most - it is not that this government cannot afford or will not pay for these drugs for people to use, it is a matter of what government are forcing people to do to themselves and their families before they will.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of people in my district who are suffering from MS, who could use these drugs. I am sure that there are people in all other member's districts in this House who also are affected by MS. I would encourage people in other areas to approach their member in this House of Assembly and do what they can to pressure this government, on behalf of the people who need these drugs, to bring government to a point where they will introduce a policy similar to that of P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and every other province in this country where people can receive assistance when they are suffering and need these high costing drugs.

Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: By leave, to conclude?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I say, this petition is part of an ongoing campaign by people in my district with MS that, I am sure, will move to other districts in the Province.

I will conclude because, where it is ongoing, I will have the opportunity to speak on many other occasions on this topic.

Thank you.

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 raise a petition as well. The petition reads:

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

WHEREAS the roads in the areas of Jamestown and Winter Brook are in very poor condition and are in desperate need of paving;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to pave approximately one kilometre of road in Jamestown and approximately six kilometres of road leading to and including part of the community of Winter Brook, as in duly bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is another petition that is being presented here in this House to put in a plea to the minister to look at paving the main road leading to and through the community of Winter Brook and the community of Jamestown. It was only four or five years ago that the community of Winter Brook celebrated their 100th anniversary as a community; 100 years. In fact, there is a senior lady living in Jamestown now - which is in part of this area that I am putting in the plea to have the road paved - who is in excess of 100 years old. This lady has never seen and never enjoyed pavement going through her community.

This particular community is a thriving community. In fact, there are new houses being built there on an annual basis. Up until now, they have had to drive over a gravel road. They seen their road upgraded back in 1995; it was made ready for paving at that time. They were promised that the road was going to be paved the next construction season. That was in 1995, and here we are seven years later and the road still has not been pavement. The road is still a dirt road, the only road leading to their community.

On that particular road, as I said here before - and I will continue to say until we get that road paved - is a major employer; one of the biggest sawmills in Newfoundland and Labrador, Jamestown Lumber Company, employing in excess of eighty people. The only piece of dirt road that that lumber is transported over from the time it leaves the mill in Jamestown until it goes to the market south of the border in the United States is the piece of roadway leading past that sawmill, leading into Winter Brook.

Mr. Speaker, I have chatted with the owner of that particular sawmill. He has been very conscious of the situation. It caused him all kinds of problems with keeping his saws and knives sharpened in the sawmill there, that he has had to go out and pave his parking lot himself. In fact, he has made a plea to me that the road gets so bad there at certain times of the year, that he has even came forward with a suggestion that he would help pay to put stone on the road there in order to keep the dust down. This is a plea from a business-owner saying that in order for me to maintain a viable operation here, in order for me to employ those eighty people, then I need something done with this problem of dust created on the main road leading past this particular sawmill.

I have had the minister down to my district, down to Winter Brook. He met with people there last year where the plea was made to him, where the people in the community came out and met on the side of the road one Saturday morning, put in a plea to the minister to ask if this particular roadway could finally be included in last year's Capital Works budget. To the minister's credit, there were two kilometres done through part of the community last year. There are still six kilometres remaining to be done on this particular roadway. It is the main road through the community. The people in Winter Brook and Jamestown are not asking to have sidewalks put in; they are not asking for water and sewer; they are not asking for streetlights. What they are asking for is to have the main road through their community paved. They are not even asking to have it upgraded because it has already been upgraded. They are asking that it be paved. The people living in the community are saying that it would be nice to be able to hang clothes out on a Monday morning without having to take it in and wash it again. The people in the community are saying what a privilege it would be to open up your windows in the summertime to allow some fresh air to blow through the house -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - rather than dust coming in every time there is a window open.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I ask the minister to include this particular section of roadway in this year's Capital Works budget so the people in Jamestown and Winter Brook might realize a decent road to drive over.

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

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure today to present a petition on behalf of twenty-one residents of the communities of Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Steady Brook, and Pasadena.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in parliament assembled;

WHEREAS the Western Health Care Corporation has anticipated the demand for a long-term care facility in the region and has commissioned a study in the year 2000 and that this study was concluded and it has now recommended that a new facility be constructed; and

WHEREAS the study was delivered to the Department of Health and Community Services in August of 2001 and a follow-up presentation was made again in October of 2001; and

WHEREAS a conceptual plan has been presented to the regional MHAs in January of 2002 that outlined the necessary infrastructure required to address the extended care and chronic care needs of Western Newfoundland;

THEREFORE the undersigned, your petitioners, residents of Western Newfoundland served by the Western Health Care Corporation, request that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador immediately begin implementation of the plan to build the required facilities as identified in the study.

As I say, Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by twenty-one residents of Western Newfoundland. The petition refers to a study being done by the Western Health Care Corporation to look into the need for long-term chronic care facilities. That study was commissioned by a group, Nycum Group, and they have presented their report which has recommended that there be constructed in the Corner Brook area a 268 bed facility which will meet the needs of the region to the year 2016.

Western Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, like many parts of the Province is facing a declining population but also it is facing an aging population. As the population tends to age the need for long-term and chronic care facilities is certainly on the increase.

At the present time, Mr. Speaker, the Corner Brook area is serviced by three long-term chronic care facilities namely the Inter-Faith Home which was built a number of years ago and was designed primarily to meet the needs of Level I patients. As of today's date, Mr. Speaker, or approximately as of today's date, of the 105 beds at the Inter-Faith Home, fifteen of them are occupied by Level II; eighty-seven by Level III, and one by Level IV. Individuals who need special care; care which this facility was not designed to provide. In addition, Mr. Speaker, the O' Connell centre, which has approximately seventy-six beds there right now today, approximately fifty-eight of the residents are at Level III, one is at Level IV, and seven are at Level II.

Mr. Speaker, both these facilities, the Inter-Faith Home and the O'Connell Centre, have many shortcomings. For argument sake, in the O'Connell Centre there is, on the fourth floor, a single washroom to meet the needs of all of the residents. The rooms presently have no closets in which to hang up clothing. There is no ventilation or air conditioning.

Mr. Speaker, these are not the sort of places that we -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MERCER: By leave, just to clue up, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MERCER: These are the types of facilities that exist in Corner Brook, and the petitioners are asking government to consider in its long-term plans, and its long-term plans being the immediate near future, that we do proceed with the construction of a 268-bed facility to meet the needs of Western Newfoundland through to the year 2016.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. Member for Placentia & St. Mary's, I would like to welcome to the gallery today a former Member of the House of Assembly, Mr. Sam Winsor for the District of Fogo, who is now sitting in the gallery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We the undersigned citizens of the Cape Shore area hereby draw your attention to the unsatisfactory and unsafe conditions as they now exist on Route 100, Cape Shore; and

WHEREAS it is the duty of government through the enactment and enforcement of the Highways Safety Act to protect its citizens not only from commuters but also from unsafe highways; and

WHEREAS the safety of the travelling public must be the number one priority of any government;

THEREFORE your petitioners ask that government provide the necessary funding to carry out the much needed repairs to Route 100, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased, once again, to stand and present this petition which the people of the area have sent in to me and asked me to present here in the House. This is one of many petitions that they been presented here on behalf of the people of the Cape Shore area; people of Branch, Point Lance, St. Bride's, Cuslett, Angels Cove, and Patrick's Cove who travel over Route 100. An extension to that is Route 100-16, which is commonly referred to as the Point Lance Road.

Mr. Speaker, I drive over this road on a regular basis myself. It is in a deplorable condition. I get calls from people, letters from people on a numerous basis who are having some major, major difficulty with cars and trucks. I heard a lady on the Open Line show last night, as a matter of fact, telling of a story where she had busted up a couple of tires on the road yesterday and she uses the road on a daily basis to go back and forth to work.

It is not the only place in my district that needs roadwork, Mr. Speaker. I could stand here and list off the community of Ship Harbour in Placentia Bay, Fox Harbour Access Road. The Town of Placentia have a great many roads in their town that need repairs. Throughout the Cape Shore area, which this petition has come forward from, down through St. Mary's Bay North, about a kilometre or two just outside the community of North Harbour, that needs major repair; down through the community of Mount Carmel; down through the access road to Admiral's Beach, O'Donnells and St. Joseph's. St. Mary's Bay, right from St. Catherine's down to Peter's River needs work. There is a whole area - my whole district needs work, Mr. Speaker.

I realize the confines of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and the money that the minister has at his disposal. My understanding is around $24 million or $25 million for the provincial roads program this year. I would estimate that my own district would need $20 million itself just to make the repairs that are needed to the roads in my district. I am not naive to think that the District of Placentia & St. Mary's is going to get the total budget for this year's provincial roads program, but I certainly hope that the minister will see, in his wisdom, to ensure that we get a fair chunk of that for the needs that are there.

I would like to take the opportunity to say to the minister - I am sure he has already received several letters that have been brought forward by people in my district in relation to the road work that is needed out there. I invite the minister today - I send a personal invitation to the minister today to drive out through the district. It is not that far from St. John's, an hour-and-a-half to two hours - to drive out over the roads in my district to have a look. My understanding is that the minister was out in my area on Saturday evening, and I heard some rumours that there could be some money allotted for the community of Ship Harbour, for example. I was delighted to hear that. These people have been trying to get dollars for the road for several years now. I have raised the issue here in the House of Assembly on a couple of occasions myself, and I intend to do so to ensure that the minister lives up to his word on any commitments that he has made, not only to the people of Ship Harbour, but the needs of the people of Placentia & St. Mary's.

The roads pose a major problem for emergency vehicles, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: Just a moment to finish up, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I have talked to several operators of emergency vehicles, especially the ambulances that transport sick people back and forth to Placentia hospital or to the hospitals here in St. John's, and the road condition certainly make it uncomfortable and unsafe in a lot conditions with the situation of the road.

I bring this petition forward today and ask that the minister, over the next few days as he prepares his budget for road work in the Province, take into consideration the concerns of the people of the Cape Shore in this petition, but indeed, the people of the District of Placentia & St. Mary's. I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of the people of the district today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 5, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands to move first reading of Bill 20.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act No. 2," carried. (Bill 20)

On motion, Bill 20 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. LUSH: Motion 2, Mr. Speaker. I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 6, and maybe other bills.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

The resolution is to be submitted to a Committee of the Whole House in relation to a measure respecting the imposition of tax on income. (Bill 6)

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

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

Mr. Chair, I am pleased today to introduce a technical amendment to the Income Tax Act, 2000, which will result in greater fairness in the tax system. This amendment really was something that was thought to have been necessary to put in place when government moved to a tax on income and moved away from the old system with the federal government. It is designed to achieve integration of the personal and corporate income system with respect to the income of small Canadian controlled private corporations. It will result in a decrease in the dividend tax credit rate from 9 per cent, which it was previously, to now 5 per cent. This new dividend tax credit rate applies to all dividends declared and paid on or after March 21, 2002. Dividends declared and paid prior to March 21, will be eligible for the 9 per cent dividend tax credit.

Currently, our provincial income tax system provides more favourable tax treatment to dividend income compared to salaries, and it was never meant to do this, Mr. Chair. This means that a small business owner/manager can arrange his or her own affairs to pay less tax than an employed person - like the rest of us - who earns the same income.

The new dividend tax credit will remove this tax preference, resulting in the integration of the provincial personal income tax system and the corporate income tax system. I would say, Mr. Chair, that I am sure for some people, particularly in the higher income brackets, this is not necessarily a welcome tax amendment. But, when we are looking to try to find ways to achieve the best method of reducing our deficit and attracting more tax dollars, we try to do it in a way that would affect lower income earners the least. It would minimize the impact for those people but it would affect those in a higher income category, those who are better able to pay the tax.

Since the dividend tax credit applies to all dividends from taxable Canadian corporations, not just small businesses, other taxpayers who receive dividend income may be impacted as well by this measure. Despite the narrow intended scope of the dividend tax credit, retail investors who receive dividends also have benefitted from the credit for many years, really. Even with this reduced credit, from 9 per cent to 5 per cent, they will still continue to pay a lower tax rate on dividends than on similar investments that earned interest income. So, that is an important point, Mr. Chair, that even with this reduced rate, from 9 per cent to 5 per cent, they will still continue to pay a lower tax on dividends than on similar investments that earned interest income.

While income tax integration will result in increased revenues for the Province of approximately $3 million annually, the impact on the majority of affected taxpayers will be small. Again, I would say it is important that this type of measure was really designed to impact minimally on lower wage earners. I think that is clearly the direction of this government. Taxpayers' income in excess of $50,000 accounts for more than three-quarters, for 76 per cent, of all the dividend income in the Province. This is important. So, those who are in the higher income earning categories, of over $50,000, will actually account for more than 76 per cent of all the dividend income in the Province. Just 10 per cent will be earned by the 74.9 per cent of tax filers with incomes under $30,000. Many of these will be unaffected since they are not in a taxable position. For those who will be affected, the tax increase will be approximately $4.38 on each $100 of dividends received. This increased to $4.77 for higher income individuals who will pay the high income tax surtax.

Mr. Chair, as I have indicated, this tax is a technical amendment. It does bring greater fairness to the people of the Province, inasmuch as it is designed to affect the higher income earners more, as it should, than the lower income earners. We believe that achieving the $3 million in this way is a very important way to look at addressing our shortfall in the Budget, and to assist this government to impose a tax which we believe is not a tax affecting the majority of people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Those, clearly, who are making in excess of $50,000 a year account for over three-quarters of all of the people who are receiving dividend incomes in the Province. In fact, those people who have an income of from $10,000 to $20,000 will not be impacted at all, I say to the Member for Ferryland. I am sure he will be on his feet shortly and will have a chance to speak or ask questions. I am just about to clue up. So, if you would afford me the opportunity I will be listening attentively. Again, in terms of those that are affected most, it seems that those who are in the income category of $70,000 to $100,000, as it relates to dividend income, will pay the highest amount of money.

It was a clear decision, I would say, Mr. Chair, that when we make decisions like we did about taxation increase - we debated yesterday in this House about increasing taxes on cigarettes. We believe this was for two reasons. One, it will serve as a deterrent for young people who are considering smoking and, also, it is something that is seen as a pleasure tax. Already we have seen in this Province a decline in the number of smokers and we are still quite confident that we will achieve the revenue that we have identified.

Also, I will say, as another tax, the dividend tax credit, this was very specifically chosen because it will impact mostly higher wage earners in this Province. It is certainly the mandate of this government to try to minimize any sort of tax increase, to try to find and strike the right balance.

Again, it would perhaps, as the member opposite would say, calling it some form of a tax grab, but I would say, and I think it is important to say, that you can do a lot of things if you have a lot of money; but if you do not have the money and you need to maintain your priority of health care and education, it is very important to choose ways that will impact minimally on the majority of people in our Province. That was one of the reasons why we went with this dividend tax credit, because, of course, it was something that was supposed to have been done when we moved towards the integration. We are very pleased again today to say that, from this tax credit change from 9 per cent to 5 per cent, the decrease, it will allow this government to achieve an extra $3 million of revenue so that we can put it towards programs like health, like education, and like our social services.

Again, Mr. Chair, I thank you for the opportunity for introducing this amendment to our Income Tax concerning the dividend tax credit and look forward to it passing.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman

I didn't hear the minister say how big the tax grab was, what the total value was, but it is interesting the twist she puts on it. She said the purpose of this bill is to sort of equalize, to put equity into the system, equity by bringing people at a lower level up to a higher level. Wouldn't it be just as equitable if you brought people at a higher level down to a lower level? That would be equity. Actually, this is more money. This is more money in taxes.

Here is why I think it will have some adverse effects on small Canadian-controlled corporations. For example, if you own your own business, it is a small business, you want to work at that business and work real hard seven days a week, put a lot of time and effort in there to the business because you have - and you make a fair amount of money in a particular year - the option then to take dividends. If you are an owner of that company you have an option to take dividends out.

If you are going to have tax at the level where you work hard to get higher income and you are going to pay the same as you would on income, what is the incentive, then, to build up income in your business, build up equity, basically, or get a higher income? The incentive is not there. When you get to a certain level, you will say: Why work all that much harder? Because I am going into a higher tax bracket and I am going to pay more.

You had a credit of 9 per cent before, now it is going to be 5 per cent, so it is almost double now and the incentive is not there in small, private, Canadian-controlled corporations to give you that little impetus to put a few extra dollars in your pocket because you worked Saturdays and Sundays and put in some extra time.

If you had a bad year, you would not take it. If you had a good year, you might want to take a higher amount of dividends and buy something you would not normally buy. A luxury item that would be high taxes would probably keep somebody working at a car dealership, a furniture store, or some other area. That would go back into the economy again. This is not going to be here now. We are going to see a difference here.

The minister tries to paint it as saying we are putting equity in there now. We are going to make it fair for everybody, basically. It has nothing to do with separating the federal/provincial tax. What it has is telling you, if you take income out of a corporation in a dividend, and you take it out in a salary, it is going to be the same. If you are working for your own company, and you did not take any salary and you took all dividends, Revenue Canada would be a little suspicious of that - Canada Customs and Revenue Agency - because you are getting a reduced rate.

Normally, if you are working for your own company, you are probably taking a salary anyway and this dividend is a little extra money on top when you have worked hard and had a reasonably good year and put a lot of time in. Anybody starting a small business would know, when you are working in small business, you put in an endless number of hours. You work days, you work nights, you work Saturdays and Sundays. It is a seven-day-a-week job, almost twenty-four hours a day of worry and constant work, especially if you have a few employees out there, and it is a little reward. It is a little reward for that extra incentive. That has now been removed. The minister is telling us we are going to remove that now to create equity in the system.

Look, if there is a certain standard of service being provided in one area, and I will use the example, urban areas have a higher standard and higher access to education programs than in rural areas. I raised that this morning. The school in my district has fifty-four programs this current year - 118 at Holy Heart - more than double the programs in high school. So we have a different level. So we are going to make it equity now. We are going to bring everybody down to fifty-four programs. That is equity, I suppose. Everybody gets the same. But is that the way to solve it? No, you are trying to bring everybody up to a higher standard. So what they have done here is, they have added extra tax. That is what they have done. They have added an extra tax.

If you use the same reasoning, when she talked about smoking and the effect on kids.... The Government House Leader - we made reference yesterday when he said in 1985, extra taxes makes more children go hungry. Extra tobacco tax makes more children go hungry. The minister said today, on extra taxes - if that is going to make more children go hungry, by adding extra tax. If that is the rationale, it is going to affect people. If the same thing that stood for this government when they were in opposition, the same philosophy, the same belief and the same statements they made, if they are the same today, that is what it will do, if we believe the Government House Leader.

Regardless of what way you look at it, it is a reduction in an incentive for somebody to work and build up a fair amount of money in their business where they can take it on a particular year. You make have an extraordinary expenditure - personally, you may want in a particular year - it could be medical bills, who knows, in a particular year. It gives you the latitude to take some extra money. We are getting a credit of 9 per cent instead of 5 per cent. That would be the particular dividend tax credit that you would get on that. So, that is basically what they are doing here. You can cut it how you like, you can say it whatever you like, it is an extra tax. It is more taxes. It is getting equity by bringing people up to a higher tax level than bringing others down to a lower tax level. That is what it is doing, basically. It is exactly what it is doing there.

The minister tried to paint it as telling you that we are going to put a bit of fairness into our tax system. If giving everybody a higher taxes is fairness, she accomplished her objective by putting fairness in the system by increasing the tax for everybody. That, to me - fairness in not always best. Fairness is not always best, if everybody is paying a higher tax than they should. If everybody paid a lower tax, that would be fairness and that would be better than everybody paying a higher tax.

While we are on the tax system here, I have raised this issue before in Question Period. I have raised it in the Budget debate. I have said many times before, that this government has given us a reduction in taxes perceived, that never delivered. In fact, almost weekly, if not daily, I am getting calls from people, e-mails and letters. One individual today said: We were paying 62 per cent of federal tax before this increase, and we are told by this minister and this government we were paying 69 per cent of federal tax. When they separated the taxes, it was going to be 62 per cent, 55 per cent, and 49 per cent. We are still at the 62 per cent level before the change. We never went down. In fact, this individual is saying, if your income is below $29,590 - that is the lowest tax bracket provincially. This person said, on income they have looked at, it was 66.1 per cent. If you are $29,500 to $59,160, in that range, there is 73.5 per cent tax.

There are very choice words used here. This particular person, a well informed individual, I might add, has indicated the provincial government should come clean with the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador and inform them that they have increased provincial tax from 62 per cent of federal tax to 66.1 per cent and even higher. In cases it is considerably higher, into the 70 per cent taxes. The government should stop this slippery, backhanded way of implementing tax increases on people and stop insulting the intelligence of decent, hard working people. That is basically one individual's (inaudible), and they know. Tax accountants know what is happening, other accountants out there know, general accountants know, CGAs and CAs, people who are doing their income taxes. I am looking at dozens and dozens of examples of how we are paying a higher tax, how this government did not live up to its commitment to reduce the tax even in the second year of that three year promise. This government has not stood up and refuted it because they cannot. They know themselves. They are pulling money in the back door and they are saying out front that they are giving tax breaks. That is what is happening.

I use the example, bracket creep. By ignoring inflation provincially we now have one of the most complicated tax forms in the country and there are a lot of problems being encountered in processing these because the forms are so complicated now. There are different standards, provincially and federally, on all of these. In fact, the figure I heard last year - and the minister might be able to give a more up-to-date figure. I have heard that bracket creep alone would put $11 million into the coffers of our Province. It is going to be more this year because we are not allowing for inflation. When they separated the taxes, the lowest bracket federally and provincially was the same, $29,590. The next bracket was double that, which would be $59,180.

What have we done now? The provincial bracket is still $29,590 and federally it is up around $31,000. So, we have taken almost $2,000 of income at every tax bracket and put the higher tax rate on it rather than the lower tax rate. That is called bracket creep, not allowing for inflation, when people's purchasing powers, their disposable income, is not increasing.

In the last several years we have seen GDP go up by 40 per cent and the personal disposable income of people in this Province has not gone up at all. Now, when GDP goes up we talk about how fantastic that is in our Province, but if there is no more money going in your pocket in the last five years, your personal disposable income has not gone up at all, it stayed the same, in the $8.some billion range. When GDP has gone from $10 billion to $14 billion, personal disposal income has stayed at around $8 billion. That is telling us something. That is telling us that we are getting a growth that is hollow, we are not getting any real growth in the economy. We are not getting the jobs, we are not getting the income, we are not getting the taxation from new jobs into our Province because of the increase. Most of the increase in GDP has gone into oil products. That is why there has been an increase in GDP; because of that.

Now we have had very little increase in other areas contributing to GDP. The biggest contributor to our Gross Domestic Product is the service industry. That accounts for half of the whole GDP. The oil industry only accounts for less than 10 per cent, even though the rate of increase to GDP is mostly attributed to oil. But where is that going? It is going in a tanker going to the Eastern Seaboard creating jobs in the United States and other parts of this country. It is not creating jobs here on the Island of Newfoundland and in Labrador. It is not creating jobs here. That is why we are not getting that disposable income. We are getting eaten away and we are getting taxed to death, nickeled and dimed to death with every policy.

In this House yesterday a bill passed. Government supported another $15 million in taxes. The Minister of Finance was not here, but the Government House Leader said, in 1985 when they increased the tobacco tax, that there were more children going to go hungry, because we increased taxes. So are more children going to go hungry now, I say to the minister, because we increased taxes? The Government House Leader said in 1985 in this House, when a previous PC government raised tobacco tax in this Province, that could mean more children in this Province are going to go hungry, because of that increase. You, Minister of Finance, increased it by $15 million with a bill yesterday, basically. That is what you are saying. So, if you use that same rational you used when you were in Opposition, that is what it would mean.

I do not buy that argument. I do not buy what you said. I am using your reasoning. I don't buy it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right.

If a parent is going to have their child go hungry because taxes went up on tobacco, do you think you should blame the government on that? No. I did not agree with you in the beginning, and I do not agree with you now. But you have taken both side. When it is convenient to twist something politically, to say something, he will use it. I do not agree with him. If a child goes hungry because the cost of tobacco goes up and there is tax on tobacco, shame, I say. Shame, then, on the parent who is going to have their child deprived of food because they have to go buy tobacco and because of an increase in taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Flip-flop.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, just a flip-flop.

One thing I will tell you, I have been consistent in what I believe in, and I have not flipped from one side of the coin to the other for political purposes. The minister stands up today and is flip-flopping all over the place.

The former Minister of Finance said: We are raising this $200 million. They are looking for $200 million to help pay down pension liability, and the Minister of Finance makes a statement: Oh, no, we are not doing that. The $147 million is already looked after in Statement I of the Estimates. They cannot agree. It spite of all the prompting he gives her, they still cannot agree when they go public and stand up here. One day it is one thing and one day it is another. It is like a flatfish you would see upon a wharf, flop-flop all over the place. You have often seen that. When you are in processing cod and you get a flatfish, you throw it aside and you see it flop-flopping all over the place -

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you know about that?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I do know about being on a wharf, I tell you, and seeing flatfish on a wharf. I have seen them flop, and I see such a resemblance here that I cannot tell, from day-to-day, whether you are flatfish or humans, there is so much flopping, I say to the minister. That is what is happening.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: If the Member for Bay of Islands has something to say there, instead of yelling across the House -

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: That is erroneous, I might add. What he is saying is completely incorrect. What he is saying is not true, what he is saying is false. If he has the gumption to stand up here and say it in the House, I can prove it is false; if he wants to get in his place. Number one, Mr. Chair, he is not in his seat. He is not entitled to speak in this House when he is not in his seat. Secondly, what he is saying is false, if he was in his seat. That is the reason why he is not eager to go to his seat.

Whatever way you look at it, this minister is telling us today that this is going to put equity in a tax system because we are going to bring people, who are paying at a certain level, up and make them pay higher, pay what everyone else is paying; and then we have equity in our tax system. Look, she should have stood up and said: Here is what we are doing. We want to make another tax grab. We want to take more money out of the pockets to reduce the disposable income of the people in our Province, so we will have less money to spend. That is what they are doing. They did it with a bill yesterday here in the House and are doing it with a bill today. Don't be at the front door preaching, we are giving tax cuts, and going to the back door and pulling in taxes hand over fist, higher than they were before they gave a tax cut.

When did you ever see a tax cut that took in more revenue, basically?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Two seconds, to clue up.

CHAIR: By leave, to clue up.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said two seconds to clue up? I asked for leave, Mr. Chair, to - I know I can get back on it again. Nobody on government side - only one yesterday, I think, or two - stood up, out of the twelve of us, to speak on a bill, and now they are going to deny leave. We have lots of people here who want to speak and I will get back at it again.

If there is someone on that side who wants to stand up and speak, I will sit down and if not, I will ask for leave. Anyone wants to speak on the other side, I would gladly sit down.

No one has taken up the challenge, so I assume, Mr. Chairman, I have leave.

CHAIR: The member is already on leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Nobody else on my side are in agreement to continue? The other side has nobody to get up? If that is the case, we are not going to call the question to vote on this, so I can continue provided no one else desires an opportunity to speak. That is the point.

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

I have no objection to giving the member a little bit of leave to continue for a few moments, but there are perhaps other speakers on this side. I certainly want to speak on this matter. I did not want the debate to end, though, with no other speakers. So if the member wants to go on for a few more minutes, I have no objection, but I certainly would like to have an opportunity to speak. In that case, he can speak again, I guess, after he speaks for a few more moments.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The point I made is that if anybody else wants to get up and speak, I will gladly sit down. I have said that. But if there is nobody waiting to get up and speak, and the bill is going to be debated all day long -

MR. E. BYRNE: The government side.

MR. J. BYRNE: The government side.

MR. SULLIVAN: Or even on this side, I would sit down.

No one on government side wants to get up. They do not want to speak on this bill because they do not want to stand up here and try to defend a tax increase in a bill when they are out preaching the breaks they are giving on taxes in our Province. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth on it. We are taking in more revenue with this. We are taking small business in our Province, basically, where you go out and work and at the end of the year, if you had a good year, you look at your income and if you had an extra $30,000 you made in the year, you might say: Well, I would like to take a dividend now. I have worked hard, I have worked seven days a week and I did not take an vacation. I have extra money I made in the company, I would like to take out some money in the dividend and buy a new car or buy some furniture or whatever the case may be. You cannot do that anymore because if you take in a salary, or take any dividend, there will be no difference anymore now. So where is the incentive for a small private business to go out and work seven days a week? I know what it is like, I worked seven days a week in a small business; not anymore. I am out of it ten years now, but I know what it is like; and that opportunity arose in the past. I know what it is to work seven days a week, twelve months a year and at the end, if you had a good year and you decided: Well, shouldn't I get some reward? Where is the incentive going to be anymore now? It is not going to be there. She is justified in doing that but the point I am making here is that, don't get up and tell us it is done for the purpose of putting equity in the system, when that is not the reason, because equity, by bringing people up to a higher tax level serve (inaudible) is supposed to bring the upper ones down. I mean, that is equity, too. It is a tax grab, that is what it is, looking for more money. Where can we get pockets of money? Here is a way we can get it right here. Go back and put your heads together and see where we can gouge some more money out of the tax system. They tell us we are getting 55 per cent. They tell us we are supposed to be 55 per cent.

Paul Dicks, as minister, and the Premier had a news conference in November, 1999, and they told the people of this Province that effective January 1, you are going to get reduced from 69 per cent to 62 per cent of federal tax. The next January, 2001, it is going to be 55 per cent and this January it was going to be 49 per cent, but they axed that last one. Actually, they axed the one before too, but they did not tell us. What happened?

MR. MATTHEWS: They axed the tax.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, they axed the tax.

The federal tax was 17 per cent prior to 2000 when this announcement was made, and 55 per cent of 17 per cent is 9.35 per cent. That is what our provincial tax should be if they were telling us the truth. What is it? It is 10.57 per cent in the lowest bracket. In other words, we are paying 1.22 per cent more; $1.22 on every $100 we are paying on taxes now, something that this government told us we are not paying when we are. If they had to live up to their commitment, we would be paying 8.33 per cent on every $100 of taxable income; $8.33. Today we are paying $10.57. We are paying $2.24 more on every $100 than we were when they promised us a tax cut. That is what we should be paying. We should be paying $2.24 on a $100 less when they made the announcement, and we are not. In fact, we are paying more. Talk to people who do your taxes. Look at your own taxes. Talk to accountants. Talk to tax specialists. Talk to anybody out there and look at the system, and they will tell you that this government, basically, has not been truthful in this tax. They haven't been truthful.

Doing one thing, and taking the brunt for it is one thing. I see some integrity in that. Doing it and saying you are doing it and this is why we need to do it, but doing it and going to the backdoor and taking it and saying you are not doing it, there is no integrity in that at all. It is not telling the truth.

We have a lot of members who want to speak on this so I am going to sit down, Mr. Chairman, and allow other members to speak. When they are finished speaking, and if there is still time left here today - and any government members are finished speaking - I would like to get back up again because there are some things I would like to say, but I do not want to take advantage of too much time here. I had a few extra minutes here to speak but there are unfinished things I need to say on this bill, and I will get a chance to do it.

Thank you.

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

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

I appreciate the recognition to speak to this bill again, the one that I am putting forward. I think it is important to respond to some of the erroneous comments that have been made by the critic as it relates to this and other comments, particularly as it relates to the dividend tax credit, and also I think for the people of the Province to realize the comments that the member is making with respect to income tax, indexation, bracket creep and also about our own personal income tax reductions, because they are clearly not factual. Of course, that is not an uncommon position for the member opposite to take to try to spin and fearmonger and do his voodoo economics.

So let's try and set the record straight for the people of the Province so that you can know - and I can say as well, the member opposite knows the rules of the House. When he got up, his first comment was that I was not in the House yesterday. No, I was not in the House yesterday; I was away for personal reasons and I make no apology for it. I would ask the member opposite not to mention that and to follow the rules of the House.

MR. SULLIVAN: When?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: When you opened your comments.

People in this House know I was not here the last couple of days for personal reasons, and the first thing the member opposite did when he stood up was make a comment about this.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wasn't here either.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I would not lower myself to break the rules of the House knowingly on that issue, but I will speak to the bills because they are very important.

I will also say that it is important that this new dividend tax credit - there is nothing hidden. People of the Province know, and if they listened and heard, this was actually read out in our Budget Speech. We read out this tax increase. We also read out the tobacco tax increase, and we are proud of that. We are not saying that it is a bad tax. We have not said people will go hungry because we have increased the tax, like the member opposite talked about in 1985. We stand up here everyday and go through historical review of what happened in the 1980s and they all shout and scream and say: Don't go back there. That has nothing to do with us. Except, of course, when it is convenient. I heard the member opposite talk about that again today.

There is nothing hidden here. This was read out in the Budget Speech. The member opposite was not sure how much money would be achieved through this. In my opening comments - I presume he may not have heard it. This is a $3 million initiative by moving from 9 per cent to 5 per cent. Again, this is a choice that we made. He chooses to call it a tax grab.

Now, it is interesting for the people of the Province - and I just want to take a moment to go through this. Since I delivered my Budget Speech in March we have had forty-seven items raised by the members of the Opposition everyday in the House looking for more money. More money for roads, more money for this, for that, for paving, for anything, for ferries, you name it. Well, it is a very interesting approach. You have to ask for as much as you get, but of course when you are not responsible and you are not accountable - you do not have to pay for it. So it is easy to ask for all of this money.

I would say to the members opposite who ask for us to intervene, to pave roads, to buy land out - I can go through all the list - to build more facilities, to do all kinds of improvements and upgrades. On this side of the House, we have made a conscious decision that our priorities are health and education.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: According to our rules, Mr. Chairman, the minister has just read from a document. She is obligated to hand that document over to us. She has indicated that there are forty-seven instances on the document she is reading from where we have asked for more money. I would like to see a copy of the document. She is obligated, as Minister of the Crown, to provide that document to us right now; to table it right now.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you.

I would be very happy to table this, in fact, for the people of the Province. Before I table it I would like to have an opportunity just to run through it. I think it is very important to talk about.

CHAIR: So it is understood that the minister will table the document?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes, it is understood.

It speaks to the comments that were made by the Leader of the Opposition in that it says -

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I just wanted to add to the point of order too, Mr. Chair.

When she started the introductions she read from information and I asked at the time for a copy too. Would she also table that, what she read on introducing this bill? She did read from a document there, and I ask for that also to be tabled when this is tabled.

CHAIR: To my knowledge the member did not ask for those documents at that point in time. I will get clarification from the Table as to whether or not the minister is required to table them.

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) the hon. member knows the document she read from. I expect she will table it if she knows the document she read from.

MR. SULLIVAN: There are two documents; one is on the (inaudible).

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you.

I would say again to the member opposite that speaking notes are not documents. When all ministers introduce a bill they use speaking notes and the member opposite - I am sure in all your years of the House as former House Leader - would be more aware of that information than anyone. I would imagine you would know that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: The rules are clear, whatever a Minister of the Crown reads from, whether it be speaking notes, a presentation, a power point presentation, you are obligated to table it; whether it is speaking notes or otherwise. If a Minister of the Crown reads from a document in this House, our rules and procedures and orders are clear, then you are obligated, no questions asked whatsoever, no debate on it. The minister is obligated to table whatever she has read from, including her speaking notes.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, to the point of order.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chair, to the point of order.

I think it needs clarity at this point, and probably the Chair can be of assistance to us here. Is the hon. member suggesting that when a member of the Opposition rises and reads a question that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I am not suggesting that it be tabled, but I am asking, Mr. Chair, if the fact that somebody reads from a piece of paper, does that automatically constitute that piece of paper as a document? I do not think so. I think the hon. the Minister of Finance is quite right, we regularly as ministers in the House, other members of the House, members on that side of the House, use, on occasion, speaking notes that have been prepared by our officials; whether they are our officials in government departments or whether they are officials working in the Opposition Office. They are still, in a sense, officials being paid by government; being paid by the public purse.

I would submit, Mr. Chair, that speaking notes are used regularly by all members in this House, on both sides of this House, to support them in the information that they are putting forward in the speeches that they are making. I am submitting, Mr. Chair, that speeches that are written for members, briefing notes that are prepared for ministers and hon. members, do not constitute documents in the context of material that is required to be tabled in this House on an ongoing basis. If so, Mr. Chair, I would suggest that we quickly move to replace this table here in the House because this table would not be able to hold the level of paper, documentation, that would be required to be submitted. Speaking notes, I submit - whether they are for members or ministers - do not constitute documents, official documents, in terms of what government possesses and should table as documents. There is a difference. There is a distinction, and the hon. Minister of Finance, in referring to her speaking notes, was not referring to documents, in my judgement, anymore than I was referring to documents today when I was answering questions in the House.

I would submit that there is a distinction, a very clear distinction, and there is, very clearly, that which should be submitted and that which is not required to be submitted and tabled in the House.

CHAIR: To the point of order, the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chair, notwithstanding the protestations of the Minister of Mines and Energy, the rules are clear. His seat mate, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in this House, only several weeks ago, found out what those rules were, and I will inform him of what they are. First of all: Ministers of the Crown, according to our Standing Orders, according to the Standing Orders of our House, which we govern ourselves by, according to Beauchesne, Parliamentary Rules and Procedures, according to Marleau Rules and Procedures in the House of Commons, Ministers of the Crown, if they read from a document, are obligated, must, table that document. There is no distinction to be made.

Those are not your rules, those are not my rules. Those are the rules that were determined for us prior to us being elected, and those are the rules that we must live by. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation just found that out, and so has the Minister of Mines and Energy.

On a second point, he has talked about how members generally refer to documents. Our Standing Orders are also clear, I say, Mr. Chair, to the Minister of Mines and Energy, that a private member is not under the same obligation. A private member does not have to table documents, things they are reading from, or things from Hansard, or the Budget. The distinction is made because, as a Minister of the Crown, you represent the ultimate law-making body in this Province, which is the Lieutenant-Governor in Council or Cabinet.

If you stand in this House and refer to a document, it is a government document and you are obligated by the Standing Orders and rules of this House to table that document. No distinction is to be made. That is the fact of the matter, Mr. Chair, and I look forward to your speedy ruling on the needless and nonsense point of order raised by the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, I would submit to you for your further consideration also, the comment that was made by the Opposition House Leader. There is, in my judgement - and I stand to be further enlightened, if that is necessary - a difference between reading from a document and making reference to a document that you may or may not have in your hand.

I have documents that are in my office that I refer to in the course of probably answering a question or debating an issue in the House. So, there is a significant difference, Mr. Chair, I would submit, in government documents as opposed to notes that are prepared for informational purposes, and there is a further difference with respect to documents that are referred to as opposed to documents that are read from or quoted directly from in the House in terms of debate.

I would submit that I have not heard, and the hon. the Minister of Finance can speak for herself, but I have not heard and I have not seen - and I am pretty close to her - her reading from any document which you are asking now to have tabled in the House. If it is a briefing note to which she has referred, then I would submit that is quite dissimilar from a document from which she has read, Mr. Chairman. I would ask you to take that into consideration.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: What is at stake here is not the minister's judgement on what he believes they can table or not table. What is at stake here are the rules that govern all of us. I will read it for him now, so that he is clear. I do not even know what he is protesting about. The Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board has already agreed to table the documents; but, for his further clarification, let me read the rules that are not my judgement, that have nothing to do with any individual member's judgement here. It is what it is. It is the rules and law of how we govern ourselves, and it is contained on page 151 of Beauchesne under the heading Documents Cited.

Now, it says 495. "(1) A Minister" - and I believe that includes you - "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. (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...".

Mr. Chairman, the rules are clear. This is not a judgement call based upon any Minister of the Crown in this House. It is the way it is. It is the rules that are here. Several weeks ago we saw another minister get up and read from a power point presentation that he made to the federal Transport Minister. When asked, should we table it? he said: Yes, I will table it. Then the Premier looked over and he said, two seconds later: No, I didn't say we would table it. Then we ended up into a discussion on a point of order related to this very section, and guess what happened? Ten minutes later, he was obligated to table it.

Mr. Chair, may I ask that you rule on this matter quickly. There was a ruling several weeks ago so we can clear the matter up for the Minister of Mines and Energy, to indicate to him that it is not his judgement that we live by. It is the judgement of the parliamentary rules according to Beauchesne, Marleau, and our own Standing Orders.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader, to the final point on the point of order.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chair, what the Opposition House Leader says about documents is substantially true.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: When a minister quotes from a despatch, a government paper, then that is accurate, a minister ought to table what it was quoted from. But, I think the hon. member went on to say that a minister is to table everything they quote from; quite untrue. That is not correct. It is only when one quotes from a despatch, when one quotes from a formal, recognized paper. But, it says in number two, Mr. Chair, and that is the part that he did not read - I do not know. Maybe what the minister has is a formal government document, I do not know, but that is the only thing that the minister is required to table. If it is speaking notes -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Now, Mr. Omnipotent, I listened to you without saying a word.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Stanley Knowles.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: I wouldn't say it for sure, but you may be able to learn something. I think you may be able to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: No, maybe not, maybe not.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: I am going to tell the hon. members opposite, I have forgotten more about this House than most of them know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chair, I refer to 495.(2), as the exception to the rule that the hon. the Opposition House Leader was making. As I said, the hon. the Opposition House Leader is correct with despatches and formal papers, government papers, but I make the point that (2) says, "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 apply to private letters or memoranda."

What the member was quoting from was memoranda, notes that were prepared for her, and I would suggest, Mr. Chair, they do not fall into - these documents do not fall into the classification of documents, of public documents. They fall more into notes that were prepared for speaking and into memoranda.

CHAIR: This will be the final point, perhaps, to the extended discussion on this point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I certainly have learned from many members in the House, and the hon. Government House Leader, of my nine years here, I have learned from his parliamentary experience. I have learned from others as well. I do not consider myself to be omnipotent in any way or have all possession of all knowledge, but the Government House Leader said he is after forgetting more than most of us know. Well, maybe he has forgotten this: under the section, Documents Cited, it clearly says, "To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate." Which is what the minister did. "The admission that a document exists or the reading of the salutation or address of a letter does not constitute citing." But the documents we are talking about are ones that she referred to, to influence specifically the debate on the bill. That is contained on the same page, for the information of the Government House Leader, under section 495.(5).

Mr. Chair, may I say this in terms of summary: Only several weeks ago we had this exact debate in the House, that the Speaker ruled at the time on this very issue. It is almost a mirror of the debate that occurred. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chair, that in order for - and I will conclude shortly - when a Minister of the Crown cites a document (1) "A minister in not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other state paper not before the House without being prepared to ....." table it.

495.(5) "To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate." In this instance, it was.

495.(7) "When a letter, even though it may have been written originally as a private letter, becomes part of a record of a department, it becomes a public document, and if quoted by a Minister in debate, must be tabled on request."

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chair, I say the salient point, still, is 495.(1) "A Minister is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other state paper not before the House..." That is the point, Mr. Chair. It must be a state paper, a despatch. If it is proven to be otherwise, then there is no need to table it. That is the only condition under which it is should be tabled and I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, what the minister was reading from was memoranda, notes prepared for speaking, and does not fall under the classification of having to be tabled.

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

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

It is quantum leap, to say the least, if we are going to accept the logic put forward by the Government House Leader. It was only several weeks ago in this House that this very debate occurred at about 5:00 in the evening with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

You cannot interpret so narrow the rules as being tabled here, that the Government House Leader has put forward. It is clear, Documents Cited. 495.(1) "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."

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me finish.

Then it says the definition of what is to be cited. 495.(5) "... a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate." That is a document cited, which means she must table it.

Further on, 495.(7) is even clearer, Mr. Chair, when it says, "When a letter, even though it may have been written originally as a private letter, becomes part of a record of a department, it becomes a public document, and if quoted by a Minister in debate, must be tabled on request."

Mr. Chair, the Member for Ferryland, and myself, have requested the information that she has referred to, that she has quoted from, that she has used specifically to influence debate. We have asked her to table it and she must do so right now upon request.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to say a few words on this point of order. We had a very clear issue before the House several weeks ago, when the Minister of Transportation referred and read from a power point presentation. It was not a state paper, it was not a despatch, it was not a high government document or Cabinet paper; it was a power point presentation and a letter. He read from it, he referred to it, and the ruling of the House was clearly that he was required to present them to the House and table them, which he did. So, I do not know why we have to have the debate again. It is the same debate, the same issues we had two weeks ago.

Only a minister, not any other member, but a minister, reading from a document is required to table it if requested to do so. It is a simple, straightforward rule.

One other very small point about the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader referring to something as omnipotent. I want to suggest to hon. members that omnipotent means all powerful. I believe omniscient was the word that they both intended to mean, being all knowing. I know the Opposition House Leader was quoting the Government House Leader, but omnipotent means all powerful. Not even the Speaker in this House is omnipotent. Somebody might pretend to be omniscient or act as if they know everything, but the words are used incorrectly. I think if we are going to use big, fat words, $10 words, we should use them correctly at least.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, to the point of order.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I do not in any way intend to prolong this debate in the House with respect to this. I don't intend to move forward, but I would submit to you, Mr. Chair, that the hon. member, in making his point of order, refutes the very case that he is trying to make when he talks about (a), a document that was prepared, I gather, by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. I submit that a letter from the department would probably qualify as a document, absolutely. If it is on government letterhead, it is obviously a document. But, the hon. member quotes this from his revered Green Book of which, I will admit, he knows much more about than I do, being more of a student of the House than I am in terms of the rules. He essentially said this in his presentation, Mr. Chair. He said, when a document becomes - I listened to it and wrote it down - part of a record of a department, now I think that is significant, Mr. Chair, in that the document that is required, or any document that is required to be tabled must have become a part of a record of a department.

I would submit this to you, Mr. Chair, that many times in this House, on both sides - but let's, for purposes of debate, talk about the government side - many times I have held in my hand and referred to my own handwritten notes that I have prepared as I have listened to discussion and debate and as I have gone through preparatory work to speak in debate. That, I submit, Mr. Chair, is not a document of any record of any department in the House.

So again I would say, Mr. Chair, that handwritten notes, typed notes, anything that is prepared and put to paper that is prepared by oneself to enable oneself or put together by one's political staff to enable a member to speak more clearly and more eloquently in the House in debate, is not a record of any department of government. Unless and until it becomes a record of a department of government, it does not constitute a document in terms of the qualification of material that must be tabled in the House.

I would submit further, Mr. Chair, and on this point I will conclude, that we in this House, if we put ourselves in a position of not being able to have a briefing note that we have prepared or that we have had prepared for us in terms of information that we can refer to in our speeches in the House, if we cannot write something and hold it in our hands and refer to it for our own purposes in debate without having it considered to be a document of a department, then we are in a whole new area of uncertainty and a whole new area that needs to be clarified.

I submit, Mr. Chair, that referring to handwritten or typewritten personal notes that have been prepared by oneself or on behalf of oneself to assist in debate in the House is not the same as a document that has been formalized in some fashion so as to become part of the public record or the departmental record of departmental or government activities. It is simply quite clear and quite basic, actually, I would submit, as to what the distinction is between the two.

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

MR. REID: No point.

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Mines and Energy has made no point; I agree with the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. REID: I am talking about you.

MR. E. BYRNE: This is getting somewhat exasperating, because all government is trying to do is not to provide the documents that the minister referred to, which she is obligated to provide to this House. Now your judgement, as a Minister of the Crown, is not what is at stake here. Your judgement is not what is going to rule the day.

On March 26 in this House, the Speaker made a ruling. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood in this House referring to what can be considered documents, a power point presentation, made to the Federal Minister of Transport, and tried to stop us from getting it.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chair -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a letter.

MR. E. BYRNE: And a letter. Exactly, he tabled a letter, Mr. Chair.

- is that no matter what the Minister of Mines and Energy thinks, or no matter what his judgements are or are not, it is irrelevant, as are mine or anybody else's, the fact of the matter is that - I will read it again for the record: Documents Cited 495.(1) "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."

Under 495.(5) "To be cited, a document must be quoted or specifically used to influence debate."; which she clearly did.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Government Services and Lands has absolutely no idea what he is talking about right now. The rules are here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)..

MR. E. BYRNE: Beauchesne is what decides today, not your opinion, Minister.

Finally, 495.(7) "When a letter, even though it may have been written originally as a private letter, becomes part of a record of a department, it becomes a public document, and if quoted by a Minister in debate, must be tabled on request."

Mr. Chair, do you know what that includes? That includes speaking notes prepared for the minister. Do you know what else it includes? It includes the document that she has formulated herself about the forty-seven times we have requested, supposedly, extra money. So, the documents that she has referred to, speaking notes prepared for this piece of legislation, other notes prepared for her either by departmental officials or her own political staff, that she has quoted them, she has used them to influence debate and, as a result, they have met the litmus test, Mr. Chair. She has cited the documents and she must table them because right now she must table them upon request, and that means: We have requested them. We want them tabled right now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: To the point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't pick up (inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, I certainly wouldn't pick up anything, you know, as I speak here. I think it is important to say that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) be careful what you put in your hand.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes, be careful what I put in my hand. I guess it is safe to hold my glasses at this point.

I want to say, Mr. Chair, that what I referred to, and never had a chance to read from, was not a document of my department. I can say that unequivocally. I can say it was notes put together by me which I had been compiling on a regular basis after issues had been brought forward either in this House or through the media. It is not a document of my department. It was prepared by me and it something that I referred to and did not read from. I would also say that clearly, without any hesitation, without touching it - because I know that is the point that is being made - that this is not a document of my department.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just to make it very brief. When the minister stood and introduced this bill, she kept reading from a document. I kept saying: Are you reading from it? You are reading from it. On several occasions - I am sure the tape will show that. Hopefully it will pick up my voice on it. But it will show that the minister (inaudible) head down and read directly from that. I am sure the video will certainly show that, Mr. Chairman. That minister should be entitled to table that because she was reading verbatim from that document in her hand.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The videotape is the proof. I will go on -

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I have to say, Mr. Chairman, I did not read verbatim when I introduced amendments around the dividend tax credit. I did not read that verbatim. I did use some speaking notes. I have to say, I did use speaking notes to introduce this bill. This is not what I am referring to when I referred to forty-seven items. This is not the same piece. Once again, the member opposite is confusing it. This is not the document that I used to introduce the dividend tax credit as it relates to the Income Tax Act, 2000. This is a different piece of paper that is not a document of my department.

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

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

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

The litmus test has been met in my view, and this is for your decision, obviously. But the minister - the document was used to influence debate. It was cited. She was reading from it. The minister was reading from it. It is clear that both documents - the one that she held up and said that the Opposition has requested on forty-seven different occasions for money. She must table that because it was used to influence debate. Secondly, she was reading from the other document which were her speaking notes prepared for her by whomever.

AN HON. MEMBER: It does not matter who prepared them.

MR. E. BYRNE: It does not matter who prepared them. She was referring to them and, Mr. Chair, I submit to you, that we can, right now, take a short break if the Chair wishes. You can review the video on this, downstairs, and you will see, as we saw quite clearly, that the minister was reading directly from text. She is obligated to table those two documents. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. It is not a judgement call. If she used the documents she read from - which she did read from it. If it was used to influence debate, then she must table it.

Now, on March 26 - and it says here. I am looking for the decision, Mr. Chair, just for your reference. When this debate occurred on March 26, in this Legislature with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, here was the ruling: "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."

What is important here, it says: "We have listened... and it sounds as if the member is reading from a document." Mr. Chair, I submit to you that the decision made on March 26 obviously was valid, and the request that we are making right now: Have the minister table those two documents, that she must table them because she read and cited from both of them.

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

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

MR. LUSH: I would challenge anybody to count how many times I have spoken; not as many times as your House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, your deputy spoke five times.

MR. LUSH: I don't know what my deputy did, and you spoke as well.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: You do not want me to speak?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: I just want to say, Mr. Chair, that it is not as black and white as the Opposition House Leader makes it. The Opposition House Leader is assuming that the minister quoted from a document. If she quoted from a document, a public document, a state document, then the case is clear; but the hon. minister has said that she is not quoting from a state document, a public document, but from notes, and everybody knows that you do not table notes that have been prepared for a speech. Nobody tables speaking notes.

Also, for your further guidance, I will read to you 494 of Beauchesne: Acceptance of the Word of a Member. It says, "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted." And the minister has said that what she read was not a document but were speaking notes that she prepared and possibly with some information from officials to assist her with the debate in this House.

Mr. Chair, if we come to that, where ministers have to table their speaking notes, that is not a requirement, that is going to the ridiculous. So, Mr. Chair, I say we have to accept the word of the minister. We have to accept the fact that what the minister was quoting from was not a document, was not a public paper.

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

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chair, some of the points that the hon. Government House Leader has just made, he made on March 26 as well. Let me quote it for him: "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."

The fact of the matter, this has nothing to do with accepting the word of a member, I say to the Government House Leader. It is quite clear, the orders are clear, that when a minister of the Crown cites a document, reference a document, uses a document to influence the debate, then the minister, whoever it may be, must table the document upon request. This has nothing to do with questioning the word of a member. This has everything to do with upholding the rules about documents and ministers reading from them or using them, and then according to the rules of the House, absolutely, under no conditions, they must table them. That is the point that we are making.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

While it is common knowledge what ministers and backbenchers - or private members, as they are so-called - are required to do, judging by the looks that I see on the Clerk at the Table, I suggest that we recess for a short time. We will confer and come back with a ruling.

Recess

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair has conferred with the Table and has looked at the precedence, and while it is clear that a minister citing from a state document must be tabled, it is also equally clear that a minister reading from personal notes is not required to table same. The Table and I both agree that we need to look at and listen to the audiotapes; and that, we estimate, will take some forty minutes to look at them all. We ask the House's indulgence to be able to make a definitive ruling on that tomorrow after we have had a chance to listen to the full audiotapes.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) are prepared and the rules are clear that we table our request. If the House needs more time then we are prepared to give whatever time is necessary for the Chair right now to make his ruling and report back to the House on this day.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance to that point.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you.

I would just like to say, for clarification, that in my introductory remarks the amendment to the Income Tax Act, where I introduced the bill, I would be happy to table that as an introduction to the bill, but when I stood the second time and referred to my own personal notes, that is a separate issue and I would say that to you Mr. Chairman, for your ruling.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: We are certainly going to provide you with the necessary time to make the ruling today.

CHAIR: Is it my understanding then that it is the wish of this House that the House do recess to review the audiotapes and to come back in an appropriate time and make a definitive decision?

MR. E. BYRNE: The document which she said she can table now, we would certainly be willing to have that; but we want to be clear, we want to give you the necessary time today to make a ruling today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

It is the pleasure of the Chair that we do recess and that we do listen to the audiotapes. That is what the Chair will do immediately after hearing from the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want a clarification because I really do not know, but I want to be enlightened, as to whether or not there is unanimous consent required before we agree to this intervention. Clearly, from my perspective as one hon. member, the Chair has asked the House to agree to giving him time, or giving the Table and the Chair time to do a proper review of tapes, and maybe Hansard, et cetera. I am prepared, as one member, to accede to that consideration that the Chair has put before the House. If it requires unanimous consent to go in the direction that the hon. Member for Kilbride has agreed to, I would like to know that for my own clarity; because, from my perspective, I think the Chair's request for a proper amount of time to consider this issue is very reasonable and appropriate. As a matter of fact, I would refer to many instances in this House, Mr. Chair, where issues have been brought before the Chair, either the Chair of Committees or the Chair of the House, and it has taken several days to resolve a point of clarification. I do not think, Mr. Chair, that it is unreasonable for the Chair to ask for some time to give due consideration to an issue that was raised here in the House and that was debated for almost an hour and spoken to by probably ten or fifteen members of the House. I just ask for clarification on that issue, whether or not unanimity is required or whether or not it does not require unanimous consent.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: To the point, Mr. Chair, it is pretty clear, in my understanding anyway, that we have asked for the documents, they must be tabled on request, and that you have to make a decision if the House deems so. We want you to make a decision today.

I also want to point out what the minister just said is very telling: that she was willing to table the document in reference to her notes related to the bill. Now, those are not the notes that we asked for. When she stood up and listed forty-seven instances where the Opposition had asked for extra money, I then rose and asked, would she table those? She said, yes.

Mr. Chair, we want to be clear. We want to give you the opportunity right now, today, to make the decision, do the ruling, and then we will move from there.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: She said yes to that one; that is the one they don't want to give us now.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland, to the point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The minister has indicated that she is willing, introductory to the bill, the one I called for on the point of order, she is prepared, she said, to table that. If we could have that tabled now, we would certainly appreciate it. She has consented to tabling that and I think that it is only appropriate that it be now tabled, as the minister has indicated there, so we can have a copy of that.

CHAIR: This House does now stand in recess, but I would suggest -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair was in the process of making a statement. If the member wished to -

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chair, when you are viewing the tape, I wanted to add a point, because I viewed the tape. It might help you when you are viewing it. The one that the minister quoted from in reading the bill and read from will show on the tape. I went through it with people in the broadcast centre and it could be seen that there were three sheets of paper on the document she read from, and she has only tabled one. So, I would like for you to look at that on the tape to see if there were three there because, in my view, and the people, there were three.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have served in this House of Assembly for some fourteen years. I have seen the Opposition ask for documents, and I have seen the Chair rule whether or not those documents are to be presented. Rightfully so, many times they are to be presented, but the last comments that were made by the hon. Member for Ferryland, I guess, I ask him to retract those because he has left the impression that, number one, the Chair would not be impartial in reviewing the tapes, but, more important, challenges the integrity of the -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: The tapes will show also..., challenges the integrity of the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

I speak as a member, and consider myself an hon. member of this House, as all members do, that, should the Chair require the minister to table a document, I have every confidence that the document presented is the one asked for. I ask the hon. member, in due conscience, if no other reason, to respect that we have the credibility of a minister not to be brought into question; and if that was the intent, I ask the hon. member to now withdraw that statement.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The House will now sit in recess until it reviews the audio tapes. The Chair will have to make a decision as to whether we review the video tapes, because I understand that is not within our practice. It is the first time. However, I remind members this is now 4:30 p.m. We will return here at 5:30 p.m., because that is the closing of the House, whether or not we have rendered a decision.

This House stands in recess until a decision is made or, at the very latest, 5:30 p.m.

Recess

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair has taken the opportunity to review the audio tapes, the official record of this House, prior to their being transcribed into Hansard, which is the official proceedings of this House, and is prepared to make the following commentary and the following ruling:

Beauchesne, 495.(2) states, "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."

Also, in Marleau and Montpetit, page 518, the reference is made to, "A public document referred to but not cited by a Minister need not be tabled; only the document cited by a Minister is tabled. If a Minister quotes a private letter in debate, the letter becomes a public document and must be tabled on request. However, a Minister is not obliged to table personal notes referred to during debate or Question Period." The citation refers to the Debates of October 13, 1987 in the House of Commons and I quote the acting Speaker of the day, Mrs. Champagne, "From my understanding of what the Minister has stated..." - by the way, I am quoting directly from the Speaker, and not referring to the present situation. "From my understanding of what the Minister has stated, what he is quoting from is not a despatch or a state paper. Henceforth, I see no obligation for the Minister to table the document."

Therefore, the Chair rules that, in the first instance, the documents referred to in the tapes were referred to by the minister as speaking notes. There is no obligation on the part of the minister to table those, as such.

On the second point raised by the Opposition House Leader, he referred to a list cited by the minister, and the minister, as well, referred to a list of forty-seven items and was asked that they be tabled. The tape is very clear; the minister agreed to table that list of forty-seven items. So, the Chair so directs that the minister, at her discretion, table that list that she read from, referring to the forty-seven items.

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

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

I would have to say, I have full respect for your decision. I just want to say for clarification, again, that these are my personal notes to which I referred. I think, if I understand you correctly, you want me to table these.

CHAIR: The piece that we are asking the minister to table is the piece that she agreed to table on the tapes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

If we might want to listen to what the Chair has to say, perhaps we would not have gotten to this point at 5:15 in the afternoon.

What the Chair has very clearly ruled is that the speaking notes used by the minister, there is no precedent to require her to table same. She has referred to them as speaking notes in and on the tapes, and we take her at her word, that they were in fact speaking notes, as all hon. members should.

The second piece that was requested by the Opposition House Leader was the list that the minister was referring to as a list of requests for additional dollars and so forth, and the minister quite clearly indicated that she was quite prepared to table that list of requests for additional dollars. That is the list that the Chair is asking the minister to honour her word, and to table.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

What I was saying was that, in my deliberation before I was interrupted and asked to table it, I wanted to go through this. I would like an opportunity to read these into the record, if and when and I can table them. I think that was certainly an opportunity. I was referring to these. I was interrupted in the middle of my speech. I lost all of my opportunity to speak to it, Mr. Chair. I was referring to these. I had not read them but I was referring to them and I would like an opportunity to finish that, to come up to my time and to allow these to be entered in as part of my speech or just to finish my speech. I guess I can say what I want; I am holding a document in my hand.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chair, I thank you for your ruling.

The minister has any amount of time to finish her speech. She can finish that the next day that we debate the bill, but your ruling is clear and your rulings are non-debatable. The minister is required to table that list, to table it upon request, and we expect that list to be tabled right now.

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

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

I have a copy here to table and, if I have permission, I would like to carry on with my time as well.

CHAIR: The Page has taken the list outside to be copied.

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

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

As I was saying earlier on, with respect to the dividend tax credit, one of the reasons why we brought in the $3 million tax was to help offset some of the costs associated with delivering our priorities of health and education. What I was saying was talking about the inconsistencies, because when our provincial Budget was delivered, the Leader of the Opposition said the government was too generous and was spending too much money in time of fiscal restraint.

Just this weekend, he said that the Premier was spending this Province into bankruptcy. Still, Mr. Chairman, the Opposition Leader and the rest of caucus have issued forty-seven news releases requesting government to spend millions more. That means forty-seven more demands for increased spending in forty-seven days.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The member opposite from Ferryland was talking about flip-flops and flatfish and I was saying that this is an excellent example of flip-flop, whatever about the flatfish.

The Opposition Leader's inconsistent messages, I believe, are merely an attempt to fool the public, because yet he has not taken a position on whether we should increase spending or reduce spending. Every day in this House we are getting requests for more money, as recently as May 6.

The Member for Bonavista South repeatedly has asked the government to do something about the deplorable road conditions. This, Mr. Chairman, costs more money. Do they want us to spend more money or less money? Still, every day. On May 2, again, the Member for Bonavista South spoke in this House about calling on government to provide support to ensure the Random Passage movie site continued to be available and accessible to tourists. Surely, this again would cost money. Are they asking us to spend more money again? Number forty-five, and I go back again -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

A question has been raised about the minister's time. The records are unclear, but it is the Chair's distinct recollection that we were into a number of points of order back and forth and my clock, when I came back, was into fifty minutes. So in theory, I guess, there was fifty minutes spoken on that. So, in fact, the minister's time at that point had been used. That does not preclude the minister from rising again during this debate -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you.

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

CHAIR: We have a point of order first.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just to be clear.

No one is going to deny the minister leave in terms to clue up. That is not the point. This is a ruling that is important for every member in the House because there will be future situations provided and will present themselves to us so that we need to be clear on it.

When points of order are raised, that need to be decided upon, which the Chair has done, and the amount of time to decide upon that point of order has presented itself and has expired, the Chair came back and made a ruling. I just want to be clear that the minister right now is operating on leave, it is my understanding. Like I said, I want to be clear. We are not going to deny the minister a few moments like members opposite have given every member of this House, on this side, just a few moments to conclude.

The minister did ask, could she finish? We said, yes, we would give her a few minutes to conclude. So, she is operating on leave. I want to be clear on that, Mr. Chair, not on a new ten minutes.

CHAIR: By leave, the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

Again, I think it is important for the people of the Province to know that this is the document, these are my personal notes, which I voluntarily admitted to table, I do admit. They contain forty-seven requests, directly or indirectly, for more money since we have sat in this House, at a time when we are being criticized for being too generous, but still, every day, are being asked to spend more money to grow our deficit.

I also want to say that in one of these - and I just draw attention to it - there is a reference to one particular name. That name was lifted right from a press release. It is the name of a personal person, obviously, which I would prefer that members opposite would realize this was taken from an article in a paper or in another document, I think, a press release. Therefore, I think that what I will do is take the opportunity and share it with my colleagues as well so that they can also see the forty-seven requests that have been made in the forty-seven days for more money, more money, as we are being criticized every day for doing things like raising tobacco taxes and raising $3 million through a dividends tax credit for people who are making over $50,000 a year. In fact, over 75 per cent of that money comes from people who are making a lot of money; in some cases, thousands more dollars than any of us in this House.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

 

Mr. Chair, earlier in the day the Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education made note that this is Youth Week. I am compelled to ask, when we are talking about money and extra monies that are being raised - that is a very good questionn - how are our children doing? Mr. Chair, the members on the other side of the House, particularly the Minister of Fisheries, is consistently interrupting my right to ask a very important question. How are our children doing?

Now, Mr. Chair, last autumn in this House we debated a resolution about children and about poverty. When we talk about increases in things like GDP; when we talk about the way our taxes are going up, we have to ask a very important question: How have the children of Newfoundland and Labrador done since the Liberals have come in office?

Mr. Chair, research will show that in Newfoundland and Labrador, the children of this Province have not faired too well since the Liberal Administration assumed office in 1989. The records will show that only in one year in the last nineteen years have the poverty rate for child poverty in this Province been less than 20 per cent, and that was in 1989. One year, in the past nineteen years, have the child poverty rate in this Province gone below 20 per cent. These are not my stats. These are stats that are released by the national authority. I note that last year, for example, for which data was placed, it was at 25.3 per cent. Recent information shows that instead of the child poverty rate going down, the child poverty rate has gone up to 25.7 per cent. For every other province in Canada in the past year, the child poverty rate has gone down. Newfoundland is the only province in Canada where the child poverty rate has gone up in the last number of years.

So, Mr. Chair, when we come back to this debate again, I will again on tomorrow ask the question: How are our children doing compared to other children in this country? The answer is: They are not doing very well.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, I adjourn the debate for this afternoon.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, I move the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole has reported that the Committee has considered the matters to it referred and has asked him to report some progress -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is putting a motion and there ought to be silence in this House.

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

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, before moving adjournment, a couple of announcements re the Estimates Committees. The Social Services Committee will meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in the House to discuss the Education Estimates. The Government Services Committee will meet 7:00 p.m. tonight here in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this House on its rising do adjourn and that this House do now adjourn.

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