May 29, 2008               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLVI   No. 35


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Today we welcome the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair; the hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale; the hon. the Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi; the hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port; and, the hon. the Member for the District of Bay of Islands.

The hon. the Member for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to acknowledge a National Day of Action in support of First Nations people which is taking place all across the country and is organized by Canadian students.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate the efforts of Aboriginal youth at Memorial University for organizing a call for action on this date as well.

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to attend a breakfast this morning that was hosted by the Canadian Students' Union in collaboration with the Aboriginal Resource Centre, in an effort to raise awareness of issues facing Aboriginal people and communities. I was delighted with the great turnout as well as the demonstrated commitment and spirit of the Aboriginal youth and students that were in attendance.

Mr. Speaker, today is meant to acknowledge the First Peoples of our land. In this Province we have about 24,000 Aboriginal people. It is an important day to show our support and to stand united to draw attention to their issues.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in recognizing the second annual National Day of Action in support of all Aboriginals and to offer congratulations to Melissa Penney and Daniel Smith of the Canadian Federation of Students for their efforts in organizing this event in Newfoundland and Labrador today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour and privilege for me to rise in this House today and to ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Captain Gladys Osmond of Springdale, who was awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws Degree by Memorial University at its convocation on May 27.

From working the counter of the Manuel Family Bakery in 1941, to receiving the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service in 2006 from General Rick Hillier, Captain Osmond is a well-known and loved humanitarian.

She is best known for her dedicated letter writing to men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, which she has been doing tirelessly for the past twenty-one years.

Her career as a teacher and a Salvation Army Officer began in Monkstown in 1944. She settled in Peterview in 1947, where she raised five children. After her husband's death in 1980, she began working with the Evangeline Centre in Toronto, a refuge for the homeless, psychiatric outpatients and battered women. She retired and returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1988, settling in Springdale's Valley Vista Long-Term Care Facility, but when a chance came to write to the soldier son of an old friend, the Granny Brigade of Valley Vista was founded - an initiative which sent hundreds of thousands of individual letters, postcards and notes to Canadian soldiers.

Both General Hillier and former Lieutenant Governor Edward Roberts travelled to Springdale to present Captain Osmond with well deserved awards for her efforts.

Last December, Marie and I were privileged to visit with Captain Osmond at her residence in Valley Vista, Springdale, and to hear from her first-hand her countless stories of communications with Canada's soldiers, airmen and women, both overseas and at home.

As the MHA for Baie Verte-Springdale, I was pleased to join with many other community leaders in Springdale in nominating Captain Osmond for this well-deserved honour. I compliment all of them for their foresight and their spirit of community generosity.

Congratulations and best wishes to Doctor Gladys Osmond.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to stand in the House today and recognize Janet McNaughton and Bernice Morgan, two wonderful authors who won top prize in this year's Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards sponsored by the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Janet McNaughton won in the Bruneau Family Children's Literature - Young Adult Book category for her book, Raintree Rebellion.

Bernice Morgan won the Downhome fiction prize for her novel, Cloud of Bone.

These awards were presented at Government House in St. John's this past Tuesday. Each author received $1,500. Both of these writers have added greatly to the canon of literature in Newfoundland and Labrador, something of which we are all so proud.

Bernice Morgan is best known for her novel, Random Passage and its sequel, Waiting for Time. Janet McNaughton is known for many of her young adult novels, two of which are Catch Me Once Catch Me Twice and To Dance at the Palais Royal.

I ask the members of this House to join me in congratulating Janet McNaughton and Bernice Morgan on their awards.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CORNECT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this hon. House to congratulate the winners and nominees at the recently-held Premier's Athletic Awards ceremony here in St. John's. These athletes were recognized for outstanding accomplishments in sport.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud of the fact that three athletes from Stephenville were honoured and recognized for their success and achievement. I would like to congratulate Jenelle Hulan for her dedication, hard work and excellence in the sport of ice hockey. Also, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate and applaud Crystal Miesseau and Garret Benoit for their commitment and endurance in the sport of wrestling.

As everyone knows, it takes a lot of professionalism and athleticism to excel in your sport, but it also demands enthusiasm, perseverance and stamina. They must also have the training opportunities to allow them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Mr. Speaker, these athletes and all athletes, have certainly done us proud as a region and as a Province, as they make their way and their mark on being the best athlete that they can be.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this hon. House of Assembly to join with me in congratulating Jenelle, Crystal and Garret and all the award winners and nominees of the Premier's Awards, on their invaluable achievements in sport.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LODER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this great House today to recognize the 4-H movement of Newfoundland and Labrador. This program promotes the development of individuals to become a well-balanced, responsible member of society. Members work within the organization of a club, participating as a group in activities.

I would like to commend the leaders and members of the Summerside 4-H Rockets Club and the Provincial 4-H Council on their successful 4-H competitions held in Clarenville this past weekend. These competitions are held annually and members of the various 4-H clubs across our Province compete in competitions such as Demonstrations and Public Speaking.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the dedicated leaders and members we have in these clubs. I would also like to congratulate winners of the Summerside 4-H Rockets who participated and won in the following competitions: Wilfred Bellows won the Junior Single Demonstration. Bradley Wheeler-Park and Kendra Wheeler won the Junior Double Demonstration.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to congratulate all the members who participated in the competitions and wish the clubs many more successful years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your time and attention.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education and Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, for the past four days, thirty-seven high school and post-secondary students have been in Calgary participating in the national Skills Canada Competition. I am pleased to report that ten of our students received medals at the competition this year.

It is extremely encouraging to see this level of interest and success by so many of our Province's young people. It is an indication that we are making great strides in promoting skilled trades to our young people through initiatives like this $11 million high school skilled trades program, and $1.5 million in funding to double the number of seats in skilled trades programming at the College of the North Atlantic.

Most recently, Mr. Speaker, we have invested $200,000 to support a request to employers and unions to pilot initiatives aimed at females and the trades. Their proposals will test new approaches to increase the number of female apprentices in the workplace.

I have made it a priority to ensure that as a government, we take all necessary steps to break down barriers in the skilled trades, a sector traditionally dominated by men. I am pleased to report that since 2004, the number of women registering for apprenticeship programs in non-traditional trades is up by 35 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: In addition, Budget 2008 is allocating $1.3 million annually to support the hiring of apprentices in government boards and agencies. This builds on more than $2.3 million over the past two years to hire apprentices across government. I am pleased that as a government we are making a very practical contribution to help build our skilled labour force and I encourage other employers in our Province to do the same.

It is evident from the results of the Skills Canada Competition that our youth are recognizing the opportunities that exist in the skilled trades. Their individual success, Mr. Speaker, will translate into success for our Province overall. An investment in this area is certainly money well spent.


I offer my congratulations to this year's winners and best wishes to all who competed at the Skills Canada Competition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the minister for an advanced copy of her statement, and to say that we in the Official Opposition want to congratulate those people. Unfortunately, I have not seen it in the media but I would love to see the list because I think some students from my area, as well as many others, took part in this competition. I am wondering how many of them made it into the top ten.


Mr. Speaker, I guess it just goes to show that it is great to see that we are doing wonderful work for the skilled trades of our Province and to know that the numbers of women have increased taking part in those different initiatives.


Mr. Speaker, I just want to - I guess on the side of caution, it is wonderful, we know we have the young people, we know we have the skilled trades, but I guess the big thing to look forward to, and I am sure government is working on this, is to see that those young people can find the employment that they are so skilled to partake in, find the jobs here in our Province and will not have to leave for other areas in our country.


Mr. Speaker, today we want to congratulate all those who took part in the Skills Canada program and we look forward to seeing the list, and we want to compliment the minister on her statement.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for the advanced copy of her statement.

I am pleased to join in congratulating the ten students who received medals at the Skills Canada Competition this year. It is an extremely important competition. I was pleased once to be able to be at one of the competitions and see how exciting they are.

I would also like to note that the minister is quite right; numbers are improving for involvement in skilled trades, especially for women apprentices. I think it has been extremely important that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has worked closely with community efforts around getting women into skilled trades.

In particular, since 1999, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has worked with women in resource development and with the College of the North Atlantic in promoting the orientation to trades and technology program for women on several campuses of the college. I would just like to encourage the minister to make sure, and also the Minister of HRLE to make sure, that support for the OTT continues because it is so crucial to the figures that the minister has put forward today.

Once again, I congratulate the students. I am delighted with the direction in which we are going, but in terms of numbers we all know we have a long ways to go especially with regard to women in skilled trades.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers.

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, since Tuesday, after receiving the legislation on Bill 36, we have had a number of discussions and consultations with the legal counsel for the Innu Nation and also with the Metis Nation. They have indicated, Mr. Speaker, that legislation such as that being tabled in the House of Assembly at this time would normally contain standard provisions and include non-derogation clauses to protect Aboriginal rights.

I ask the minister today why her and her government have not provided for those standard conditions within this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I stated here in the House yesterday, the only way that Aboriginal rights can be extinguished is through voluntary surrender or an amendment to the Constitution of Canada.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the Premier spoke with Mark Nui this morning, from the Innu Nation, offered him the legal opinion from our Department of Justice that confirms what I have just said, and also gave him his own personal commitment that there would extinguishment of Aboriginal rights.

This is very satisfactory to Mark Nui, Mr. Speaker, and we will table such a document here in the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question to the minister is: If she feels that the legislation provides for the safeguards, why would you not go the extra step and put the non-derogation clause into the legislation, which is a standard across the country?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is not in the bill because it is not necessary to be in the bill. This has been tested in the Supreme Court of Canada. There are only two circumstances under which Aboriginal rights can be extinguished. As I have said before, Mr. Speaker, that is by voluntary surrender or by an amendment to the Constitution of Canada. It is not necessary to protect Aboriginal rights in this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would also like to ask the minister again, in reference to Bill 36: Does that bill increase the catchment area originally given to the Lower Churchill Development Corporation; and, if it does, by how much or how many square kilometres?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, there is a real confusion with the Opposition about what this bill is and what it does.

The only mechanism we have to award water rights on the Lower Churchill has to come through this Legislature. Right now, under the Lower Churchill Development Act, the only option we have is to award the water rights to LCDC, the Lower Churchill Development Corporation.

We have decided that the Energy Corp. is going to be the lead on the development of the Lower Churchill. Therefore, we have to come back to this House to provide for a mechanism for us to award the water rights, and that is what this bill speaks to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We understand perfectly what the purpose of the bill is, Minister.

My question is: Has the catchment area that has been referenced in this bill increased from the original catchment area as was awarded to the Lower Churchill Development Corporation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: No, Mr. Speaker. The only thing that this bill speaks to, instead of having the option only to award water rights to LCDC, we are now, through this Legislature, allowing the Cabinet to award the water rights to the Energy Corp.

That is the only change, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, under the proposed amendments in Bill 35 – I asked a couple of questions on this yesterday and I just want to seek some further clarification – the Energy Corporation will be exempt from the Securities Act.

I ask the Premier: How can that be justified, exempting the Energy Corporation from legislation that would govern every other private sector corporation in the Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In our due diligence in preparing this legislation to come before the House of Assembly, we have looked at acts such as the Securities Act. Mr. Speaker, it does not work for the Energy Corporation; however, we have taken the major disclosure tools that are in the Securities Act and included them in the legislation for the Energy Act.

We will have an annual consolidated report. We will have annual consolidated financial statements. We will have an annual general meeting for the people of the Province, the shareholder of the Energy Corp.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It appears that, in this legislation, the Auditor General will definitely be restricted. For example, in the course of an investigation, if he finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing that involves so-called commercially-sensitive information, he will be forced to report to the Cabinet; but, Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet will act as judge and jury on these matters.

I ask the Premier today: Will the Auditor General have the authority to report criminal matters directly to the police upon their discovery within the Energy Corporation or any of its subsidiary corporations?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Auditor General finds what he believes to be wrongdoing in terms of the executive of the Energy Corp., he will then report back to the Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, that is right, but he will also, in his report to the House, reference that he has raised such an issue with the Cabinet, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, this House will know and the public will know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: The minister knows that several months could pass from the time that an incident is reported to the Cabinet to a report being tabled in the House of Assembly that would only make mere mention of the fact.

I ask the minister: Why would you not allow for the provisions within the act for the Auditor General to report directly to the police, as well as to the Cabinet, any wrongdoing or any criminal activity that might be found?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the only concern that Cabinet would have with regard to reporting what might be felt to be illegal behaviour or wrongdoing is the protection of commercially-sensitive information. This Cabinet is here, and any Cabinet is here, to protect the best interests of the people of the Province, and they will act accordingly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Government has also stated that subsidiaries of the Energy Corporation will act as non-Crown agencies. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I think, in essence, it will not be controlled by government and it will not place liabilities on the people of the Province.

There is still some uncertainty as to whether this can work. The only existing example, when I had the briefing with the minister's officials - that they could provide to me - was that it had been done with the boxing commission of the Province; and, from what I understand, there has been no case within the boxing commission that has ever been tested in the court system.

I ask the Premier: How can you be certain that the courts would uphold this legislation and agree that these subsidiaries are non-Crown agents in the case of some major liability issues that would occur within that particular project?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In establishing this setup of the Energy Corporation, there has been extensive consultation and review of corporate structures in other countries throughout the world, and also in relation to Quebec.

What we are trying to do here is establish it like a private company, try to set it up so that the Energy Corporation would then oversee, as outlined in the energy plan, but that the subsidiary companies can be set up in a way that allows them to operate without exposing government to liability. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will still operate the way it does.

The subsidiaries are set up in a way, Mr. Speaker, that has been suggested, based on what we consider to be good, sound, legal advice and we are going to follow that advice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, the government stated yesterday in questioning that the board of directors for these subsidiaries would be appointed in consultation with the CEO, the Energy Corporation and also by the Provincial Cabinet.

I ask the minister: How can they be viewed independently by the court? I guess my question is: What guarantees do you have that these subsidiary companies will indeed be independent in the eyes of the court system?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, we have had some very bright lawyers look at this, and we have also sought opinions in relation to the best practices that can be utilized in setting up this corporate structure.

With all due respect to the Leader of the Opposition, her legal opinions, or the legal opinions of the Opposition really do not mean a whole lot to us. What we are trying to do here is what is best for the people of this Province and the Energy Corporation. The set up of the Energy Corporation is one that we are confident in and one that will meet the tests that are outlined in the various case laws. In that respect, Mr. Speaker, again, we have acted on legal advice that has been given to us. We have looked through this legislation, and we are satisfied that this company will be ran as it should be, or the set up will be like a private corporation or like the companies, I think, in Denmark and other companies throughout the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


I do not think there is any need for the minister to be insulting. These are very straightforward, detailed questions that the public deserves to have answers to.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask the minister: Has he cases that he can site for us in which there is a board of directors appointed by government, but yet they are supposed to be seen as non-Crown agents in which there will be no liabilities held for the people of the Province? Is there any cases?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will endeavour to satisfy the Leader of the Opposition's curiosity with regard to this matter. We have looked at state-owned corporations around the world. In fact, 80 per cent of natural resource development that takes place in the world takes place by state-owned companies. We particularly looked at Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. We have looked at CHHC and what goes on there. We have looked at Hydro Quebec and we have looked at British Columbia Energy. We have done our homework on this bill, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, if the subsidiary companies are government run, who will the independent subsidiaries report to and what reporting mechanisms will be in place and, I guess, how will that information be reported, would be the question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, these are complicated issues to try to address in a one minute response. That is a significant part of the reason why we did a technical briefing with the Opposition and with the members of the media. This is a corporate structure that is used by StatoilHydro, by Hydro Quebec, by BC Energy, it is used in the private sector. What better example that I could hold out for you in terms of corporate structure but our own Fortis.

Mr. Speaker, the way this is structured, these subsidiaries report to the Energy Corp., the parent company. In terms of their activities, the legislation protects the people of the Province from liability.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I guess I want to remind the minister that the reason for all of these questions is that we do not have $900 million in the Fortis company but we do within this new Energy Corp. through the borrowing power of legislation we gave them in the House of Assembly, as well as the $300 million in the last Budget.

Mr. Speaker, should any of these subsidiaries decide to sell any of its assets or shares in the projects, what public disclosure will take place under this current legislation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we welcome questions from the Opposition. My only observation was, we gave quite an extensive technical briefing yesterday where we could give fuller explanations to these questions than is allowed for in a one-minute response in Question Period. We are coming up for a debate here later today, Mr. Speaker, and I will be glad to engage further then. We will stay here for as long as they want, to ensure that their questions are answered.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister brings up the technical briefing and I thank you, Minister, for providing that. Obviously, we did not get all the answers that we needed, and that is why we continue to ask questions.

Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Accord and the C-NLOPB have a vigorous process in place to ensure that tendering and local benefits are accrued to people in the Province. Any time that an oil company awards contracts outside of that process they have to report it to the C-NLOPB for a review. By removing the Energy Corporation from the Public Tender Act, government is effectively removing this oversight, and many local suppliers will be left out of the bidding process.

I ask the Premier: How can all local companies have confidence that there will be an equal and competitive competition at winning contracts under the new regime for awarding contracts within the Energy Corporation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to point out that the Energy Corp., in terms of its oil and gas activities, will be subject to all the rules and regulations of the C-NLOPB. That is to start with, Mr. Speaker. This company, as the Premier said yesterday, is not going making widgets. We are talking about large projects, large oil and gas, the development of the Lower Churchill and large wind. One of the reasons that we want to ensure that we can protect adjacency, that we can protect local procurement, where we can ensure that the benefits come to the people nearest to the resource, is the reason why we are asking for removal of the Public Tender Act in this instance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that the subsidiaries could very well be making widgets before it is all over. We cannot project what this corporation is going to do, but we are giving them legislation to do it before it even starts.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, yesterday government stated that one of the major reasons to exempt the Energy Corporation from the Public Tender Act was time considerations.

I ask the minister today: Why not consider building in provisions in the Public Tender Act to protect against this, and to have a mechanism by which you can report back to the House of Assembly any exemptions that are granted either through yourself or another ministerial department that may govern that particular corporation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I explained yesterday, the Public Tendering Act is not a suitable vehicle for us in terms of the kind of work that is contemplated under the Energy Corporation. It just does not work in that kind of a circumstance where you have very large projects.

What we are concerned about, when we go to develop the Lower Churchill, we have a larger consideration than the lowest price, Mr. Speaker, which is the main element of the Public Tender Act; however, we are listening to what our friends across the way are saying and we will be proposing an amendment in Committee that says if we ever get to making widgets the Cabinet will have the authority to put the subsidiary under the Public Tender Act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board 2007-2008 Strategic Plan outlines a commitment to a culture of openness, but we have learned that environmental groups and media have had difficulty obtaining information from the directors of MMSB.

I ask the minister: Why is the MMSB making it difficult to obtained detailed information regarding its programs?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is referring to some of the reports in the media yesterday.

I spoke to MMSB this morning. I understand MMSB has offered a full briefing on the issues and the facts around the Waste Management Strategy and the trust fund to CBC, and certainly that offer is wide open.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, the MMSB has collected 1.5 million tires since 2002 and has yet to execute a plan for their actual recycling. Through that collection, they charge a $3 levy on every average sized tire purchased in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, given the absence of a tire recycling program, I ask the minister: Where is the MMSB stockpiling the money collected from those tires?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of tires is not an issue just for us here in Newfoundland and Labrador; this is an issue for all of North America. We are trying to deal with the tire situation.

The MMSB has worked very diligently, and the member opposite would know exactly how difficult it is to come up with a solution because they did provide some solutions in the past that certainly did not work, and we had an environmental mess to clean up ourselves because of the program that they put in place when they were there.

We are diligently working with this. We are engaged with an organization, and we do hope to make an announcement in the very near future; but, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that, when we do this, we do have a proposal that is sustainable for the future so that future governments will not have to deal with the mess that we had to deal with when we came in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I say to the minister, she has had five years in her Cabinet now looking at the same mess that they are referring to, that they inherited.

Mr. Speaker, surplus revenues from the collection of levies on the sale of recycled products are funnelled into the waste reduction fund currently in the order of $11.6 million.

I ask the minister: Why is there $11 million sitting in a bank account when we have problems with recycling programs, such as for tires, e-waste and paper?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the hon. member would know, we announced the Waste Management Strategy in May 2007 and at that time the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs announced $200 million, Mr. Speaker, for the Waste Management Strategy.

Having said that, in the interim, if there were organizations or municipalities that wanted to implement programs sooner than those implementation dates then we are very supportive as a government to provide funding. That funding would come from the trust fund that the member is referring to, and there are so many other programs, great work that we are doing in terms of household hazardous waste, backyard composting, advertising, public information, our Let's Get to Half campaign, supporting the fifteen management authorities, and so on and so on, and I can give you some more information (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier, as a result of an answer that was given by the Minister of Natural Resources earlier in Question Period today.

The minister referenced a phone conversation that took place between the Premier and Mark Nui, the President of the Innu Nation, this morning. In the interest, probably, because this is going to be a matter of intense debate, I would think, for the next while in this House, I am wondering if there is anything the Premier can share with us, as a result of that conversation, that might enlighten and add to the level of knowledge we have, before we go forward in that debate?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Sure, Mr. Speaker, I would only be too delighted.

We had a Cabinet meeting this morning. We decided at Cabinet that it would be appropriate if I gave President Nui a call, just to give the Innu people a reassurance that there is nothing underhanded, through the back door, being done here, or that there is anything they should be concerned about.

We had a very good discussion along the lines of what the minister has already answered with respect to the inability to extinguish Aboriginal rights. It can only be done through an amendment to the Constitution, or if those rights are actually surrendered. As the hon. gentleman opposite knows, through the Sparrow decision, the Supreme Court of Canada, those rights have been very, very firmly and clearly established.

During the course of that conversation, I assured Mark Nui that he would have a letter from me forthwith, which I am not certain was to be countersigned by the Attorney General, whether that was actually done or not. I know, I signed off on the letter, it is gone. Whether it was countersigned or not, that letter has actually been completed, and if it is not going to be countersigned then it will have gone under my signature to President Nui as recently as half an hour ago.

He has a letter from me -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

He has a letter from me and he seems to be quite comfortable with the answers that he received this morning; absolutely.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: The reason for our asking, Mr. Speaker, is because we had correspondence from legal counsel for the Innu yesterday saying that they wanted an amendment put forward under the Act so that the protections would be built in.

I am just wondering if we can have a copy of that letter. That might save a lot of trouble in terms of debate and amendments and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we would be only too delighted to provide a copy of that letter.

I want to assure all members of the Opposition that this is a collaborative process, that we see real value in debate here. I am not just saying this for political purposes, I really mean it. If hon. members opposite have constructive amendments that can strengthen this legislation with a view to making it even better, providing, of course, it meets the objectives of the minister and her department, we would be only too delighted to see them. Obviously, that goes for all members.

We look forward to a good debate. I hope it is not a political debate, because it certainly shouldn't be. Well, if I speak there is going to be a little politics go into it. Having said all that, I found in the past when we were in Opposition that I think it can strengthen legislation, so we certainly welcome any amendments and we are certainly prepared to entertain, obviously, any amendments that come forward.

The letter will be provided and if there is any feedback or anything that comes from the Innu Nation we will certainly keep you informed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Government Services.

Yesterday, the Minister of Natural Resources said, in response to a question about placing adjacency in local benefit clauses in the Public Tender Act, that the Minister of Government Services is conducting a review of the Act.

I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, if the minister could give us details today about what this review will entail.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, government is always evaluating their processes, especially in regard to purchases and procurements. When I was assigned the Department of Government Services I initiated an RFP in regard to hiring a consultant to review our procurement practices and also to review the Public Tender Act, with a view to enhancing it if we possibly can, or if it is fine well then that is fine, as it is today. In the meantime, if it does need enhancements, or any of our procurement policies need enhancements, then we are open for that particular piece.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The last time there was a full review of the Public Tender Act was, I think, ten years ago in 1998, and at that time there was broad consultation with public and private interests.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister whether or not this time in the review, that you have hired a consultant for, there will be a public consultation that will be part of the review and what it will consist of?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly, as shown in the past, this government is always open to public consultation and input from the public. As we go through this process, if public consultation is required, I am certainly open to it as a minister. We have an open door policy in the department and in this government in regards to that input. So, we will research that, too, as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, I take it then there is not a plan in place yet and you are still at a planning phase, is that what is happening?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services, responsible for the Government Purchasing Agency.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, as we go through the proper process, in regards to the report itself, the report is not available at this particular time, so we have to wait for that report to come forward first and then we will formulate a plan. We have to look at the recommendations that would fall out of that report, evaluate it, and then we will see. If it is needed, well then - the consultant may very well come back and say, no, there is no problem with your procurement process or your Public Tender Act. In that case, no consultation is needed, but if there is consultation needed, I will certainly entertain it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia plans to introduce a sustainable government procurement policy by 2009. A government working group will hold public consultations this summer to get input on what this policy could include.

Is the minister open to a review of the Public Tender Act, including consultation with environmental industries and groups with a goal of introducing a green, sustainable procurement policy?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Again, Mr. Speaker, we have to evaluate the report itself and look at the recommendations that were made by the particular consultant and then we will move forward on that, but we are always open to other jurisdictions in regards to what they are doing. We are always evaluating across Canada. We do not want to reinvent the wheel if we do not have to reinvent the wheel, and certainly, we will look at other jurisdictions and make a decision accordingly on that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is still not clear to me if this consultant actually held consultations, and if the consultant did, how broad were those consultations?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, that was not a part of the RFP in regards to that piece of work that was required by the department for the consultant to do. It was a review of our procurement process, also a review of the Public Tender Act. So, consultations would not be a part of that process.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for Questions and Answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last week in Question Period the Leader of the Opposition asked me to provide estimated profits by Hydro Quebec from the Upper Churchill in 2007. Mr. Speaker, I have that information, $1.4 billion was earned by Hydro Quebec in 2007 from the Upper Churchill, $67 million by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that under Standing Order 11, I shall move that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 2, 2008.

Further, I give notice that under Standing Order 11, I shall move that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on Monday, June 2, 2008.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motion?

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

 

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I have some information here that I would like to table regarding some questions from the House during this session.

MR. SPEAKER: Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move Motion 1, to move, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. today, Thursday, May 29.

Further, I also move Motion 2, to move, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on today, Thursday, May 29.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that this House do not adjourn at 5:30 o'clock today, Thursday, May 29.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

The second motion, number two, is that this House do not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. today being Thursday.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, upon coming into force of clause 2 of Bill 32, An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act, the Public Accounts Committee shall consist of: the Member for Port de Grave; the Member for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans; the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's; the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair; the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune; the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, and the Member for The Isles of Notre Dame.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the structure of the Public Accounts Committee signify by saying ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against?

The motion is carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 33.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain bills and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Collins): Order please!

We are now ready to debate Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act." (Bill 33)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried - or I'm sorry.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will not belabour the issue on this Bill 33 in committee, but I would like to reiterate a couple of comments that I made regarding this bill when it was in second reading, and in particular, some thoughts, I guess, of the Child and Youth Advocate herself as to the propriety of this bill.

Again, for the record, for the record, we dealt with this on the board of management yesterday in a meeting. I was concerned about the fact that we were dealing with it in the House before it had been dealt with by the board of management, and again I reiterated that at the board of management meeting yesterday morning, because I do feel it is necessary that we do this thing appropriately. I can confirm now that the board of management has dealt with it and it has been properly sanctioned by the board of management now and they have agreed that this should come to the floor of the House to be finished in terms of debate.

I would also like to say for the record that, as a member of the board of management, I voted against that decision and my reasons have not changed from second reading, or to the board of management, as to why I will not be voting in favour of Bill 33.

My reasons, as I outlined earlier, were not because of the subpoena powers. I think that is quite evident and quite clear, and I think that is quite necessary on the part of the Child and Youth Advocate, that she needs to have that authority in order to properly and efficiently and effectively do her job, so I have no problems with that piece of Bill 33.

In fact, at the board of management meeting, I read the letter from the Child and Youth Advocate. Again, anybody who reads it, she is pretty clear that she has no problem with Bill 33 vis-ΰ-vis the subpoena issues. She does not make any comments about what she thinks of the other provisions of Bill 33. She says, you know, I have no problem with Bill 33, and then she goes on to elaborate and say yes, I asked for these subpoena powers and they are in there and they are quite adequate and it is going to be great.

I want to make it quite clear that I do not believe for a moment that the correspondence from the Child and Youth Advocate addresses the particulars of Bill 33. It address the particulars vis-ΰ-vis the subpoena powers, but not the overall import of it.

Again, regardless of what the Child and Youth Advocate thinks, it is my position as a legislator here that it is improper and it is unnecessarily restrictive, and somewhere out of the blue all of these provisions, except for the one about subpoenas, ended up in this Bill 33. I am wondering where they came from, because they did not come from the Child and Youth Advocate. So, somebody outside of the board of management, somebody outside of the Child and Youth Advocate, brought forward all of these amendments, and they are very restrictive in nature. They talk about the minister deciding what is appropriate in certain cases, and what can and cannot be investigated. They talk about decisions to investigate, what she can and cannot. She cannot do anything that involves the House of Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor, a committee of the House of Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Executive Council or a committee of the Executive Council.

That is pretty restrictive stuff, when you are telling a Child and Youth Advocate that you cannot go to any of these public institutions and bodies, and then 15 gives the Justice Minister carte blanche in overruling whenever he feels he wants to, and that was never the intent of a Child and Youth Advocate, to put restrictions on that person of that nature.

We see it again, another example, and we are going to get into this later in the day, about a government that does not mind just pulling the blanket down and saying, nobody is going to see what goes on in behind, or restricting what these House officers are allowed to do.

We see it in the case of the Energy Corp. that we are going to debate later today, and now we see it here again in the Child and Youth Advocate. The government is saying we, and in this case one individual, are deciding what the Child and Youth Advocate can and cannot investigate.

That was never the intent of the Child and Youth Advocate, to have those kinds of limitations. That is why we wanted someone who operated independently of government to be in that position, the same as we have an Auditor General. We wanted an individual who, once appointed by government, had carte blanche to do what he or she felt was appropriate, vis-ΰ-vis the children of this Province, to act as an advocate for and to investigate issues that concern children.

Here we have gone back now, again, we are gone back, after creating that proper institution, that independent body and that independent person, which we took so much time and effort to do, four or five years ago, here we are now, we are going to put a blanket on them again and put shackles on her. I see and have heard no justification for it.

We cannot, on the one end, be preaching that we want to be independent – and, by the way, the Minister of Justice did not create the Child and Youth Advocate. The legislation was created, and it was specifically created as an officer of the House. The Child and Youth Advocate does not operate as an office of the Department of Justice, or an office of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, no more than the Auditor General does, or the Information and Privacy Commissioner, or the Elections Commissioner.

Here we are, again, we have taken these very restrictive, draconian measures now to limit what a Child and Youth Advocate can do. I will go on record as saying, again, this will come back to haunt this government, and I do not mean just this government. It will come back to haunt governments, because there is going to be a situation where the Child and Youth Advocate wants to do something and this piece of legislation is going to restrict her, bar her hands, and there is going to be hell to pay from somebody, saying why did we ever put ourselves in this situation, to do this?

You cannot preach independence on the one hand and, on the other hand, put a shackle on somebody, and that is the contradiction that we are creating here. Again, I ask, where did it come from? The Child and Youth Advocate, to my knowledge, did not put forward these propositions here, other than the piece about subpoena power. That is the only one that she put forward, and that was what the board of management was dealing with. That was why the ball got rolling here, and I do not know why government – because it obviously had to be government, if it wasn't the board of management that did it, which is the House, and if it wasn't the Child and Youth Advocate who did. Somebody came up with these reasons to put this into Bill 33, and I think that is inappropriate.

Again, I think it is draconian, it is unnecessary, it did not come from the proper source, and for those reasons I think anybody who votes for this, they have gone way beyond. It is unnecessary, it does not need to be there, and this member certainly will not, under these circumstances, be voting for Bill 33 unless the provisions of the subpoena were severed out of it, and then I would have no problem with it.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chair, I must say, I am very disappointed in the approach being taken by the Opposition House Leader. It is one thing to have a lack of legal knowledge; it is another thing to display your ignorance before a TV audience out there that is looking at this House to take a mature approach to the law.

What we are trying to here is protect the most vulnerable in our society. We are trying to assist the Child and Youth Advocate, and we are trying to do it in a very positive way. For this member to vote against this bill, I would suggest, Sir, shows either a lack of understanding, a lack of caring, or simply an opportunity to grandstand because there is someone out there listening. Either way, Mr. Chairman, that kind of behaviour on the part of a member who has been in this House for quite some time, I would suggest to you, demonstrates why there are three of them over there and the rest of us are over here, because the public sees through this, Mr. Chairman. It is what they did in the last Legislature.

What they have to do - and I remember starting my comments the first time I stood up here - when a good piece of legislation comes in, as this piece of legislation is, as the energy bill is, they should be supporting us, not using words like draconian. There is no need for hyperbole, Mr. Chairman, when we are talking about the protection of the most vulnerable of our society.

The Leader of the NDP asked me a question the other day, and I went away and hopefully found an answer which addresses that, Mr. Chairman, and that related to the question of section 15.1 and the question of the Child and Youth Advocate not being able to review the order, decision or omission of a court.

For the reference of the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, at pages 7 to 13 of the Turner report, Dr. Markesteyn reviews the constitutional limitations upon the Child and Youth Advocate Act and the principles upon judicial independence.

Mr. Chair, Dr. Markesteyn, at page 7, says, "Secondly, I have been advised that I cannot, in my Review, make an assessment of the proceedings - the manner in which proceedings were conducted (the process) and resulting decisions - under (a) the Extradition Act, (b) the Criminal Code, or (c) the Children's Law Act because of the principle of judicial independence." This section is in there because of the legal limitations placed on the scope of review.

Obviously, Dr. Markesteyn, from my read of the report, certainly would have engaged upon the review of what took place, but when we look at the principles of judicial independence, as outlined there in the report at pages 7 to 13, there is good reason why this section is in there.

Mr. Chair, sometimes I wish the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile would read between the lines. He is an experienced lawyer and he is experienced in this House of Assembly. I gave him the answer last week but he was not, obviously, listening to me in terms of why the Minister of Justice needs powers in certain circumstances. There can be an opportunity for parallel investigations to be ongoing.

We know in this case, for example, in the Gregory Parsons murder investigation that resulted in his wrongful conviction, it commenced in 1991. It was close to 2001 or 2002 before it was finally resolved. We know that there have been investigations - there was a recent investigation in Gander that went on for three years. What happens, there is a possibility that if the Child and Youth Advocate could embark upon an investigation that could endanger a very significant police investigation. It is not a matter that the Child and Youth Advocate will never review. It is a question of the timing of the review.

Mr. Chair, I would assume that the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile knows, and I do know that we - I am continuously, since I have been here now, trying to correct some of the mistakes that were made by this Liberal government as indicated by putting the right to counsel of choice back into legislation. That was removed by the Liberals, for whatever reason. You talk about draconian, that is the kind of legislative behaviour that is draconian.

Again, I am being quite frank here, there has been a measure of inflammatory comment and hyperbole on the part of the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, but his knowledge, or lack of knowledge of criminal law is obviously showing through. It is so obvious as to why the Minister of Justice - one circumstance where the Minister of Justice has to have a certain power. All the Minister of Justice is doing is certifying. Then, speaking to whoever he says is out there, is it Joe or Mary out in TV land? Well, do not be fooled by what the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile is saying, because what he is showing is an abysmal lack of knowledge of at least the criminal justice system, and here today, in terms of this system, in terms of the Child and Youth Advocate.

Mr. Chair, he voted against the amendments to the Provincial Court Judges Act the other day, the per diem judges, where we are trying to improve the system. So what is it that the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile wants? Does he want the status quo to remain, or does he want improvements to be made? Because that is what we are trying to do, we are trying to improve the system.

As indicated on previous occasions, the Minister of Finance, when he was in the position of Minister of Justice, he started the improvements in terms of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary; the implementations of the Lamer Report. He looked towards improving the system. Now we are at the stage where we are looking to the prison review. We are looking at the efficiencies in Provincial Court. I was before the Senate yesterday dealing with the need for more judicial resources to implement Family Justice Services.

What we are continuously doing is trying to improve. Yet, what do we get over there? What do we get? We get a member who - and I am assuming now when he practiced law, I am assuming that he would have practiced in the criminal courts. I think he did some work as a prosecutor. Well, there are very sensitive areas, Mr. Chair. In fact, under section 37 of the Canada Evidence Act is the one area in criminal law, that I am aware of, that would allow (inaudible) to appeal when evidence or an issue is of a public interest privilege.

So, there are privileges in law, Mr. Chair. There is informer privilege. We have talked about solicitor-client privilege in this House, and we have to be aware. So, do not, I say to the member, leave false impressions with the people listening out there. Do not count upon the fact, as he appears to do, that they are naοve and they will not see through it. Because what he is doing, he is attempting to obstruct and obfuscate. He is a double-O legislative member, Mr. Chair, because that is all I have heard for the last week. I have heard grandstanding, I have heard preaching, I have heard a condescending attitude, but what I say to this member, if you do not have anything positive and constructive to add, keep quiet. Do the public a favour.

Mr. Chair, I will point out, I would like to table, as I have indicated the other day, the e-mail from the Child and Youth Advocate indicating that she has reviewed the draft bill and that it will enable her to fulfill her mandate. That was dated May 5, Mr. Chair. I would like to table that, please.

Secondly, Mr. Chair, my deputy minister spoke with the Child and Youth Advocate this morning. She read Hansard last week, I am informed, and Mr. Burrage was informed. She read Hansard and she is happy with the bill as it is.

Now, if she is happy who is the member speaking to? Who is he trying to impress? Because he is not impressing anyone here. I have not heard anything he said yet that is impressive. On 15.2, Mr. Chair, well, lo and behold, the Liberals put that in the Citizens' Representative Act. So, it is okay for this minister, when he was there between 2000 and 2003, for him to be allowed to issue a certificate to tell the Citizens' Rep not to investigate, it is okay for the Liberals to put that in, but it is not okay for us, when we have offered, as much as I am going to offer, a legal and public interest justification.

I can assure you, Mr. Chair, that as a Minister of Justice it would be very rare that any minister – personally, that is the only situation I could see where it is being utilized. I would be extremely surprised, Mr Chair, if any Minister of Justice will utilize this, but the fact that it is not utilized does not mean it should not be there.

Mr. Chair, on 15.1(a) the Child and Youth Advocate indicated that she was not interested, according to Mr. Burrage, into looking into policy budget, et cetera. In 15.1(b) she indicated that she constitutionally cannot look at the decisions out of a Court of Appeal role as outlined in the Turner review. So what we have, Mr. Chair, is a situation where she is happy in terms of getting the powers that she needs, because that is what this is about, Mr. Chair. It is about protecting the most vulnerable of our society and giving the Child and Youth Advocate the powers that she needs to properly conduct her inquires.

Now, how could any member in good conscience in this House have difficulty with that proposition? So, for this member to say that he is going to vote against this bill, what does that tell you? Obfuscate and obstruct, and I am sure I will probably find another couple of O words over the next day or so to add to it.

Mr. Chair, in all of the circumstances, I would suggest to you, this is a very positive step. The Child and Youth Advocate came to us looking for powers; she was given those powers. Now what more, Mr. Chair, can a Legislature do? She is given her powers; she is happy with the act. She has read Hansard.

In all of the circumstances, Mr. Chair, I would suggest - and again I say to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi that it was a very good point that she raised, and one that we have looked at, and one that I am satisfied is addressed in the Turner review.

Those would be my comments, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few more words on Bill 33, and in particular just to clarify a few of the comments by the minister.

I guess so much for our Code of Ethics which we just passed in this House. I have never witnessed such a personal attack, in my life, as a member of this House. In fact, included in this is a reference, I would say to the Chair, that there was a comment made by the minister that I am leaving false impressions - giving false opinions and false impressions were the words he used - absolutely unparliamentary, unnecessary.

I am entitled, as a member of this House, to make whatever comments I would like on the floor of this House, like anyone else. For the Minister of Justice to suggest, first of all, that I do not care for children, simply because I enter into debate on a piece of legislation? Absolutely shameful.

I happen to be a father myself, if the minister does not know, the same as he is, so to suggest that I do not care for children, simply because I am going to vote yea or nay for a piece of legislation? How irresponsible, I would suggest. How unnecessary, to have personal attacks because someone voices an opinion that might be different from the minister.

By the way, you talk about obstructionist. I do believe, if the minister checks the record, that since this House opened I think this is like our thirty-seventh piece of legislation that we are passing here, and we have two more to go. We are going to hit about forty pieces of legislation. Now, I do not see how that is being very obstructionist, when we are up to about number thirty-eight and we are entering into a debate, to call that obstructionist, number one.

I do believe, in fact, that the minister, if you go back and check Hansard a couple of weeks ago, was very complimentary and said, thank you very much for your suggestions and, in fact, we are going to bring in an amendment to that - and they did. So, I don't know; I guess he had something to eat in Ottawa that did not sit well with him, or he had a terrible plane ride back, because there is absolutely no reason for him to be in an attack-dog mode today.

This bill, by the way, has nothing to do with the right to counsel. This bill has nothing to do with privileges in law. By the way, the word draconian, to my knowledge, and I stand to be corrected again, but draconian, to me, does not mean anything illegal. I am not suggesting that the government is doing anything illegal here. Draconian, to me, means that we are going back to the Dark Ages and I do believe – it is not my creation, by the way. You talk about leaving impressions. Anybody can go on-line and read what this bill says, and get a copy of it.

My comments were saying that there are restrictive provisions in Bill 33 that the advocate did not ask to have put there. I asked: Where did these restrictive provisions come from, and why?

In fact, if you look at the act that is exactly what is says. If you look on page 4, when it talks about this clause 15, it says, restriction on jurisdiction. Down again: minister may restrict investigation. If you go to the next page, page 6, the whole paragraph is summed up with saying, restrictions on disclosure, application of certain rules. Now, I don't think that has anything to do with subpoena powers that are necessary for the Child and Youth Advocate. By the way, I am in favour of that, in case the minister wasn't listening. I am in favour of the Child and Youth Advocate having the power to subpoena; no problem whatsoever. The fact that I am in favour of something that is a piece and a part of a package, and I don't agree with the package, what am I supposed to do; say, oh, yeah, because I am in favour to the subpoena piece I have to accept the whole package?

I don't know about the minister and the way he operates but that is not the way I operate. There are pieces here – not my wording, I would say. Whoever drafted this, the wording is restrictive. That is what I am saying I have the problem with. We are restricting the rights of the Child and Youth Advocate. You talk about don't care for children, what a contradiction in statement. How can you say I don't care about children and I don't want the Child and Youth Advocate to be able to have an open book and do whatever she feels appropriate, and here I am arguing that you shouldn't put restrictions on her? It is inconsistent to even suggest such a thing.

I know I didn't fancy myself any great criminal lawyer or anything, as the minister alluded to several times, by the way. I happened to be a simple practitioner of the law in a little rural community in Southwestern Newfoundland for twenty-odd years. That is all. I didn't claim to be Clarence Darrell or anyone else, but I think I practiced my craft half decently. I didn't claim to be any hotshot Perry Mason or anything, and I am not saying he is either, but you don't need to make personal attacks. I made a living at it until I got into politics. I think that is allowed. I don't claim to know all. A lot of times that I why I ask you questions, because you have the resources in your department to get the information, because I don't have it. That is asking to be educated. That is ignorance, to ask a question? We are going to be in terrible shape here if I have to abide by the minister's advice and just because I disagree with something, sit down and shut up. Those were his words. Yes, we are going to be in a fine state here.

I tell you, the minister better talk to someone else if he is going to start telling us to sit down and shut up here. It won't be me, I tell you that. I have as much right to speak here as anybody else. The people of Burgeo & LaPoile sent me here, and I will exercise that right, thank you, on their behalf. That is a draconian statement to make in the House of Assembly, in this democratic institution, to tell somebody to sit down and shut up, and say nothing about a code of conduct.

Again, and I refer to whoever drafted this bill, and anybody who is prepared to open it to page 2 and read the very first sentence right up at the top where it says Explanatory Notes, the first sentence says, "This Bill would amend the Child and Youth Advocate Act to enhance the powers of the advocate to conduct an investigation under the Act." For example, give her subpoena powers.

That is all this act was intended to do and that is clear even from the explanation clause. So, I am saying, why do we have all the rest of the stuff in here, unless somebody decided they wanted to restrict the rights of the Child and Youth Advocate? That is not proper. It was not proper last week when we started to do the debate. It was not proper today, and because I disagree with the restrictions on it, I will have no choice but to vote against it because I will not vote for the subpoena powers and at the same time compromise the other authorities and powers of the Child and Youth Advocate. It is not on, it is not proper, and I will not vote for it. I will continue to express my opinions and support it, hopefully, with logic and reason in the future the same way I tried to do here.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Are there any more speakers?

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


I just want to take a few moments to ask a question of the minister so that I have clarification with regard to section 15.1(b).

Thank you very much, minister, for getting the information. Your reference to the Turner Report certainly tells us that section 15.1(b) has to remain there, but not having the report in front of me - I have a question with regard to implications of 15.1(b), and maybe I am worrying too much about a detail. I know it has to be in there from what you said, but I am wondering, for example, if the advocate, in looking at a case that was before her, saw that a decision of the court had an impact on a child and on caregivers working with that child, would she at least - I am saying she at this moment because the advocate is a she, we know it could be he or she. Would the advocate, in making a ruling or in looking for a change in a decision - what I am thinking about, if there is a court decision that if it stands it continues to affect the life of the child negatively. If there is a negative impact of a court decision and the advocate clearly sees that there is a negative impact of a court decision, what can the advocate possibly do in a case like that, based on what you have said and based on the Turner Report, which I do not have in front of me?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I say to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, there does not appear, from what I am reading in the Turner review under the two headings, and I can give you these copies if you want to have a look at them - but under the two headings that I am looking at, there is first the issue of - we know, for example, that with a federal act there is no provincial jurisdiction to review the federal decisions, and in the Turner case the extradition act was essentially that. However, it does not appear to be an ability to examine the court decision.

So, the point you raise is valid, but it seems to me what the Child and Youth Advocate could do and what Dr. Markesteyn did in the Turner review, he examined the actions of the authorities, in this case I think it was Child, Youth and Family Services. He reached conclusions as to their actions without getting into the court decisions. Now, if there is evidence, for example, that affects an ongoing decision or order - again, I am speculating somewhat, I say to the member, but if there is an ongoing court order there is always an ability, depending on the nature of the case but I think in family law, to review a decision. Normally in a criminal law your rights of appeal go, Provincial Court, Trial Division, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Canada and then they are over in the absence of new evidence, but if new evidence surfaces or fresh evidence, than there are always ways to get into a court.

In this particular case, I would hope that if the advocate uncovers evidence that would be relevant to an ongoing court matter or court order, that that evidence could be provided to the lawyer for the child affected and then that way, hopefully, bring it back into the courtroom. So, I do not think it is as restrictive in terms of - obviously, as the hon. member is aware, this is about children. It is about the Child and Youth Advocate being able to do her work and the courts will be very sympathetic in those circumstances. It is just that the principles of judicial independence and the division in the Constitution do not allow for the examination of the orders or decisions of judges.

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to be clear now because I think the answer is helping me. Because that is what I was concerned about, if the advocate uncovers information: What does she do? Or evidence, what could potentially be evidence. I think I now have the answer, that her role is then to make that available to the person or the parties for whom she is advocating, that they then can use it. So, I think that does cover - that was the nature of the concern that I had and I think that really does help me, knowing that is potential and that makes sense to me.

Again, to make sure that I am clear from what the minister said, if the agency, child and youth agency - I forget what they are called. If the government agency makes decisions based on a judges ruling but it is obvious that their decision and what they are doing is affecting the child negatively, then the advocate can deal with that no matter what the judges ruling is. So I think I have it clearly, if the minister would agree with me that I do have it clearly, then I am satisfied with the explanation.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. PARSONS: Just a point of order, Mr. Chair.

I observed the Minister of Justice using a BlackBerry to read from while he was in debate. I do think that is contrary to the rules of the House. I think that breaches the rules of decorum and I would ask that in future - I understand people are pretty tight to their BlackBerries, myself included, but I do not think it is appropriate to actually be reading your comments from a BlackBerry here in the House.

CHAIR: The point of order is noted and it will be taken under consideration.

There being no other speakers, we will call the bill.

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Clauses 2 to 9 inclusive.

CHAIR: Clauses 2 to 9 inclusive.

Shall these carry?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clauses 2 through 9 carried.

CLERK: Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly in Legislative Session convened, as follows.

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report the bill carried without amendment?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Chair, I move that the Committee rise and report Bill 33.

CHAIR: The motion is that the Committee rise and report Bill 33.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

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

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report Bill 33 carried without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report Bill 33 carried without amendment.

When shall this report be received?

MS BURKE: Now, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Now.

When shall the said bill be read a third time?

MS BURKE: Now, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Now.

On motion, report received and adopted. Bill ordered read a third time presently, by leave.

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call Order 3, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Provincial Court Act, 1991. (Bill 31)

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 31, An Act To Amend The Provincial Court Act, 1991, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Provincial Court Act, 1991. (Bill 31)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 31 is now read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Provincial Court Act, 1991," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 31)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, it is moved that Order 4, An Act To Amend The Judicature Act, Bill 34, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 34, An Act To Amend The Judicature Act, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Judicature Act. (Bill 34)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill is now read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 34)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, it is moved that Order 5, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, Bill 37, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 37, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act. (Bill 37)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill is now read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 37)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move that Order 6, An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act, Bill 33, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 33, An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act. (Bill 33)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 33 is now read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 33)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to call from the Order Paper, number 8, An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act, Bill 35, be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 35, An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act.

It is moved and seconded that Bill 35 be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act." (Bill 35)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill 35, An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act.

Mr. Speaker, our government created the Province's Energy Corporation to ensure that we were positioned to obtain maximum benefits from our natural resources for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That was a key part of our Energy Plan and a key part of this government's vision for our Province and for our future.

Last year, we passed the Energy Corporation Act to create the Province's new Energy Corporation, and today I am introducing legislation that will give our Energy Corporation some additional tools that it needs to operate effectively on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Energy Corporation, Mr. Speaker, has a broad mandate to pursue energy development within the Province. We see this corporation being involved in a range of energy activities, in addition to its core historical business of electricity generation and transmission. It will manage and develop our equity interest in oil and gas development, as well as pursue wind power and other alternative energies.

To do this effectively and successfully, Mr. Speaker, we need to ensure that the Energy Corporation can operate in a competitive business environment. At the same time, though, our Energy Corporation has to be fully accountable to the people of the Province, and that accountability has to be meaningful. We have worked hard to ensure that the legislation achieves the right balance between protecting competitiveness and providing accountability.

Mr. Speaker, since the Energy Corporation Act was passed, my department and the Energy Corporation have undertaken significant analysis to fully understand how best this company can be positioned for success on behalf of the people of the Province. In addition to our extensive internal analysis, we engaged external consultants within the Province, within Canada and internationally. We looked at best practices for state-owned energy corporations from around the world, including Norway and Denmark. We also looked at Canadian models, such as B.C. Hydro and Hydro-Quebec. We are confident, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation ensures that the Province's Energy Corporation meets best practices for state-owned energy companies from around the world.

For many nations, such as Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and countless others, state-owned or state-controlled energy corporations are a key part of the model for energy development for the benefits of their people. As a matter of fact, as I stated in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, about 80 per cent of the world's oil reserves are controlled by state-owned energy corporations. These state-owned energy corporations are powerful players on the world stage.

In this Province, Mr. Speaker, we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and we are continuing to position ourselves to obtain maximum benefit from our resources. This legislation is the next critical step in giving the Energy Corporation the tools it needs to succeed on our behalf and for the benefit of us all.

The legislation has three components that I want to speak to today, Mr. Speaker: public accountability and reporting, the tools the Energy Corporation requires to operate in a competitive environment, and the Corporation's ability to create subsidiaries.

Mr. Speaker, I turn first to the important issue of public accountability. As shareholders, we want to build a successful company. The Energy Corporation's success will add to the prosperity of Newfoundland and Labrador. To achieve this, our Energy Corporation has to be able to compete in a business environment but it must also be accountable to the public for its activities. This legislation establishes a clear public accountability structure for the corporation.

The Energy Corporation will provide information to the government and the public through specific reporting requirements set out in the legislation. One of those requirements is a consolidated annual report. This report will detail the activities of the corporation for the previous year. The report is required to include consolidated, audited financial statements for the corporation. This report will be similar to the annual financial reporting requirements met by companies listed on the stock exchanges. This annual report will be tabled in the House of Assembly so this House and the people of the Province will have the opportunity to review and assess its contents.

The Energy Corporation will have an annual general meeting open to the public. At this meeting, the company's senior management will report directly to the people of the Province on the activities of the Energy Corporation. Annual reports provided by the Energy Corporation will contain the same type of information contained in annual reports from publicly listed companies.

Shareholders of corporations get annual reports on the activities of the companies in which they invest. So will the people of the Province. We will get direct reporting from our Energy Corporation as to how it is managing our resource investments on our behalf.

In addition, the Province's Transparency and Accountability Act will continue to apply to the Energy Corporation. The act is an initiative of our government aimed squarely at ensuring there is openness and transparency in public bodies.

Under the Transparency and Accountability Act, the Energy Corporation will provide its business plan to the government. Government will be able to monitor and assess compliance with this plan. As well, the Auditor General will be able to review and audit the Energy Corporation and provide recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, each of these steps taken on their own will provide to the people of the Province a high degree of security that their Energy Corporation is accountable for its actions. Taken together, these accountability and reporting provisions ensure that our Energy Corporation sets a high standard of transparency and public accountability.

Mr. Speaker, the second important component of this legislation focuses on ensuring that the Energy Corporation has the tools it needs to operate in a competitive environment. A key element of this is ensuring that strategic commercially-sensitive information is protected. We need to ensure that the strategic business information of the Energy Corporation is not used to harm the Province's interests.

Mr. Speaker, this Province sets an extremely high standard with access to public information. We have one of the most open information access laws in the country. In assessing how best to position our Energy Corporation for success, we had to carefully examine what kinds of information could be subject to release. We do not want our Energy Corporation hindered in its success. We do not want our competitors to be able to use information laws to obtain information that helps them and hurts the competitive position of our Energy Corporation. This is not in the best interests of the people of the Province.

We looked internationally and found that in Norway, for example, where public accountability and transparency standards and freedom of information standards, like ours, are very high, access to information legislation does not apply to their state-owned energy companies. This is because some types of information are so strategically important to their state-owned energy corporations that making the information subject to disclosure laws would hurt their companies. Even with such an exemption, Mr. Speaker, from access to information laws, Norway's StatoilHydro has been recognized by Transparency International as one of the most transparent oil companies in the world and a model for a state-owned, controlled, energy corporation.

We believe we are achieving an even higher standard for accountability in that we are exempting only commercially sensitive information from access laws, otherwise the information is publicly accessible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: It is also important for members to understand that the ability of our Energy Corporation to protect commercially sensitive information is an issue that our partners have raised as a major concern in dealing with us. They are reluctant to give us information out of fear that we cannot protect that information.

To reach commercial deals with our new partners, our Energy Corporation has to be able to obtain and analyze information from these partners. Even though many of these companies are publicly traded on stock exchanges throughout the world, this commercially sensitive information is not publicly disclosed. That information is strategic and valuable to the companies who hold it.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, even if information were to be ultimately disclosed by industries through the requirements of the stock exchanges, the premature and untimely disclosure of such commercially sensitive information through legislative means could have a significantly negative impact on a company and, in turn, on our oil and gas industry. Even potential business partners have indicated to the corporation that the present legislation protecting commercially sensitive and third-party information does not always meet their confidentiality requirements.

So, Mr. Speaker, unless we address this issue, our Energy Company will be hamstrung. It will not be able to effectively enter into business deals to meet its mandate on behalf of the people of the Province; but, Mr. Speaker, this issue goes beyond assessing potential business partners and potential business deals. Once we enter into joint ventures, we want to be able to access the same data that the other partners can see. If the other partners are worried that the data in our Energy Corporation's hands will be subject to public disclosure, our Energy Corporation's access to that information may be constrained. If partners withhold or otherwise restrict the timely or complete access to information because of the risk of disclosure, it greatly reduces the value of the corporation's participation. This does not help our Energy Corporation achieve its mandate, Mr. Speaker, and it does not set our corporation up for success.

Our Energy Corporation will be taking on significant projects in the future, in all aspects of its energy mandate. In pursuing these activities, Mr. Speaker, they will be planning and assessing many different options and approaches, and generating their own strategic assessments and analysis. Ultimately, this information and analysis will be a key asset of our Energy Corporation. Just like for any company, Mr. Speaker, untimely disclosure of that information to a potential competitor or even a potential partner could cause significant damage to our Energy Corporation's ability to carry out its mandate. We cannot risk having potential partners or competitors use the current legislation to obtain commercially sensitive information. Can you imagine the damage, for example, if the economic modelling used by the Energy Corporation for investment decisions could be accessed by a potential partner or competitor? Clearly, this creates a risk to our competitiveness.

This legislation, Mr. Speaker, creates a clear test as to what types of information are commercially sensitive. Where information met that test, it may be withheld from disclosure. The definition of commercially sensitive information is defined in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, where in response to a denial, a party requests a review under our Access to Information and Protection and Privacy Act, which we commonly refer to as ATIPPA. This matter will go to the Energy Corporation's Board of Directors who are familiar with issues around sensitive commercial information. If the board determines that the information should be released, it will be released. If the board sees that the information is strategic and commercially sensitive, it will withhold that information. Ultimately, a party that is unhappy with that response will have recourse to the courts, in the same way now, Mr. Speaker, as they have recourse to the courts under ATIPPA. We want and need our Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries to participate fully in energy projects and enter into agreements with its private sector partners. These amendments position our Energy Corporation to achieve this goal.

As part of our analysis, Mr. Speaker, we also looked at other legislation that could lead to disclosure of commercially sensitive information. For that reason, we have modified the application of the Citizens' Representative Act and the Auditor General Act to ensure that protection of commercially sensitive information is there. Even so, Mr. Speaker, we have designed this legislation to ensure that the Auditor General continues to have an important oversight role. He will be able to review and audit the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries. He will report on the results of his work to this House. He will just not disclose commercially sensitive information.

Mr. Speaker, if the Auditor General has a serious concern of improper conduct he will report that to the Cabinet and Cabinet will investigate. He will also advise the House if such a report has been made to Cabinet. In this way, we provide for continued oversight, but we will provide necessary protection for commercially sensitive information. By doing this, we ensure our Energy Corporation's ability, Mr. Speaker, to compete.

We have also exempted the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries from the Public Tender Act. This will permit the corporation and its subsidiaries to follow Global Best Practices for procurement associated with its projects. It will also allow the corporation and its subsidiaries to include considerations such as adjacency and aboriginal interests that are not provided for in the Public Tender Act. The exemption, however, does not apply to procurement by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, our regulated utility, has been operating effectively under the Public Tender Act and it will continue to do so.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to address the third important issue covered in these amendments: the creation of subsidiaries. The goal of this government, as set out in the Energy Plan, is to develop our resources for the benefit of the people of the Province. At the same time, we also want to provide the greatest protection possible for the people of the Province from liability or risk associated with the new lines of business being pursued. Our amendments in this regard are designed to provide the best possible protection for the public Treasury and for the assets of the Energy Corporation from unexpected or unforeseen liabilities. We are legislating that subsidiaries can only be set up with the approval of Cabinet, and that they will need the approval of the Energy Corporation for key decisions; however, they will be operationally independent from the parent company.

The structure put forward in this legislation is a structure that private enterprise has long used as a means of insulating different parts of its business from liability, and ensuring that each part of the business can achieve its own operational efficiencies. In the private sector, subsidiary corporations are independent entities of their parent organizations and responsible for their own activities, assets and liabilities. The structure of subsidiaries, each with their own board of directors, is motivated by a strong commercial reality. We want these subsidiaries to be competitive in their own right. We want them to be efficient. A corporate structure that allows for subsidiaries that operate with some level of autonomy from the parent corporation is a common practice for business today.

Again, Mr. Speaker, this is about setting up our Energy Corporation for success. We believe these amendments to the Energy Corporation Act will ensure that our Energy Corporation will be able to function in a competitive environment while also guaranteeing oversight, accountability and transparency to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Without these amendments, we would be compromising the ability of the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries to compete and to deliver on the stated objectives we have laid out in our Energy Plan. In essence, Mr. Speaker, we would be setting up the Energy Corporation to fail.

Our government created a plan for energy development in this Province and we are now bringing that plan to fruition. We want the people of the Province to have greater control over energy resource development, and we want to receive maximum benefits from these developments. The legislation puts necessary elements in place to achieve these goals.

Mr. Speaker, in our Energy Plan we said that the assets of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be protected. Government will continue to ensure that is the case as we build our Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries. We said the Energy Corporation would be a vehicle to generate returns and value for the benefit of the people of the Province. We have put those elements in place to achieve that goal.

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by saying that we look forward to the debate and to hearing the comments of our colleagues opposite. Our Energy Corporation is an entity that we are very, very proud of, as a government, as it pursues and as we pursue our vision for our Province on getting the maximum return on our energy resources.

I want to inform the House at this time that in Committee we will be bringing forward three amendments to the bill. One is to clarify a process issue. The second is to provide clarification to ensure that the bill clearly reflects our intention to protect only commercially-sensitive information. Mr. Speaker, as I said in Question Period, we have listened very carefully to the issues raised in the House particularly as it relates to the Public Tender Act. As a result of that debate we have done a thorough review of the issues raised. With our third amendment, Mr. Speaker, we believe we are addressing those concerns. The proposed amendment will provide Cabinet with the ability to make a subsidiary subject to the Public Tender Act if it is appropriate to do so.

Mr. Speaker, our Energy Corporation is a key part of our future prosperity as a Province. Today's legislation represents important steps forward on our path to continued prosperity.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly want to have a few comments on Bill 35.

I listened attentively to the minister as she presented the content of the bill in the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, this is a piece of legislation, probably one of the more serious pieces of legislation that we have had come to the House of Assembly in this session.

Mr. Speaker, it is an act that amends the Energy Corporation, which is the corporation that the provincial government established in the Province back in the last sitting of the House of Assembly under a piece of legislation called Bill 28.

Mr. Speaker, in essence what this corporation will do, it will manage, develop, advise and proceed with a number of developments within the energy sector within the Province, providing for the interests of government and therefore providing for the interests of the broader pubic of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it will no doubt deal with all developments relative to energy, development - whether that be in the oil and gas industry, whether it be in wind power, hydro power or, I guess, whatever undertakings the corporation would decide at a future date that they might want to become engaged in.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear for the record that we have been supportive of the establishment of the Energy Corporation and we certainly see it as a forward move for government and the people of the Province if we are to capitalize in major ways on developments of this nature within the Province. That is why, when we debated, in the last annual Assembly, Bill 28, and I spoke on Bill 28 two or three times - I may have been the only person who spoke on the Opposition side - I spoke in tremendous favour of that particular piece of legislation because it would establish this corporation, one that we saw as fundamentally being able to manage and advance the interests of the people of the Province in major developments, and in turn provide for additional benefits as well. Mr. Speaker, I want to make that clear.

What we are debating today is amendments to Bill 28, in the form of Bill 35, that would outline and provide for, in much more detail, the disclosure nature of the corporation as it relates to any of their business dealings both within their own structure and also with third party companies. It would also outline the reporting mechanisms and procedures that would take place. It talks about the disclosures within the company, the accountability measures that are built in, and it provides for not only the structures with the Energy Corporation itself but its entire structure, meaning all of its subsidiary companies as well. Basically, as we understand it from presentations and information provided in the House of Assembly by the Minister and by the Premier and through the technical briefing that we did have, every investment that government will make in the energy sector will be managed through a separate subsidiary company of the Energy Corporation.

For example, the Lower Churchill project, as I understand it, would be one subsidiary. The Ramea wind-power project would be a separate subsidiary. The Hebron oil investments, or equity shares that the Province has undertaken negotiations around, would become another subsidiary of that company. Mr. Speaker, who knows, they may make – what was it you called it today, wedges?

MS DUNDERDALE: Widgets.

MS JONES: Widgets, Mr. Speaker. If they do, that would be another part of the company.

Just to understand the structure of this - and, Mr. Speaker, it is an important piece of legislation, because it not only outlines the process and the procedures to be undertaken by government investments and interests that will be ongoing in the Province today, or will be negotiated by the government opposite, but it also lays out the legislation for other governments to follow in days and years to come. That is why, Mr. Speaker, while we may have today a tremendous amount of trust and confidence in the CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and may, Mr. Speaker, be able to today, without question, without blinking an eye, give authority to that individual to be able to make investments on behalf of the Province, to manage those investments, to manage those equities, to look at where government is best positioned to invest money, that may not always be the case. Under another government, under another CEO, we do not want to allow for legislation that may have a loophole somewhere along the line, whereby, Mr. Speaker, there can be disposals of equity and dismantling of companies, where there can be bad investments made on behalf of the people of the Province, with no accountability. That is the reason we have taken this legislation very seriously; very seriously.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we ourselves have gone out and engaged legal counsel and advice around this legislation, to ensure that we, ourselves are not going to support a bill that could necessarily, in the future, under some other regime in this Province, allow for the disposal of assets or allow for the expenditure of money on behalf of the people of the Province, with no mechanism to really account for it. That is the reason and the rationale behind where we are.

I say to the minister today, that we could have come in here and looked at every aspect of this bill and got up and asked that shareholders be elected and all of this kind of stuff be done, but that would have undermined the real concerns and the real interests that we have here. That would have been for political propagation I say to the minister. We are not going there and we are not intending to go there, but we do have some legitimate concerns. Over the course of debate I am sure today, or tonight, or whenever that might take place, we will undertake to try and outline to the best extent possible where we are coming from on this, and hopefully, at the end of the day, we can have something here that all of us can live with at the end of it.

Mr. Speaker, we understand very well the objective of government here and also what the objective of the Energy Corporation is, and that is to make decisions and to enter into negotiations that provide for confidentiality, not only with the third parties that they become engaged with, but also that they are able to be competitive within their own right under a corporate structured society that provides for those kinds of leniencies. We understand that and it is not our objective to try and undermine that in any way, shape or form. It is important, very important, that when you entrust any corporation or any entity of government or even government themselves with the ability to be able to manage the affairs of the people of the Province and to make investments on their behalf, then you have to ensure that there are also sufficient safeguards being taken and that there are accountability measures being put in place.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in the briefing that we had with officials within the Department of Natural Resources and within Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, they took the time to outline for us the entire structure of the corporation, how it would work. They also outlined for us their issues around public accountability and how they felt they were going to be accountable.

Mr. Speaker, I know that annual meetings are in here as one of those pieces. I am going to talk about each of these pieces as I go through because of the way the accountability structure is here, not saying that it doesn't provide for a level of accountability because it does. I want to talk about it because it gets us to the point where we feel it is isn't enough and that is why there need to be some other safeguards put in place.

Mr. Speaker, while I know the minister will definitely not agree with me on all points, I can certainly hope that there will be some levels of this, as we go through, that they can certainly see. Maybe the amendments that she will propose herself will take care of most of the issues I am raising here. I don't know that, but we will see as time goes on.

Mr. Speaker, we know that in corporations there are always annual general meetings and we know that the annual general meeting is being provided for within this corporate structure, but also we realize that it will be a little bit different. The annual meeting in here doesn't really place any kind of restraint upon the corporation to divulge relevant financial information, for example. The reasoning for that is because of the clause that talk about commercially sensitive information, and the fact that that clause is very broad-ranging.

Now, I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form at this stage, that you can probably make it less broad and still accomplish the same purpose. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. Because of the broad nature of this clause and because almost every other activity and disclosure process refers to that clause in terms of what they can disclose to the public and what they can't, it provides very little other information that can be out there until after the fact, after a deal is concluded, after a negotiation is finished, after a project is started or finished in some cases, depending again on the longevity of it, the process of it, how the market conditions of it work and so on.

There could, in essence, be investments of dollars, purchase of equity and assets and so on, and maybe years and years and years before there is ever any disclosure of what has transpired here. At any given time, the information may be commercially sensitive.

For example, if you were looking at selling Lower Churchill power, as I understand it, and you are negotiating a deal with Nova Scotia or you have signed an MOU with Nova Scotia so maybe you are negotiating a deal with them, and maybe you actually sign onto that deal, it still doesn't mean that you are going to disclose to me or to the public the rate of return that you are getting on that power. Maybe that agreement is going to expire in five or ten or fifteen years and then you are going to want to go out and negotiate again with another partner to try and get a better price, and you don't want them to know what you are getting from this company and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: From the financial information.

What I am saying, I guess, Mr. Speaker, my point is that it does not mean that within a year the information is not going to be commercially-sensitive any more and it can be released. So oftentimes there will be a long period of time, and maybe for the longevity of an entire project, that you will not be able to access certain information under this particular legislation because it is protected by that clause.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the annual report and meeting provisions that are contained in 5.1 and 5.2, essentially force the corporation to divulge relevant financial information to the minister at the end of each year, but the reports are focused on financial reports, business activities, that occurred in the previous year and not on their current plans or future matters that could be regarded, Mr. Speaker, by the company.

That is another concern for us because, even though they are reporting to the minister, some of that information, Mr. Speaker, that will be contained in the reports – well, I think all of it, based on what our interpretation was here - would be based on the previous year and not necessarily based on where they are going in the next year. I guess our concern is, how does the minister, who is the only authority by which the CEO has to report here, or to the Cabinet, I suppose, if you want to extend it to the Cabinet –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Okay. I am sure you are going to take notes on all of this, so when you get up you can respond to it, Mr. Speaker, but I will just raise the concerns that we have as I go through.

That was one of the pieces, and we wanted to question how you would know what their current plans are in the next year, what direction they are going to take the company in. For example, if they decide in one of their subsidiaries that they are going to go out and purchase some shares in something down in New Orleans – I don't know, because under the act they have the ability to set up corporations in other jurisdictions and other countries and so on, Mr. Speaker - but, say, for example, they are going to go down and they are going to buy shares in a company down there, do they get consent from the minister, from the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, before they are permitted to go out and make those investments, or do they just report on it at the end of the year, the minister receives a copy, and all of a sudden they just use their borrowing power under another piece of legislation that we passed in the House of Assembly to go out and borrow $400 million last year and invest in this company?

We need to see where the assurance has been given for this, in the act, and maybe it has to come with an approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council before they can do that, and maybe they do have to submit plans on an annual basis, have those plans reviewed, have them approved and so on, but under that particular provision it does not allow for it.

Mr. Speaker, we also had some questions around the Securities Act and, in consultation with the Premier, he provided to us some explanation, I think, that was given to him by the Department of Justice on the Securities Act measures, and the fact that, because of the nature of this corporation, it is defined differently than it would be under the private corporations act and therefore would not be subject to the conditions or subject to the Securities Act at all.

I guess our question would be: If that is the case, why is it even outlined in the legislation? So, we would want to have a further explanation on that, because if they are really subject to that aspect of it then there would not be any particular need at this time to even have that particular clause outlined within the legislation. Because the way it is worded there leads us to believe that they would normally be, but this legislation is exempting them. So, I guess it is not really clearly defined and maybe we can get some further explanations around that.

Mr. Speaker, just to turn over, to look at some of the other clauses within the bill, I am doing it this way because doing it under this particular process allows me, myself, as well, to ensure that I do not miss any of the major points that I wanted to raise here.

Under section 5.4 (1) - Mr. Speaker, we understand that the chief executive officer of the corporation should have certain powers and privileges, but there also should be further accountability measures that are built in. For example, when it comes to being able to refuse or disclose to an applicant under the act any commercially-sensitive information to a third party, we have no problem with that. Most of the third party negotiations that would be ongoing right now within the corporation, I guess, would probably be with people in the oil and gas industry, and we can understand why they would not want to have information released to the public, so we do not necessarily have a problem with that piece.

What we do have some problems with, however, is that in 100 per cent owned companies by the Province - so if you were to look at, I don't know, the Lower Churchill, and say it is a 100 per cent owned development by the provincial government - it is still under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, it is still very difficult for people to access any kind of information that they would want to know, that does not involve any third party company or corporation but would basically just fall directly under the auspices of the Energy Corporation or that subsidiary.

I know today I think there was an article in the paper, and I don't have it with me, where the Privacy Commissioner was making some statement with regard to, he did not see this as being restrictive in terms of his powers. But he does not have the authority in this act - and I am sure he has looked at it, but our interpretation is that he does not have the authority in this act - to disagree with the CEO. He has to accept the decisions of the CEO when it comes to that particular information.

I think, Mr. Speaker, basically what it says is that the commissioner shall, where he or she determines that the information is commercially-sensitive information, uphold the decision of the chief executive officer.

There are two other clauses there just saying that he receives the certification and that it goes through the board, but the basic decision is that they would uphold the decision of the Chief Executive Officer. Basically, what that tells me is that right now the powers under that act would allow him to disagree, to then go to the government, or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, to get clarification or to seek further information. It does not mean that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has to give it to him. It does not mean that the minister has to provide it, because they can refuse to provide it. Of course, if they refuse to provide it, then that takes you into the process that is allowed for under the Privacy Act, and that is to seek actions within the courts.

Under this particular act, it says that basically this commissioner has to uphold the decision of the chief executive officer of the Energy Corporation. That is where our concern is. Because, for example, if I am the Information and Privacy Commissioner within the Province, and someone comes to me and they have a concern and they want to have that concern addressed, then I would go to the corporation. The corporation can always hide behind the fact that it is commercially-sensitive information. I do not know that. They are telling me that. Therefore, the CEO says that we are not prepared to look at this, or we are not prepared to release any information as it relates to this. Well, under this act the Privacy Commissioner just has to uphold that decision.

There is no recourse for the Commissioner at that stage then to go to the minister or to go to the Cabinet, and say: Listen, I have asked for this. This is the issue, but the CEO of the Hydro Corporation says he is not going to give it to me. He has made his decision and this is the way it is going to be. So, I think there needs to be a further piece there. As I said, even though the request comes to the Cabinet and to the minister, it still does not mean that you have to provide it, but it is an additional step. It is a step that I think your government set out, in practice, when they introduced that piece of legislation.

I would ask that some more consideration would be given to that. As I said, I did see the comments by the Privacy Commissioner, but then again, sometimes we all err in our understanding or interpretation of legislation, just like I might be erring right now, but it is important to ask the questions and to get some clarification. Anyway, it does raise some serious issues. Mr. Speaker, as I said, we can understand where it affects third-party individuals and third-party companies but I do not think that the same rules should certainly apply to those actions that would be 100 per cent owned and operated by government and not involve any particular third parties as well. We would like to see some clarification on that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we had some other concerns within the legislation, and I will start getting to them now. Some of them were definitely around the Public Tender Act. The minister outlined that there would be some amendments around this, and maybe those amendments will suffice but right now I think the act itself says that everything here would be exempt from the Public Tender Act, and we have concerns about that. When we questioned government, the response was that oftentimes when you have to go through the Public Tender Act, it is slow, it is more cumbersome, and oftentimes it could be an impediment or an obstruction to a project or a development moving ahead in a time frame that is important for it to happen. It could also mean the delays of millions and millions and millions of dollars and so on. We certainly understand that, but I guess our belief is that the Public Tender Act, no matter how big or how small, should provide purpose for all corporations within government.

Mr. Speaker, we feel that the act is very much going to allow a lot of conveniences for the people who run the corporations and the subsidiary corporations, because you are moving it away from government now. It is not the minister who is going to be out there soliciting these contracts everyday or government. It is going to be people who are appointed or hired within the Energy Corp. It is going to be people who are hired and appointed within the subsidiary companies. We just want to guarantee that there is going to be some level of transparency, some level here of transparency with regard to awarding these contracts.

This is where our concern is. It is not unheard of. Just because it has not happened on your watch, Minister, it has happened, I am sure in this Province, but it certainly happened in the country whereby contracts have been let under corporations to companies for reasons probably that they should not have been let to them. It does not mean that it will not happen here. It does not mean that. I think we have to be sure that there is some transparency of some kind. I do not know, maybe the act can be changed. Maybe the Public Tender Act can be amended in a way. I do not know if that is something that government would have already looked at to see if there is a way they can do that to provide for a little bit more flexibility that they might want.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ensure that when they award contracts, no matter who they be, no matter what subsidiary company that it might be, that there is some mechanism by which the public can see if company A is getting every single contract that is being awarded through the subsidiary companies and who company A is. Under this, we have no provision in which we are going to be told any of this. There is no reporting system whatsoever. Even after the fact, unless we go out and camp out over on one of the corporation steps and see who is walking in and handing in tenders and walking out with bids, we would have really no way to know, on a go-forward basis, who is getting the contracts here and how they are being obtained. There has to be another way.

In the Public Tender Act we have looked at a number of clauses and some of them are clauses that would allow for government to deal with things like adjacency. That was another issue I think the minister raised, the issue of adjacency. We are certainly supportive of that because we know there are contracts in the Province now, like on the West Coast of the Island, that has been awarded to a Quebec company and yet, we have contracting companies in Deer Lake right now laying off 150 workers. Yet, some of the biggest contracts on the West Coast let by government went to companies from outside the Province, companies that were owned by people and operated from the Province of Quebec.

So, Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that there are some adjacency provisions and I think that is provided for within the Public Tender Process. Any public tender that government would call, I am sure they can provide for the adjacency provision if they really wanted to. I just use that as an example of something we would not want to see happen again. Is there an amendment that is required to the Public Tender Act? Is there a way under Canadian jurisdiction that we can even restrict that without prejudice? I do not know, but these are things that we would like to have addressed because it is easy for me to stand here and say that you can build an adjacency clause into the Public Tender Act, but whether it is going to launch us a lawsuit or prejudice us within other corporate laws within the country, I do not know that. What I do know is that sitting here, right now, looking at this legislation, what I see is that any subsidiary owned and operated by individuals inside the Energy Corporation can let contracts to businesses in this Province or outside this Province without having to be accountable or providing a mechanism of transparency. That needs to change.

We also need to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that it is going to be a fair process, because there are many companies in this Province that are providing supports in the oil and gas sector, in the power development sectors, whether that be in wind power or in hydro power or environmental projects that we know are every bit as complex and important around these developments as the actual other contracting work. We need to ensure that all these companies are going to have some form of competitive advantage. How do you provide that advantage if there is no public tendering process or no call for proposals?

Mr. Speaker, this is the reason we want to have this addressed, because even in the oil and gas industry, even when you are dealing with companies like ExxonMobil, Petro-Canada and all of these companies that are developing in the offshore that are going to be partners in some of these subsidiary companies with government, well even in the line of work that they do, they go through a public process. They have to provide for a competitive advantage for other businesses. They go through requests for proposals and they provide through the C-NLOPB a list of who those companies are and a list of who they are contracting to. They provide justifications when they sole-source contracts. It does not matter, if they decide tomorrow to go out and they are going to get Schlumberger to come in and do some work for them and they need it immediately, well then there is a process where that is still reported and where it is still justified.

In this legislation we do not have those mechanisms and we are asking that government - and maybe they will. Maybe that is the amendments that they have to present in the House, but we will be asking that they provide for more accountability around that process so that when a company that is set up under this Energy Corporation, and I will use the Lower Churchill Project again as an example because it is one that will probably have restricted shareholders outside of government, or partnerships. Therefore, if they are going to develop or award contracts under the Lower Churchill Project then they would be able to allow for competition so that it is not just every single contract being awarded to Jacques Whitford to do environmental work, or to Amec to do environmental work, but there will be a process whereby people can have some competition or competitive advantage.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, is that there needs to be disclosure. For example, if the Premier should appoint me tomorrow to head the subsidiary company for the Lower Churchill Project, under this act I would have authority to contract work, sole source that work without providing any justification or any kind of disclosure process, to any company I want, Mr. Speaker, any company I want.

Maybe my good friend down there got lots of experience in building transmission lines and I am going to hire them and give them a $1 billion contract to build transmission lines right through Labrador, maybe to lay underwater cable across the Gulf, probably to build half the transmission lines that may be built in Atlantic Canada, and I am not accountable to anyone. We have a problem with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Accountable to the board.

MS JONES: Accountable to the board, yes.

In the legislation, and maybe I am wrong, but it is a reporting process to the board, not necessarily a decision process. The CEO of the corporation has the authority under the act, and this is where there needs to be more safeguards built in. I am not saying that, okay reporting to the board or asking the board to make a decision is not my big issue here. My big issue is the accountability factor.

So, even though I go out and sole source the contract, even though I am circumventing the Public Tender Act, because of a number of factors, for example, I need to get it done tomorrow. I want to make sure it is a Newfoundland based company or Labrador based company, or that there is some kind of safeguards given. Say, for example, Mr. Speaker, I only have within the next sixty days to lay the groundwork for a certain piece of this and I am going to be into finish the construction season. I do not know, there are any number of things that could happen here, but even though I go out and give the contract to that company, at some point there should be some disclosure as to who got that contract, how much that contract was and the justification as to why I did it under the terms that I did. I did it hastily; did it without going to the Lieutenant Governor and Cabinet; did it without going to public tender; did it without going to proposal call, but just went and done it immediately. There still has to be some justification. That happens, as I said, even in the private sector.

Mr. Speaker, I have had an opportunity to discuss the process with some of the oil companies to find out how they actually deal with this because I know they do have processes whereby they go for a Request for Proposals or tenders or whatever you want to call it, but even when they sole source contracts, they are telling me that they make it aware to the C-NLOPB. Now making them aware, it still becomes public. They cannot do anything about it. The contract is out there now but there is a level of accountability and in here there is no level of accountability.

So, the Premier, when he appoints me tomorrow and I go out and give this contract to my friend who has this company and he stands to gain, or she, a significant amount of profit and I do, but I never have to disclose it, I do not think that is right. It does not mean the company is not capable of doing the work. It does not mean they are not reputable. It does not mean any of those things. I just think that the public still has an interest in this and they have a right to know.

Mr. Speaker, we would like to see – we make no bones about it, out preference was that we would like to see in the legislation a clause calling for things to be tendered under the Public Tender Act, and that the Act itself would provide for the appropriate exemptions that would be required. We would also, Mr. Speaker, be satisfied to see clauses in here in which sole source contracts that are being tendered or allocated be reported to the minister, and that the minister would make that disclosure known in the House of Assembly, whether it be through the similar process that you use for exemptions to the Public Tender Act – I have an Act here now where, Minister, in your department there are probably eight or ten different exemptions that were given, and the rationale was given for exempting these particular sole source contracts from the Public Tender Act.

Even clauses that reflect that, our preference would be to use the Public Tender Act and to have an Act that would be designed and allow for the kind of flexibility that you want, but in the absence of that, the very minimum that we can tolerate here would be a process of transparency in awarding contracts in the Province, and a mechanism for reporting that to the minister, to the Cabinet, and in essence to the House of Assembly, like other things are done here.

The other piece, Mr. Speaker, is we want to ensure that there is going to be competitive advantage. The Public Tender Act as well can provide for that, but in the absence of using the Public Tender Act we still want to ensure that there is going to be some opportunity for competitiveness here on behalf of the businesses and the companies that are in the Province, so that I, Mr. Speaker, do not just have the opportunity to go out and award contracts to companies that I know and I am comfortable with as a CEO of this corporation I have just been appointed to, but also that other companies have an opportunity to be considered, to be evaluated and to, at some stage, look to solicit that kind of business or opportunity to do business with the subsidiaries as well. Mr. Speaker, there needs to be some opportunity here to provide for those particular provisions.

Mr. Speaker, I will just leave the piece with regard to the tendering of business under the corporation for now. We may have more to say about that later, but obviously we have some amendments that we will propose ourselves, but maybe the amendments that the minister is proposing will meet our satisfaction. We will certainly wait to see what they are before we would look at proposing any amendment at this stage. We will be open to consider that.

Mr. Speaker, also I want to talk about the Auditor General Act and the role of the Auditor General as it relates to this corporation. Now, the Auditor General's role in this Province has become very evident to people in the public, especially in the last year or two, in terms of how the Auditor General discloses information and the authority that they have to investigate and report in all aspects of government. I guess, probably the most glaring examples we have seen of the authority that the Auditor General has, has been in relation to members in the House of Assembly, and his ability to be able to go back and audit travel claims and constituency allowances and spending of MHAs, as well as spending within the House of Assembly, that which applies to all those who are employees of the House of Assembly and all the expenditure that goes with that.

Mr. Speaker, it is very important, because it was through the role of the Auditor General that there were misappropriations of funds identified within this Province, and reported on. The mechanisms of reporting some of those things by the Auditor General have changed somewhat since then, as we see new legislation introduced that was recommended by Justice Green after his review. Notwithstanding that, Mr. Speaker, it still provided for the Auditor General to follow the Act under which he is governed, as well as to accept new laws under the new legislation that we had implemented here, to do his work.

Mr. Speaker, under this particular legislation that is here, it does provide restrictions to the Auditor General. It does not say that the Auditor General can not go in and audit the corporation. That is not what it says. It says that they can go in and audit the corporation, however they do so under different reporting mechanisms than are allowed for within the Auditor General Act right now. That is, Mr. Speaker, that any matters the Auditor General find within his audit and wants to disclose, Mr. Speaker, first of all, he has to meet with the Chief Executive Officer of the corporation, again the CEO. As I said from the beginning, the CEO has a tremendous amount of power in this legislation, and that is why it is very important that safeguards are put in place, and it has nothing to do with the individual who currently holds the post, but everything to do with any individual who may ever hold that post.

Mr. Speaker, under this particular legislation, the Auditor General meets with the Chief Operating Officer of the Energy Corporation. Anything that CEO deems to be commercially sensitive, he can ask the Auditor General to withhold that information from any public report that he may do. As well, the Auditor General reports to the Cabinet and Lieutenant-Governor in Council, which is the Cabinet. That is the end of the reporting mechanism, other than noting that the report was made in an annual report that would be tabled in the House of Assembly.

The problem that we have with this is specifically as it relates to criminal activity that may occur within the corporation. I have had an opportunity to have a discussion with the Premier on this issue, and I am sure government will undertake to look into it further. If there is criminal activity ongoing within that corporation, then there should be a further requirement, either the Auditor General would have to be required to report that to the police, or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council would have to be required to report it to the police.

The reason we feel that is important, Mr. Speaker, is because we have just been through major court cases in North American to deal with corporate law and corporate cases to do with misappropriation of money and expenditures. I guess the Conrad Black case would have been probably the biggest international case that I have seen in my short time, but certainly cases to deal with expenditures, how they are managed, how corporate pieces come together at the end of the day and who gets what, when they get it and whether they are supposed to have it. Now if that does not make sense, I will try it in English.

Mr. Speaker, in essence let me clarify. What I am saying is this: if the Chief Operating Officer at Hydro – and this is a person who will be appointed by the Premier of the day, whoever that may be. They appoint the Chief Operating Officer at the Energy Corporation. That Chief Operating Officer then finds out, through the Auditor General, that there might be some kind of activity ongoing,- criminal activity. That particular CEO has the authority, under the legislation, to ask the Auditor General to remove it from the report, because maybe the activity is to deal with something that might be commercially sensitive or interpreted to be, because the terms are very broad.

If, for example, they do not have to remove it, maybe there is not a good case made for commercial sensitivity, then it has to be reported to the Premier who appointed the CEO. Maybe the Premier has just appointed me as the CEO of the corporation, this is going on under my watch which now reflects on whoever that Premier is, because they are the Premier of the day. They may know nothing about it. They may have no idea in the world what is going on, but at the same time they are the individual who appointed him there. Most people might say, too bad, you are out the door, but there are other people who, because of politics, may want to cover it up, may want to hide it in some way; because I just put you there and now you have done this and that is a reflection on me.

Mr. Speaker, there has to be another mechanism and that mechanism has to be a change which says, either the Lieutenant-Governor in Council will report this to the police when there are issues regarding criminal activity, or the Auditor General himself will have the authority, in addition to reporting to the cabinet, to report it directly themselves. They report to the House of Assembly in an annual report, which, as I said, could come months and months after this activity is discovered and found.

You know, there is, I suppose, some form of a safeguard that might be built in. I will have to go back and look at that again because that was not my understanding, either. My understanding was that the Auditor General only had the report that they had made some report to Cabinet. I do not see in here what the specific details were, that they would have to outline. I would have to go back and check that, because I think that they only have to acknowledge in their annual report, that they have made a report.

MR. SPEAKER (Collins): Order, please!

Order, please!

I would like to remind the hon. members not to engage in discussion. The recording system for Hansard can only pick up the member speaking, so keep the comments in the response.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS JONES: I do apologize, Mr. Speaker, but it is important sometimes to have clarifications because if you do not, obviously it could affect the way that you view a particular issue or an opinion that you might take, and I do not want to spend the week after, Mr. Speaker, standing up apologizing. Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, these are very important pieces in the legislation that need to be addressed and they do need to be dealt with.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to look for the other clarifications with regard to the reporting mechanisms of the Auditor General, but as I understood it and interpreted it there were not appropriate safeguards from what I could see and understand, and I think it was important that those additional safeguards be there. Those safeguards would definitely be around the activities that would be of a criminal nature.

Mr. Speaker, if there are issues that the Auditor General finds within their audit that are commercially-sensitive, and that might be things that would talk about the amount of money government is making on power, or how much they are selling to a customer for, or what their plans might be, Mr. Speaker, in terms of future investments and so on, I do not have a problem if those things are not necessarily outlined in detail in the report. We would like to see, however, specific information made available through the Auditor General's reports with regard to the productivity of investments, the return on investments, the success of any purchase of assets that may occur and, of course, any liabilities that the corporation may incur as a result of some bad decision that may be made.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to have that kind of clarification but I think that all other legislation that we have had in the House provides a mechanism by which the Auditor General, irregardless, in events where there might be interpretations of criminal activity or findings of such, that there are processes made for the disclosure of that information. We want to ensure that is provided for in this particular act as well.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of more points that I want to continue to make as I go through this, and I am just looking through my notes here, have to do with the government legislative piece here. I have to find the section in the bill, so if you can just bear with me for a second. Mr. Speaker, it has to do with the section - and I am looking for it here - in which the corporation would be set up as a non-Crown agency.

Although it is a Crown corporation, Mr. Speaker, government is opting to establish it as a non-Crown agency. The rationale, of course, for that is because, in their opinion, it would relieve some of the liabilities that may occur to people in the Province, and that was my understanding in the technical briefing that we had an opportunity to participate in yesterday. Mr. Speaker, they were looking at this particular option and basically provided us with the explanation that most corporations – private corporations – would set up as Crown agencies, and the purpose of them doing that would be for the protection of any liabilities that could occur to that corporation. Mr. Speaker, although it will be a Crown corporation, and that does not change anything –

MR. PARSONS: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, their basic rationale has to do with liabilities, and I guess our issue that we raised today, actually, in the House of Assembly, and we were looking for some clarification on, has to do with the fact that when we asked them about other Crown agencies that were established in the Province, and what precedents there were there – because, in order to ensure that it can be a Crown agency or that it will be looked at from that regard by the courts, there has to be an independence, a level of independence from government, and I understood yesterday, in questioning in the House, that the board of directors would be, indeed, appointed by the Energy Corporation in conjunction with the Cabinet, and I think that was clarified today, that it would be appointed directly by the Energy Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, basically, I guess, what we were asking was: What would happen in a case where this particular corporation, although their board of directors is being appointed by the Energy Corp. and still has to be sanctioned by Cabinet, will that be looked at independently by the courts? Will they be granted the kind of liabilities that they are hoping for, under this particular Crown agency?

We did ask for examples in the technical briefing, and the only example they could give us was one to do with the boxing commission in Newfoundland and Labrador that was actually set up as a Crown agent, and we could not find any particular court case that would have been filed by this particular group in which, Mr. Speaker, we would see some kind of precedent being set.

So today, when we asked the questions in the House of Assembly, it was to look for some insight, some examples or precedents that may have been set within the courts where state-owned corporations that may have set up their subsidiaries as non-Crown agents of the government were protected in the case of some kind of catastrophic loss, some kind of extended damages, that may have occurred.

This is very important, Mr. Speaker, and important especially when you are taking investment equity in the companies. For example, government is negotiating investment equity into the oil and gas industry; and, Mr. Speaker, what they are actually doing is they are asking for shares in the corporations. They will make investment dollars, they will get return on profits, but with that also comes a level of risk. Mr. Speaker, I guess what we are looking at is: How do we reduce that risk to the people of the Province, to the public, to ensure that we do not go out there and as soon as the first oil investment project that government buys into as an equity shareholder does not have a problem with a well and end up with some kind of an environmental spill and damages that will continue to add up over extended periods of time.

I guess we are trying to get a better understanding of the guarantee that is provided here by looking at it as a Crown agency.

MR. PARSONS: Non-Crown agency.

MS JONES: Not as a Crown agency, I am sorry, by looking at it as a non-Crown agency.

That was the reason we were looking for some kind of cases that may have occurred by state-owned corporations that would have subsidiary companies that would have been set up in a similar way - because we have been told that there was research done in Norway and Denmark and other places, and in Quebec and B.C. - if there is any other structure that may have ended up in the courts, where there were liabilities but yet, based on this particular corporate structure and similar legislation, that the courts would have upheld that as a non-Crown agency.

That was the concern that we had raised, and hopefully we will be able to get some of that information provided to us over the course of today or tonight as we continue with the debate. That was another one of the issues that we felt was very important to have addressed here.

We are asking these questions only because we want to ensure that proper protections and safeguards are put in place. It is not about being political with the legislation in any way, shape or form.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize for interfering with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition but I just want to inform the House and inform the Speaker of some conversations, shall we say, that took place between the parties.

Normally, in debate in second reading, leaders of the parties would have one hour and so on, and there are a whole bunch of rules around how long you can speak and how often you can speak and so on. I met with the Government House Leader and the leader of the third party and, given the importance, shall we say, of these two pieces of legislation, particularly the energy bill that we are dealing with today, Bill 35 - and we have included the Premier in the conversations as well - it has been agreed that we would suspend the normal rules so that whoever wants to speak on an alternating basis or otherwise would be free to do so for today.

I understand we intend to sit probably until 10:00 or 10:30 tonight, or so. The purpose is to get all of the information out here and let everybody have an open, frank discussion about it. In order to achieve that, we have agreed to suspend the normal rules so that the Opposition does not get into a six-month hoist and reasoned amendments and all that kind of stuff. We would reserve all of the rights that we would have pursuant to that, and the government, of course, would preserve any right that they have under the rules for when we come back on Monday and resume the debate.

My understanding is that, after the leaders of the parties have spoken, we would work on an alternating twenty-minute basis to allow everybody a fairly frank exchange.

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the issue that was brought up by the Opposition House Leader.

We certainly would like to, by leave, amend the rules of debate for today while we are in second reading. The change in the rules, or the suspension of the rules for today, would only be in this parliamentary day. When we return to this debate on Monday, the regular rules would apply. The changes would only be for this session today. When we adjourn for today, there is no understanding that the rule changes would be in effect for our next parliamentary day.

Basically, the rule that we are changing is the fact that, while we are in second reading, each member, with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier, or the member who would have responded immediately after the minister who moved the second reading of the bill - and the minister again, of course, would be in a position to close debate so they would be able to speak a second time.

Outside of those rules, every other member can only speak once in second reading for no more than twenty minutes, but with the suspension of the rules for today we would make sure we would allow that every member who wished to speak for twenty minutes would be able to do that more than once.

The reason for doing that, Mr. Speaker, is because this is such an important piece of legislation and we really want to encourage a very open and reasonable debate to make sure that the issues that the Opposition have, that they certainly have sufficient time to be able to speak to those issues and, as government, for us to be able to reply.

We think that for today only we would suspend those rules, but the understanding would be that the Leader of the Opposition has spoken for an hour. If and when the Premier chooses to speak in second reading, he will speak for an hour. Outside of that, every member who wishes to speak more than once can do so, no more than for twenty minutes, and that should the Premier or the Leader of the Opposition wish to speak a second time they would also be subject to the twenty minutes after they have used their hour.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the Leader of the Opposition speaking to the point of order?

MS JONES: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is guided by the membership of the House here. While our Standing Orders are clear on how people are recognized to speak, and for the time periods, by leave of the House we can be authors of our own proceedings here. The Chair accepts that, and my understanding is the only thing that we will be guided by will be the time period for speaking, not by who is speaking.

MS BURKE: And alternating back and forth.

MR. SPEAKER: And alternating back and forth.

By all means. The Chair will make his rulings according to the direction that has already been given.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am really pleased, actually, that there is agreement of the House, because in the last minute I had the six-month hoist amendment already in front of me. I think it is important and, of course, that amendment would have been only to allow us to be able to carry on in debate beyond the amount of time that we had allotted for. We certainly appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that we do not have to start pulling all of the amendments out, that we can find, to be able to do that. That is important.

The issues that I have raised so far in the legislation are basically –

MR. SPEAKER: Order please!

The only thing I remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition is that her time for speaking has lapsed. While she can be recognized again, we are still guided by our Standing Orders of the timeframes.

MS JONES: By leave, just a minute to clue up, actually.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member, by leave.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was just about to say that the last piece that I raised on non-Crown agents was the last concern that we had with regard to the bill and I think that probably captured all of the different pieces that we felt were important that we should point out and ask government to provide further clarification on.

With that, I will conclude my remarks and I will certainly listen to see what the responses are.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as I was sitting here listening to the Leader of the Opposition and considering the bill that we are debating, I was thinking that earlier on in her comments the Leader of the Opposition said that this was one of the most important pieces of legislation that we have debated in this sitting. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is actually probably one of the biggest pieces of legislation that has ever been debated in this House, from a historical perspective and the implications that it will have on the people of this Province on a go-forward basis.

As I was getting ready to stand up and the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader made their observations on rule changes, I thought that this indeed is a historic debate, historic in the matter in which we are dealing with. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, anybody who is sitting at home today listening to us, must be, as Paul Shelley used to say, struck amazed at the level of cooperation and the demeanour that we have engaged in here this afternoon. Please God, we will be able to preserve that until we finally get this bill through and embark upon our endeavours to structure the Energy Corporation, or whatever it is going to be called, of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this bill here this afternoon. I am sure that there are not very many people, certainly not many in this House and I suspect not many in Newfoundland and Labrador, who over the course of the last five, ten years would ever have believed that in 2008 we would be: number one, in the fiscal position that we are in; number two, in the final stages so-to-speak of negotiating an equity position in one of our offshore oil fields; and number three, engaged in a debate to structure an Energy Corporation to embark upon some fabulous projects that will have substantial – substantial does not even seem to be a big enough word to describe the impact that it will have on the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, our children and our grandchildren and what have you.

As the Minister of Natural Resources said in her debate and the Premier has said outside of the House and in the House in Question Period, what this is about is building a world class energy corporation, a company that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in 100 years time will be able to look back on, look at the history of it and be proud of what they have; just like the people in Norway, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, are proud of Norsk Hydro, and just like the people in Quebec are proud of Quebec Hydro, and the people in Manitoba are proud of Manitoba Hydro. I am sure, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a fair amount of pride for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro because it has done some great work over the years and continues to do so.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, four short years ago we had close to $ 1 billion deficit. Right now we have a $1.4 billion surplus in the past fiscal year. That enables us, Mr. Speaker, to embark on this kind of road, to engage in these kinds of ventures.

Mr. Speaker, you can feel the change when you go – I know, as a minister I have been going to federal-provincial-territorial meetings now for about four years. I guess about four years ago I went to my first one. Of course, I had attended some functions from across the country prior to that, both in Opposition and in my previous life, and the feeling sitting around those tables now, compared to what it was sitting around those tables three years ago and four years ago and ten years ago in my previous life, is remarkable. I was in a meeting on international trade in Ottawa just a couple of months ago and a conversation came up about promotion and I overheard a deputy minister from one of the other provinces observe to his minister that when it comes to promotion, nobody knows how to do it like Newfoundland and Labrador, in response to our tourism ad campaigns.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity last November, I believe it was, to travel to Boston with Atlantic – well, the Maritime premiers, our Premier was tied up in other affairs and I was there representing the government as Minister of Trade. We engaged in a discussion with people from the state of Massachusetts on energy and energy developments. I sat around the table and I listened to the Premier from P.E.I. talk about the energy potential in P.E.I. and I listened to the Premier from New Brunswick pass on his observations, and I listened to the premier from Nova Scotia talk about the energy development, the energy potential in Nova Scotia. Finally, Mr. Speaker, it was time for me to speak. The Member of Parliament for Southwest Nova Scotia, Gerald Keddy, was there representing the federal government, representing Minister Mckay and when it came time for me to speak, he said to the people from Massachusetts, now, if you really want to talk about energy, the Newfoundland government is going to speak now, and they are the crowd who has got the energy

Mr. Speaker, it is only fitting that we should be engaged today in the debate that we are in. I would to commend the Leader of the Opposition for the manner in which she has approached this, because I think what we are trying to do here, is to make sure that we have absolutely the best possible structure for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what we are trying to do. I think everybody comes into this House for the same reason. Sometimes we might get waylaid, we might disagree on how best to accomplish it, but at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, we are trying to achieve the best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak very briefly – I have fourteen minutes left to speak here – about Bill 35, An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act. How did the government, how did the Minister of Natural Resources and her department, her officials, the people in the Energy Corporation, Mr. Martin and his colleagues, and the Premier, the government – how did we go about, or how did they – I cannot take any credit for it, myself, but I sit around the Cabinet table. All of this work, obviously, was done by another group of people. Mr. Speaker, how did they go about trying to determine the most appropriate structure for the Energy Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador? Well, Mr. Speaker, as has been alluded to previously, they looked at the Manitoba model, they looked at the Norwegian model, they looked at the Danish model and they looked at the Quebec model. They did an extensive jurisdictional review, Mr. Speaker, around the world, across the country, and took what they thought was the best from each one and tried to put together a structure that would work best for Newfoundland and Labrador; work best so that we could develop our thousands of megawatts of wind power, to develop our hydro power, to get engaged in a more substantial way than we even are right now, in the development of our offshore oil and gas sector. Mr. Speaker, what they have found is what has been laid before us.

As the Leader of the Opposition suggested, there are concerns about disclosure, concerns about transparency, and what have you, and, Mr. Speaker, those are legitimate concerns. When the people who put this together, when the government went at this – and I can remember vividly one observation that the Premier made one day: we have got to do this in a manner so that no matter who gets their hands on the wheels in this Province, this structure is able to stand up, stand up to whoever that is. We all know, and I understand why people raise concerns about the Public Tender Act, for example, exemptions to the Public Tender Act, because we all remember, even if we were not there, we all know about the kinds of stuff that went on through our history, particularly our, I will say recent history, going back to the 1960's, for example, and early 1970's.

It was Frank Moores and the PC government who brought in the Public Tender Act. Why did they bring in the Public Tender Act? It was because of the manner in which the previous government had handled the awarding of contracts and the spending of government money.

So, it is a very legitimate concern that people have when they say we have to do this in a way, that contracts are awarded in a fair way, that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are getting the best value for their dollar, that the best return is able to be gotten for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that we do not find ourselves in the kind of boondoggles that were going on thirty and forty years ago. That, Mr. Speaker, I think we all agree on, must be avoided at all costs. That is why the Auditor General is allowed to go in and review the financial affairs of the Energy Corp. That is why the Energy Corp will have to provide a detailed annual report. They will have to hold an annual general meeting. They will have to provide audited annual consolidated financial statements.

All of the normal methods of disclosure of financial matters, we are trying to ensure that these are incorporated into the new revamped Energy Corporation structure Because we do not want to see a situation where a government at some time in the future, or whomever is in control of Energy Corp. decides, as the Leader of the Opposition said, that they have a buddy who is good at building transmission lines, or asserts that they are good at building transmission lines and gives them a $1 billion contract in exchange for what? Who knows? That is the kind of things that we cannot afford and that is the reason why this debate - that is the reason why the Government House Leader agreed, and the Premier agreed this evening, to ensure that the Opposition has adequate time to lay their concerns on the table to make sure that it is fully vetted here in this House, to make sure that we understand what it is they are trying to put across and they understand what it is we are trying to say. To make sure that at the end of the day, when this debate closes at some point in the future, we do not know when that will be, I guess it is going to be sometime, we all recognize that I believe, but when it does conclude, it is done in a way that ensures that the people in Newfoundland and Labrador are protected and that the future of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can be even brighter than it looks right now.

We have to make sure that as more oil is developed off the Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador that our corporation here, our Energy Corporation is adequately prepared and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are adequately protected to enable them to engage in these developments. We have to make sure, as the Leader of the Opposition said, as the Premier said, as the minister has said, that if something unfortunate should happen, for example, in one of our oil fields, that the people in Newfoundland and Labrador are protected to the greatest extent possible. We also have to make sure that our partners are protected, because if you have a technology in your company that is able to take - that is a new and innovative technology that enables you to get more production out of an oil field than one of your competitors, then obviously that partner, that company is going to want to protect that intellectual property. They are going to want to make sure that the research money that they have spent to develop that technology is not captured by somebody else. We have to protect out partners as well, because if we do not do that, then we are not going to have partners for very long. We are not going to be able to partner in the developments of our energy assets, our energy resources.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very critical piece of legislation that we are debating here. I think it is a debate that we all should be very happy to be engaged in. I think it is a debate that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador should be extremely proud to see taking place right now. I think it speaks volumes about how we have moved ahead over the course of the past few years, how this place is changing.

I know back four years ago, if somebody told me that I was going to be standing in the House on May 29, 2008 debating the structure for the Energy Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, that we had a $1.4 billion surplus, and that our debt position had improved significantly - nowhere near where we want it to be of course, but improved significantly - and that we would have, in the last quarter of the last calendar year, that we would have net in-migration of 2,000 people to this Province, and that our unemployment rate was at the lowest that we have seen probably in our history, but certainly in a long, long time - I cannot remember what the exact figure is on that now - I would have told them that they were off their head. Now, Mr. Speaker, look at where we are.

I had an opportunity - all because of the decisions that were made over the course of the past three or four years, because we were able, because the Premier was able to re-negotiate the Atlantic Accord, because we have improved our fiscal situation, because the Premier, in conjunction with the Minister of Natural Resources, was able to negotiate the deal on Hebron-Ben Nevis, because of that now, Mr. Speaker, everybody - if somebody had told me that in late April or early May of this year, had told me this four or five years ago, that the editorial cartoon in the Montreal Gazette showed a guy with a backpack on his back stood on the side of a road with a sign above him saying: Go east young man, go east, and destination Newfoundland written on it, then I am sure that none of us would have believed that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, our fortune has changed. By doing this right, by ensuring that the Energy Corporation is structured in a proper manner to be able to seize the opportunities that are in front of us for our children and our grandchildren then, Mr. Speaker, if that is done right, I can tell you we can certainly look to a very prosperous and a very bright future for this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources has spoken very well on what this piece of legislation is all about, in a far more succinct way and far more detailed way than I can, but suffice it to say, there has been a very comprehensive review done by our government and by our Energy Corporation of what the best structure is to enable us to develop our energy resources. If anybody has any suggestions on how we can improve what has been put in front of the people and what has been put in front of the House here and what we are debating here right now, then we would only be too happy to have that information and to incorporate it, to the extent that we can, in the legislation to ensure that it is the best for the people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, my time is getting rather short. I just want to conclude by saying that it is a very historic day, I think, for Newfoundland and Labrador. A very historic piece of legislation, and properly developed, properly structured, the Energy Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador will pay huge dividends to the people in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be looked upon around this world, just has Norsk Hydro is looked upon around this world.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Collins): Order, please!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to stand today and speak to Bill 35, and I am pleased with the decision that we have made in terms of trying to have a really good discussion here on the floor, and to do that in a free way, without our regular rules deciding how we are doing our discussion. I think it is important because I think all of us are here for the same purpose. I think we are all really concerned that we end up with a really good piece of legislation, and doing it this way, where we ask questions, put concerns out, and we just keep talking back and forth until we get things ironed out, I think, is really, really good.

We have been waiting for this bill. We have been waiting a while for it, and now it is here, so now is the time to have this kind of discussion. It is a significant bill. The fact that we have an Energy Corporation is significant, and we had a significant discussion last spring when we passed the bill with regard to the formation of the Energy Corporation. Now here we are today, looking at amendments to that bill that we passed a year ago.

These are significant, very significant, amendments that we are talking about in the bill. It sort of is the growing up of the corporation, I think. We birthed it last spring and now we are into a phase way beyond that, because of the anticipation of what can happen in this Province around energy.

I thought what I would do first, because it is very important to me and I think people know when I start speaking that it is important to me, I thought I would like to talk first about the Energy Plan, and what the government said in its Backgrounder with regard to the Energy Plan that came out last summer.

Obviously, the Energy Plan and the Energy Corporation are tied together, and I think it is important that we see that: that this corporation and the subsidiaries are going to be at the heart of the Energy Plan and how the Energy Plan rolls out, and I think it is really important for us to remind ourselves of what the Energy Plan says. I would like to read part of it, that the vision behind the Energy Plan is, "To ensure our energy resources contribute to a vibrant and sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador where people are proud to live and work, the standard of living is high, and the environment is protected now and into the future; and to ensure that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador take pride and ownership in our energy resources and strategically develop them in such a way that returns maximum benefits to the Province for generations to come."

Then the Backgrounder talks about the principles of the Energy Plan, and the first principle is sustainability. What it says is, "Energy developments must be environmentally and economically sustainable." I want to note the two words, environmentally and economically. The Backgrounder says, "We will protect and enhance our environment. We will also ensure the economic benefits from the development of our energy resources will be shared with future generations."

That is what I want to speak to, the enhancement of the environment; that the Energy Corporation Act, in and of itself, is dealing mainly with the economic, yet our plan is also concerned about sustainability, both economically and environmentally.

It is not that this has to be in the act, that is not what I am saying, but I really want to put out what I am saying, because we have to look at what our vision for the corporation is. When we met with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro yesterday, and they presented to us their understanding of the act – and, of course, the government department was there as well, when we had that briefing – they showed us the proposed structure, and the proposed structure, in the way that it flows, looks very interesting to me. Also, based on a conversation – there have been some informal conversations going on here this afternoon with the Premier – and based on something that he put out, the proposed structure is very important.

First of all, you have the government at the top, and the government will appoint the board of the Energy Corporation. Then the Energy Corporation, the board of the Energy Corporation, which is a board appointed by government, will then appoint the boards of any of the subsidiaries that exist. Now, right now there are four subsidiaries, two of which are totally inactive – so, two of four are active, the other two are inactive – and the boards of those subsidiaries will be appointed by the board of the Energy Corporation, and the Energy Corporation will hold a majority position on all of those boards.

That structure is in place in order to assure that the government does not lose control. Now, at this point that kind of structure, I do not think, is spelled out in the act. I have not had time to look again, to do that. I do not think it is spelled out in the act.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is.

MS MICHAEL: It is? Okay.

If that structure is spelled out in the act, that is really important because we have to have something in the act to ensure that vision is never lost no matter who is in government, unless a government decided to change it, but if it is part of the formation, if it is there in the beginning of the formation, then the possibility of losing it down the road is almost totally annihilated because, unless we had a really strange government elected, nobody is going to come in and say we want to totally destroy a structure that has been in place for a number of years.

That was not clear to me, that clear line to the government. Yesterday when I heard, I think it was the minister and I think the Premier, too, say on the floor that the chief shareholder is the government, I said: Okay, how do we maintain the government and the people as the chief shareholder? So that structure does maintain that.

One of the points I want to make, having said all that, is, I was interested in the subsidiaries, the potential subsidiaries which are outlined in the structure that was laid out for us yesterday in the briefing. We have a vision that, very soon perhaps, there could be an oil and gas corporation as a subsidiary of the Energy Corporation; that you have the possibility of a corporation dealing with wind; that you could have a subsidiary that was research and development; that you could have a subsidiary devoted totally to Lower Churchill. So, that kind of thinking is there.

What has struck me today, and again I do not think that is mentioned in the act, because I think that is potential, but something for us to think about, if we really mean - and I think we do, and I am sure the government does - what was in the Backgrounder for the Energy Plan with regard to concerns both for sustainability environmentally and sustainability economically, I would love to see the vision include, right now, putting in place an efficiency corporation, a corporation that would deal with energy efficiency, and that be one of the subsidiaries as well.

For example, while New Brunswick and Nova Scotia do not have energy corporations, New Brunswick has an efficiency corporation - Efficiency New Brunswick - that is devoted to working on energy efficiency programs. Nova Scotia's equivalent is called Conserve Nova Scotia, and again their mandate is similar to Efficiency New Brunswick. All of those corporations are dealing with energy efficiency, and how to work both with industry and residents in coming up with better efficiency models in their provinces.

Right now, we have little bits and pieces around energy efficiency. I think the House has heard me speak to my concerns around that over and over. It seems to me that we need a corporation, just like they have in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to deal with that. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling in the Hydro Quebec model they might have a body that deals with efficiency as well.

If we are going to use the subsidiary model, the subsidiaries of the Energy Corporation, than having a vision of working towards - I would hope, really early on - a subsidiary that deals with energy efficiency would be extremely important, especially if we are going to do that in light of the vision and the principles of the energy plan.

It is in that context that I put this out because the language in here is there, the vision is there, but we have to put something into our structure in place that shows there is a commitment to that and that we are going to make it happen. I put that out for the minister to think about. I put it out for all of us to think about, actually, knowing that that particular detail is not something that would go into the act because spelling out the subsidiaries, I do not think is in the act, but if it is, if the act names Lower Churchill, wind, and research and development, why wouldn't we also name energy efficiency? It doesn't name them.

MS DUNDERDALE: It doesn't name them (inaudible) creates structure.

MS MICHAEL: That is what I thought, that only the structure is in the act.

In the briefing that was done with us, these examples were given as the potential subsidiaries. If none of the possible subsidiaries are mentioned in the act, obviously we are not going to throw this one in. However, I would like to see in some way that this point does not get lost in the discussion. I want to do more thinking about this. We will probably have a while now over the next hours to do thinking. After I speak I am going to put more thought into that and just do more looking at the act, et cetera. It is the thing that I am really concerned about.

If we mean what we say, and what the government said in the backgrounder that we are concerned both about economic self-reliance and environmental sustainability, then I would like to see both of those goals at the heart of the Energy Corporation, not just the economic. If we are going to have both at the heart of the Energy Corporation, then it makes sense that the environmental sustainability is one of the subsidiaries, that we have something dealing with environmental sustainability. I think energy efficiency would be the subsidiary that would do that.

One of the facts is, while hydro energy in the actual generation can be a very clean green way of developing energy, we can cause all kinds of damage with hydro electricity as well. So we cannot just assume that in and of itself it is green. We have to make sure that it is green and we have to make sure that not only in the generation but also in the use of energy that we are also being green. That could be the goal of the Energy Corporation. We might also want to say that energy efficiency and environmental sustainability could be some of the areas of research also. If there is a subsidiary dealing with research and development, that part of what they would deal with would be energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. So, that is the first point I wanted to make, Mr. Speaker.

Another thing I would like to say is, just to put it out front, I fully understand the focus of the act around the commercially sensitive information. It is absolutely essential. I mean I have no doubt at all about that and the fact that we have so much in the act around it is essential. We learned yesterday that with just one company government spent four months - or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, along with government, spent four months trying to get a confidentiality agreement signed, because confidentiality is so important to the partners in the oil industry that the corporation will have to deal with and that government deals with. So, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about the importance of all of the safeguards around the commercially sensitive information.

I had a concern, especially in section 5.4 of the legislation. I had a concern but when I read this really, really carefully, and I am trying to read the act really carefully, my concern was alleviated. I really wondered if, for example, there is an appeal to the ATIPPA commissioner, if we have an appeal that goes there, how does the commissioner make the decision that the information is commercially sensitive information? Initially, I was only looking at the definition of commercially sensitive information on page 3 in section 1, but when I looked up the page in section 5.4, I realized that it is very, very clear, what is commercially sensitive information.

A disclosure of information, you have to show that the information harms a competitive position, it interferes with a negotiating position and it results or could result in financial loss or harm to the corporation, the subsidiary or the third party. That is very clear. I had a concern that it was so wide open that how do you make a decision around commercially sensitive? Well, seeing that really puts that at ease for me. Then it goes on to say that information similar to the information requested to be disclosed is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the corporation, subsidiary or the third party or is customarily not provided to competitors by the corporation, the subsidiary or the third party.

So I feel confident with all of that, that the commissioner does have the directions that are needed in order to determine what would be commercially sensitive information, if the commissioner ever got asked to make a ruling with regard to a refusal to disclose. From my perspective, that to me, number one is essential, that commercially sensitive information is protected. I do think there have to be rulings. We just cannot assume that the CEO or the board is automatically correct. So if a person, group person or individual person seeks information and is refused, it has to be ruled on by the commissioner. I feel confident that the commissioner has everything that is needed to make the decision, and I think that is extremely important. So I am pleased about that.

I do have one question, and when the minister speaks to questions that get raised eventually - that probably will not be until Monday, or it might be, I do not know when that is going to happen, whenever it happens - it has to do with the definition under section 1.(b.1) commercially sensitive information. Where it says: "commercially sensitive information" means information relating to the business affairs or activities of the corporation or a subsidiary. I really would like a clearer notion of what the activities - what is different in saying business affairs or activities? Because activities is such a broad term. Where would that fit under that definition, under 5.4? The business affairs is very clear to me. Now activities, that could be research. You know, that could be one thing. It could be buying a pizza too. I do not know, and obviously whatever is under that is guided by the definition under 5.2 in talking about disclosure of information. If we could, I would like to have some discussion about the necessity for the word activities being there. Maybe I have partially answered by own question when I came up with the example of research, but if the minister has other ideas, that would be helpful. Because when you come down and look at the subsections, the subsections all seem to have to do with information rather than with activity. So, that is why I am wondering why activity is in there, because as I said when you look under all the subsections, all the subsections deal with information. It is something for us to think about. The minister is making notes so I know that she is going to come up with a response to that one.

I think, Mr. Speaker, I have forty-four seconds left. I will leave it at that because I have another whole area I want to go into and I will wait until the next time that I speak.

Thank you, very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to get up and speak today in regard to Bill 35, An Act To Amend The Energy Corporation Act.

I heard some reference previous from one of the other speakers. As a matter of fact, I think it was the Leader of the Opposition who referenced this bill and its amendments as probably one of the most important things that we have done in recent history in Newfoundland and Labrador. I believe that it is probably one of the most important things that we have considered in this House certainly since 2003 and probably even in Newfoundland and Labrador's history.

The bill is all about giving the Energy Corporation every opportunity to compete, work within the confines and work within the global business climate that it will be working in, in that industry of oil and gas and wind energy and hydro electric power. That is a very, very competitive market with big players within that market.

Recently, in the last couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to speak at a conference here in St. John's, and the theme of their conference was on a crest of a new wave. Certainly when I read it and I referenced in my speaking notes that day I reflected on where we find ourselves in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is exactly where we find ourselves, on a crest of a new wave.

We have come a long way since 2003. I remember in the Budget of 2004 this government, the Cabinet of the day, took this Province by the bootstraps and pulled it together in regard to the financial situation we found ourselves in and then we moved forward. We also, in that process, in regard to the Blue Book and Blue Book commitments of 2003, in regard to the election process, referenced an energy plan. We often got criticized, Mr. Speaker, in regard to, what was taking so long in regard to tabling that energy plan here in the House of Assembly. A lot of work, months and months and months and months of work, went into the development of that energy plan, because that energy plan had to be all about vision. It had to be all about strategy. Certainly, the most important thing is that we had to do it right, because we had one shot at this especially in regard to our non-renewable resources and hydro electric as well. Because you only get one shot once you go through the development stage and development the project itself. You have to try to maximize the benefits to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Certainly, that is what this Energy Corporation is about. That is the reason why we need the amendments that we see, and which we have tabled today in this House of Assembly. The Energy Corporation will manage the assets of the Province's interest in the energy sector and that is what it has been mandated to do. It is not like other Crown Corporations, and it cannot be. It cannot be like a Crown Corporation for the simple reason that it finds itself in a competitive market, it finds itself in a private market and that is where it will operate. It has to be set up as close as we can get it to a private corporation, or a public traded corporation, in order for it to compete and carry on its business within that market, but keeping in account and in your mind, that we have a public accountability , and a public responsibility as well.

Certainly, in regard to, as I just referenced, the energy plan, it took months and months and months and months in regard to developing that plan and tabling it here in the House of Assembly. I also have to say that it was hailed across Newfoundland and Labrador as a very, very good document. It was certainly applauded by the industry itself and the business world as being an absolutely fabulous document. It was also being applauded across Canada and I don't know but if it was applauded in the United States as well and referenced in regard to ministers who traveled to the United States.

These amendments to the Energy Corporation Act took months and months as well in regard to developing them. They were not done in haste and I do not think anybody out there in Newfoundland and Labrador today believes that it was done in haste, that we just brought forward these amendments because this is the way we see it at this particular time, without giving it all of the consideration and all the analysis that something like this should have. Again, you only have one shot at it, you have to do it right and you should do it right because it is for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, certainly not only just us in this House of Assembly and the people out there, but our children's children is what this all about. This is what this government has been all about in regard to no more giveaways, we are doing it right and we want to maximize the benefits in the industry.

Over the months and months of work that went into developing and making sure that we had the amendments right and making sure that we had the corporation set up right, there were a lot of things and every option was considered, everything was researched, advice was sought and sought by people who were experts in the field. Wood Mackenzie was consulted, Deloitte was consulted, and Fasken in regard to the legal side were consulted too. All these bright minds were brought to the table to make sure that we did it right, that we have this right.

All of the things that was mentioned - and a number of them were mentioned here in the House of Assembly today, and they should be. They should be explained to make sure that people here in this House of Assembly, the colleagues, all understand the things that were considered and also the amendments themselves, what they mean and how we have tried, to the best of our ability, with the advice that we had, to make sure that we closed every loop in regard to somebody in the future violating this corporation and making sure that it works in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Certainly, I will say as well, there is no personal gain in this. The only personal gain in this is to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to make sure, and the personal gain and the goal here is to make a corporation successful, that is supports the government's vision and the goal to give this Province every opportunity to be and remain a have province. That is the goal of this government. I think it is the goal of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian. All of my colleagues here in the House of Assembly today will want to be, and remain to be, a have

province and take our rightful place in the federation of Canada.

When we went down through it, there are certain things taken into account such as public accountability. We had to have a public accountability piece, but we could not restrict the company as well and the corporation in regard to carrying out their business transactions. We had to protect sensitive materials. We had to be cognizant of the partners we were partnered with in regard to any developments. Certainly, you would violate confidentiality agreements and the confidence of those partners if those types of things, sensitive materials and activities and strategies that were within these companies, were released to the public domain. As a matter of fact, it would certainly put the corporation itself, the Energy Corporation, in a very bad position in regard to being successful, because once you make all your plans and strategies public, then your competitors use then against you, certainly, and then you have a probability of not being – a very good probability of not being - successful.

In saying that, though, we have kept in mind the accountability piece. We certainly knew that certain things could not apply to this particular corporation, to enable it to be successful and to carry out its business.

I must say, too, as well, that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has had a very, very good track record in regard to public accountability. I remember back – I could not remember the projects – but the Public Tender Act, I will say this, did not apply to Newfoundland Hydro, only a number of years ago. It has certainly developed big projects here in the Province, and in Labrador, and certainly they applied the good business practices, global business practices, in regard to developing these projects. That is what governs certain companies, such as publicly-traded companies and also state-owned companies that are outside the confines of any type of act that they may have in their jurisdiction. They practice business practices that are enshrined in regard to how these types of corporations are set up. Fortis is one of them. Fortis, a very, very successful company, a Newfoundland and Labrador company that have gone out on the international stage, they have done very, very well. As a matter of fact, I believe the last quarter they made $91 million in profit for their shareholders, and that is called accountability, accountability to their shareholders. They are responsible to their shareholders, and the ultimate person that they would be responsible to would be their shareholders. They are not subject to the Public Tender Act. They are not subject to the Auditor General. They are not subject to such things that you find yourself confined by within government.

That is the reason why these amendments are there, because we have to structure an Energy Corporation much like Fortis, much like the state-owned companies that we find in Norway, Denmark, Japan, Brazil, just to name a few, and in other provinces such as Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba. That is certainly what we have to do, Mr. Speaker, in regard to that.

So, we set up a structure and enshrined some things there that normally you would not see in regard to the annual reporting process and an annual general meeting that would be open to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador, if they want to attend and ask questions about their corporation, because that is what it is; it is their corporation. You must remember that, that it is owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador so they have a right to ask questions, and that is the process and that is the forum that they would ask those questions, so that was placed in these amendments in regard to that.

The Transparency and Accountability Act applies, as well, and the Auditor General applies. The Auditor General can go in, as was explained by other members, and I want to highlight that again as well because we are not trying to confine the Auditor General in regard to his reporting process. He certainly can go in there and do the normal transaction that he has to do, or that she has to do, in regard to the Auditor General and their best practices. It is just that we have to protect the sensitive information that we have in regard to that corporation, in regard to how it carries out its business, and that kind of stuff. It also has to protect the partners as well, and there will be partners in regard to megaprojects such as the Lower Churchill.

That is the only thing in regard to that - that we have to - and he cannot report that kind of thing, but there is a process there that he can take, that the Auditor General can take. I am referring to him as a he, but that is not the way I should because it could be a she tomorrow, God only knows. Certainly, right now it is a he and a male, so it is hard not to say he when you are referring to the Auditor General.

Anyway, there is a process for that office to follow in regard to if they find any problems in regard to that corporation, and they can report it to us, to the Cabinet of the day, and then to the House of Assembly, and then the House of Assembly would be aware and the public of Newfoundland would be aware that there was a problem.

In my mind, the Cabinet would have no other choice but deal with the problem. Certainly, it is in the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and I certainly would hope that a Cabinet tomorrow would deal with a problem that violates the resources of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, so that was put in place.

There has been some question in regard to the Public Tender Act. The Public Tender Act, as people know, is in my department and it is a good document. It certainly allows government and provides government with a process in operating in a daily environment where the Public Tender Act is effective for acquiring the day-to-day operational needs of government in any such way that it has. It is certainly effective in regards to our provincial roads program. It is certainly effective in regards to our leasing agreements, and all that kind of stuff. When you get into a corporation and the magnitude of an industry that we are entering into, which we have to enter into - and I applaud the Premier for leading us here because this is the only path that we can take in regards to being a have Province and remaining a have Province.

The Public Tender Act, in regards to the process, it limits the process and the ability of the corporation to work because, the simple reason is, is that there are time restraints applied to that. Like it, I suppose, or lump it, in regards to the low bid, there a mechanism within the Public Tender Act that you do not have to take the low bid, but it is an accepted practice and it is debated and challenged if you do not give it to the lowest bidder. Sometimes the lowest bidder is not what you want in regards to the contractors and the various other suppliers that you might have engaged in a mega-project such as the Lower Churchill. There are certain values that probably are more valuable than the dollar at this particular time because you have to make sure that the company in question has the expertise to carry out the actual job itself. There might be certain engineers with certain experience levels that would be needed in order to carry out that job. Well, it has been seen in the public process right now in regards to contracts being let that companies would bid a contract, they would speculate that they would be able to hire the particular people that they need after they get awarded a contract. In other words, they low bid and then they go out to get the people that they need, but then when they go out to get the people that they need they just cannot hire them. That could happen on these kinds of mega-projects. So you cannot have that restrictive piece attached to this. That is the reason why it was there and you have the flexibility of being exempt from the Public Tender Act.

That is only one of the things, Mr. Speaker. There are a good many things in regards to the Public Tender Act that would be constrictive and restrictive of this process in regards to how this company has to really work within the global market and the industry that it finds itself.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is all about success. This is all about vision. This is all about strategy. This is about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, our children's children. This is what it is all about. Yes, we are on the crest of a new wave. This is a wave that I think this government aims to ride and get there, because we - and I want to be sitting on the couch one of these days when I am not in this public forum and reflect back and look at my children and their children sitting there and working in Newfoundland and Labrador and raising a family and having a place to raise them. I look forward to that.

I have no fear in the amendments that are suggested in this legislation. I see them as proactive and I see them as being reflective of what is needed in the industry and within this corporation itself. I know there are some amendments coming and I will reflect on them, too, as well and analyze them in my own way because I think that is good and a good part of the process. Anything that can be done to strengthen the act is certainly welcomed at this point in time because we are all in this together; all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, everybody in this House are in this together.

That is the few words that I have to say. I will be listening to the debate as we go forward and I look forward to this corporation being very, very successful in the future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, based on the time on the clock being 5:22, I move that we adjourn now until 7:00 p.m. this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The House now stands recessed until 7:00 p.m.


 

May 29, 2008             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLVI    No. 35A


The House resumed sitting at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Collins): Order, please!

This House is now back in session.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few comments with respect to Bill 35 and, of course, I would think in the next few days, or as long as we are debating Bill 35, and Bill 36 that is to come after, there is certainly going to be several opportunities to address things. So, I do not think in my first twenty minute session I am going to get an opportunity to address all the concerns that we have with this Bill 35, but I would like to make some overall comments first as to the nature of the debate and where we are coming from, and hopefully where we are going to end up.

First of all, I would thank the Government House Leader for the fact that we have suspended the normal rules of debate here. I had spoken to the Premier and to the Government House Leader earlier today. There was a way, of course, that the Opposition could keep the debate going, and the practicality of it is, or the reality of it is, that because there are only four members in opposition, we are pretty limited in terms of the time that we could address a piece of legislation – no matter if it something of a minor nature, or something as significant as Bill 35 – and the only way that an opposition has to get extensions of time is to use the rules of the House to try to do that. There are all kinds of fancy procedural things you can do, like a six-month hoist, and you can use committee references, and you can use reasoned amendments, you can use sub-amendments, and so on.

I did not think, given the significance of this bill, that it was necessary to get into those procedural wrangles just to try to get the time, and that was why I approached the Government House Leader and the Premier and asked if, given the significance of it, we could get rid of that, because we do not need to get lost in procedural wrangling when we are discussing something of such importance.

I appreciate the fact that the Government House Leader and the Premier were on board and said yes, we will take whatever time we need. The minister said yesterday, as well, in Question Period, closure, for example, is another way, if the government wants to shut down debate, that government can invoke the closure rules and shut you down, and by 1:00 o'clock on any given day that they do that, we are all closed and gone home, and that is called the old hobnails boots approach to doing things. It has been used. I think it has been used by this government in the past, actually, or in the first go-round by this government it was used on one occasion.

Anyway, it is good to see that procedurally we are heading down the right path in terms of how we are going to get there, so I am very pleased to see that.

The other comment I would make is, contrary to what some members may think, we in the Opposition do like to think that from time to time we can make some contribution to the debate - not with any expectation that the government is going to accept what we say. We are realistic enough to know that. The government has a mandate from the people, the government will rule as to what it feels is in its best interest to carry out that mandate, and that is understandable. Nobody has any problem with that, but that does not take away not only the right but the obligation of opposition – and not only opposition members, I might add, but the public, anybody who is concerned about this bill; and it is a very significant bill, because basically it is going to allow the Energy Corp. and its subsidiaries to pretty well have carte blanche in terms of the negotiation, the administration of future resource development projects in this Province, and that is a pretty big mandate.

Whether you are talking about wind, or you are talking about oil and gas, or you are talking about whatever, that is a pretty big mandate that the Energy Corp. was given when it was created last spring in 2007 here in this House.

So, there is an obligation to put forward these amendments. I have already indicated to the Premier today, as well, and he approached us and said, if you have amendments, pass them over and we will have a run by them. We will see if there is anything that can be done to strengthen the legislation, and so on.

So we are going down the right path, I would suggest, and using the right approach in that regard. I liked the fact as well that, even before we started the debate on this today, the Minister of Natural Resources acknowledged that there is going to be an amendment coming from the government. That, in and of itself, signifies to me that the bill, when first delivered on Monday, obviously was not in its final form, or was not all that everybody thought it was, because even within two days of it being put on the table by the government, the government themselves acknowledged that there is going to be some amendment.

I do not know the significance of that amendment, because we have not seen it yet. Once we, of course, have an opportunity to have a look at it, we will see what the government has decided to change its mind about.

We also had some discussions – the Leader of the Opposition and myself – with the Premier today about some of our concerns. We, of course, want to raise those concerns publicly, which is what we are about to do, but we also had those discussions with the Premier and he has been open. He is aware of some of the concerns we have, and I understand he has personnel checking into that, to see what the validity of those concerns are, and if the government can live with any suggestions we might make but at the same time accomplish the objectives that they want to accomplish with this Bill 35.

I appreciate the approach so far that is being taken. We will see where it ends up, and we will see how much debate is required.

Again, in terms of the significance, or contribution, one thing that does come to mind when the Opposition did make, I felt, a very worthwhile contribution, was when we debated the FPI Act here. We came back here last year, I do believe it was, and had a special session. The House was closed. We reconvened the House again to deal specifically with the FPI bill. In the course of the negotiations back and forth, the discussions and the debate, it became evident that there was no protection in that act. If FPI wanted to go out and dispose of all, or substantially all, of their assets, there was no obligation on them to consult with government. That was a pretty significant oversight. Now, nobody intended to overlook it. We did not point it out from the point of view of trying to embarrass the government that it was not in there. What came to reality was that everybody realized, once we had a chance to debate it, and the Opposition noticed it first and said: Wow, whoa, this is now there.

The government, true to what a government should do, I believe, recognized that and said: You are quite right. That amendment is not there, that protection is not there, so we need to put it there.

We did that, we came here, and the amendment was unanimously agreed to, so there is a role for an Opposition and we like to think that our role will be contributing.

First of all, on the overview, one comment I would like to make to start the premise as well is that everybody in this Province, I would think, who has followed the political scale at all for the last ten years is under the impression that if a major resource deal is struck in this Province at any time on a go-forward basis that it will in some way get the blessing or the sanction or the review or the evaluation of the House of Assembly.

My understanding is, once we created the Energy Corp. last fall, or last spring, 2007, there is absolutely no obligation on this government right now. That is my understanding. There is no obligation whatsoever on this government once we have created the Energy Corp. and given it its mandate and its objectives as to what it can do, no circumstance anywhere that this government, or any government, ever has to bring a major resource deal back to the House of Assembly - no requirement whatsoever. Right away - and I think there is a perception, an expectation at least, in the public domain that if there is a major resource deal that it would come back here to the House to be debated.

For example, when we went through the Voisey's Bay piece, in that particular case we struck a special session of the House of Assembly. There was a Statement of Principles prepared. We agreed, as a government and as an Opposition of the day, to come back and structure a sitting. There was debate that went on for four days, I do believe, and everybody had their chance to tear apart the Statement of Principles - like it, didn't like it, make suggestions, ask for whatever amendments and so on.

There was a process there, but my understanding of the Energy Corp. right now is that it has the mandate - albeit it is government owned, it is a Crown agency, the Energy Corp. itself - it has the authority to go off and negotiate when it comes to any kind of energy. Energy is defined, of course, as including wind energy, oil and gas projects and so on. We also have Newfoundland Power as a piece of it. That corporation will go off, and can go off and negotiate whatever deal they feel is in the best interest of the people of this Province. That is my understanding. They are going to have all kinds of subsidiaries if they have different projects to be able to do that. That is why we created them. That is why government wanted to create them, so that they could go do that.

There is no obligation, as I understand it, whatsoever for this government, or any government in the future, to ever bring back a deal to the House of Assembly, no requirement that it be done. The Energy Corp. has the mandate and the authority to go on existing law, Bill 28 that went through here last year, to say: Here is the deal on the Lower Churchill.

The government, of course, can publicize it and tell people what they want, but never before it is accepted is there any requirement - or opportunity, I should say, is a better way - never is there an opportunity for the Legislature, and the people in it, to question what is in it. It will always be after the fact.

In the Lower Churchill deal, for example, the Premier demanded that we should bring the terms and conditions of the Lower Churchill deal here to the House for debate; it ought to be done. That was the current Premier's position then, when the Lower Churchill deal went down.

I think in everybody's heart and soul in Newfoundland and Labrador that is the expectation, because we have had different political parties saying no more giveaways. I think it depends on what decade you are in; parties are saying no more giveaways and so on. Based on that, years of that, and based on what happened in the Upper Churchill, which we all hold up there as probably one of the greatest mistakes or contractual errors that we ever stepped into in our history as a part of Canada, there is that expectation that the review process or evaluation should be there, because how will we ever know if it is the best deal if the deal is never examined?

You can say yes, it has been examined; Mr. Martin, the CEO, or whomever that CEO might be of the Energy Corp. could say yes, it is fine, it is perfect, it is the best deal we could have gotten. The Premier could, after it is announced, say yes, this is the deal and this is where we are going - but that does not take away or rub out the expectation that the people had to have some understanding of the deal before it got signed. Where, for example, is there any requirement that the Energy Corp. must have the approval of the House of Assembly before it is a final done deal?

I know we are going to get arguments back saying well – and this is what this bill is all about, by the way, it is about protecting commercially sensitive information, but in the case of Voisey's Bay, for example, and I happen to have some personal involvement in that, there was hordes, many, many volumes and volumes of commercially sensitive information. We were talking about extraction methods up in Labrador, what kind of technology was going to be used, all of those things. There were reams of information that was used in the discussions. Yet, notwithstanding all of that commercially sensitive evidence and information, we still ended up coming back to this House with a Statement of Principles before the Voisey's Bay deal was accepted.

I agree, everybody can say the Voisey's Bay deal was a piece of garbage. Some think it was a pretty good deal. We can all have our opinions on whether the deal was good or bad. I have no problem with that, and I respect everybody's right to have their opinions on that deal, but I am talking here of the process. For example, that deal was not done without it coming to this House. If you look at it, and compare it to what we are doing with the Energy Corp., what I am saying is we had a major resource deal in the nature of Voisey's Bay, we did come up with a Statement of Principles twenty-seven pages long, I think, that everybody in this House had an opportunity to tear apart, analyze, assess and evaluate before the deal was inked. It was actually done here before the deal got signed.

That, I believe, was a valid process. I think that is a good process, because that is not to take away from the government's ultimate decision, to make the decision. That did not remove government's authority. It did not infringe upon government's power. It did not in any way handcuff the government in its mandate. It did not, in any fashion, way, shape or form, say you cannot do something. All it did was set up a public interest open process whereby someone, other people representing the Province, would have an opportunity to question what was done. That is all, and that is all it is about. Any good deal, of course, that is good, this government is not going to have any problem justifying a good deal, not a problem. All we are saying is that it is not right to say it is a good deal after the deal is done and before you have allowed anyone to have input into it. That is not following a process. That is starting with the assumption that whatever we ink has to be the best.

Now, I know we have some pretty bright people in government, I am taking nothing away from them, and I mean both from a politically elected group but also the bureaucracy that supports it. I have no problem with that. I have worked with many of them. What we have here is, we have a situation where the Energy Corp. is already - and we cannot do anything about that today, I would suggest. That is not the purpose of Bill 35. We have to realize and understand that albeit there is an expectation of an evaluation of a major resource deal, I do not think that is on in the future. If the Premier decides, when the Energy Corp. comes back – say they have a deal on the Lower Churchill and says, this is it, it is done, the Energy Corporation can technically go off and do that deal and the government has no obligation on it to bring it back for evaluation. That is where I think you start from. That is a pretty big authority, pretty big power, and people might say, my God, is that reality? Can that happen that way?

What we have here in Bill 35, I would think, takes that even a step further, because not only are we going to be left with a situation where the House never, ever considers a deal until after it is done, we are now changing the Energy Corp. Act that we passed last spring to make it even deeper and more hidden. I do not use the word secret in a nefarious, negative way but more undisclosed, shall we say, less viewable, less evaluated, less analyzed than ever. We are going to change it and say – a lot of people, not only the House, not only the House of Assembly, but a lot of people who are normally expected to be the safeguards or the guardians of public interest and the guardians of open and public disclosure, we are taking a big step here to say that different people, the Auditor General, the Public Tender Act, the Information Commissioner, we are saying a whole pile of people who would normally – the Citizens' Representative – who might have some reason or want to check something out, that opportunity is gone.

By the way, I do not disagree at all, and I will say this right up front, I do not disagree with the need of the Energy Corp. to be able to be competitive and to be able to function in the industry in the same manner, using the same tools, the same skills and, as one person said, I do not think the Energy Corporation should be out there with one hand tied behind its back and try to do the best deal they can for us, because that is not good.

I do not doubt, by the way, the Premier's good intentions of where he wants to go with the Energy Corp., not at all. I can agree that we need to have an Energy Corp. that is competitive, bar none. If we are going to be up in the big, bad world of business, the tough business world, against the Chevrons and the Hebrons and everybody else in the world - the name escapes me now, but the major oil players in the world - ExxonMobil, excuse me, there is no doubt we need to have the most talented people in the Energy Corp. and we need to have an Energy Corp. that does not have its hands tied, but there is a balancing act that has to be done here. There is a balance between making sure we get the best deal, there is a balance between making sure that we take that handcuff off the Energy Corp. so that they are able to do what they need to do, but at the same time how do we make sure that the protections are in place as a people, as a public interest, so that in the future, not only from a money liability issue but from a protection of the public interest point of view, to ensure that we have left those protections there.

I got an e-mail, by the way, someone sent it to me from Ottawa yesterday, and this is not only a matter of this debate in this little Chamber. This was from a person, and I do not even know who the person is, the name is Myles Higgins. I am not sure if the Premier read it or not, but it talked about the legacy of the Premier, some kind of blog that sent it. I do not want to plagiarize him, but he made a lot of good points and he talked about the fact that, at the end of the day, these kinds of deals and the authorities that we set up here may well be the legacy of the Premier. He pointed out, quite rightly, he said: I don't think there was ever a Premier in Newfoundland history who set out to do harm to the people of the Province.

That is a pretty good statement, a pretty fair statement. At the same hand, by the same token, he said, virtually every Premier, somebody looks back and says they did something or tries to blame them for something, albeit they had the best of intentions, starting with Joey Smallwood. Like the guy said, we went dragging and screaming into Confederation. The man tried, to the best of his ability or whatever, but left politics under a cloud, as having made some of the worst deals ever, as if it was deliberate and intentional.

As the gentleman says, I do not think anybody is out to hurt the Province. Hopefully we are all here because we want to try to do some good for the Province. We do not doubt the intentions of what is trying to be achieved in the Energy Corp. bill. What I would like to do in the next session – that is the general overview – is to get into some of the provisions where we think it has gone too far and the balance has been exceeded and unnecessarily. That is what we would hope, as we get into the debate further, and some of the amendments we bring forward, we would like to be able to make some suggestions that we think are worthy. Maybe they are not worthy of consideration, but at least we are being given an opportunity to do that.

That is the other thing, by the way, in terms of time. I am out of time right now, but if I could just take a couple of minutes to clue up. We got this piece of legislation on Monday. Again, there is nothing nefarious by the government here to try and hold it off until the last minute and slip it through. That is not the point. The government has committed here, the minister has committed, that, whatever time it takes, and the Premier has committed, we will take it and do it and give it a full hearing. That is fine.

One of the problems we have, as a limited Opposition as well, is that we do not have the research capacity from Monday to now, Thursday, to get all the answers that we need, and have all the amendments prepared. We are only a group of four over here in the Opposition. We do not have the hundreds of lawyers, for example. We only got this Monday, two pieces of legislation, very significant, Bill 35 and Bill 36, so bear with us because we needed time to read it, number one, and we needed time to get it researched. It is like the Premier asking today if we had any amendments and he would be more than happy to get them. We are more than happy to provide them. The reality is that there are only four of us. We had the House open yesterday. We had to prepare for Question Period yesterday and today. We have had a board of management meeting. So there has not been a great opportunity to get into this, to the extent that we want, and that is why we are pleased to see that it is going to be back here Monday and that will give us the weekend to work on this again.

That is just some of the background on where we are coming from, and I will definitely be getting into, in my next opportunity, some of the specifics of where we think the provisions of the bill have gone a little touch too far and maybe need to be backed up somewhat, if the government is open and accountable or open and accessible to some suggestions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In relation to this bill, I am going to be very generous now to the Opposition. We are going to share with them some of the research and legal opinions we have had provided to us in answering, hopefully, some of the questions that have been referred to.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is not something that has been created in a vacuum. It is not a bill that it was decided we will throw this together and get it through the House. There has been a dedicated team of experts working on this, experts in the energy field, legal experts, working on this bill for quite some time with a view to bringing this forward, because we realize this is one of the most significant pieces of legislation we can bring forward in this House. It is going to give us, as a Province and as a people, further control of our own destiny. What it will do, Mr. Speaker, it will make us major players in the big business that is out there.

What we have seen under this government is an amazing financial transformation take place in a short period of time. There has been no luck involved in that, Mr. Speaker. It is not a result of the fact that oil prices went up. It is as a result of the dedication of the government. It is a result of the Premier having taken a very hard stance, and it is as a result of believing in what we are doing. That is why we believe, Mr. Speaker, and you will hear it over the next little while, other members talk about the importance of this bill and our confidence in the people we have working on it, and our confidence in the Energy Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, issues have been raised by the Liberal Leader, by the Leader of the Opposition, as to the governance structure and how can we protect the public. We have looked at this extensively. In fact, in a scrum outside today, I was asked about the Nova Scotia experience, and rather flippantly I said: Well, why would we look to Nova Scotia? Nothing surprises me about them.

In fact that was flippant, because we have looked at the Nova Scotia experience very closely. We have started this new company and we are not going immediately into high-risk activity, which is what appears to have happened in Nova Scotia. What we have done, Mr. Speaker, we have looked at the successes and the failures throughout the world. The successes are the ones that we are looking at with a view to modifying them to suit our experience.

Mr. Speaker, we have looked at the Norway experience, with Portoro as a wholly state-owned company, StatoilHydro with 62.5 per cent state-owned. In Denmark, Mr. Speaker, we have looked at the DONG Energy Corporation, which is 73 per cent state-owned. In the Netherlands, Mr. Speaker, we have looked at the Energie Beheer Nederland, EBN, which is wholly state-owned. We have looked at the experience in Canada. We have looked at the experience in Quebec, with Hydro-Quebec, which is wholly owned by Quebec and which is a – I was going to call them a nemesis but that is perhaps in yesterday's terms, in 1967, 1968, 1969 – and we have looked at B.C. Hydro.

In terms of the structure that is set up, there are basic legal principles at play here. The Department of Natural Resources, Mr. Speaker, has tabled a bill to amend the Energy Corporation Act, and you have heard Minister Dunderdale speak about this in the last couple of days, speak forcefully, eloquently, with a view to establishing or telling the people of this Province that we believe in what we are doing. That is what you have heard from Minister Dunderdale – excuse me, the Minister of Natural Resources - sorry about that, the Minister of Natural Resources. That is what the people of this Province can take comfort in.

Now, in terms of what we are trying to do, the purpose of these amendments, Mr. Speaker, is to provide for the creation of subsidiaries of the Energy Corporation to conduct various business activities as contemplated by the Province's Energy Plan and otherwise, including the liability, corporate governance and other rules respecting both the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries.

So what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, we are not hiding our head under the pillow and saying this is going to be wonderful. We are looking at issues of liability and governance, and we are making the best decisions possible with the best advice that we can obtain.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we are looking at statutory exemptions required for the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries to function in this competitive business environment; because this is what this is about, Mr. Speaker, ensuring that our resources are utilized so that the people of this Province benefit, and benefit to the maximum.

In terms of the subsidiaries, Mr. Speaker, they will be involved in activity such as the Lower Churchill development, wind power development, and holding the Province's ownership interest in oil and gas projects.

I was not here yesterday, Mr. Speaker, when the widgets were discussed. I am not sure what a widget is, but if it can be utilized and we can make money from it, we will have to look at that down the road.

The objective, Mr. Speaker, what we are looking at here, we want to, obviously, as a government, limit our exposure to potential liability, and limit the business risk to the greatest extent possible. To accomplish this, these subsidiaries will be incorporated under the Corporations Act, and the Energy Corporation will be the 100 per cent shareholder.

The Corporations Act, Mr. Speaker, specifies in section 81 that shareholders are not generally liable for the debts of a corporation solely because they are shareholders. Section 81 states, the shareholders of a corporation are not, as shareholders, liable for a liability, act or default of the corporation except under certain sections.

So the limitation or the isolation of liability is a fundamental characteristic of corporate law, and I am sure you will hear from the Premier, when he speaks on this, how this works in the real world, how this works in practice, because that is what we are trying to do here: to not only modify this corporation to what is taking place throughout the world but also to emulate, to a certain extent, private business. We have seen some very successful corporations that are successful because of their governance structure. So the basis for the corporate structure that we are utilizing is utilized in various private corporations, and they use subsidiary corporations to limit and compartmentalize risk without putting other related corporate businesses at risk.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the relationship or the governance structure - and the Leader of the Opposition asked me earlier today about case law. Well, what we are talking about is precedent. There are textbooks and cases which look, obviously, at: How would you determine if a subsidiary – or what is the relationship between a subsidiary and the mother company, for lack of a better term?

Now, there are two situations, Mr. Speaker, whereby a court might not recognize a corporation as a separate legal entity: the subsidiary is expressly acting as an agent of the parent corporation; or, the parent company operates such a degree of operational control.

Mr. Speaker, if those situations arise then the corporate distinction could be ignored. So what we are doing, we are addressing this and we are tackling it head on, and we are looking at, where can we go? This is not, Mr. Speaker, an attempt to do anything nefarious. It is not an attempt to be secretive. This is applying the basic principles of corporate law that have developed and that are utilized throughout the world and throughout this country.

Mr. Speaker, in the public sector the conditions are usually met automatically, because of the way it is set up. Government, historically, has made almost all corporations created as Crown agents; for example, the Energy Corporation, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and they are expressly noted in the legislation to be agents of the Crown.

Mr. Speaker, another example of this could be the de facto agent of the Crown where, even if it is not expressly stated, the operations of the subsidiary are such that it becomes a de facto agent. You look to all of the circumstances of the case. An example of this, Mr. Speaker, we are so closely controlled that a court could conclude that there is no separation of liability. Again, the Bull Arm Corporation is an example of that. So the control test, Mr. Speaker, is a significant one.

Now, what we have tried to do here, Mr. Speaker, to avoid these issues, or to address these issues, within the ambit of the law and to the greatest extent possible, and to move to – and this is important, Mr. Speaker, and again I am sure the Premier will speak to this – and to move to a private sector as opposed to a traditional public sector approach, we add, under the amendment, section 14.1, subsidiaries will be expressly stated not to be Crown agents unless the LGIC – or Lieutenant-Governor in Council – indicates otherwise on creation.

This means, Mr. Speaker, that the subsidiaries would not enjoy Crown immunities. It does create a statutory presumption against liability on the part of the Energy Corporation or government for the subsidiary, and this would be as we have looked at this, an issue that would be difficult for a court, in examining this, to establish control.

Where a subsidiary is not an agent of the Crown, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of particular rules that apply, such as, for example, section 14.1(6). Its debts and liabilities are its own debts and liabilities and not that of the Crown or an agent of the Crown. This allows us to prevent the automatic liability of debts into the Energy Corporation and government.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the Corporation enjoys the greatest level of operational freedom as possible, each subsidiary will be created with a board of directors, which are comprised of independent outside directors as well as representation from the Energy Corporation's board of directors. Now I think I have this correct. I would like to say that again, that each subsidiary will be created with a board of directors which are comprised of independent outside directors as well as representation from the Energy Corporation's board of directors.

Three, Mr. Speaker, the subsidiaries will have significant freedom of operation. This again, in corporate law, is an important point. They will have significant freedom of operation, in that they will be able to do such acts as the Energy Corporation set out as allowed to do under its legislation.

Mr. Speaker, these subsidiary corporations will be subject to the various acts. What I have tried to set out here, to put it in laymen's terms, is that we have looked at this issue of liability. We are acutely aware of this issue of liability. We are aware that in a perfect world there would be no risk, but what our job is as a government is to minimize, if not eliminate, that risk. What we are saying to the public, in the protection of the public interest because that is what we are doing here, while trying to ensure that the future is protected for our children, we are also ensuring that we are protecting the public interest today. That is why we are in this House; that is why we are debating this issue. What we can say confidently to the public of this Province is that these steps that we have taken, although they can be seen as complicated legalese, are basic principles which operate to the benefit of the public in this case. In other words, Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is setting up a structure that allows for the maximum protection of the public interest, and I think that is essentially the guiding principle here.

Mr. Speaker, there has to be, though, and I heard the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile say the Opposition does not want to hamper the – I forget the exact words, the Corporation, in terms of having one arm tied behind its back. In order to do that, we have to realize that we are operating in a tough business world where we have companies that will have very talented individuals working for them and that this is a very competitive environment.

I do not know if either the minister or the Premier will speak at some point, but my understanding is that in Houston, at this oil and gas show, it is held in some unbelievable structures at the Houston – it is huge, and there are companies there from all over the world. We feel that we can operate in this world but we have to operate in that real world. We have to protect the public interests but we also have to realize, Mr. Speaker, that these companies are out to make money. If they are going to deal with us, we have to offer them a degree of protection, because there will be commercially sensitive information that is being discussed. If we are going to deal in this world, we have to offer the protection.

So, the subsidiaries themselves, Mr. Speaker, will operate as arm's-length businesses. In other words, we will separate them to ensure as best we can that they operate in the competitive business environments with private sector entities. So, there is going to be significant commercially sensitive information in the subsidiaries. The subsidiaries will have access to this information on the part of third parties. If we are going to do business with them, we have to offer them the protection and confidence that we understand this real world in which we are all living. We cannot at this point, I would suggest, operate these successful, competitive operations if these businesses are subject to the same levels of disclosure of information as apply to government.

Obviously, as this government, we are committed, and I said this yesterday, Mr. Speaker, in terms of – in another environment but we are committed to the openness, transparency and accountability. However, in dealing with the Energy Corporation, Mr. Speaker, private, commercial companies could perceive that this information, which they are providing to the Energy Corporation, may be subject to disclosure, through legislation such as the Access To Information Act. As a result, the Energy Corporation could be handicapped in terms of the information it has been able to receive.

What we have done, Mr. Speaker, is not to exclude application of the Province's disclosure legislation to subsidiaries, but to adjust its application to provide for the protection of commercially sensitive information. Another point, we will deal with the actual effect of the Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Act upon this bill, but if I can give you an example of what commercially sensitive information would involve. It is defined in section 2(b.1), and captures information, which is related to the business activities of the Energy Corporation or subsidiary or a third party. This would include financial statements, economic models, significant business arrangements, trade secrets, industrial secrets and strategic planning information. What we are trying to do is to engender in these big companies that we will be dealing with the confidence that we treat this very seriously and that we recognize the sensitivity of their information.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is they did not get to be as big and making as much money as they made by sharing their information with everyone. It is a competitive environment and we want to be able to compete there. This is something that allows the Energy Corporation to again compete in this real world.

Now what we have done also, we are looking at the access to information act, which we will deal with at a later point. There are issues in relation to the Auditor General Act. The only point I will make on that at this point, because I am sure someone will deal with that, is that – again, maybe this is just the language that was utilized, but I have to take some exception today when the Leader of the Opposition said: Well, what about someone discovers there was a crime committed? The Auditor General - it goes to Cabinet.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not up to the Auditor General to determine if a crime has been committed. What the Auditor General does, he will review reports, he will complete an audit, and he will find information that he will then pass on to the appropriate authorities. If he thinks, in this case being Cabinet, that there is something wrong with what he has discovered, he can say that. For the Auditor General to determine a crime, I am not aware of any training that the Auditor General would have which would allow him to reach that conclusion.

I can assure the Opposition Leader that if information comes before Cabinet that the Premier, myself and other legally trained individuals even suspect, at a minimum, could be a crime, then it will not take a whole lot of convincing of anyone to say we will now see how we deal with this with the police. Again, we have to be very careful, you cannot jump to conclusions. We have seen that in the past with the Auditor General. We have to be very careful when people's reputations and information is at stake. He can do his job. All we are doing is setting up a structure. He does his job, he passes the information on and, if necessary, the steps will be taken. There is public accountability because it is my understanding then he makes a report to the House. He does not get into exactly what takes place.

So, Mr. Speaker, this to me is a red herring in that in this day and age or in any day and age, I would hope, that information there is wrong doing will be dealt with. I can assure you, that is the way we approach this as a government and the way we will deal with such information.

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, there are other aspects of the bill, such as the Access to Information Act, but I really want to emphasize in the last ten seconds I have, that not only have we looked at what took place in Nova Scotia but we have looked at the successes around the world and that is how we have set up the proposed corporate governance for the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly want an opportunity to respond to some of the comments that the minister just made.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, on the piece with the Auditor General, I think the minister has completely missed the boat in terms of the point that we were trying to make today. I do not know if he was here, if he heard all of the points or he is just communicating parts of what he heard but let me make it quite clear, that in this particular piece of legislation there are exemptions allowed for commercially sensitive information to be non-disclosed to everyone, including the Auditor General. So let's get that clear first and foremost. The ultimate authority within this Province that looks into reviews and records and releases information related to every single aspect of government in terms of accountability measures, in terms of spending, in terms of investing, in terms of whether the acts are being followed, Mr. Speaker, the ultimate authority in this Province for that under government legislation lies with the Auditor General.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this particular legislation restricts the Auditor General, not from going into the Corporation, as I said today, it restricts him in terms of the kind of information that can be disclosed. We already said today that we have an understanding of why some of that information would not be able to be disclosed. The term commercially sensitive information is very broad. It takes in a lot of different factors. It is debatable, and we could be here for the next week debating whether all of those terms need to be captured within that definition or not, but we have not entered into that aspect of the debate, I say to the minister. What we are looking at is this; the Auditor General is also restricted when it comes to those areas. It is a restriction that does not apply to other legislation within the Province. In fact, Mr. Speaker, from what I can gather, it is probably unprecedented in any other legislation. We accept that, simply because we understand where they are trying to go with this Energy Corporation.

Might I also say to the minister, that it has nothing to do with him. It has nothing to do with him as the Minister of Justice. It has nothing to do with neither minister in this House of Assembly, who sits at the Cabinet table today, absolutely not, and to say so, and to reference that in that regard, Mr. Speaker, is totally misleading. It has absolutely nothing to do with him. It has to do with any government, any government, notwithstanding the one that sits and governs in this Province today, but any that could come after that, whether it be in the next ten years, twenty years, or tomorrow. Mr. Speaker, getting up in the House and saying that I would not let that happen, I am at the Cabinet table, this one is at the Cabinet table, holds no weight for me. Absolutely not! I take no assurances in it. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is a pretty lame argument when you look at what we are debating here this evening. Let me just finish.

The Auditor General, Mr. Speaker, must then submit his report to the CEO, for the CEO's approval and if there is a disagreement between the information that the Auditor General contains in his report and what the CEO deems to be commercially sensitive nature - or commercially sensitive information is the terminology used - then two reports must be filed: the one without the disputed content and one that will be submitted directly to the Lieutenant Governor in Cabinet.

Now, Mr. Speaker, submitting a report to the CEO – when the Auditor General does that, the term I think that is used in the legislation says that – I think reasonable is the term that is used in the legislation. I am looking for it to make sure, because I certainly would not want to misquote it. To determine if the information is reasonable, Mr. Speaker, that is the term that is used in describing the authority of the CEO and requiring his approval on terms of all the information that is there. Now, that is an awful lot of power to be given to one CEO within a corporation. It is a tremendous amount of power, and this is the reason why we have continued to raise this.

There is no appeal process from this whatsoever. Once the CEO deems that the information needs to be taken out, deems that it needs to be filed in a private report, a separate report, for the eyes of the Cabinet only to see, and that is the form of disclosure, then in my mind there are two things here. One, it is an awful lot of power for the CEO to be able to have in this particular case; and, there is no recourse, there is no recourse built in. There is no appeal process, there is nothing of that nature.

Our concern, Mr. Speaker, comes into play because what we are doing here is not trying to restrict the company in terms of having to forfeit over information that could be commercially sensitive. We are trying to respect that clause within the bill, within the effect of still giving it some transparency and some accountability to the public; because, in essence, no matter how you shape it and define it in terms of a private entity or a private corporation of the Energy Corp., at the end of the day it is still the public money that is being invested, it is still being operated for the interests of the people, no matter how arm's-length you may define it from government in terms of the non-Crown agency and the liability explanations that the minister just gave.

Mr. Speaker, what we were concerned about is cases where the company can withhold information that may be some kind of commercial mistake of some kind, may have something to do with fraud, may have something to do with embezzlement, which could result in some financial loss or harm to the corporation or to that subsidiary or to the company.

Mr. Speaker, we are not saying that the Auditor General should be judge and jury in this case, but we are not saying that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council should be either, I say to the minister. We are not saying that either. We are saying that there needs to be an additional mechanism built in so that in the case when the CEO of that corporation goes in and decides that they are going to withdraw information under a definition that says it is commercially sensitive information, only to try and cover up for some kind of commercial mistakes, to cover up for some kind of fraud, or cover up for some kind of embezzlement that might be going on within the corporation, then there should be another recourse for that, and that the judge and jury should not be just the Cabinet either, I say to the minister. There should be a further mechanism that says, when the Auditor General presents that report to the Cabinet that is for your eyes only - because it has to be a separate report – or, if in trying to discover information or request information within that corporation they are being refused and they sense there might be some problem there, then there should be some mechanism in which it is reported to the police for investigation, not tried and convicted by the Auditor General or by the Cabinet, I say to the minister.

He can colour the terminology that I want to use any way he wants, he can misinterpret it and debate it any way he wants, but that is the point that we have made and that we will continue to make. It has nothing to do with having commercially sensitive information out there. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with someone who wants to cover up activity within either of these subsidiaries or corporations may have the ability to do so if there isn't full transparency and full accountability for the actions of those people who have an opportunity to review it either in private, Mr. Speaker, or in public.

That is the point that we have been trying to make with regard to the Auditor General, and we will continue to make it, because we think that government can put amendments in here and safeguards in here, that impact in no way, shape or form upon the purpose of what they are trying to do. In no way does it impact upon it, take away from it, derail it, or reduce the responsibility of it in any way, shape or form. All it does is add to the transparency and accountability measures that we have been asking for in different sections of this bill.

Just because the minister gets up and he happens to be the Minister of Justice, it does not mean that he knows all either, I say to him, Mr. Speaker. He may have different legal opinions over there, he may have different interpretations from Justice, but that is the way law is. Law is made to be interpreted, it is made to be argued, and it is made to be debated, and we certainly intend to do that.

I am not prepared to sit here tonight and, just because the minister wants to make a flippant comment, think that this piece of legislation, all of a sudden, is perfectly acceptable and we can throw it all down and go home. Well, we are not there. That is a whole different speech than the one I heard before I left here at 5:30 today, I can tell you. Mr. Speaker, we think there is a way that this can be done. In fact, I thought there was some receptiveness on government's behalf to actually look at this, and I am surprised to hear what I am hearing here this evening.

Mr. Speaker, in no way, shape or form, increasing the ability or the authority of the Auditor General, or putting a responsibility on the Cabinet - because we left an option there for government. We have not said it has to be this way or it has to be that way. We have left an option there for you to choose what mechanism you might want to use. You use your judgement in determining what will work best in terms of providing for that safeguard and that measure, but it certainly would not - and the debate has always been around ensuring that, at the end of the day, this Energy Corporation has the ability to function in a private sector corporate world and be able to still control and manage the interests of the public and of the people of the Province.

By looking at amendments that are shaped in that way, that just give more transparency and accountability, certainly does not inflict or infringe upon that particular purpose and the original intent of what this bill was.

Mr. Speaker, just to mention a couple of other points, the minister talked about the liability issues. I heard his comments, actually, on the news tonight and, flippant or not, I was somewhat a little bit disgusted, I say, Minister, when I heard your comments on the news tonight. You might come into the House of Assembly right now and say those comments were flippant and that we did go and look at what happened in Nova Scotia, but what happened in Nova Scotia is very important and it does come to bear in a court of law when interpreting cases and precedents for cases if, in fact, that situation was dealt with there.

Mr. Speaker, I was appalled, actually, when I heard his comments in reference to what had happened, because this was a case where money was lost and government investments were made and there were some liabilities incurred. I think that any time we talk about taking a public state company and putting it out there and making those kinds of investments, it does not hurt to learn from what might have happened in another situation or in another place.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to get off and get sidetracked, because that was not the intent or the purpose in which we engaged in this debate. It was strictly to deal with some questions and some issues that we had. I do not think that asking government about their legislation here that will look at setting up these particular subsidiary companies as non-Crown agents of government, I do not think there is anything wrong with that. Because, at the end of the day, there needs to be some assurances given in terms of what the liabilities are going to be for the people in the Province. There needs to be some assurances with regard to that, and we need to make sure that the best possible insurances that can be gotten are being built into the legislation. That is the only reason why we ask the questions. That is the only reason, Mr. Speaker, and we feel that, if this particular option – I mean the information that we have obtained, not just from government but we obtained it from ministers in the House, we obtained information from the briefing session that we had, and we also went outside and asked for other interpretations, and we have been given some assurances that using a non-Crown agent will give more protection of liabilities to people in the Province, and that was the reason we wanted to ask the questions. What we did not know is if there was any precedence for it, in terms of where state-owned companies were set up and had been set up as non-Crown agents, in which there might have liabilities or court challenges, and what the results of that might have been.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I was not suggesting that there was another way or a stronger way to put that into legislation. We were asking simply for clarification in terms of how this would work, and what assurances come with it, if any. Maybe it is the best possible piece and terminology that can go into the legislation, and even with that maybe there are no assurances, 100 per cent. Maybe there are not. Maybe there is always going to be an element of risk, and maybe that is the choice that you make when you decide to go into this, but there is certainly no reason to be flippant in comments about it. It is really being asked in terms of obtaining explanations, providing clarifications, and that is certainly the only purpose for us; because we know that government is embarking, at this particular time in our history, on a different kind of investment in corporate sector business that we have not been engaged in before in the Province.

Now, whether that is good or bad, I guess time will tell. I guess time will tell. I am not going to prophesy on that today, but let me just say this: Even then there needs to be assurances in terms of what the minimal risk can be for the people of the Province. So, when government goes out and starts talking about buying equity in oil companies, and looking at equity shares in investments, and so on and so forth, then, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at that and decide what do we have to gauge it by in terms of what is being done elsewhere, how this can be done so that it is transparent but still protects the integrity of the corporation and what they are trying to accomplish.

Mr. Speaker, when we ask about non-Crown agencies, and the kind of insurances that can be given, it is strictly from that purpose, because we have no idea of what the risks are going to be. We might have some idea when we talk about the oil and gas piece, but we have no idea what all the risks are going to be in each of these subsidiary companies, and we have no way to know. Some of them are not even established. Many of them we do not know what they will do. How can you stand up and predict what the risk factor would be, or even if there will be one?

What we do know is that government is embarking on negotiations around the Hebron oil development project, and a negotiation we do know contains elements of equity investment on behalf of the Province, which means it is on behalf of the people.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, our only objective is to question, to have government define their purpose in terms of what they are doing, outline the elements of their own legislation, and stand up and provide the responses and defend it. In doing so, even the public will understand it much more and much better.

Mr. Speaker, that was the purpose of this and, as you know, when you are looking at getting into investment equity and positions in developments like this, you not only take those investments without liabilities. I am sure most of them all come with liabilities of one sort of another, so we have to be cognizant of those facts and also realize that there could be major elements of disaster. There could be environmental situations that you cannot predict. It is not unheard of; it happens. We have had it happen in this world, in the oil disaster that happened with Exxon Valdez. We saw that a few years ago, and we saw the environmental damage that was done and what the cost was, so it is not unheard of that there could be major catastrophes within our own Province around particular developments.

Mr. Speaker, this is why we ask if the insurances are being provided, if the proper liabilities are going to be protected on behalf of the people of the Province, and we are going to continue to ask those questions but we are also going to continue to seek some clarification with regard to the other sections of the act.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased this evening to be able to stand and offer some comments on Bill 35. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and privileged to be able to take part in such a significant debate that drives the future of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I have only been in politics a little over two years, at this level, and to be able to take part in a debate on such a significant piece of legislation that drives the economic future of this Province and sets the stage for my children and my grandchildren, it is an honour and a privilege and something that I am very proud of. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this is what politics is all about. This is why we aspire to be politicians, so we can play a role in a debate such as this. It is an honour and a privilege to participate in it as a new politician.

Mr. Speaker, the difference between politics and law is that when you come into law it does not matter your age, you are regarded as a young lawyer. When I entered the legal profession I had some grey hairs and shall I say I was at a rather mature age, and I was classified as a young lawyer; no such thing as a new lawyer. That was one of the perks of the profession, that I could be called a young lawyer. Well, I cannot be called a young politician unfortunately. I am a new politician, but it is an aspiration of all politicians to be able to get into debate at this level on such a significant and historic piece of legislation that is going to form the future for our children.

Mr. Speaker, this is not just a bill. This is a significant bill. It is an historic bill. This is a bill that is going to carve out the future for this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Carve out the future for our children and grandchildren. It is a passport to economic prosperity for years to come. Mr. Speaker, it will set the stage for this Province long after we are gone from this House and long after this government is gone. As a result of the efforts of our Premier and our Leader, we have gotten to the stage now in this Province where we are now prepared to move on.

Next year, Mr. Speaker, we will be a have Province, so called. We will be off equalization for the first time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Who would have dreamed that that would be so? Who would have dreamed that in three short years we could turn the corner and reach that level? Certainly, I didn't when I came into politics two years ago, but thanks to the vision and the leadership that we have in this government, we are now there or we are getting close to being there because this government, in the action it has taken and the efforts that it has made over the last couple of years, and the leadership it has proven and the vision of our Premier, we have now come to the situation where we are ready to move on to the next level. That is what we are doing in this piece of legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: The foundation has been laid, a team has been built and we are ready to move on. Now we have the confidence, now we have the hope, now we can move forward. This is a tool, Bill 35. The Energy Corporation is a tool in that movement forward. We have a long way to go but we are getting there. We are getting there and this Energy Corporation is one of the main components, a passport to economy prosperity for this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour and privilege a few years ago to sit in the audience of the dining hall at Memorial University on the occasion of the signing of the Atlantic Accord. I was there when Premier Peckford threw his hands in the air and said someday the sun will shine and have not will be no more. Well, we have come a long ways in that length of time. I certainly did not think back then that I would be here today debating this bill. I don't know if Premier Peckford, at the time, realized – if he had a time schedule in mind of when we would get there.

The thing is, Mr. Speaker, and I read somewhere in the last few days a comment, I think, by our own Premier, that we could have been there years ago. We could have been there years ago if we had to get any kind of a fair and equitable deal on the Upper Churchill.

The figures that have come out in the last few days show that since the 1970s, since this power came on stream, Quebec has realized something like $19 billion in profits while we have realized $1 billion. I believe the Natural Resources Minister said today that in the last year the figures were $1.4 billion as opposed to $68 million, some figures to that effect. Imagine where we could have been if they had to have a fair agreement back then.

What happened back then? What is the difference back then and now? Was there a lack of vision back then? Was there a lack of expertise? Was it a case of poor negotiations? Was it a case of us being so weak for so long that we would take what we could get? Was it a case of us not knowing the difference or were we backed into a corner and just could not get out of it? Whatever the case, Mr. Speaker, whatever the case, it does not matter because it will never happen again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: It will never happen again, Mr. Speaker, not if this government proceeds with its plans.

With regard to this corporation, Mr. Speaker, I just want to draw a little analogy. If we were shareholders of a private company – and a lot of private companies are held by a small number of people, families, husbands, wives, children – and that corporation, that company is the bread and butter of that family or that group, that company is the means by which that group realizes its livelihood, financial security for its family for the future. The focus of that company is to make money, and to make as much money as it can to establish as good a financial security as it can for that family, for that group, that corporation. Whatever it takes – hard work on the part of that corporation, within parameters, legal or otherwise, to do whatever it takes to maximize the benefits of that company.

That is what any corporation does – private corporation – that is what it is all about. That is what it is all about. That is the reason for us incorporating in the first place. Well, Mr. Speaker, with this corporation we are the shareholders. We are the shareholders. I am a shareholder, you are a shareholder, and everybody in this House is a shareholder. Our children are shareholders. Our grandchildren will be shareholders. As shareholders we have every obligation to maximize our benefits to get the best possible deal we can for our shareholders, who, collectively, is the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we take every measure we can to ensure we get the best deal.

So this is our corporation, owned by us, owned by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We have to run it in such a way that we can get the best bang for our buck, and that is what we are trying to do with this legislation. We have that obligation to the people of the Province, an obligation to the people of this Province to do nothing else. The only difference with this corporation, Mr. Speaker, is that it is so much bigger. We are into heavy stuff here. We are at the table with some big boys. We are negotiating on behalf – and we are negotiating, it is us. We are negotiating. We have a group set up to act on our behalf. It is us. We are negotiating for us, for the benefit of us and our children. We are the shareholders, our kids, our grandchildren are the shareholders, and that is the important thing here. We get the best deal for us, for this Province.

It has been mentioned several times, we are operating in a competitive marketplace, in a complex business environment. We are talking to people like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Hydro-Quιbec. That is not the little contractor down the road. The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is profit. Dirty as it might sound, but that is what it is, because that is what we are looking for this Province. We cannot afford to do it wrong. We cannot afford to hamstring this corporation or compromise its efforts because our future and the future of this Province depend on it. Long after the oil is gone, we have to do it right. We have to give the corporation the mechanics to go out and get the best possible leads, negotiate the best contracts, so that we can have sustainable economic prosperity for this Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, anytime you in anyway impede the free flow of information then you automatically get a reaction, and reasonably so, understandably so. No doubt, over the next couple of weeks the open lines will have lots of ammunition generated from this topic, because anytime you suggest in anyway that something is not being disclosed or the perception is given, then you get that reaction.

When I read this bill for the first time a few days ago and when it was circulated first, as soon as I read it I said, uh-oh, here we go. We are going to have fun with this one, but as I went through it and I examined it and I listened to the briefing given by the group yesterday and going through it and examining it again, I realized that accountability is really not an issue here.

Mr. Speaker, in so many other models in the world, and as mentioned by the minister today, state-owned energy corporations are exempt from disclosure of commercially sensitive information. We looked at international organizations in Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Japan, South Africa, in Canada with Hydro Quebec and we have looked at, in Norway for example, freedom of information legislation does not apply to commercially sensitive information. Denmark, freedom applies but exemptions are made for commercially sensitive information. In the Netherlands, commercially sensitive information is held confidential indefinitely. The federal Auditor General does not release confidential, sensitive commercial information. We are not inventing the wheel, or reinventing the wheel here. We have lots of precedents, and this group, this committee or this group that was set up to amend the Energy Corporation has done a tremendous amount of research and homework and put together a terrific package here that is going to be so significant, so historic and the importance is reflected in the fact, Mr. Speaker, reflected in the co-operative spirit that has existed here in this House today when we relax the rules of debate because everybody sees the significance and the importance of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, this Province is leading the way in terms of energy production. This Province will be an energy warehouse above anything else in Canada. That is what this bill is all about. That is what this legislation is about. It is all about the future. It is all about pinning down a future, a profitable future, a prosperous future for the people who come behind us. That is why this bill is set up. That is what this bill is all about, to get the best possible future in this Province for the shareholders, who are us, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, just a few words on some of the matters that have been raised with regard to accountability and transparency. As I mentioned, there are several other models in the world of state owned corporations, oil companies that have gone long before us, have set the stage or set precedence for not releasing commercially sensitive information.

I just want to speak about the Auditor General for a minute. The Auditor General, in this legislation, has all the powers that he would have ordinarily. He can audit any and all information connected with this corporation. Even the commercially sensitive stuff, he can audit and examine. The only thing is he cannot disclose it. He can disclose everything else. He cannot disclose what the corporation defines as commercially sensitive.

The hon. Minister of Justice earlier highlighted some of the criteria tests for commercially sensitive information, and I do not need to go over that again. We talk about trade secrets and trade practices and important third party information and what not of high level negotiating companies. He can audit that and he can examine that. He can comment on that to the Cabinet. He cannot disclose it publicly. He cannot disclose it in the House but he can disclose it to Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what Cabinet in the world would want to subvert anything that would not be in the best interest of the shareholders. If there is something that the Auditor General comes up - to quote the wording of the Opposition House Leader, that does not pass the smell test, he can report that to the Cabinet. There is no intent on the part of government to subvert criminal activity or criminality. How can that happen in this situation? That flies in the face of the intent of this whole legislation. It flies in the face of the whole focus of this government in carving out a future for this Province. The sanctions are there. The controls are there. He can report to the Cabinet, he can report to the House, he can report that he reported it to the Cabinet. What Cabinet is going to sit on criminality or criminal type information for a year or two years when we are talking about the interests of Newfoundland and Labrador? It does not make any sense.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Public Tender Act, I think it goes without saying - even the media people have admitted in the last few days – that, while there have to be certain controls on procurement and whatnot, this is big business. These are big companies. They cannot fool around with the Public Tender Act in a lot of cases because time is of the essence. Time is money. The best possible practice and service they can get in order to generate money, that is what companies look for. They do not want to be tied down by the restrictions of a Public Tender Act.

Mr. Speaker, I can remember, I had a lot of friends working with the ERCO industries, later to be called Albright and Wilson, in the phosphorous plant in Long Harbour, working in the procurement division there. They told me stories of, if a part was required, there was no such thing as going out and looking for the best price. Wherever it was located, a person was sent by charter to pick up that part and charter it back to St. John's and get it to Long Harbour as quickly as possible so production was kept up. They did not have time to fool around with Public Tender Acts.

With regard to that level in the competitive market, where production and time is so important, there are certain things about the Public Tender Act that do not apply.

With regard to transparency and accountability, the company has to make regular reports just like a regular private corporation. There is an annual report. There is a meeting of shareholders, audited consolidated financial statements, just like any corporation. The offshore work is subject to the C-NLOPB.

The concerns that I saw initially when I read this act have been put to rest, as far as I am concerned. There may be some room for tidying up with some amendments, and this government is prepared to do that and prepared to accept and listen to what the Opposition have to say with respect to that.

Mr. Speaker, I have only a couple of minutes left. This Province is leading the way in terms of energy production. It will be a warehouse - it is already a warehouse - of industry for this Province. We want to do it right because our future is at stake here. Our future is at stake. We have come a long ways, thanks to the leadership and vision and determination and passion of our leader and this government. We are almost there, but we are not content to stay there. We are not content to stay at that level. We want to build, to think to the future, to think beyond oil, to think of our grandchildren, and that is what this legislation is doing. That is why it is so significant. That is why it is so historic. That is why I am so proud and honoured today to be able to take part in such a significant debate.

Mr. Speaker, I will sit down on that. There are lots of other speakers, I am sure, who want to speak.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to be able to stand again and speak to this bill which, I agree with my colleague, is an extremely important bill. We have all said it and will continue to say it.

What I will speak to first is not the first thing I though I was going to speak to; but, because the issue has been brought up and has been continued now through three speakers with regard to subsections (5), (6) and (7) of section 5.4, the section dealing with the Auditor General and the role of the CEO in the determination of commercially sensitive information, I do not have answers for that. With the limited resources we have, which is even more limited than other resources, we certainly do not have the ability to go to lawyers and get readings, but I have questions and I will put the questions forward and then hope that the government will be able to come forward with the information that I am looking for.

What I hear the government saying, which is fine, that in putting together this piece of legislation there has been great attention paid to other jurisdictions, to similar corporations in countries like Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and here in Canada, the different jurisdictions in Canada such as British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec. I know that, and I am quite pleased. I know there are some wonderful models out there, but in terms of this particular issue, and that is the issue of the Auditor General in auditing the corporation and in dealing with commercially sensitive information, what I do not have is particular information about how some of these other jurisdictions deal with that particular issue.

The only thing I have to go by, as a guide for myself, is the document that we received yesterday when Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and members of the Department of Natural Resources did a briefing with all members of the Opposition. In doing that briefing they did do a slight comparison in various jurisdictions. For example, they say Norway, how they treat it is: commercially sensitive information not made public through the public audit process. That is how they say it, but that is all that was said to us; nothing about the process that is used, who makes the decision, et cetera.

The same way with Denmark, the statement is: no detailed financial information publicly available. Again, it does not talk about, what is the process that is used to decide what is not going to be made available.

The same way with the Netherlands, there is a public audit process but confidential information not made public. Again, it does not talk about the process for making the decision about what is confidential information and who makes the decision, how it gets made, and where the information is kept. It is not made public, but where is it kept, and who is involved in that process?

There is nothing here to give us any sense of what the role of the CEO of a company might be in the audit process, and nothing with regard to the role of the AG or with regard to the role of government, as far as that goes.

I found it interesting that, when I look at the two Canadian practices that were part of the briefing that we had yesterday, the two Canadian practices talk about the freedom of information legislation - one is Hydro-Quebec and the other is B.C. Hydro - but in the briefing notes there is nothing indicating how the audits are done with B.C. Hydro or Hydro-Quebec. So, what I would request from the Minister of Natural Resources is, could we have some detail - obviously there must be more information; I am positive there is - more information about how both the international examples and the Canadian examples deal with the process. Is the process identical to the process that is outlined in the act that we are dealing with, in Bill 35? Is the process exactly the same? Do they have the same relationship between the Auditor General and the CEO of the company? Do they do exactly the same thing, if there is a case of disagreement? I would like to know if there are differing models around how that operates and, if there are differing models, why we came up with the one that we are using here.

So, it is hard for me to make a decision on what I have here in subsections 5, 6, and 7, and to say that that is a good way to go or not a good way to go when I have nothing else to compare it to. Even if I were a lawyer, I think I would want – which I am not – I would still want to see something else to compare it to in making my decision about: Is this the best way to go?

I would not even have enough information to put forward an amendment. If this discussion is going to be the in-depth discussion that we said we wanted, and if we are going to be able to be sure that the amendments that we come up with are really to come up with an even better piece of legislation, then I think there is some information that those of us in the House need.

So, I will repeat it, that with regard to both the three international practices that were in the briefing notes given to us yesterday, and in the two Canadian practices, I would like to know details about one, whether or not they actually deal with the auditing process in the same way that is outlined in this bill, and if they do not, what are the different ways that they deal with the auditing process? Because all we have here are sort of general statements that give no idea of the process and do not give us any information to make any kind of a decision with regard to the three subsections.

I do hope the minister will come forward with that information, whether that happens tonight or in committee, but I do not feel that I have enough information to make a decision about those subsections. I have to say, I do find the process problematic, and knowing if there are other ways out there to do it, that would help make a decision about a change. If there is no way, and everybody is doing exactly the same way, well then that is a different story. I would like to know that too - but to get the information, to get detail would be very, very helpful.

The main thing I would now like to talk about is the whole issue of the corporation and subsidiaries being exempt from the Public Tender Act. It is not as simple for me as it seemed to be for some people who have spoken to it. Every time now that I have heard it addressed, both in the briefing session that was held yesterday and here in the House this afternoon and again this evening, the main reason for removing the corporation and subsidiaries from the Public Tender Act, the main reason that we are being given is expediency. I understand expediency –

MS DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: No, I know that. I understand the expediency issue, but I have looked very carefully at the Public Tender Act and it leads me to question, because when I look at our Public Tender Act and I look at section 3.(2)(j) this section is looking at when tenders are required. Section (j) under 3.(2) of our Public Tender Act says: "where, in the opinion of the head of the government funded body, inviting a tender would not achieve the best value and the government funded body has, through the minister responsible for it, obtained the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to carry out a request for proposals, as prescribed by the regulations, instead of a tender call."

So, 3.(2)(j) of the Public Tender Act recognizes that there may be a case where looking at value rather than the lowest bid is something that is important and it is something that is allowed for and it is something that Cabinet - Lieutenant-Governor in Council which is Cabinet - would have responsibility for.

Then when I go to section 12 of the Public Tender Act, it says: The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations for the purpose of paragraph 3.(2)(j). So not only is the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, that is the Cabinet, not only does it have the ability to allow for the sake of best value that there not be a tender call under the act, that there would be only a Request for Proposals. In section 12 they are given the authority for the purpose of paragraph 3.(2)(j) to make regulations that would make it work.

MS DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Let me continue, minister, because you will get a chance.

MS DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: I am putting it all out so that we can go right through it, because when I look at it – I asked myself then when I read that, I said: Well, have regulations ever been made relating to 3.(2)(j)? I found out that the only time – it actually, eventually did happen. When it happened was in 2004, when Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was added to the Public Tender Act, to the schedule of the Public Tender Act. Then at that time, for the first time, a regulation was put in place for the Public Tender Act relating to 3.(2)(j). What it was, was a whole section, section 9, with regard to a Request for Proposals. So, for the first time we have a regulation put in place to help 3.(2)(j) be operative.

If Cabinet has the power to make whatever regulation they want around 3.(2)(j), and that is my interpretation, then I do ask the minister, either tonight or when we come to committee, tonight would be good: Why this cannot happen? I just cannot understand why it cannot happen. Cabinet has all the power it needs to put in place whatever would assist the call for proposals under the corporation. Cabinet has the power to do it. It has it in our own act, in the Public Tender Act. I was surprised when I saw that. I did not know it was there. Because of what we are dealing with, I did a study of the act that I had never done before. I said, but it is there. The ability to make whatever regulations are needed is there. So, I really cannot understand it.

The other thing that bothers me, is that yes, we asked a question earlier. A question was asked, and we asked it yesterday in the briefing session of course: why subsidiaries are included in being exempt from the Public Tender Act? I did hear the minister – I cannot remember, I guess it was today, because I feel like we have been at it for a number of days now, but we only started dealing with it today, so it must have been today. Or maybe it was the minister answering a question yesterday – that subsidiaries could also be dealing with major, complex contracts, and I see that, but there are some subsidiaries that maybe would not be; for example, research and development. If we did a subsidiary around efficiency and conservation that would not necessarily be into major contracts.

So the carte blanche with regard to subsidiaries does concern me, but the biggest thing is Cabinet has the power under 3.(2)(j) and section 12 to deal with the issue of not having to use the tender process. It is absolute. It is there.

I do not understand why we cannot use that and still maintain our act, maintain the accountability to Cabinet from the corporation because I think that is what would happen. We would maintain accountability of the corporation to Cabinet. It would be open and transparent from that perspective but every safeguard that would need to be in place from privacy and confidentiality, right through expediency could be covered. That is what I do not understand.

I look forward - I know the minister has said they looked very carefully at the act and said, no it cannot happen, but in light of my questions, I really want more information to convince me that it cannot happen and why it cannot happen.

I will leave my comments at that, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am honoured to rise in this House today to speak to one of the most important pieces of legislation ever to be brought forward that will affect our ability to be a sustainable, prosperous Province and ensure a successful future for our children, our grandchildren and endless generations to come.

This government has a vision for a future that is sustainable and prosperous.

Today's legislation will allow the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to enter into partnerships with major corporations around the world, all the while safeguarding our interests.

The new provincial Energy Corporation is wholly owned by the Province. We, the people, are its only shareholders.

Unlike any other, the Energy Corporation is leading edge and quite innovative for us as a people and as a government. By creating the Energy Corporation we are building a mechanism to develop the Lower Churchill, explore further oil and gas developments and create wind power. It will be operating in a global, competitive, business environment with publicly traded private corporations from around the world, competing and working with the world's greatest expertise and corporations. Clearly, if we are to succeed as a Province and as an international player in the energy field, the Energy Corporation must be structured to succeed in this globally competitive environment.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday some of the members opposite were playing politics and trying to portray these amendments as allowing secrecy. Well, there is a huge difference between secrecy and business confidentiality. Confidentiality in the business world pertains to commercially sensitive information and this act clearly defines what is meant by that. The hon. Minister of Justice outlined it earlier: scientific and technical information, strategic business information, third party information provided in confidence, economic and financial modeling, trade secrets, industrial secrets, technological processes, technological solutions, manufacturing processes, operating processes, logistic methods; all standard things that anyone in the private sector knows, understands and appreciates.

Any person in business, or having common sense for that matter, knows that commercially sensitive information is proprietary information for good reason. If we are to attract businesses in any field, be it hydroelectric development or widget factories, they must be assured that their privacy can be protected. We intend to offer these companies trust and a climate in which their businesses and our employment and incomes can flourish in a sustainable manner. We are operating in a global economy and if we were to leak leading edge technologies and plans of major corporations just even once, we would never again see the wealthy private sector at our door, and deservedly so. To want anything other than what is best for the people of our Province is simply not acceptable, and I would think that if the members opposite truly want what is best for our people's long-term sustainable future, they will be supporting this bill wholeheartedly. In the real business world, premature disclosure of information can have disastrous results. It may harm a company's competitive position, cause stock prices to fall, give competitors an edge or interfere with negotiation processes, all of which will ultimately result in severe financial losses.

For example, if you are an inventor or a businessperson and you have created a leading edge technology, you would hardly want it showing up in Hansard or on the Internet so that all your competitors could find out about it and ramp up their efforts to race you to the market. Anyone who understands business and market share knows that the quicker you can penetrate the market and establish a brand image, the greater your chances of keeping your market share and returning maximum dividends to your shareholders. In this case we, the people, are the shareholders and it is high time we started playing it smart when it comes to business.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: That is what this Premier and this government is all about, getting the best deals in the best interests of the people we care about, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It is not about a game of politics. It is a serious effort to do business with the top companies around the world. This is our company, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it must be competitive on the world stage. Today's legislation gives us the tools required to make it happen.

This legislation establishes a clear public accountability structure. There will be accountability by the Energy Corporation and based on reviews of other successful jurisdictions, the accountability requirements are strong. There is a requirement for an annual general meeting to be held within the Province which will be open to the general public, an audited consolidated financial statement and an annual report. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or ATIPPA, continues to apply but commercially insensitive information, as with any business on the stock exchange, is not subject to disclosure where there is risk of harming the financial stability or confidentiality of a corporation it is doing business with.

The Transparency and Accountability Act applies and the Auditor General may audit and provide recommendations. In fact, he or she will continue to have a very strong and important oversight role. They will be able to review and audit the company and report to the House. They just will not publicly disclose commercially sensitive information. This is not rocket science. Exemptions for commercially sensitive information exist with Hydro Quebec, BC Hydro and in jurisdictions such as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. It is not new. It is business, and successful ones at that.

There are very sound logical reasons for exempting the Public Tender Act. When dealing with businesses and companies of this magnitude flexibility is required to ensure that overall value, from expertise to services, to price are the key factors, not just a five cent price differential. It is not as simple as a penny saved is a penny earned in the corporate world. Such penny-pinching can translate into the loss of millions of dollars and that is no longer acceptable for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The days of bad deals are over as long as this government is leading the way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: This exemption will permit the corporation and its subsidiaries to follow global best practices for procurement associated with its projects and allow them to include considerations such as adjacency and Aboriginal interests that are not currently provided for in the Public Tender Act; and, as the minister has indicated, there will be an amendment allowing Cabinet to make subsidiaries subject to the Public Tender Act where appropriate.

As well, there is an appeal process. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that any Cabinet of this Province, be it our current Cabinet and all successive Cabinets, have a responsibility to act in the best interests of the people for the people. If the members opposite challenge this, what are you saying, that Cabinets of this hon. House are not to be trusted? Would that be based on your own experience? Well, it is certainly not the experience of this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: We have, as our trademark, openness and accountability, which all successive governments will be expected to live up to. Any Cabinet of this hon. House is comprised of respectable citizens elected to protect the Province's best interests. In that regard, this government is raising the bar in setting a standard that is second to none. We are bringing respect for the position of public office to its highest levels and there is no turning back.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a moment about the benefits Hydro development has brought to my district of Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, particularly in Bay d'Espoir. Since the mid-1960s the Bay d'Espoir area has been a major producer of electricity to energize the provincial power grid. The plant provides 2,657 gigawatt hours of energy annually and its generators have a capacity of 604 megawatts. There are two sets of transmission lines that feed into Central and Eastern Newfoundland and supply electricity to the larger populated areas, the pulp and paper mill at Grand Falls, the oil refinery at Come by Chance and it effectively produces about 50 per cent of the Island portion of the Province's hydroelectric capacity.

Prior to the establishment of the hydroelectric facility in Bay d'Espoir, we were a rural town with not much economic or social prosperity. That all changed when the Bay d'Espoir hydro generating station was constructed. In the late 1960s we began to boom. In the initial stages, there was wealth the likes of which we had never seen before. There were jobs for everyone and new skills were developed for local people and trades that they carried with them throughout their lifetime careers.

Once construction was completed, over eighty permanent jobs were created. This stable employment base carried us through some rough economic times in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Our grocery stores, gas stations and recreation facilities survived, in large part, due to the employment being provided at the hydro plant and the company's excellent corporate citizenship went a long way towards ensuring our communities had solid social programs for our children and residents.

It also opened doors for new opportunities in forestry, tourism and aquaculture, enabling the area to create another several hundred sustainable jobs. Just imagine what the development of the Lower Churchill and the development of wind power, which can be sold internationally, would do for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we want to see the Lower Churchill developed, and this legislation provides critical tools that the Energy Corporation requires to operate in a globally competitive environment.

The benefits which the Lower Churchill may bring for the region and the Province are profound, including: an increase in energy capacity; maximum use of renewable resources; access for further mineral exploration; an increase in transportation infrastructure; tourism development potential; employment opportunities; clean, renewable, green energy; and, new wealth generation, just to name a few.

This project is one of the best undeveloped hydroelectric resources in all of North America. With oil prices on the rise, the value in creating long-term, stable, renewable energy for both the Province and international markets is quite tremendous. It will reduce energy requirements from the Holyrood Generating Station, saving us millions of dollars in oil, and better protecting our environment.

Combined with the Upper Churchill and existing hydroelectric facilities, it will provide the opportunity for approximately 98 per cent of the Province's power to be met with stable, renewable, clean power, an enviable position that will enable us to be seen around the world as one of the best places to do business.

Together, Gull Island and Muskrat Falls have the capacity to power all of the homes in Atlantic Canada and parts of Ontario. Combined with the existing Churchill Falls generating station, these developments could produce the electrical equivalent of 225,000 barrels of oil a day, forever.

In a climate where demand for clean energy continues to grow, we will be more than able to create the revenue required for a healthy, prosperous Province that has great employment, schools, health care, road networks and social programs.

In concluding, I would like to make a few personal comments. Like Felix, I am delighted to be here today and be a part of history in the making.

My father was a very learned man, and he taught me at a very young age about the wrongs of the hydro deal, and I always thought, if only I could live to be seventy and see some returns come back to the Province, because it is going to be a long time before the current deal expires.

So I have said to myself, ever since I was a very young child, there are two things that I want to see in my lifetime: a better return on the hydro benefits of Labrador's great Churchill River for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win another Stanley Cup.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS PERRY: We are going to see benefits from the Lower Churchill a lot earlier than I thought, so you never know about Toronto. The way I look at it, one out of two ain't bad, and this move by our government today will see to it that the people of the Province reap rewards, the likes of which we have never seen, from our vast natural resources.

This is history in the making and, for the first time, it is a history we will be proud to tell our children and grandchildren.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Our Energy Corporation must, and will, be fully accountable to the people of this Province, its owners. This accountability will be meaningful, thorough and transparent. Government has worked very hard and researched extensively with the best and brightest minds to ensure that this legislation achieves the right balance between protecting corporate competitiveness and providing accountability.

We want the people of this Province to have greater control over energy resource development and we want to receive maximum benefits from these developments. Bill 35 puts necessary elements in place to achieve these goals.

Mr. Speaker, again, I say, this government has a vision for the future, a future that is sustainable and prosperous. We want better hospitals, schools and taxation. The prosperity afforded by our ability to aggressively pursue the development of oil and gas, the Lower Churchill and wind power will enable us to do just that.

We are a government that is building for the future, and it is going to be a great one.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate hearing from the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, and I sympathize with her, but I thought she said the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup. I don't think there is much likelihood in that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: There are a few others things she said as well that I disagree with, Mr. Speaker, but anyway I appreciate another opportunity to have a few comments on Bill 35 again.

I was going to, first of all, make a few general comments and then get into section 1 which deals with commercially sensitive information.

Despite the glowing comments from some of the government members, and I say this in all seriousness - and we all hope that the future, when it comes to energy projects through the Energy Corp. will, in fact, be good and be positive and beneficial to this Province, but we also need to be cautious. That is all we are saying in the course of the debate, that we have to be cautious because there have been mistakes. The Energy Corp. is not the first time that this Province, for example, created, shall we say, a warehouse or a company that would deal with resource issues.

I do believe, if history serves me correctly, back in the 1950s we had NALCO which dealt with that type of industry. It was geared up specifically to do all of the resource projects that the Province would enter into. We had BRINCO, which was created for the same purpose. It took the Moores' Administration, back in the 1970s, with the likes of Mr. Moores and Mr. Crosbie, it took them years to get back on track and get back into the House some of the stuff that went off the rails as a result of the NALCOs and the BRINCOs that we had. I say, we have some precedents where things might possibly go wrong, so we are just not throwing these things out and saying let's be cautious and careful about what we put in and allow the Energy Corp. to do, because there are some precedents where things go terribly wrong sometimes. That is the word of caution that we are saying, and that is why we are asking government to be very cautious about that.

The other thing is, my understanding of why the government wants to go down this road here now with these amendments to Bill 35, principally, one of the biggest reasons, is because in negotiating, or trying to negotiate, the Hebron-Ben Nevis deal, they found themselves in a situation whereby the companies that they are dealing with, ExxonMobil, for example, are very concerned and cautious in saying: We give you information, it is commercially sensitive information, what guarantees or assurance do we have that you are not going to go off and use that information, or let somebody else have access to it?

They do not want to deal under those circumstances, and therefore government has been in negotiations for some series of months, I understand, four or five months, trying to put together the confidentiality agreements whereby Exxon has the comfort level that it wants, vis-ΰ-vis commercially sensitive information.

We understand the need for the companies to have it. We do not disagree that commercially sensitive information needs some protections, not only the corporation itself but also the third parties that they deal with. I think we understand the premise that we are coming from here, but you have to ask yourself, to what extent do you need to put certain hammers, or how broad should the legislation be?

For example, Norsk Hydro negotiates all kinds of confidentiality agreements in its offshore. Yes, it may be complex. Yes, it may be time-consuming, but that is going on. That has gone on for years in the oil industry in the North Sea. It goes on in the oil industry in Mexico, in South Africa and South America, so that is not, in and of itself, justification to give certain hammers, or throw caution to the wind and put everything over to Energy Corp. without some consideration.

What happens in the rest of the world? Surely, to say that we have to take the time constraints off and make things happen sooner, therefore we have to put in this CSI protection, I call it - and I am not referring to a movie program or whatever - and the amount of money is certainly not an issue. We have a case ongoing, or it was unfolding there in North America recently, where I believe Microsoft offered to buy out Yahoo!, a $50 billion proposal.

Now surely these two major companies – you are talking big money there, a $50 billion buyout – they have a lot of commercially sensitive information and IT information in their companies. Surely they do not have special protections to protect their commercially sensitive information. They negotiate their deals, as part of the deal. You negotiate your confidentiality agreements.

The other question I would ask, and I thought, by the way, when the Minister of Justice gave his comments earlier - I obviously misunderstood – he said he was going to give us some legal opinions. I thought those were the words he used, and I was fully expecting that he had something of a written nature that he was going to provide to us which might educate us a bit easier and quicker, as to where the provisions of Bill 35 came from, but I guess we are not going to be seeing anything in writing that they might have in terms of their consultation, and I understand that, but based on his wording I was under the impression he had something he might have been able to share with us.

The minister also made comments that you sought worldwide best industry practices, shall we say, and that was informed to us and brought to our attention yesterday by the officials of the Department of Natural Resources who gave us a slide presentation, actually, on this project. It seems, from even that presentation, which was a good technical briefing - we did not get it all done, due to time constraints on our part and their part, and they had other things to get done, but it was a pretty open and frank discussion that we had. I particularly appreciate the comments of Mr. Martin, who sees things not as a politician, who sees it as a very well-informed and experienced business person, so it is nice to get somebody who explains something to you from a different perspective than we would possibly see it as a lawyer or as a politician or whatever.

That was helpful, but there was clear indication given that we looked all over the place - Norway, we looked in Denmark, we looked in the Netherlands, for example, and we looked at certain places in Canada - and picked what we thought was the best, and we are trying to bring it to the foreground right here; but it was also made very clear that in those jurisdictions it is not the particular energy companies that have special protections, like we are doing here for Energy Co. For example, it is my understanding – and we are having this researched, by the way – it is my understanding, and based upon his comments as well, that there are protections in these jurisdictions but it is protections offered under their existing freedom of information legislation, whereas what we are doing here is, we are going beyond our existing – in our case it is called access to information – we are going beyond that and giving special powers to Energy Co., or whatever the name subsequently becomes of it, but the Energy Corporation, in addition to what already exists in this Province under the access to information.

I am looking forward to getting an answer to these things because I think it is important. The question is: Why do we need to go beyond what we currently have in the access to information? Are there deficiencies there? If there are, I would just like somebody to point out to me: What is the deficiency right now in our access to information laws which will not protect the interests - and we agree it needs to be protected - would not currently protect the interests of Energy Corp. or its subsidiaries?

The reason I ask that is because, under our Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, commonly referred to as ATIPPA, I refer to section 24. It talks about disclosure harmful to the financial or economic interest of a public body. There is no question that this Energy Corp. is a public body; there is no question. It was created by this Legislature, it is going to be funded by this Legislature, and it is a public body. This is what section 24 of the Access to Information Act deals with.

It says, "The head of a public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to harm the financial or economic interests of a public body or the government of the province or the ability of the government to manage the economy, including the following information.…"

Then there is a whole list of things that already, under our Access to Information Act, the public head, in this case if it is Mr. Martin, for example, who is the CEO of Energy Corp., that he already can refuse to divulge and disclose: (a) trade secrets of a public body or the government of the province; (b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to the public body or to the government of the Province and that has, or is reasonably likely to have, monetary value; (c) plans that relate to the management of personnel or the administration of a public body and that have not yet been implemented or made public; (d) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in premature disclosure of a proposal or a project or in undue financial loss or gain to a third party; (e) information about negotiations carried on by or for a public body or the government of the province.

That is some pretty broad stuff. I wonder and I do not understand why the need for another definition specifically designed in this legislation for Energy Co. and its subsidiaries when we already have it covered off under the Access To Information Act. I think that is a legitimate question.

Now, I can see - and this gets me to section 2. I can see why they might think: well, under the Access To Information Act they have only referred to commercial, and commercial is not broad enough or properly described. So Energy Corp. are saying, just to be certain, let us go back and describe what is commercially sensitive now. If you look at clause 1 in the act, it defines what is commercially sensitive information; very detailed. It says, it means information relating to the business affairs or activities of the corporation or a subsidiary or of a third party provided to the corporation or the subsidiary by the third party, and it includes – and they give a whole list of what is included. Scientific or technical information, trade secrets, industrial secrets, technological processes, technical solutions, manufacturing processes, operating processes, logistics methods, strategic business planning information, financial or commercial information, including financial statements, details respecting revenues, costs and commercial agreements and arrangements respecting individual business activities, investments, operations or projects and from which such information may reasonably be derived; information respecting positions, plans, procedures, criteria, instructions developed for the purpose of contractual or other negotiations; financial, commercial, scientific or technical information of a third party provided to the corporation or a subsidiary in confidence; information respecting legal arrangements or agreements including copies of the agreement or arrangements which relate to the nature or structure of partnerships, joint ventures or other joint venture business arrangements or activities; economic and financial models used for strategic decision making, including the information used as inputs into those models.

So, giving a very broad-ranging definition of what is commercially sensitive. There are seven different categories or sub-categories of defining that. The whopper in all of this, in number 1, is the eighth clause, the eighth subsection, when even though they have given all of these specifics of what commercially sensitive information is, they have a subsection in there which says: commercial information of a kind similar to that referred to in subparagraphs 1-7, above. Now that is a pretty broad provision. Not only have you gone beyond the Access To Information Act, which already says commercially sensitive information is covered, you have gone now to be very specific as to what is commercially sensitive information, and just in case we have missed anything, we are going to put in this catch-all phrase. The catch-all phrase is what is really bothersome, because it gives, by putting this in here, the CEO of Energy Co. has the authority to decide that virtually anything that is similar to – now that is a pretty broad range – he can decide that he is not going to disclose.

Now that is a pretty broad-ranging power. Not only do we have all that, as they say, in the Access To Information Act and all the definitions in one through seven, we have this eighth one which says: whoa, just a minute. Just in case we forgot something, just in case we might have overlooked something, just in case something might happen in the future that we do not know about now, if it is even similar to, the CEO is going to be able to say do not disclose it.

That has pretty broad ramifications as to what might happen in the future. Pretty broad ramifications, and that is where the issue of what is in the public interest comes into this, because there is nobody on this side of the House who is opposed to protecting the interest of Energy Co., nobody over here opposed to protecting the interest of the third parties whom Energy Co. or its subsidiaries might deal with. Nobody, but we have no idea, once this goes through, what might ever get classified and be determined – by one person, by the way – by one person, to be commercially sensitive.

That is a pretty broad-ranging power. The government has not even reserved it unto themselves to be an oversight provision here – that is not in there. They have given one individual absolute oversight as to whatever goes on in Energy Co. should ever be disclosed. One person and only one person, and that is the Chief Executive Officer.

Now, God forbid, if the CEO that we should ever appoint – and I think there was some reference yesterday that the Premier said maybe John Efford or Danny Dumaresque might be appointed, and not to say that they are – but God forbid, if the person who becomes the CEO of the Energy Corp. is a wing nut. God forbid, because we have just given one significant hammer to the CEO to use that subclause 8 to say whatever he or she feels is absolutely similar to, we do not ever have to disclose to anybody.

That is a pretty broad-ranging power, and we are not talking only about whether the current government is good or whether the current CEO is good. We are talking about here, on a go forward basis - we do not know who the government is going to be five or ten years out. We do not know who the CEO is going to be five or ten years out. There is no oversight. That is where the concern is here. We have not put any vetting mechanism in here so that somebody can oversee what the CEO does. That is what public interest is all about. That is what, ultimately, somebody other than one person has to have a way of evaluating and seeing if the actions and activities of that individual are proper.

That is where I come back to my piece about the balance again. We have no problem, as an Opposition, allowing and taking the handcuffs off Energy Corp. so that they can compete with anybody in the world to advance the interests of this Province, but we have a public interest problem that we have to be very cautious and careful that yes, if we are going to do that, let's take off the handcuffs so that they can do the job they need to do, but let's not put something in there as well that could come back to harm the Province. That is all we are saying.

By the way, we have not been able to suggest - because that is such a broad range it is easy to say take it out, that subclause 8, but I really do not think that accomplishes it either. I do not think that gets us there. By the same token, to leave it in there without any kind of breaking mechanism or vetting mechanism leaves us open to potential trouble. That is where the major concern is, from our perspective, with regards to clause 1.

The other issue I was going to comment on at this point - and they talked about what jurisdictions they canvassed and studied and had information from in order to put this bill together, and that was explained to us, as I say, by Mr. Martin and the officials of the department yesterday in their technical briefing. The minister said here tonight, I do believe, that B.C., for example, does not have this or does not have that. I am limited in time now, but I will come back to this point when we get later on in further discussions. It will probably be Monday now before I get to it, but there is, for example - like, we are saying we follow the B.C. legislation, in the B.C. legislation for B.C. Hydro they are covered by the Public Tender Act, contrary to what people over there are saying. They are there. The Public Tender Act applies to B.C. utility. I have a copy of hydro and power authority –

MS JONES: Manitoba and Quebec.

MR. PARSONS: And in Quebec, the same thing. We have a carte blanche here that we are giving under that section - I will get into the details when we get there - saying the Public Tender Act is not going to apply to this new Energy Co. or subsidiaries and some suggestion maybe that that is okay because we have consulted around the world and that seems to be the best practice. Well, if it is the best practice, B.C. did not consider it the best practice. Quebec did not consider it the best practice, and that is in our own jurisdictions. That is not to say, like the minister said today, we do not follow the lead of Nova Scotia and whatever but that is not the point.

The point is these jurisdictions who are major resource people themselves, B.C. Hydro and Hydro Quebec, they have the public tendering provisions in there and when I get the next opportunity, that is the angle I would like to speak on and I will actually get into the detail of why it is there and what it says in those acts and raise the question again. Why are we exempting our Energy Co. and subsidiaries from this? Quite frankly, I do not think there is any justification for it. So, again, we just cannot throw out these general comments and say we looked over the world and we have the best practices. Well, some of our own jurisdictions thought it was best practice to have the Public Tender Act in here. I think there is no reason why we should not have the same thing here as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me tonight to stand and speak to Bill 35, amendments to the Energy Corporation.

First of all, I certainly enjoy the debate back and forth today, from all sides of the House. Certainly, discussions and questions and a good debate in terms of the amendments and where we are going as a Province in terms of our Energy Plan and how this is going to assist us get there.

Interesting enough, Mr. Speaker, just the other day I had an opportunity to go through the Energy Plan again, which we know this government and the Minister of Natural Resources released last fall, which clearly lays out where this Province is going in terms of energy and what its vision is, strategic direction and, no doubt, this is a big component of it as we move forward.

As part of that, the corporation, no doubt, is the vehicle, huge vehicle in terms of our Energy Plan and where we want to go as a Province to get the benefits for the people of the Province. It is a big part of our future and it has been mentioned here already today in debate in terms of the importance of this amendment. Historically, in years to come, no doubt the Province will look back and say this was a bold step, it was innovative. It was strategic in terms of a comprehensive and a multifaceted approach to energy development, not just locally but nationally and internationally. So we can compete and do what we need to do to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are the shareholders, us here in the House are shareholders, but all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that we can get the best benefit out of all our resources and expand on what we do in terms of energy, different types of energy, whether it is hydro development, whether it is wind development, whatever the course, that we are on the leading edge and we have the expertise and we have the tools so that we can move it forward, and that is so important, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, the Energy Corporation has a broad mandate to pursue energy development in the Province, and it is going to be into a wide range of activities. Historically, it has been into electricity generation and transmission, but we are going beyond that now. We are moving forward to develop such a thing as equity in our oil and gas industry. As well, I mentioned wind power and other alternative energies.

To do this effectively, the Energy Corporation has to operate in a competitive business environment. That is why we are here looking at these amendments, to allow the Energy Corporation to do what it needs to do to compete nationally and internationally in the business environment that is required to take the lead role. So we are at the table, in terms of oil and gas development, in terms of the Lower Churchill development. We have the expertise. We have it here in this Province. We have the knowledge. We have the expertise. We have the people who can do the job, and we can do it here in this Province. That is what we are planning on doing.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard over the past couple of years, in terms of decisions made by this government, the leadership shown by the Premier and the Cabinet - in terms of equity, there were some critics who said we will not get equity in the oil and gas industry, that is not the way we should go, but lo and behold, we are there now. We have equity. We are at the table and this Energy Corporation will oversee that and give direction as needed. Certainly, equity in Hebron, as well as White Rose equity interests as we move forward. This will be one component of our Energy Plan as we move forward.

The other important initiative, Mr. Speaker, and we have spoken to this today already, is regards to the Energy Corporation being accountable. No doubt, the various sections of the bill outlines the accountability and how important it is, and as well, strikes that balance between being accountable to the shareholders of Newfoundland and Labrador, and as well, having the corporation have the tools to operate in a business environment, to operate in a commercial environment, to be competitive, to be out there, and to be able to move Newfoundland and Labrador forward in the energy field. That is what this amendment is all about and it does strike that balance that we need and, no doubt, we will see the benefits of that in years to come.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, or a few days back, we had a very informative briefing from the department officials, in terms of what they have gone through in terms of analysis, the experience and consultants they brought, not only in Canada but around the world, and we have mentioned that today in terms of the debate, looked at jurisdictions here in Canada in terms of Hydro-Quebec, in terms of B.C. Power, Manitoba, and looked at various countries around the world – Norway, and other countries as well - in terms of what they have done in the past in terms of state run utility operations, what they have done, how they have been successful, and looked at what we have and what our potential is.

Looking at what our potential is, you look at the Lower Churchill; it is probably one of the greatest undeveloped, in terms of hydro potential, in North America. We have it; we are moving forward. We have our oil and gas. In terms of our boundaries, it is certainly unlimited what we can do and what resources we have. These amendments, no doubt, will allow us to get to where we need to get.

Mr. Speaker, the amendments in and of themselves really focuses on three components. There is public accountability in reporting; it is the tools the Energy Corporation needs to operate in a commercial environment and in a market where it can be competitive and make business decisions; as well, the creation of subsidiaries, which are needed in terms of different operations or different activities that can and will be carried on under the Energy Corporation. That could be in wind generation. It could be in natural gas development production. So there is a whole array of initiatives that are required as we move forward. No doubt this amendment, as I said, provides the tools that are needed.

As I said, accountability, there is a balance there between being accountable and a balance in terms of competitiveness. This amendment certainly strikes that balance.

In terms of subsidiaries, what are we looking for in terms of the amendment? What do we want the Energy Corporation to do? We want any subsidiaries or the corporation in general to participate fully in any major energy projects and enter into agreements in the private sectors. To do that, obviously, the private sector needs to know that commercially sensitive information or partnerships or negotiations or whatever it may be in terms of that, in terms of igniting development, they need to be assured that is not accessible outside of that domain, outside of those discussions, which is so important in the private sector. They are not going to play ball if they have concerns that they are laying sensitive information on the table and it is going to be used by others. It is very competitive in any industry but certainly in this industry in terms of resource development, in terms of energy development. So they need to know, and we want to be there at the table, and certainly will be, and these amendments allow us to do that.

Newfoundland Hydro has a very successful history in terms of this Province. In terms of that, there are no changes to Newfoundland Hydro, in terms of – well, not changes - they still report to the Public Utilities Board. The accountability is there for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as has always been.

The shareholders – I mentioned, when I started, in terms of Newfoundland and Labradorians, every man, woman and child today, and those who come, are shareholders. For me personally, like all of us here, we have our children, our grandchildren. My two children, in 2041, when the Upper Churchill agreement is up, will be forty-one and forty-three years old. That is what the Energy Plan is all about. It is about getting to 2041 in terms of sustainability, in terms of us being able to fulfill our needs in terms of an energy perspective, and no doubt looking back - and my kids and our grandchildren and their kids will certainly look back at this time in our history and say this government stepped up, was innovative, was strategic, looked at where we needed to go, looked at our resources and said this is how we need to get there, and stood up and did what needed to be done.

The amendments to the Energy Corporation Act will ensure that the Energy Corporation will be able to function, as I said, in a competitive environment, but also guaranteeing that there is oversight, there is accountability, and there is transparency for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, which is so important.

We could ask: What if we did not have these amendments? It is a very crucial question. If we did not have them, we would be compromising the ability of the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries to compete and deliver on the objectives that are laid out in the Energy Plan, and that is so important. We need this, but in doing it we are ensuring that there is accountability and there are safeguards there.

Mr. Speaker, this government created a plan for energy development and we are bringing that to fruition through the steps we are taking here in terms of Bill 35. That is all based on the premise that we want the people of the Province to have greater control over energy resource development and we want the maximum development from those developments to the people, and this legislation does that, Mr. Speaker. Collectively, this government is about engaging in new opportunities, building self-reliance, and ensuring no more giveaways of our natural resources. These amendments enable us to stay that course, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak to the issue of accountability. There has been much discussion about that this afternoon and this evening. It is important that the Energy Corporation provide information to the government and public. The shareholders have a right to know. There is investment, public funds invested, so the shareholders, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, certainly have a right to know.

There are reporting requirements set out in this legislation, including an annual report, an annual general meeting, and certainly consolidated audited financial statements. Similar to any company that operates in stock exchanges, it is transparent; there are requirements to be met in terms of reporting, in terms of access to those reports, and that is certainly laid out.

In addition, the Province's Transparency and Accountability Act will continue to apply to the Energy Corporation. That is an act that obviously, we know, is an initiative of this government aimed squarely at ensuring that there is openness and transparency in public bodies, and no doubt that would continue.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of accountability, as well, there was a discussion about the Auditor General, and once again he will be able to review and audit the Energy Corporation and provide recommendations. The only change will be that, in terms of commercially sensitive information, there will be a process to look at that in terms of whether that could be disclosed and, if not, there is a process to take that to Cabinet and also make it aware to this House, which is the people's House. So there are processes in place, certainly from the accountability perspective, to make the shareholders aware of that.

As I said, in terms of operating in a commercial environment, that need is there as we move forward with the Energy Corporation and the work they need to do in terms of the private sector and in terms of commercial activity.

No doubt these amendments establish a clear and effective public accountability in government's framework for the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries, which is so important. They need to operate effectively in a competitive business environment, and the amendments provide the people of the Province with access to information on activities of the Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries by requiring the Corporation to provide regular scheduled reports at public meetings, so the accountability is there.

All of these principles that are outlined in the amendment reflect the intent of the Province's Energy Plan.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that the Energy Corporation is unlike any of the Province's other Crown corporations. As I have said, it is operating in a competitive business environment with public traded private corporations.

These amendments balance the principles of transparency to the people of the Province and our need for maintaining confidentiality of competitive and selective business information.

The oil and gas divisions offshore will be subject to regulation by the C-NLOPB, in the same way oil and gas companies owning and operating offshore Newfoundland and Labrador do today.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak to the commercially sensitive information that is referred to in the amendment, in terms of it being defined in section 1. (b1) - types of things in terms of operating in the private sector. It looks to what would be commercially sensitive information, scientific or technical information, strategic business planning information, financial or commercial information, negotiation on or behalf of the corporation, legal arrangements or agreements – those types of things that go on in private corporations in terms of confidential information that would be detrimental to either of the parties if it went external, in terms of future negotiations or future agreements made by the parties concerned. That is why the protection is there.

Mr. Speaker, as well, we have talked about here, we have looked to other jurisdictions in terms of what we are doing, and we have adopted what we believe is the best fit for here in terms of what we are doing.

Other state-owned energy corporations located in Canada and around the world, we certainly looked at those to ensure that we are doing the best that we can to ensure that today we are putting the right legislation in place – and not just for next year or the year after but for the next ten years and twenty years, and a number of years down the road - no matter who is sitting in this House, whatever government is, they will have the tools that are there to make sure that the Energy Corporation can continue to grow and continue to prosper, and that no doubt Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take pride – I think they will take pride; they take it now, and certainly will in the future - in terms of seeing the Energy Corporation, what has been developed in this Province, how our energy has been developed, certainly our natural resources, and how we will play a lead role in that for the betterment of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, just to clue up, I would like to say, as I mentioned earlier, this is no doubt, I think, a very important piece of legislation. It continues the process of our Energy Plan. Certainly, as a Province, we are rich in natural resources. We need to harness those. We have started that process already, certainly in the oil and gas industry, now looking at the Lower Churchill development. We have gotten into several wind projects, certainly in St. Lawrence and in Fermeuse on the Southern Shore, in terms of developing I think it is fifty-four megawatts, in terms of production, and being innovative in terms of reducing the amount of oil being burned at the Holyrood generating station. So, we are doing things. We are being selective. We are looking at things we need to do, certainly environmental and in terms of development, and we are well on the path to where we need to go.

Once again, I think this amendment serves the purpose. It allows the Energy Corporation to operate as it needs to operate, and as well provides the accountability and provides that balance that is needed so we can assure the public of Newfoundland and Labrador that the Corporation will be held accountable, there is transparency, and there is a means there for them to be held accountable and to be transparent.

With that, I conclude my remarks.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have certainly been listening attentively to the government members who have spoken to Bill 35 and, while I listened, what I heard was individuals talking about the development of an Energy Corporation, the role of what the Energy Corporation would do, but what I did not hear from any of these members, Mr. Speaker, is whether the proper securities are being put in place for that corporation in terms of the legislation that we are debating today.

When the Energy Corporation was set up under Bill 28, that was when we debated the focus of that corporation in terms of being established to deal with energy projects or oil projects in the Province, and that is not what we are debating, Mr. Speaker. What we are debating is amendments that would be proposed that allow for the workings of that particular corporation and its subsidiaries to deal with developments in terms of how they report it, how they invest it, and what accountability measures are being put in place, and so on and so forth.

Mr. Speaker, it is getting fairly late in the evening and we have made a number of points today, but there are other points that we do want to make. It has been a long day already, but I will certainly attempt to continue with the points that I wanted to make.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, a lot of the things that we are debating here and that we have raised questions around have to do with the fact that we are trying, in the best way that we know how, to ensure that the integrity of the bill is upheld but at the same time there are certain levels of public accountability that are going to be there to measure this legislation by. A lot of it stems from the fact that there is terminology in the bill which limits commercially sensitive information of corporations, this particular corporation and it's subsidiaries, from being released to the public and being reviewed by all the accountability measures that we now have in place, everything from the Auditor General to the Information Officer to the Citizen's Representative to the annual general meetings, to the reporting and so on. You know, all of these things are provided for but they are all provided with certain amounts of restrictions. That is the reason we feel it necessary to raise the issues and continue to debate them.

Let me tell you, when they refer to commercially sensitive information within here - and I am going to read it for the record, because I do not know if it has been done today or not - that particular clause itself is very broad ranging. If you look at the information that it references in that particular clause you will understand fully why we are asking the questions that we are. Because under that particular clause and the definition of that clause, the CEO of the Corporation has at any particular time the ability to withhold and not disclose information under any other current acts that we have that govern transparency, Mr. Speaker, within this Province based on the definition that the information could be commercially sensitive. It is important to understand what is included in that definition. It means information relating to the business affairs or activities of the Corporation or the subsidiary or a third party provided to the Corporation or the subsidiary by the third party.

Mr. Speaker, we have already outlined here that we have no problem with restricting the information of third parties from being released under certain acts that are currently before the House of Assembly. However, we do have some problem with having information directly related to a 100 per cent owned share hold company by the Province and by the people of the Province or any of its subsidiaries being withheld from the public. So, these are two very important distinctions, two very important classifications of information that could be asked for under these particular pieces of legislation. We have already outlined that we do not see problems with withholding information that is related to the third party, and we certainly are not advocating that that kind of information be provided.

Mr. Speaker, let me just go on to continue to clarify for you, that under the definition of commercially sensitive information within this bill, it says: any information that is scientific or technical information, includes trade secrets, industrial secrets, technology processes, technology solutions, manufacturing processes, operating processes and logistic methods. Now, that is pretty broad ranging within itself, and all encompassing in terms of the kind of information that you would need to have in negotiating a deal or moving forward with a deal. Obviously, if you are looking at something, for example a mining development or you are looking a hydro power development, you are going to look at the scientific and technical information that is required, the technology that is required to be able to run that operation and do it, what kind of manufacturing of it you are going to have and what kind of operating processes you are going to have. It already says all of that information is restricted.

The other thing it says that is restricted is strategic business planning information. For example, any information inside the Energy Corporation that deals with planning for the Ramea wind project, for example, which is currently going to be a subsidiary of this company that deals with that, any business planning information that looks at how much they are going to invest, when they will get a return on that investment, what the amortization period is going to be, what the projected profit loss might be in the first five years or ten years, what the investment return on capital is going to be over the next ten, fifteen, or twenty years, all of those things which make up the business case within that development, it is now being said that all of that will be restricted. We take for granted that it is a good business case and it is good business strategy and that it is going to pay off for the people of the Province, because that information we will not have available to us.

The other thing is, any financial or commercial information, including financial statements, details respecting revenues, costs and commercial agreements and arrangements respecting individual business activities, investments, operations or projects, from which such information may reasonably be derived, Mr. Speaker, what that tells me is that in each of these subsidiary companies that will be set up by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro under the Energy Corporation which we are talking about, Ramea wind power, the Lower Churchill project, assuming that Gull Island and Muskrat Falls will be in one subsidiary - I do not know that. They may develop one and then wait ten years before there is ever another one developed. It depends on how they look at the business plan and statistics of doing it. I do not know that. It may be two corporations. Then you have the Hebron project which will be another corporation.

What this tells me is that under this Act there will be no access to any of the financial statements, the details respecting the revenue, the cost and commercial agreements and arrangements respecting individual business activities, or the amount of investment that we are making in the operation, Mr. Speaker. All of these things are going to be restricted. If I want to know, Mr. Speaker, if I want to see the financial statements of the Ramea wind project, under this Act it can be withheld. If I want to know how much money government is investing in that project under this particular subsidiary, that will not be known to me unless it is part of a budget process in the House of Assembly. If it is part of the borrowing power agreement that they now have established within the Corporation, I have no way of knowing if they are going to go out next week and borrow $200 million and invest it in a project in this Province, because under this Act I am not entitled to know that, but nor are any of the other authorities that we have to govern accountability within the Legislature, Mr. Speaker.

When we look at details respecting their revenues, their costs and their commercial agreements and arrangements we are not privy to that information. For example, if they go out and decide that they are going to do a partnership with someone on a wind project and that they are going to be a partial owner or operator and so is a private sector company, we have no way of knowing what cost that is going to be to the government, how much money they are going to put into it, how long the investment is going to take or what the return is. We do not even know what the agreement is. Maybe the agreement is saying that this subsidiary corporation is going to give Joe Blow, cause we will not know who it is, down the road $100 million in investment because we are going to be a part of that company now to develop a wind power project somewhere in the Province. At the end of ten years there might be an agreement in here that says that private company owns the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel. We do not know that that will not be the case. We are going to go out and appoint CEOs of subsidiary companies, boards of directors, the CEO of the Energy Corporation, and we are giving them the ultimate power under this Act to do as they wish. Yet, Mr. Speaker, we do not know what they will do, because we will not be privy to the information.

That causes me concern, and I think it should cause everybody in this Province concern, because not only do you have individuals, as we have seen, with past history in this Province involved in private corporations who have taken governments for granted – and this Act will be there long after the government opposite has gone, Mr. Speaker, long after they have taken their leave and other governments have filled the seats. Long after this Act becomes implemented in this House of Assembly, there will be others who will appoint CEOs, who will appoint people on corporations. Do you honestly think that giving them that amount of authority so that they can go out and buy into private deals, whether it be on the oil industry or whether it be on the wind power project or whether it be on a hydro project or whether it be making something else or producing something else, do you think it is right that they are able to do it and nobody has access to the terms of those agreements?

We not only do not have access in terms of how much money they are going to put in, but we have no way of knowing if they are signing over the authority for this company to own 100 per cent of the equity, ten, fifteen, twenty or thirty years down the road. There is no clause in this which says that these new developments have to come to the House of Assembly for debate. There is no way that we can find out this information, and this was where we were having some problems.

At the risk of not jeopardizing the competitive advantage of the company, how do you get access, how do you get the assurances, how do you get some guarantee that everything here will be done above board and that the public interests will be protected? Those are the questions that we are putting to the government and those are the ones that we want to get answers to, to ensure that down the road proper protections are there.

Let me tell you what else it says about commercially sensitive information, as defined by this Act. Information respecting positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions developed for the purpose of contractual or other negotiations by or on behalf of the corporation - Mr. Speaker, they can enter into contracts, enter into negotiations, without having to disclose who the companies are, who the individuals are or what the terms of the agreements are. Again, it leaves it open to volatility. Again it leaves it open to question whether something is being done properly and above board because the accountability measure is not there.

One minister this evening got up and said: Well, you know, I am in the Cabinet and I am not going to let this go through and I am not going to let this happen. Well, that is not good enough. Cabinets come and go. I have seen many Cabinets come and go in the last twelve years or so that I have been in this House of Assembly. They come and go rather quickly too, I say to you, Mr. Speaker. Whether they be in the same government or in different governments, they always change. Mr. Speaker, just because one person wants to give testimony to assure their credibility and integrity in upholding and preserving any information that might be given to them, does not give me any great sense of security. That is why we pass legislation in this House. That is why we have laws in this Province to ensure that there is greater certainly and greater good given for people. So, Mr. Speaker, those kinds of statements do not bear any weight whatsoever when you are dealing with legislation that allows for loopholes. That is one other aspect.

The other piece of this that defines commercially sensitive information is the part that says: financial, commercial, scientific or technical information of a third party provided to the Corporation. As I said, we have no problem with that. We have no problem with the fact that a third party company that this Corporation or subsidiary is negotiating with, whether that be Hebron-Ben Nevis right now, we have no problem with them saying that we have information here as part of our negotiation that affects this third party and we are not prepared to disclose it; nor should they, because that undermines the individual and the partner who you are actually negotiating with. We would not expect, under any circumstance, unless of course it was something that brokeraged on serious criminal matters or something of that sort, but we would not expect that that kind of information would be disclosed, nor do I think that the public would expect it. When you are dealing with privately traded corporations or private corporations you would expect that they would be able to deal in good faith with these subsidiaries and with this Energy Corporation. We want to give that assurance that they can deal in good faith and that they do not have to run the risk of having full disclosure of any information that they would provide.

This particular portion of the definition we have no problem with, but we have problems with portions of this that restrict any kind of public accountability or knowledge of what might be ongoing. That is why we wanted to provide that definition this evening because without understanding that particular definition, it is very difficult to be able to debate the other aspects of this particular bill and this particular legislation. It is the fact that commercially sensitive information is so broadly defined within the bill and that every kind of accountability measure that is allowed for in this bill is allowed to interpret that definition and have nondisclosure around information.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, it gives full power to the CEO of this corporation. I would even almost go as far to say that in some sections of this act it is the actual CEO that oversees and presides over the legislation more so than the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. That is the kind of authority that is being given to one individual under this legislation.

For example, Mr. Speaker, let me just outline for you very shortly, because my time is almost out and it is getting late. I am certainly ready to call it a day, I do not know about other people in the House of Assembly. At a certain point in the day, Mr. Speaker, you become non-productive. I, obviously, feel that way.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, in this particular legislation, for example, the CEO has the ability to place restrictions upon the disclosure of any information; any information that they look at and interpret as being commercially sensitive information that can harm the competitive position that they may be in, interfere with their negotiating position on a particular deal, or result in financial loss or harm to the corporation. Okay, that is fine, but then it also goes on to say that they can also restrict information that is customarily not provided to competitors by the corporation, the subsidiary or the third party.

When I read that and I see that it says customarily not provided to competitors, do you know what that tells me, Mr. Speaker? That tells me it includes everything. It includes everything because there are always competitors and there is always information that in one way, shape or form can be seen as affecting competition. So, it gives a broad range meaning to the words but it also gives tremendous authority and power to the CEO of this particular corporation.

Mr. Speaker, my time is up and I will conclude my remarks there, and I am sure I will have other opportunity.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Isles of Notre Dame.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is, as my hon. colleague referenced earlier, it has been a long day. There has been a lot of debate on the amendments put forth and there is a lot of discussion, a lot of good lively debate, I might add, but it is certainly a privilege and an honour for me to have the opportunity to speak to such an important piece of legislation.

In looking at this session of the House, I have heard – again, I just want to reference some comments that we have heard perhaps outside the House and in the media. I did hear the comment, a concern about these particular pieces of legislation being left until the last part of the session. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think it speaks well for the significance of this legislation. We have been able to clear most of the legislation slate for this session and certainly be able to get into a very focused debate on two very significant pieces of legislation.

Two pieces of legislation, Mr. Speaker, has been discussed here today and been acknowledged by all parties that will have a profound effect on the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, throughout the day we have heard a lot of questions. We have heard questions, debates, and I have to say somewhat confusing on times because sometimes the support is there unwavering and some more times perhaps some of the suggestions are somewhat confusing, but I will say, and I have had discussions with my colleagues and I know the more questions, the more debate, I think the more it is welcomed by this government, and particularly by the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources.

Welcome, Mr. Speaker, because I know the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources are very confident in the Energy Corporation and its amendments and they certainly welcome with pride the opportunity to speak to this great piece of work that this government has done. The more we debate, the more we talk about the legislation and what is put forth, I think it is just a great opportunity, as we have seen here today, for this government to solidify its commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition Leader referenced discussions about the Energy Corporation and the amendments, and not hearing enough about the amendments. I say you cannot separate the two. One is certainly there to support the other. The Energy Corp. was created in 2007 with a clear mandate to develop our energy resources to maximize the return to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I think it needs to be said that this Energy Corporation and these amendments were not something that was created overnight. This government did not rush out and hire the Vladmanis types of the 1960s to do what we have to do to advance the energy resources of our Province. It has been researched, best practices around the world. The expertise and the experience in this Province has been gathered and brought together and discussed with many lawyers who have the experience to structure and set up the corporation and the amendments to see to it that our resources can be developed in the best interests of the people of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, setting up the corporation was an important step but now it is time – the people of this House, as we debated today – to put the proper legislation in place to support the corporation and to assure that it is responsible and accountable to the people of this Province.

The Energy Corporation, Mr. Speaker - just so that those who are still up and watching. I just want to outline the significance of it because the corporation that we have developed is responsible for multiple mega projects - Hebron, Hibernia South, White Rose, the Lower Churchill - thousands of jobs, a huge impact on our economy. That is the responsibility of the corporation, the management of complex business partnerships with global companies like Exxon and Chevron. This corporation is responsible to invest, attract and manage billions of dollars associated with energy development. This corporation has to compete in the global energy forum, compete with other mega projects around the world.

Mr. Speaker, this Energy Corporation has to capture the North American demand for energy. Given the scope of the Energy Corporation, it is going to need support. It is going to need legislative support from this House to be able to move forward with the development of our energy resources.

The amendments support the framework necessary for the Energy Corp. to effectively function on the world stage and represent the best interests of the major shareholder of the Energy Corp., and that is the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, during the debate today there has been quite a bit of discussion about accountability. I have to say, in listening to the Opposition earlier in the week, perhaps somewhat ill-informed, there were some comments made. Certainly, the whole tenor of the debate today is somewhat supportive and making suggestions, but it concerns me and I certainly want to issue a caution when we start to hear suggestions of mistrust, when we hear reference to muzzling the Auditor General, when we hear suggestions that we are developing a secret corporation.

Mr. Speaker, this is not about mistrust. It is not about shutting out the Auditor General, and it is certainly not about setting up a secret corporation. This is about having confidence in the corporation, having confidence in the government, having confidence in the Premier, and having confidence in the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Now, with reference to accountability, just a slight reminder: it was this government that made the decision to bring the Auditor General back into this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: It was this government that brought in the ATIPPA legislation that provided access to information. It was this government that introduced the Accountability and Transparency Act to ensure that what is being done is being done properly in the management of government.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to accountability, this government has a history of making the right decisions when it comes to public accountability and the decisions that satisfy the public's right to know.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, in all of the discussions we have had today, and the technical briefings, and all the work that has gone into this, I can assure you that this corporation will not be any different. Public accountability is first and foremost with this corporation.

Mr. Speaker, we have had a lot of reference today about the Auditor General, and I understand the Auditor General certainly resonates with the people of this Province. It is a check and balance on government, it is important and effective, but it concerns me when I heard some comments tonight from the Opposition Leader making reference to the CEO being able to withhold commercially sensitive information. That is not correct, Mr. Speaker. The Opposition Leader made reference today to concern if the Auditor General is denied access to information, if the Auditor General is denied information. Reference to those kinds of statements creates a bit of a concern and it also creates confusion, because nowhere in this legislation are there limitations put on the Auditor General to review and audit the Energy Corporation. Full access, full access to all information.

The Auditor General can audit the day-to-day operations of the Energy Corporation and report it back here to the House, as long as the information does not contain commercially sensitive business that will impact on the affairs of the corporation and negotiations and relationships with global partners around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat that and be clear: there are no limitations on the Auditor General to do its work, to audit and review the corporation. When the Auditor General gets this information, particularly if it is commercially sensitive, the Auditor General has to have a discussion, file a report with the CEO of the corporation. Following that discussion, if not satisfied, the Auditor General has the authority to file a report with Cabinet. Not only file a report with Cabinet, but disclose to the House that there are some significant concerns.

Mr. Speaker, that is not putting a muzzle on the Auditor General. That is not putting a limitation on the Auditor General. He can do his work, and to suggest otherwise is perhaps ill-informed.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, and we look at the Auditor General, let's be clear, this is a very open process. We are not muzzling the Auditor General; and, with all due respect to the Auditor General, and irrespective of some of the interpretations that we have seen on the other side, the amendments that are put in here today, the concerns with commercially sensitive information, it is a safeguard. It is a safeguard to protect information but, more importantly, it is a safeguard to protect the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of experience, a lot of expertise in this Province. We have a lot of experience and expertise with this Energy Corporation that will be able to determine commercially sensitive information.

In trying to put that in perspective, Mr. Speaker, let's remember we are dealing with powerful global companies. We are dealing with world-class, leading-edge technology in engineering. We are dealing with billions of dollars in highly competitive marketplaces. Mr. Speaker, these companies are not interested in engaging in business without confidentiality protection. They have to protect their strengths and their assets. They have to feel comfortable in the business climate in this Province in order for us to develop partnerships and to move forward.

Mr. Speaker, I think we all know, we have all had some discussions with our constituents and people abroad, people are really eager to see some real activity in this Province. We are ready to get started. People who are away have heard the message and they are ready to come home. People want to come home, and we need to get the project started, but to help put this perspective about confidentiality in place, consider that it took four to six months to negotiate a confidentiality agreement in the Hebron negotiations, just to get the confidentiality agreement in place. That is how important it is, that is how sensitive it is, and that is why this government firmly has it put in place for this Energy Corporation.

Now, without the safeguard in place, and again it gets somewhat confusing when I listened to the Opposition today, and I am sure we will get some more clarification as time goes on, but the Opposition appear to be willing to take a risk of breaching confidentiality with commercially sensitive information. Mr. Speaker, it is almost suggestive that they are prepared to take the risk of derailing the development of our energy resources. Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to say, and I am comfortable in speaking one behalf of the government, we are accountable to the people of this Province and that is a risk that this government is not prepared to take.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, it is getting late and I will clue up with a few remarks.

We are so rich. Mr. Speaker, for a lifetime we have heard about how rich we are in resources. I can remember my Grade 5 geography book talking about our resources and how rich we are. Mr. Speaker, we have waited a lifetime to see the wealth from these resources. We have waited a lifetime to see some activity, to see something done, for somebody, some government to step up.

Mr. Speaker, as we proceed through all of this debate and we look at the Energy Corp. and we look at the big picture, we know, and the people of this Province know, that the Energy Corp. and what we are trying to do is grounded in one principle. It is grounded in the principle that there will be no more giveaways in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, no more giveaways. It is ironic tonight. We have heard reference to the Upper Churchill deal, $19 billion for Quebec, $1 billion for our Province; $1.4 billion last year for Quebec, $67 million for our Province. Mr. Speaker, we cannot make those mistakes again. It was commented to me this week that the Upper Churchill development project is regarded as one of the wonders of the world. Well, if they look at the deal that we done, I can tell you now we have certainly left the world wondering. There is no doubt about it.

I want to be clear, and I am very confident in saying that the world need not wonder anymore. We have lucrative energy resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, the world need not wonder. We have lucrative energy resources. We are the envy of North America and the demand for green energy has pointed the major players in the energy sector to right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The spotlight is on us.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say, in looking at the big picture and looking at our history, I think it is time we stopped doing things the way they have always been done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, we do not need to take a backseat anymore. We can lead the parade. I say to the members opposite, don't be afraid to support us. Get on the parade and join us. Join us on the parade!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: We have room for them too, not to worry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, there is only so much room in the back of the bus.

Mr. Speaker, with the strong global energy demands that exists today, and with the leadership that we have in our Premier, perhaps the only one in the House that has been involved in big business, I want to say that the time has never been better to learn from our mistakes of the past. The time has never been better to be confident and to take our place on the world stage. We need to support the amendments and the Energy Corp. because I want to say, and I have waited a lifetime perhaps to say it, the time has never been better to finally maximize the benefits of our energy resources for Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, the time has come!

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that this House do now adjourn.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. of the clock tomorrow, being Monday.

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