April 21, 2010                       HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                   Vol. XLVI  No. 8


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Today the Chair would like to welcome thirty-one Level II students from Cloud River Academy, Sacred Heart School and the Mary Simms All-Grade School for the District of The Straits & White Bay North. Students are accompanied by their teachers: Rhonda Martin, Hollis Cull, Jeff Strowbridge; and bus driver, George Caines.

Welcome to the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today the House also welcomes the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Labrador West; the hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North; the hon. the Member for the District of Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay South; and the hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl North.

The hon. the Member for the District of Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and congratulate the Labrador West contingent of athletes for a superb showing at the 2010 Labrador Winter Games held last month in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Our athletes competed in a broad range of athletic events and walked away with a total of sixteen medals.

Gold medals were won by Rhonda Lawrence for cross-country skiing, by Chantelle Bursey for the Northern games, by Tyler Hollett for snowshoeing and by the team of Danielle McLoughlan, Mike Brooks, Tyler Hollett and Taylor Ryan for the snowshoe relay event. Silver medals were won by a young Konrad Kuhne for cross-country skiing, by Rhonda Lawrence and Stephen Pearce in the cross-country skiing relay, and by Danielle McLoughlan in the snowshoe race. Bronze medals were won by Danielle McLoughlan – actually, she had three bronze medals for snowshoe biathlon, cross-country skiing, and the cross-country skiing relay - and by Mike Brooks for the snowshoe biathlon, and by Konrad Kuhne for the cross-country skiing relay.

I attended the closing ceremonies and had the honour of presenting the most outstanding athletic awards for my District of Labrador West. The winner in the female category was Danielle McLoughlan of Labrador City with an incredible total of five medals. Mike Brooks, also of Labrador City, was the winner in the male category with a gold and bronze medal.

Labrador City and Wabush placed fifth and sixth respectively out of twenty-four communities in the overall standings. I want to offer congratulations, as well, to Team Cartwright as the overall winners.

Mr. Speaker, I invite all members of this hon. House to join me in congratulating all participating athletes from Labrador West, as well as all athletes from all over Labrador, and the hundreds of volunteers who made the 2010 Labrador Winter Games such a resounding success.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to acknowledge the Noddy Bay, Straitsview, Hay Cove and L'Anse aux Meadows Volunteer Fire Department who recently celebrated twenty years of service. This fire department has fourteen active firefighters, eight of whom are under the age of thirty years. They are individuals who volunteer their time and their lives to ensure the safety of the residents within their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I applaud this fire department for its outstanding contribution to their towns, and I ask all members of this House today to join with me in congratulating these individuals and to extend them best wishes for their future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this hon. House to congratulate Master Seaman Darren Young, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Young of Grand Falls-Windsor for receiving the Chief of Defence Staff Medal of Excellence for outstanding work with the Canadian Naval Forces in Haiti.

Master Seaman Darren Young and the crew of the Athabaskan have been on the ground in Haiti since three days after the earthquake devastated Haiti. They are working to ensure that the survivors have proper shelter and necessities. The Athabaskan crew were involved in rebuilding three orphanages in Haiti.

I ask my hon. colleagues of the House of Assembly to join with me in congratulating Master Seaman Darren Young and his family in Grand Falls-Windsor on an exceptional award.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate a resident of Mount Pearl and, in my opinion, one of our aspiring community leaders, Megan Drodge. In November of last year, Megan was selected to be a participant in the Order of Canada Mentorship Program.

Anyone who knows Megan Drodge needs no clarification on why she was selected from a long list of applicants for this program. However, I would like to bring attention to some of Megan's accomplishments thus far. Megan is active in Mount Pearl in many community groups and activities. Her level of volunteerism is second to none. This long list includes the 1st Mount Pearl Scouting Group, Girl Guides of Canada, the Mount Pearl Youth Action Team, Frosty Festival, Mount Pearl City Days, the local Crime Prevention Committee, and so much more.

Megan has also been selected as Female Youth of the Year in Mount Pearl for 2008. Although only nineteen years of age, Megan is a wonderful example of how youth are making a difference and playing leadership roles in our communities. In everything she does, Megan strives to promote the exchange of ideas among youth and to increase the progress of social change.

Under the Order of Canada Mentorship Program, twenty-five youth are paired with twenty-five members of the Order of Canada who share the same passions and interests. Megan's mentor is Kathy LeGrow of St. John's. Kathy and Megan both share a great interest in community work and volunteering. This match will no doubt be a successful one.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating Megan Drodge on this honour of being selected for the Order of Canada Mentorship Program and wish her and her mentor, Kathy LeGrow, all the best for a wonderful mentoring relationship.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update this hon. House about our success to date in making Newfoundland and Labrador a Province of choice for young people to live and work. I am proud to say we are achieving very positive results since launching our Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy just a few short months ago.

Mr. Speaker, this government considers investments in our youth a key priority. We are focused on making sure our young people, both here at home and around the world, know that Newfoundland and Labrador is a place where you can grow your family, build your career and follow your dreams.

Already this year, we have taken action on thirty-four initiatives identified in the Strategy valued at $1.9 million. This includes significant investments aimed at increasing access to employment opportunities. During this winter semester alone, approximately 130 young people benefited from expanded job placements through initiatives such as the Graduate Employment Program, the expansion of work-term placements for engineering students, and new internship opportunities within the public sector.

This is just part of the picture, Mr. Speaker. The provincial government has also provided funding to expand the Government Apprenticeship Hiring program for skilled trades workers. Through this program, we will be helping fifty young apprentices gain the work experiences they need in order to achieve their journeyperson certification. Mr. Speaker, we will continue to invest in this program with another $1.5 million over the next two years.

Along with these investments, the provincial government recognizes the critical importance of encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit for our young people with our Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy.

With that goal in mind, Mr. Speaker, we have invested in community organizations, such as SIFE Memorial and Junior Achievement of Newfoundland and Labrador, to expand access to financial literacy and career information, foster entrepreneurship and increase young people's awareness of the culture, lifestyles and benefits of living and working in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all members of this hon. House to stay tuned for more exciting youth initiatives as we work to fulfill our commitment to implementing all forty-one of the strategy's initiatives in 2010. These initiatives will ensure that we have the solid foundation we need to attract and retain young skilled workers, as we continue our future growth and prosperity in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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 advance copy of her statement and to say that we are very pleased to see major results from the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy and we hope that this, not only the investment but the success will continue into the future. I am sure none of us want anything any more than to see our young people who have left this Province return here to find employment. I am sure every district has seen the benefits of the Graduate Employment Program and the workplace extension.

Mr. Speaker, I think, not that one is any more important than the other, but the Government Apprenticeship Hiring program is very crucial. I notice here that fifty young people will be assisted this year. That is where we get a lot of calls from, and I am sure all honourable members do. Young people, when they come out of the colleges they cannot get hired on here in the Province and they leave and they go out west. Once they get settled there for a short period of time, the difficulty then is getting them back here when we want them. Hopefully, the fifty will grow in numbers over the next two or three years so that we will not have to worry about them coming back home, that they will be able to get their jobs here once they graduate.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for a copy of her statement. I think it is very important that we do focus on our young people so that they can find the jobs and live in the Province where they want to live.

Thank you.

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

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

I, too, thank the minister for an advance copy of her statement. Obviously, I am in full support of the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy and I am glad to get this update from the minister on where things are at the moment. I do look forward to the promise in her statement that she plans on making sure that everything that is in that strategy gets put in place in 2010. I will be looking forward to that.

I would like to bring up something that has been in the news today, for the minister. I know it is not totally her responsibility, but it is part of it. If young people are going to make the effort to get into training and to become apprenticed and to try to get into skilled trades in particular, we need to make sure that there are places for them to work.

We have in the news today a story of two young women who have tried to get hired as firefighters here in St. John's and, according to the story that I have received, and I have received an e-mail from one of those young women, they have gone through everything, passed every test. Yet, when it came down to the final, all men were hired and neither one of these two women. This is very discouraging, especially when we have a program in the Province called Camp Glow, which the government does co-operate in with the College of the North Atlantic and Women in Resource Development in delivering. As one of the women in her e-mail said to me, there is no sense in having a Camp Glow if young women do not know that they are going to be able to get a job down the road. So I encourage the minister to look into this issue with other ministers who should be concerned about this one, especially the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to rise before this hon. House to acknowledge a new generation of entrepreneurs and future business leaders.

Recently, thirty post-secondary students gathered in Corner Brook for the Newfoundland and Labrador Community Business Development Corporations' Angel Business Development Program. The provincial government contributed $25,000 to the program which links industry professionals with post-secondary students that have entrepreneurial aspirations. Through promoting the fundamentals of business and encouraging collaboration, these students had direct access to knowledge and expertise of local business leaders.

Mr. Speaker, the business ideas of youth are becoming increasingly innovative, more technologically advanced and globally targeted. From region to region, their energy and innovative ideas are taking root into full-fledged businesses right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For example, Jason Oakley, co-founder of RECESS! and recent recipient of the Atlantic Canada's 2010 Student Entrepreneur Award has taken an old-fashioned concept of a print publication and modernized it for the technology-savvy student population. As showcased by Mr. Oakley and the Angel Business Development Program, today's youth focus on the opportunities for success - not the challenges.

Some of the innovative businesses highlighted at this two-day event include spa products, adventure tourism, publishing, and personal services from budding entrepreneurs throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The opportunity also existed for some of these young entrepreneurs to pitch their business to a group of angel investors for financing. It is impressive and exciting to see the rise of a new generation of entrepreneurs.

To further support their development, we are working with our partners to provide youth with the market knowledge and practical experience needed to succeed. Educating and inspiring youth, to not only start a business but to open their eyes to the vast possibilities that exist in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy is an important part of this government's economic development agenda.

As part of our work we also continue to advance initiatives that highlight the exciting career opportunities that are available in science, technology, and engineering through the implementation of the provincial innovation strategy. Additionally, we continue to employ the Getting the Message Out program that is an important tool in creating awareness of some of the Province's brightest and successful entrepreneurs to students, educators, community organizations, and industry groups.

Mr. Speaker, the energy of youth can only contribute to the economic engine that drives our Province - that being small business. By helping them advance their vision, we are creating an economic future with exciting possibilities and an environment where youth want to build their careers.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all I would like to thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement.

The sentence in his final paragraph, I should say, the energy of youth can only contribute to the economic engine, certainly that is true. It is exciting to watch a generation passing the baton if you will on to the succeeding generation. It is a bit of a clichι to say that youth are our future but in this case it certainly is true. Entrepreneurs, as we know, face long odds when it comes to - in the best of times and in terms of success. I think that five-year failure rate is very high up, towards 80 per cent or so. Success for entrepreneurs, they often have to try, attempt two or three times to make it work for them. The younger they get in, I guess, then the greater opportunity for their success. So, I just want to acknowledge the program today and wish every young person, every young entrepreneur in our Province the greatest success.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I, too, thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. These advance copies always help us to be ready to respond.

This is an exciting initiative, and I am glad to have the minister speak to it. I would actually like to learn more about it because I think it was new for me today when I first saw the statement. So I will be looking at getting more information about this initiative.

It is important that we link up young people with people who are established in the business world. These angel investors, if I may put it that way, are important to the economic growth in the Province and to encouraging the young people in the Province to build businesses and to do that here in the Province. I would like to say to the minister, and I do not know because I do not know the program well enough, just really having learned about it today, the degree to which there is also encouragement to link up young people with co-operative businesses because co-operative businesses for me are also entrepreneurial efforts. Entrepreneur just does not mean an individual, and the minister is nodding. So I think he understands where I am coming from. The entrepreneurial spirit also comes out in co-operative businesses. So, if that is not a focus I would encourage the minister to look at the degree to which co-operative businesses might get involved in this program so young people become aware of how co-operative businesses work.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before the Speaker proceeds to Oral Questions, the Speaker would like to ask the co-operation of all hon. members when posing questions, providing answers and taking part in debate, if they would direct their commentary to the Chair. Far too often within the past number of weeks we see members asking questions, personalizing debate, personalizing questions, both answers and both questions asked.

I refer hon. members to an authority that we use here in this House. I refer them to Marleau and Montpetit, page 513, and it clearly states: "Any Member participating in debate must address the Chair, not the House, a particular Minister or Member…

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

"…the galleries, or the television audience. Since one of the basic principles of procedure in the House is that the proceedings be conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse, Members are less apt to engage in direct heated exchanges and personal attacks when their comments are directed to the Chair rather than to another Member. If a Member directs remarks towards another Member and not the Speaker, he or she will be called to order and may be asked to rephrase the particular remarks."

I ask members when they pose questions, when they provide answers, that they speak in the third person, speak to the Chair, and that way the debate is less personalized and it causes much less disorder in the House. The Speaker is not going to stand and rise every time somebody's eyes might glance in a direction, but I say to hon. members, from here on forward the Speaker will stand when members directly make commentary to a member or make accusations to a member. I ask them to do it to the Chair and speak in the third person about the person they are speaking to.

I ask all hon. members for their co-operation.

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Premier.

Yesterday, I questioned the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture about the impasse that was occurring within the fishing industry, in the crab industry in the Province. At that time, Mr. Speaker, he said he was on the way to meet with processors and harvesters, and we know from media reports that that was a fruitless meeting yesterday that derived very little result at this stage.

My question, Mr. Speaker, today is for the Premier, and I ask: Is the government prepared to commit funds to try and get past this situation we have in the crab fishery today to ensure that we have an industry that works in Newfoundland and Labrador for the 2010 fishing season?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, future questions I will direct to the minister on this, but I just wanted to let hon. members know that the minister and his department have been very, very close to these issues. It has been commendable the way that the minister has documented everything –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: – has documented every single thing he has done. He has made sure that meetings that were called were held when they could be held. At any time there was a request for a meeting, he has even gone out into the field. He has talked to individuals who are involved in the industry, whether they happen to be harvesters, whether they happen to be processors, whether they happen to be fish plant workers.

We are doing everything we can, and he is doing everything he can as a minister and as a department to try and resolve this issue. As he said yesterday, it is up to the parties, first of all, to try and bring this together. Government has a role here, but it is a limited role. I think it is important that – and the members of the House I think already know and the people of the Province know and the people in the industry know that we are restricted by countervail issues, we are restricted by issues with NAFTA and we have to be very careful what our involvement is in resolving this process. The problem is by attempting to resolve the process - an interjection of money in some areas is fine, it is within the rules, but if we go too far as a government and we inject a significant amount of money, that is deemed to be in violation of free trade or a countervail issue, then we open up Pandora's box. That can create huge problems in an awful lot of areas, in an area where we do not want to go. Now we all know that across the country, whether it happens to be the pulp and paper industry or other industries, cross border industries, that there are subsidies that go on, but it is a very, very delicate area.

So I have certainly been involved as Premier. Cabinet has been involved and fully informed. We have a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. It will be a matter of discussion, but I have full confidence in the minister and his department and I will direct future questions to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We did not give a whole lot of thought to NAFTA when we looked at Abitibi and what we were doing in that particular industry, Mr. Speaker.

My question remains, and that is, Mr. Speaker, today we have 20,000 people in this industry in the Province. We have communities that are affected by the impasse that is occurring. Yesterday, we had the Minister of Fisheries in this House state that he has two studies that show him that the viability of the industry for processors and harvesters do not exist under these current conditions.

Based on all of that, I ask the Premier again today: When will the government get involved in a substantial way and make investments in this industry to stabilize it and sustain it for the people that depend upon it?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, exactly the point of the exercise that has been entered into under the MOU. Let's take for an example, Mr. Speaker, an announcement a couple of weeks ago said that the Gulf stocks had been reduced by 63 per cent. Mr. Speaker, imagine the impact if we said in this Province that the crab stocks were reduced by 50 per cent. What an impact that would have on the Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have no control over what happens through Mother Nature but we need certainly to plan for the future. We also can influence how things are marketed. Mr. Speaker, these are the things we are talking about within the MOU process. That is the long-term sustainability of this fishery. The most important thing now, Mr. Speaker - after our meeting she said nothing came out of it. I certainly do think something came out of it, but parties agreed to continue to talk. The processors and the union spoke last night. I am informed that their meeting again today at 1:00 o'clock, and I hope, Mr. Speaker, that something can come out of that because they are sitting at the table. These are the ones that have to make the decision to open this fishery, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the minister that we do not always have a lot of control over markets either and we have seen that in the last eighteen months in this country, but it has not stopped governments from investing in General Motors, in Chrysler, your government from investing in Kruger and Rolls-Royce.

I ask you today, Minister - stop being an observer; take some action in this industry - will your government invest in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, she is wrong. We do have control. We do have control.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, we do have control over marketing.

The Department of Tourism - a successful campaign, successful marketing. Do you know why, Mr. Speaker? The partners that were involved came together as a unified group. Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that the processors, the union and government, through this MOU, can work that out so that we can be successful on the global stage around marketing, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are not talking about marketing; we are talking about markets, Minister. Put your head in the right place here. Put your head in the right place in this industry. You know yourself that -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker just ruled and gave some information here that he asks for the members' co-operation in asking questions and posing questions. I call on the Leader of the Opposition to be mindful of what the Speaker had brought forward to the House in asking her question or I will have to ask the hon. member to take her seat.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to pose my question to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I would like to remind the minister that we are talking about markets here, not a marketing campaign for tourism.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is this: We know that when you take no action you get no results. I would like to ask him today, Mr. Speaker, if his government is prepared to bring something to the table in the fishing industry in this Province and start putting some money into this industry like they have done with other industries.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, you find markets, and then you market. That is how you become successful.

The more important thing right now, Mr. Speaker, is that we have plant workers and harvesters that need a change in this industry. That is what the MOU was about; that is why we as a government invested $800,000 into that process. Before us right now, we need both parties, who are hopefully meeting right now, and we need a resolution to get this fishery started.

The other issues, once we get that fishery started, I can guarantee you that I, as minister, will push the agenda of that. I have to say that in our meetings yesterday some of the things that we discussed and that they are looking at putting forward, I think there is merit to it, and they can be added upon through this MOU process. Right now, the important thing is let's get the fishery started.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We know what all that means: No money, no action for the 20,000 people that are affected.

Mr. Speaker, my next question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday, in the House of Assembly, in response to questions regarding the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association he stated that he had submitted a proposal to them to encourage negotiations, and he was hopeful that they would be able to enter into a discussion. Mr. Speaker, I have since learned that the letter clearly indicates that the proposal that has been offered must be accepted or rejected in its entirety.

I would like to ask the minister today, Mr. Speaker: What type of approach is this to encourage discussions and negotiations and to get a settlement with the Province's doctors?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday we submitted a proposal to the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association. We outlined the terms of an agreement that would be certainly fair and reasonable to the doctors and addresses a number of the concerns that they have, but would also be a deal that would be reasonable and fair to the taxpayers of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposal has gone forward, we are encouraging the doctors to review it and to get back to us. We look forward to their response, and we feel that, in due course, an agreement will, in fact, be reached.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think the take it or leave it approach is not the ideal approach for negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Finance as well today, because he indicated in the current letter that he sent to physicians in the Province that the offer being made by his government was 46 per cent better than the 2002 arbitrated decision.

Mr. Speaker, this being the case I would like to ask the minister: Why have they flatly said no to arbitration for doctors when that is what they have been asking and what they wanted?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, what we do in this Province is we have elections every four years in which the people of the Province elect representatives to represent them and to govern this Province. That is how we are going to do it; we are not going to slough this off or devolve this to an arbitrator. Somebody has to stand for the public interest, for the interests of the people of the Province. This Province –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, this Province has always needed someone to champion the public interest against very powerful economic forces such as the Government of Canada, the oil companies, the powerful forestry companies and those who have economic might. One thing I have learned in the last six years is that this government and this Province now have that champion in the current Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we saw the champion yesterday when he was reading the e-mail from his hockey buddy who was a doctor talking about the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association being a house divided.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we have seen houses divided here before. We have seen members on the other side divided when the Member for Lewisporte had to come back and apologize to the caucus, and Mr. Manning was kicked out of the caucus. I say, Mr. Speaker, they know a little bit about houses divided.

My question to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker, is certainly this, I ask the minister: How does he expect to have a fruitful negotiation with physicians in the Province when he is offering them a take it or leave it deal? What room is there for discussion in a deal like that?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, we have offered a complete package to the NLMA in response to a complete package that they forwarded to us. What we are sending here is not something that can be cherry-picked, that they can take parts of it and reject other parts of it. This is a total package.

We look forward to them coming back to us and sitting down at the table with us so we can have a discussion. We can have what is called collective bargaining. That is the way we do things in this Province.

We accept our responsibilities that we have been elected to do. We are going to negotiate and we are going to protect the public interest. We are not going to pass it on to some arbitrator because we are responsible to the taxpayers of this Province; we are responsible to the people of the Province. We are going to be accountable. We are going to stand in this House and respond to questions from the Opposition and respond to questions from the people of the Province as to what we do. We are not going to devolve that to some arbitrator who is responsible to no one.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when government brought forward legislation to expropriate AbitibiBowater's assets in Central Newfoundland, the Premier assured the people of the Province that our Legislature was paramount and that the company would receive their own legal opinions advising them of that authority. We now know that AbitibiBowater has filed an NAFTA lawsuit seeking $500 million in compensation for those actions.

I ask the Premier today: Why are we facing this legal challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement if our Legislature was paramount and you were so confident that AbitibiBowater did not have a case for compensation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, we never thought for one minute that Abitibi would just accept this and that would be the end of it, and that we were going to go in and basically expropriate their assets and they would say thank you, very much and walk away.

You know why this is done. We called you and your colleagues to a meeting in our office, and we explained to you the full implications of this. I remember you being in the boardroom in the office whereby you agreed that this was a good idea. We then had all of our officials available and we made them available to you, I think, in the caucus room whereby we explained all the implications. The House Leader was there at the same time; he had some very good questions which were asked and answered. This was a process that we were all in agreement with, and it was a good process.

Let me tell you, if we had not expropriated those assets, we would be in a mess today because what they would have done is one of two things. They would have sold them off to some other interest, and we would have been left high and dry and our workers and the environmental issues, none of those would have been resolved; or otherwise they would have gone bankrupt and they would have lost everything and we would not have had anything.

Now, we have it all. We have expropriated the assets. If we have an obligation for some of the plant and equipment, as is indicated in the legislation, then we will pay that. The hon. member opposite was completely in agreement with this, and she knows that this is probably one of best actions this government has ever taken in the interest of the people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Premier to direct his remarks to the Chair from here on in Question Period.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier, I can assure him, that there was no discussions on those days in his boardroom about 500-million-dollar lawsuits under the NAFTA agreement.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government acts as a representative in fighting this matter before the courts, and they will be responsible for the $500 million should we lose the case; however, we also know that they will be seeking reimbursement from the Province.

I ask the Premier: What recent discussions have you had with the federal government on this matter, and have they indicated how any legal bills or compensation will be paid out?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member opposite thinks we are going to pay $500 million to Abitibi she must be losing her mind. Under no circumstances do we have any intention of paying out any 500-million-dollar lawsuit. Now if they want to rely on her questions to the House when they present their NAFTA argument, that is all very fine, but it will not carry any weight or any water, I can tell you right now.

The chair of Abitibi himself at one point in time indicated that this was worth $300 million. At another point in the negotiation, they agreed to negotiate for less. At another point, the federal government had been involved in trying to get this resolved, because the federal government are the ones that are on the hook for this at the end of the day. They have indicated that they are prepared to put some money up to get it resolved. What we are trying to do, and we have throughout this negotiation, is protect the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador because Abitibi owes us anywhere from $200 million to $300 million in environmental liabilities for the mess that they left us, in addition to the severance for the workers that have paid, in addition to what we as a government have put into Grand Falls-Windsor and the Central Newfoundland region.

So we have done, if I might say so myself, an exemplary job of protecting the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and they can take it to The Hague or the Supreme Court of Canada, or whatever court in the world or in the galaxy they want to take it to, and we will fight them to the very end, I can guarantee you that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly hope we never have to pay out $500 million to Abitibi because, judging from the situation we find ourselves in now, we are going to have to pay out a great deal in environmental cleanup as it is.

Mr. Speaker, in the Estimates for the Department of Natural Resources, it lists a figure of $8.3 million spent last year for professional services under the energy policy. This jumped dramatically from the $373,000 that was originally budgeted. As confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources, this money was used for legal fees related to AbitibiBowater's NAFTA challenge and associated litigations.

I ask the Premier today: What is the breakdown of these legal fees, who was paid with this money, and does it include any third party legal costs that the Province was ordered to pay?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources and Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we going to do the Estimates early this year; we are going to do them during Question Period.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there were $8 million of professional costs associated with the expropriation of the Abitibi assets in the Province. Mr. Speaker, a considerable amount of that was with regard to legal advice we received, first of all, around the expropriation itself with regard to the NAFTA challenge. Mr. Speaker, there were also costs associated with remediation issues left behind, particularly in the Buchans area with regard to the environmental situation that we are dealing with there.

Mr. Speaker, I am not at liberty at this point in time to release any more detail than that. There is an established process for accessing that information, and I encourage the Leader of the Opposition to use it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House we questioned the Minister of Health about the plane that was owned by Nalcor, and in response the minister said he saw no reference to or had any reason to believe that the Nalcor plane was utilized for air ambulance. Meanwhile, health board notes from back in 1982 state that a number one priority for the plane stationed in Labrador was for medical evacuation.

Clearly, the mandate for the plane was for air ambulance service. It can be air ambulance ready today. In light of this information, I ask the minister: Will you initiate a new review taking into account this plane was placed in Labrador, is there today, and can be used for medical emergencies?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources and Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me begin my answer by providing information that I was requested yesterday. The CF(L)Co's King Air had 400 hours of flying time last year. Mr. Speaker, that plane is owned by CF(L)Co and is used to do the business of that company in Labrador. From time to time, Mr. Speaker, that plane, when it has been available, has been used for medical emergencies.

Mr. Speaker, that practice will continue, but this plane is primarily for the use of that company, as you can tell from the 400 hours of airtime. It is used extensively to ensure that the operations in Churchill Falls are done in an efficient way, and that generation station is maintained and the business of CF(L)Co is done properly in the Province. The plane is not always in Labrador, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes it is in Montreal, sometimes it is St. John's, nor is it maintained at twenty-four hour readiness. If the plane is in Labrador, and it is available, and it is needed for medical emergencies, Mr. Speaker, it will continue to be used for such.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, the Rural Secretariat is a government entity that is meant to advance the sustainability of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. According to government, the vision of the secretariat is to sustain regions with healthy, educated and prosperous people living in safe, inclusive communities. It is supposed to be a focal point for the provincial government to work with the regions of the Province, and we understand the Rural Secretariat was not consulted in the moving of the air ambulance out of the St. Anthony region.

So I ask the minister again, today: Why were they not consulted, and why was the mandate of the Rural Secretariat ignored in the decision that leads to the demise of this region of our Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I have indicated on numerous occasions, Mr. Speaker, this review arose as a result of two incidents in Labrador prior to December, and then unfortunately we had a third incident in the recent past.

Mr. Speaker, the situations in Labrador resulted in questioning of the provision of air ambulance service. So what we looked at, Mr. Speaker, was a situation that required urgent attention. There was no indication at that time that there were any problems elsewhere in the Province, and subsequent we have found out that the St. John's aircraft and charter aircraft more than adequately serve the Island portion of the Province.

The problems were in Labrador, Mr. Speaker. So the review was conducted in relation to: How do we provide services in relation to Northern Newfoundland and Labrador? That was the context of the review. The review came back, Mr. Speaker, clearly indicated that the central location for this plane would be Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Again, as I have explained on numerous occasions, that is justified both by the flight statistics, the population statistics and also the industrialization in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

We live in a harsh environment and there are many instances when planes can take off out of St. Anthony but cannot land. I know just this weekend we did three medevacs out of St. Anthony where the plane that needed to come to St. Anthony airport could not get in, and therefore these three medevacs obviously could not take place.

I ask the minister: Why weren't these environmental conditions examined and the impact that removing the air ambulance service will have on the Northern Peninsula, especially during the winter and spring months?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Again, as I have indicated on numerous occasions, what we have to look at is the use of our resources in the best possible way and the most efficient and effective way to serve the residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. minister. I ask members for their co-operation.

Order, please!

The hon. minister.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What we have to look at is how do we best serve the residents of this Province? Mr. Speaker, we cannot place an air ambulance in every town, city and village in this Province. What we had to look at is how do we address the situations that arise? We have a situation, Mr. Speaker, where there are approximately 26,000 people in Labrador. We have five mining sites in Labrador West. We have the potential development of the Lower Churchill where there could be 2,000-3,000 people working. We have the North Coast of Labrador, Mr. Speaker, which is isolated many times.

So what we have, Mr. Speaker, is a harsh environment and a harsh land. We have to use these scarce resources to best protect our people. We feel, Mr. Speaker, that the move of this airplane and the medical flight services team to Happy Valley-Goose Bay will protect the interests of the people of this Province.

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.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Assembly the Premier continued to make inflammatory comments regarding the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, comments that do nothing to solve the contractual dispute that they now find themselves in. Mr. Speaker, these types of actions will not help us to retain doctors in the Province and that, Mr. Speaker, is what I am most concerned about.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier today is: Will he change his attitude to a more conciliatory one and work towards a resolution with doctors so that we can move on and focus on patient care?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask members for their co-operation. The Chair is having difficulty hearing the questions asked and in some cases the answers provided.

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I have no control over e-mails or correspondence that are sent to me that represent the views or the opinions of doctors within the NLMA and issues that are long-standing issues that they have had with the association. So, that is not an attempt by me. The e-mail is not solicited. It is not attempted by me to be divisive in any way whatsoever, but from a perspective of a change of attitude, I mean we have put $79 million on the table, a significant offer, a significant amount of money.

The hon. member opposite - and I will speak through you, Mr. Speaker, if I can control myself today - thinks that money grows on little trees that we have up in the Department of Finance and that there is always all kinds of money to go around. As the Minister of Finance has said, we have a responsibility to the people of the Province, but we also have a responsibility to the medical profession, to be fair. We put a very generous offer on the table, an offer that is significantly in excess of what the arbitration award was the last time; that covers their issues, that deals with Atlantic parity. I think if I remember correctly, we are up to 98 per cent Atlantic parity. We have even put in money that they did not ask for, for malpractice and for reimbursement, for continuing legal education. We are doing everything we can to get this resolved but we have to do it within the limits and the restraints of the public purse. So it is up to us to protect the health care system in the Province, but also to protect the financial interests of the people of the Province.

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 did not ask the Premier about financial issues, but that was his answer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: The Premier, in his responding to me, Mr. Speaker, talked about you get an e-mail and we have no control over what we get, but we do have control over how we use things, Mr. Speaker. I, too, get all kinds of e-mails. I do not bring them here to the House of Assembly. The Premier chose to use the e-mail that he used yesterday.

My question to him, Mr. Speaker, is - and through you I ask this question: Will he stop his tactic of trying to pit doctors against one another and allow his Minister of Finance to negotiate with the NLMA?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite does not understand collective bargaining. Collective bargain is a difficult enough exercise as it is, but we have a united front here. We agree as a Cabinet, we agree as a caucus, we agree as a government as to exactly what our position is, and we put that forward to the other side. Now, when you are dealing with a House that is divided then it is impossible to have them in a situation whereby they can accept an agreement. So, divisions and differences of opinion within an organization are very, very important.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: The doctor in question here, who represents, I would suggest to you, a significant number of doctors, has had these long-standing issues for over a decade, as far as I know. He can be asked, he can confirm that. So, when we are trying to reach an agreement with the doctors and the physicians in the Province we need to be dealing with an association that has a mandate from its members.

Now, Rob Ritter and company do not have a mandate from its members, because we happen to know that there are members that do not agree with what they are doing. So to the best of our ability we are putting our best position forward to try and get this resolved. We cannot do anything else, but these…

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

The Premier has answered the question that I asked, and his answer is no, he is going to continue the tactics that he started.

Mr. Speaker, if the government is so open to negotiations with the NLMA, then why did the letter that went to them yesterday start with an ultimatum? I have to ask the Premier, does he really consider a letter that starts with an ultimatum as bargaining in good faith with an organization that has been elected by its members to represent them?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we are conducting a negotiation here, and in the negotiation we have offered a package to reach a deal. We cannot have the other side going back and saying that we are going to take (a) or we are going to take (c) or we are going to take (d) but nothing else. We want to get a complete deal. We want to get an agreement so this comes to an end and life can go back to normal for everyone, and I am sure the doctors want that as well.

So, what we do is we put forward a proposal in response to their proposal, and we have invited the doctors to come back to the table. We will sit, we will talk, we will negotiate, and hopefully we will get a deal that is, as I said, that is fair to the taxpayers of the Province and also addresses the concerns that the doctors have raised.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Notices of Motion.

Answers to Questions for Which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Petitions

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my privilege to rise again today and present this position on behalf of the air ambulance service from St. Anthony, the district that is being taken away.

I would like to read again: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents:

WHEREAS it has been brought to our attention that the air ambulance service is being removed; and

WHEREAS St. Anthony airport can provide the most optimal service to the whole of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to support and maintain air ambulance service in the St. Anthony area and furthermore will proceed with strengthening the service with the placement of a Flight Specialist Team located in St. Anthony, and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

I present that today in this House. I would like to just refer back to some of the comments or the preamble, if you will, to one of the questions that I asked the Minister of Health regarding the inclusion – or the exclusion really, of the Rural Secretariat being involved in this decision making process.

I recall being a part of the Rural Secretariat when it was formed back two years ago. I took time to go on the Web site and pull off the vision and just look at what it was supposed to be all about. Certainly, as you read that you would think that it would be one of the government bodies in this Province that would be consulted and would have a valued opinion in terms of the decision being made before it was made, as in this case.

It says: "The vision of the Rural Secretariat is of sustainable regions with healthy, educated, prosperous people living in safe, inclusive communities." Then it lists its mandate. First of all, it talks about promoting "the well-being of all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador through a comprehensive and coordinated approach to economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of regional development." It says that the Rural Secretariat should "Act as the focal point for the provincial government to work with local and regional partners to build strong and dynamic regions and communities." Then it says that the Rural Secretariat, the mandate is to "Ensure that regional concerns are considered throughout the provincial government and promoted at the federal level." If that was not enough, it also says that it is to "Carry out research and analysis of economic and social issues affecting all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador."

One has to ask the question, when you read that and understand the vision and the mandate, and then also come to the conclusion or come to the realization that this piece of government, if you will, this arm of government's advisory was never consulted in terms of the consultation process by Mr. Dodge being consulted by the department, being consulted by the board. Certainly, it brings you back to the conclusion which I have made in this House before and which I will continue to make, and the case that I will continue to make on behalf of the residents of my district, on behalf of the employees of the air ambulance service who are being impacted by this decision having to relocate from St. Anthony to Goose Bay, that this process is anything but a sound researched, well thought out, methodical process. Again, it is just one other reason, another reason why today I would call upon government again to be open and honest and realize that this consultation just did not go where it needed to go.

It is my pleasure to present that petition. It will not be the last one, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you for your time again today.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: It being Private Members' Day, the Chair now calls on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, the Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat, and the hon. Member for St. Barbe.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here today and present this motion to the House and have it debated. It is certainly a very important motion for us to be discussing. It is an industry that will bring us all kinds of opportunity as it has in the past.

Mr. Speaker, first I will read the motion into the records:

WHEREAS the provincial government, on June 5 last year, released "Oceans of Opportunity", a five year, $28 million strategy to expand our Province's ocean technology sector; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador's ocean technology sector is a cluster of more than fifty world-class institutions, companies and industry organizations which are harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to achieve the common goal of growing the industry's value by 600 per cent to $1 billion with more than 6,600 employees by 2015; and

WHEREAS this strategy builds on the Province's investments in the School of Ocean Technology at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University to advance technology transfer and applied research in ways that provide opportunities in both our graduates and our Province to take a leadership role in this sector; and

WHEREAS this strategy includes provisions for the Ocean Technology Development Fund with components to advance the work of private sector enterprises, post-secondary institutions and industry associations; International Marketing Assistance; the Polaris Program; Business Incubation; and the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Observation System Partnership;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House expresses confidence in the government's initiative to position Newfoundland and Labrador as a global leader in ocean technology by putting into action "Oceans of Opportunity: Newfoundland and Labrador's Ocean Technology Strategy."

Mr. Speaker, this Province has always been about the ocean. If you take a look at where we are in this Province, you will certainly see that the vast majority of us are dotted along the coastline. It has gone back - the reason why we came here. When we came to this Province in the beginning it was primarily for the fishery and the sealing industry. I know from where I come from, when my grandparents and great-grandparents had settled it was certainly an ideal location for the sealing industry. Of course, we have the fishery as well.

One of the things that we have had, and that I have always noticed and where I ended up to, it is not far from where my grandparents had come and settled in this Province. One of the things that had come was always the change in innovation that has gone out there and taken us from where we were to places where we are today. In some cases that may not seem far. In a physical sense it was probably rather close, but in one sense it was certainly a great distance because we have seen through innovation, through the change in technology and the things that we have through the fact that even fishing equipment had changed to the point that we could go out there and we could catch in different ways. It was also an opportunity for us, through technology, through having the technology that changed that gave us - to be able to take us from being able to row to your fishing grounds to be able to have the engine to be able to do what you need. So, that has been always a part of what we were about in the history, but we primarily settled around the coasts because of the fishery and that kind of opportunities.

The only thing that brought us inland was our forestry, and of course the mining industry, but that is where we are. To take a look at us and the opportunities that face us in the future will certainly be where we have to go. In thinking about it today and presenting this motion, you think about some of the things that are relevant to me and being out there as you take the industries that do come from those sectors.

I think of someone like Lam Kennedy who is out there, who had built an industry around boat building. It is an industry that we have always been in and it is certainly a relevant one. You see as times have changed, that man had seen the time and change when he had gone and when the fishery had changed in many ways. I remember seeing a picture of him beside an enterprise that was one of the larger enterprises here in the shrimp industry, as that technology has changed and gone. That was a very important change in my time and in his time as he had seen it from the beginning to the end. Then he had seen the Marine Centre in Port Saunders, which saw an industry grow to be able to have the technologies and the changes. To be able to service that industry and what it takes to have that industry serviced is very important changes. In some ways, what we have here with those industries is that we were taking what were others and taking that and making do with it.

As we have come to this Province and in this government and seeing the changes that have happened in the oil and gas industries is that they have now said, let's take charge of our own destiny, let's get out here and take what we would have to make a change so that we control the agenda, that we can make the investments, that we gain the information, the technology to be able to set the agenda, to be able to go there and be a leader in an industry that surrounds us, that has always been there. We have been, so many times, just having a challenge to make ourselves a living from the oceans with the technology that we have, but in so many ways, what we have done and to be able to create the wealth has been limited. So, by being able to have the technology, being able to drive the industries has certainly been able to put us in the driving seat, Mr. Speaker.

There are many things that are out there that we would be able to go from climate change as well as the fishing industry. I know that the technologies that are changing, that are going continuously are ever so important, but now those technologies and some of those things that we have changed have been significant strides in the fishing industry to be able to make it more friendlier, to be able to do less damage to the bottom of the floor, to be able to do less damage to the resources we are catching so that we can go in there and take one species without doing a whole bunch more damage.

Those are the things that are out there that are better ensuring that the technology and the investments that we are making are out there, that is preserving what we have as well as having this innovative way of going out there and having this new technology that will put us in the forefront of where we have to go, Mr. Speaker.

From some of the things that we have, there are a number of private sector companies that have increased by 57 per cent from 33 per cent in 2001 to 52 per cent in 2005. Between 2001 and 2005 sixteen new ocean technology companies were incorporated. The total revenue generated by private sector nearly doubled from $117 million to $201 million, to approximately $230 million in 2005. Private sector employment totalled 1,470 people in 2005, an increase of more than 65 per cent from 2001. The public sector accounts were approximately $35 million annually in the ocean technology related activities. The combined revenue of a private and public sector is more than $264 million, Mr. Speaker.

Our educational and research initiative institution, Ocean Engineering Research Centre, Ocean Science Centre, and of course, the Bonne Bay Marine Station - the Bonne Bay Marine Station is something that is in my district, and I certainly see the value of what it has had to do when it comes to the industries and the contribution that it makes from a science point of view. It is also what we have and how we can bring that into and have it make a contribution to the community today, because as you know, it is in the community of Norris Point, which is in the center of Gros Morne, so it is one of the highest tourism areas of the Province, and having that as an attraction is certainly one thing, but it is also being able to have the opportunity to bring a community benefit, because it can be there for more than just the tourism season. To be able to have an opportunity to develop on that is certainly very important, Mr. Speaker.

One of the things that we have, as well, we have focused in on, and that is to being the Northern Gateway, and it is certainly something else that has been effective on the Northern Peninsula – and certainly affected me. Because of our strategy toward the Northern Gateway, it has given us an opportunity to be able to bring back into another industry. We have looked at ports like St. Anthony, and being able to have that ability to be able to look north and to be able to go to other markets, it has brought it back into the forest industry, and it is a little different industry that comes in. Because we are able to do that, we are able to look at changing the forest industry, as it has gone through the crisis, to be able to bring in a pellet plant in a place like Roddickton, because we do have the initiative to go out there. So, to have a container ship that would come through a place like a port of St. Anthony, this gives us, certainly, a good opportunity to do other things.

So, as you can see, the impacts as we go out there, and to be able to develop this industry that is primarily our oceans, and the reasons, as I said, were there, but it is also as we look inland and to be able to have other industries be able to develop around them, and to be able to bring that in it is certainly very important. It gives us an opportunity, through all of it, to bring it together, Mr. Speaker.

One of the other major investments that we made was the second line across the Gulf, the fibre. It is certainly an initiative that has gone out, and it has certainly given the research institutions an opportunity to be able to do what they have. It brings me back to the marine biology station, the fact that we did have it there, but it was not in the community. So the investment that we are making into broadband and the fibre is certainly paid back in being able to go. It shows where the government is taking a lead in being able to bring the parts that are missing so that industry can come in and have the ability to be able to foresee how to be connected to the world without having any restrictions from the physical point, and also from a cost point, to be able to bring that in line wherever we can with the rest of the world, Mr. Speaker. That is ever so important.

One of the other reasons why it is important as well, Mr. Speaker, is that it gives an opportunity for our youth because what we are talking about is an opportunity to create a new world and that new world is going to be created by the young people in this Province. They are the ones that are going to come out and be able to find a way to take what is not there today and to create that and be able to create the wealth and create the living for themselves and for the communities that are dependent on them.

So, by being able to bring this fibre to as many of the communities as possible - and we have certainly made great strides in that. I know, from my district, we have certainly made significant strides in bringing that there. I know there are communities that are without, but it is an ongoing process that we bring together. They are the ones that will have the interest. They are the ones that are looking at the technology. They are the ones that are sitting down today and looking at a world completely different than what you and I are. They are the ones that will create that economy. The supports that we are going to put in and that initiative that we have are certainly a very important development that we are doing with this initiative.

If you look to the opportunities that we have, it has always been the ocean that we have had those opportunities in. We are surrounded by water; we are an island. Coastal Labrador and many of our communities are along the coastline and they have always gone to the ocean as well. So, by looking at what is out there in the ocean and being able to say that there are opportunities where there are challenges - and we are certainly looked at as having challenges when you think about the Labrador current that is coming down and with the ice situation that follows along hand in hand with that and being able to exist and to prosper in that kind of environment takes a lot of technology and skills. Things change, as we find through the oil and gas industry. Those are things that have thrown us challenges. We have met them, surpassed them, and that will certainly give us an opportunity to be leaders and it has been. We have taken on that challenge. So, instead of pulling back from them and saying that it is not with us, it is something that is out of our control, we have looked the other way, we have said that yes we can take those industries, those challenges, and create industries for ourselves and for our future.

Mr. Speaker, I really believe that where we are going today, the investments that we are making will certainly bring a solid footing to the new industries that will generate much of our wealth. It is also taking care and looking at solutions to some of the problems that we have in the ever changing industries that have brought us this far. It is certainly a win-win from that way, and as you do that there are all kinds of other challenges out there that we have that will certainly bring us in the forefront. We have climate change, one of the things that (inaudible) and some of the impacts that we are going to see in our coastal communities. So we are taking a lead in those ways, by bringing industry and our research institutions together and marrying them to a point where we can go out there and create the wealth in the future that we want for ourselves and for our children.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a privilege again to rise and to respond to this private member's motion this afternoon. Ocean technology is certainly an important sector, and a lot of research to be done, a lot of development to be understood and so on. It is certainly important to the Province.

You know, I kind of found it a little bit odd, to be honest, when the Member for the District of St. Barbe got up and presented this. I said to myself: I know this strategy is important, it is relevant to a certain sector of this Province, but I wonder if today we could not be presenting a motion that might be a little more relevant to the people of our own districts. The fact is that we are neighbouring districts and really have a lot of the same issues, a lot of the same concerns – pretty much identical, really.

I have been in my district, and I am sure he has been in his, stepping onto the wharves and chatting with fishermen and talking to plant workers and sitting at a kitchen table and talking to a mother whose children and young men have had to hightail themselves off to Alberta again and so on. I am not sure that this is the private member's motion that I would be presenting if I had the opportunity to do so.

Nevertheless, that is certainly where it is. I say this because our office – my office in my district - has received certainly many calls from constituents of my district and of the hon. member's district as well, and I can tell you that ocean strategy technology, as important as it is, is the furthest thing from their minds. You might as well be talking about a strategy to get you to the moon, if you would, as something that would be of a concern to them.

Our office received a number of calls on issues that are not being addressed in that district, perhaps. I just compiled a list of some of the things. Certainly, we have been talking about the fishery and it should not come, and I would suggest it does not come, as any surprise to any of the members, but the fishery is in a crisis. The people on the Northern Peninsula are especially hit hard by the downturn and the downfall of this industry. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who have received their last paycheque. It will be two weeks Friday coming that many of residents on the Northern Peninsula will have been two weeks without an income - waiting on government to understand, waiting on government to take the necessary steps to address the obstacles that are now tying up our crab fishery through the Province, the majority of our boats and so on. As union officials and as processors are working out a compromise and so on, our people are looking to this government to take the leadership role. The people of St. Barbe, the people of The Straits & White Bay North, are looking to this government to take the lead role and to bring in solutions; yes, for the long term under the MOU has been suggested and so on, but certainly in the short term. You do not look long-term when you have been two weeks without a paycheque. You do not look long term when you have bills to pay and you have no money coming in. Long term is not all that relevant to you at that point in time, so I would suggest today that we need to understand these issues.

Just for the hon. member - I am sure he has seen it, but it was not mentioned in his motion, in his response to the motion, so I would just like to share some of what was in our regional paper just last week, if you will. The headlines read: Peninsula faces year of economic devastation. The article says: She's gone b'y, she's gone.

It might sound a little bit funny, if you will, or whatever the case is, but when you read the article and you listen to some of the commentary that is being presented there by the writer, by the editor, Aaron Beswick, you realize just the situation that the Northern Peninsula is facing in our Province.

I quote from a couple of people that are quoted in the article, a gentleman by the name of Dwight Spence, who is the owner of the sixty-five footer Cape Ashley, and he says that in his forty-four years of fishing it never looked so grim as it does now - certainly indications of the fact that all things are not well.

Look at the community of Conche where there are four teachers, a post office and two small businesses. Members from their council were here today as we met with the hon. minister about some other issues, in a community of approximately 300 people completely relying upon the fish plant and the crab fleet composed of two sixty-five-foot boats, 400 forty-five-foot licences and numerous others under thirty-five. To go into that community today and talk about the ocean technology sector you probably may not get a lot of attention from them, I want to assure the hon. member today.

I could go on with this story just of how the situation in River of Ponds in the member's own district, it is quoted there as noting that nearly 13,000 people who live north of the River of Ponds, the FFAW estimates that some 2,400 of those are directly employed in the fishery. That is a significant chunk of the population when you have close to 25 per cent of the population in total being involved directly, being employed directly in the fishery.

When we have a year as we are having right now, with no income and no movement, plant workers, harvesters and so on, then certainly this, I would think, would be something that would be of a concern to all of us. It is a significant piece. We all know a downturn in the fishery does not affect just the fishers and fish plants. It affects our businesses, it affects our communities, and it affects our morale. It just affects our whole well-being, so certainly this year is of concern.

Speaking about the fishery, again the hon. member presenting the private member's resolution today might be, I am sure, aware of New Ferolle plant and the fact that our office has been receiving numerous phone calls from residents of that district - people who work at New Ferolle plant, people from my own district who work at New Ferolle plant - wondering why the plant is still not up and running. The community plant was bought by Greg Malone for $1 with the condition that the plant would be operational. Apparently, back in 2005 and 2006 it was going all out, if you will. In 2008 the workers only got twenty-five days' work. In 2009 it did not have one hour of work, and it looks like again in 2010 that there probably still will not be another hour's work through one of the greatest plants in the Province, one of the leading processors of fish certainly on the Northern Peninsula and indeed around the Province, looking at another year with nothing opening.

The committee at the plant there, Mr. Speaker, just for his information, have another operator all lined up to process multi-species from River of Ponds to Eddies Cove East. In fact, there is a petition - we have a copy of it in our office - of 1,500 to 2,000 names that the Member for St. Barbe, I am sure, would have a copy of as well. I am not sure if he plans to present that in the House but the members, the constituents, the people who have signed that petition, would be interested in seeing that presented.

Another issue that I have been harping on and I have not heard our member mention has been the air ambulance and the lives of the constituents in the District of St. Barbe represented by this hon. member, are now compromised by this decision of his own government to remove the air ambulance service.

MS BURKE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, the private member's motion that we are debating today certainly addresses the ocean strategy. The point of order we are making is that it is felt that the Member for The Straits & White Bay North is talking about issues that are not relevant to the motion today, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member speaking to the point of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

Order, please!

On the point of order raised by the hon. the Government House Leader, I would ask that members take into consideration the issue of relevance in debate.

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If it is a little off track I apologize to the House for that. Nevertheless, it is an important issue and most of my presentation at this point has been about the fishery, and the ocean technology sector I would think would be relevant. Again, I would seek your guidance in that if you will.

If I could just regain my train of thought here if you will, but again, as we consider the spending of government by the $28 million strategy to expand our Province's ocean technology sector and so on, that there certainly needs to be that consideration and so on of the fishery as a whole.

Anyway, I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your time this afternoon in being able to present and respond to the private member's resolution.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure today to be able to rise and speak on this resolution that has been put forward by my colleague from St. Barbe. This is a significant resolution on a very important government strategy that was released by my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development on June 9, 2009.

Before I get into my comments, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to express my congratulations to the newest member of the House, the hon. Member for Topsail -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: - and wish him well in his new seat. If he enjoys working with people and if he enjoys working on behalf of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I am sure he is in for a very rewarding career in politics, and I welcome him.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador has been shaped by our relationship with the sea, as was pointed out very eloquently by my colleague from St. Barbe. It was the assets of the ocean, Mr. Speaker, the fisheries that brought our ancestors here in the first place. It was the assets of the ocean that kept them here. In spite of current problems with the fishery, I am sure it will continue to be one of the mainstays of the economy of this Province.

Our relationship with the ocean, Mr. Speaker, has been historically documented and it has been the center – the ocean and our relationship with the ocean has been the center of our economy. It has defined who we are, it has defined where we have come from, it has defined where we have always been, and, Mr. Speaker, it will define the future. It continues to play a key role in the economy of this Province, with considerable activities in oil and gas developments and now merging into the ocean technology sector.

As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, the ocean assets will define our future and that is why the Province's $28 million strategy is called Oceans of Opportunity, opportunities for future development. It is this historic and cultural connection which has enabled us to develop a level of knowledge and expertise that positions us as leaders in ocean technological developments.

Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention today, in the short time we have, to delve into all the aspects of the Province's strategy, but suffice it to say that it is designed to develop and accelerate development and enhances the growth of business and technological development in this industry. It will position the Province to identify and develop new opportunities in ocean technology.

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the fact that there has been an explosion of offshore activity over the last twenty-five, thirty years. As this activity grows and expands, it creates the need for advanced technology. It increases the demands for better weather forecasting. It increases demands for better ocean observations and better ocean management, and more research.

What has happened, Mr. Speaker, this activity has resulted in a thriving ocean technological cluster of companies and academic institutions and government institutions represented by a group called OceansAdvance Inc. Mr. Speaker, that consists of over fifty companies with a goal to grow this industry, as the resolution points out, to $1 billion by 2015 – encompassing some 6,600 employees. Mr. Speaker, that is a significant development, a significant direction, a significant strategy. It augurs well for the future development of this Province.

Now, these fifty companies include world-class institutions, world-class industry leaders with some of the most innovative ocean technologies in the world. This cluster, Mr. Speaker, has become a leading force in the development of ocean technology. It has highly skilled professionals in research and development. It represents a strong alignment or network of institutional and academic interests and industrial interests. In this cluster, Mr. Speaker, the private sector component of that cluster employs over 1,400 people, while the public sector and the not-for-profit sector has an additional 350 people. So this whole cluster, this whole network, this whole alignment is making a major contribution to this Province.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to our own Memorial University, if you look at the leading expertise and the innovation that is associated with that institution in recent years – and I have just mentioned some of the components of that university that are involved in this sector: the Ocean Engineering Research Centre, the Ocean Sciences Centre, the Landmark Graphics Visualization Laboratory, the Bonne Bay Marine Station – as was mentioned by my colleague – and most importantly, the Fisheries and Marine Institute, which is a world-class leader in ocean development. These are just some of the components of Memorial University and the Marine Institute that are involved in this sector. So you have this whole new emerging sector in this Province in which industry will take the lead, but this government, through this strategic release, this strategic program, government will play a very important role, a very crucial role, in setting the environment for this industry to grow. It will be proactive in that support. This government likes to be on the leading edge, Mr. Speaker, likes the new directions, likes to pursue new dimensions and new frontiers and to make prudent investments to secure the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and that is what it has done in this strategy. That is what this government is all about.

Mr. Speaker, I previously mentioned the Fisheries and Marine Institute, a world-renowned oceans institution that sets world standards in education, training, innovation and research. I want to mention a project in Placentia Bay, which where I come from - the far greater bay as been referred to on occasion, also probably the foggiest bay on the Island. That SmartBay project is a product of the Marine Institute in partnership with other groups, and it is worth referencing in this debate because it is an example of where we have come from and where we are in terms of ocean technology development.

Placentia Bay, Mr. Speaker, is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Hundreds of tankers ply the waters of Placentia Bay every day as they steam in and out of the Come By Chance and Whiffin Head locations. More than 320 million barrels of oil a year are brought in and out of Placentia Bay; $7 billion dollars worth of product every year. These tankers, Mr. Speaker, navigate alongside the smaller fishing vessels and the pleasure crafts. In the near future, Mr. Speaker, we expect to see that increase by additional ore carriers coming in and out of Long Harbour in connection with the Vale Inco project. You also have the potential of ports of Burin and Marystown on one side of the bay and Argentia on the other. So, you can see the potential for increased marine traffic in Placentia Bay; that is why Placentia Bay is referred to as the industrial heartland of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, it also has wildlife reserves and it creates an active fishery. All that activity, Mr. Speaker, creates challenges for traditional users to navigate alongside the non-traditional users of the bay. So much traffic, Mr. Speaker, that the possibility of a major oil spill is always on the radar; pardon the pun. The danger, Mr. Speaker, of a massive oil spill would be catastrophic. That would have disastrous results on the ecosystem of Placentia Bay not only on the local fishery but on the transportation industry and the ecotourism industries. Local authorities are always involved with the federal government in trying to find ways and means in convincing the federal government to improve the safeguards for safety in the event of such a spill in the bay.

Mr. Speaker, it is in that context that I want to mention this SmartBay project, a development in technology that works to keep Placentia Bay safe for all users. SmartBay provides customized weather and sea state forecast information using data gathered by four oceanographic buoys strategically placed in Placentia Bay. Mr. Speaker, I have a problem with that word buoys. We always called them boys, but I guess the proper pronunciation is buoys. I have always called them boys so I am going to continue to call them boys. There are four boys strategically located in Placentia Bay. This information, Mr. Speaker, is updated four times daily and provides information to assist the users through its Web site: smartbay.ca. It is available to all the public in their real time. Fishers, shipping companies and the users routinely take advantage of SmartBay to help them make decisions about their operations in the bay.

In addition to the information, Mr. Speaker, available on the Web site, the SmartBay project also involves putting automatic identification systems aboard small fishing vessels and large ones as well so that they know where they are in relation to each other in the foggy conditions of Placentia Bay.

This project, as I mentioned, is led by the Marine Institute in partnership with a team of private sector companies, AMEC, Earth & Environmental, ICAN, and Earth Information Technologies. Every month, Mr. Speaker, over 7,000 people visit smartbay.ca - 7,000 people every month - for information with respect to the management and expansion of local fishery and transportation.

Mr. Speaker, government has invested $700,000 in total in SmartBay, and last year it won the distinction in innovation award for its outstanding contribution towards Newfoundland innovative culture.

Mr. Speaker, SmartBay is only one example of the truly innovative spirit and expertise we have developed in this Province. Placentia Bay is also being mapped to provide information about what the seabed is like in the bottom of the bay. With the current level of innovation and ocean technological developments, it is still only the tip of the iceberg; again, if you will pardon the pun.

Mr. Speaker, all of this means that we are well positioned to be front-runners; as a matter of fact we are already front-runners in leading the world in the development of ocean-related industries. The Oceans of Opportunity strategy is another example of the great future, and the investment is another example of the foresight and prudent investment by the Province in the future. I compliment the minister for this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, we have always looked to the ocean; we continue to do so. It has been our past, it is our present and it will be our future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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 quite pleased this afternoon to be able to stand and speak to the motion that is in front of us, brought in by the Member for St. Barbe. Private members' motions are always very interesting, you never know what they are going to be or where they are going to come from, what they are going to focus on.

This one is an interesting one since it is dealing with the strategy, Oceans of Opportunity: Newfoundland and Labrador's Ocean Technology Strategy. The Member for Placentia & St. Mary's who just spoke did mention two or three times how important the ocean is to the life of this Province, how important it is to the people of this Province, and as is said in the strategy itself, that we have a 500-year connection with the ocean. There is no doubt about all of that, Mr. Speaker, the ocean is extremely important to the lives of the people in this Province.

I notice that the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's also talked about how the government of the day - the government that represents him, represents all of us really, the government that he is part of though - likes to be on the leading edge, it likes to be out front, it likes to be leading the way. I think this is the language that he used, that this government is all about being on the leading edge of new things. That is fine. I like that. I like looking to the future. I like being out there. I am all for that. When it comes to ocean technology, I think that it is really important that in being on the edge, and being a front-runner, and being out there, that the government does not lose sight of what it is leaving behind. Unfortunately in our history, in our very present history, one of the things that we have been global leaders in – I am not blaming this government for it, it goes back long before this government. What we have become the global leader in is the destruction of one of the greatest fish stocks on earth, the Northern cod stock. This is something we are always going to be carrying as a blight. We have no idea what it is going to take for that cod stock to come back to where it ever was. It probably never will. Unfortunately, this is something that we will always carry but we cannot allow the new frontier, that of oil and gas, lead us so far down a path around technologies with regard to the ocean that we forget we still do have a fishery.

I find it very troublesome that here in the Province now, and it comes out in language all over the place, almost an assumption that we do not have a fishery in the future, I mean the way the traditional fishery – the fishery based on the wild stock. This is completely unacceptable. How can we in this part of the world, in this ocean which has so much life in it and with the history that we have, accept the fact that we do not have the technology and we do not have the know how to make sure that these stocks continue? There is something wrong here, Mr. Speaker.

It is very important that in pursuing ocean technology and in pursuing the strategy that the government has set out in Oceans of Opportunity that we not forget that we can use technology with regard to our wild fishery as well. Not just technology to create aquaculture, but technology based on building up and maintaining stocks out there in that ocean that will go on forever, which never will be the case with oil and gas. It will not be the case with our fishery either, and with the stock out there in that ocean, unless we use our technologies to make it happen. Now, there are other things that are involved, it is not all just scientific technology. Obviously, how we market and how we get our fish out there in the world is all part of that, and how our fishery is structured is all part of that. The use of technology is not just use of technology for oil and gas; it is the use of technology to also make sure that we build up our fish stock.

There are some areas of research that I do not see happening as part of our strategy, and this is something that does concern me and something that makes it a bit difficult for me to say that I have confidence in the government's initiative to position Newfoundland and Labrador as a global leader. One of the things I would like to see this government really being on the leading edge about and being there in the forefront about is looking at how we can make sure that a new industry like oil and gas can be made to work for the people of the Province, not just work for business, not just work for people in the oil industry and related to the oil industry, but we need to be using our scientific research to also look at what is the impact on the people of this Province, on the people in our rural communities in particular. What is the impact on them of the technologies that we are using?

One area that concerns me, and I have raised it in the past in this House and I would like to raise it again today, Mr. Speaker, is the whole area around seismic exploration off the coast of the Province. People do not know a lot of the ocean technology that is going on, and one of the things is seismic exploration, because seismic exploration is used particularly with regard to finding strains of gas, in particular, but used for oil as well. We have not been taking seriously the possibilities of the impact of seismic technology on the life of fish stocks in our ocean. We do know that there is a large body of evidence to show that seismic activity is environmentally harmful.

I am not saying that we do not search for oil and gas, but I am saying that we need to find exploration technologies that do not potentially harm fish stocks. If we are going to be doing this exploration in our oceans, and if we are going to be saying we are promoting ourselves as being on the leading edge, that we are out there ahead of everybody else, well let's really be ahead of everybody else and find out if we can have oil and gas and fishery exist side by side. It is extremely important that we be able to do that, because oil and gas is not going to be here forever. That industry is not going to be hear forever. If we do not have communities that are based in the fishery and communities that are alive and vibrant, then having ocean technology that is focused mainly on the industry of oil and gas is not going to be helpful. So let's really get out there. Let's really be the leading edge and see how we can marry the exploration that is needed to discover more oil and gas, along with maintaining our fishery, maintaining the lives of the people in the industry. People in the fishing industry are concerned that we have moved ahead into exploration and production phases of oil and gas industry while they still have unanswered concerns over seismic operations.

We have seen from its actions that the government in many ways has turned its back on the Province's traditional fishery. This has to stop. We need a lot more science. We need to pressure the federal government to get involved in this area as well. Let us find the new ways to explore. Let us look at the evidence around seismic exploration. I know myself personally for many, many years questioned seismic exploration and some people I would speak to would say pooh-pooh to me and I said: well, it does not make sense to me that we can have seismic exploration going on - and I am sure everybody in the public who is listening knows what that is. If they do not, it means using waves in the bed of the ocean to look for gas, for example, and these electronic waves can help find pockets of gas. Now, it has always seemed to me that those waves that would be happening must have some impact on the creatures that live on the bottom of the ocean. The thing is, now there is evidence that in actual fact there are impacts from seismic exploration and there impacts on the life of everything that lives in that ocean. So let's pursue that, let's find out for sure that we are not doing more damage to our stocks. Did the seismic exploration have a role to play in some of the loss of our stocks? Was that one of the factors? It was not the only one, we know that, there are many, many factors to the loss of our Northern Cod stock, but could that be one of the factors?

The other thing that I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is that we need more social science research. We do not have enough social science research going on with regard to what is happening out there in our ocean with regard to the exploration that is going on and with regard to the production of oil that is going on. The impact on people in the Province, not just people in the fishery, but the overall impact on people in our Province on their lives, on the cost of living is all related to what is happening out in our ocean. So it is not just looking at the technology of finding oil and gas and getting it out of the earth. We have to make sure that we have the technologies that look at the environment but we also have to come up with the technologies, because technologies can relate to social science research as well. Come up with the technologies and use the tools that are there to do social research, to do research into what is happening to the people of the Province.

The government right now is promoting aquaculture, and I am not against that. We have jobs that are being created because of aquaculture et cetera, but the traditional fishery is potentially our best resource. The loss of our cod stocks is just a classic example of what happens when we do not stay in touch with all aspects of what are going in an industry. So if we are really looking to a future, Mr. Speaker, if we really want a future for this Province, let's use the resources from oil and gas, let's use some of the money that we are reaping in from oil and gas, to be sure that we are on the edge of coming up with technologies that show us how we can keep our fishery going, keep a live traditional fishery going based on the wild stock out in that ocean, while at the same time we develop oil and gas. Let's become leaders in showing how those two things can go on at the same time; because if we do not, Mr. Speaker, what we are doing around ocean technology will be meaningless if in fifty years' time there is not a future here in this Province because oil and gas has gone.

Because we know we are not going to be here in fifty years' time - there are very few of us in this House, for example, who are going to be here in fifty years' time, and very few in any governing party that might be sitting in this House who are going to be here in fifty years' time - we run the danger of only looking at the present in making our decisions, especially around something like oceans technology, looking only at the present. We have to think of that, fifty years down the road.

If we want to have a government, and if this government really wants to be on the leading edge and really wants to be in the forefront, that is what I ask this government to start doing. How can we make sure that all the technologies we are using, how everything that we are exploring, that all of our research is showing how we can do what we need to do around oil and gas while at the same time not just maintaining our traditional fishery but bringing that to a point where it – I am not going to say where it was; that is not a way to go – bringing it to a point that we are getting the full potential from a fishery based on the wild stock in the North Atlantic.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of St. John's East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Before I begin the main parts of my remarks, I would like to respond a little to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. She referenced the demise of the cod stocks. I think most of us would at least like to think that most of that results from what could be termed bad science, incomplete information, the type of situation where we guess what is going on beneath the ocean's surface without really knowing. Obviously, it did not work. The stocks were not managed well and it begs to question: When do we get the good science?

Now, she also talked about the effects of seismic activity. Well, we can put parameters into computer modelling, we can take best guesses, and we can sort of go on what we think could happen, but really, until we have developed a capacity to know what goes on beneath the ocean surface, we really will not know. To my mind, that is the thrust of this conversation today.

Mr. Glenn Blackwood, the Director of the Marine Institute, has stated many times that 90 per cent of the time we concern ourselves with what is going on above the surface and not nearly enough time looking at what is going on below.

In the last number of years we have come to appreciate that the ocean and what goes on underneath the ocean is a very real dynamic that we do not understand well enough. We can sort of look at the cause and effect, we can look at things that have happened in the past, but do we really understand it? The answer to that question, really, is that we do not understand it well enough.

This is where Oceans of Opportunities comes in; this is where the development of ocean technology really speaks to the types of issue that the Leader of the NDP referenced just a few minutes ago. Does seismic activity damage fish stocks? We do not know today, but if ocean technology and the types of initiatives that this government has brought in gives us the ability to have that answer, gives us the ability to look, gives us the ability to measure, gives us the ability to create and to advance the science, then we will be in a good place to have real hard answers to those questions down the road. So I just wanted to start off by going there.

If you look at the evolution of any kind of a science, you have to step back and not fall into the trap of taking a snapshot and saying: Here is where we are; look at how deficient it is. If you look at a lot of the things that are happening, even in our everyday lives, a lot of it really revolves on the science that has taken place in the past.

I remember, as a young boy, watching NASA and watching rockets go up, and watching the lunar module land on the moon. All fantastic stuff, but anyone who has kept up an interest in that can follow at a very, very good line where those advances, where those pushing of the boundaries, have brought us in terms of technology today. All we have to do is look around at things like microwaves, computers, laptops, wireless transmission, and miniaturization. All of the things, all of the benefits that has created in terms of our daily lives, in terms of our technology, in terms of our health care, all of this can be traced back to the technology that at its infancy, by today's standards, was very crude but in fact very leading edge.

I honestly think, Mr. Speaker, that is where this Province is heading, and it is never a bad thing to be on the leading edge of creating technology where you know that a void exists, where you know that you have the ability; and, by you I mean our government supporting our industries and our academic institutions and our businesses that can recognize there is a very, very tangible benefit at the back end of making sure that our technology is recognized, evaluated, created, refined, and finally commercialized to a point where it brings very, very tangible benefits.

Mr. Speaker, I really look forward to the day – and maybe twenty, twenty-five years down the road, who knows – when we can look at this initiative that we have put forward, Oceans of Opportunities, and we can point to how that allowed us to advance from a place of thinking we know what is going on, to a place of actually knowing what is going on, and from there plan and make decisions as to what is the best utilization of a resource that, quite honestly, I do not think we really understand.

Mr. Speaker, innovation is a wonderful thing. Innovation comes from imagination. Innovation comes from people saying: What if, or why not? A lot of times that innovation comes from – and we have seen this pattern over and over and over – innovation comes from young people with good, solid education, with good, solid technical training being willing to push beyond what their teachers even thought of or even dreamed of. They take the information they have been given, that good, solid background, and they move it forward to the benefit of all involved.

Here in Newfoundland, and more particular in St. John's East, we have the benefit of one of the premier ocean technology institutes in the world. The Marine Institute, located on Ridge Road here in St. John's, is certainly a model that we can all be proud of. Here was an institution that started off as what was affectionately known as the Cod College. My apologies to Mr. Blackwood - I know he does not like that term - but it has grown into something that is worldwide recognized, something that is noted for innovation, for leading edge, and I would just like to highlight some of the things that go on up there.

Now, in the spirit of honest, Mr. Speaker, I can say that I saw the Marine Institute being built up there on the hill when I was in university. It was just this structure; no one knew what it was. No one knew what it was for; it was just there. For many years, and being born in St. John's, the fisheries was not the highest priority for what was going on, on Monkstown Road, to be quite honest with you, but there it was, a wonderful building, nice architecture, the whole business, but what was it?

Very fortunately, after I was elected in 2007, Mr. Blackwood invited me to come up and to see just exactly what it was that he had really the privilege of being in charge of. He took me on a tour of the facility and, to be quite honest with you, I was blown away. I just cannot believe that the types of things that are happening up there are happening hundreds of metres just up here from the Confederation Building.

I would like to take some time now to go through some of the things that they have been involved in and some of the areas that is going to provide the foundation. When we look at the advances made in ocean technology and when we look back in twenty and twenty-five years, we are going to be able to trace that direct line to the Marine Institute, and in particular, to the School of Ocean Technology.

The School of Ocean Technology is charged with the responsibility of developing and delivering education and training, and applied research and development programs in various aspects of ocean technology. It is probably a mission statement, but it encapsulates what it is they do and the platform from which they expand.

The other day the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development talked about a wheel and about the spokes of the wheel, and very much so, this strategy is one of those spokes. We are an ocean Province; we understand what goes on. While, right now, the oil and gas takes most of the headlines, or at least the positive headlines, we understand the value of the fisheries, this government understands the value of the fisheries and we are working to make sure that it is sustainable. Everything we do talks about a time when perhaps oil is not going to be there as we expect. What is going to go on after oil? Fisheries will be there.

The School of Ocean Technology has a number of different partnerships which allows it to go out and to network and to create partnerships with industry, other governments, our own government, and other academic institutions. One of those is a signed MOU with the University of Limerick, in Ireland. This focuses on ocean mapping and underwater vehicles. Now, Mr. Speaker, anyone who has had the privilege of going up to the Marine Institute when they have the ROV competition, remotely operated vehicle competition at the Marine Institute, will see that the opportunity for young people to get turned on to, to become interested in the whole concept of ROV and the technology and the applications, will find that this is a wonderful opportunity for young people to say hey, there is stuff going on here. There is actually a future in this, and it is a future that will keep our Province on the forefront of ocean technology.

Just this past year, a Marine Institute instructor went on a research mission with a research boat from Ireland undertaking ocean mapping activity. This August coming up, another Marine Institute instructor and an ROV student will be going to Ireland to perform similar work.

Mr. Speaker, we share this continent with the United States and this Eastern Seaboard with the United States, and in that light and given that we have similar ocean dynamics in play, the School of Ocean Technology has created some MOUs with the University of Rhode Island, with the Woods Hole Institute and part of that is with ROV.

I have a former student from Brother Rice, where I used to teach, who is now currently down at MIT. I am not sure if he is doing his masters or his doctorate in ROV technology. I have already had discussions with him. I am already trying to get him back for when he completes the job. A brilliant young man, and I am very proud to call him one of my favourite students, and still working on him coming back to make sure that he is part of this ocean technology. In fact, when the minister announced the Oceans of Opportunity, I e-mailed the press release to him right away and said: Let this be a warning, you are on my list.

The Ocean Innovation conference is a national conference sponsored by the Marine Institute every year. It brings together all of the players from ocean industries. It has really become a focal point, not only of innovation, but it has become a focal point of discussion, it has become a focal point of pushing the envelope and asking what if, and where the participants walk away and say: You know, that what if, maybe that should turn into a can do.

I should point out that the high school ROV competition is actually part of a global competition that the Marine Institute is very much a participant of. There are seventeen ROV competitions that take place across the United States, in Canada, Hong Kong, and Scotland. Teams from each of these seventeen regions compete for the chance to go to international competitions. These competitions provide students with the opportunity to meet up with employers, industry and educational institutions that will, at some point say, here is a program we offer, and it will, I think, take like to the students' imaginations to a point where they will consider going and being part of it.

As the Minister of Justice mentioned earlier, the Marine Institute won the Distinction in Innovation Award in 2009 for the Export and Innovation Awards. Again, recognition by this Province, and also through the publicity it generated, that initiatives like SmartBay are timely, they are topical and that we need to put forward these types of initiatives if we are going to become leaders in ocean technology.

Mr. Speaker, we have set out some pretty realistic goals in terms of how we want to increase the amount of ocean technology, the value of the ocean technology, when we want to have it by. For what exists now, I do not know that it will get us there, but through institutions like the Marine Institute, the fact that they put out students who are innovative, creative, brave, willing to go beyond the frontiers of what they have learned already, they will become the people who bring Newfoundland and Labrador to the forefront of ocean technology. They will bring Newfoundland to the place where, when people have questions about ocean technology, they will come to our doorstep to see what it is we have done and what we have to say.

Mr. Speaker, just in conclusion, there are a lot of parallels that can be drawn with the way that things work whether it be in social situations, mechanical or physics, but often what happens is if you do something in a harsh environment, if you train or over train you get results that you can use when the time is necessary. The type of work, the type of research that we are doing in the environment that we offer off our coasts will enhance ocean technology, will push our boundaries to a point where, when we perfect the technologies, when we perfect the knowledge, and then when we go to export it to places that do not have such a harsh environment, we will show ourselves as being total leaders, as being world leaders. When we look back in twenty-five years, I can say it started here, it started with this government and I am proud to be a part of it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Mr. Kelly): The Chair recognizes the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly pleased today to rise and speak to the motion that has been put forward. However, Mr. Speaker, I hardly feel that the motion is necessary in the House of Assembly. I think all of us in the Province support ocean technology. We are a Province that has built ourselves on the ocean and on the sea. Even before we were able to coin fancy phrases like technology in the industry, innovation was being used in the oceans and in occupations and industries associated with the oceans in this Province for a very long time.

Mr. Speaker, the ocean technology sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has, no doubt, been a growing sector. It has been an initiative that has been the brainchild of the Harris Institute of Memorial University, in which they have looked at and studied some various cross sections of businesses that have been very innovative not only in technology but in science and research of all kinds as it relates to the ocean, and how you could take that science and research and transport it into a commercial environment so that you are boosting the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge base of the people of the Province and not just doing this kind of work in science and engineering for the most part, as part of a non-profit sector. So in making that transfer into commercial operations what we have seen over the last number of years is a lot of these ocean technology businesses being developed and expanded and broadening their services. This is not just an industry that is catering to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador but this is a global market that these individuals participate in and they are marketing their technologies all over the world to other ocean environments. I think in particular, across the North Atlantic rim in all the various countries that would have similar industry sectors as what we have and would make use of all of that technology.

Mr. Speaker, we have supported the ocean technology sector and we agree that investing in this sector is a step in the right direction. Not only does it provide a huge level of potential for our Province from an entrepreneurial standpoint but it also allows us to position ourselves globally in terms of new and innovative ideas to be able to be used in both engineering, in science, in education, in resource development and all of these different sectors. Of course, in Newfoundland and Labrador we are a Province that has really built a tremendous education program around ocean industries itself. Right now, today, there are more than fifty knowledge intensive enterprises that develop innovative ocean technology products that are based in this Province, Mr. Speaker. Those products are provided all across Canada, the United States, Central and South America and Europe and Asia.

Mr. Speaker, just through Memorial University itself, a university in which we have 17,000 students enrolled today and through both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs we have encouraged a lot of work towards ocean technology. We did the same thing through the Marine Institute of Newfoundland and Labrador. Both of these particular educational facilities have really catered to programs, or educational and academic programs that have been the model for the entire country and for many other universities around the world, because we have had the innovation and the skills and the knowledge to be able to do that.

Mr. Speaker, we also have other centres and groups, such as Memorial University's Ocean Sciences Centre which is the leading Canadian cold science research facility. We have certainly heard a lot of the initiatives and projects that they have been engaged in, especially when you look at the fact that we have had paramount problems in the fishing industry in terms of looking at cold water fisheries, in terms of looking at what some of the challenges are in those particular industries. There are a number of incidents that comes to mind in which this particular institute took charge of in carrying out that particular research.

Also, Mr. Speaker, AquaNet, which is also located at the university, is one of twenty-one national Networks of Centres of Excellence that is dedicated to fostering a sustainable aquaculture industry within the country, but in particular in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have seen the contributions that they have made in areas all around the Province that engage in aquaculture projects, where they have provided very valuable research in terms of the technology that can be used, the type of aquaculture projects that work best and do not work in certain areas and so on. I have had the opportunity to visit a number of these projects over the years and I know the contribution and the valuable contribution that they have made.

Mr. Speaker, there are other Centres of Excellence around the ocean that exist in Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of them will be familiar to people in the House of Assembly and especially people in the Province. The Centre for Fisheries Innovation is one that comes to mind; the Bonne Bay Marine Station, which I have had the opportunity to visit as well, Mr. Speaker, on the Northern Peninsula is another one. Of course, the other one that I would like to mention is the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre. There are many others and I could go on with a list, but I think we are all aware of the kind of work that they do and the importance of the work that they do.

Mr. Speaker, again, I want to emphasize the fact that much of the work that was being done around the ocean technology sector in the Province was being done mostly from a science and engineering perspective for a very long time. Now it has moved into more commercial and entrepreneurial activity. It has certainly been through the insight and foresight of the Harris Institute in which they did a great deal of study around this particular issue and industry. How do we grow that industry, how do we employ more people in it, how do we market and expand the skills and knowledge that we have all around the world, and how do we position ourselves globally to be noted?

In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the paper that I was reading back some time ago from the Harris Institute, in which they were studying ocean technologies, one of the questions that they were asking people from other jurisdictions around the world is that when you think of Newfoundland and Labrador from an ocean perspective, what is one of the things that you think of or that you see? It was duly noted, Mr. Speaker, that Newfoundland and Labrador has been known for having the most ocean-based industry and technology businesses in one particular area than probably anywhere else in the world. The knowledge base and the professionalism that exist around that industry is not found anywhere else in the world. That is something that you commonly hear from people who are involved in ocean technology and development.

Mr. Speaker, while I totally support this industry and this sector, I think that there are other far more pressing issues related to the ocean in which government members could have introduced a resolution on today. I do not think it is any secret that all members in the House would certainly support investment by the government in ocean technology. It is one of the areas that we are very proud of. I think it was my colleague from Placentia & St. Mary's who spoke earlier and talked about the fact that we are a Province that is based on the ocean and based on the fishery. I would think that today, in light of the circumstances in this Province where you have a fishery that is inactive and not operational at this stage, that government members might have been bringing forward a private member's motion today asking for support for the government to invest in the fishing industry in this Province, not in ocean technology, which they have already agreed to do.

Mr. Speaker, we did not see that, and that tells me that this is a government that is not placing priority on all aspects of our ocean. In this particular regard, on commercial fishing activity, because if they were they would be bringing in a motion today that would be putting 20,000 plant workers in this Province back to work, that would be ensuring that hundreds of communities have a sustainable and stable future around the ocean. Those are not the kinds of things we are seeing.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. Barbe, who put forward this motion, knows that better than anyone. He lives in a fishing district. He has fish plants in his district today that are not open. The plant in New Ferolle, in fact, Mr. Speaker, has been crying out for help from this government for the last two years in trying to get their operations back. He has communities down in his district today, in Port au Choix, who could be out on the picket line because they are not able to reach a collective union agreement with the fish processing company. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the member is bringing in a motion, a nice, frilly motion, asking us to support the government in its efforts towards ocean technology.

What about supporting the government in its efforts to ensure that we have a sustainable, stable fishing industry in this Province, that we have an ocean that continues to contribute to the 20,000 people in hundreds of communities that depend upon it? Why is there nothing in the motion by the Member for St. Barbe that speaks to this today when we know the very circumstance that exists, when we know, Mr. Speaker, that despite the fact that government stepped up and invested in other companies in this Province in the middle of a global crisis? At a time when the entire country was being challenged from an industrial perspective to create sustainable economies, we saw our government step up as well. We saw them invest money in Kruger only a few weeks ago on the West Coast of the Island, Mr. Speaker, which I have no problem with, absolutely no problem with. We saw them invest money into Rolls-Royce, which I had no problem with, Mr. Speaker. You can go back and see at the time I certainly did not make a comment because I realized that investment was going to put young engineering students in this Province to work in some very well paid jobs.

Mr. Speaker, why is it that when the fishing industry, one of our ocean industries that they talk about in their motion today, when it is in a crisis, when it is in trouble, when it needs the steady hand of government, they are not prepared to do anything? Why, because these are already poor people in poor fishing communities in poor old rural Newfoundland and Labrador? Is that the reason, because they do not have the big glamorous signs out hanging in front of their offices, because they do not have a big portfolio with business, stocks and interest? Is that why their dependency on the ocean is not as valuable and do not warrant a motion in the House of Assembly by the government members? Because, Mr. Speaker, that is the message I take from this today.

Today, in this Province there is one ocean industry that is in a crisis, and it is called the fishery. It is the only industry today where thousands of people are impacted. It is the only industry around the ocean today that is begging this government to get involved and make an investment, but it is the only industry, Mr. Speaker, that is not being referred to in the motion being brought forward by the government today and the Member for St. Barbe. To me, there is a very clear message in that.

Mr. Speaker, I know that Private Members' Day is for members to talk about anything they want, but at the same time, when you are going to bring forward motions asking to praise the government, praise my government because my government is going to spend money in ocean technology at a time when the entire industry in the fishery is falling apart and you fail to even mention it or bring forward a motion, to me, Mr. Speaker, deserves to be remarked upon.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, we certainly would expect no more from the government opposite. As we heard today in questioning in the House of Assembly about the fishing industry, this is a government that is prepared to sit and observe what is happening, to take no action, and to leave the people in this Province in the fishing industry to find their own solutions the best way you can, the best way you know how, because we are not going to be there with the cheque book like we were for Rolls-Royce, like we were for Kruger, and like we were for many other companies. I can go print the list off the Web site if I had to about how they were investing in all of those companies.

So, Mr. Speaker, my suggestion to the Member for St. Barbe is that when he brings in his next private member's motion, he might want to bring in something that is going to help those people surrounded by the ocean in his own district and figure out how he can help put some resolve to the fishing industry in this Province.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today and speak to the motion that was brought forward by the member, my colleague, my Parliamentary Assistant in the House of Assembly, regarding ocean technology and the ocean technology sector and the Ocean Technology Strategy.

What I would like to do, I guess, by way of opening is to talk about the fact that this sector and this strategy is something that, in reference to a debate we had in the House here yesterday, is about once again having government listen to the people of the Province and putting in place policies that the people want because of the effect that it has on them.

The ocean technology sector in this Province and the Ocean Technology Strategy that came from it is actually not just government, Mr. Speaker, it is a combination of government, it is a combination of our academic institutions that was referenced by the Member for St. John's East, and it is a combination of a group, some fifty-plus companies that comprise an industry association in this Province. So all of them together collectively: government, academia and industry, are really the driving force behind this strategy. Again, it goes back to the discussions that this government has had with our academic institutions and with the expertise that they have at places like Memorial University, the National Research Centre, the Centre for Fisheries Innovation, our Marine Institute and our School of Ocean Technology at the Marine Institute and other places like that, and all of these industry groups, all of these entrepreneurs and companies and businesses, businessmen, businesswomen who are out there trying to find opportunities to grow and succeed this Province.

I gave a Ministerial Statement earlier today about youth entrepreneurs and there are a number of youth entrepreneurs that are attached to this ocean technology sector. It is very much still an embryonic type of sector, very young, very youthful, very much in its infancy, but it is one which is growing and one which will burgeon as we move along, Mr. Speaker. It is indicated in one of the WHEREAS clauses in this motion that the goal of the three partners: government, academia and the industry, is to have the industry's value grow by 600 per cent - 600 per cent - to $1 billion and more than 6,600 employees by the year 2015.

Now the hon. member opposite from Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair can refer to it as a frilly motion; that is the word she used: frilly. All of this effort, all of this seriousness, all of the people, the 6,600 people who will be employed in this industry, she referred to this as being frilly. Well it is not frilly, it is real. There is lots of opportunity here, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. Opposition Leader on a point of order.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wanted to clarify, Mr. Speaker, for the House that the comment frilly was referring to the WHEREASes of the motion asking to praise the government for its investment in the industry, not towards the industry itself.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

She did use the word frilly. She did use it in the debate that we were having, and she did use it in reference to what we were talking about here today. So, I just mentioned that in passing, and if it stuck with her, if it sort of got her ire up, I apologize for that. I did not mean to use her own words against her, but she did use the word frilly.

So this is an industry, Mr. Speaker, that we are trying to grow in this Province. There are a lot of people trying to grow this industry. The difference in the mindset that we have on this side of the House, in terms of the government members and the members on the other side of the House who are government members, and those in the Opposition, is that we do not have to pit region against region. We do not have to pit sector against sector, or industry against industry. It is not a one or the other. It is not an all or nothing. It is about all of us together trying to use what it is we have to succeed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SKINNER: So when she talks about pitting – that is another word she used – pitting regions against regions, when she talks about people against people, when you talk about people not wanting to support something, we do want to support it. We want to support the fishery – she references the fishery. We are supporting the fishery, Mr. Speaker, but we understand that there are going to be challenges. This is the ocean technology sector that we are talking about. There is an opportunity here for us to grow, to use a traditional resource that we have had, use the ocean – and what it has offered traditionally for 500 years has been fish. We have exploited or harvested fish from the ocean. What we have now today is an opportunity, because of our 500 years of experience with the ocean, in doing some different things with that. We can do ocean monitoring. We can do simulation in harsh weather environments. We can do aquaculture, farmed fish. We can do oil and gas. We can do monitoring of wildlife in the ocean. We can do currents and energy from the ocean. All of those things can be done, but they do not have to be done at the sacrifice of what has been our traditional way of doing things, which is the harvesting of fish. It does not have to be one or the other. They can be complementary.

The hon. Leader of the Third Party, when she got up earlier today, questioned whether or not we were able to have a successful fishery and also have a successful ocean tech sector with oil and gas. I say we are. It is being done today in Placentia Bay. It is probably - in Placentia Bay it is probably the busiest bay in Canada, would be my guess.

MR. F. COLLINS: The biggest.

MR. SKINNER: My hon. colleague for the district representing Placentia says to me it is the biggest. Well it is certainly one that puts through an awful lot of money, in terms of volume, I can tell you. With the oil that is going out of there, with the fishing that is going on out there. That is why we have SmartBay. That is why we have the environmental program. We have that because of the fact of all of the things that are going in and out of Placentia Bay. It is a harmonious bay with oil and gas activity happening there, with fishing and harvesting activity happening there, and with ocean monitoring activities happening there. It is a perfect example of the old traditional way of doing things, working alongside and working hand in hand with the new knowledge economy. That is what we have to exploit as we move forward. That is what we have to build upon, and that is what this motion talks about.

When my hon. colleague brings in the motion, when the Member for St. Barbe brings it in, I say that it is quite timely because it draws attention to the ocean, it draws attention to the challenges we are having and it draws attention to the opportunities that exist. So I think it is very timely that he bring it in and I am glad to see that he has brought it in because it gives all members on both sides of the House of Assembly an opportunity to bring forward their point of view about what they feel that this Province could be doing in relation to our oceans.

The hon. member, when he brought forward the motion, understands that we can have our traditional way of life and traditional harvesting from our oceans but we also have an opportunity to exploit and to do other things with our ocean that are being talked about in this motion. That is not just the government saying that, Mr. Speaker. I go back to the point I made when I opened up my comments. My point was that there are other people involved in this sector and strategy besides government. I am talking about the academic institutions and the researchers, and I am talking about the industry. It is not just here in Newfoundland and Labrador, it has been referenced by other speakers here today.

We are connected with a SmartBay project in Ireland, in Galway Bay. The project that is happening in Placentia Bay was a demonstration project where we learned some lessons; we grew some intellectual property, some technical expertise that we could market, that we could package a product that we could sell elsewhere. We have now done that in Galway Bay, in Ireland. That project is happening today as we speak in Ireland, the same kind of a project. We are linked in on that kind of project right across the world, Mr. Speaker, with the Polaris Program.

The Polaris Program basically is a series of interconnected, worldwide ocean monitoring systems. The information being generated from SmartBay in Placentia Bay, from SmartBay in Galway, from out on the West Coast of Canada, out in British Columbia, from up in Greenland and Iceland and down in the United States and other parts of the world, all of that information is being put together. The people who understand how to use that information are able to make the world safer, figure out how we can harvest oil and gas more safely, how we can access more of it, how we can get minerals from our ocean, which will be another big thing that will be happening in the future. How we can do that without harming our ecological seabird life, our fish life, the whales and all the things that live in and around our oceans; how all of that can be done in a harmonious way. That is the kind of opportunities that exist when we talk about our ocean technology sector.

There is an interesting comment, Mr. Speaker, that I want to refer to. I have heard Mr. Blackwood, the CEO and President of the Marine Institute that was referred to earlier. He is a man that I have a lot of respect for and a person that I talk to on a fairly regular basis. He is doing great work up at the Marine Institute, as is all of his staff up there. I have been up there many, many times. He made a comment to me a number of months ago which sticks with me. It is relevant to the motion that we are talking about today. His comment was, he said: You know, in the past people in the world have spent 90 per cent of our time studying what is above the water. We have spent 90 per cent of our time, scientifically and otherwise, studying what is above the water; but, he said: It is ironic that 70 per cent of the earth and the earth's surface is underneath water and we should be putting more time into studying what is underneath the water.

That is what this motion is referring to. That is a piece of that. It is about looking at what lies below and doing mapping so that we can have safe transport of ships in and out of Placentia Bay so we do not have an oil spill or an environmental spill, so we can get sonar and radar and all the others ‘ars' that are out there that they need to use to do that kind of stuff. That is the technology that is being developed in this Province; that is the technology that is being used in this Province.

I referred earlier to simulators. We have companies in our ocean technology sector that are now able to simulate, using the digital economy, using computers, how somebody would evacuate from a boat that would overturn, or how to launch a lifeboat off a ship, or launch it off an oil rig; how to do that in a cold environment, how to do that in a foggy environment, how to do that in daylight, at nighttime, and how to do that when the waves are thirty feet high or two feet high. All of that kind of stuff can be done. Yes, you can get seasick on it because I have been on a simulator where I have felt sick, Mr. Speaker. I do not mind admitting that. I was on a simulator where they had it rolling and rocking and I did get seasick. That just goes to show how realistic some of these things are.

My colleagues behind me are reminding me about that, but I am not embarrassed to say that. I am not embarrassed to say that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't you be embarrassed, minister.

MR. SKINNER: I was prepared to go through the exercise in its entirety and I did and I got the full effects of it, and that was the good thing about it.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing I want to reference, and it is an important thing, and it has already been referenced but I want to bring it up again. My colleague from St. John's East referenced the young people, the youth and the opportunities available in this sector for youth. I have been up at competitions where remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, and underwater vehicles have been not only operated but actually designed by junior high students, by young men and women right across this Province. As he indicated, they have won competitions here in the Province, they have won competitions in Canada and they are going on to international competitions.

To go up to the Marine Institute on a Friday night and Saturday morning and to see all of these young – they are probably, my guess is thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old young men and women who have designed their own robots, their own underwater vehicles. To see them launch them into the big tank up there where you can watch it through the clear glass and to see them take it down and go through a series of exercises and challenges that have been designed for them, and to see them operate that with underwater cameras, with hydraulics, electronic circuit boards and all of that, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, they are doing a lot more today in Grade 7, 8 and 9 than I did when I was in Grade 7, 8 and 9.

The capabilities that they are showing are going to serve them well as they move into their future career paths. There are young men and women now who are getting interested in engineering, getting interested in science and getting interested in technology because of those kinds of competitions.

By way of conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Member for St. Barbe for bringing forward this motion today. I think it has been very timely. I think it has generated some great discussion. I hope that the people who have been listening to us debate it back and forth here in the House of Assembly understand the opportunities that exist in the ocean that is around us, understand the opportunities for the young men and women of this Province to be able to create a career here, to be able to be young entrepreneurs into an industry that really has not grown to what it can grow to and see lots of future in that. I hope that they are open-minded enough and wise enough to see that they can do this, and that they will pursue a good education where they can become contributing partners in this sector and make sure that by the year 2015 and beyond we have 6,600 employees, $1 billion worth of economic activity and more to follow.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the Parliamentary Assistant for the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

When the member speaks now, he shall close debate.

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank everybody who participated in the debate today. It was certainly a great one. I was rather pleased to have the opportunity to be able to present it myself. I thought, coming from a very rural district and very much dependent on the ocean, I saw it as being a very positive thing, certainly not a negative thing. I see the opportunities that have come from the ocean as being something, like I said, we have depended on all our lives. To be out there, to take and harness what we have, and see an opportunity to come by where we find the Province in a position, through the oil and gas industry primarily, to be able to take that and shift the focus from one who is combating an environment, combating a situation, to one to be able to take control, I find that to be an incredibly amazing time. I find it incredibly amazing for my area as well.

I know many of our young people are not living in the communities they were born and were raised in. I think of people like Carey Bonnell who is now the head of the department of fisheries in the Marine Institute. What a great opportunity a young man has who comes from a very rural community who had an uncle who was out there and had the foresight to be able to go out there and see that he could take advantage of what was out there, to be able to go out and create for himself. I am sure it is people like him that are out there that is watching for the opportunities that are out there wherever in this Province.

Those are the people that we have to support. I always look to the youth. I look to what does not exist today and what will exist tomorrow to be able to create that future. I have always believed and worked towards that. I understand the issues that are facing many rural communities, they are facing mine and I have worked with them day in, day out. I do everything that I can to change the circumstances that we face to be able to make it workable, to be able to do what we can. Many of those challenges are certainly that, challenges to the extreme. To be able to go and to say that I have to put 100 per cent of my focus into that and not look to the future, not be able to bridge between my community and what is happening with, say, the Marine Institute, or Memorial University, or the marine biology station or to look to St. Anthony, for example, and be able to see the opportunities through a port, be able to combine the different things that we have in that area, and to say that I am going to find whatever opportunity is out there and to be driven, I fear, in many ways, it is not someone my age who is going to be able to do it, that is going to be able to have this new foundation, it is going to be our youth, it is going to be our engineers, it is going to be people that are able to help us create those new industries, to be able to take them with innovation, to refine them to the point that we are going to have a future.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that I am at the age that I am, to be able to take a leadership role in my community, to be able to go out there and to see that I focus and to be able to agree with the initiatives that have been happening in this Province. I find that to be extremely important, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to take this couple of minutes as it is just to clue up, and as I said, to thank the people who have participated because one of the things that we have in this industry is something that has been recognized outside. It is not only recognized within here, but we are certainly getting accolades from across the world recognizing where we are focusing in on the opportunities because of our location and the fact that we are very much a part of the ocean, always have been. So, we are very much natural and a fit to go out there and do this.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I will close debate today. Once again, I would like to thank everybody who has participated.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Is the House ready for the question?

Shall the motion as put forward by the hon. the Member for the District of St. Barbe carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow – the hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I know you are about to adjourn the House, I just wanted to remind the hon. members that Estimates for the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services will be seen by the Estimates Committee in about thirty minutes. We said 5:30 p.m. originally; it will be about thirty minutes from now.

MR. SPEAKER: This being Private Members' Day, this House does now stand adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow, being Thursday.