December 18, 2012                 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLVII No. 71


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

Today, before we start the proceedings, I want to welcome to the public galleries representatives from the sealing industry: Dion Dakins from Carino Processing Limited, and Jennifer and Kerry Shears of Natural Boutique.

Welcome to our Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today we will have members' statements from the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune; the Member for the District of Baie Verte – Springdale; the Member for the District of St. John's Centre; the Member for the District of Lake Melville; the Member for the District of Lewisporte; and the Member for the District of Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to applaud three outstanding individuals from my district who were recently awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal: Mr. Jim Sheppard, Chief Warrant Officer, retired; Saqamaw Misel Joe; and Mayor Steward May.

Mr. Jim Sheppard, a veteran who served our country for over thirty-two years with the Queen's Own Rifle, Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, and the Canadian Military Engineers, has established a military museum in Rencontre East, his hometown, preserving a remarkable era in our veterans' history.

Saqamaw Misel Joe was recognized for his exemplary leadership on behalf of and in conjunction with his fellow band members, in promoting and preserving the language, culture, and traditions of his people.

Mayor Stewart May is yet another truly remarkable person who has spent his life going over and above the call of duty as a community leader to help make life better for others. He has served with over thirty volunteer organizations and is extremely dedicated, reliable, and committed, a true example of leadership and volunteerism at its very best.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this hon. House to join me in congratulating these well-deserving recipients of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bay Verte – Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POLLARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to acknowledge the accomplishments of four outstanding summer club swimmers from the Springdale Blue Fins.

Brady Huxter, Ben Melindy, Andrew Goudie, and Scott Pynn smashed the Summer Club under-eighteen Boys 200-metre medley relay with a time of 2:11.24.

Ever since they were tiny tots, they converged upon the Gander pool to attend the Summer Club Provincial Championships. This past summer they were on a mission to set a new record and they did it.

For over forty years, Gander pool has been the site for this fun-filled event. Many records have been broken and many memories have been made.

For the past twenty-four years, my wife and I have attended and can attest that this event is the highlight of all Summer Club swimmers. The team play, the stamina, and the sheer determination displayed by these four athletes was a joy to experience as they splashed and pulled themselves to record-breaking speed.

I invite all hon. colleagues to join me in applauding Brady, Ben, Andrew, and Scott, not only for providing us with nail-biting entertainment, but also for their outstanding achievement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker acknowledged a guest to the gallery a few moments ago. I had not realized at the time, but Kerry and Jennifer Shears had just joined us after my comments.

Welcome to our galleries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: This was not a staged event with the Member for Bay Verte – Springdale. He wears that tie all the time.

Next we will have the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute a vibrant community group, and a good corporate citizen who has made it possible for that group to offer an outstanding program to the people it serves.

The Boys and Girls Club of St. John's, under the leadership of Executive Director Kelly Sandoval and Program Director Michael Jacobs, is the latest beneficiary of the Rogers Raising the Grade program.

This national program gives youth – like the ones in Buckmaster's Circle who go on to the Boys and Girls Club After-School Program – skills, tools, and opportunities that will help them succeed at school.

Mr. Speaker, I had the great pleasure of attending the grand opening at the Boys and Girls Club. The technology that Rogers has given them is so impressive, and the enthusiasm shown by the staff and the students is truly contagious.

The St. John's club is one of twenty-five across the country to benefit from the Rogers Raising the Grade program.

I commend Rogers for their exceptional community spirit and their vision in creating this program to help our youth get the education they need for a solid base in life.

Thank you to Kelly, to Rogers, and the Boys and Girls Club for this fantastic program serving the youth in St. John's Centre. I am sure that the House would like to join me in saying bravo to them all.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize Mr. Edward Blake of North West River – a recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal.

Mr. Blake was born in 1928. He is the oldest of nine siblings and grew up in the family home, a trapper's cottage at a place called the Rapids, three miles up the river near North West River. From a very young age Mr. Blake displayed the resilience and ambition that is common with Labradorians. During the winter months, Mr. Blake would walk three miles across river ice just to attend school.

Through this strength as a young man, Mr. Blake helped establish North West River by clearing the land for several North West River landmarks and through his community involvement he helped North West River incorporate in 1958.

Mr. Blake opened the first gas station in North West River providing home delivery to the residents, later expanding to open an Arctic Cat Snowmobile shop.

Mr. Blake continues to live an active life at home with his family, and chooses to spend his spare time restoring his historic family home at the Rapids.

I ask all hon. members of this House to join me in congratulating Mr. Edward Blake, a true Labradorian.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Lewisporte.

MR. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize Patrol Commander Horace Lane of the Canadian Ranger Patrol. Mr. Lane has been nominated and awarded the distinction of Member in the Order of Military Merit. This award was presented in recognition of his dedication to his community and Province, as well as his contribution to the Canadian Ranger Patrol and the Patrol Group for the past twenty-two years.

The Order of Military Merit was established to provide a worthy means of recognizing conspicuous merit and exceptional service by members of the Canadian Forces, both regular and reserve.

Lieutenant Lane has been actively involved in: the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association, the Department of Tourism Hunting and Fishing Project Team, The Beothuk Institute, Lewisporte Area Chamber of Commerce, Lewisporte Yacht Club, Calypso Recycling Committee and auction committee, as well as a director of the Calypso Foundation. He is also involved with the Lewisporte and Area Economic Development Committee, and an Honorary Associate of the Lewisporte Kinsmen Club.

Last week, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnson, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces conducted the Investiture at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Members of the House of Assembly, please join with me in recognizing the tremendous contributions made by Lieutenant Horace Lane.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the House to recognize and congratulate two long-serving employees of the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company, Mr. Gilbert Linstead and Mr. Ken Fowler. Both of these gentlemen have been with the company for over thirty years, and it has been a pleasure for me to have had the opportunity to work with them for the last twenty years.

Mr. Linstead has been the General Manager of the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company and continues to encourage growth in the Labrador fishery and Labrador communities. Through his leadership and vision, he took a private fish company, turned it into a co-operative, and grew it into a competitive business employing 1,500 Labradorians with millions of dollars in assets, and has secured markets for fish products all over the world.

Mr. Fowler has been assistant General Manager and has been a strong partner and leader in building the company and the fishing industry in Labrador as well. He helped fishermen diversify their fishing enterprises, gain new expertise, and help secure offshore fishing vessels for the company.

Together, with their board of directors, they have taken the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company into the twenty-first century as the ideal fisheries model for Newfoundland and Labrador, ensuring growth, stability, and profitability for communities and people on Labrador's South Coast.

I ask my colleagues in the House to recognize their service, their commitment, and offer them our congratulations on a job well done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize, as well, that we just had enter our public galleries the Mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor, Mayor Hawkins.

Welcome to our Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: All of these guests wanting to be here, and we are trying to get out.

Today we will have Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. KING: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I am attentive in all directions here today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a pleasure to rise today.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today in the House of Assembly with my colleagues and recognize the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's promotion of Stephanie Motty to the rank of sergeant.

On December 7, 2012, Sergeant Motty became the first woman to be appointed to the position of sergeant at the RNC's Labrador City Detachment.

I am very pleased to congratulate Sergeant Motty on her promotion to the rank of sergeant. Not only does it speak to the level of commitment that she has shown to her profession, it is also a significant milestone for the RNC detachment in Labrador City to have its first female sergeant.

As we are all aware, we have many female police officers in various roles within our communities. They are an important part of the overall operations of the RNC, and certainly play a leadership role in many specific areas of policing.

As of December 1, 2012, approximately 25 per cent of RNC officers were female, and this government is committed and will continue to be committed to ensuring that women are represented in policing and justice in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since the RNC recruiting program started, almost 40 per cent of the officers recruited have been female, Mr. Speaker, making the RNC one of the national leaders in the recruitment of women to the force.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, Sergeant Motty is no stranger to hard work or to dedication that comes with working with the RNC. Last year, she received the Excellence in Performance Award at the Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement's nineteenth annual training conference. This honour is awarded to a female officer who distinguishes herself through superior attention to duty or outstanding investigative efforts.

Having held positions in various areas of the RNC for more than ten years, Sergeant Motty has spent time as a patrol officer, and also as a member of the Criminal Investigative Division. With the Criminal Investigative Division she divided her time as a member of the child assault and sexual assault unit, as well as the major crime unit. She is considered to be an adept and a highly-competent investigator and has excelled in many complex investigations.

Mr. Speaker, on December 7, a ceremony was held to formally promote Stephanie Motty to the position of sergeant. I would like to thank her for her contributions to the Province and the police services in our Province, and to wish her every success in her new role.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement.

Certainly, we would like to send congratulations to Stephanie Motty on her promotion to sergeant. Becoming the first female sergeant of the RNC's Labrador City detachment is not only an advancement for Sergeant Motty but for all women. As my colleague, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair says, women are currently running Labrador. That is a great step forward.

Increasing the presence of women in law enforcement is a positive step forward for society as a whole. In September, our Province hosted the fiftieth annual International Association of Women Police Conference. It was a great thing to have police officers from all over the world converge on our fair Province.

Earlier this year, Tracy Hardy was appointed the new commanding officer for the RCMP B Division in the Province. These are tremendous strides for both women and the RNC and RCMP.

In closing, we would like to wish Sergeant Motty all the best in her new position.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I also want to thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement.

It is wonderful to be able to stand in this House today to congratulate Sergeant Stephanie Motty. I can remember thirty years ago giving workshops to the RNC about violence against women and there was a hardly a woman in the ranks to be seen. I want to commend the RNC for the progressive work it has done over the years to ensure that women are fully represented in all levels of policing.

On behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador I want to thank Sergeant Stephanie Motty and all the women of the RNC who work with courage, commitment, expertise and compassion alongside their male counterparts. You make us proud.

I am sure that Sergeant Stephanie Motty will continue to be a great role model for women cadets and will continue to mentor other women in policing. Your participation makes an important difference in policing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, and bravo Sergeant Stephanie Motty.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for St. John's South have leave?

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in this hon. House today to report that Carino Processing Limited, the primary seal processing facility in our Province, has made the first payment of approximately $1.1 million toward the $2 million loan our government provided the sealing industry last spring.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: The remaining amount owning is anticipated to be paid back in the first quarter of the New Year.

Mr. Speaker, this is great news, and it is an indication that the sealing industry continues to provide opportunity for harvesters and business owners in this Province. There were over 67,000 pelts purchased from harvesters throughout the Province this year, with a landed value of approximately $1.5 million. About 430 harvesters and 388 vessels were involved in the harvest, representing an increase from the previous year.

Mr. Speaker, our government continues to support the sealing industry in its innovative and creative efforts to identify new markets and generate new opportunities for seal products in the world markets.

We are pleased to see that the funding provided by our government last year had such a positive impact. The success can be seen in the participation of harvesters, to the success of stores like Always in Vogue, Natural Boutique, and the North Atlantic Fur Group, to increases in activity at Carino, the Northeast Coast Sealers Co-op, and Sea Water Products. I recently attended a very encouraging meeting with industry stakeholders where discussions focused on the future of the sealing industry and the commitment to full utilization of these animals to maximize the economic benefit to the Province.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we are seeing positive movement in relation to the ongoing World Trade Organization challenge and the European Court of Justice, which may once again provide access to world markets. Here at home, we continue to work with our federal partners in finalizing access to markets in China. I recently met with federal minister Gail Shea to discuss these important issues and to reiterate our unwavering support in this regard.

Mr. Speaker, the anti-sealing campaigns are filled with misinformation on the harvest, a skewed perspective to say the least. The annual seal harvest is highly regulated and environmentally sustainable. The harp seal population has increased from approximately 2 million animals to 8 million in just a few years. This is extraordinary and surely invites the question of impact on the natural balance of the ocean's ecosystem.

Activist groups truly display a lack of understanding about what is responsible ecosystem management, the economic importance to people dependent on this hunt, and the cultural realities in this Province. We will not be swayed by the propaganda of such campaigns or that of misinformed followers and celebrities.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Collectively, we must continue our resolve to overcome the challenges of this industry to ensure a humane and sustainable annual seal harvest.

Over the years, the sealing industry has contributed much to the provincial economy. It has helped to define our culture and it has carved a place in our storied history.

Mr. Speaker, we are proud to support the seal harvest, a part of our heritage that has provided much benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. We are confident it will continue to do so in the years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. Mr. Speaker, this is very positive action by our government in the sealing industry, consistent with a modern sealing industry that is humane, sustainable, and ecologically responsible. What other industry is there that serves as a responsible, humane cull of an exploding animal population whose very existence will be threatened without human intervention?

Mr. Speaker, this is not just a cull. The meat is suitable for human consumption, the oil for an omega-3 dietary supplement, and the pelts are then turned into beautiful long-lasting clothing and boots. When seal products are no longer serviceable, they are biodegradable and return to the environment to complete the cycle.

We need to do more and better with our sealing industry, but I believe we have turned the corner in this historic industry and that our best days are in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. Government-provided assistance had benefits to sealers, industry, retailers, crafters, and suppliers of oils and related products. It is good to see a repayment commence as scheduled. I only hope that more of the Canadian quota will be taken next season.

Government must continue to be active players with the federal government to help advance the industry, but not lose focus of the local market. I have been a proud supporter of the seal hunt and Home from the Sea Campaign, and wear my coat, boots, mitts, wallet, belt, tie, and slippers with pride. I am encouraged by new entrants, including the Natural Boutique, but I must also recognize the GNP Craft Producers in my district, who have North America's only economuseum of sealing.

More must be done to ensure young people are carrying on our culture and tradition. We have a history and a future of sealing in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Let us continue to show our support for the industry.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, today the government is bringing forward legislation for the Muskrat Falls Project that Nalcor needs passed before financing. We received copies yesterday morning. Meanwhile, the dates on the bills provided to us in the briefing were November 29 and December 7.

So I ask the Premier: Why did you wait for over two-and-a-half weeks before you provided those bills to the Opposition to review on behalf of the people of this Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

These bills have been looked at for awhile. The dates on the bills themselves mean nothing. Up until the time when we decide to bring the bill into the House, we could still make changes to the bill.

I really do not know what the member opposite is complaining about. They were provided with briefings today, Mr. Speaker. They were provided with a copy of the bill. It is up to them to do their work, to look at the bill, and to determine what questions, if any, they want.

Mr. Speaker, the government's obligation is one that we do out of courtesy and it is one that we will certainly have to look at as we move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister would not have to look at it moving forward if we just followed the practice that we had agreed to here just a few weeks ago.

Mr. Speaker, government agreed to give Opposition seventy-two hours of preparation time for any new legislation that was introduced; however, you have broken the promise and given us just twenty-four hours on Bills 61 and 60. Now your government is rushing forty pages of legislation through this House.

Haven't we learned anything at all from the botched expropriation of Abitibi?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are not rushing anything through. We are willing to stay here as long as it takes for these bills to be debated. What we have indicated, Mr. Speaker, is that the bills are needed in order to support the sanction decision which was made yesterday, that we are proceeding with Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker. The bills outline the financing structure and the expropriation structure that is required. We are here as long as the Opposition wants to here, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, we can assure we will be here to debate it as long as it takes too.

They have had a year, Mr. Speaker, to prepare this legislation. Over a year now they have known the requirements that they would need this for financing.

Bills 60 and 61 are two very important pieces of legislation. One deals with taking away power from the PUB and putting it in the hands of Cabinet; the other deals with the expropriation of thousands of kilometres of land. There are at least fifteen pieces of legislation affected by these two bills.

I ask the Premier: Where is the due diligence, when you are ramming legislation through this House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition Parties have had over two years to examine the Muskrat Falls Project. We have made more information available on this project than any other project in the history of this Province, Mr. Speaker. Yet, they have not been able to come up with one substantive critique of this project. They have not been able to come up with another viable alternative.

Mr. Speaker, here we are in the House now after a wonderful event yesterday, a paradigm shift in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, arguing over profit. paradigm

Mr. Speaker, they will have all the time they want to investigate these bills, to talk about these bills. As long as you are here, we will be here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the process was fixed with Abitibi, we would not be in the mess we are in right now in Grand Falls – Windsor.

Bill 60 gives Emera the right to expropriate land in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as well.

Why are you giving a Nova Scotia company the right to expropriate land in this Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is not correct. Emera will not be expropriating land in our Province. The Maritime Link will go to Granite Canal. Any land that is expropriated will be expropriated by our government, as outlined in the act, and fair compensation will be provided. Again, I guess a briefing is not enough; we will have to give them written answers next time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Well, it is nice to hear that the Minister of Natural Resources is willing to give answers because that is not a lot he has done in the last few weeks.

Mr. Speaker, Emera, a publicly traded company, will not be allowed to expropriate land in the Province. This is what we were told in the briefing, by the way. So, why isn't Emera paying taxes on the property that they are using? That is what we were told in your briefing.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the laws of the Province will apply to Emera. The expropriations will be carried out by our government, as required, Mr. Speaker, in line with the act. Also, it is my understanding that Emera will pay taxes and that they are not excluded from paying taxes. They are not a Crown corporation in this Province and they will pay taxes like anyone else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: What we were told in the briefing is that they would not pay taxes on the power line, only if they did business in the community, Mr. Speaker. It is clear that Emera was not ready to sanction and would have preferred to wait until after they had completed their regulatory review in Nova Scotia.

I ask the Premier: Is that why Nalcor agreed to pay $30 million of the penalty if Emera backs out of the deal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have to go back to the preamble of his question a few minutes ago when he talked about the expropriation of the Abitibi properties. Mr. Speaker, that was something we did over the course of three days. We suspended our normal way of doing things and included both Opposition Parties in the decision-making. We knew, because we were operating in a hasty way because it was necessary to do so, that we were running risk. Both parties agreed that that risk was worthwhile to get the assets of Abitibi so they would be in the hands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, they wonder why we do not have committee meetings – because they are in when it suits them, and they are out when it does not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier tried to do – the Premier knows that the Opposition Parties of the day were told, quite frankly, that they would not be expropriating that mill.

I will ask the Premier because the question was not about that. The question was about a $30 million penalty that they have agreed to pay if Emera backs out of this deal. Would she please answer that question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: I am happy to answer this question, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most well-planned –

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, could you save me from the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, just long enough to answer the question.

Mr. Speaker, this is a well-planned project, and like every other project that we have planned and delivered to the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have imagined every scenario, everything that could possibly go wrong, and we have a remedy in case it does. It is going to go ahead, Mr. Speaker, because this is a regional project, because we are doing it with Nova Scotia, because Emera is our partner, we have earned a billion-dollar benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, for the third time – and let's talk about well-planned projects and well-planned takeovers. What about FPI? Was that well planned? Today there is a plant in Burin that is closed up, Mr. Speaker.

I will ask the Premier one more time: Will you please explain the $30 million penalty that you are willing to share with Emera if they back out of this deal?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what we have done here is that there has been a sanctioning both by Nalcor and Emera, which means that the federal loan guarantee applies.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Huskilson, the CEO of Emera, made it clear yesterday, and the sanction agreement makes it clear, that Emera is committed to building the Maritime Link. What you look at, Mr. Speaker, is they look at eventualities: Well, what if this happens, what if that happens? Well, these are all very low risk. Mr. Huskilson was very clear that the Maritime Link will be built, Mr. Speaker, as planned, and that he sees no problem with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, we have tried the Premier, now the Minister of Natural Resources.

The question will be simple to the Premier or the Minister of Natural Resources: Was Emera prepared to sanction without the commitment to $30 million for the payment of this penalty?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, you finalize commercial arrangements, and only when they are all done do you move ahead to the next step. Mr. Speaker, as the minister has said, you imagine every scenario.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: So, Mr. Speaker, if there comes a point when Emera might not, for some catastrophic reason that we cannot imagine, cannot build the Maritime Link, we have ensured that the billion dollar benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is secure. It might cost us $30 million, but we get a billion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, by not answering the question we know that the $30 million will be paid to Emera. It has nothing to do with the loan guarantee, and the Premier should know that. The financial close is the object of the loan guarantee. Bill 61 will prohibit the residents of this Province from access to cheaper rates in the future. Access to natural gas for instance, innovative technologies that will happen over the next fifty years.

I ask the Premier: Why are you tying the hands of future generations for cheaper power in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to pick which piece that the Leader of the Opposition has just spoken to that is incorrect.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Because, Mr. Speaker, the loan guarantee was contingent on the project being a reasonable project.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Nova Scotia and Emera were critical to the loan guarantee – absolutely critical to the loan guarantee. I do not know where the Leader of the Opposition gets his information, Mr. Speaker. That is something we have been trying to puzzle through for the last two years. Most of what has been brought forward on the floor of this House of Assembly has been not correct, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, this is a good project for Newfoundland and Labrador, and a good project for Atlantic Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

The federal loan guarantee is contingent on the financial close of the project. In the briefing session we were given this morning, it was quite obvious that there was a time, for many years actually after if Emera did not agree to do this. We can chat about this later.

Mr. Speaker, the question –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BALL: Bill 61 will remove the limit on the amount of debt that the Muskrat Falls Project can carry. The existing $600 million was not high enough apparently.

I ask the Premier: What is the new limit and how high can this debt go?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The cost of the project at present will range from $7.2 billion to $7.7 billion, including the Maritime Link, Mr. Speaker. The cost to the Province at this point or the provincial section is the $6.2 billion minus the $800 million that will be contributed by Emera to the transmission – the Labrador-Island link.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Important questions are being posed here in this House today. I think the members posing the question deserve an answer uninterrupted.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The amount of investment by our Province will be approximately $5 billion. There will be a $2 billion equity investment which means we will be borrowing around – Nalcor will be borrowing around $3 billion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A fifty-metre crack in the dam at the former Gullbridge Mine has residents on alert as tailings flow toward their water supply.

I ask the Minister of Environment and Conservation: When was this dam ruptured, and has an analysis of the tailings been completed?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the member opposite for the question. Yesterday morning at about 7:00 o'clock there was a breach in the tailings dam –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: – at the old Gullbridge Mine just about twenty-six kilometres upstream from the Town of South Brook.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: The failure, of course, spilled water and tailings. There were some construction and repairs going on at the time. There were no injuries to any of the workers. Of course, the concern now is the water supply of South Brook.

We have officials that are on site from a number of different departments. The work has been carried out now. Most importantly, an advisory has been issued to the people of the Town of South Brook.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

South Brook's water supply is twenty kilometres downstream of a tailings dam that has been showing instabilities since June 2010.

I ask the Premier: What do you have to say to the people of South Brook whose safety you reassured just a few months ago?

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

MR. HEDDERSON: I would say to the hon. member that what we are saying to the people of South Brook is that there is an advisory out, a nonconsumptive advisory with regard to the water. I will tell them that we have all of the expertise we have on hand in our department, plus consultants and plus engineers, who are on the job. We are doing daily updates of the possible effect of these tailings on the water supply. Up to this point in time, again, it is too early to say if there is indeed any contamination, but we err on the side of caution to make sure the health and safety of the people of this town is what is uppermost in our mind.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, we have been hearing about the government's ferry replacement strategy for years – ten, actually. The people of Fogo Island and Change Islands heard the same promise last May. Yesterday they heard all about it again.

I ask the Premier: Will you commit any actual spending in the 2013 Budget towards building new vessels, or will this be just another idle promise?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: I would have to say to the member opposite: you have a lot of difficulty with commitments of this government. Let me tell you, this government is committed to making sure that the people in some of the most isolated areas of our Province get the ferry service they deserve. We are moving forward with the replacement ferry in Windsor. We are moving forward on the third ferry. We are also looking at The Straits and the North Coast of Labrador – much better than, I say, the previous Administration, whose answer was to give us the Nonia, Hull 100, and spend millions of dollars trying to put it into the water. It is shameful – shameful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, speaking of shameful, when the minister, nine months ago, was down in the same briefing room and announced the same ferry for Fogo and Change Islands – the minister was over there sitting next to him, Mr. Speaker. That is what is shameful: a nine-month commitment and we are still announcing them again today.

Mr. Speaker, the best-case scenario in the new ferry strategy is to have new vessels in the water by April, 2016. Until then we will hear of more ferry delays, no service, and broken commitments.

I ask the Premier: With your ferry replacement strategy in shambles, what measures are being taken to ensure that these will be adequate and efficient marine services during this three, and possible four-, five-, six-year gap?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: I hate to be the one to spoil it, but you are letting the facts get in the way of a good story – but I want to tell you the facts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: What I, as the previous minister, announced nine months ago was that we were moving forward with the Winsor replacement, that we were looking at putting out expressions of interest, and that it took nine months to make sure we put it through in the right manner, because we are not going to rush into anything; we are going to do it right – and nine months later, guess what? We have an RFP out for a boat for a Winsor replacement, and I say the member over there can go home this Christmas with a great gift for the people of Fogo Island, Change Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 61, which we are going to discuss later today, gives Nalcor monopoly rights so that there could be no other –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have recognized the Leader of the Third Party.

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

Bill 61, which we will be discussing later today, gives Nalcor monopoly rights so that there will be no other power created or brought to the Province. So consumers –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is reluctant to be interrupting and taking time away from members of the Opposition, but important questions are being posed. I cannot hear the answers, nor can I hear the questions. I cannot imagine, the people who are posing the question and providing the answer, the position they might be in. I am asking for the third time in this one Question Period for all members to be respectful of the person who has been recognized by the Chair, who is either posing the question or answering one.

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

Consumers are going to have no choice but to buy electricity from Muskrat Falls for fifty years.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Has this government sold out consumers to get a better financing deal for the now-unregulated Nalcor?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when we campaigned for government in 2003, part of our election platform was to have an energy plan, to develop an energy plan for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we came to the House and members opposite would get up day after day in Question Period, moan, complain, and carry on over the fact that the much promised energy plan was not delivered.

In the fall of 2000, Mr. Speaker, we delivered our Energy Plan. I encourage the Leader of the Third Party and all members opposite to please read it, because Newfoundland and Labrador, in its Energy Plan, put us in charge of our energy resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

I invite the Premier to read the Energy Plan, which does not mention Muskrat Falls, which now has become their Energy Plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, about an hour ago, the Minister of Natural Resources told the media that he was planning to look at the structure of the Public Utilities Board after Christmas.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Would he care to share further details on changing the PUB with the House of Assembly?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Opposition, on a number of occasions, have raised the issue of the Public Utilities Board and maybe we should change it if it is not working the way that it should work.

Essentially, all I said today was that we have to look at all commissioned boards in the Province and that we would look at the efficiency and the effectiveness of the board. It was nothing more than that. It did not deal with individual members. It did not talk about that, Mr. Speaker. It simply talked about looking at this board to make sure that it was working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

Mr. Speaker, later today we shall be debating bills related to the Muskrat Falls Project. Within the past twenty-four hours, we, in the Opposition, received the two bills along with a sanction agreement between Nalcor and Emera. These documents took months and months to write and we have only had hours to study them.

This disregard for the Opposition by this government is an insult to the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: How can she tell the people of the Province that she respects this Legislature and is open and transparent?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the work is in the construction of these documents and the negotiations that take place. Those negotiations are long and often tedious.

Opposition Parties are not required to be part of that, Mr. Speaker. They have a completed document, with the principles outlined and the agreements all there done for them. They get a chance to review. We provide briefings, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that any questions they have are answered.

Mr. Speaker, this morning we were getting tweets, as fast as information was being given, by the staff of the department – as fast as they could put it out. If you put your BlackBerrys away and pay attention, maybe we would not have so many questions here in the House, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I remind the Premier that the Opposition has the responsibility to study every word that comes out from them and every bill. We have to vote on them. We have to know what is inside of them. They should know that after –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – the mistake they made with the bill with regard to Abitibi-Price.

We have to know what is in the bills; we have to have time to study them.

Will the Premier admit that expecting us to stand here today after just finishing a briefing with her experts two hours before the House opened is an affront to democracy and an abuse of the people's House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this from the same woman who refused to present to the PUB, who is now their staunch defender; from a woman who refused to debate the Muskrat Falls Project in this House of Assembly, where hours and hours could have been dedicated to the debate, Mr. Speaker; this woman who has not yet been able to propose a viable alternative to Muskrat Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: This woman who has not been able to provide one substantive critique to the planning of this project, Mr. Speaker. I never heard such hogwash before in my life.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

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

It is hard to know what to say after that, Mr. Speaker. After everything I have said in this House, the Premier has –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

This is the last time. The next time the Speaker stands, I will name members. There is only a few minutes left in Question Period and I am pleading to you to be respectful of our colleagues who are posing questions. If not, I will have no choice but to name you and ask you to leave the Chamber.

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have one final question for the Premier: Is her judgment so clouded by Muskrat Falls that she cannot see how she is insulting the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Many times in the last year, primarily in our election process in October 2011, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador told this government how they feel about their planning, their governance, and particularly Muskrat Falls. Every piece of polling that has taken place since then, Mr. Speaker, has only reaffirmed what the people said in October.

Mr. Speaker, what the Leader of the Third Party has not been able to do is, substantively show where the project is flawed; nor has she been able to provide an alternative. What else is there to say?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, the housing crisis in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador West is growing. It is as plain as the nose on your face: zero per cent vacancy rate and rents that are doubling and tripling.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Transportation and Works: What is he going to do to address this housing crisis in Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the hon. member across the way, we will continue to do what we were doing all along, which is to continue on our strategy to deal with those most vulnerable in housing, to continue to invest dollars in partnership with the federal government and in partnership with a lot of the non-profit groups around this Province. We as a government have committed to make sure that we are going to do everything we can to help those most in need.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Although more was allocated to the Rent Supplement Program this year, there are none left. Many seniors are still in apartments they cannot afford or on a long waiting list for rent supplements.

I ask the minister: Will this government allocate more resources to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing for additional rent sups in the next budget?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, in the years that we have been in government, since 2003, we have invested significantly in housing, but also significantly with regard to programs that help seniors to make sure that they can stay in their homes, as well as live a healthy and productive life.

Mr. Speaker, what the member is asking me to do is to get ahead of a Budget process in the coming year. I can assure the member that the minister will be only too glad to make sure, going into that process, that all avenues will be explored as we continue to do what we can to make sure that people who she has described get what they need in order to live healthy and productive lives.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The environmental disaster at the former Gullbridge site is costing the people of the Province, not just the population of South Brook. The Telegram tried to obtain information on the dam but only received redacted sheets of paper for its efforts.

I ask the minister: Why the redacted information and what was the department hiding?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: I can say to the member across the way, first and foremost, this is a very serious situation, and a situation that deserves to have the full attention not only of government but even of members like yourself.

We had this breach yesterday at 7:00 o'clock in the morning. Immediately our people were on the ground. Immediately the concerns were about the people who are in South Brook and their water supply. We have done everything we possibly can.

For the media, you, or anyone else to ask us to immediately analyze the situation and to give out the information – we gave out to the media what information we had. Of course, today we are making sure any other information is getting out into the public first and foremost. We have worked very closely with the mayor, we are working very closely with the clerk, and are making sure the people most important here are getting the information they need in order to give them the assurance that things are (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is obvious that as time went by the crack obviously got bigger.

How long was the dam leaking before the Town of South Brook was informed of the leak?

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

MR. HEDDERSON: Again, as I said to the hon. member on the Liberal side: do not let facts get in the way of a good story.

Yesterday at 7:00 o'clock we had a construction crew out there doing what they should be doing to try to make sure that tailings dam could stand up to any floods or anything that is there. That is what this government is all about: making sure that people have some sort of safety.

In the midst of that, in disturbing some of the material, there was a minor breach. Of course, a minor breach in a dam got into a larger one. The equipment and the people luckily just got out of the way when the whole dam burst. That fifty-metre one was what was the result of it. The water carried out we do not know how far downstream. We know that the tailings also spilled out. We do not know how far down. Again, we are –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

MR. SPEAKER: Pursuant to section 8 and subsection (10) of the Public Tender Act, I hereby table the report of the Public Tender Act exemptions from May to October 2012 inclusive as presented by the Chief Operating Officer of the Government Purchasing Agency.

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012, and further I give notice under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motion?

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Barbe, rising on a point of order.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, my point of order deals with the failure of certain ministers to provide answers to questions that were placed on the Order Paper.

Standing Order 51.(1) says, "Questions may be placed on the Order Paper seeking information from the Ministers relating to public affairs; and from other Members relating to any Bill…" and so on.

Standing Order 51.(3) says, "If a question is of such a nature that in the opinion of the Minister who is to furnish the reply, such reply should be in the form of a Return, and the Minister states that he or she has no objection to laying such Return upon the Table of the House, his or her statement shall, unless otherwise ordered by the House, be deemed an order of the House to that effect."

Mr. Speaker, on April 2, 2012, I placed on the Order Paper question 11, which has not yet been answered. On May 16, I placed question 18. It has not been answered. On June 19, I placed question 26 on the Order Paper which has not been answered. Mr. Speaker, our Standing Orders seem to be maybe hazy or possibly even inconclusive as to what should happen in a situation like this.

In referring to the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, in 1991 a new Standing Order was adopted to address the issue of unanswered questions on the Order Paper. If a question for which a response within forty-five calendar days have been sought and is not answered within a specific time period, the member could ask that the subject matter of the question be transferred to the adjournment proceedings. This proved unsatisfactory and resulted in a further amendment to this rule in 2001. This changed the Standing Order provided for the automatic referral of the failure of a ministry to respond to the written question to a Standing Order for study.

The outcome was that in the House of Commons if government fails to answer an Order Paper question for which a member has requested an answer within a forty-five day period, the matter of the failure of the minister to respond is deemed referred to the appropriate Standing Committee. Although the question remains on the Order Paper, it is designated as referred to a committee. The chair of the committee is required to convene a meeting of the committee within five sitting days of the referral to investigate the failure of the government to respond to a written question.

Mr. Speaker, obviously, you may want some time to consider, but it is a request on a point of order for questions on the Order Paper that were not answered.

MR. SPEAKER: The member is accurate in that Standing Orders do not provide a definitive time in which those answers to be replied. To suggest that the minister is not in compliance would not be consistent with our Standing Orders.

The issue of some of the ambiguity that may be in language in our Standing Orders would be a task for the Standing Orders Committee when they sit to review the current Standing Orders and to make some recommendations to this House with respect to how some improvements will be made. Until such time as that happens, we will be guided by the current Standing Orders and there is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the protocol. If I may respond to a point raised –

MR. SPEAKER: I have already ruled on the point of order.

MR. KING: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

Petitions.

Orders of the Day have been moved.

All those in favour of the motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I call Order 3, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Provincial Offences Act. (Bill 55)

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that Bill 55, An Act To Amend The Provincial Offences Act, be now read the third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the said bill be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 55 be read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Provincial Offences Act. (Bill 55)

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

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Provincial Offences Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 55)

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

MR. KING: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I am referring to Order 4.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Enduring Powers Of Attorney Act, Bill 56, be now read the third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the said bill be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 56 be read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Enduring Powers Of Attorney Act. (Bill 56)

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

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Enduring Powers Of Attorney Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 56)

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that Bill 57, An Act to Amend the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the said bill be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 57 be read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Workplace Heath, Safety and Compensation Act. (Bill 57)

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

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 57)

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the bill now be read a third time.

The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just wanted to finish a few words on Bill 53. Last night, Mr. Speaker, I was going to have a few words, but I guess things got a bit short, so I am going to have a few words on Bill 53 in third reading.

As we know, the second reading has already been done and this has been approved by the House, but we want to have a few words on this. I definitely do, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the points that I wanted to make on Bill 53 are heard.

I am going to pass out the information. I will just go through it, Mr. Speaker, because not everybody last night was listening to it and we always get a different audience throughout; all the people who were looking last night do not always get to look at it in the daytime. There is a different audience.

Mr. Speaker, I will just go through some of the information that was supplied to us by the department and the information that we gathered on this bill. It is the Labrador interconnected system supply, Mr. Speaker. It is the load served from Churchill Falls to the hydro facility CF(L)Co. A TwinCo block provides 225 megawatts to IOC and Wabush Mines. There is a recall block that provides an additional 300 megawatts to the Labrador grid with any surplus sold in export markets. Mr. Speaker, as we know, this 300 surplus power could be a potential for development in Labrador.

As I said on many, many occasions, Mr. Speaker, if we have a surplus of power in Labrador and we are going to create development, it is good for everybody in the Province, not just Labrador. Everybody is aware how many people we know are working in Labrador today and how much employment is created in Labrador because of a lot of this power. A lot of people we know work there, Mr. Speaker, so it is very, very important for Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, some of the rates that are given out by the department – and, of course, there is no reason to assume these rates are not accurate – is that Newfoundland is the lowest of the six that are given. The Canadian average is high and Newfoundland and Labrador is low in their industrial rates. We also have to remind the people out listening today, Mr. Speaker, that these rates are for industrial users in Labrador. We use IOC, Wabush Mines, and a lot of the current people who employ a lot of people in Labrador. There are a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who work up there.

These rates here are relatively low as compared to the Canadian average. We can see the boom times up in Labrador. As we know, one of the biggest issues facing Lab West now is housing because there are so many people and so much expansion there that people are looking at even flying in and out. It is a big issue because there is not enough housing in Labrador because of the boom.

There is absolutely no doubt: when we go back over the years when this power was given at this rate, it was to create jobs, create employment, and to spur on investment. As we see by these rates, they are low, but as we can see, when the initial rates were brought into play, it worked – it definitely worked, Mr. Speaker. The intent was to spur on economic development. The intent was to grow the economy. The intent was to create employment and prosperity up in Labrador, Lab West, and other areas, and it worked, Mr. Speaker. So, the intent when this was set up, we all must commend the people who thought about this.

I know the minister gave an example yesterday why we need to bring rates up and be fair to other people. I understand that, Mr. Speaker. I understand that very well – that yes, we can ensure that the rates are going to be fair for all commercial users in the Labrador Region. It is hard sometimes to deny that, but we have to look at the history and look at the why the rates were so low and why some had a bit of an advantage. Some built their own lines, actually. From my understanding back years ago, that was a part of the trade-off to spur economic development in the area.

Mr. Speaker, any time that we see a plan put in place by the government of the day, working with industry – and if we look at the Lab West area now in particular, we look at how that was developed, you can say, well that was great co-operation between the mining companies and the government of the day to create what was intended, which was economic development and employment in the area.

So, I have to say, it was a great idea, great foresight for the people who organized this, and it was a great plan kept in place. I know, as the minister mentioned and is in the briefing here, that this power now will be up for renewal in 2015. In 2015, this is when this act will take place. Now the government and the minister is looking for some way to make all rates comparable all throughout for the all the industries in the area, Mr. Speaker.

You go through the policy of the government, Mr. Speaker, in the briefing that we had, and some of the questions – and I will just go through them: Why is the policy needed? Again, I will explain to the people the government rationale and why we on this side of the House support this. Why we have supported this, but we have to ensure to make sure there was no confusion. Because you know yourself, Mr. Speaker, I am sure you were the House before when there were some issues on the go that people said there was too much confusion, but you voted for it.

So I think it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that we express our views, that we pass out our views and give our views out in such a way that when you go back and check Hansard there is no confusion of where you stood on a certain issue, why you spoke on a certain issue.

So, why is the policy needed? There are no current published industrial electricity rates in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that is true. As we know now there are some that have special rates. There are some now that do not meet some of the standards that are set in Labrador. As we know, how it was set up at the beginning for IOC was once they created the power lines then they get the preferred rate. That was fine again, Mr. Speaker. There is no published industrial rate in Labrador.

I am assuming that this government here – which I assume they are – is trying to ensure that there is some kind of uniform rates all across Labrador. Mr. Speaker, there are some great benefits to that. The government should be commended for that.

Now you are going to have some people who are paying the lower rates probably saying: No, no, no, we should not have to pay the lower rates. Some other people might say: Well, we already have the lower rates; let us keep it the way it is. The ones with the higher rates say: Well, let us get a uniform rate because we are competing against the companies with the lower rates so we should have a uniform rate.

Both sides of the argument – so I can see where the government is coming across here, Mr. Speaker, in saying let us have one uniform rate right across Labrador so that we can all ensure that when a company comes in, you are on the same playing field as the company next to you. Mr. Speaker, that is not a bad plan. I definitely do not want anybody in the Province, and especially in Labrador, to think that I am speaking against this bill, because I am not, Mr. Speaker. I am definitely not speaking against this bill.

I just want to explain why this party, and myself, are supporting this bill, to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that there is no ambiguity when it comes to what I am saying and ensure that it is on the record.

This is a good bill for Labrador. I said it yesterday and I say it again today: This is a good bill for Labrador. There may be some things that we can work on to make it better.

The Third Party have their own reasons why they would not support it. That is up to them. I think any time, Mr. Speaker, that you can set a level playing field and then everybody knows what they are up against, knows what they have to fit into their budget, knows the cost when they are going to produce iron ore, knows the cost before they come in so that they can project years down the road, it is going to be good. It is going to be good for all the people of Labrador. Mr. Speaker, I am sure everybody here knows this: what is good for Labrador is good for all the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador. Make no mistake about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: Make no mistake about it, that Labrador is a great contribution to all of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

I can tell you the number of people I know personally working up in Lab West, it would surprise a lot of people. I have family members from Carbonear, Mr. Speaker, Nick George and Paul George. I know the Member for Lake Melville and the Member for Lab West would know them. My first cousins and good friends, Mr. Speaker, and they moved up years ago. They have their family, made a living, and that is their home, all because of the rates in Labrador that have spurred on economic development for the mining industry. Those are just a few that I know, and I know a lot more home on the West Coast. There are a lot more around.

Mr. Speaker, why the policy is needed, the current industrial contracts will be expired by 2015. Mr. Speaker, once again, this is being proactive by the government. In 2015 we are going to have this power, this TwinCo block of 225 megawatts, back. What do we do with it? There is the potential for other energy which we could use for export that you could recall. So what do you do with it? That is a question by government: What do you do with it?

I know the Minister of Natural Resources yesterday gave a great speech of why this is being done. I say to the minister, the reasons you gave were very strong, very compelling. I agree with the reasons he gave yesterday, Mr. Speaker. We cannot wait until 2015 and then be in a rush as a government and as people who support this bill, then all of a sudden turn around and say: Okay, we have all this power now, what are we going to do with it?

Mr. Speaker, this is a great forum for government. Any government, like the minister right here today, is trying to be proactive. Any new business that is going to move into Labrador that has the potential –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: I know, Mr. Speaker, they are all over there clapping because they are so proud that I am standing up and supporting their bill. I thank the members opposite for that.

Mr. Speaker, as we know and people in the industry are well aware, you need to know what your costs are. Instead of waiting until 2015, the minister and the government are saying, okay, we will set the rates now. Who knows, there may be potential development and potential people who want to move in well before 2015, or look at it maybe for expansion, which is a big thing in Labrador West.

Mr. Speaker, that is why the government and we as an Opposition are supporting this, because 2015 is not far away. Once we get this bill through the House and get the legislation passed, then we can get it out to the consumers of why we are doing this.

Mr. Speaker, the next reason why the policy is needed in the government briefings is potential for new mining developments and expansions in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, what great words, new mining developments and expansions in Labrador. With that, Mr. Speaker, we create some great problems: workforce, equipment, housing, but the thing is we will find a way around it. We will find a way, but, Mr. Speaker, potential for new mining developments and expansions in Labrador.

Once again I say to the members opposite, any time that we can help out Labrador, we are helping out Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, with the new mining developments and expansion in Labrador, we need new tradespeople. This comes in the government's own briefing, that with new mining development and expansion, we need a labour force.

Mr. Speaker, in the labour force in Newfoundland and Labrador now – we always heard for the last ten years about this big labour shortage. If government is looking at new developments and expansion, the question has to come up: How are we going to find some way to ensure there is a labour component that will not stop this development and ensure that we will spur on future expansions? Mr. Speaker, this ties in to the government policy on new tradespeople. Again –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member the focus of the bill is not about skilled trades. I would ask the member to go back to the relevance of the bill. Up to this point, you have been very much focused on the bill. I would ask the member to stay relevant to the bill at hand.

MR. JOYCE: Can I explain why I think it is relevant?

MR. SPEAKER: You need to get to it pretty quickly, please.

MR. JOYCE: Yes, very quickly.

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to put this excess power back in Labrador from new expansion, we have to ensure that we are going to put the electricity back into Labrador, the 300 surplus megawatts, and we have to ensure that if in the government briefing there is going to be new mine development and expansion, the labour component is available for that, or this is meaningless.

It is no good to put the development – and I did not mean to stray off it, but this is just bringing it to the forefront on behalf of the government. I am speaking on the bill because this is the briefing from the government.

MR. SPEAKER: I understand the government department may have given briefings that included a wide range of things. As the Speaker, I am presiding over the debate on the legislation. It is the rules of the House to respect the relevancy that will be guiding the debate and not the briefing given by the department officials.

I would ask the member to be relevant to the debate with respect to the legislation itself and not necessarily focusing on the briefing that may have been given by members of a department who do not consider relevance of the debate in the House of Assembly.

MR. JOYCE: Not a problem, Mr. Speaker.

As usual, we always follow the rules. You know that.

Mr. Speaker, I go back to why the policy is needed, again, from the department. The absence of policy and clarity creates challenges for planning and investment decisions. That is so true.

Any of us here in this Legislature, or anybody out in the general public, Mr. Speaker, who is going to set up a business, the first thing that you do when you set up a business is sit down – what are your expenses, what is your projected revenue, what is your contingency fee, what is your contingency, just in case there are things that go astray.

Mr. Speaker, without a policy, how can anybody come in and say: my costs are going to be a certain amount. Mr. Speaker, as we all know, in business – and we all helped at times to set up business and expand businesses through our roles as the legislators here in the Province – we always ask, and this is common for business: what will be your expenses? Any business venture that is going to be trying to make a go of it must know what the cost will be. We have seen, Mr. Speaker, on many occasions here in this Province, businesses have failed because the expenses are too high, because of the unknown cost.

What this bill does, Mr. Speaker, is take the cost from the unknown and put it into a certainty. Once you take the cost and put it into a certainty, you know what you can sell your product for. You know what labour you can charge. You know what expenses you need extra to run your business in the location that you are at, Mr. Speaker, and in doing that you would ensure that the viability of the business venture has greatly improved and also you will ensure that there is a possibility for expansion.

You know – and we all know – that if you are paying a certain rate, once you create a profit, the majority of businesses that create profits want to reinvest. You reinvest, you create more business, more jobs, and more wealth. Mr. Speaker, on the other side of that is you get more money for the Treasury of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Once you expand – and this bill will allow for the expansion, because you know the hard cost of electricity, which is a great commodity in Lab West these days; once you know the hard cost, you have the potential for expansion. Once you have the potential for expansion, brand-new opportunities open up because, as I just mentioned, the Treasury will get funds from the expansion, the new business, from jobs, from income tax, and other related expenses. We will also get construction if there is new expansion. We also create new employment through expansion. Again, I go back to the workforce, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier about the potential of what we need for the workforce in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the big thing for this: if you look at any major company moving into Labrador, they do not move into Labrador, decide on a Monday we are going to move in, and move in on a Friday. When people move in, when you are talking about a billion-dollar expansion or $600 million, $700 million, you are looking at years and years of planning, Mr. Speaker – years and years of planning. With those years and years of planning, on many occasions, they always look at their hard costs. Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult for any company to plan four or five years before the actual venture will start or open its doors. The planning itself is very tedious. It is a long process, but creating stable rates and creating a uniform pricing system for all will help.

Mr. Speaker, there is another issue with the expansion, with the uniform rate, and it is the human cost. This is where the housing comes in. This is where building trades come in. This is where new sub-developments – and it is all good for the economy. It all good for up in Lab West, Mr. Speaker. As we all know, it is booming.

We have seen the Member for Labrador West, and I do not envy the minister, and I will say to the minister: I do not envy you with the housing crisis up in Lab West. It is tough. It is really tough. Sometimes the market conditions create that, and there are a lot of people who are displaced by it and put in a situation which is very uncomfortable, and sometimes they cannot afford – and I say to the minister: I do not envy you in your position, because it is tough. A lot of times when you bring on prosperity, there are challenges with the prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that was brought up yesterday by colleague, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, was incentives for secondary processing. I know the Minister of Natural Resources stood up yesterday and gave me a twenty-minute speech, and the reasons that he gave were very compelling. There was an argument for and against, both ways, why there should be incentives and why there should be no incentives for different companies, Mr. Speaker.

With those incentives, you can have some development. Let me explain that, Mr. Speaker. If you have a certain rate for all the companies across the board and the rate is uniform – and I will use the iron ore, a prime example up in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, which we are speaking about. If you take the iron ore and say, okay, let us just mine it, let us just get it, let us just ship it down to Sept-Ξles, take it, send it over to China somewhere, there is lost productivity – definitely lost productivity.

Mr. Speaker, a good example of all that is if we look at IOC, about how much more productivity if it is landed and processed here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that is a principle of this government, that is the principle of all governments: trying to get the maximum value for its people. It is a principle, Mr. Speaker, I think that we all adhere to: to try to get maximum value.

The question is: Is it valuable to offer incentives for people who want to do secondary processing with iron ore in Labrador? It does have some merit. It absolutely does have some merit. Mr. Speaker, what happens when you process is that it is creating a brand-new line that you can have new employment. With new employment, as I mentioned earlier, there are new revenues for the Province and for the Treasury of the Province. We are going to need a new labour force, Mr. Speaker. I bring it back again to the labour force because it is very important we have an adequate labour force. With the uniform energy bill for Labrador, we will have some challenges with labour. It is tied to energy – I really feel that it is. Any time you create a secondary processing facility, you need extra people to work it.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the member one more time about relevance. This is the second time you drifted into the labour market and discussion around the labour market. I would ask the member to focus attention on the bill and to leave the labour market issues as not being a subject of this bill.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, the reason for the incentives is very strong. I also heard the Minister of Natural Resources on the opposite way give it why it should be uniform. Mr. Speaker, once again, I can see both reasons, but the incentives could work.

Mr. Speaker, the principles of the industrial rate setting in Labrador, considering market value for energy resources, power rates will leverage viable industrial development, which I mentioned earlier. Mr. Speaker, one of the other points under their Energy Plan is the Labrador transmission system treated as a separate system from the Island. We all know that to be the case and that to be true.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know we are into different debates on energy bills here in this Legislature these days. When we look at this bill, it is separate from Muskrat except when there is power put into the pot from Muskrat then it will be put into the industrial rate. Again, the PUB I understand does not set the rates anyway. Any excess power from Muskrat that is transmitted into this pot will be used in Labrador for some industrial rates. It takes out the PUB. It is a separate system. There is no doubt what the department is saying, that Labrador is on its own. We need the power. There is absolutely no doubt.

Mr. Speaker, some of the other reasons why we feel - the government feels, and we agree - is that old bogeyman Quebec. I know, Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons the rates are going to try to be uniform is to ensure that we are competitive with other jurisdictions, including Quebec. We know on our boundaries up in Labrador, there is Quebec over there with the excess power ready to bring it over, and then development would move over into Quebec if we do not get the rates at a certain level. It is very, very important that we try to level out the playing field for our industrial customers in Labrador, Mr. Speaker. It is very, very important.

If we can find some way to get a uniform system, Mr. Speaker, once again, Quebec will be less of a hindrance for all mining development in Labrador. If we can find a way – and I have to give the government credit and we support it also, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that we do set a playing field so that the business will have a level playing field against Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few more minutes left, but I am going to make an amendment. It is a referral to a committee, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, that Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, be not now read a third time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.

Mr. Speaker, I present the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will take a brief recess to consider the amendment to determine if it is in order.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has had an opportunity to review the proposed amendment and rules that the wording makes it out of order.

The member has twenty-nine minutes left on the clock in third reading. I acknowledge the Member for Bay of Islands to continue.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The wording was a bit of a misunderstanding there, but that is fine, Mr. Speaker; we can always find a way to correct the wording, as we all know. Word-splitting is a term used, but thank you, Mr. Speaker, for pointing that out.

Mr. Speaker, as I was speaking earlier about the competitive rates compared to Labrador, there are a lot of positive results when you become competitive in a border with Quebec. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, it is great for the government to ensure that they are not waiting until 2015 to be competitive for Labrador, that you set them now. The planning down the road, Mr. Speaker, will be able to ensure that companies that are going to move into Lab West know what rates they will be competing against in Labrador.

If we are competitive, it does help, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that we are going to create employment in Lab West and create employment all through that region.

Mr. Speaker, planning is a big part of any business. When you plan for any business, you have the proper planning in place, and you put the infrastructure in place, you would definitely ensure a very positive and very great outcome for a lot of the people working there and for the community as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, in this bill itself – again, I said I support this bill; I think it is great that the government is –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Well, the reason why I am supporting it is it is going to create this uniform rate across – but, Mr. Speaker, if there is anything I could urge the government on this, it is to see if there is some way we can work out incentives, see if there is some way, Mr. Speaker, that incentives can be brought into it so that we can ensure that there is going to be secondary processing in the area.

I know the minister – and I know I am repeating myself, but I just want it on the record again, Mr. Speaker, that the minister gave a compelling reason why it should not be. There is definitely a compelling reason for both, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I can see my time is getting a bit short and I am going to make an amendment, a third reading amendment – hoist 3, third reading.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment: I move, seconded by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, that Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, be not now read a third time, but that it be read a third time this day six months hence.

I make that amendment, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Do we have a written copy of the amendment for my consideration?

MR. JOYCE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: When I receive a written copy of the proposed amendment, the House will take a brief recess to consider whether the amendment is in order.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has considered the amendment to the motion put forward by the Member for Bay of Islands and it is in order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member has twenty-five minutes left on the clock.

The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The amendment was to be referred to Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Just so we are clear, the amendment is a hoist amendment, not a referral to Committee. It is deferring the vote for some future date, which is very different than a referral to Committee. It is an amendment to the motion at third reading, but it is a hoist amendment and not a referral to Committee.

The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: What I meant by that, Mr. Speaker, I know you take it up, you take it out of the House and give us more time to review it. That was the idea. That is the intent of the amendment, Mr. Speaker, to take it out of the House now. Move it out of the House, Mr. Speaker.

I am a firm believer, Mr. Speaker, that because forty of us get elected here, we do not know it all. It is a great opportunity for us to take this here, move it out of the House, and give us six months so that we can go out and talk to the people who are directly affected. The people who would be directly affected would be some of the people who run the companies and some of the unions.

As we all know, there is always precedent set and you want to make sure that you are making the proper decisions. When you take it out of the House and have a six-month sober thought, we all can sit back, look at it and say: What can we move on from here, or how can we move on from here? Mr. Speaker, this is a situation that is timely. A good example for a hoist, Mr. Speaker, where you want to have a second sober thought –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure I am allowed to give examples of why I made this amendment. I will give some examples of why this should be done to ensure that we are making the right decision.

Mr. Speaker, I am not one to bring up too many things in the past, but just look at Abitibi that was brought up last week by the Supreme Court of Canada. Look at Abitibi, Mr. Speaker. Last week there was a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, which said: Right now the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will be liable for the cleanup of the mill in Abitibi.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I understand the circumstances at the time and that it was rushed. If we did have the opportunity, the question I would ask: Would we take a little second, sober thought to ensure that we look at all aspects of the amendment? To ensure that we could take it out six months, sober thought, go around ensuring that we view all the people who are directly affected, adversely affected, Mr. Speaker. To ensure that when we make the decision in the House, that we make the proper decision to ensure that it is going to have the greatest benefit for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Some of the things that this will give us the opportunity – for example, go up in the companies and just check and see what rates are competitive against Quebec, Mr. Speaker. While we are up there, we will say: okay, let's ask the companies. I have not done it personally but I am sure the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair has done it. Go up and ask the companies: What if we offer an incentive? Would that help create secondary processing in the field?

Would that not be a great idea? Instead of forty-eight of us sitting down making a decision here in this House, wouldn't it be nice if we could go up and sit down with the companies and say: Okay, listen now, we have a block of power here, we are going to level off the playing field. If you want to do secondary processing, create another 200 or 300 jobs, what do you think if we gave you a little incentive? Would that be an incentive?

Mr. Speaker, if you look at any department in government, and I use industry, trade and rural development, we use incentives all the time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: We always use incentives. If it could work on the Island, why can't incentives work in Labrador? It is a question, Mr. Speaker, that I feel should be at least explored. If we took this bill and just passed this bill without exploring all the options, my question is: Are we doing our due diligence if we do not go out and explore the options that are available? Are we doing our due diligence, Mr. Speaker? I am not sure if we are, Mr. Speaker.

The point behind this hoist is to ensure that we look at all aspects. As we know, we sit back sometimes – and I can remember bringing motions into the House. The last session we brought motions into this House that the government accepted. They came back and said: yes, they are good. They were good amendments – this is going to strengthen the bill. I congratulate the government for taking that, whatever is going to strengthen the bill.

There is absolutely no difference from what I am proposing here now. What I am proposing here, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that the legislators – who are the people here in this room, and the officials – be able to take this bill, go through it, go up and meet with all the people who are going to be directly involved, and say: how can we help spur on more activity? How can we help create more employment in the area? How can we use the electricity and the raw product that we have at our fingertips to the greatest potential for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? In this case, it will be in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, once we put this bill, proclaim it in 2015, and it starts being used, it is going to be awfully hard to change. It is going to be awfully hard to change, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that. Now is the time; if we want to make any changes to this bill, now is the time to sit back and say: okay, let us take our time; let us collectively look at this.

At no time, Mr. Speaker, in any of my speech am I saying this is not the right thing for Labrador – absolutely not. Absolutely not am I at any time suggesting that this is a bad piece of legislation for Labrador. I am not. I want to make sure that is clear for the record, that is clear for all the members here for Labrador, the four members from Labrador. I even voted for it. Yes, I did vote for it. Absolutely, I voted for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Absolutely. Mr. Speaker, I will vote for it again, but I can tell you one thing, and I say for the Member for Mount Pearl North, or South, I am – Mount Pearl South, I know he is saying: well, you voted for it.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that I am smart enough that I know all of the answers, but I think I am smart enough to ask people who know the answers. I am smart enough to say: yes, I vote for this bill. I want to be on the record that I voted for this bill, but I also want to be on the record to urge all people in this House to say: how can we make it better? How can we create more employment? I do not think that is a bad idea. I do not think that is a bad idea.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure a lot of people in government – and I know there is a topic; this is in line, and it may stray for a minute, but: the hospital in Corner Brook. Mr. Speaker, the minister last week sent a committee out to look at and speak to the people involved, of what is the best hospital available. That is a good thing to do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: I say to the minister –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to be relevant to the bill we are debating.

MR. JOYCE: I am, Mr. Speaker, just explaining what I am doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to be relevant.

MR. JOYCE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am going back to the –

MR. SPEAKER: The hospital in Corner Brook is not relevant. I ask the member to be relevant.

MR. JOYCE: But there are people going out searching and asking questions, like I am asking them to do in Labrador. That is what I urging the government, Mr. Speaker: to go out and see people, go out and chat with people, to go out and say: what is the best for this area?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that there is no one in this House going to disagree with that. We do not have all the answers. We see in this House, Mr. Speaker, on many occasions: let us go out and consult, let us go out and get new ideas, let us go out and see what everybody thinks of our new ideas; that is what we are doing in –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member has proposed a hoist amendment. That does not give the member full latitude to talk about whatever he feels he is wanting to be postponed. The bill that we are debating deals with industrial rates for electricity in Labrador. You have proposed a hoist amendment. You still must be relevant. It does not give you wide latitude to say whatever you feel you should say. So, I will ask the member to confine your comments to the bill that we are debating.

The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Consultation, I say to the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair. That is what I am proposing in Labrador, I say to the member: consultation in Labrador. That is why we need the six-month hoist, for consultation, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair for knowing that when we go out and consult, we get new ideas. That is why we need the six months, Mr. Speaker: new ideas, so we can look at if we have a block of power up in Labrador, what ways we can use this power, and what ways we can go out and bring it in to a confined area – which is Labrador – and we can have the greatest, maximum benefits for the people of Labrador. That is why I made that recommendation, that amendment, Mr. Speaker.

I think the people in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, especially the people directly involved and directly responsible for the hiring, would think it would be a great idea that we would take time off to go up and say: okay, let's go up and have meetings; let's go up and have consultations in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, about the block of power and the potential recall of some of the power that we have; 300 megawatts I think it is. I think it is 220 or 225 on the TwinCo.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, we are looking at possible other expansions in Labrador for other industrial users. We need to ensure that once we do this for Labrador, it is done right. We need to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that when we go up to Labrador and we sign this deal in 2015 – well, the deal will be signed before then, but when we go up in 2015 and we put it in place, we have to ensure that we have the best possible bang for our buck.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, we had two opposing views here. The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, yesterday, was talking about how we can find some way for incentives. The Minister of Natural Resources said: No, there are reasons why we should not do that. There are opposing views.

Consultation, Mr. Speaker, in my view, is the best way for any of us to go up and to ensure that we are doing our due diligence. If we all do our due diligence, we can say that we did our best as legislators and we can say that we did the best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We created as much employment as we possibly could, Mr. Speaker. Whenever then, in 2015 and beyond, we can say that the maximum benefit for Newfoundland and Labrador will be maintained by this block of power.

Mr. Speaker, I am just proud to be able to offer a second sober thought to all the people in this Legislature to think about what I am saying. Think about the recommendations I am making, Mr. Speaker – think about those recommendations. To ensure, Mr. Speaker, that we do a great job.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I can hear a bit of heckling on the other side saying: Eddie, you are right. Eddie, you are correct in what you are saying. So, I just thank for the members for at least considering what I am saying and ensuring that the issues that I am bringing forward is not in vain.

Mr. Speaker, I will close with this: What we do, when we do it, if we do it right, we are going to have the maximum benefit for all people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Not just for a certain few but we are going to have it spread out all across Labrador so we can help as many people as we can so we can create more employment. There are a lot of times when we step back from any bill that we bring in the Legislature – and this is just a prime example. When we step back from any bill, especially one concerning Labrador because when you lock in, it is locked in.

As people said earlier, when they make business plans – when I said earlier, when you make business plans it is going to be for the long term. Isn't it better for us as legislators to ensure that when we do this here for the long term that we go up and consult the people who we need? We go up and consult the people who are directly affected, go up and consult the town councils, go up and consult the unions so that, Mr. Speaker, when they are tied into some long-term power rates, that we know that it was done properly, it was done for the right reasons, that we are going to have the maximum benefits for all people in Newfoundland and Labrador. Above all, Mr. Speaker, so we as legislators can say that we did our due diligence, that we did our job.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank all members for listening to me so attentively. I know it is such an important issue for all Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there comes a point in time where you can consult so much it becomes an insult. That is exactly what I would suggest would happen here.

What we are hearing from these mining companies, the mines that I have met with on a regular basis which I will go through in a second, they do not have another six months. They need this industrial rates policy now, Mr. Speaker, because they are making their plans to proceed while the market requires their product and while they are looking for financing.

I look at the list of companies, Mr. Speaker. I have met with IOC on numerous occasions including meeting with the board of Rio Tinto, the parent company in London earlier this year, myself and the Premier along with the President of IOC. I have met with Labrador Iron Mines, Mr. Speaker, in Toronto at the mining conference last year and other occasions.

I have met with Vale Inco, the head of their Newfoundland operations in Toronto, and I know the Premier has met with Vale Inco. We have met with Tata Steel on a number of occasions and talked to them. We have met with Alderon – and these are just meetings I have had, not including meetings that have taken place by my officials.

I have met with Grand River Ironsands, including their local guys on at least a couple of occasions and their South African investors. Julienne Lake, Mr. Speaker, we are the ones who are putting this up. I have met with the consultants there, we have instructed the consultants and very familiar with that, Mr. Speaker.

When you talk about consulting, these are meetings that I have had as minister. We have also had my officials meet with them. What each one of these companies has told us, Mr. Speaker, is we need an industrial rates policy now. We need to know what you are going to charge us.

So, Mr. Speaker, there comes a point when the industry – and I know that it is ironic when I heard the Member for Bay of Islands talk the other day. I heard the Opposition House Leader say the other day: What took us so long to come in with this policy? So, on the one hand, Mr. Speaker, you have one member saying it is about time, and on the other hand now you have another member of the same party, let us delay it a bit further. You cannot have it both ways, Mr. Speaker.

Right now, we have a need for iron ore coming out of China that has increased the price significantly. I would encourage, for all listening, to read the Labrador mining and power paper which was released by the Department of Natural Resources and looks at all stages of the mining industry. Very significantly, Mr. Speaker, we have $10 billion to $15 billion dollars, potentially, of mine developments in Labrador. They are predominantly in iron ore in Lab West, but we also have the Grand River Ironsands project in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, we have the potential for underground mining in Voisey's Bay, and we also have the Michelin project.

Mr. Speaker, we would like for all of these to go ahead, but we know that when you look at the development of a mine, there are so many stages that there could be delays, there could be economic downturns, there could be financing issues, that it is perhaps idealistic to expect all of them to proceed.

What I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, from each of these companies I have met with, they are committed to developing these properties, and it is because the price of the commodity in question is at a point where it makes it economically feasible, it makes it viable to proceed with the mine. So, if you look at the importance of the mining industry to our Province – and we have talked about this before. As a government, we do not make as much money in terms of direct taxation on mining companies as we do, for example, with the offshore oil companies where we have royalty regimes, but there are significant indirect benefits to the mining industry, from employment to the money circulated in the economy, to the benefits that come with the development of the mine.

In fact, in 2011-2012, the mining industry contributed $343 million in direct mining taxation. Now, that is a lot of money, but compared to what we get from oil, Mr. Speaker, that is not a lot of money. Oil is what is making our economy run, and it is one of the reasons that we are developing Muskrat Falls: to ensure that when the oil runs out, we will have a sustainable –

MR. MARSHALL: Diversified economy.

MR. KENNEDY: – resource for our economy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: The Minister of Finance just talked about diversification. Well, what better way to diversify than to use our own natural resources, Mr. Speaker, to ensure a bright and prosperous future for our children?

The mining industry is an important component of what is taking place. Again, I talked the other day briefly about the mining industry that we have on the Island of Newfoundland too, it is not only Labrador. What we are talking about here today are Labrador industrial rates.

Let me give you an example, Mr. Speaker, of why these mining companies cannot wait six months. Let me give you an example of why they have come to us, why the Opposition House Leader says it is time to get this done. In 2004, a ton of iron ore was $50 a metric ton. In February 2011, a ton of iron ore was $180; in September 2012, it dropped to $100; the forecast for the long-term is in the $90 to $110 range. If all of the developments in Labrador proceed, then we would go from developing 23 metric tons in 2011 to 80 metric tons by 2020.

What is needed for all of these mining developments is power and estimating the power needs can be challenging because each project is at a different stage. As they are at a different stage, they are trying to determine if they are going to proceed to the next one. We are sort of a Catch-22 situation on the one hand. The mining companies are saying: Well, we cannot tell you if we need the power until you tell us how much you are going to charge us for the power and if you have the power available. The government says: Well, we cannot tell you if we are going to give you the power until we have a firm contract from you telling us you will buy the power.

I said this the other day, Mr. Speaker, and again the MHA for – who was talking about this last night, about 1:00 o'clock in the morning? The MHA for The Straits – White Bay North talked about the possibility of Muskrat Falls not being big enough.

Mr. Speaker, what I have heard all along is the NDP does not agree with the development of Muskrat Falls and last night it was not big enough. That is the reality. If all of these mining industries developed, then we would need Gull Island, but we are not going to build Gull Island on the basis of what we might need. That is why Muskrat Falls is the perfectly sized project for what we need in our Province at present.

We have satisfied the demand in the Island here, that we know will be up to 200 megawatts at peak demand, extra in 2020. We allowed for the building of the Maritime Link which connects us with the rest of the country, Mr. Speaker, and we have power available for projects in Labrador.

That is why Muskrat Falls is such a good, good project for what we need in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador at present, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Now, if you look at it, and the minister will tell you, IOC and Wabush Mines have developed. They led to the creation of Labrador City and Wabush. They have received power at a very good rate for a long time. We recognize this transition will be difficult on them and that is why we have tried to phase in the power over a period of time. We want them – IOC is an absolutely amazing operation when you go up there – and we were all there, as I indicated the other day – and you see what they are doing up there. It is estimated there could be 100 years of iron ore in the Labrador Trough.

Now, the iron ore is of a high quality. As I understand, it is what makes it attractive, Mr. Speaker. Then we get to the Chinese markets, because that is what is making this happen. The Chinese economy is demanding the need for iron ore. They need iron ore. They develop their own, and what I am told – again, it is referred to in the paper – it costs $100 a ton to develop their iron ore in China. Anywhere they are paying $100 a ton that is a good price. That $100 a ton then allows companies to proceed.

Paying a $5 power or $4 power is not realistic. We sell, by virtue of the contract in 1969, power at $2.50 a megawatt hour, going down to $2 in 2017 as a result of a renewal clause, and we sell that to Quebec. Now, Wabush Mines gets it at $4 a megawatt hour. This cannot continue. As I think one of my colleagues talked about, in the last ten years Wabush Mines and IOC have paid $100 million for $900 million worth of power that it would cost in Quebec.

We want them to continue. We want to try to help, but we want other companies to come in and develop also, Mr. Speaker. We want Julienne Lake to be developed. How we do this is by coming up with a rates policy that says: We will direct the PUB, this is your generation rate. The PUB will then continue to assess the cost of service for the transmission rate and you will pay as you use the line, which is a fair way to go.

When we look at the projects that are currently there, one of the key issues in terms of their financing, in terms of obtaining financing, and in terms of developing whether or not the project is viable is the cost of power. Where are we in terms of the projects themselves? If you look at the ones currently in existence, we know we have IOC and Wabush Mines.

We also have Voisey's Bay, which hopefully will proceed to underground mining. If they do, then they will need power for that, whether it be from a transmission line from Happy Valley-Goose Bay or another development on the coast, which could be run of the river and wind, or one or the other. They will need an amount of power. I do not know the exact figure; let's say fifty megawatts of hour. Well, the benefits of that would be, we would now be able to connect Natuasish and Nain. They are in operation. The question is whether or not they are going to go underground.

We have Wabush Mines and IOC, which are in operation. Then we have Labrador Iron Mines was the first new iron ore producer in the Province since 1965, when it shipped iron ore in 2011. Now they are a smaller operation compared to the bigger operations, but I have been very impressed in my meetings with them, very committed. They want to make this happen. Their geographical location poses some challenges both in terms of the supply of power and getting the product to market, but they opened up. They do not need as much power as the other companies, Mr. Speaker, but they certainly have been impressive in my dealings with them.

In construction, we have the IOC Concentrate Expansion Program, which is a very significant expansion. We would be into Phase II which would require, I think it is about forty megawatts of power. Tata Steel minerals, Tata Steel is a very big iron ore company out of India, but this Tata Steel mineral is a joint venture between Tata Steel and New Millennium which is a publicly listed junior mining company on the Canadian markets. They have a project in North Western Labrador that is developing deposits very similar to Labrador Iron Mines Limited.

Mr. Speaker, if they proceed, there are different amounts of power that will be needed. There would be significant – at this stage, to complete the pre-feasibility study would be eight megawatts. In terms of feasibility complete, we have the Labrador Iron Mines expansion.

Undergoing feasibility studies and environmental assessments we have the Alderon Iron Ore Corporation, Kami project which is located approximately five kilometres southwest of Wabush Mines. This appears to have a very good grade of ore with approximately eight million tons. In my meetings with this group, myself and the Premier met with the President of the company, Mr. Mark Morabito. Again, very aggressive, very interested in doing business and having very significant benefits to the people of Labrador West. They are the first company to actually indicate that they would proceed and wanted to buy power from Nalcor.

We have talked about, and I have talked about in the past, that we currently have 525 megawatts of energy that we recall from the Upper Churchill or that we get back from the Upper Churchill contract out of the 5,400. We have the 225 megawatt TwinCo block, which will come back, as indicated earlier. Then we have 300 megawatts of recall power.

At peak in the wintertime, 220 megawatts is required for the Labrador area. That leaves approximately 80 megawatts, because you always have to be able to meet your peak. There is obviously more available in the wintertime, so there are 80 megawatts of power available that we could sell to mining companies at present.

I am just trying to get the figures correct. We currently have capacity on the Quebec lines of being able to export 265 megawatts of energy. What happens is that energy that is not used in Labrador, the 80 megawatts, is sold on the spot markets in the Northeastern US, Mr. Speaker, and in the summertime there is more. The summertime is actually a very good time for selling energy in the United States because that is when they have all the air conditioners on. The air conditioners use a lot of energy.

Alderon is saying: well, we will buy those 80 megawatts of power off you, or whatever we need, to get going. We then have the Tata Steel LabMag project, which is undergoing feasibility. This will be a big project that will require 235 megawatts of energy, with also extra power for a pellet plant. We get our source, Mr. Speaker, from their 2006 pre-feasibility study. As I have talked about already, the Voisey's Bay underground and the potential for that is now in pre-feasibility.

We have in construction, we have feasibility complete, we have undergoing feasibility studies, and we have pre-feasibility studies. In pre-feasibility we again have the IOC strategic development and the North Atlantic Iron Corporation, or Grand River Ironsands. I met with these individuals on a number of occasions. They are talking about needing up to 100 megawatts to 150 megawatts of power. What we have is a situation where these are not as advanced as the other companies, although they are certainly very keen on obtaining power and starting their business.

The Aurora, Paladin, Michelin Project, a uranium project that was under moratorium for a couple of years, two to three years, from Nunatsiavut Government, is in the essential mineral belt. If they proceed, depending on the uranium markets – and again, the Member for Torngat Mountains might be able to help me – the closest communities would be Postville and Makkovik, which could result in the potential to have power delivered to those communities if this project proceeds.


Then we have Julienne Lake, which is a Crown-owned iron ore project approximately fifteen kilometres from Labrador City and Wabush. We have conducted geographical and economic analyses, we have hired consultants, and we currently have that project out on RFP. Those power requirements will be eighty to 160 megawatts of energy.

Dr. Wade Locke has done his economic analysis of Labrador West iron ore mining based on different scenarios. I think he has chosen four different scenarios. The numbers, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the economic benefits to the Province, could be huge. People who are making high wages spend their money: they buy houses, they buy cars. They are spending their money; they are putting that money out into the community. Even though the royalties or the direct taxation is not as great, the mining industry is a huge industry in this Province.

What we are trying to do as a government, we are trying to very prudently and cautiously proceed to see if we can provide the power that they need. The first step that they have all told us is not six months from now, not a year from now, but we need to know what the industrial rates are going to be. What we said to them is we will be competitive with Quebec. We will ensure that the rates that are paid here are competitive with Quebec.

I would encourage anyone listening, Mr. Speaker, to read Dr. Locke's – all these reports are available on the Web site. The Labrador mining and power: how much and where from, is available on the Web site; Dr. Locke's paper is available on the Web site. There are significant economic benefits, Mr. Speaker.

I think really what is happening here, at least us and the Official Opposition, I do not think we disagree that the policy is necessary. I think what is going on here now is simply that the Opposition have certain points to make and they are making them, which is certainly the way this situation works. I do not think there is anyone who is going to stand here and say: let us not give the certainty to the industry they require to develop. We are in a good situation in this Province now, Mr. Speaker.

Whoever thought we would be in a situation in Newfoundland and Labrador, where we never – we said we do not have enough people to fill all the jobs, Mr. Speaker. Whoever thought we would be in a situation where we have all of these people looking for all of this power, and we have to choose whether or not to develop Muskrat Falls or Gull Island – that we are in a situation where financially we can develop these projects.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the rates on the Province – and I will come back to this a little later over the next week or two as we are finishing this off – we are not even including the monies made from Labrador mining; we are not even including any potential exports or spot markets.

What we are trying to do, and I think what we have done here, is very logically outline that this is how the rates will apply, and what the mining companies have said to us, all of whom we have consulted with, is we need this policy now.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is an honour to speak to the amendment moved by the Member for Bay of Islands, seconded by the Member for Burgeo – La Poile: An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 And The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, be not now read a third time but that it be read a third time this day six months hence.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the Minister of Natural Resources as he read his report. I was impressed by his knowledge on the many companies that are operating in Labrador in the north, in the west, and in the south. The reason I say this, Mr. Speaker, is because it was just a short time ago that there was no demand for power in Labrador. It was only over the past summer that all of a sudden the demand for power in Labrador started to come forward.

Mr. Speaker, when you see a demand that comes forward like this and you have an electrical bill that is scheduled to be slated and a new one that has to be put in place, in the very near future, I certainly encourage the government to come forward with this bill. In light of my comments earlier where there was no demand for power, and I think it was the Member for Labrador West last summer that first mentioned the 40 per cent power for Labrador, it was certainly an exciting time to hear this.

I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about the mining projects that are ongoing. Old companies in Labrador West –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EDMUNDS: – like the Iron Ore Company in Labrador and Wabush Mines that have been in operation for a long time. I heard the minister talk about new companies that are in pre-design, pre-operation stages, and their demands for the power.

Mr. Speaker, I also heard the minister talk about the Paladin project inside of Makkovik, Postville, and the ambitions of Vale Inco to go underground and their demands for power. I tried to add up the numbers as he was presenting them, Mr. Speaker, and compare them to the power that is going to be made available as a result of the Muskrat Falls Project.

I think the reason for the amendment is to look at how far we have come in the last six months with the first proposal by this government that did not involve power for Labrador. There was no mention of it. Now, we are hearing all kinds of potentials. These are the reasons for amendments, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly, when I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talking about the up and coming projects, it certainly drives home the need for Bill 53 to be revisited. Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague talk about the mistakes we made with Abitibi. We do not want to see those mistakes in this project, Mr. Speaker. When you want to cover off good legislative work, it does take time. We have seen that and we are seeing it again now with how far events have unfolded leading up to the introduction of Bill 53.

I realize that we need legislation to protect the industrial rates in Labrador. We need legislation that will allow cheap, competitive rates, Mr. Speaker. I agree with all of this, but there are some questions or concerns that do come to mind as we move forward with this legislation.

We talked about TwinCo output, Mr. Speaker, 225 megawatts along with the 300 recall. That will be subject to a new rate when 2015 rolls around, and a much-needed rate. This bill separates the rate of industrial power and it is solely for Labrador. We know that power is going to be generated all over this Province and out of this Province, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, I would be very tuned in to see what the ratepayers outside of our Province will be paying as opposed to the people in this Province. I certainly would not want to see too much of a discrepancy there.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about industry in Labrador and the need for power, we have the power. We all agree that we have the power. We have proven it. We have had power coming out of Churchill Falls. Government is proposing another project on the very same river, Mr. Speaker.

You have industry in Labrador – and to talk about Labrador, Mr. Speaker, if you subtract the oil revenues that provide investment funds for this Province, once you remove that, you realize how important the Labrador portion of this Province is to this Province. I certainly heard my colleague, the Member for Bay of Islands, indicate that, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure there is no one in this hon. House who does dispute that.

Mr. Speaker, the current rate for power in Labrador West is less than 1 cent, I believe, per kilowatt hour. In Quebec, I think it is just under 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Once you compare this to the Canadian average, Mr. Speaker, which is 6 cents per kilowatt hour, we are well under any national standards.

With no industrial electricity plan currently in place – and current industrial contracts will expire; thus the reason for this legislation, Mr. Speaker. I do support having legislation that will allow for a common power rate in Labrador, but the reason that this is all coming into play now is a little bit confusing to me, because as I go back to six months ago, there was no plan for power in Labrador. It was unheard of. As we push the issue, certainly all of our colleagues decided to come forward and realize that there is potential and there is demand.

Power comes from Labrador, Mr. Speaker. It is also needed in Labrador. Now that this government has finally accepted the need for industrial power in Labrador, and specifically power needed for development in Labrador, a plan has to be implemented, a plan that I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about that will give fair market value, Mr. Speaker, and competitive rates.

Mr. Speaker, when I went through the plan from the briefing that was given to us – a very good briefing, and I thank the staff for giving it to us – I looked at the rate of increase from 2012 to 2020. In 2012, I just talked about the prices being 1 cent, and 5 cents in Quebec; as I progressed, as outlined in the briefing notes, in 2020 I saw rates that, if you take the high level of Labrador's rates, exceeded the rates in Quebec.

There lies the concern, Mr. Speaker. If our rate goes from less than one cent to being equivalent with Quebec in eight years, and Quebec has moved one cent, does that mean in twenty years beyond that, our rate will exceed Quebec? We have only gone as far as 2020, Mr. Speaker, so this question is out there.

Certainly we do not want to see our rates go beyond competition, Mr. Speaker. We would like to see industry in Labrador buy power from Labrador. I encourage the government to take the time to revisit and to make sure that this does not happen. If you follow the rates as they are now, there will come a time when our rates will surpass those of Quebec in price. There is always a concern there when you are looking at what power we have to put out, Mr. Speaker.

I think with industrial rates, it is good to see that the residential and commercial customers will have a first right to recall power, Mr. Speaker. It is very important. We can talk about industry in Labrador, we can talk about the need for power, but it is fundamentally the people who make up that industry. It is the people who will be affected; it is the people who will be concerned, a reason why we would like to see this bill done and we would like to see it right, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Labrador West is a company town. It always was, and as long as that industry is there, there will be a need for power. In the regional vicinity there are other projects that have started up, Mr. Speaker, and they all want competitive rates. To go from the current rate now of one cent to a projected rate even of three cents per kilowatt hour will be a marked increase in the cost of power – having said that, still at least three cents below what Quebec currently has to offer.

I go back, Mr. Speaker: industry is run by individuals. The residents of Labrador West make up that industry. It is good to see this mechanism built in place, where commercial and residents will have right of first refusal to block power.

I would like to talk about the amount of power that is required, as I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about. He talked about 800 megawatts there, 1,000 megawatts there. The list was substantially high, Mr. Speaker,

The questions I have, Mr. Speaker, is that there is more demand for power in Labrador than what Muskrat Falls can obviously generate. If we are looking at good governance in supplying power to industry – industry is very important to our Province in terms of development, in terms of progress, and in terms of the Treasury. We have seen that with what industry in Labrador gives to the provincial Treasury, Mr. Speaker, and it is a large amount. Again, I would just like to say it is good to see the government has taken into an understanding of how important Labrador is fiscally to this Province, Mr. Speaker, because it was just a few short months ago, I think six months ago, when there was no talk of power.

I just have a few more comments, Mr. Speaker. If you could be specific, you talk about the 239 megawatts. That usage is based on historic needs.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about expansions, and I kept going back to that because I think it needs to be taken into account. It certainly needs to be revisited. How much of the market block – if these companies come on line, Mr. Speaker, and the demand for power goes way beyond 230 megawatts, is there a plan in place that these companies will have that cheaper rate of power?

Right now, Mr. Speaker, up and down the coast, I have worked at the Vale Inco site in Voisey's Bay. I have seen the terrible cost of burning diesel generation, generated fuel. We are seeing it in all of our communities.

I heard the minister talk about projects that would tie in Vale Inco, that would tie the communities of Nain and Natuashish in my district, Mr. Speaker. I also heard the minister talk about the power going to the Paladin site if it ever comes on line, and that demand for power and how that could tie into communities, Mr. Speaker.

As power is generating industry, you cannot take power off the main grid, Mr. Speaker. You have mineral exploration ongoing on the South Coast where there is no charge in terms of traffic lines to take power off the main grid – industrial power, Mr. Speaker. All of this I think is applicable when you are looking at a standard rate for power in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, industrial power and the options that we have.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to close off by saying that I am glad this government has gone from not recognizing the need for power in Labrador to a full plan on the delivery of power in Newfoundland and Labrador. They finally realize how important power is to this Province and to the rest of the country, and that we maintain a good rate of return on the sale of that power.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Littlejohn): The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to be able to stand again and speak to this bill, Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start off by saying that this government, from day one, has recognized the need for power in Labrador. I think it goes back – ironically, Mr. Speaker, they have been working on Muskrat Falls since the early 1970s, late 1960s early 1970s. Might I remind the Opposition on the other side, they were not able to close the deal on Muskrat Falls.

The need for power has been recognized for Labrador for a long, long time. One of the best examples I can give for that, Mr. Speaker, is Voisey's Bay. We realize that Voisey's Bay needed electrical power and still needs it. In order for them to expand and go underground, we realize that Voisey's Bay, Vale Inco is going to need energy transmitted up to the North Coast of Labrador.

I am going to talk a little bit about Labrador West. I am very pleased to say that almost every member on the other side of the House recognizes the importance of Labrador West to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am very pleased that you could stand up and talk about the value that Labrador West puts into it.

I would like to make a couple of corrections, or just observations that I made. You talk about royalties, I heard the Member for Torngat Mountains talk about the royalties. If you were to take away the royalties of the oil and gas, we would realize how significant the royalties from the iron ore industry are right now. I just want to make it very clear that if you look at the royalties we receive now as a government from the iron ore industry – and I am not knocking the iron ore industry – in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the deals were made with the royalties on the IOC project and the Wabush Mines project, today we are only getting about $300 million a year in royalties that come in for Labrador West.

This, to me, is one of the reasons we need to realize now why more development and new development in the iron ore industry and the mining industry is so important. The deals that were made with the royalties back then in the late 1950s and early 1960s just do not pay the dividends the Province needs in order to maintain solid revenue coming into the Province.

I also heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about some of the new developments that are happening in Labrador alone and the need for power in Labrador, the need for the electrical power. It was about six months ago that – I was not the first one to talk about the 40 per cent power. I have been in government now for fourteen months and I have been hearing it since I have been elected to this government. Every time that I sat at the table –

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the minister to speak to the bill, please. The bill is on industrial rates. I have given you a fair amount of leeway, Mr. Minister.

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, the need for the electric power in Labrador – and I am going to talk a little bit about some of the new developments that I have had meetings with. In every meeting I have had with these new developments that are happening, one of the most important things they needed in order to move out of the pre-feasibility study and into the next phase of the study is a solid, stable electrical rate for Labrador. We never had that.

I have met with Voisey's Bay. I have met with Labrador Iron Mines. I meet on a regular basis with IOC. In every one of the meetings they want to know: where are we with the electrical rate in Labrador? In order for them to put their fiscal plans in place, they need a stable electrical rate in order to forecast what it is going to cost them to do business. If they are going to move forward with their developments, Mr. Speaker, they need to have an electric rate they could fit into their formulas to see: is it feasible for us to move forward with these projects, or do we shelf the projects? Without that electrical rate set for Labrador a lot of these projects were, I would not say, on standstill, but they were slowed down in progress.

I think it is very important we realize for every day that a project in the mining industry in Labrador or anywhere else in the Province – we are talking about Labrador electrical rates here, so I am going to stay specific to Labrador – every day that one of those projects are on hold because they were waiting to find out what the electrical rate was going to be, the Province is losing revenue. If they stay in a pre-feasibility study, then we do not move forward and we are not getting revenues back. We are not getting taxes back; we are not getting royalties back. It was very important that we get this rate set and that it was done in an expeditious way.

I am a little bit taken aback that they would actually put a hoist amendment on the floor and ask us to lift this bill off the table.

AN HON. MEMBER: A bill that they said they supported.

MR. MCGRATH: A bill that they said they were supporting, a bill that they were in support of, now they want to lift it off the table and park it for another six months. That is another six months that we would not have an electrical rate set. That is another six months of non-development that we would have in the Labrador mining industry. Those are taxes and royalties that we are losing for another six months.

Then in six months time, we go back and we say: okay, here is the best that we can do – because this government did not just sit down and decide this is a rate we are going to go with. There was a lot of work, a lot of expertise, and a lot of professionals who sat down, worked out, and formulated the electrical rate that we have come up with.

One of the important things that we had when we decided what the rate would be was that we would be competitive. It is very important that if you are going to set an electrical rate – and we need to keep in mind there has never, ever been an electrical rate set for Labrador; there has never been an electrical rate set for the mining industry in Labrador.

I will go back to IOC and to Wabush Mines and the electrical rate that they got. They have enjoyed a very good rate for over forty years, almost fifty years now. I am witness to it; I have enjoyed and I benefited from those rates that they have enjoyed.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, that we recognize that Wabush Mines and IOC are not two companies that just moved into an area, opened up a mine, and were given this gift of a low, low rate. What we have to bear in mind is that the Iron Ore Company of Canada and that Wabush Mines, Cleveland-Cliffs built the transmission line. They built TwinCo bar. They were the ones that brought the energy, by transmission, into Labrador West.

Labrador West was a very remote area until those mines started to develop in the late 1950s, early 1960s. They realized back then that they needed power. They needed electricity in order to run their mines. They decided if we need it, we are going to have to bring it to Labrador West. That is what they did.

In return, when Hydro took over those transmission lines that deal was worked out with the mines that in return for you building it, here is the rate that you will have, and there was a contract signed. That contract, Mr. Speaker, will be up in 2015. Those companies have known for a long time, over forty years, that the electrical rate that they were, I will say, enjoying for the last forty-five, fifty years, they knew that in 2015 that rate, that contract, was coming to an end.

It is not a big surprise to the Iron Ore Company of Canada or to Wabush Mines that this was going to change. The negotiations with both of those companies for a new electrical rate set for Labrador has been in the works – I remember fifteen years ago, in one of my businesses, sitting down talking about it. Because at that time, fifteen years ago, they were not sure: Was it going to be an industrial rate? What was going to happen to the residential and commercial rates? This government has been very careful and very prudent in putting together an electrical rate for Labrador that works best for everybody.

I think it is very important that we realize that with the new industrial rate, and the word industrial being very important there, this new electrical rate does not affect the residential rate and it does not affect the commercial rate. The residents in Labrador, their rates will not increase by this electrical rate. The commercial businesses, the restaurants, the hotels, the shopping centres, their rates will not increase because of this new industrial rate. This rate is set for large industrial companies.

Again, I will allude to the fact – and I think it may have been the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation when he spoke to this bill. He said those companies – again IOC and Wabush Mines – have spent $100 million, whereas if you were across the border in Quebec, it would have cost you $900 million to do the same business for your electrical rates. It is time now that we as a Province bring our rates up to par.

I have seen the work that has been done on the transmission lines. I see the rationale and I understand the rationale of there being an increase. I see the amount of money that has been built to upgrade that fifty-year-old transmission line right now that comes into Labrador West. I also realize in the Muskrat Falls deal part of putting the formula together for this electrical rate, you have to bear in mind there is a transmission line being built from Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls; that all has to be taken into part of putting together the formula for the electrical rate. It is very important we remember all of this stuff.

I look at Labrador West as an example and look at the need for power. In the last three years, I have seen four new hotels or complexes being built that are going to need electricity. The developers of these projects, one of the things they want to know is: What is it going to cost?

I spoke earlier and I said: One of the big fears in Labrador West, and I hear it in Lake Melville when I am in Lake Melville – and I am sure my colleague for Lake Melville will probably talk about it when he gets the opportunity to speak again. In Happy Valley-Goose Bay right now because of the Muskrat Falls deal you are hearing comments and they are asking: What is the industrial rate going to be? That is for the last year-and-a-half, I have heard a lot of that.

There is a mine being explored now in the Lake Melville area. They are talking about secondary processing. Before they can come out of that pre-feasibility study and into a feasibility study, they need to know, Mr. Speaker: What is the electrical rate going to be? In order for them to take a product and make a choice – are we going to put a raw product to market or are we going to put a secondary-processed product into market – they need to know what the electrical rate is going to be so they can build that into the cost of the product before it goes to market. Because I do not care who you are or what business you are in, if you are in business your main goal, your bottom goal, is to put something in your back pocket at the end of the day. If you cannot make money, if you are in business and you are not making money, close your door because you are in business for the wrong reason – and it does not matter how big or how small your business is.

This electrical rate, setting a stabilized rate for Labrador now gives those companies, gives those large industries an opportunity to set the prices. It gives them an opportunity to go out, look at the market and realize, make the decision whether they can or cannot compete within that market.

I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about the market right now is dictated by China. China right now, for the iron ore industry, for the demand for iron ore, China is dictating what the market is. In China right now, where they can get ore for $100 a ton, they feel they are doing well.

These new developments that are happening, they now have an electrical rate they can build into their pricing. They can do the market analysis, and they can say we can compete or we cannot compete. Without that electrical rate set, they did not know whether or not they could compete.

So, to me, the only complaint that I have as an MHA, and as a minister with this government, is that it has not happened before. Because like the Minister of Natural Resources, every meeting that I am in – and I meet with the mining companies on a regular basis. They are a large component in my district. I have a very good relationship with all of the stakeholders and the shareholders within those mines, all of their senior officials, and when I meet with them, they want to know –

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, I know you are having a hard time hearing me because of the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair, but that is okay, because I know she is in favour of it. She can applaud, no problem, and I do not mind that at all.

By setting this rate, those companies now can move forward. I will talk about IOC. You talk about IOC – Rio Tinto, the largest mining company in the world. The largest mining company in the world, and they are looking at an expansion in Labrador West that is larger than the mine they are already operating for the last fifty years. That is the largest open pit mine in North America. They are looking at expanding that larger than what they already have, but they cannot do it without more power.

Another thing that I have heard, Mr. Speaker, people talking about here, is people keep saying that Muskrat –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Thank you.

The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the Opposition is over there cheering on as I am talking about everything that is happening with this. I am glad to hear that.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at companies like IOC – I had the pleasure only a little while ago and I heard the Minister of Natural Resources – in September I had the pleasure of hosting Cabinet in Labrador West. We all got ready to go out to IOC.

Two weeks ago when I was home in my district I had the distinct pleasure of doing a personal tour of the new crusher at IOC. This is a building that needs electrical power. You cannot crush that rock if you do not have the energy to do it, the electricity to do it. Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, this is a building where the raw ore is put into a pit and then crushed. The crushed ore is then carried on a conveyor belt 7.5 kilometres long. That is an electric conveyor belt, 7.5 kilometres long. That costs money. That takes energy.

Now, this company, Rio Tinto that is working on this huge expansion, they can now say they do not have to project: Well, this is what it is going to cost us. They can sit down now with their formulas, they know their revenue streams. They can sit down and say this is what it is going to cost us in electricity to produce what we are producing today.

If we decide we are going to go from 18 million tons a year – they are hoping to be at 23 million tons in the first phase of their expansion. Then, Mr. Speaker, they are going to 50 million tons of iron ore is what they are hoping to be producing when they finish Phase II of their expansion; going from 18 million tons to 50 million tons. That is a huge, huge increase, but it is going to take a lot of power.

I heard member's opposite say Muskrat Falls is not big enough. I am proud to say Muskrat Falls is just the beginning. Muskrat Falls will give us the power to negotiate and eventually – and I hope I am here as part of this government the day that we sign the deal for Gull Island.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that we adjourn the current debate on Bill 53 to resume at another time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion on the floor is to adjourn debate.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Contra-minded.

Carried.

On motion, debate adjourned.

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Motion 4: pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, December 18, 2012.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Motion 5: pursuant to Standing Order 11, that this House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. today, Tuesday, December 18, 2012.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 o'clock today, Tuesday, December 18; and to move, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 o'clock p.m. on Tuesday, December 18.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: It is on the Standing Order sheet, as I understand it.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the festive spirit across the way.

Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 2, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994. (Bill 53)

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

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

I am delighted to be able to stand this afternoon and speak again to this bill. I am really delighted to have another opportunity to speak to this bill. I thank my colleague for the hoist motion that allowed this to happen. I am aware of that hoist motion and I think it is a very good thing to do, a really wonderful motion to have made, and I was glad to see that it was ruled in order by the Chair.

We have, as we have been saying for the last couple of days when we have spoken to this bill, a short bill here, but it is bill that is very important, and a bill that raises issues with regard to the industrial rates for power in Labrador; that is the main reason for the bill. We know there are a couple of other things thrown into it, but that is the main reason.

As with a couple of other bills that we have on our Order Paper, I do not know why this government is rushing and ramming legislation through this House as they are doing, Mr. Speaker. That is why I am very, very pleased with the hoist motion that was brought forward, because there is no need to be doing the rushing that is going on so that we –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) cursing and swearing – shame. It is disgraceful.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I am calling a point of order. I have just been accused by a member over on this side – and I do not know who it is because I am not looking there – of cursing and swearing.

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order by the hon. member. I never heard the comment, but I certainly will review Hansard to see if it was picked up, at the hon. member. I will give a ruling at my earliest convenience.

Thank you.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, in this bill we are dealing with a contract that is going to be coming to an end in Labrador. It is a contract that has to do with the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. The contract will come to an end as of January 1, 2015.

What this bill is trying to do is to bring in a new regime in Labrador with regard to industrial rates so that industrial rates will no longer be in a contract. The industrial rates will actually be set in a regular fashion and according to market prices.

I think this is a really good switch that is happening. It is going to result in the industry in Labrador knowing regularly what the rates are going to be. I think it is also going to result in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro getting a better rate, as well as CF(L)Co to get a better rate, for the electricity that they are using in Labrador. It is extremely important.

I want to come to that date, January 1, 2015; we are now in December, 2012. I do not think that we have a major time bomb here in our hands, Mr. Speaker. This is what the hoist motion is about. I do not think we have a major time bomb. I do not think that we would have to have this piece of legislation pushed through this week, and not do it in January, or February, or March. The timeline that we are dealing with allows the time to do that. I really do believe that we can look at putting off the further discussion on this bill –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is having difficulty hearing the speaker. Out of courtesy, I believe we should allow the speaker to speak. I ask members to provide that courtesy.

The Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

Thank you.

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

When it comes to the actual issue or the main issue that this bill is dealing with, time is not of the essence. We can take time and we can make sure that everything in here is correct and make sure we are not going to regret anything down the road that we pass here in this House. Looking at that whole issue of time, I would like to look at the Muskrat Falls Project in general because this bill does deal with Muskrat Falls.

It comes in section 4 of the bill where an amendment is made to the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961: as of January 1, 2015 – again, January 1, 2015, that is the important date – the Public Utilities Act shall apply to all transmission lines and related assets located in Labrador, except those that relate to assets of Hydro-Quebec – I will not read the whole legal thing when it comes down to that – and those included in the Muskrat Falls Project.

In January 1, 2015, the Muskrat Falls will not even yet be operating. It will still be being built. It will be halfway toward the construction I would think by then. The new regime for rates in Labrador industrial rates will just be coming in. There is no urgency around having this piece dealt with today, tomorrow, or right away, or it has to happen. There is no urgency for that. I am quite pleased with the notion of putting it off and dealing with it down the road. That is a wise thing to do.

In looking at that, because Muskrat Falls is in there, I want to look at the timeline we are dealing with, with Muskrat Falls, with the project itself. That timeline is outlined very, very well in the loan guarantee. The loan guarantee is tied integrally with the work of the project, obviously. I look here and I do not see a major time issue here either with regard to this piece of legislation.

We know now that Muskrat Falls has been sanctioned by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and also by Emera in a way that certainly startled me yesterday, I have to say – but now that has happened, we know that the loan guarantee has kicked in, in terms of the process of the details in the loan guarantee. Sanctioning was sort of one of the first steps.

The first thing that has to happen is that the proponents – and the proponents are Nalcor and Emera – along with the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have to work together on a whole structure with regard to getting their triple A credit rating. This is very important. The triple A credit rating is going to happen easily, one would think, because the federal government is the guarantor of the loan. That was the reason for getting the federal government onboard. Because of that, the triple A is going to happen.

It seems like they anticipate it will happen fairly quickly because the loan guarantee has set January 31, 2013, which is next month basically, the end of January in the new year, as the date for the credit rating process to be set and in place. When that happens, that will facilitate the start of the financing process. Of course, the financing process means going to those who are going to be lending the money and beginning the whole process of trying to get the loan in place.

We also know that the date set for having that loan in place is not until the fall of 2013. We have a whole year basically of getting in place the loan, getting all of the financing in place, and making sure things can move ahead.

One may ask: What is going to happen between now and the fall of 2013? Already, the head of Nalcor is talking about construction is going to start right away, the type of construction that in Labrador needs to happen in the winter. It cannot happen when the meltdown happens in the spring. There is certain work they have to do in the winter. Will they be able to do their construction? Will they be able to get that started? Maybe this bill has to be passed before that can happen.

Well, no, Mr. Speaker, this bill has nothing to do with that. In actual fact, the financing or the cost of the construction and the covering of construction costs is covered very well in the loan guarantee. What it says, in the loan guarantee: That the construction costs shall be funded only with equity prior to the financial close.

To put that in simple language: between now and next fall when the financial close will happen, cash will have to be used to cover the construction costs. That cash, of course, as we know, is money that has come primarily from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; in this year's Budget alone, $664 million were set aside in this year's Budget for costs related to Muskrat Falls. We are putting in almost a billion dollars at this point in time – well, $750 million; we actually will be putting in over $2 billion by the time we are finished.

The point I am making is that from now until next fall, we do not have to worry about a timeline with regard to the construction and covering the cost of the construction, because it is the cash, it is equity that will be paying for the construction costs. Once again, we do not have a time issue when it comes to construction starting, and this bill has nothing to do with the start-up of construction. It has to do with industrial rates and they will not be an issue until this bill comes in place, which is January, 2015. Do we need to be dealing with this bill now? No, we do not have to deal with this bill now – all the more reason for supporting the hoist motion that has been brought here to the floor.

Once again, when it comes to timing, there was a real urgency here for the government, for some reason, to get the sanctioning done really, really quickly. We had that happen yesterday; but we learned today, Mr. Speaker, that the other partner in the sanctioning, Emera – who did sign an agreement yesterday with the Newfoundland and Labrador Government and did sanction the project – we found out today that they really did not need to do that yesterday. They had originally planned on waiting until the Utility and Review Board of Nova Scotia finished their process. Emera has not even passed in their proposal yet to the UARB, which is the name of the utility board in Nova Scotia.

We were told today that it is probably going to be the end of January –

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the hon. member: I gave you fairly significant leeway. I need you to bring it back to the amendment to the bill. Thank you.

MS MICHAEL: The hoist motion is asking for us to go back into second reading, and for the second reading on the bill to happen, I think the hoist motion says, in six months.

What I am trying to point out here is that we have the time to deal with this bill in six months time, because there is not an urgency with regard to this bill.

In speaking to Emera, I am speaking about the fact that Emera, as a partner with the government in the sanctioning that happened yesterday, that even Emera has lots of time. Emera has not even passed in their proposal yet to the UARB. As of today we were told in the briefing we had that it probably will be about the end of January. We have also been told earlier on that the UARB will probably take six months to do their study of the application and their approval. So it could be – looking at that timeline – next July before the UARB makes their decision with regard to Emera.

So, I am saying that, Mr. Speaker, to point out that we have time. We have time to deal with this bill. We could come back to this floor in six months time and that would be plenty of time. It certainly will meet the 2015 deadline, it will certainly meet the fall of 2013 deadline, and there is nothing in here, Mr. Speaker, that has an urgency that it has to happen today.

So, having said all of that is to say that I will be voting for the hoist motion that has been brought forward. It makes all the sense in the world. I would like us to slow down on everything that is happening here with regard to Muskrat Falls, because everything is moving with such a speed, even with regard to the way in which the Newfoundland and Labrador government got Emera to speed up doing its sanctioning when it had not planned on doing it, and did not really want to do it; they did it, I guess, because they are in partnership with the government, and so they co-operated, even though their timeline did not demand that they do it.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is very important for us to make careful decisions. The reason for the hoist is to slow things down, to calm things down. As a matter of fact, I was reading in O'Brien and Bosc today what a hoist motion can do. One of the things it said – and I sort of smiled at it: a hoist motion – historically they have been happening since the 1800s in the UK – sometimes can be brought in when there is a lot of tension going on in the Legislature; the hoist motion, by putting a brake on, slows down things, stops the tension. Well, I think we do have tension going on in this House around Muskrat Falls, and bringing forward the hoist motion –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – is a way to get us all to calm down and to think clearly and to make sure we are making wise decisions. That is one of the reasons for the hoist motion. So, that is why I am really, really pleased to be able to support the hoist motion.

So, between those two things, Mr. Speaker, between the timeline itself not demanding the urgency for this bill, the timeline whether we are talking about the timeline here in Newfoundland and Labrador or the timeline in Nova Scotia, or the timeline as it is laid out in the loan guarantee. Whether we are talking about the timeline or whether we are talking about the tension that is built up here in this House with regard to Muskrat Falls, we have a couple of reasons for having this hoist motion being brought forward, and two good reasons I would say, Mr. Speaker, for supporting this hoist motion.

Having said all that, even when I look at the schedule A which goes with the loan guarantee and which covers the Newfoundland and Labrador commitments – so the commitments of the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown. When I look carefully through this and the commitments that the Newfoundland and Labrador government has to have in place, that we have to have in place in order for the loan guarantee to go ahead – and none of that is finalized yet and none of it will be finalized until the end of 2013.

When I look at schedule A, and I have read it through carefully, I do not see anything in schedule A – some things relate to Bill 53, because government does have to put legislation in place. I do not see anything there that would be demanding that we have to rush this bill, that we have to rush passing this bill or – I do not know about the other two, I will talk to those when we come to them, but this one. We can slow down. We can deal with what we need to deal with. I would suggest that would be a very wise way to go.

I do thank my colleague from the Official Opposition for moving this motion. I am going to be very happy to vote for it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to stand here again today and speak to Bill 53, but in particular, Mr. Speaker, to speak against this, what has been termed as a hoist motion. It is very interesting terminology, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about hoist motion. The only thing I see being hoisted here is the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Mr. Speaker. That is what is being hoisted here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANE: Mr. Speaker, I am very, very disappointed that the Official Opposition has brought this forward. I am quite frankly not one bit surprised, however, to hear the Leader of the Third Party supporting it. It seems like any time there is anything positive coming forward in this hon. House, the NDP seem to be against it for some reason. I have not figured it out yet, Mr. Speaker, and I do not know if I ever will.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the actual bill itself, Bill 53, this is a bill that is going to enable us to set industrial power rates in Labrador. Why the Official Opposition or why the Third Party would be against putting in a new piece of legislation that is going to see us maximize the return that we can get from our natural resources, but at the same time remain competitive with other jurisdictions in the country, in particular Hydro-Quιbec, to benefit Newfoundlanders and Labradorians – why the NDP and the Opposition would be against that, Mr. Speaker, is totally beyond me. Quite frankly, I think it is shameful.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, we have a number of mining projects. We have the two existing mines of course in IOC and Wabush Mines. We also have a number of other mining operations on the horizon. They, of course, are in various stages from pre-feasibility to feasibility, and some are even beyond that. When we hear the Leader of the Third Party talk about there is no rush for this, Mr. Speaker, I do not think we rushed through this at all. This overall project has been in the works for years.

Mr. Speaker, there have been all kinds of due diligence done on this project by our experts at Nalcor. Of course, we have had it reviewed by experts at MHI, Navigant, Ziff Energy and so on, this overall project. When you look at that expert analysis, it all has pointed us toward the fact that (a), we need this power; and (b), Muskrat Falls is going to be the way to go to supply that power for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

This going to tie into it, Mr. Speaker, because as all of this new power comes on stream through Muskrat Falls, we are now going to be able to have that power which mining companies need. Again, when we talk about there is no rush, I have heard the hon. Minister of Natural Resources say that as far as the mining companies are concerned they want to proceed. They want to strike while the iron is hot. They want to develop these mines while the investment climate is there, while the prices are there for the minerals, to be able to get these projects moving. Mr. Speaker, as they are putting together their feasibility plans, their business plans and so on to actually get these mines developed, they need certainty. They need certainty as to what these industrial rates are going to be so that they can do their studies and so on, to understand the feasibility of their projects so that they can get these projects moving.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the new mines, as I said, we also have the existing mines. Even if there was no Muskrat Falls – and thankfully there is. Even if there was no Muskrat Falls, we have a contract which is about to expire soon on the TwinCo block, which is currently being used by Wabush Mines and IOC. We know, Mr. Speaker, that right now we are receiving 0.6 of a cent per kilowatt-hour for that power and we know that it is extremely low in comparison to Quebec.

We know that we have literally left hundreds of millions of dollars – over the last number of years, we have left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. Hundreds of millions of dollars, I would say, that could go towards the many social programs that we keep hearing from this side of the House, Mr. Speaker.

Day after day in this House of Assembly all we hear, in particular from the Third Party, this endless wish list. We have this endless wish list, Mr. Speaker, that they have, whether it be for housing, early learning and care, money for municipalities. They want to cut the gas tax. They want to cut taxes and they want to supply more and more services and more and more infrastructure. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to ask: Where would they think that the money is coming from to pay for all this? Where do they think the money is coming from?

Mr. Speaker, we know that we have been very fortunate over the last number of years with the benefits that we have accrued through offshore oil. We have accrued many benefits from offshore oil and that has allowed us as a government to certainly pay down a significant portion of our debt, Mr. Speaker,

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that we are talking about Bill 53.

MR. LANE: Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask you to focus your attention on the bill itself. It is not a money bill and so the broader fiscal policies of government and social programming are not the subject matter of the bill. So I would ask members to confine their comments to the bill at hand.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will certainly try to bring it on track here, but I believe that it all kind of ties in because at the end of the day when we talk about this benefits agreement, when we talk about setting these new industrial power rates, by setting these new rates we are going to set ourselves up for having more revenues, additional revenues coming into the Province, and these additional revenues that come into our coffers will allow us to pay for all of these services, programs, and infrastructure that we keep get asked for by the members opposite, on an ongoing basis.

Mr. Speaker, I draw the relevance again to the offshore oil simply because it is a finite resource. We know in the next number of years, unless there are new discoveries – and we certainly hope there will be – that that resource is not renewable and it will be depleted over time. As production goes down, revenues into the Province's coffers go down and as a result, Mr. Speaker, we need to find new ways to replenish those coffers to both maintain the services and programs that we have. If we are ever going to enhance them and add new services, we need money to do that, Mr. Speaker.

From that perspective, Mr. Speaker, I know it is kind of a round about way of getting back to the point, I believe that by putting industrial rates in place that will see us derive greater benefit from our natural resources. I believe it is relevant in that it will allow us to continue the great work that this government is doing for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and to help fulfill some of the wish lists that we hear from the members opposite.

Because, Mr. Speaker, if we do not enter into agreements, if we do not put policies in place such as we are doing in Labrador with these industrial mining rates, if we do not set up a situation in terms of putting industrial rates in place to allow for new mining developments and industrial developments to take place in Labrador to produce additional revenues for the Province, if we do not do these things, then we are not going to have the money to, as I said, maintain all of the things we have and to add additional programs, Mr. Speaker.

That is the point I am trying to make, because this government realizes, Mr. Speaker –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think you have made your point, now move on to the bill.

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Money does not grow on trees, Mr. Speaker; let me just say that.

Mr. Speaker, I think there is going to be a great deal of benefit from setting these industrial rates. In addition to the money that will go into the Province's coffers, we are also going to see a situation now in terms of attracting mines and business. We are going to see many, many jobs deriving from this activity as well, Mr. Speaker. We are going to see many jobs in the actual construction and so on in setting up of the mines.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am going to remind the member for the second time, the bill is not about employment, it is not about social programs. I really urge you to stay focused on the bill itself. It is about industrial rates for power in Labrador.

The benefits derived and the revenue generated is not the subject of the bill. I would ask the member to confine the comments to the principle of the bill because we are in second reading – third reading, I am sorry.

MR. LANE: Okay, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I think I have more than made the point of the benefit of it for sure.

Mr. Speaker, what we are going to see happening here, as we know – and this makes a whole lot of sense on many levels – is we are going to see a situation now where we are going to modify the industrial rates that we currently have for industrial activity in Labrador. In that, we are going to go from 0.6 of a cent and eventually over time, Mr. Speaker, we are going to go up. I think there is going to be a phase-in period for the mine in IOC and for the Wabush Mines.

Over the next two or three years I believe, Mr. Speaker, we bring it up to about two cents. That would be the new industrial rate, Mr. Speaker. Over time we get up to somewhere around six, seven cents and so on, which is going to, like I said, ensure that we get a fair return for our power. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, it is going to be competitive with Hydro-Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, there is a formula and so on that is being utilized to see this happen. There is actually going to be – right now there are two blocks of power. We are going to have the TwinCo block, and the TwinCo block, Mr. Speaker, is the block that is currently being used for IOC and the Wabush Mines. There is 225 megawatts of power going to IOC and Wabush. Then we have the recall block, Mr. Speaker, and there is 300 megawatts of power which is available to the Labrador grid. So, Mr. Speaker, currently half the recall block is used residentially and commercially in Labrador. The other half is sold to export markets through Quebec, and primarily into New Brunswick.

What we are going to see here, Mr. Speaker, under the new industrial rates is we are going to set up a situation whereby we are going to have what is known as the development block, which is going to be at a lower cost to industrial customers. Then we are going to have the market block, which is going to derive additional revenues, much higher revenues to the Province, and we will combine those.

Right now, as it currently stands with the two mines we have, we are going to see IOC and Wabush Mines – they will maintain fairly cheap power, Mr. Speaker. As new mines come on stream, Mr. Speaker, then the new mines will attain a proportionate share of the development block, and hence everybody will have to take a larger share of the market block. When you combine those two, Mr. Speaker, you get a blended rate. That blended rate is going to bring us – it is projected that that blended rate will bring us to a price which is going to be fair and competitive with Hydro-Quιbec. It is going to derive, like I said, more profit, more money into the Province's coffers but it is still going to be competitive.

Mr. Speaker, the other important point to raise here is that this does not impact the residential customers in Labrador. Some people could put the spin on it. I certainly heard it in social media and so on, Mr. Speaker, that somehow we are going to be putting this new rate in place and that it is going to impact residential customers in Labrador and so on. That is not the case. This is for industrial development only.

The customers in Labrador who currently receive the low-cost power, Mr. Speaker, from the recall block, they will continue to receive that low-cost power. We will basically be utilizing the power from the TwinCo block, the remaining recall power that is not being utilized that is currently going to New Brunswick, as I said, the remaining power that is not being used from the residential portion, and also the 40 per cent of the Muskrat Falls power. That is going to give us significant power that we will be able to be utilize in Labrador for industrial developments, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, it is going to bring in money to the Province's coffers. It is going to be competitive, Mr. Speaker. It is going to create all kinds of jobs, and might I add – and I am going to clue up, Mr. Speaker – for the benefit, certainly, of the Third Party, in case they forget: many of these jobs are going to be good-paying unionized jobs. I believe that the president of the Federation of Labour is certainly very pleased with that. I believe the heads of all the unions will be very pleased with that, all their brothers and sisters, Mr. Speaker. I encourage them to support their brothers and sisters as they support them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is always a pleasure and I look forward to speaking on this some time again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to stand up and speak to Bill 53 that we have here today in third reading.

I think I should preface my comments to the bill; I understand I am speaking to the motion that was put forward earlier.

AN HON. MEMBER: The amendment.

MR. K. PARSONS: The amendment; what we are asking for in the amendment is that this bill be taken off for six months. The reason we are suggesting that is for consultation purposes.


I think though in discussing that, I need to talk about the bill itself as well. One of the things I would say is that we did have an opportunity to have a briefing on this piece of legislation last week. We sat down with the individuals from the department. They were very kind and went over this piece of legislation and what it is going to result in. From what I have seen here, it certainly seems to be a positive piece of legislation. It seems to be something that is obviously needed but is desirable as well.

As I have said on numerous occasions in this House, we are going to speak to legislation; in some cases we disagree and in some cases we agree, but the fact is that even when we agree on something, we do have suggestions or commentary on how we think a particular piece of legislation can be strengthened or improved. In some cases, those suggestions on other pieces of legislation have been taken into consideration. We discussed one piece of legislation yesterday, which was brought back on the table just for that very specific purpose. We have made some suggestions here as it relates to this piece of legislation when we talk about the Labrador industrial electricity rates.

We and the general public hear so often about the boom that is going on in Labrador. I had always heard about it but I never had an opportunity to actually witness it until recently; I actually went to Labrador. I was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and my colleague, the Member for Torngat Mountains, was there. Just to see what is going on up there is absolutely amazing. With that comes the challenges, but the good news is we have a very, very good opportunity for massive expansion. It is all based on the minerals that Labrador was blessed with.

In this case, we all know the history. You have your blocks of power and there has been a certain rate that has been very generous that these companies have been paying. Those agreements, those contracts, are now coming to an end. I believe they expire towards the end of 2014. This piece of legislation is moving forward on January 1, 2015.

Sometimes there is a difference, obviously. You get your briefing. You have the legislation itself, which I have here. It is not a long piece of legislation, as opposed to the two other bills we were given yesterday, 60 and 61. Those are lengthy. Those are very thick bills. This one is actually not that thick. We are only looking at five pages, Mr. Speaker. A lot of it has a very technical aspect to it. We talk about section 7: "Subparagraph (1)(b)(ii) shall cease to apply as of January 1, 2015 in respect of an amount of electrical energy and capacity equal to 225,000 kW at 100% load factor at the 230 kV busbar located at Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation…". That is very, very detailed information.

You have the legislation, which is nice to review and go over the actual wording of what we are discussing and debating, and what eventually will be proclaimed and will be deemed law. You also have an opportunity when you sit down with officials from the departments to get that briefing. In many cases, that gives you the layman's terms or the concept of what it is we are trying to do.

We are dealing with Labrador here. We are not talking about Newfoundland. It is a completely different aspect here. We are just dealing with Labrador. We talk about the old TwinCo block, which provided the 225 megawatts to the IOC and to Wabush Mines. We talk about the recall block. We had a very nice graph done up showing a 2012 rates comparison between – not every province can be compared to ours. What has been done, it is being compared to other provinces with hydroelectric generation, so we have Manitoba, BC, Quebec. Right now, the fact is that the rate comparison as we speak is very generous. I believe I am right in saying this, a very generous rate, a very good rate. That has benefited these companies very well and these companies have invested in Newfoundland and Labrador, and particularly Labrador. They helped establish what we currently have there today.

Why is the legislation there? The fact is with the ending of these current contracts, we need to establish new policy. We need to ensure that we have a published industrial electricity rate in Labrador. We need to have not just continuity, but we need to have some clarification. We need to have something dependable and steady so that these companies that are going to invest in our Province know what they are getting into and they know what they are dealing with.

These expire in 2015, so we need to get this legislation in place for now. This offers the potential for new mining developments. Actually we have one-half of the representation from Labrador in our caucus. We hear about what is going on in Labrador quite a bit, both from the Member for Torngat Mountains and from the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

We hear about what is going on and we hear about the different developments that are ongoing and are ready to pop up. It is very exciting times. If we do not put in place this policy and if we do not create that clarity, then companies are going to be hesitant to invest.

That brings to me the two possible situations or issues that we need to deal with which could have negative consequences. A: We do not want any of these companies that are willing to invest significant amounts of money, which is going to create infrastructure development in Labrador as well as employment, to be hesitant about investing in Labrador because they do not know what the cost of doing business is, what the cost of electricity is going to be.

The second part is that not only would they be hesitant but also there stands the possibility that they take their business elsewhere. Not only is it a case where they are not sure if they want to invest here but if they take it next door to Quebec, then that is an issue. That is why we need to put the policy in place. I think that is why we here in the Official Opposition have stood and said we are in favour of this legislation. We think it is a good thing and is very necessary.

We look at the guiding principles of what is driving this piece of legislation. We need to have the consideration of the market value for energy resources, and we need a power rate that will leverage viable industrial development. We need to have some kind of rate that businesses can come to us, can talk to us, and make these arrangements before they start to invest, but more importantly, we need to have competition. We need to be competitive and our prime competition in many cases is Quebec, right across the border.

We talk about the Labrador Trough. The fact is that they can do the work, but where are they going to set up shop. Are they going to set up shop in Labrador? Are they going to set up shop across the border over in Quebec? What we need to do is we need to make sure that we have that power there that is competitive with the power that they can get elsewhere. That seems like a simple principle and something that we agree very much with.

We need this to encourage industrial activity. What I would say is that a big thing about this – I am just going to skip forward in some of the notes that I have here. There are a lot of technical aspects to this but I am speaking more to the generalities and the principles behind it, which I think are very necessary. I like the fact that we are going to have a rate that is published annually. We need to recognize the fact that we cannot have something that just stays the same forever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: It has to reflect the modern day realities and the costs that go into this, the cost of production.

The other thing is that there is a policy review that is triggered if the rate is higher than the Quebec industrial rate. I think that sounds to me like a very sensible proposition. If we are not as competitive as we should be with what could be deemed our major competition, then it is automatically triggered, we look at this and we make sure that we can make the changes necessary.

From what I understand, this rate policy would be phased in naturally is the term. The word naturally as it is put down in this briefing document is different than, say, what would be in this legislation here. If the word naturally was in the legislation, I would be objecting to it because it is not a great term. It is not a very solid piece of the vernacular. I do not mind it being here in the briefing, but this is something, when we had the discussion with the officials, we said: What does that exactly mean? Again, we understand the concept here and the proposition that has been put forward.

That is a discussion that has been had on numerous occasions when we talk about rates. I believe it is a discussion that is going to happen again very soon when we move to the next piece of legislation when we talk about Bill 61, rates are going to be an issue.

Rates are also an issue here as it relates to Labrador and relates specifically to industrial development. Looking here again, we have forecast estimates here, and it still shows that we are very competitive and even better than some of the other jurisdictions that we have been compared to. The same ones we look at are Manitoba, BC, Quebec, and then we have the Canadian average.

I think, Mr. Speaker, from what I have seen from my review of the legislation –we have had time to look this piece of legislation over, given that we had at least seventy-two hours; that is not a luxury we have been permitted with other pieces of legislation, but in this case we have had time to review it and read it over, and there is not a whole lot to it in terms of the sections.

Three things I am going to try to conclude before my time ends here, Mr. Speaker, are that: number one – and this relates to one of the amendments I believe was put forward yesterday; I know it was discussed by both the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair and the Minister of Natural Resources: we have been calling for incentives for not just the development, but we want the secondary processing, because that is where we are going to see a lot of tangible benefits coming from the resources that rest within our jurisdiction. Right here in Paragraph 3, sub(b), it talks about: "should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador". What we have been suggesting is that it should say: shall. That is what we think. We think that we need to do everything so that we get the maximum benefit for the resources that we have here, especially in Labrador.

Again, I enjoyed the conversation, the debate that occurred yesterday, because we had members speak to this, and then the minister spoke to it. I think – and he can correct me if I am wrong – he agreed with it, he recognized certain parts; other parts he had issue with, but he gave very good reasoning for his position on this, which I appreciate. It is nice when you can have that intelligent debate and conversation here about why or why not, when it comes to something that we have proposed here.

I think that is something that really needs to be considered, and I know the government is obviously cognizant of it and hears our pleas for it all the time when we talk about we need to do more when it comes to the secondary processing; whether it be the smelter or the plants, the secondary processing, we need to have something there.

We can go further, and I do not know if it is quite relevant, but I will just touch on it and I will return before Mr. Speaker has to rise and guide me back to relevance. We talk about the other benefits that we would need to put in place with the secondary processing, such as transport and port facilities, all good things, all contributing to the jobs that have been mentioned by members on the other side, and which we acknowledge, too, is a great thing. That is why we are saying it should say: shall.

It is amazing when you talk about the language that is used in legislation. There is such a huge difference between words. We could have just one word: should versus shall. What if it said may? There are so many differences that we can talk about here.

I do not want to put Mr. Speaker to sleep talking about the differences in the words here, but I think it makes a big difference. That is why we proposed that and we wanted that to be considered. It is a piece of legislation that we agree with, that we intend to support, but as we have put forward, we would like to see it strengthened; we would like to see more done with it.

In the remaining time that I have, I will not get into – I enjoyed the conversation I had with the officials, because we learned about the difference between – as somebody who has not been hugely involved in industrial development, I only know about residential power, but when you talk about the industrial development and the fact that there is less cost to industrial electricity due to the fact that it is not stepped down, you do not have the extra cost that comes into it with substations. You are taking that higher-capacity electricity. I thought it was a fascinating briefing, hearing about these things, but I do not have a whole lot of time left, so I will not go through that.

What I will return to is the amendment that has been forwarded to take the legislation off the table for six months, I believe, if I am correct there: the hoist amendment. I love the terminology that came from perhaps a different day.

Anyway, we are not trying to stifle anything here. What we are saying is that we like the fact that we have a good piece of legislation. We can make it stronger. I know sometimes government does not want us to interfere with their best-laid plans, but that is not our fault, that the legislation is placed before us in December of 2012 and they want to get on the tracks in January of 2013.

That should not hinder us from making sure that we have the proper consultations and reflection, especially of the legislation, to make sure that we cannot strengthen it or make it better in some way, because we all have the same goal in mind here. That goal is to do what is in the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. By suggesting that amendment, that is what we are doing here; by putting in the hoist, that is all we are asking.

I know government is not happy with it, but I think even if they do not agree with it, they can understand the point of it, why we put it forward.

I do believe I have time left after to speak to the bill itself. I guess this constitutes my time as it relates to the hoist amendment and I will be exercising my opportunity to speak to the bill because I would like to speak more about the industrial side and then get into TwinCo, et cetera.

What I would say, Mr. Speaker, is that given the hour of the day, I would put a motion forward that we adjourn debate, seconded by the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: We do not need a motion. We are operating under Standing Order 11, so we do not need a motion. You are suggesting the House would take that traditional recess at 5:30 o'clock and come back at 7:00 o'clock?

MR. A. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: This House will now take a recess until 7:00 p.m.


December 18, 2012                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLVII   No. 71A


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

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

When we took a recess earlier, the Member for Burgeo – La Poile was on this feet and he had some time left on the clock to finish up his comments.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: There is time on the clock for the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: If you give me two minutes, that would be fine.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, the floor is yours.

MR. A. PARSONS: I will begin and I will do it without the benefit of the clock, so I guess I have as much time as I need. It looks like I just ran out already, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. A. PARSONS: By leave, if I could.

What we are speaking to is Bill 53. I only have a short period of time left, so I will not belabour it. To go back to the main point of what I want to say as we debate both the bill and the hoist amendment: a, we do intend to support this piece of legislation, because we think it is the right thing to do; it is a positive thing for Labrador and for Newfoundland, to ensure that we continue promoting investment in this Province and promoting, hopefully, something that we have proposed, which is an incentive for people to do the secondary processing in Labrador.

I am very happy to have had an opportunity to speak to this. I have taken an opportunity; I have read through the commentary made by various members including my colleagues in caucus, members of the Third Party, as well as members of the government. I really appreciate what our leader had to say to this as well as all members. I think we are all on the same page here. We are united in that this is the right thing to do, but we think it can be strengthened to ensure that the people of Labrador are getting the most benefits for the minerals that are being extracted from their land.

When we talk about the sheer dollar value of minerals and resources in Labrador, the number is astronomical. It could blow you away. To know the proposed upswing in ore that is going to be taken out just with the different companies that want to get involved is absolutely mind blowing and it is positive.

To be able to bring in this piece of legislation, which is going to give the ability to plan out their cost of investment, give us an ability to entice them to continue here and setting up on our side of the border; certainly, I think that is a positive thing.

As it relates to the hoist amendment, we think that this can be strengthened. It is not a case of wanting to delay for the sake of delay. We want to make sure that the legislation we pass is the best piece of legislation for the people of this Province.

My time is about to run out. I will get an opportunity to speak to this again later on this evening, hopefully, Mr. Speaker.

At that point I will take my seat. Thank you for the opportunity.

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

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

It is my pleasure to speak to the hoist amendment this evening. It is quite an important issue, of course, when you are talking about power in Labrador. Of course, all of the economic signs are there that show immense prospects for growth in Labrador.

I was doing a little bit more background research on it, particularly when it comes to the use of power and the future use of power in Labrador. One of the things I ran into – and I think, just to refer this to some of the members of the House, this comes from RBC. What government is saying about the possible production of minerals in Labrador particularly would be important to this hoist amendment and would probably give time for pause for thought to it at the same time when it comes to what we are talking about here, when it comes to TwinCo and what they are proposing to do with the power.

It says here in the report: "Accompanying the falloff in energy production was a surprising decline in the value of Newfoundland and Labrador's other mineral shipments, largely the result of weaker commodity prices. The gross value of mineral shipments is expected to decline by nearly 11% in 2012 because the stock price for iron ore plunged this summer. Lower iron ore prices prompted Labrador Iron Mines to reduce output and defer some capital spending into 2013 with a restart dependent on firmer prices".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: It continues on here: "That being said, the mining is expected to support growth in 2013 with other large-scale projects progressing toward their production phases. An anticipated subdued rebound in iron ore prices and ownership backing from overseas will sustain investment in the Direct Shipping Iron Ore and Kami projects while a capacity expansion at the Iron Ore Company of Canada will keep mining prospects bright for 2013 and beyond."

So, Mr. Speaker, there is justification in what the government is doing here when it comes to rates.

It goes on further to report at the bottom – it talks about the possibility of new megaprojects in Labrador, including Muskrat Falls, and of course, a proposed $5 billion railway, which I think is probably a bit of a surprise to some of your viewers and listeners out there, because that is not something that was readily talked about a lot, but it is talked about by RBC.

I wanted to bring forth another point in my background research when I was looking at what government was proposing, and again, probably another reason for government to give pause for thought before it goes on.

While Labrador is experiencing an immense boom, and probably will in the future, depending on the way commodity prices go and depending on the degree of investment, at the same time I think we should be also talking about the island portion of the Province as well, considering that Newfoundland also has prospects for various mining projects here on the Island. I took time out to actually see if I can make some sort of an understanding on how rates are charged now, Mr. Speaker.

Right now, the document that I was looking for, the one that I ran into from Nalcor, was about sixty-four pages long, so it seemed like it was a little bit confusing when it came to the determination of what rates would be there and charged to businesses that even proposed to set up; as well as that, probably justification, for example, when it comes to the actual recall of power that we are talking about with TwinCo and the recall portion of the prices that are going to be set. Obviously some power for Muskrat, for example, is going to be coming to the island portion of the Province, under what government is proposing with the Muskrat Falls Project.

So, the question falls back on government then, if that is the case: if we are talking about industrial rates in Labrador, should we not be talking about the adjustment and the reworking of industrial rates, particularly when it comes to the island portion of the Province as well, Newfoundland and Labrador?

When I started going through it, I asked myself about that. I do not know if there is anything concrete government has planned as regards to that, because we do know, of course, that on the Island portion of the Province there have been fines in Tungsten, for example, on the South Coast of the Island around the Grey River area I think.

We have other projects as well where we have proposals, for example, for refineries that had plans to be set up and, no doubt, we have other industrial projects that are happening. Vale Inco, I think probably ten years ago was not even thought of before Voisey's Bay, the possibility that we could end up with a smelter here that was going to be in demand of electricity.

I wanted to bring those particular points forward, Mr. Speaker, and talk about that because it is not only Labrador, I think we have to look at it on a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective. I think that is kind of important. I think it is probably pretty good in a case like this to have the time with the amendment, in order to come back to the House with something a little bit more concrete when it comes to Newfoundland and Labrador so that we can have a concrete policy all over because the opportunity should be there for the Island portion of the Province.

We know we have prospectors here that are roaming all over the place looking for that big find, that hopefully will one day pay off their 3 per cent in a royalty, I guess, in some cases and would end up making the Province a whole lot richer as a result. I wanted to bring those points forward when it comes to that. Again, it gives pause for thought to government. It made me think a little while.

Yes, Labrador is very important. Yes, jobs are very important to Labrador. Development is important to Labrador. There is no doubt that what government is doing, what they are proposing, I am okay with that. I am all good, but I think government needs to turn its eyes as well to the Island portion of the Province. No doubt, it has done some things as regards to junior prospecting and offering of grants, that sort of thing, but there is a lot more they can be doing.

The other thing I wanted to make note of here, talking about growth in the Province, the long-term prospects for the Province will remain well supported, not only by offshore activity but further increases in mineral output, the commencement of oil extraction at the Hibernia oil field and the possibility of new megaprojects that will also include Muskrat Falls and the proposed $5 billion railway.

We do have a bright future here, and no doubt government has done some things, but it also has to look at the long-term use of electricity by industrial users. Industry does not just include Labrador; it includes the opportunity here in the Island portion of the Province as well to help grow the Province.

I just wanted to bring that forward. I will table that if government members are interested in having a look at that. It is some pretty bright numbers that they are talking about when it comes to Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole.

I wanted to bring that forward and just talk about that little idea of the Province-wide industrial power rate package, for example, that government could be doing. There is a whole lot more they could be doing here. Right now, they have focused on the expiry of January, 2015 for the TwinCo power package to some of the mines there. Again, with the future looking so bright here in the Province we have to look at, for example – the last point, I guess, that I will make on this – the simple right of recall of electricity to the possibility of being that for the Island industrial consumer.

I think that while government is taking some time out here to do something right for the people of Labrador, I think at the same time we are all in this together and I would really like to see a uniform industrial rate package for Newfoundland and Labrador at the same time. I just figured I would bring out those points.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As we speak to Bill 53 in now third reading, Mr. Speaker, which is not normal practice in this House but is certainly very permissible under the rules that we follow in this hon. House. I am glad to get another opportunity to speak to this bill but I did not anticipate it because I actually sensed that some of the members in the House were interested in progressing with the important business that we have before us.

We still have several important pieces of legislation to deal with in this House. I thought we had sufficiently dealt with Bill 53 yesterday, but apparently not. That is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, because Bill 53, which deals with setting an electricity rate policy for Labrador industrial customers is a good piece of legislation. It will establish clear and fair rates for all industrial customers in Labrador. As I may have even said yesterday – I cannot even recall, it is that long ago – unlike the rest of Canada, there is not currently any published industrial electricity rate for Labrador, which is certainly an issue that we have to address.

I have not heard members opposite, of either the Liberal Party or the New Democratic Party, show where there is any flaw with Bill 53. In fact, I have not heard them identify any legitimate flaws with the overall Muskrat Falls Project, which is indeed a separate issue, Mr. Speaker. In the case of Bill 53, in the case of the Muskrat Falls Project overall, we are dealing with two parties that have failed to provide any alternatives, Mr. Speaker.

I hope as we go through this important debate, once again as we conclude the debate on Bill 53, that we will have constructive dialogue, that we will have positive dialogue. I hope it does not go downhill.

MR. SPEAKER: I hope it is relevant dialogue.

MR. KENT: That is an exceptional point, Mr. Speaker. Relevant dialogue is incredibly important. We certainly do not want to hear any discussion that is not relevant to the bill in question. I think members can have healthy and productive dialogue without resorting to some of the tactics that I witnessed in Question Period today, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, I brought a swear jar tonight just in case the Leader of the Third Party misbehaves again. I hope she does not, Mr. Speaker, because I have much more respect for this hon. House.

Now I am going to speak –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member has just gone through three minutes of his speaking time. I ask the member to be relevant and about to make a comment with respect to a point of order raised by the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi earlier today. I would caution members about personal commentary that is the subject of a point of order that has already been raised. I would caution the member about comments that starts to stray into an issue that the Speaker has not yet ruled on.

I would ask the member if he could continue his comments and be very relevant to the bill at hand.

MR. KENT: I will be guided by your ruling. I appreciate that.

As I was saying, this policy related to electricity rates for Labrador industrial customers is extremely important. The fact that there is no published industrial electricity rate in Labrador really does create challenges for companies that are interested in the amazing development opportunities that are now before us in Labrador. There is a degree of uncertainty that exists today during the planning process for these major developments that are really important to the people of Labrador and really important to the future of this Province.

This new electricity rate policy that we are proposing to bring in, apparently the parties opposite are not interested in seeing this progress at a reasonable rate. This policy is actually going to help keep rates competitive for these businesses that want to come to Newfoundland and Labrador and the rates will be competitive with other jurisdictions in Canada, which I think is really important.

In fact, the new rate we are going to establish through this legislation, through this policy, is going to be competitive with the lowest industrial rates anywhere in the country. That is really going to help advance big industry in Labrador. There is enormous potential, Mr. Speaker. It will allow the Province to earn market value for electricity sales as well. Electricity demand is strongly linked to economic growth. For that reason as well, this is certainly an important piece of legislation.

So let us get on with it. We have a lot of important business to do in this House in the hours and in the days ahead. Bill 53 is now in third reading. It is a solid piece of legislation. We have had hours of debate on it in this hon. House. I hope members will conduct the debate with respect, without seeing the debate go downhill. I hope we will keep it respectful and positive, and use appropriate language in this House as well. I certainly hope that all members, even those opposite, will do so.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak once again on Bill 53, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Yes, Mr. Speaker, this bill actually is ideally suited for a hoist amendment. The reason it is ideally suited for a hoist amendment is that a hoist simply provides an additional six months for review and consideration. The bill as proposed generally does not seem to come into effect for another full two years.

To read exactly from the bill, section 1.(2) says the preceding subparagraph ceases to apply on January 1, 2015, more than two years from now. The second one says, "Subparagraph 1(b)(ii) shall cease to apply as of January 1, 2015…". Then it deals with the electrical energy and capacity equal to 225,000 kilowatts at 100 per cent load factor, and so on.

As you go through the bill as proposed, the reference continues to come back. When we look at (3), it refers, "shall not have effect until on or after January 1, 2015." So what would be the hurry? What would be the harm in delaying? Mr. Speaker, there would be no harm in delaying. What would be the benefit in delaying?

Mr. Speaker, we have already seen demonstrated in this House this week the outcomes of hurrying legislation. Legislation was hurried back in the session earlier this year with respect to Enduring Powers of Attorney, only to have it come back this week so that we ended up having to have an act to amend an act to amend an act. Mr. Speaker, that does not bode very well for either those who drafted such legislation or those who passed such legislation, being this hon. House.

We have also had references repeatedly to the expropriation bill with Abitibi that clearly was hurried. The fallback position of the government today is: Well, the Opposition went along with it. To which the Opposition responded: Well, you said there an absolute emergency and we had to get on it. So, we did, we took you at your word, blunders were made, and now we ended up having to pay for those blunders even with the references as high as the Supreme Court of Canada.

If we were to pass the amendment, that would provide another six months for the government to review this legislation. What could you review in the legislation in the next six months? For sure, you could review subparagraph (5) which says that this legislation should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to it being simply a piece of legislation which is then precatory, nobody has to deal with it, no one has to do anything, they can simply ignore it, then this is saying to the people in Labrador: Well, we should develop industrial activity in Labrador based on these rates, but we do not really have to.

Why would we even put in such a clause as that if that clause does nothing more than potentially give false hope or mislead the individuals who would think that they could depend on this bill to help promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador? The development of industrial activity in Labrador is absolutely critical to the ongoing development, not just of Labrador but of the Province. It is absolutely critical, Mr. Speaker, in my view, that we have a coherent and a reasonable industrial pricing regime for electricity in Labrador.

In addition to that, we should also have an effective regime to be able to set pricing for, in addition to industrial, certainly for commercial and for residential users, retail users that are referred to throughout various parts of the legislation. The government, if the bill were to be hoisted, might reconsider and say: Yes, we are going to say shall promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador. We might very well further amend the legislation so that it would apply to rates that consumers pay.

Mr. Speaker, the consumers in various Labrador communities today in a way are they are blessed with very low electricity prices in the range of three or four cents per kilowatt, and particularly in the Lake Melville area right in Goose Bay. I was there recently and there is a real concern by people of what would happen to the price of our electricity after Muskrat Falls. There is no reassurance that nothing will happen. There are individuals there who pay on a budgeted plan of less than $200 a month for electricity and if they were paying the rates in the rest of the Province, they would be paying four times that amount. They would not be able to afford to stay in their homes, which are electrically heated.

The government would have the opportunity, if they accept this amendment, the hoist amendment, to review this legislation with respect to whether it shall promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador. Why would any member for Labrador be opposed to that? Why would any member for Labrador be opposed to such an amendment which would clearly only help Labrador? By helping Labrador, clearly it helps the rest of the Province because there is massive industrial potential in Labrador through mining and hydroelectric power and the land mass is more than double the size of the Island.

Mr. Speaker, to go on through the rest of the bill as to how the hoist amendment could help, if we go to the bottom of page 4 under 5.8 (2) it says, "The Public Utilities Act shall not apply to the setting of electricity rates for industrial customers in Labrador other than the transmission component of those rates, which shall be regulated under subsection (1)."

Mr. Speaker, to me, if the Public Utilities Act can only apply to one part of a transaction, then what happens to the other part of the transaction? It is easy enough for one half of the transaction to be set, the other half of the transaction is not set or is not adjusted or is not calculated, and the outcome which is sought, which is stable electricity prices – and we hear stable electricity prices all the time in the Muskrat legislation. Stable can mean very high as well; stable simply means without much change. Maybe the bill could be further reviewed, revised, and amended so that the Public Utilities Act would have greater application.

Mr. Speaker, as we go through this, the Public Utilities Board is being used in part to set parts of the electricity rates in the Province and not being used to set electricity rates in other parts of the Province. In my view that is a misuse of the Public Utilities Board. The Public Utilities Board is a very valuable tool that most free markets use in order to determine how a monopoly should operate. Clearly, big energy is a monopoly almost everywhere in the industrialized world, so we use the Public Utilities Board.

The Public Utilities Board is generally highly regarded among the population, and maybe, I think, should have or should have had greater input in the ongoing deliberations and discussions regarding the Muskrat Falls debate. With electricity prices, I saw the Minister of Natural Resources referring in a press conference today about potential changes to the Public Utilities Board. I would hope that the Public Utilities Board would have a greater role than it currently has; it would have a greater role and a higher level of autonomy so that the Public Utilities Board would be something which would be more above reproach.

Mr. Speaker, in this piece of legislation, to go on to the next section, it says: "The public utilities board may receive applications, hear evidence and make rulings in respect of a matter that will come into its jurisdiction as a result of subsection (1) or subsections 7(2) and (3) of The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 before January 1, 2015, but an order made by the public utilities board as a result of that application..." shall not have effect until on or after January 1, 2015. Maybe, on reflection, the Public Utilities Board in some situations should have effect before that.

Maybe part of the legislation should say, on further sober reflection, if the government were to look at this and say, yes, we want to include in addition to just setting a very limited area of industrial rates – which is not a bad thing to do; in fact, it is a very good thing to do.

The bill could be strengthened if the government were to say we also think the Public Utilities Board has a role to play in commercial, also in residential. This is a further enlarged mandate for the Public Utilities Board because we have now had six months to reconsider it. Then maybe some of this should come into effect sometime in 2013-2014 and the people who are concerned about a big jump in electricity prices in maybe 2015, or maybe thereafter when Muskrat Falls comes on stream, there might be the opportunity to provide, through this very bill, a phase-in of pricing so that people would not be faced with the fiscal cliff of an electricity bill that skyrockets on very short notice well down the road.

There might be an opportunity for working with the PUB, working with this legislation to provide a phase-in to expand it from just industrial to commercial and residential with a phased-in period, maybe some of it taking place before 2015, maybe some of it after 2015.

Mr. Speaker, the bill could be further strengthened, when you continue into the next paragraph, which is 5.9: "Where Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro cannot reach an agreement for the sale and purchase of the electrical energy and capacity…" – because we are not dealing just with energy; we are also dealing with capacity. Through this whole process, we learn that electricity is important, but you can have all the electricity that you want and if you do not have the adequate capacity to transmit that electricity, then you have an issue.

This says that if these two parties cannot agree "within a reasonable time, either party may apply to the public utilities board to establish the rate to be charged and paid under an agreement." Well, this would seem to be a reasonable role for the Public Utilities Board, maybe as an arbiter; however, the lack of precision in just referencing a reasonable time certainly provides no significant benefit that I can see.

One party clearly will argue, well, it is not a reasonable time yet, it is too soon; another party will argue that it is too long, and we get bogged down in a dispute and the bill, then, is much less effective than it could be.

When you look at the factors that flow from that particular section, sub (2): "Where an application is made to the public utilities board under subsection (1), the public utilities board shall establish the rate to be charged and paid under an agreement, taking into account the submissions of the parties and the following", and it lists a whole range of items.

It says: "Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited's requirements for price stability and sufficient revenues to cover anticipated costs". Well, Mr. Speaker, that is anything but clear. It might be far better if enough time was put into this piece of legislation to define some of those terms, because when you have a lack of definition in terms, the legislation is not very helpful.

The next one is: "the proportionality of the volume of energy under an agreement to Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited's total volume of energy of produced". It says proportionality; is this 90 to 1? Is it 50-50? Is it two-thirds to one-third? Clearly, the bill could provide for more clarity and better precision in that sub-clause.

In the next area, under (c), it says: "the terms of the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited's shareholders agreement". Mr. Speaker, I am not sure why the shareholders agreement of a corporation – why the PUB should be influenced by the terms of a corporation's shareholders agreement. To me, it has practically it has no bearing whatsoever. Maybe it could be altered; maybe it should be struck out totally.

It also goes on to say: "other prices received by Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited for sale of electrical energy and capacity". That is also much too broad.

Then it goes, under subsection (e): "the policy objective set out in subparagraph 3(a)(v), and the achievement of that policy objective". Mr. Speaker, that then brings us right back to the beginning; the beginning is on the earlier page, so this becomes a completely circular argument that says at the beginning: this act should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador.

It goes further to the end and says that PUB, in establishing prices between two other parties, should set it at the policy objective set in paragraph 3(a)(v) and the achievement of that policy objective. Is that a mandate of the Public Utilities Board? Should the Public Utilities Board be charged with attempting to promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador? If it is in price setting alone, I fail to see how that improves the legislation or does any benefit for it whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, when you get to the end of the legislation, ordinarily when you have legislation such as this you have a provision for regulations. The bill has no provision for regulations. Now, we may be able to find it someplace else, but bills that are enacted, when they are actually applied, often it is done by regulation. The oversight in the legislation that we had to correct earlier this week – yesterday - that was passed back in the winter session also left out the clause which allows for regulations. Having already made that oversight within the last six months, it would seem prudent that the drafters of this legislation and the government would clearly want to put in a section that would allow for regulations which would make this legislation much more effective.

The point that I raised previously is that this electricity that we are dealing with, ultimately, if the Muskrat Falls Project is successful, will connect us by a link to the Mainland. It will connect us to the North American grid. If it connects us to the North American grid, then clearly we would have to be considered as part of NAFTA, being part of this electricity that goes from Labrador all the way down to wherever it goes in the US.

The six-month hoist will allow the government an opportunity to properly review this legislation and have it tested in at least two respects that I can think of right away. One is: Does this pricing constitute a subsidy under NAFTA? If it constitutes a subsidy under NAFTA, then another competitor may well bring an application under NAFTA and allege that a business in Labrador has a competitive advantage that it is not entitled to under NAFTA by virtue of a subsidy.

In addition to that, by being connected to the North American grid, if the cost or the price of hydroelectric power, electricity, is really low in other parts of North America, does that mean by opening the grid that we are actually exposed to having to accept their power, because the government is intent on another piece of legislation which will create a power monopoly for industrial users in this Province. Well if we are connected to the North American grid and if we are part of NAFTA, as soon as we open that power line we are just as liable to be required under NAFTA to receive cheap power as to sell expensive power.

We may think that we are doing a wonderful thing for ourselves by hooking up to the Mainland, hooking up to the North American grid, when, as part of NAFTA, we may find that we are very small fish in a very big pool and it may not serve our purposes very well.

Mr. Speaker, what I would say, other areas that should be reviewed are that this legislation engages two other pieces of legislation. First of all the Churchill Falls(Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act says that the parties that will be excluded even after this. They will be excluded from the PUB, Public Utilities Act, 1964 which may well need to be amended if this matter is going to be enacted. Parties that are excluded are the Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission and the Newfoundland and Labrador Power Commission. A further six months may well provide adequate time for the government to be able to properly engage with these parties and prepare a much more effective piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I would say the hoist is completely appropriate. There is no hurry. There is at least two years. We have seen the negative results of hurried legislation as recently as this week, so why would we hurry now? Why not hoist the legislation?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to stand up here and say a few words to the hoist motion that is on the floor. This bill, Bill 53, will amend two separate pieces of legislation: the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 as well as the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994.

I will not go into great detail, but for the benefit of those people who are watching on TV and are wondering about why it is we are here continuing to debate this under this hoist, the hoist is a long-standing parliamentary procedural device.

I have read a bit about it since I took my seat here, because this is not the first time this procedural device has been used. It is really intended to allow for a prolonged debate, for a more thorough discussion of a piece of legislation, or even a private member's motion. In fact, O'Brien and Bosc, the rules of parliamentary order that we deal with, talk about that it has happened. This hoist is to allow for a six-month period to go by to allow for more consideration of Bill 53.

It was interesting when the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador was standing up earlier. He was talking about how we cannot wait another six months – it simply cannot wait. The companies cannot wait. I was a little surprised to hear that line of argument. It is an interesting one, and perhaps if I was sitting on the same side as him it might be one I would even choose myself. I have to say it is a point worth challenging because it seems to me with all the news about potential developments, emerging developments, developments that are on the horizon whether they are new mining ventures or whether they are expansions to current mines that are in operation already, it seems like things are going along reasonably well.

If you think about the whole context of the Muskrat Falls Project, government is planning to project electricity rates in the Province for twenty-five to fifty years. I find it hard to believe that these multinational companies, and even the smaller mining companies out there, that they cannot project industrial rates, that they do not have a good idea of where this is going. They more or less have been told the general direction of where industrial rates in Labrador will be upon the passage of Bill 53. We certainly know the government has a majority, the government has introduced the bill, so there is a good chance that this is going to become law.

I find it hard to believe that multinational mining companies could not be able to do something, could not project electricity rates in a far shorter term than government is planning to do over a much longer period. It is an interesting argument, but it is certainly not one that I think would prevent us from having this discussion.

Then at another point this afternoon when speaking on this same motion, on the hoist motion that was put on the floor by the Member for Bay of Islands, the Minister of Natural Resources referenced a comment that was made by my colleague the Member for The Straits – White Bay North last night or early this morning. I think it must have been after midnight last night, Mr. Speaker. He referenced the comment about whether or not Muskrat Falls would give us enough electricity to satisfy the industrial demands that this combined block of power with the TwinCo block and the recall, and whatever we have with Muskrat Falls, if that would even be enough to satisfy the energy needs that we see on the horizon for mining in Labrador or other industrialization for that matter.

We do not have the Hansard obviously because we know we do not get the Hansard for night sittings, but he said something to the effect of I thought the NDP was against Muskrat Falls. I thought it was really interesting because I feel that our position has been very consistent all along; meanwhile, the government's argument reminds me of a crown and anchor wheel down at the Royal St. John's Regatta where you spin it, and this day it is because of mining, the next day it is because of Quebec, the next day it is because of we have to give energy to Nova Scotia, the next day it is domestic energy. So it is like a revolving wheel of rationale. I feel like we have been fairly consistent.

I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North, who is yelling across the way at me, you should have a look. Mr. Speaker, he should have a look at our platform, which is still on the Internet. If the Member for Mount Pearl North needs it, Mr. Speaker, he can just –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: He can e-mail me, Mr. Speaker, it is dalekirby@gov.nl.ca. I will e-mail the link to him so he can have a look at what it says.

It says that we are in favour of a project that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and good for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the position that was taken by the New Democratic Party before I ever arrived here in the Legislature. I think you have to take some responsibility for those things, and I certainly wanted to clarify that. Our position has been consistent. Sometimes it seems to me that that position has been changing all the time, like I said, like a wheel down at the Regatta.

Now one of the things the Member for Bay of Islands said quite eloquently I thought – he has a certain eloquence there is no question about that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: He said this would allow for consultation. This would allow for consultation. The government takes great pride, I hear the Premier on her feet all the time talking about the importance for consultation. My colleague, who I have a lot of respect for, the Minister of Education, when we talked about bullying legislation here he talked about the need for consultation. Government believes in consultation. So if government believes in consultation, why not take six months? Why not take a period of time to work on this further to consult with people?

One of the things about all of this development is we are in a global race for labour right now in some respects. If all of these things come to pass through further industrialization, through mining development in Labrador, then we are going to have some serious shortages, serious pressures when it comes to finding qualified workers to do some of these jobs. There has been a lot of talk about the import or the attraction, if you will, of foreign workers.

I know there have been companies – these very mining companies have been recruiting around the world. I read a story sometime back about agencies being in Ireland because their economy is depressed, trying to get workers to come over here to work in Labrador and work in projects here. That is driving up the cost of labour. That is certainly going to be an additional pressure.

Organized labour, as a number of members has suggested I know – and the Member for Mount Pearl South was speaking before the break at around 5:30 o'clock, was talking about how these would be great union jobs and so on. I think it would be interesting for there to be a thorough consultation with organized labour on their perspective on this. Workers have an important role in this because they are going to do all the work obviously.

We know that Aboriginal communities in Labrador also feel that they have a right to a lot of the natural resources. They have to be included in a lot of the things that government does when it comes to the development of our natural resources in Labrador. So they should, if only for the fact that they were here first. They have rights under the law and they have a right to be considered. I think this would allow for more of that.

I think municipal governments certainly in Labrador have an important role to play, once all of this gets flowing, once all of these companies come in and start doing all of the work that will need to be done. I think they would have interesting things to say about the need for secondary processing of ore, the need for there to be more long-term jobs in Labrador. Not fly-in, fly-out sort of jobs, so that there could be long-term sustainability for their communities that they could have something to build on for the longer term.

It is clear there are many Labradorians who feel it has been too often that they have not been fully considered, fully consulted with, and been the full beneficiaries of the natural resource wealth that exists in Labrador. Labrador is also not a monolithic place, it is a diverse place. The interests of Western Labrador are different than the interests of Central Labrador are different than the interests of Coastal Labrador, and whether that is the South Coast or the North Coast. I think those are all very different.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: I have been to Labrador several times, I say to the member for – and I have been to her district. I have been to Red Bay several times. I have been to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

MR. KING: (Inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: I have not been to Battle Harbour, I say to the Member for Grand Bank.

Other business sectors as well, Mr. Speaker, have an important role to play in the industrialization, or further industrialization. The business sector itself is very diverse in this Province and in Labrador. It is not just the mineral development industry on its own.

There is the service sector, which provides a lot of the amenities and a lot of the necessities for people who live in Labrador communities. There is the supply sector, which has an important role to play in ensuring that all of the necessary tools, supplies, and resources are there for companies that do not have those supply chains built in. Of course, a lot of them do not because a lot of them are not based in Labrador. Indeed, a lot of them are not even headquartered in this country. There are certainly lots of partners.

The public sector I believe is an important partner. If we have further industrialization in Labrador, if we have a great influx of labour in Labrador, we are going to need more health care because there would be more people there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that – I have acknowledged the member has brought in the word industrial development several times to try to make it relevant, but it is a bit of a stretch. I would ask the member to be relevant to the bill, mindful of the focus of the bill, and conclude his comments with a very focused discussion around the bill at hand.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, absolutely.

The issue of industrial rates in Labrador is a serious one, no doubt, as we all know. It is also a very complex issue. With issues of such complexity, issues that have so many different implications for the future, with so many different players and with so many different interests, we have to make sure that every detail is scrutinized when it comes to a piece of legislation such as Bill 53, which amends two different acts.

It actually amends two different acts of government. We have to make sure that every possible outcome is weighed. We have to make sure everything is analyzed. We have to make sure all of those things are well understood, because we certainly do not want to repeat the sorts of mistakes that we have made in the past.

We have heard people talking about what has happened with hydroelectric development in the past in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: Singing, Mr. Speaker

Mr. Speaker, Bill 53 raises many concerns with regards to development of mining in Labrador and as I have said, it is extremely complex. It requires a deep and clear understanding of all the many background issues and they all have to be considered together. That should guide us in how we allow for these industrial rates to be set and how Labrador is going to be developed, especially when it comes to mining.

I have some concerns about this particular legislation as it pertains to the Province's development of those industrial rates, when it comes to what companies are eventually going to pay for, what they are going to pay for the power, and our competitiveness with our neighbours. We know that Quebec certainly has a long-standing interest in power, and not only hydroelectric power; they have a lot of other sources of power on top of that. They are certainly a leader in natural gas production, and power production as well. So I have some concerns about that.

As I have said, we do not want to go back and we do not want to replicate the problems we have had in the past. We have had some of the perhaps most egregious giveaways in our history happen through legislation in the House of Assembly; whether that is Abitibi or whether that is the Upper Churchill, we have had all kinds of problems when legislation is rushed through at times like this, when the House is sort of hitting up against a time when members are thinking about their family, friends, and holidays and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: I know we did have a long period of time here, I say to the Member for Gander District, when we were discussing the Premier's private member's motion, where members did their address in reply to the Speech from the Throne and they raised a lot of really important issues around Labrador, around industrialization, electricity, and where it is we are headed.

Another thing I would certainly say that our party, the New Democratic Party, agrees with the Minister of Natural Resources on is when it comes to supporting all of the new developments. I was reading an article just before I stood up about some of these developments. They are all in various stages. They could roll out. I think they are all really set to roll out over the next five to really ten years; a lot of these projects will be up and running, whether that is Altius, whether is Alderon, whether it is Iron Ore. Certainly, we know that we need a lot of power for that.

If we are going to have what we really want, which are those secondary processing jobs, we are going to have to be competitive and we are going to have to have a good, stable, transparent, open way of setting those industrial rates, because you are right, members are right; companies are looking at this very seriously and they are wondering what is in it for them. They are doing their job because their role is to make earnings for their shareholders. That is good and right. That is what they are supposed to do, but I am interested, and I think our party is interested, and I hope all members and all parties here in the Legislature are interested in what is in it for us. What is in it for Labrador? What is in it for our Aboriginal communities? What is in it for rural Newfoundland?

How can we harness these few natural resources that we have to the benefit of the whole Province?

We have heard a lot of rhetoric since 2003 about no more giveaways. There should be no more giveaways. We cannot allow any outside interest to come here into the Province and to take away what is the birthright –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member one more time it is about industrial rates and I remind him to use his last few seconds he has on the rates.

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

Knowing all of what I just said, Mr. Speaker, what we have to examine in Bill 53 is more or less what the outcomes are going to be. We know that the market block would be all of the remaining industrial power required beyond the development block and its price would be linked to – as the Department of Natural Resources, the government has told us – external market prices. It would be supplied from the remaining Churchill Falls recall block and other generation sources in Labrador, including Muskrat Falls.

Of course, that was the bone of contention that we had with clause 4 in the bill, because it does address Muskrat Falls and the role of the Public Utilities Board in that.

I have a lot more to say, Mr. Speaker, but I will take my seat now.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a privilege for me to be able to stand and speak to Bill 53, the Act to Amend the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and Electrical Power Control (Amendment) Act, 1994. Mr. Speaker, as you know, my colleague made the hoist amendment to set this aside, set the discussion on this bill aside for a six-month period.

Mr. Speaker, I did have the privilege of speaking for some time last week on this particular bill in relation to the Labrador industrial electricity rate and why that is important. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we as a party and as the Official Opposition have agreed that we would support this bill. Indeed, there seems to be some sense of urgency that has been created from government.

In this particular case, Mr. Speaker, what this makes reference to are two real pieces of power, the TwinCo block of 225 megawatts of power; historically, there have been fourteen extra megawatts of power that have been added to the development block, for a total of 239 megawatts of power. This is what now becomes the development block as we set rates for the Labrador industrial rate.

The importance of this, of course – first of all, we need to look at how power is supplied in Labrador, with the somewhat-interconnected system that we have there, and how it becomes a puzzle in some ways. We get the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area that also gets power supply from the Upper Churchill; Labrador West, Labrador City, and the Wabush area getting the power from the old TwinCo block, which is 220, but also comes from Churchill. This is where we get the industrial rate. This is the reason why we are talking about the industrial rates today.

The South Coast, as I said earlier, is another completely different system. They depend on diesel and they also depend on power from Quebec, which is in Robinson Lake. The importance now is how we develop an industrial rate. The whole idea with the industrial rate is that we can get to a point where we can generate economic benefits, economic activity in Labrador West.

Over the last year, a lot has been said about the mining developments in Labrador and the importance of this. There is no question as a Province as a whole that we take this very seriously. We have to make sure that we keep competition in place so that these companies can actually be viable, not just the companies but indeed the communities and the people who actually work in those communities. It is just not those large companies that are actually dependent on this.

I want to go back to how it is we actually define an industrial block, why are we talking about industrial rates, and in actual fact, who we would consider to be an industrial ratepayer. In this particular case, especially in Labrador, it is really a mining company, primarily, who can actually take high-voltage power. It is not about the amount of power that they actually take. It is about how they take the power. Not going through any substations and those sorts of things, it is actually high-voltage power because of the magnitude and the size of the equipment. This is what makes someone an industrial customer; therefore, the recipient of an industrial rate.

So, right now we have in Labrador, like I said, it would be IOC and mining in Wabush, but compared to that on the Island, we would have companies like Vale, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, and so on. So this is completely different than commercial and residential customers that we would normally see even on the Island or in Labrador.

So when we look at Bill 53, Mr. Speaker – and I will say we went through what I consider to be a very good briefing session, and I would want to thank the staff at the department for the great job that they did. This bill, in actual fact what it does now will put in place an industrial rate so that when we negotiate with mining companies for further development in Labrador, they will know what the cost of power would be.

This is obviously an important component of how they factor in their cost of doing business in that environment; it is important to them. We also know that historically those companies have got what we would consider to be some generous rates. I guess the reason for that and the rationale, the history behind that, Mr. Speaker, is that indeed it was IOC and Wabush Mines and what they did is they actually developed their own source of power when they actually went into Lab West. Of course, that is what has been known as the TwinCo block, Mr. Speaker.

So, in this particular case it is the TwinCo block, and as the Upper Churchill was developed we now know that this TwinCo block was then taken and became part of the Smallwood Reservoir, and as a result of that they were able to produce more power. So the TwinCo block of power and the generating station at Twin Falls has been mothballed, and taken over by CF(L)Co. In return for that, they entered into a contract until 2014 for very lucrative rates. Now, of course, this contract expires in 2014, hence the need now to put a new industrial rate policy in place.

We also know that the mining industry, there has been a significant amount of discussion around the value of mining, not only in Labrador but indeed for the Province. We must recognize that the gross value of mining shipments in 2011 was between $4 billion and $5 billion; it was actually $4.6 billion. In 2012, it was anticipated to be and expected to be $4.1 billion. Most of this coming from iron ore representing 67 per cent of this and nickel represents 19 per cent of this. If you look at the history between iron ore and nickel, we all know that the mining for those particular minerals is all done in Labrador. This is the reason why again the industrial rate is important for those mining companies.

Indeed on top of that, the importance here for those industrial rates and those mining companies is that they actually contribute in 2011-2012 almost $400 million to our provincial tax revenues; $343 million actually in provincial tax revenue. These are all very big numbers and very important numbers as we look at the revenue stream for our Province.

The importance of the industrial rate to the customer of course is something that they will be looking for because they will need to know, they will need this rate established so that they can go ahead and make long-term plans for either the expansion or the growth of their business.

This is primarily about the existing mines but on top of this, we also know that there has been significant interest by other mining companies and we are at various stages of mining interests in Lab West or within the Labrador Trough; therefore, it is important that we create the industrial rate so that these potential mines will know what they can expect from their own power rates as they make their own plans for development.

When you look at this, typically the reports are showing that we have the low end, the midrange, and the high end, in this particular case, and if indeed we go to the high end, we are up to around 1,400 megawatts of power. If you bring this back to the Muskrat Falls Project, it indeed creates a problem for everybody in the Province if we actually got to that particular spot.

Mr. Speaker, the whole idea here, though, is that we have to establish the industrial rate and what is indeed a fair rate. What is that those particular customers can expect? Where is the sense of fairness? Where is the sense of fairness, not only for the mining companies but also for people of the Province and the government in this particular case? The revenue stream that is generated from this, we must make sure we maximize on those benefits. We want to be fair – we want to be fair to our industrial customers – but we must also realize we have to maximize on those benefits. What this does is it brings into play how competitive do we want to be, and who our competitors would be.

We know for the most part our biggest competitor would be the Province of Quebec. It is important for us that, when you look at the mining companies, they have a couple of options. They would be the purchase of power from Quebec or from the Province. Therefore, whatever we do with the industrial block, the industrial rate, we have to be competitive. That is the sense of fairness, I believe. As I said, it is not just the mining companies in this particular case – the large mining companies – but also the many small businesses that operate in Labrador West. They actually depend on those companies to be viable because they are service suppliers. As well as the communities, they depend on those mining companies to play their role.

The other important fact is they are huge suppliers. As a spinoff from that, the smaller companies that support those mining companies employ a lot of people as well. Just within operations and maintenance alone, even in that service industry and that service sector this makes a huge contribution to the overall economy in the Province.

When you look at what are the two main components of the industrial rate, I have already talked about the development block being 239 megawatts of power, composed of the TwinCo block at 225 megawatts and an extra 14 megawatts that has been historically used. We source that from our recall power. There are two other components: one being the generation of the power and then of course the transmission.

What happens in this particular case, with this piece of legislation we are discussing here today, the generation itself is unregulated. As we bring on extra power, we take our development block, we take our industrial block, we add what extra power we need, and of course this so-called, if you want to use the analogy of a bucket, we dilute it, bringing in the extra power and the industrial rate based on the very cheap development block that we have. As you layer on the extra power that comes in, the rate will be increased simply because we are mixing in the development block with some higher-priced power.

We have the two components that I talked about, one being the generation – that being unregulated – and the other one being the transmission; that is a regulated piece of the industrial block of power. That rate would be set by the PUB.

What makes that different? What happens with the transmission line, the transmission component of the rate is based on a cost of service. What happens there, the utility, through the PUB, would look at the cost of service. There would be a baseline for that and then there would be a rate of return on that transmission. It is important that the utility is in a position that it can finance itself and prepare and upgrade the facilities when required so that we can maintain stable and reliable electricity for industrial users. This is an extremely important piece of this component. As I said, it is the generation and the transmission.

When I spoke to this earlier – and one of the arguments that has been made about the development in this particular case of Muskrat Falls and how it supports the mining industry in Labrador, one of the arguments that we have often discussed is: where is transmission? How do we get this power?

In conversations, we all know that you cannot send power wireless and you need to connect it. Right now one of the things that is lacking in the infrastructure in Labrador and using projects like Muskrat Falls and others to support the mining industry in Labrador West, is we are missing that transmission. Right now, before we can get to the establishment of the industrial rate, there is also a huge component of servicing the industrial users in Quebec. We have to make sure that we have stable transmission in place. That is not there now.

Even within the briefing that we had by the officials at the Department of Natural Resources, we talked at length about even what we have here now. Because CF(L)Co has been typically the owners of those lines through its TwinCo block that was originally put there by IOC and by Wabush Mines, the existing transmission line itself requires a significant amount of upgrading. This is where the utility would come in, making sure that there is sufficient return on equity for the utility to make sure the upgrades are done.

Then, as we want to develop further mining interests in Labrador, it is important that we get this new transmission built. As we understand this, through the industrial rate, what would happen is the mining company would come and sit down; what they would do is determine how much they needed. We would enter into some kind of cost-shared arrangement so that the mining companies themselves would pay so much towards the development of the transmission. This would be done, I am assuming, through a Power Purchase Agreement so that we could have certainty that we, as a Province, would not be on the hook for a transmission line – in this particular case – that we would not be using to full capacity.

This is important as we continue to attract and develop the mining industry and the economy in Labrador West. Of course, industrial rate setting is nothing new. It is something that we have had to use with other industries, as I have said. Even in my own district we have Corner Brook Pulp and Paper that actually generates their own power at 121 megawatts; they actually run their own mill in Corner Brook from this power.

Mr. Speaker, this is the value of a competitive industrial rate, but, as I have said: you can set a rate, you can have a competitive industrial rate, and you can leverage that for economic activity, but we also want to make sure that we get value so that value can actually go back into the economy of the Province, and indeed, we can support the other programs that are so necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I think the key thing here, as I said, we have to keep in mind that this current contract expires late in 2014. The industrial rate is something that we need to establish. We have to do it right. It is important that we look at this, as mentioned in this bill, on an annual basis so that we can make sure that we are getting the proper return on our investment, and indeed, that the industrial users in Lab West will be getting power at a reliable and at a competitive rate.

Mr. Speaker, right now we do not have a current published industrial rate in Labrador West, so this will be something that is new; as I understand through our briefing, the mining companies themselves are looking for this. As I said, they need to create this degree of certainty around their exposure to what is really a significant expense in their operations.

Mr. Speaker, it is the importance of being competitive, but it is based on two principles: we need to be competitive, but then again, we need to make sure that we bring the value back to the Province as a whole. We do appreciate what it means to the overall economy in the Province, but with that said, we have to make sure that indeed we get the return from this so that we can continue to support other programs which would support the communities that are in Lab West.

We encourage industrial development. We as an Opposition will be supporting this, even though the sense of urgency has been discussed by some members, saying that people are indeed looking for this now; we also know that these customers are under contract until 2014 and there is time to make sure that we get this policy right.

Mr. Speaker, as I conclude my comments right now, I will say: as an Opposition we will be supporting this particular policy, the importance of industrial rates generating economic activity, but we cannot underestimate and we must deal with the significant gap that we have right now in getting power from Muskrat Falls into Labrador West; of course, that is the transmission which is something that we need to get established.

The development block, being 239 megawatts of power layered onto this, will be the market block, Mr. Speaker. This will feed into the industrial rate, the establishment of the industrial rate. I really look forward to further debate on this and getting the feedback from the communities and the companies that depend on the reliable and competitive rates for further economic development in Labrador West.

Mr. Speaker, I will just take a few seconds as I clue up here. As an Opposition we will be supporting this bill and we look forward to the debate. We look forward to the growth of the mining in Lab West. It is important to all of us as members from all parties, but we have to make sure that the industrial rate is not only to get the maximum benefit for the companies in Lab West, but also for the many residents in the Province who rely on the revenue that is generated by the mining industry for all the services that we enjoy.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my comments. Thank you for the time.

MR. SPEAKER (Littlejohn): The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that we adjourn debate at this point in time on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved by the Government House Leader, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that we adjourn debate on this bill.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 11, second reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007. (Bill 61)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader calls Order 11 from the paper.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007, Bill 61, be now read the second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007". (Bill 61)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in 2007 our government released its first Energy Plan to guide our decisions and actions as we develop the vast potential of our Province's natural resources. A central tenet of that provincial Energy Plan is our commitment to invest a portion of our non-renewable resource revenue into a clean, renewable energy future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, when the Upper Churchill was built in 1969, we saw a significant change in the way energy was delivered to the world around 1972. Energy then had been – the provision of energy, and I talk about all forms of energy. It was fairly stable until we saw the spike in oil prices in the mid-2000s. Our Province has benefited significantly from the development of our oil resources and also from the increase in prices which have gone with that.

When I spoke at a conference in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, people were quite surprised at the vast resources in terms of our producing oil fields and the fact that we produce 32 per cent of Canada's light crude. What we have seen over the last number of years, Mr. Speaker, have been significant developments in shale gas in the United States, which has led to natural gas being used to fuel electricity.

Now we are seeing significant changes in producing shale oil in Bakken and other areas in North Dakota. We have seen China explode and the Chinese economy having such an impact on the world. We have seen the BRIC economies; the emerging economies have such a significant impact on the world.

What we have also seen in this Province is very significant growth, Mr. Speaker. We have seen this Province, in certain areas of the Province – and I particularly talk about parts of Labrador and the Avalon Peninsula – explode. We have a vibrant economy, Mr. Speaker. We have a situation where there is phenomenal growth.

In the past, I have talked about the number of increased ratepayers we have in our Province, Mr. Speaker. It is interesting that even though we have had a decrease in our population, we have had 28,800 new homes constructed in the Province from 2002 to 2011. We have had, Mr. Speaker, approximately 2,800 housing starts a year in that decade, 80 per cent of those being typically single-detached homes, with 85 per cent of those homes choosing electric heat.

Since 2006, the number of housing starts has increased, averaging over 3,000 new homes annually, with housing starts peaking in 2010 at over 3,600 new homes. We have, even though there has been a decrease in population, 18,000 new residential customers on the Island since 2006. We have seen our GDP grow and our personal disposable income grow. The outlook continues to be positive, even though right now with our rigs being down and the production down, there is less revenue coming into the coffers, into the Treasury.

As a government, we are looking at: What can we do to ensure a sustainable future for our Province, knowing that the oil will not last forever? Now, Mr. Speaker, I believe – and this is just a belief on my part, I have no hard evidence at this point – there is a lot more oil out there to be discovered.

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, as my colleague the Minister of Finance says, on the West Coast also.

The difficulty with finding oil is it costs a lot of money. There is huge risk and there is huge expense. We have looked at: How do we develop our resources to coincide with what is projected now to be the decrease in oil revenues?

We know that Hebron, when it starts producing in 2017, will produce approximately, it is estimated right now 700 million barrels of oil up to 2037. We know Hibernia, which was originally expected to produce 600 million barrels of oil, will produce oil until 2040. Hibernia is one of the big oil fields that have been discovered in the world with more than a billion barrels, an element being more than a billion barrels of oil.

Muskrat Falls, in 2010, it was decided that that is the way we would go right now. We have heard members criticize today – well, it started out to get around Quebec, then it was export markets, then it was mining, but nothing is ever changed, Mr. Speaker. What has changed? The world has changed, and in a number of years we have seen significant changes.

Those export markets that exist in the United States are not quite as open right now in terms of long-term contracts. On power purchase agreements, and over the next week or two I will get into discussing how these power purchase agreements allow us to make money off our energy, how the deal with Emera allows us to get energy to the United States. It will only cost approximately $10 a megawatt, leaving profit, whether that power is sold for $40 or $50 a megawatt hour.

We have all of this growth projected. We have growth in the domestic, commercial industrial use. Then what happened because of the Chinese situation, the need for iron ore became paramount. All of these companies – and we talked about this earlier today. Labrador Iron Mines is the first mine to produce iron ore in Labrador, I think since 1965. Now we have all of these other companies. We have Alderon Resources, we have Tata Steel, we have Grand River Ironsands, and we have the Julienne Lake development, all potentially ready to be developed.

When I became Minister of Natural Resources in November, 2011 – it seems like a long time ago, Mr. Speaker, it is only a year. In November, 2011, right away I recognized that Labrador mining is going to require power. You cannot mine iron ore – and I think the minister from the area talked about that earlier today, the power required.

How can we develop Muskrat Falls so that it is in the best interest of the people of our Province? We start out, do we need the power? Now, what has happened – again, in all the hyperbole and all of the criticisms in the last week or two, we forgot basic principles. That is where I challenge the members opposite. Someone please tell me if we need power, or do you accept we need power? Because if you do not, you are living in a different world than the one the people on this side of the room live in.

If we need the power, which is clear that by 2020 the provincial load forecast indicates that we will need – and I am looking at Schedule A to the Natural Resources paper, Electricity Demand Forecast: Do We Need the Power? – that by 2017 we will need almost 200 megawatts of power, at peak, more than we have today, and that in 2020 we will need more than 200 megawatts at peak.

We need power. We have to do something. Do we refurbish Holyrood? We have looked at that. Do we develop large wind? We have looked at that. Do we develop natural gas either through the LNG or importation or building of a pipeline from the Grand Banks? We have looked at that.

At the end of the day we know we need the power. Secondly, Muskrat Falls is $2.4 billion cheaper. It is cheaper without taking into account any of that 40 per cent of the power that is left over to sell, whether it be to mining companies or export on the spot markets until such time as it is needed.

When you get to the stage as we did yesterday where Muskrat Falls was sanctioned by both Nalcor and Emera, how do we get to the stage where we put the best financing terms in place?

What Muskrat Falls does, before I get to that, is it takes us off the volatility of oil. Mr. Speaker, at peak, Muskrat Falls burns 18,000 barrels a day.

In the last number of years, Muskrat Falls – again, I am going from memory, Mr. Speaker; in the last couple of years Muskrat Falls is used 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the time. What we have had, we have had to integrate the power from Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor. We have had to integrate that into the system. By 2014, all that power will be used, so we will need to use Holyrood more. We are not even talking about the environmental impacts; we are simply talking about the economic aspect. We have to use it more, which will cost more money.

The price of oil in the short term as we have seen is very volatile. The volatility can be affected, Mr. Speaker, by geopolitical issues and it can be affected by issues of supply and demand. It can be affected by, for example, the differential we see today between Brent and West Texas Intermediate, by simply the inability to get the West Texas Intermediate from Cushing to the markets.

It is up and down in the short term. When we get to the long term – and again, I invite anyone to read the report that was prepared by Dr. Mark Schwartz at PIRA, an internationally recognized oil forecasting company that we have put on our Web site and was released to the public. Have a look at what Dr. Schwartz says about the long term. What he says is in the long term the principles of supply and demand will rule.

At present, Mr. Speaker, the world burns approximately ninety million barrels of oil a day. The Americans are burning approximately twenty, the Chinese, ten. It is expected that the Chinese, if they continue at a growth of 5 to 7 per cent, will overtake the Americans in terms of the amount of oil burnt, but, as we have seen recently – and this is happening all very quickly – the Bakken oil play, the shale oil, is resulting now in the Americans moving towards self-sufficiency, but that does not mean that the price of oil is going to go down.

There is, again, a very fundamental principle at play. First, the OPEC countries, who provide most of the oil, have to have a certain price. The cost of developing it – again, this is in one of the papers that we provided; Wood Mackenzie, our energy advisor out of Edinburgh and New York, indicate that to develop a barrel of oil on the oil sands is costing approximately, I think it is $80 to $85 a barrel. So, in order for that oil to be developed, it has to be more than $80 to $85 a barrel.

The shale oil is still a little bit more. Dr. Schwartz talks about this in his paper: shale oil could be at $60 to $70 to $75 a barrel. So again, companies have to get that. What we are seeing now is a movement away from the shale gas into the shale oil, because the shale oil is the more expensive commodity; it is where you make more money.

So, we have a decision to make in this Province. We have made a decision, actually. We made the decision yesterday. We can either remain tied to the volatility of oil, remain tied to the oil markets, remain tied to dirty fuel and poison the environment, or we can move forward with clean, renewable energy, Mr. Speaker, from Muskrat Falls.

The federal loan guarantee; the Prime Minister committed during the election – I guess it was in 2011 in the spring – to provide a federal loan guarantee. That federal loan guarantee, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you one thing: the rigorous economic analysis that was undertaken by the federal government was frustrating to behold at some times, but also amazing to behold in terms of they left no stone unturned. So, the federal loan guarantee was looked at; well, what does it mean to the people of the Province?

Over the next week or two, Mr. Speaker, I will have a chance to speak. As every question is raised I will try to answer it, but in terms of electricity rates forecast, you build in the cost of the loan guarantee, because ultimately, the price we pay in 2017 – and I am looking at our Natural Resources paper now, Electricity Rates Forecasting – and the average ratepayer will pay in 2017 and 2020 will include all of the costs. It will include the capital costs, it will include the operating and maintenance, it will include financing costs, it will include interest during construction, and it will include whatever costs there are. So it is one figure.

What the federal loan guarantee does is it reduces the cost of borrowing. Now, the Leader of the Opposition is a businessman who knows when you are out there and you are trying to negotiate a business deal, you are negotiating financing – you think of when you get a 1 per cent decrease on your mortgage for your house, the money that saves you. You think of 1 per cent to 2.5 per cent on billions of dollars, Mr. Speaker, and it only makes sense.

So as discussions are ongoing, how do we get the loan guarantee? What kind of financing? Nalcor has been and has extensive discussions with the bond rating agencies. I only wish I could disclose the result of those discussions, but I cannot because they are very commercially sensitive. That is not where we can go tonight, but let me tell you they are very positive.

As one Open Line host said today, and perhaps I should not be quoting Open Line hosts, but every now and then you have to: he does not expect – and I am talking about top-shelf Paddy – there will be any problem obtaining money for Muskrat Falls. Let me tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker: he is right.

Now, obtaining money is one thing, and the Minister of Finance I am sure will have a chance to talk about this a little later himself. Obtaining it at the best possible rate is going to be the issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Now, I hear some mumbling on the other side about paying it back. Let me tell you: you have to pay electricity bills. Whether we are paying those electricity bills to offshore oil companies or we are paying those electricity bills to ourselves, you will have to continue to pay electricity bills. It is not going to be free.

Although, in Labrador today, I must say, when you look at the rest of this country, it is not bad. I think it is at 3.4 or 3.5 cents a kilowatt hour if you are on the interconnected grid. I do acknowledge – as the member opposite has raised on occasion – we have issues on the Coast. The ratepayers of the Island have subsidized the rates on the Coast of Labrador by a $40 million infusion of money.

We still have some work to do on the diesel rates and the commercial. I have indicated during debate here that we will be looking at that. The Premier and myself have made a commitment that we do not want people burning diesel if there is a cheaper way. We will look at providing run-of-the-river hydro. We will look at providing wind, or a combination of both.

Do we give $6 billion to oil companies and see no result other than the poisoning of our people in Holyrood, or do we take that $6 billion and build a revenue-generating asset that we will own, Mr. Speaker, that future generations of our Province will own, and they will own forever? Because in the building of this asset it is the capital outlay up front that is significant. Once you build it, the water flows, electricity flows, Mr. Speaker, and the money will flow with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: That is why I have no doubt that the money from Muskrat Falls that we borrow will be paid back.

What has happened here, and I expect will continue to happen over the next couple of weeks, is that the Opposition will try to confuse the issues, taking the poor PUB out of it, and you are not giving us briefings, you are not telling us answers. Let's just look at facts. The facts are we need the power. The facts are Muskrat Falls is the best deal. The fact is Muskrat Falls has been sanctioned along with the Maritime Link, and the fact is we are proceeding.

If they want to stay here for however long to prove whatever point it is they are proving, let them, but, Mr. Speaker, make no mistake, this legislation will pass. This legislation will pass and will pass before we leave this House –

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Because it is the right thing to do.

MR. KENNEDY: Because it is, as the Premier has indicated, the right thing to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: What we have is a situation where, as indicated by the Minister of Finance, there will be a combination of cash and equity going into the debt.. The project breaks down as follows: $6.2 billion will be the current cost to build the Muskrat Falls Generating Station and the Labrador-Island link. Emera will be investing $800 million – I think it is close to $800 million into the Labrador-Island link. We will then be putting equity money into it, which will be paid back, which is an investment for the Province.

There will be a return on equity. I think it is approximately 8 per cent. It could be 8.4 per cent. As revenues are generated and as Nalcor receives the revenue, there will be a dividend paid to the Province. What will happen is that we will certainly, Mr. Speaker, have income coming in from 2017, and I think I indicated one day in this House by approximately 2020-2022 there will be $120 million profit.

There is lots of money to pay the debt. There is lots of money to do other things with. We can have the doom and gloom forecast or, Mr. Speaker, we can do what we have to do and this bill is part of it.

Let me tell you why we should do what we do. Let me read you, Mr. Speaker, a couple of excerpts from a letter written by a businessman in St. John's by the name of Mark Dobbin. Mr. Dobbin, as many people remember, is one of the members of the board, the former wannabe Leader of the Liberals – Dean MacDonald being the other – who walked away from the Grimes deal in 2000. That is going to be a subject of some discussion as we talk about the PUB and the Liberal's decision to exempt the Lower Churchill Project from the PUB.

Let us look at what Mr. Dobbin had to say, "However, I believe the biggest change from the past is the change in the attitude and spirit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador." Mr. Dobbin goes on to state, "The only thing that can stop us now is fear and a lack of confidence. That was yesterday's can't let it be today's. Anyone can find a reason not to do something."

Mr. Dobbin concludes, "It is not always comfortable to make big decisions but there comes a time when they must be made. That time is now. We have to grasp the opportunity, make the right decision to secure our energy needs and leave future generations the legacy that they deserve."

Mr. Speaker, those words define what we are doing with Muskrat Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: We will not live in fear of the past, Mr. Speaker, coming back to haunt us as the Upper Churchill, or fear of the future. While no one can tell what the future will bring – and we have to recognize and we do accept that there is risk. You will never eliminate risk but what you try to do, Mr. Speaker, is to identify it, to assess it, to minimize it, to ensure that as best as possible we rely upon the experts. Those experts who in this case, Mr. Speaker, come from all around the world, have the opportunity to do what they do and examine the project.

The Premier has said on many occasions that no project has been examined like this one. In fact the Lower Churchill has been looked at since the 1970s. I think the Lower Churchill Development Corporation came into being in 1976, Mr. Speaker.

Vic Young, then the Chair of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro wrote a paper in 1980 where he suggested that we develop Muskrat Falls first – the only one out there who really looked at the development of Muskrat Falls. Every Premier since 1972 has looked at the development of the Lower Churchill. It is this Premier, Mr. Speaker, our current Premier, who has brought it home and has made Muskrat Falls a reality.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Now we are going to proceed. We need a financing structure. The federal loan guarantee is worth $1 billion approximately to the people of this Province. One of the conditions of the federal loan guarantee is that there has to be a guaranteed revenue stream.

The Prime Minister of Canada in the announcement in Happy Valley-Goose Bay when he announced the federal loan guarantee was asked a number of questions in the scrum after. He was asked about risk to the taxpayers of Canada because it is a guarantee. What it is, is that if we were to default then the people of Canada would be at risk. The Prime Minister was asked about the risk.

In one question he said there was minimal risk. He talked about there being minimal risk. The very next question, he said in his opinion there is zero risk to the people of Canada, thus expressing the economic confidence required by the federal government to take a bold step whereby they would risk alienating all of those seats in Quebec so they can ensure fairness to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They did not do that, Mr. Speaker, simply because that is the way it is. They did their economic analysis and they required a revenue stream.

Mr. Speaker, that is the main thing this act will bring here. It will be a guaranteed revenue stream, which means we have to do a couple of things. Last week, or this week – I am getting confused in the weeks and I am sure I will get more confused as this week goes on – one of the things we looked at doing here with the Labrador industrial rates: We have the generation rate, which will be made of the development block or the TwinCo block of 225 megawatts of energy, we take that and we combine that with the market block or the new energy that will be used by mining companies in Labrador, and we come up with our generation rate. Then we are directing the PUB that this is the generation rate.

What we are doing here today, this piece of legislation is directing the PUB that you are not to tinker with the costs of Muskrat Falls. The PUB will still look at the cost of energy on the Island. They will still do the things they do, but in order to guarantee the revenue stream. I was asked earlier today: Why would you not allow the PUB to be involved? Well, is it worth $1 billion to the people of this Province to allow the PUB to be involved; or, as a condition of the loan guarantee, we take that $1 billion and we say: Yes, we will ensure the revenue stream?

Mr. Speaker, I am going to come to this because I have lots of good information on what the Liberals did with the Lower Churchill. I am going to read them something that they said at the time. One of the things was they could not risk the PUB interfering with the cost of the Lower Churchill. They went a step further than we are going with 5.1 of the Electrical Power Control Act. They exempted the PUB. They took the PUB out of the process altogether.

Here we are, in a situation where in order to get this guarantee – and to be fair, Mr. Speaker, in order to obtain non-recourse financing, which my – I was going to call him learned friend, but I guess we are not in court – friend, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, will talk about, and the importance of non-recourse financing; he will also talk about coming back from recent meetings with the finance ministers and how, even though you think there is doom and gloom in this Province, we are riding high.

This is not just Newfoundland and Labrador where these problems exist. It is throughout the world. We are riding this storm as good as we can. All throughout the world right now they are calling for new infrastructure. They are calling for stimulus packages. We have our own stimulus package. It is called Muskrat Falls, and not only will it stimulate the economy today and tomorrow, it will stimulate the economy thirty and forty years down the road, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: As Nalcor goes to the markets in order to borrow the money – this is a multi-year finance-raising process – they have to establish a business case. In establishing your business case you say: these are the revenues that we will have coming in, this will be our cost, and at the end of the day this is how much money we expect to make.

The Premier could have done the easy thing here, could have said politically: okay, all of the profits in Muskrat Falls will go back to the ratepayer; but the profits here – and I think it was the Minister of Finance the other day who said that the profits of Muskrat Falls will be $20 billion over the life of the project – $20 billion.

We are here ensuring that the project proceed. The legislative amendments look at securing the financial agreement, ensuring that we have non-recourse borrowing, which protects the Province and Nalcor and restricts then the ability on default to act upon the assets that are the subject of the guarantee.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not the others.

MR. KENNEDY: Not the others. We have a number of companies set up here, and again, my colleague, the Minister of Finance, as a former corporate and commercial lawyer, will explain in great detail the subsidiary structure of Muskrat Falls.

We are financing Muskrat through a combination of equity and debt. The debt will be paid back; the interest during construction will be paid back.

What is happening, to my understanding – and the minister will speak to this – is you build a house, you borrow the money up to a certain point, and then when you get your mortgage, you roll it into one.

This money will be paid back as a dividend to the Province. The non-recourse financing, I understand, is commonly used in the energy and infrastructure sectors. There are many benefits to the financing structure, but mostly what I talked about a few minutes ago.

In order to achieve the non-recourse debt structure, we have to show lenders that the rates charged to Island ratepayers will be sufficient to cover the cost of the generation and transmission of Muskrat Falls power. That is all we are saying to the PUB. We have to ensure that there are sufficient revenues coming in, that the revenues are sufficient to cover the cost, and that it will flow unfettered to the lenders to satisfy debt repayment.

The amendment here – unlike what the Liberals did when they exempted the Lower Churchill Project from scrutiny, we will be directing the PUB that they will not be able to allow or disallow project costs when setting the rates for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. As such, Mr. Speaker, the amounts charged to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro by the entities responsible for the Labrador-Island Transmission Link and the Muskrat Falls generation will have to be accepted by the PUB.

That is what we did last week, so I am a little bit confused as to why everyone is so up in arms today, when the Liberals agreed. They have all said they support that piece of legislation. As for the NDP, I do not know what they support. I am not sure it really matters.

The Liberals have said that they support the project. You support the project, you are supporting us directing the PUB to use this generation. That is what we are doing here.

There seems to me that the Liberals are going to make their point; the NDP are making some kind of point also. We are going to do a dance for the next number of days. I will just remind the members opposite the sanction has occurred and that this legislation will go through.

I am going to especially ask the Leader of the Opposition and his members: look at what we are doing here. Just look at it very sensibly. Is it as bad as it is made out to be? Or is it simply what you have to do to secure $1 billion for the people of the Province that will go directly to their rates and result in savings to them? Isn't that a good thing? By directing the PUB we are doing what we did last week.

Now, let us talk for a second. I am going to come back to this in more detail, but let us talk for a second about what took place with the Labrador Hydro Project or the Lower Churchill Project, because we are directing the PUB. The previous exemptions – which meant they could not look at it at all – by previous Liberal governments, were at Star Lake, Granite Canal – and I have copies of the PUB orders, I have copies of the Orders in Council – and the previous configuration of the Lower Churchill Project.

In the previous Labrador Hydro Project, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was exempted from the Electrical Power Control Act and the Public Utilities Act for activities related to the planning for – including discussions with potential purchasers or partners – the environmental, economic, and engineering study of, and where approved, the design and construction of some or all of the generation transmission and other associated facilities at Churchill Falls, Gull Island, and Muskrat Falls.

This was all based on the fact, by the way – because there are no details of this deal out there; the only details I have been able to find have been in relation to an interview done with Dean MacDonald by John Samms, a law student-blogger, who indicated that Mr. MacDonald resigned because the Grimes' government was going to make $100 million.

They forgot one thing: all of the cost overruns would be borne by the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. You cannot say this was simply an export project, therefore it did not matter to exempt it. The Province would have ended up – this is Mr. MacDonald's words according to Mr. Samms, and I encourage you to read his blog; what happened was the Province would have gotten nothing because the overruns would have resulted in more than the $100 million, Quebec would have owned it all again, and the Upper Churchill would have been replicated.

Now these are the people across the way, who stand, in umbrage, today, who are going to criticize and keep us in the House because we have done a deal where we have secured $1 billion for the people of this Province; meanwhile, we have to direct the Pub, as we did last week, and they are in agreement with it.

I am going to talk a little bit further, because there are some interesting details on the Lower Churchill exemption. You cannot distinguish it on the fact that it is export versus import. The people of the Province would have ended up with nothing. Now what are the people of the Province going to end up with in Muskrat Falls? They are going to end up with a generating station that will produce electricity forever.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the energy world is changing. There is no question. We have natural gas being accessed all over the world; we have deep-water exploration and Arctic exploration. We have shale gas and shale oil. We have not seen the potential yet of the South American countries.

What we do know, I think, from what I have read and what I can see – I am interested in the Member for St. John's East. If he is going to be honest with us here now and not play politics today, because he does know his stuff when it comes to it, if he is going to be honest, he is going to agree with me that oil is still going to be the number one commodity for at least the next couple of decades. The world needs oil; and two, we need electricity.

There will be changes. We are going to see significant changes in the Northeast US, but a recent report prepared by Navigant for the Atlantic Energy Gateway meetings in PEI indicated exactly what we have been saying. The spot markets are there, but what you will see is it will take a decade because the Americans – and I did not realize the amount of coal they burn is still very significant. The number of coal-fired plants they have is very significant. Some of them will convert to natural gas, despite the very significant coal lobbying in the United States. We have a situation where they have a lot of nuclear plants. Some of them are reaching the end of their age, so they have to be either phased out or replaced.

By the time we get to the early 2020s, there will certainly be export markets. We know Quebec has recently signed a significant deal with Vermont in the last year or so. For us, we are not looking for long-term power purchase agreements at present because, as indicated, and I say to the members opposite, we want that power to be available for mining industries in Labrador who are going to produce significant amounts of iron ore. With it, Mr. Speaker, comes economic growth.

The mining industry is not like the oil industry in terms of the royalty scheme. The royalty scheme set up in our oil industry results in significant amounts of money coming to the Treasury directly. I think last year or in the last couple of years, we made in one year $343 million in direct taxation. As Dr. Locke has outlined in his report on the economic impacts of Labrador mining and Lab West mining, the indirect benefits are huge. We are talking huge benefits, not only to the people of Labrador.

I say to the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair: We want those benefits to predominantly benefit the people of Labrador, but also we want them to benefit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have structured –

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: The same way the oil does.

MR. KENNEDY: The same way the oil does, as the Premier has pointed out.

Mr. Speaker, what we are trying to do here is to ensure the project is financed at the best possible rate. The reality is even without the loan guarantee this project is a viable project. Even without this kind of financing, I am sure we could obtain financing for the project. The interest is so significant in terms of the amount of monies it will save, and the Minister of Finance will certainly speak to that.

I see I have twenty-two minutes left in this round. I am going to talk for a second about the PUB because there seems to be some misunderstanding that we are the only ones in the world, the big bad government in Newfoundland and Labrador excluding the PUB. How could we dare do that?

Well, let me tell you about a couple of projects in BC. BC has a regulated market structure; their main utility is BC Hydro. The BC Utilities Commission is their independent regulator. These rates are set. BC Hydro's rates are set by the BC Utilities Commission and new generation projects are required to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Utilities Commission.

The Utilities Commission may decide to hold a hearing prior to granting certificate –and I will talk about the UARB hearing in Nova Scotia over the next few days when I am given the opportunity. Site C, a 900 megawatt, estimated $7.9 billion project in BC does not require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Essentially, it is exempted from oversight by the BC Utilities Commission.

They do that pursuant to section 7.(1) of the Clean Energy Act. There is also, Mr. Speaker, a number of other exemptions which I will talk about as we move along, but I just thought I would give an example here of how what we are doing is not that unusual. The Liberals did it with the Lower Churchill. BC is doing it with that project. There is nothing nefarious here. There is nothing conspiratorial. All we are doing is trying to ensure that we get the best deal for the people of this Province.

Let's look at where our PUB came from and what their role is. They were established in 1949 and they report to the Minister of Justice, administratively. They submit an annual report. They deal with more than electricity. I know that as a lawyer a number of years ago I appeared in front of them on the car insurance issue, whether or not we would move towards the no-fault insurance.

Mr. Speaker, they deal with petroleum product prices. They supervise rates by automobile insurers. They have limited regulatory authority of the motor carrier industry in relation to certain passenger and ambulance operations and they can be assigned the role of arbitrator in certain circumstances.

We have the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 which is an act that was brought in by former Premier Wells, and I find it interesting that our former Premier and chief justice who uses the word should on four different occasions – that the Member for St. Barbe was over there criticizing the former chief justice for use of the word should. That is a battle of the legal titans I will tell you that.

What we have is a situation where the former Premier brought in the Electrical Power Control Act. One of the reasons I understand that act was brought in was to look at the possibility of recall, legitimizing the ability to recall power from the Upper Churchill. The Electrical Power Control Act, it sets out the power policy of the Province and grants authorities and powers to the PUB in implementing the power policy.

Our Energy Plan sets out the – and I do know, does anyone have a copy of the Energy Plan? I think the Leader of the NDP said earlier today that there was no reference to Muskrat Falls in the Energy Plan. I thought it might have been around page 43 there is reference to Muskrat Falls. We have only talked about developing the Upper Churchill since 1976 or earlier so –

AN HON. MEMBER: The Lower Churchill.

MR. KENNEDY: The Lower Churchill, yes. When you talk about the Lower Churchill Project, you talk about Gull Island and you talk about Muskrat Falls. The Electrical Power Control Act provides the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, Cabinet, the right to direct the PUB.

We did not bring in this legislation. This is former Premier Wells, the Liberal government, brought in legislation which allows the Lieutenant-Governor in Council the right to direct the PUB on rates policy and procedures, issue exemptions for a public utility under the act. The same authority under the Public Utilities Act, as well as refer matters to the PUB.

We are not making this up; this is not new legislation on our part. In 1994, the legislation brought in by the government of Premier Clyde Wells allowed for; one, the directing of the PUB of setting up rates; two, the exemptions. We are not using the more draconian exemption. We are using the direction and still saying to the PUB: You have a role to play, you look at the other rates, you look at issues, but do not interfere with the guaranteed revenue stream.

The PUB has authority under the Electrical Power Control Act to look at adequate planning for future production. In the case of power emergencies the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint an emergency controller with authority. This is the act we are talking about today. Under the industrial rates act, in which we are in third reading here now – excuse me, the industrial rates policy; we have to amend a number of acts. That act, we are amending 5.1 to direct the PUB on generation rates. We are also amending the act so it should consider industrial development in Labrador.

What we are doing now to ensure that Muskrat Falls, for greater clarity, we are amending the act here in Bill 61. What we are saying in Bill 61 is that it is amended by adding 5.1(1): Notwithstanding a provision of the Public Utilities Act, for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project – which is defined – the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, which is us, may direct – well, some of us or whatever part of us – may direct the Public Utilities Board to implement policies, procedures, and directives respecting the exercise of powers. That is the same thing that is in 5.1, we are just giving greater clarity to it.

We are not amending section 5.2. We are not exempting this bill, as the Liberals did. We are not excluding the PUB. We are simply saying to them this is the role we want you to play, as the 1994 act of Premier Clyde Wells – which the Liberals acted on at least three or four separate occasions with exemptions – allows us to do.

When we get to the Public Utilities Act, it defines a public utility in the Province as an entity that owns, operates, manages, or controls equipment; provides the Lieutenant-Governor in Council the right to issue exemptions for a public utility under the act; sets out the appointment of PUB commissioners and staff; the LGIC has authority under the Public Utilities Act to appoint a Consumer Advocate, and so on.

When we get to the role of the PUB under Muskrat Falls, we are amending this act, the Hydro Corporation Act, the Energy Corporation Act. So, we are expanding the scope of the direction of the authority that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council can give, but only as it relates to Muskrat Falls. We are not doing anything else. It is only as it relates to Muskrat Falls, and it is in relation to the Liberal act of 1994.

A primary purpose of the amendment will allow us to direct the PUB that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's cost for the purchase and delivery of power from the Muskrat Falls Project will be included in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's Island revenue requirement without review and approval by the PUB. While that is the primary purpose of the amendment, the LGIC will have added authority on what it can direct the PUB, including the terms of orders and approvals on rates and tolls, criteria for approval by the PUB, et cetera, but they only relate to Muskrat Falls.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Which they budget (inaudible). We have had to direct that as well.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Premier. I do not know if Hansard picked that up but it was very well said.

The PUB will be directed to include all Muskrat Falls Project costs. This will not affect the PUB authority, including retaining oversight and approval authority of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's other existing Island costs, as well as any future Newfoundland and Labrador hydro costs and capital plans.

Let me give you example of how it works, Mr. Speaker. We know that to produce a kilowatt of energy today at Holyrood it costs approximately 18.5 cents a kilowatt hour. We know that the power produced at Bay d'Espoir is much cheaper. You take all of that power, you put it together and that is where we get our 12.6 cent a kilowatt hour which ties us, I think at present, for the fourth lowest in the country for electricity rates. That is simple. You blend the two and that is what you come up with.

There have been discussions of Soldiers Pond, and what I indicated last week is that – again, I am going by memory, so excuse me, I could be a little bit off here. My understanding is that Soldiers Pond, in 2017, will cost 20.3 cents a kilowatt hour. You take that, you combine it with the power at Bay d'Espoir and that is where we get our 15.2 cents. However, that same kilowatt of energy to be produced at Holyrood will be 3.5 cents more expensive.

What we see is a chart that will go with Muskrat Falls and the isolated Island. In fact, I think it might be the average ratepayer who burns approximately 1,517 kilowatt hours of energy a month will pay approximately $2 more in 2017, 15.1 cents versus 15.2 cents. Then that chart will go up and eventually Muskrat Falls power, the increase will be half of that without Muskrat Falls.

What is ironic about all of this when it comes to rates is that between 2000 and 2011, we had the biggest increase and no one even noticed it. Between 2011 and 2016 rates are going up again, not because of Muskrat Falls but because of oil.

The PUB will still look at the Island costs. They will retain authority on the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro electricity service because we are saying to the PUB: you can deal with the cost of service of transmission in Labrador. We are directing you on generation rates, and you will continue to regulate residential, commercial customers in Labrador.

The way you would hear it on the other side is almost as if we are taking the PUB, we are casting them to the wind and saying: You are no more. What we are doing is that which the act allows us to do, an act that was brought in by a former Liberal Administration. We could have done what the Liberals have done, we could have exempted Muskrat Falls totally from the PUB. We did not do that. We looked at an in-between. We wanted to maintain a role for the PUB.

When I talk about the PUB, I am not talking about the present PUB. I am not talking about the people who are there. I am talking about the PUB as an entity as it should exist in theory. They have authority. They retain authority over allocating Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's cost to customer classes and approving rates, including the allocation of Muskrat Falls' power costs. They retain regulatory authority over Newfoundland Power and approving that utility's own cost. The PUB will allocate Newfoundland Power's cost. There is still a role for the PUB.

The Premier has said on a number of occasions, when the Leader of the New Democratic Party does her dance of righteous indignation, pointing her finger and jumping up and down over there about the death of democracy – what the Premier has said on a number of occasions: You ask questions on process because you cannot raise a substantive issue. That is what this is all about, Mr. Speaker. There are no substantive issues on this project.

Let's make the PUB the bogeyman, not the government. The death of democracy is removing the PUB. Directing the PUB to do that which a previous Liberal government brought legislation that allows us to do, by taking a step that is not as draconian as what the Liberal legislation was back in the 2000 exemptions, which we will talk about in great detail as we move along.

Now, let's look at the project. Let's look at the substance. Show us. Electricity demand, have I heard anyone over there say: You do not need the power? You might say it, but show us. Here is the provincial load forecast. Here is Manitoba Hydro's chapter on load forecast. Here are the electricity rates. Are we that far off? Show us. We challenge people. These have been out two months now.

Here is the Labrador mining and power paper. Show us where we are wrong. Show us substantive issues. There is Manitoba Hydro and their review of the Decision Gate 3 numbers. Show us where they are wrong. Here is Dr. Locke's economic analysis. Show us where he is wrong. Here is the project the NDP jumped up and down about on large wind. Show us where we are wrong.

We heard all these discussions on legal options, how we could recall power, how we could proceed with the good faith action, and how we could go through Quebec. Here is the paper, show us. Have anyone heard anyone tell us where we are wrong here? Have you heard criticisms of these papers?

The Upper Churchill, can we wait until 2041? Where is energy 2041 on this? Has anyone heard us say this paper is wrong? Have we heard the Opposition? No. What do they do with it? You have not given us briefings. We do not have enough time.

The environmental benefits of closing Holyrood, does anyone disagree with that? The Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services talked last week about those same NDP over there with their little signs jumping up and down waving them: close Holyrood, close Holyrood. Well, where are they today?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, keep it open. That is exactly where they are today, isn't it?

There is natural gas. We looked at the options. Other than one person, has anyone said we were wrong in natural gas? In fact, Wood Mackenzie confirmed that Ziff Energy was right on natural gas. PIRA's forecast methodology – and with all due respect to members opposite, these companies are used by over 500 companies in over sixty countries.

"Our clientele includes all of the world's major private integrated oil companies, nearly all of the largest state-owned national oil companies, and over 80% of both the oil producers and oil refiners in North America. Outside of the oil business, we also provide services to over 80% of the U.S. gas and electric companies and over 90% of the gas and power marketers."

Here is it. They have outlined their methodology. It is not enough to say they are wrong. Show us where they are wrong. Have we heard anything there? No, we have not.

Gull Island, why not develop Gull Island first? Well, the NDP stance is we do not need Muskrat Falls but we need Gull Island. I think that is what they were saying last night, I am not sure. Show us. What do you want us to do? Develop Gull Island on the basis that all of these mining companies might come forward.

What the Premier has outlined, and this is what this is all about here today, is that where you have no substance, rely on process. When you say to us, do not do as we do, as we did, but do as we want you to do, or that we think you should do. When you look at what the people have done in the past, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: I am very interested because I see all of these little news releases that come out every day from the Leader of the Opposition that are inaccurate, and I suggest to you, Sir, that you stand up today and you justify what the Liberals did in the past. You justify how they exempted the PUB. Let's see what you are going to have to say to that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Oh, sorry, I will look back this way.

It is not parliamentary either to be putting out inaccurate statements day after day, I say to the Leader of the Opposition. I thought you were above that, Sir.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: The NDP do not want to speak up –

MR. KENNEDY: I do not talk to them.

The difference between exemptions and direction –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: I have absolutely no respect.

Mr. Speaker, let's get to the differences between exemptions and direction. I do have certain respect for the Liberals. I see them trying over there and I hear what they are saying in terms of their arguments. They have argued that they support the Labrador industry rates policy, and that is fair enough. They have raised certain issues. The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair raised certain issues; the Member for the Bay of Islands raised certain issues. They are legitimate issues. We do not agree but no one says we have to agree. What I hear coming from the NDP is basically uh-oh.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk for a second about the differences between exemption and direction. I only have four minutes left tonight at this stage. Mr. Speaker, what I would like to do is pursuant to Standing Order 43(1) dealing with the previous question, I move, seconded by the Minister of Justice, that the question be now put.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): It has been moved and seconded that the question be now put with respect to Bill 61 in second reading. The debate will continue on second reading. What this provision provides for is a debate will continue on 61 in second reading.

All members of the House have an opportunity to speak to the bill. When the members are finished addressing the bill the question will be put. It provides for no amendments to Bill 61 during second reading.

The debate will now start. The Speaker will acknowledge anyone who stands.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I do want to spend some time on this issue of direction versus exemption. I think it is important to understand that we are not doing here exactly what everyone is making us out to do, Mr. Speaker. What we are doing here is we are directing.

Let us look at what an exemption is, Mr. Speaker. Under section 5.2 of the Electrical Power Control Act the Cabinet has the power to exempt a public utility from all or a portion of the EPCA, Mr. Speaker, where Cabinet feels the utility has engaged in activities that are in the best interests of the Province. This is a mirror provision in the Public Utilities Act in section 4.1. Typically, Mr. Speaker, where a need has been identified to exempt a public utility, it is exempted under both of these sections.

The Public Utilities Act also, Mr. Speaker, provides for two other dispute exemptions. The first is where subject to certain exemptions a public utility generates electricity and sells it to another public utility to which the act applies. This is to avoid duplicating the regulation process. The second exemption is for small projects, under 1,000 kilowatts.

Mr. Speaker, we have, as I have indicated, a number of previous exemptions. In our Province we have had Granite Canal, Star Lake, and the Lower Churchill Project. Then, let us look at again - I am going to come back to BC for a second, because I want to talk about what they have done there in terms of exempted projects and programs.

The Northwest Transmission Line, a 344 kilometre, 287 kilovolt transmission line in Northwest BC was exempted; Mica Units 5 and 6, two additional approximately 500 megawatt generating units at the existing Mica hydro facility were exempted; Revelstoke Unit 6, a project to install an additional turbine at the Revelstoke hydro facility; and Site C, a project to build a third dam on the Peace River in Northeast British Columbia to provide 900 megawatts of capacity. That is an example of four projects in BC where there have been exemptions. We have examples of three here in our Province where there have been exemptions, Mr. Speaker.

So, we now come to 5.1 – I have talked about 5.2 of the Electrical Power Control Act, that is the power of exemption, and perhaps I think that is where the confusion might lie, and maybe some will argue that we are arguing semantics, but there is a clear distinction in this legislation between 5.2 exemptions and 5.1 direction. Under 5.1, Cabinet, as I have indicated, has the power to direct the PUB with respect to the policies and procedures to be implemented by the PUB regarding the determination of rate structures of public utilities.

Under that direction, Mr. Speaker, the PUB is still – and this is an important point – expected to carry out its mandate under both the EPCA and the Public Utilities Act, but in doing so it must comply with the direction given. So, it is not an exclusion and it is not an exemption, it is a direction.

Now, the acts are outlined, the sections of the act, what we are doing for a greater clarity, we are ensuring that the direction in 5.1(1), in Bill 61, will relate directly to the Muskrat Falls Project. So, in the financing bill, Mr. Speaker, related to Muskrat Falls what we are doing, we are adding an additional provision, and it will apply only to Muskrat Falls, as the existing authority, we feel, may not be sufficient. So, we could have simply left it alone, came in under 5.1 and directed it, do what the Liberals did with the 5.2 exemptions; but what we chose to do, to be open and transparent, and to ensure there is full debate in this House, we brought forward the amendment outlining for the people of this Province exactly what we intend to do, allowing it to be debated in this House.

Debate, Mr. Speaker, does not always mean that we agree on everything. It does not mean that the other side will agree with us. It means that we outline our positions, Mr. Speaker, and then at some point you move on. At some point, this government will vote in favour of this legislation. It is up to the Opposition when that happens.

As I have indicated earlier today, Mr. Speaker, we will do what we have to do. We believe in this project and the project yesterday, as outlined in our sanction decision. I would encourage the members of the Opposition to look at the words or listen to the words of our Premier yesterday when she talked about the future of this Province. She talked about the pride that our people have and she talked about, Mr. Speaker, how we are at a turning point, we are grasping and taking control of our own destiny as a government. We have tried to do it since 2003. What Muskrat Falls is, is now the pinnacle upon which we will go forward, Mr. Speaker, and be, to use that trite and overused term, masters of our own destiny.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, we could do the easy thing here. We could have said: there is too much public pressure; let's walk away. We could have said: this is not worth it. This is not worth it from a political perspective. Let's not do it. We could have said: how can anyone predict the future? Therefore, let's not bother; but that is not the way we work as a government, Mr. Speaker. You are elected to make decisions. True leaders make tough decisions, and that is what our Premier has done here: made a tough decision. You know, when you live with it, as we have done for the last year, it is not that tough, because it is the right thing to do, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: I heard the Premier today describe a situation, Mr. Speaker. It was very analogous to what we have tried to do with Muskrat Falls. If anyone thinks that this has been a love-in between the Premier, myself, and Nalcor over the last year, that I have been here anyway, in relation to Muskrat Falls, there have been a number of occasions where the Premier has had to exert her authority over me and indicate: now, do not get excited, sit back, do not panic here, let's look at everything. There are times when we have had to say to Nalcor: you have to get this done; we need this information and we need it now.

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm from own perspective, but also from the Premier's perspective, and she indicated up till 10:30 the night before the federal loan guarantee was signed that she was willing to walk away on principle, and that is what this government operates on: it is on principle.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: The principle here, Mr. Speaker, is that we were elected to make decisions which may not be that comfortable for us at times, especially in light of the Upper Churchill, but will ensure that future for our children that they deserve. That is why we are where we are today.

The Premier made a very interesting example. I do not know where she had heard it. When computers first came in, if you understand how – I cannot learn about computers. I cannot understand them. So you take it apart. You dismantle the computer totally and then piece by piece you put it back together. That is how you learn to do it.

That is what we did with Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker. We came into this and Nalcor provided us with a lot of good information. I have to say, there were times over the last few months I felt, personally, too much pressure. I am really putting a lot of pressure on people all around me. The Premier has always been the sane hand there who says: no, let us work our way through this.

We needed answers. For anyone who thinks we simply said: let us do this because we have to and because we need to, they are wrong in one way. We are doing it because we have to and we need to, but it is based on the right reason. That is the principle of which I just talked.

So now we get to the PUB. The PUB has been grief. There is no question about that. Two million dollars and nine months later, and what we got is a referral to MHI. That is the best I can say of what we got from them. That has been our criticism: no substance, move the process. That is all we have heard. Someone show me a question in Hansard where they have asked a substantive question, or you are wrong on wind, you are wrong on natural gas, or you are wrong on demand. It has been about the PUB.

We could have sat here. We could have done this under 5.1 and no one would have known anything different. The present legislation allowed us to direct the PUB, but we did not do that. What we have done is brought in the amendment which clearly puts it before the people of this Province why we feel this amendment is needed. It clearly relates to Muskrat Falls and we are open to debate in this House.

Did we ever consider going under 5.1? I did not, because that would not be the way to operate. We said we will amend it and make it clear. Do you avoid this issue simply because there could be political pressure or because we could spend Christmas Day in the House of Assembly; or do you lay it out there, do you debate it, and do you say to the other side if you have some good input?

Since I have been here in this House, there have been acts amended over the five years I have been here, but not this: let us amend everything. If you come forward with a decent amendment, something that could address the situation, we will consider it. Right now, we have to make a decision. Nalcor has to get on with doing this project because time is money.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Member for St. John's North and he talked about consulting with Aboriginals. Absolutely, we agree with that, but there is a body of law, including our Court of Appeal, which defines consultation. Mr. Speaker, one of the most important aspects, one of the most significant aspects of that announcement yesterday was the fact of the Innu Nation being on that stage with us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: We cannot underestimate the importance of that. The reason they were there with us, Mr. Speaker, is because it is their land. Historically it is their land. We negotiated the land claims with them, and they, I will tell you, did a very good job of negotiating.

I know that our federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has come under a lot of heat at times, but I can tell you during those negotiations he was a stellar representative of the Innu Nation. He represented his people well, Mr. Speaker. He held out, along with the other members, including Prote Poker, the now Grand Chief, and the Grand Chief at the time, Mark Nui. They held out for the best deal that the Innu Nation could get. Mr. Speaker, they were there with us.

We have negotiated land claims with the Nunatsiavut Government, but their land claims do not extend into Muskrat Falls. Do they have a right of consultation? No question, we have indicated that in a certain zone there is a right of consultation; but consultation, Mr. Speaker, when you have opportunities to present – and again, I indicated to President Leo that we are willing to listen. I think we actually had a meeting set up, but I do not know if it will take place because of the House.

Then we have the NunatuKavut government. Mr. Speaker, we have been clear. When I was the Minister of Justice, I met with them. The Premier has been clear. The former Premier has been clear. If the Parliament of Canada gives you Aboriginal status under Section 35 – we will recognize it. If the courts give you Aboriginal status, we will recognize it. We cannot be expected simply to accept it because you say it.

There is a process that has to go through. The duty of consultation is on a spectrum. We recognize and respect the rights of Aboriginal peoples in Labrador, Mr. Speaker. In fact, there was a reconfiguration of the Muskrat Falls – not necessarily the dam, but in terms of part of it – as a result of Innu beliefs. We respect those rights, and that is referred to in the environmental assessment decision.

Mr. Speaker, when we go through all of this, we have tried to do everything, but it is like I said –and the member opposite, the Leader of the Opposition knows there is no perfect agreement. There is no perfect deal because you are always looking to the future, but if you do not take a chance we are going to be at a standstill here. Nothing will ever happen. The oil will run out and we will not have the economy that we are striving to create.

Let me tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, and this is a criticism: Well, what does this government do for rural Newfoundland? We have heard the Minister of Fisheries stand up, we have heard the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development stand up, and we have heard the Premier stand up. Once we start building these transmission lines down through communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, what you are going to see is every hotel will be filled, because there is no camp being built.

Every hotel will be filled, every restaurant will be filled. There will be people hired in communities. There will be economic stimulus in these communities, and this is coming right across the Province, Mr. Speaker. At times it has been forgotten, the economic impact, which I am sure my colleague the Minister of Finance will talk about.

In an age of stimulus, we have a natural stimulus project, Mr. Speaker, that will employ up to 3,500 people. That will ensure the people of Labrador are given the opportunities to work on this project, Mr. Speaker, and will ensure, as best we can, that the benefits accrue to not only the people of Labrador but to the people throughout this Province. In order to ensure the project proceeds, we then have to look at making sure that we have the loan guarantee, making sure we can obtain financing.

Now, Mr. Speaker, another important point took place yesterday – I expected a couple of questions in the House of Assembly but I did not get any; yes, actually we did get one – was that I do not think the Opposition expected that sanction was going to happen the way it did. They expected that we were going to simply sanction by ourselves and then everyone argue: How can you depend on what happens in Nova Scotia?

The UARB, their regulatory board, they cannot do anything with a decision. Well, Emera sanctioned yesterday. The definition, what we need for the federal loan guarantee is sanction. We have the federal loan guarantee which, Mr. Speaker, saves us money, but we have always maintained that the Maritime Link is an important component of this project.

If you look at the sanction agreement, which I understand the Opposition parties were also briefed on, the sanction agreement says that Emera is committed to building the Maritime Link. It outlines, even though they are low risk – I can tell you, there are times that the President of Emera and the President and CEO of Nalcor over the last period of weeks with their discussions as they try to identify every possible risk, there are times they have driven us almost crazy with their attention to detail; but, based on the professionalism of these two men and these two companies, I have absolutely no doubt that the Maritime Link will proceed.

The UARB will do whatever they are doing in terms of rates, but we said that, the Premier said that from day one. Do you know what is interesting? They are doing it based on Decision Gate 2 costs. They will not have their Decision Gate 3 costs. So the UARB, if they were to follow our PUB, will say: We cannot give you a decision, we do not have the final numbers. Well, I am not hearing any talk like that in Nova Scotia.

What is going to happen, Mr. Speaker, is that there could be some adjustments at the end of the day, but we have the loan guarantee. That has been confirmed by the federal government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, we can stay here until mid-January arguing these bills, but construction is taking place and will take place and monies will be released as Nalcor needs it, because the project has been sanctioned. It is time to move on.

You look at regulatory oversight in other jurisdictions – again, that is probably something I will discuss over the next week or two when I am given the opportunity, but what we are doing here is not that unusual. It is not some big conspiracy to exclude or to ensure that the ratepayer of this Province is held hostage. Is there an issue on overruns? There is always an issue on overruns. There is no question, but we are very cognisant of it. The amount of engineering that has been done by Nalcor at the Decision Gate 3 process gives us confidence as to where that is going.

We will, and as a government we have to, ensure as best we can the oversight but also the federal loan guarantee. The federal government decided they wanted a certain amount of oversight and an independent engineer was brought in. That is a good thing.

Earlier this year we heard arguments: Well, there is no oversight at the Muskrat Falls Project. Now I think the argument is: Why do you have the independent engineer there? Why do you have to provide these materials to the federal government? Oversight is good. That is what we want to see. We will be looking at ways we can be involved further, without interfering though with Nalcor's ability to do business because it is time to separate somewhat, Mr. Speaker, our involvement in the decision making.

One of the most difficult aspects of what Mr. Martin has had to do – he is a businessman. He comes from a business background where he makes decisions based on business. At Decision Gate 2, as tough as it is for some people to understand, he made a decision to not go with other options because business people do not waste money pursuing issues that are not real, but he got criticized for that.

Mr. Martin and his team have to be given the opportunity to make those decisions. I must say the Opposition House Leader's comment today about Mr. Martin's salary was certainly unwarranted, when we look at that he is probably the least paid executive in a utility in the country. The CEO of Emera makes a lot more. Mr. Martin has worked day and night. That sounds like a lot of money, but if you break that down by hour, I tell you, that man deserves a lot more than what he is being paid.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, in my first go-round at this, we are simply directing. We are not excluding and we are not exempting, as the Liberals did in the past.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

(Inaudible) speak to the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

Mr. Speaker, we just heard for about an hour a lot of discussion and a lot of chat about the concept of the Muskrat Falls power project. When we look back at this, and for me, the first day was back in November, 2010. I think I am on record as saying, when I listened to the announcement about the Muskrat Falls power project back in November, 2010 and the term sheet as it was discussed and as it was released, there was no question that when I listened to the words, like a lot of people in this Province, I was quite happy, actually.

There was always a sense growing up in the Province and doing business in the Province that at some point in our life we would actually see the development of the Lower Churchill. I have lots of memories, actually, of growing up and seeing my father as he would sit with the Books of Newfoundland. He would read about the Churchill project and read about the history of the Province. Indeed, what a bad deal in 1969, what that has done to the psychology and the overall confidence of the people within the Province. We all grew up with that. It was part of our history.

Mr. Speaker, there was no question that what happened back at that time left us with a – what I would consider to be a bad taste in our mouth about the confidence that we had in developing the Lower Churchill.

In November 2010 we had a sense of confidence that this would change, that the direction and the development of the Lower Churchill would change and we would see the benefit of this. We were then told what happened in November 2010 would lead into the development of formal agreements between Emera, a publicly-traded company in Nova Scotia, and Nalcor, which is the our own energy corporation that was established, I believe, in 2008 following the Energy Plan in 2007.

In July 31, 2012, those formal agreements were signed; I believe there was about thirteen of them or so. Then of course just a few days ago, the sanction agreement on December 17 meant then, I think, we had our fourteenth agreement that was signed. In the midst of all of this, we saw at the end of November, 2012, the federal loan guarantee, which was included in the list.

These were all the milestones that we have seen with the Muskrat Falls development over the last number of years. At every step along the way I would have to say that there were milestones that were missed and there were deadlines that were missed. All along the way there were questions that were raised about the project and what it would mean.

After being elected in October 2011, and becoming Leader of the Opposition in January, we did start; we asked a lot of questions. I do say with the number of meetings that we had with the officials at Nalcor, there was a lot of information. I think most of the questions that were answered, they were forthcoming with the information that we asked for.

I will say that there is still a list of outstanding issues. We have moved on from that as we have now moved into this part of the project, into the sanctioning and then into the discussion that we are tonight on the two bills, Bill 60 and Bill 61.

This particular Bill, 61, deals with – when you get a sense of why this piece of legislation is required you just have to go back to the federal loan guarantee. The project itself was designed based on a growing demand on the Island and the closure of Holyrood. All of us, I believe, do know that Holyrood would have to be dealt with. We have to deal with that polluter and we have to deal with the oil consumption that happens at Holyrood.

We were also told that the mining companies in Labrador would actually need access to this power that it was important that we find a way to go around Quebec, although I will say that to sign any business contract or any mortgage, the motivation to go around Quebec, to me, is an afterthought; then, of course, the Muskrat Falls Project itself being 824 megawatts of power.

What does this all mean? I will speak, just for a minute or two, about the impact on Quebec and where this positions us. We have heard a lot of discussion over the last few years now. A lot has been said about the principles of the deal and what it is we want to do. There was no question: in many cases the impact of Muskrat Falls to me has been overplayed. I have heard members opposite, I have heard MHAs, and I have heard people that talk about the Muskrat Falls Project as if this would have some huge impact on the supply of energy, for instance, in the US.

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, that is not the case. As an example, Quebec produces somewhere around 34,000 to 35,000 megawatts of power a year. In the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador we produce less than 2,000. Taking 824 megawatts of power and thinking that you are somehow going to compete with Quebec, and thinking that somehow you are going to satisfy a hungry US market, Mr. Speaker, is really not the case.

When you look at the project itself, 824 megawatts of power – one of the questions that we asked Nalcor: what does this mean? We do know that Muskrat Falls, for instance, has a very small reservoir. This poses a problem when it comes to generating firm energy. When we posed the question to the officials at Nalcor: if we had to run a Muskrat Falls generating plant for firm power with a customer who needed firm power at twenty-four hours a day – which is what that would mean – we could only depend on Muskrat Falls for 70 per cent. Therefore, Muskrat Falls as a generator of firm power is not 824 megawatts of power, but actually 70 per cent of those 824 megawatts. That puts us at less than 600 megawatts of power if we were dependent on that power twenty-four hours a day. This was important. We had to know exactly what we were getting for our money.

I just want to respond to some of the comments that were made by the minister. I will say he spoke a lot tonight about previous Administrations and the work that they had done in developing the Lower Churchill. There is no question back in 1998 – although I was not there and certainly had no part in the discussion at all, it has been my understanding from what I read that was a project that was being developed for economic development purposes and therefore no impact at all on the ratepayers. It was meant for export and the development of Gull Island and Muskrat; for some arrangements with the Province of Quebec, this power would then be sold into the US. That was the concept of the development of the Lower Churchill.

I find it interesting that the minister would even raise that; you could go through every single Administration, we can go back in our history, and we can find flaws, even within the seven or eight years. If we want to go back to decisions that have been made, well, there is no question we do not have to go back very far. We need to go back to 2007, for instance, with FPI. We can go back to just a few years ago with the expropriation of the Abitibi mill, and on and on it goes.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this debate tonight is not to look back in our history; I hope that at some point we can actually learn from all of that. There is no question that from time to time we will continue to remind each other about mistakes that Administrations make. The key to this is making sure that we get this particular decision, that we get this right. That is one thing that we have always said, and I have heard the government on many particular occasions say that it was important, no matter what we do, that we get it right.

Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned about the world demand for oil; he mentioned, I believe it was, 90 million barrels a day: 20 million of that being used in the US and 10 million being used in China. There is no question that we have an emerging economy in China, but we cannot underestimate, either, the creativity of a lot of those economies and what they will do to source oil for their own energy.

We also know that in the US right now they are becoming self sufficient because of the creativity that they have shown in extracting shale oil and shale gas and their own energy needs. They will become self sufficient and indeed this is something that has been truly happening in the last few years.

I look back at the initial crafting of the term sheet back in 2010. If you look at this and you look at the time that led into the development back in 2009 I would expect most of the work was done on this particular term sheet.

Things have changed. When we refer to the shale gas in the US, one of the things we said is this is in some ways a revolution. Indeed, it is not a revolution. Shale gas in the US is not a revolution at all. It is not even an evolution at all. Right now, Mr. Speaker, this is reality. What we are seeing in the US right now is reality. Because of the creativity, as I said, with shale gas and shale oil, they are becoming self-sufficient. All reports coming out of the US are suggesting that by 2020 the US will be self-sufficient when it comes to their own oil reserves.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we just got this bill yesterday. We did go to a briefing session this morning. I did mention one of the key elements to all of this and the reason why we are having this discussion today is because of how we actually pay for this particular project. The best way to approach this is when you work backward with some of the milestones we have seen and some of the agreements we have discussed.

I want to spend some time talking about the federal loan guarantee. As I mentioned earlier, this was a loan guarantee that was signed in November of this year. What it does is it actually breaks the project up into four different components: one is the Muskrat Falls Generating Station; two is the transmission line that leaves Muskrat Falls and connects to the Upper Churchill, and I will speak a little bit about that in a minute and why that is important; three is the Labrador-Island Link, which includes a subsea cable at the Strait of Belle Isle; and four is the Maritime Link, this being the responsibility of Emera. Those are the four components.

For the sake of the financing, what they have done is taken the generating station in Muskrat Falls and combined that with the transmission line feeding from the Upper Churchill. The reason for this is simply because there is a need to balance the power. I mentioned earlier about the idea of firm power. There will be a transfer of power from Upper Churchill. We will need this. This was the reason why.

We used the PUB, actually. I find it ironic the minister tonight spent a lot of his time in speaking about the PUB and the value they would bring, and indeed exempting the PUB. Back in 2009, it was the very same PUB and they must have put a lot of confidence in the PUB because it was this group they managed to establish the water management agreement for this particular project.

Now, the water management agreement which the minister did not touch on at all was put together by the PUB back in 2009. The very same group that the government really does not have the confidence in right now to go back and provide the oversight in this particular project. They really do not want to go back there now. One of the key elements of the water management agreement, which has been a source of debate in its own right by many people who have been asking questions on this, who has the right to the water because Muskrat Falls is a very small reservoir.

The importance of the water management agreement is significant. Even in their own annual reports from Nalcor you need just go back a few years and you will realize that Nalcor had addressed this as a very significant and a very serious concern. As a matter of fact, the Muskrat Falls Project would have been really just a very small project without a water management rights agreement in place. Who did the government rely on to develop and write a water management agreement? It was our own Public Utilities Board, the same group today that they have no confidence in to supply the oversight for this particular project.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke about the four components in the federal loan guarantee and what is it that the federal loan guarantee – why is it that it is financed this way? What they have done, the two proponents being Nalcor and Emera, Nalcor signing on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Emera as a publicly-traded company. They signed and of course what they have decided to do with the Maritime Link now is to take the Maritime Link through the UARB. What will happen there is all the cost of construction inputs will go to the UARB in Nova Scotia which is really the same as our PUB. It is from there that there will be a determination on what it is the rates would be, what they could use for the inputs for those rates. That is the role of the UARB.

This brings us back to where we were yesterday when it comes to sanctioning and why things happen like they did. The Minister of Natural Resources is quite right. He did ask me yesterday what I thought was going to happen. I said: Well, in my opinion I think that you will see Emera in this particular case and Nalcor sanction on the same day. Really, that was not prophetic at all that was simply because in order for the loan guarantee – as a condition of the loan guarantee really sanction had to happen on both parties.

What I did realize was happening was that there was a so-called sanctioning agreement. I made mention to this as one of the thirteen or fourteen formal agreements that have been signed with Emera since July 31, 2012. So this sanctioning agreement – and we just really got some briefing on this this morning, so there is still quite a bit of work to be done, it is about a twenty-page document and it outlines a number of conditions for Emera and Nalcor, as the two proponents.

Nalcor actually in a question that was asked in the media session in Nova Scotia yesterday in Halifax – I believe it was at the Westin – Emera was actually asked: Why are we doing this today in advance of your UARB decision? Because that decision from the UARB may not be out for a good few months yet. They have 180 days once the submission is made. We understand the submission will be made to the UARB in January.

So, essentially we could be about six months here before we actually know the outcome of the UARB decision. When the question went to Emera: Why are you doing this today in advance of the UARB decision? Emera interestingly said: Well, the reason why we are doing this today is because Nalcor needs this. They want to be able to make sure that the cost and the federal loan guarantee applies to the project, so we are doing this because Nalcor needs it done. They did not have to do this yesterday. There was no on knocking on their doors or beating on their doors, the doors of Emera, yesterday to actually sanction the project.

So, what do we do in return? I have basically just taken a few minutes because we have been dealing with Bill 60 and Bill 61, and of course, the briefing sessions that we have been busy with this morning. One of the things, interestingly enough, that came out of this, and we actually asked a question a number of times in the briefing session today, because there is a difference between sanctioning, and I will just maybe speak to this for a few minutes.

The steps along the line that actually triggers the federal loan guarantee – and I had this discussion today for a few minutes too, is that sanctioning is, no question, a milestone in the development of the project. The bigger question and a significant milestone, though, is what is considered to be financial close. What happens there is when we get to financial close, the terms and conditions of the federal loan guarantee will be established, and it is then at the financial close position. For us, for Nalcor, financial close will be around September 2013. For Emera, that would be about three to four months later. That is when they are anticipating financial close. Emera really was not in the position – there was no sense of urgency yesterday to sanction the project.

One of the questions around Emera is that they need their rate of return established. They are a publicly traded company. We understand today from the briefing session the rate of return they looked for, for the shareholders, is somewhere around 9 per cent. One of the conditions of the sanctioning agreement, in discussion with Nalcor so that the project and the concept of the project stayed in place, is that Nalcor agreed to pay $25 million to Emera. What that would do, it would be used to offset cost and keeping the 9 per cent rate of return in place for Emera. This was an important piece and some of the questions around the sanctioning process just yesterday.

The other thing I think today in the briefing session was the question around, what happens if the Maritime Link is not built? There seemed to be – I would not want to say confusion, but there was a penalty that is outlined in the federal loan guarantee in the $60 million range. So, if Emera for some reason did not build the Maritime Link, well Nalcor has agreed to pay $30 million of that penalty. Of course, this keeping the federal loan guarantee in place; the value of the federal loan guarantee in place. These are some of things that have been included in the sanctioning agreement that we discussed today.

The other thing is going back to the federal loan guarantee and some of the terms around the financing and what this all means to us as a Province. The federal loan guarantee, as was mentioned by the minister, came out of an election commitment back in 2011 by current Prime Minister Harper – then as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister.

The federal loan guarantee quite clearly states – for us it outlines a number of debt-to-equity ratios and what it is that they would guarantee. For Muskrat Falls and the Labrador transmission line there is up to $2.6 billion. Labrador to the Island would be $2.4 billion, and the Maritime Link up to $1.3 billion.

Emera has taken a different approach. The minister in his comments said they were only at the DG2 position, but what is happening with Emera is they provide a range and they provide a level of probability of where they would fit in that range – the range being somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion. We all know that based on our own experience here in the Province, going from DG2 to DG3 – as a matter of fact, the CEO of Emera, Chris Huskilson, has already said publicly that he expects the Maritime Link to be somewhere in the $1.5 billion range.

The federal loan guarantee quite clearly says that the fixed dollar amount of the range and certainly the cost of the project as a whole, being somewhere around – it is capped at $6.3 billion. This is allocated to the projects, as I just outlined. This is based on a debt-to-equity ratio that we will be responsible for. We are responsible for the equity position.

If you look at the three components as I have mentioned – the four components, but the generating station and the Labrador transmission line being one – that will be financed at a 65 per cent to 35 per cent ratio. The Labrador to Island line will be established at a 75 per cent to 25 per cent ratio, and the Maritime Link will be in the 70-30 range, but of course Emera will be responsible for that.

Except for some of the overruns on the Maritime Link, we will, through Nalcor, be responsible for 50 per cent of the overruns once we get past the 5 per cent. It would go like this, Emera would look after the first 5 per cent in overruns then we would pay through Nalcor or the subsidiaries the next 5 per cent. Essentially, we share the overruns with Emera.

The federal loan guarantee, in a section, quite clearly identifies this area of additional debt and what happens there. The federal loan guarantee will not – and it quite clearly says will not – cover any cost overruns or any additional money that will need to be put into this project. That is clearly the responsibility of the Province in this particular case through Nalcor.

This poses a bit of problem, because when you try and develop what they call the CPW, or the Cumulative Present Worth, it is very difficult to determine this when you look at where overruns could be. We have mentioned this many times over the last year or so, the impact of overruns and why is it a concern. We need not look any further than many of the large projects that have been done on the Island itself.

We look at Vale, for instance, a project that was first budgeted to be at $2.8 billion and now it is in excess of $4 billion. These are recent projects. We are living those projects today. The Hebron project, when it was first announced, is a project that we see now with cost estimates rising significantly. We have seen that budget balloon to around $8 billion, I believe it is now. We have even seen within the retrofitting and the renovating of the Confederation Building here, where this has gone.

It is quite clear that we are getting – no matter what the project is, we can expect to see cost overruns. The question would be: What is an acceptable cost overrun? In this particular case, I have asked many estimators and engineers who deal with many megaprojects. I said: What is the number? What is a percentage that you would find acceptable? Many of them, quite frankly, say that 20 per cent is on the low range. Thirty per cent is usually where you see projects of this magnitude. Why is it a question?

When you think of the development of the Muskrat Falls Project and why – the overruns are certainly very risky in our opinion, is that you are working in a very harsh environment. You are working over a period of five years. It is going to be very difficult to keep this project on budget. You ask the question: How did the proponents respond to this? What is the contingency that is put into this project to offset expected cost overruns?

Well, in this particular case if you look at the budget of this project, it is, I think, $733 million based on the DG3 numbers, which are the cost overruns. Mr. Speaker, when you look at a project now that is at $7.7 billion just at the DG3 numbers, to have a contingency in the $730 million range is an extremely low contingency fund. That includes escalation over the five years of the project.

In my opinion, and I said this to the CEO of Nalcor, the biggest challenge for Nalcor and indeed for Emera throughout this whole project will be to keep this project on budget. That is a significant challenge. It is significant challenge for the ratepayers of this Province. Guess who takes that? It is the ratepayers in this Province. This Province, of course, will have to fund those cost overruns, dollar for dollar, without the impact of any federal loan guarantee.

When you look at the impact of cost overruns and what that would do to the CPW, the minister has also said that there is about $6 billion in oil that has been spent on the nearest other option, which would be the Isolated Island option. There will be $6 billion spent in oil over fifty years.

PIRA was used tonight, was mentioned as really the company that they would use for those projections. Even PIRA themselves in their own report quite clearly say that a fifty-year projection is something that they just do not do, that you really cannot; they do not have that kind of knowledge inside their consulting company. It is impossible to predict anything for fifty years. We know this now when we just look at the changes and the variables in everything we do today, Mr. Speaker.

To use the price of oil for fifty years, even your own consultants, your own experts are saying that a fifty-year projection is not a reliable number. As a matter of fact, even going from the Decision Gate 2 to Decision Gate 3, their opinion and definition of where they would see oil prices going dropped significantly. I think they were in the $105 range now as opposed to, I think it was, around $130. All of this has happened within two years.

On top of that they have also spoken about the likelihood of oil being on the downside when you look at those projections. They said now that the likelihood of oil dropping even further is more likely than seeing oil go up. When you look at how you establish the CPW for the two projects, it in our opinion raises some questions.

Mr. Speaker, I will circle back a little bit to the federal loan guarantee, and the reason that the federal loan guarantee has a number of different conditions in it basically making it quite clear that in order to fund this project, we have to have a power purchase agreement. Without the power purchase agreement, this federal loan guarantee is something that really it does not work.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Littlejohn): Order, please!

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is not unusual. When you look at any business plan, what you want to do is establish your revenue stream. If you go looking for financing, if it is for whatever the business is, one of the things that they will ask you is: show me your business plan, show me your revenue, and show me your cost.

What is unusual about this particular case and this particular power purchase agreement that would be signed between the subsidiaries of Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is just the length of it. Fifty years is the length of this; it is a set rate for fifty years that would feed into the other options that we have for power. So, what are we losing? What is the concern about a fifty-year commitment to this power?

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned just a few minutes ago about what is happening just south of the border and where we see the impact of things like shale gas and things like shale oil. To me, if we were to look back over the last fifty years and ask ourselves what changes have we seen in our own lives, there have been many changes. We have seen changes within industry. Back fifty years ago I do not think anybody would have realized the impact that you would see with thermal energy that it would have on new housing construction.

I know where I come from, heating pumps and those sorts of things are not unusual at all. I think we all anticipate that over the next fifty years, they will become even better; they will become cheaper and more affordable for people who are constructing new homes. What we do know, of course, too, is that people in the Province can be very creative in their own mind.

Mr. Speaker, the power purchase agreement in itself is actually the key element to this particular project. We talked about if you take the particular project, if you take the Muskrat Falls Project and you go looking for financing, the bond agencies out there would be hungry for this. Quite clearly, it is very easy that they would be hungry for this. When you have a power purchase agreement that actually guarantees you revenue for fifty years, you cannot miss with that; only because of the power purchase agreement that cannot be changed for fifty years. It is like actually setting your mortgage and saying: this is what it is going to be; this is the commitment that you and the next generation, your families, will have to commit to for the next fifty years.

That is very unusual. That is very unusual in our own lives. I do not know of one example in our own life where we would make any type of financial commitment for fifty years. As a matter of fact, you cannot even do it for residential mortgage these days. You cannot do it.

In this particular case here, the power purchase agreement – which is similar to your mortgage except you are setting the rate for fifty years – whatever benefits, or whatever opportunities that would come through over the next fifty years, these generations will not be able to take advantage of that.

When you look back at things we can actually see develop over the next fifty years that could have an impact on this, there is no question – actually, it was just this weekend that I read a report or was just watching a report on the development of LNG in Norway. They were looking at some very simple, quick payouts, very simple returns on investment. So, as we stand here today, do we think that this will not be an option in fifty years, even though we have reports today that suggest otherwise – that in the future, I really do believe, and maybe in our own lifetime, we will see that natural gas will become a very significant supplier of energy for us in the Province.

The power purchase agreement that we are talking about here by its own design is very unique. As you look back to this particular power purchase agreement, it goes back to a model that comes out of Ontario, this being a Bruce Power contract. That was around a nuclear plant, and even within that power purchase agreement there was some flexibility for changes in rates over the length of the power purchase agreement, but that is not the case in this particular case.

What has happened here – because Muskrat Falls power in its own right has a cost of service that in today's terms is not inexpensive; as a matter of fact, it is very expensive power, so what makes this work is this power purchase agreement that is designed to have cheaper power in the early years, but then with an escalator of 2 per cent a year, or somewhere around the consumer price index, somewhere around 2 per cent a year over fifty years.

What you will see is, based on the Muskrat Falls power, over the fifty years you will see a guaranteed escalator of around 2 per cent a year. At the end of the power purchase agreement for Muskrat Falls is when you will see the higher prices.

The transmission component on that is very different because that is a regulated component that is dealt with on a cost-of-service basis, which is what we have seen in the past with Bay d'Espoir and the other hydro projects that have been done in the Province; it has been developed on a cost-of-service basis.

What happened is you would get a particular hydro project that was developed and the cost of that service would feed into through the PUB to determine the rate. Very different this time around with the Muskrat Falls Project; that is done through a power purchase agreement, and even if you look at the cash flow, for instance, on that power purchase agreement, you would find that in the very early years it is actually shy on cash. Mr. Speaker, this is a very significant difference in what we have seen in the development of hydroelectricity in the Province from over a number of years.

The other thing that we have asked for on a number of times is really the strength of Nalcor. Realizing that the anticipated overruns that we would be responsible for, we are concerned. We are concerned about the level of commitment that this particular project will place upon the finances of the Province and what that will do to other infrastructure needs.

Clearly, all we need to do is look at the situation that was discussed just last week at the $724.8 million being anticipated to be or projected to be this year's deficit. Therefore, you have to look and say: Where are we? We know our equity position. We are responsible for our equity position, somewhere in the $2 billion range. Therefore, it is going to be quite a call I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, on where all the cash is going to come from.

It is going to be quite a demand I will say on the cash flow of this Province over the next five years. It is fine to say that at some point there will be revenue generated at $120 million a year, but we have to get to the next five or six years, and we have to really manage in this particular case where the cash is going to come from.

I am suggesting, I really do believe that in the next five years that we will be doing a lot of borrowing. Just the projection for 2012-2013 based on last year's number with oil projected to be at $124 a barrel, we are anticipating a deficit near the $1 billion range. Really, all you need to do is just look at the impact of this year's Budget at $124 a barrel of oil. There are a lot of analysts out there now, Mr. Speaker, who are suggesting that the price of oil will continue to go down. No one is expecting it to go up to any degree. Even PIRA themselves are projecting out to 2030 oil to be around the $105 range.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of concerns when you look at this. I want to speak for a few minutes about the power purchase agreement again and the ratepayers of the Province. This is something that I have mentioned a number of times too and about the revenue that is generated.

As I said, it is very easy to make a project work when number one, you actually control the customer and you control the price. It is simple. I guess you do not have to be an icon in business that if you have a customer that really cannot go anywhere and you have the ability to charge the customer whatever you want, you can make that business successful.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not rocket science.

MR. BALL: Yes, it is not rocket science at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BALL: Yes, so I think you get the point.

Therefore, if you can control your customer and you can control your cost, there is no question financing should be easy. Financing in this particular case is not really on the strength of the project. It is really on the strength of the revenue the project generates. The revenue that is generated is really from the power purchase agreement itself.

One of the things I have always questioned for some reason as a customer and as a ratepayer, and many people have asked me about this, if I am paying for 100 per cent of the project and what I am going to get in 40 per cent – in this particular case what I would get is 40 per cent of the power – what happens to the extra revenue that is generated? We already know that 20 per cent of it will go to Emera in return for their investment into the Maritime Link. We also know there is 40 per cent of the power and that would be sold either to an export option or to support, as has been mentioned many times tonight, mining in Labrador.

The industrial block of power is certainly something, as I said, I see as an opportunity to generate economic activity. If we were going to sell power and there was revenue coming from, for instance, export opportunities, it is only fair to say that should come back in this particular case to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to help offset the rates for the people who are actually paying for this.

In this particular case, it is like walking into any convenience store or walking into any supermarket, for that matter, walking up to the checkout, and there are ten items there. They take six back and they say: Here it is. Here are your four items. You go on. You are going to pay for all ten. At some point, someone else will get the benefit of this.

The generation today, I have heard in many, many cases they have looked at it and they have said: If I am paying for 100 per cent of this project, then why is it I am not getting the benefits of this right on my electricity bills? If there is extra money generated from export or from other sources, there is no question that should come back to offset the rates for the people in the Province.

It was also mentioned that over the life of the project there would be about $20 billion that would come from the life of the project. In actual fact, Mr. Speaker, this is money that is actually paid by the ratepayers of the Province. This is actually money that has been paid by them. If there is a dividend that is actually paid back to the government, what it is, the source of this dividend is actually people who pay their light bills and their electricity bills on a monthly basis. This is money that actually comes from the people in the Province, the people who are actually paying for the light bills on a day in, day out basis.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot said. I think, as I mentioned already, the power purchase agreement is very key to this. On a standalone project, I think that this would be looked at very differently. I think if this was a project that needed to go without a power purchase agreement, without this type of commitment in place, there was no question the federal loan guarantee would not be there. There is no question that the commercial banking institutions, this is not something that they would look at because they would not have confidence in the revenue stream, and rightfully so.

Dismissing the PUB in this particular case, from other options, for fifty years, indeed, right now it might seem to be like it is the right thing to do but over the life of the project, and for the next fifty years, Mr. Speaker, we could see significant changes.

I mentioned about financing the project and the importance of the power purchase agreement. One thing, I think the cash flow activity for the next five years, out to 2017 for the Province as a whole, I think we will see significant challenges as we will anticipate, at least for the next two to three years for sure, that we will be in a deficit position. To make this kind of commitment in the billions of dollars range, that we will require the cash call on our revenues over the next five years is significant and will create significant challenges.

There are a lot of people of the opinion, of course, that we will see other infrastructure projects that will actually be delayed because of this.

In 2041, of course, there has been a lot of discussion with what happens in 2041. There has been a lot said about the energy warehouse, the Energy Plan itself, Mr. Speaker. In 2041, we all know that we will have some of the cheapest power on the planet available to us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BALL: Out of all the reports that have been done, it has been very interesting to see many people question what happens in 2041. If you do look at the Energy Plan – and I know the minister quite clearly pointed out that Muskrat Falls is mentioned in the Energy Plan, at whatever page it was – it will tell you that, if you read the Energy Plan, for those who have read it – on page 1 you will see about 2041 and what the power from the Upper Churchill will mean to the future of this Province when that power is available to us.

The other thing that I think is worthwhile mentioning when you compare certain other options, there is about $4 billion worth of oil that is spent in the Isolated Island option past 2041. This is interesting, because the only thing that is missing from getting that power to the island and this particular point, of course, would be the transmission line.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at this particular project – and as I said, this particular bill and this particular piece of legislation is information that we really got just yesterday. When I look at the commitment that is made here by Emera, there is one of the key components in the piece of legislation, being Bill 61 itself, in the definitions. I want to speak just briefly about that, because Muskrat Falls, the definition of Muskrat Falls takes up about two or three pages in this bill.

Included in the definition of the Muskrat Falls Project, you see Emera. If you go to one of the – it would be in clause 4, it says as you define the Muskrat Falls Project, it means a project by the corporation, a subsidiary of the corporation, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Emera. So here we are in the Muskrat Falls Project defining what this project is in our own legislation, and throughout the legislation we include Emera.

We all know that in certain aspects of this project Emera takes an investor position, for instance, in the transmission line from Labrador to the Island. They are essentially an investor. I think the minister mentioned tonight that it was around $800,000; in DG2 this was at $600,000 with a guaranteed rate of return of somewhere between 7 per cent and 9 per cent.

I do find it interesting that when you look at the definition of the Muskrat Falls Project – and this would be one of the amendments, that if we did not get Standing Order 43, that we would be bringing forward: from the project definition of Muskrat Falls, we would like to see the word, Emera, taken out. We can substitute that for some other word, because we all know that Emera will not outlive the power purchase agreement that we are talking about.

The relationship with Emera will change, and can probably be short – and we do not even know, it being a publicly traded company, what the status of a company like Emera would be in the long term.

When you look at the provision on page 6 of the bill and you see clearly in the definition Emera mentioned there, we believe that this would have been an appropriate place to not use Emera but to come up with some other – if this was a partner, not to just simply say that it is Emera in the project definition for Muskrat Falls. This piece of legislation, we spent about, I think it is, three pages putting a definition on the Muskrat Falls Project. Emera is sprinkled throughout all of this.

The other thing that I want to spend a few minutes on is when you look at the Electrical Power Control Act and what it does, it is about the monopoly that has been created by this particular piece of legislation, Bill 61, and giving Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro the exclusive right to supply, distribute, and sell electrical power to a retailer or an industrial customer in respect to the business of operation.

In this day and age it is very unusual for anybody to get a fifty-year monopoly. That is really something that is unheard of. A fifty-year monopoly in this particular case raises some questions and concerns, and anybody who is going to be making that commitment, there is no question.

The other thing is that we were asked the question – this came up from someone who we were speaking with this morning: what this monopoly means to export power when you look at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, what they say about a monopoly on power, what happens as you export power, the ability to import power as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and what it is they would say.

We did ask Nalcor this question. They were confident that this was not an issue in this particular case with the power purchase agreement. Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of questions that this would raise on the impact on the development of Gull Island, which we all know would be developed if development would be for an export option only.

Mr. Speaker, we have spoken at length about this particular bill, the implications that it would have in terms of the monopoly that it would create for the people of the Province, and making the commitment to many generations – for fifty years really – to pay for this particular power.

I want to speak to some of the comments that have been made in this particular case, that no deal is perfect. There is no question that it is actually very difficult to get the perfect deal. As a matter of fact, an engineer I did speak with just a few weeks ago said he could look at any potential deal and within about thirty minutes he could put it in the 75 per cent to 80 per cent range.

Where you actually get most of your problems is when you try to satisfy the last 5 per cent. Trying to get that perfect becomes a challenge. In this particular case, we have seen the federal loan guarantee. The minister has mentioned a number of times that there will always be risk. When you see words like non-exhaustive and these things, I believe this clearly: these are things we could actually have done a better job with.

The other thing, of course, that has not been mentioned and the impact this particular project would have on the Province is the expropriation. This was one of the comments the minister made mention of today when I did ask the question about the expropriation of property within the Province by Emera. I was taken aback. The minister mentioned it tonight in his discussion, when he spoke to the House tonight about the expropriation of Emera.

It clearly outlines that the proponents of this particular project in section 12 of Bill 60 have a right to expropriate. If you go to the definition, Emera is mentioned in the definition. The expropriation of property by Emera within the Province as we understand it is written in Bill 60. This also raises concerns for us because we know the relationship with Emera is one that is really – there is a limit. The relationship we will have with Emera will come to an end in this particular case.

The other thing was the payment of taxes. When I did ask that question today within the briefing session, I asked the question simply because it came out of the briefing session we had with Nalcor this morning. Indeed, they were told Emera would be paying taxes when quite clearly in the briefing session they do not. As a matter of fact, it is there in brackets, that Emera will not pay taxes for transmission. If they went into a community, set up a service, and had a footprint, that would be different. They would pay municipal taxes. In this particular case, Emera has a right to come in and expropriate land which would be government land.

Now, when you look at the first pamphlets and brochures that were put out explaining this particular project, it had the transmission line coming to Bottom Brook – that was you go through all of the environmental assessments, and I did go to those – you would see the pamphlets and drawings all talking about taking the transmission line to Bottom Brook. Well, we now know that the transmission line will actually go to Granite Canal.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible) your point being?

MR. BALL: The point that I am making here, to the Premier, as she asked me what the question is: we will now have Emera with a significant portion – they will have a much longer transmission line that they first discussed within the Province. They will not pay taxes on the property here, and they have a right to expropriate that land.

Mr. Speaker, these are questions that we have raised. When we look at this, there is no question that this piece of legislation, the power purchase agreement is designed for the power purchase agreement. It gives Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro essentially a monopoly on the generation of electricity for about fifty years. Therefore, there will probably be many opportunities that many generations – my children, grandchildren – will not be able to take the opportunity to take advantage of to provide cheaper power.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, there has been a lot of information – this is information that we have gotten a briefing session on this morning. It is quite early, when it comes to Bill 61. I am sure there will be a lot more debate over the next few days on this particular bill. It is unfortunate, though, when you go through the discussion on this, when you have the debate on it, that right now because of a motion we will not be able to bring forward amendments, Mr. Speaker. Because we do believe there are a number of changes that we could do to strengthen this particular piece of legislation that will affect people for about fifty years, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we believe there will be missed opportunities; there will be opportunities that will be missed. There is no question, too, that when you look at and you talk about and you get excited about the deal, that the strength of the deal is simply around the power purchase agreement and the amount of revenue that it can create, because right now the ratepayers of the Province will make this commitment for fifty years, Mr. Speaker.

As we know right now, this project – there are essentially two more bills we are told we will need, Bill 60, Bill 61. The minister has said quite clearly that this will happen now, we understand, without the opportunity for a full debate on this, the opportunity for amendments. I do believe in the definition of the project. There is some opportunity where we can bring improvements to this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, my time, as I look at it, just a few seconds as I wind down. This will probably be the last time I will have to speak to Bill 61. It has been an hour, but I will say that I do believe there are areas for improvement in this particular bill. There are certainly amendments that could be made over the next few days, whether it is into Christmas or otherwise, it really does not matter a whole lot to me. There is no perfect piece of legislation. We found that out in recent days. There is room for improvement in this particular bill. We would love the opportunity to make those amendments.

Mr. Speaker, with that said, I will conclude my remarks and thank you very much for the opportunity.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that we adjourn debate for the time being on Bill 61.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved by the Government House Leader, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that we adjourn debate on An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 10, Bill 60, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project.

MR. SPEAKER: It is called from the Order Paper for second reading, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project. (Bill 60)

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 60, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project, be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project". (Bill 60)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House tonight to discuss new legislation, entitled the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act.

This act, known as Bill 60, has to be read in conjunction with Bill 61, which I discussed earlier tonight, Mr. Speaker. The amendments will see the creation of a standalone lands related act to ensure that government has the ability on behalf of Nalcor and Emera to acquire the necessary land interest to advance the proposed Muskrat Falls Project.

Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, we heard both Opposition parties question: Why were we given these bills so late? Why were we given the briefings so late? Well, Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple answer. Without sanction these two bills are not necessary. These bills are only necessary if the project is sanctioned.

It was only yesterday that, along with Emera – and I will speak to some of the issues raised by the Opposition Leader shortly in relation to the sanction. It was only yesterday that the decision to sanction was made. As I have indicated and we have discussed in this hon. House on a number of occasions, Mr. Speaker, the issue of the federal loan guarantee has been ongoing for some time. We waited for all of our reports to come in. I can indicate to this House, on two separate occasions the loan guarantee looked like it was not going to take place. The Premier stood firm to obtain the best terms possible for our Province.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we had to get to the stage, how do we make sure that the federal loan guarantee applies? We look at the definition of sanction in the agreement. It is really only sanction being Emera and Nalcor sanctioning the project. There is no requirement for regulatory review, other than the regulatory legislation be put in place, which I will discuss shortly.

Then, Mr. Speaker, obviously as a government we are involved because the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are the shareholder of Nalcor. Nalcor and Emera sanction. At the first available opportunity, we then bring the legislation into this House to allow Nalcor to now seek their financing to get this project moving, Mr. Speaker, and to ensure that Muskrat Falls is built, because time is money.

Mr. Speaker, when you are talking about Bill 60 and Bill 61, in essence both of them are required for the project to proceed. One deals with the financing structure, as I discussed earlier tonight. We talked about the revenue stream required for the federal loan guarantee, the lenders and the bond rating agencies.

In conjunction with that, Mr. Speaker, we also have to have the transmission route laid out. We have to be ready to build the transmission route, which is going to be a very significant undertaking, Mr. Speaker. It is a multi-billion dollar undertaking which will move electricity from Labrador, from the Muskrat Falls Generating Station to the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is also important that there are really four aspects of this project that people understand. That is why the lands-related legislation is important. First we have the Muskrat Falls Generating Station. The Muskrat Falls Generating Station is obviously a key piece of what is going to take place. Then we have the Labrador Transmission Asset. We build a transmission line from Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls to ensure reliability of power and availability to access power. We then have the Labrador-Island Link. We have the Muskrat Falls Generating Station. We have the LTA, or Labrador Transmission Asset. Then we have the Labrador-Island Link with the subsea cable to the Strait of Belle Isle.

The fourth component then is the Maritime Link. The Maritime Link is the link that will be built by Emera, currently costing $1.2 billion that they expect could go to $1.3 billion or $1.5 billon depending on their final DG3 numbers. They only have Decision Gate 2 numbers at present. You put all of that together, Mr. Speaker, and that is where you get your total cost of the project, but everything has to take place in a certain order.

The first decision, the federal loan guarantee was necessary in order to sanction. Once the federal loan guarantee depended on sanction, Emera came on board and the sanction has taken place. We then bring in this legislation that allows Nalcor now to go – Bill 61 – for their financing, and Bill 60 allows for us to obtain the land to ensure that the Labrador-Island Link can be built.

That is the order in which it takes place, Mr. Speaker, and that is the reason that we are here debating these two bills today. Not because all of us want to be here over the Christmas season, but I mean, we opened the House and it is up to the Opposition when to close it. Certainly, we will stay here and debate. What I say to the Opposition is ask your questions, we will answer them, and we will continue as long as you want to continue. These two pieces of legislation, there is nothing again – I keep using these words tonight but we are accused so often of conspiring in nefarious activity that we just have to simply say it is not the case. It is just timing. We need these bills in order to proceed with the project.

Mr. Speaker, the lands bill, I am going to talk about briefly, but I have to connect it all together. I have to connect everything from Decision Gate 2 to the steps that have taken place since November 2010, to the loan guarantee to the sanction decision to these two pieces of legislation, Mr. Speaker.

I think it is very important that the people of this Province understand where we, as a government, are coming from and how we are trying to logically outline the steps that need to be taken. What we are trying to do is see: Are there valid concerns? Are there issues there that are of such concern that we will look at them? Mr. Speaker, when we go into Committee there can be discussions, but I expect what is going to take place this week, there will be amendment after amendment, there will be hoist and leap, and whatever other amendments there are. There will be certain posturing on the other side, which is fair enough, but what I keep coming back to is show us the substance. I did not hear it just then. I heard some issues in relation to the federal loan guarantee and the sanction agreement, which I will deal with.

In terms of the lands legislation, the acquisition of Crown and private land is required for the transmission infrastructure necessary to deliver power from Muskrat Falls. Either tonight or over the upcoming days, weeks, or whenever we will talk a little bit about the transmission infrastructure. It is important people understand the sheer size and transmission capability of these lines. The work that has gone into this is absolutely amazing.

I want to talk about the Decision Gate 3 numbers. Where did the increases come from? The increases you are going to see are very logical. One of the biggest issues was making sure the transmission lines were as robust and reliable as possible. I will get to the numbers shortly in terms of what those transmission lines cost, but it is no good to plan transmission lines unless you have land to put them on.

Essentially, we are looking at: How do we obtain the land in a fair manner? How do we compensate people? How do we ensure the lines are built in a way that is least intrusive as possible to people's private property? That is something Nalcor has worked very hard on, Mr. Speaker. There have been numerous consultations.

Whatever we may be accused of in this particular file, I do not think the lack of consultation is one of them. If Gilbert Bennett, the vice president responsible for the Lower Churchill, has not been in every nook and cranny in this Province talking to anyone who wanted to talk about the Lower Churchill, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest people are wrong. He has been. Mr. Martin and Mr. Bennett have made themselves quite to the point where you have to wonder: Where do they find the time to do the rest of their work?

I spoke about Mr. Martin earlier, but I also think it is important to talk about Mr. Bennett. I just want to use one particular example very briefly, Mr. Speaker. We were coming down the Lower Churchill in a helicopter. I remember looking out through the window and saying: Where is Gull Island? Where are these big falls? When you fly over the Upper Churchill, there is no falls there now, but you see the sheer size and magnitude of those falls as we have seen in pictures and you just see in your own mind. You are going down the Churchill River and you are waiting for this big falls. Where is Gull Island? All of a sudden, you are past it. What?

Then you come up to Muskrat Falls. Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, is not a terribly imposing falls. In fact, there are salmon rivers in Labrador around Hopedale and other places that appear to me to be bigger than Muskrat Falls. I was saying to Mr. Bennett: Gilbert, how do you generate electricity here? I thought it was the falls and the water that generated electricity. What that man knew was every ripple in the river. He literally, in his mind, could plot every foot going down that river; it was absolutely amazing.

Let me put it this way, myself and Mr. Bennett have had some interesting conversations. In one way, I would love to have him on the stand in a courtroom. In another way, it would take us about five months. My point is that the people at Nalcor know what they are doing and when it comes to the engineering, I have confidence. Neither myself nor the Premier or any of us are going to stand here today and say we can eliminate overruns. The engineering work that has been done is absolutely amazing here and, hopefully, we are at the stage where overruns can be kept to a minimum.

I remember when the Leader of the Opposition – and he asked a legitimate question in terms of the contingency or what we had built in for escalation and whether or not 9 per cent was enough as opposed to the 15 per cent. The answer from Mr. Martin at that time was: Look, we have done so much work on this that we know. The same applies to the transmission line. There have been issues in terms of the transmission routes and I will discuss briefly – I wish I had a picture here to show in terms of how the transmission lines originally looked in terms of the towers, when they then sized the towers and how they then figured out where they should go and how they should go and all of this one in 150 versus one in 500. As a government, we have to rely on people to advise us. That is what any government has to do.

We are elected by the people of the Province to make decisions; we have to obtain advice both from the good people who work in the civil service, the people who work in my department, and the people at Nalcor. These people are true Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who want to do what is best for our Province, and that is the whole purpose of creating Nalcor in the first place is that as a Province we would own our own energy assets, Mr. Speaker, yet we are criticized for that.

What are we going to do? We all remember what took place during the discussions of privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro years ago and how the people were up in arms. So what we are doing, we are trying to strengthen this, but we have to have faith. You have to have trust in someone, Mr. Speaker. As a government, we have to rely – but does that mean we accept everything they say? No.

What we do, we test, not because we doubt what they say, but we test knowing that it will confirm that which they have concluded. That is something I am going to talk about, Mr. Speaker, because it becomes important in terms of the transmission line. The dam will be built and the work that has been done there, as I have indicated, is something that, although challenging, they have done great work, right from the point of diverting the river a little bit or changing the angle in which the water goes into the dam. The transmission line will pose a challenge, so you have to have the land that allows you to make the best of your asset, because, Mr. Speaker, this is a long line; I think it is like 1,100 kilometres we are talking here. It is a significant line, and it is coming over a harsh environment with weather, coming down the Northern Peninsula, across our Province. It has to be able to withstand snow, and ice, and sleet, and rain, and wind. That, Mr. Speaker, poses a challenge. As that line is built – and this, again, is where Nalcor has maximized their expertise in plotting where it is going to go.

So, what we are trying to do, Mr. Speaker, as with Bill 60, we are trying to ensure as best we can, as a government, that we have covered all of the angles. What we are trying to do is to assess risk situations, but as I indicated earlier, what we also have to do, we have to make decisions. So, what we have here, the transmission corridors will stretch from Central Labrador to Soldiers Pond on the Avalon Peninsula, and from Granite Canal to Bottom Brook, and on to Cape Ray on the Southwest Coast of the Island. Approximately 99 per cent – and this is important – of the land required for the Labrador-Island Link, and the Labrador transmission assets, and approximately 90 per cent of the land required for the Maritime Link is Crown land. So, Crown land certainly makes it easier, but we have to have the process in place.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed routes for the transmission corridors are currently in the environmental assessment process, and therefore the exact route and the number of properties that will be affected cannot be determined until the environmental assessments have been completed and the routes have been finalized, but we have to have the legislation in place. What the legislation does, it outlines how we will, as a government, be able to obtain these properties to ensure the maximum use of the transmission line. So, through the legislation, we will, as the provincial government, be giving expropriating power for the Muskrat Falls Project, which will include power to issue notices of expropriation and monitor and execute the expropriation process.

Mr. Speaker, the provincial government will be the body, we will be the body to approve the expropriation of land required for the Maritime Link, as per the expropriation protocol. Now, that is clear, in my mind – contrary to what the Opposition Leader says, the provincial government will expropriate the land that Emera needs. The proponents, Mr. Speaker, will require rights to land owned by the Crown, the proponents being Emera and Nalcor. Municipalities and persons will not need to acquire or arrange a different interest.

This is not unusual. If you build a highway, you have to expropriate land. Expropriation of land is not unusual in our society. The main issue of what you try to do is to be fair and to ensure that people are compensated for their properties. What we have tried to do is outline in this piece of legislation the process which will be undertaken to ensure that.

The new legislation proposes to create a form of statutory easement that will give Nalcor and Emera the right to erect structures. It is important also to understand that coming from Cape Ray, I think it is Cape Ray, to Granite Canal, that the Maritime Link – and it is paid for by Emera. That is not costing the taxpayer of Newfoundland and Labrador or the ratepayer any money. That is considered part of the Maritime Link.

Hopefully over the next period of time I will have an opportunity also to talk about the Emera agreement. Mr. Speaker, what essentially happens, it is based on an 80-20 principle. You pay 20 per cent, you get 20 per cent of the power. Whatever the ultimate cost, you are paying 20 per cent.

After thirty-five years – I do not know why I am whispering; I am afraid the people of Nova Scotia are going to hear me – we will own the link. Then we have access on the link to move other power, which allows us to develop Round Pond, Island Pond, Portland Creek. It allows us to develop wind. It allows us – and again, I do not know why I am whispering – to take that one terawatt of power and develop it on the Island, and, I say to the Opposition House Leader, keep another terawatt of power in Labrador for those mining companies who want to develop in Labrador. Everything we are doing this week from the industrial rates policy, from the financing structure, from the Expropriation Act, are all meant to facilitate the moving forward of Muskrat Falls now that the sanction decision has been made.

Mr. Speaker, while I may not and I certainly do not agree with the Opposition in terms of some of the points they will raise, the one thing that the Opposition – be it the Liberals or the NDP – will not be able to be accused of in this case is not asking questions. The one thing that the citizenry of our Province will not be able to be accused of no matter how this project is looked at in the future is not raising issues.

Unlike the Upper Churchill Project – and I went back to Hansard in the 1960s to look at the discussion. What was most amazing was the lack of discussion, the lack of involvement of anyone in the project.

What we have here is a situation where we have all looked at the past. The Opposition are doing their job. The people of the Province are doing their job. The issues are being discussed. That is democracy as far as I know. The fact that you can stand out on the steps of Confederation Building and protest what we are doing is democracy. Democracy is the people who have been elected by the people coming into this House and having the freedom to argue as they have done against the project or for the project. That is democracy.

Let us not confuse democracy with the right to disagree, the government making decisions we are elected to make with the Opposition putting forward their positions, putting them forward vociferously and strenuously, and continuing to do that. That is what we are all here for. To me, the democratic process is working here. Do not confuse it because we are saying we are sanctioning this project, that somehow or other there is a democratic deficit.

Mr. Speaker, in order to fully outline on that point of how we got to the lands bill and the financing, I want to go back in time a little. I want to go back to November 2010, because I really think it is important people understand. I am not going to talk about Quebec tonight because this is really not the place or the time. Quebec just happens to be one of the major reasons which led to the decision to develop Muskrat Falls.

For forty years we have been held hostage. For forty years we have had this amazing resource in Labrador that we could not get anywhere with. Do I blame Quebec for the deal of the 1960s? No. What I do have difficulty with is the fact that within a federation there was no desire to renegotiate when the amount of money made by one side was so disproportionate to that made by the other. That is where it is unfair. That is the basis of our good faith action in Quebec and perhaps I will have an opportunity to discuss that at some point. That is an issue that has been looked at.

You look at it. Whether it is Liberal or PC, what can this Province do? Every government has tried. We spent time in court with them since every government. Again, whether I agree or disagree with previous projects, we had Premier Tobin and we had Premier Grimes both try to develop Lower Churchill. We have had Premier Moores and Premier Peckford. Everyone has tried. So, do we give up or do you say, no, the time is right?

As Mr. Ed Martin said in his testimony at the PUB, the stars are aligned. One of the reasons the stars are aligned is the money aspect of it. While the rest of the world is crumbling, we are moving ahead.

Again, my colleague, the minister, will talk abut what is happening in the rest of this country, but there are good things happening; it is just that we have to be able to weather the storm.

This legislation, we started November, 2010. As I talked about earlier – and the transmission line was one of the first things looked at. When you look at the transmission line, what Nalcor did and what Mr. Martin, as a business person in private enterprise, would do, he said: we do not waste money on this, on natural gas, on wind, on solar, on tidal; these are the two best options to provide power to the people of this Province.

It would not be an Isolated Island or Holyrood refurbish, whereby we would take Holyrood, we would refurbish it with a combination of small hydro – being, I think the 77 megawatts that would come from Island Pond, Round Pond, and Portland Creek – and we would then integrate 10 per cent of wind into the system. That is Isolated Island.

Then, we looked at Muskrat Falls. So whether people agree or disagree, the business side of that decision was a good one. However, the politics – and this has been the difficulty with trying to run a business, but it is a good thing; to say to Nalcor, there is no oversight – I mean, we have them. We have looked at – issues have been raised. We just did not plow ahead.

We came into this House of Assembly and after the failed PUB process, the NDP, to their credit, raised this: well, what about large wind? The Member for St. John's East said: what about natural gas? The members of the Official Opposition said: well, you have not looked at everything.

Did we look at these things as a result of lack of confidence in Nalcor? No, because if you are true expert or if you have an expert's report, then you are not afraid to have your work tested. What is also important in this is that we had people around the world test the work done by our own and what did they do? They confirmed that work, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: That is part of that newfound confidence talked about by our Premier. That is part of what we have brought in to 2003 and onward. Is it a result of having the oil money, having money? Partly, but is it as a result of knowing that we have opportunities in this Province, that there is a time to seize those opportunities and that opportunity will pass you by?

I can tell you there are several provinces in our country right now that have significant shale gas finds, but there are protests going on. In fact, there are protests against wind farms in Nova Scotia – there is protest.

The shale gas, with the proliferation of shale gas development that is taking place in the United States –and we have not seen what is going to happen in China yet – what is happening is that province or provinces could simply lose the opportunity. That is why we are looking at BC; that is why they want to develop their gas. That is why Alberta wants to develop their gas, to get it to the Asian market.

What we have seen is a change in the economic status in this world; where once everything depended on the United States and Europe, it is not that way any more. China and India are driving the world's economy. We have economies like Brazil, countries that have hundreds of millions of people. We have the African countries. What we have is a situation where if an opportunity arises, take it. It will pass you by. Muskrat Falls has come about in a time when we have to take it.

Have we rushed anything? Can you call two years rushing into a decision? Can you call – well, yes, it has been – forty years a short time? I will give credit to the previous Liberal Administrations; the work that was done on the Lower Churchill has been used. I will give credit to the previous PC Administrations; the work that has been done has been used. I will give credit to Premier Peckford and the Atlantic Accord and the reaching of these deals, which has allowed us to get to where we are today.

The one thing, as a Province, no matter what our political affiliations – and I said one time before: we all want the Province to prosper. So, Muskrat Falls; we come forward, now, let us get to a couple of the things that we have done.

I am not going to go through this because I have talked about it earlier tonight, but we need the power. That is a given. That is the first and most basic aspect of what is going on here. We need the power.

Mr. Speaker, when I was a – it seems so long ago, and there are days I yearn for those long-ago days, but when I was in a courtroom and –

AN HON. MEMBER: Now I'm sixty- four.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, I am going to break into song here in a second, Mr. Chair.

In court proceedings, we get confused. There would be arguments all over the place. There is a time you come back to first principles and the first principles are ones you look at. What happens here, what I see with Muskrat Falls is like a grasshopper effect; the minute we put down one argument, here is the next one, then the next one. Then we put out this fire, here is the next one.

Let us start again with those basic principles: do we need the power? Yes. If we need the power, which we do, what are we going to do about it? What is the way to provide the cheapest rates to the people of this Province?

After the failed PUB attempt, we decided – and again, I remember talking to the Premier: well, who can we hire here who will be independent of government? We cannot hire Navigant because Nalcor used them earlier; because they are paid for their work – which is something I do not understand, we all have to be paid for our work – they are not independent.

Who do we find? Let us use MHI. The PUB hired them, had nothing to do with us. There was a Request for Proposals processed and they hired them. We hire MHI – thinking that is a good move, they are familiar with the file, it will cost less money – and we get criticized for that.

MHI then provide a report. The MHI report clearly finds that Muskrat Falls is the preferred option. I want to talk about briefly, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the MHI report. There is a very important aspect of that report that I think we have to look at. I was going to say page 87, but let us look at page 72. At page 72 they employ what is referred to as a sensitivity analysis. What they do is they take the case and they compare one to the other, they look at ups or downs.

They take an example, because the fuel – one of the reasons that we are looking at besides the environmental aspects of Holyrood – and I see my colleague is here; I am hoping that he will have an opportunity over the next few days to talk about living in the Holyrood area and seeing what it is like.

They say, well, let us take the price of oil and let us look at the ups and downs. The PIRA fuel price expected, I think, at that time was around $1.09, Mr. Speaker. The base case would have been $1, something like that. I have those numbers somewhere.

They keep working. The PIRA fuel low, PIRA price low was at around $60. Again, as Dr. Schwartz said to me, and I remember having a very interesting discussion of PIRA; I said: so, really, what you are saying to me, Doctor, is that you are guessing. He said: but we are the best guessers. Essentially, what can happen with the volatility of oil, something could take place in the Mideast today and the price of oil goes up. All of a sudden that blockage at Cushing, Oklahoma could be removed; the price of West Texas goes up.

There are so many things that can happen. I used to hear one day – and again, I wish I had these numbers in front of me; it is hard to have them all in your head, Mr. Speaker. I remember a startling statistic that had come out of the Bank of Nova Scotia, an economist at the Bank of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mary Webb.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mary Webb, where she talked about the number of cars on the road. I remember being startled by the number comparing the United States and Canada to China and India. Something tells me there were as low as seventy cars per 1,000 people in China and twenty in India. I could be wrong on that, but there were 700 or 800, significant amounts per 1,000 people. The point is that we have, on average, 80 million people a year entering the middle class in China and India. People entering the middle class; that means they are making more money and they want that which goes with the middle class. A car is one of them.

The Chinese, having that many people entering the middle class, have a significant impact. They looked at PIRA high, low. Still, if you took the PIRA high, which is not going to happen, I will concede that – at least, I do not think it is going to happen at present – there would be a $6.5 billion differential. You increase the capital expenditure by 10 per cent. You decrease it. You change the interest rate by fifty base points. You increase it. At the end of the day, Muskrat Falls still has a significant preferential.

One point that I think is important – and again, I do not have the list in front of me – there are a number of European countries that have brought in carbon pricing. Do you remember a few years ago the Liberals federally were going to bring in carbon pricing? It became a big issue, but it is the way of the world. It is going to happen, whether it is next year or ten years from now. There will be carbon pricing. They are doing it on coal.

Mr. Speaker, where I am leading to, I am trying to bring all of this to the point where, how do we get to the stage where we are today? We are rushing. We heard this today: Why are we rushing legislation? Why are we jamming it through? What I am establishing here is, look at the time and effort that has gone into all of this.

Then we released our Decision Gate 3 numbers. We released them, Mr. Speaker, and we looked at, again: Why had the costs gone up? I said I would talk about where this had come from. I just want to show you the work that has been done by Nalcor and why we have confidence.

We cannot say there will not be any overruns, but let's just look at the Decision Gate 2 versus the Decision Gate 3 charts. Muskrat Falls Generating Station, Muskrat Falls and Labrador-Island Link, goes from $5 billion to $6.2 billion. People go: Wow, $1.2 billion, 20 per cent more. How could that happen? Decision Gate 3 costs are as the result of greater definition and design improvements of engineering over 50 per cent complete.

The overland transmission route is more robust and reliable. The transmission voltage is optimized to reduce line losses, Mr. Speaker. The Muskrat Falls powerhouse has reoriented to maximize the energy output. I remember seeing that, where they changed the angle and being amazed by the fact that something so simple could again increase the amount of energy.

The Muskrat Falls excavation and concrete quantities increased. The total project person hours increased, and that is very important. That means people working, making money, putting money into the economy, and a significant part of the money going into rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Let's look at the cost estimation chart. The HVdc transmission increased by $481 million, that is where you get Decision Gate 3; the Muskrat Falls structures increased by $267 million; the engineering and project management by $166 million; site services by $121 million; HVac transmission $90 million; others, conversions, Strait of Belle Isle, Muskrat Falls site, by $192 million. Then you bring into a 2010-2012 adjustment, because we are talking in 2012 dollars, $176 million; contingency and escalation of $730 million; and switchyards.

What did Nalcor do after Decision Gate 3? They have identified the cost, and a significant part of the increased costs are the transmission lines. The transmission lines are very important, because – again, I will make sure that someone has a picture to show what they projected, this does not do much. There was a smaller size tower looked at, and then they increased the size of the tower. There is a chart which shows the two of them side by side. So now you have to have land, but before you can get to the land you have to have money to build the project.

Bills 60 and 61, the day after sanction – we did not wait, the day after sanction. I can tell you, we did not put sanction off for the last week because we wanted to say, well, we will force them now to give into us on Christmas Eve. That is not it at all. That is not it at all, Mr. Speaker.

We had to work everything out. We worked out the federal loan guarantee. Then Nalcor and Emera had to work out the sanction agreement, and the sanction agreement has been released. The federal loan guarantee has been released. We have put it all out there. No, I cannot say I am hurt by these accusations of not being open and transparent, but we are certainly trying. We are trying. We are putting all the information – I can hardly lift all the reports that we put out there in the last month or two.

What we are doing is that when you look at, okay, you have to have a project; you have gone from Decision Gate 2 to Decision Gate 3. These are why the costs have increased. There is a logical and rationale explanation for the increase in costs. Now we are finalizing the loan guarantee. We are going to make our decision on sanction. Once we make our decision on sanction we will bring in the two pieces of legislation that are required to finalize and get the project going. That is why all of this ties together so well.

When you look at the estimate and the confidence, no one is going to say: well, there is no guarantee of absolutely no overrun. Is it fair that people question overruns? I have watched what has happened with Vale Inco. I have watched what has happened with Hebron. It certainly is a reality but I can guarantee you, I would be surprised if the work of any of these projects we have seen, that has gone into here, from that line to the Strait of Belle Isle with the transmission structure.

Then, Mr. Speaker, they say: What about all of these other reports? What have you done there? We send out reports on rates. That is a bit dicey or chancy on our part because we are trying to predict the future. Again, we have confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's ability to do that which they have been doing for many years, and that is to predict the provincial load forecast. The load forecast is out there.

Then we get our large wind. Not a go. Then we get our natural gas. We went and hired people who look at the natural gas. We look at all of the options. Let's get to, as we start to move towards our decision on sanction and we start to move on these last two pieces of legislation. These are the things that have to be done before we get to where we are today.

Let's look at the – we have our picture here now, Mr. Speaker. We have our picture with the cumulative present worth. The cumulative present worth looks at the cost of the projects over a period of time. What is interesting when you compare Muskrat Falls to the Isolated Island or Holyrood is that Muskrat Falls has that significant capital outlay upfront. You have to build your generating station. You have to build your transmission line; whereas, the difference with Holyrood would be your operating cost and the cost of oil over that period.

Muskrat Falls would look at an $8.4 billion CPW. Isolated Island would be at $10.8 billion or $2.4 billion more expensive. NLG, or natural gas, Mr. Speaker, would range, depending on how you translate the cost form $10.7 billion to $11.2 billion. The natural gas option – I am glad we did that. It were very interesting, and something, Mr. Speaker, that certainly gave us a better understanding of our resources.

Make no mistake, natural gas, that eleven trillion cubic feet that we have discovered today versus the sixty trillion cubic feet which is undiscovered, that will be all be developed when the time is right. There is a natural cycle of things. The oil companies, when the time is right, will develop that gas and we will make money.

I was a bit surprised to be quite honest with you; the liquefied natural gas was a bit lower than what I thought it would be in terms of the importation of gas. The wind was more expensive than I thought it would be. Wind with thermal would have been $11.9 billion.

The pipeline – I was not surprised, actually, at the cost of the pipeline. I expected the pipeline to be expensive because you are building a pipeline that is 350 to 600 kilometres from the Grand Banks where there will have to be significant trenching, the icebergs, it is unproven, and there can be no comparison, for example, from the pipeline built in Norway to England which is a very significant length but they do not have that harsh environment. The scouring and the trenching required to make this pipeline a reality, even if it could happen, was one that I was not surprised but again the cost of that was up around $12.8 billion to $15 billion, whether or not you used it on a FPSO or on a standalone.

The wind with battery was twice as expensive as Muskrat Falls. Now we have another piece of our puzzle and this is the Muskrat Falls puzzle that starts at about 1965 when the former Premier Smallwood first starts talking about the Anglo-Saxon route. It is interesting reading, when you look at how upset he was with Premier Lesage. We think that things get rough or we are harsh here today in this House, you should hear or read some of the comments that went back and forth between two Premiers in public in the 1960s.

That is when it started. So the puzzle starts, then we get all the court action. We get Newfoundland and Labrador being stymied time and time again by Quebec. We move forward. We have other Premiers trying things. We get to November 2010. The puzzle is now starting to take shape. Maybe I should call it a painting, a painting of our future, because the puzzle is being solved and now the painting is taking place. In that painting now we are seeing November 2010, Muskrat Falls with a link, with a truly regional, national project. Then we get to 2011, the Prime Minister and by the way, not just the Prime Minister, the other national leaders – the late Jack Layton and –

AN HON. MEMBER: Mulcair.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, I am going to get to Mulcair in a second. First it was the late Jack Layton and then Mr. Ignatieff, all supported Muskrat Falls. Then Mr. Mulcair supported Muskrat Falls. So now you start to put that piece in your painting, Mr. Speaker.

Now we have the loan guarantee, but we have a commitment. Commitments, though, are only as good as the paper they are written on. We want signed documents. That is one thing we have learned in this Province and look to the sanction document, this agreement is governed by the laws of Newfoundland and Labrador because if that is one clause –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: If that one clause had been in the 1969 contract, we would have won in court. If you were to look at what the Supreme Court of Canada has said, you cannot interfere with a contract governed by the laws of Quebec. That is why something as simple as that, I remember us having the conversation up in the former Premier's office and everyone adamant that clause has to go in there.

In any event, we come forward, we get into the 1990s, more attempts to develop it, and it is not working. In 2010, Nalcor now has Decision Gate 2 numbers, of which they took great criticism. Then we go to the PUB. What the painting here now – you take the PUB and you get some whiteout because that is the assistance that the PUB offered us. You paint it in and then you realize you made a mistake and you take that out. You have your wind, you have your natural gas reports, you have your CPW, and you have your Decision Gate 3 numbers. How are we going to finish? Where else do we have to go to finish the painting?

At that point there is sensitivity analysis, there are reports, but there are still issues raised that we have to address, issues that the people of this Province or the Opposition Parties brought forward. We looked at: Why can't we wait until 2041? We outlined the problems there. Basically we will benefit in 2041, although we do not know the extent of that benefit. That is simply as a result of the corporate structure of CF(L)Co owned I think it is 65 per cent by the Province, or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and 30 per cent, 35 per cent by Hydro-Quebec. No question, we are going to benefit.

Then a legitimate question: Why don't you develop Gull Island? We outlined: Look, we would love to develop Gull Island, but the question of timing is always there. Even though we have these mining companies as we have talked about in the last two days, these mining companies that want to develop in Labrador. Before we get to the stage of doing everything else, we need to ensure signed contracts. We cannot build Gull Island and have all of this power. Muskrat Falls, whatever way you may say the sands have shifted, Muskrat Falls has always been about providing domestic power to our Province to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Gull Island, yes, hopefully the day – and 2041 in utility terms is not that far away. I read somewhere – again I have been reading a lot throughout this file, but I think that 20 per cent of the power in Quebec is coming from Upper Churchill or significant amounts that could light the city of Montreal. They are going to have to talk to us at some point.

Then there were other legitimate issues raised. Some of it, I quite frankly cannot believe that people would think that these issues have not been explored. Mr. Speaker, 92A, the ability to recall power, the Constitution was amended as a result of disputes that had gone back to the 1960s in terms of a national energy policy and who governed the resources in each Province. So, 92A allowed the provinces to control their electrical generation facilities.

I will give the Liberal government its due. I said to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile at one point: Ask your father. Your father was the Minister of Justice. He looked at this issue. My colleague, the now Minister of Finance, looked at the issue. We explored the issue. Everyone looked at it. We got to the point where we retained superior legal intellects.

I can tell you, men who I sat in a room with and was very humbled to even sit there, like retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Gerard La Forest and a retired Court of Appeal justice, what we looked at was: Can we recall this power constitutionally? Yes, maybe, it is a good argument that you can recall the power. Then when we go to Quebec, the contract is governed by the law of Quebec. The only way to set aside the contract or to recall power would be on a force majeure or an act of God. It would not be an act of God that the Province needed power, because that is something that should have been foreseen in 1969.

I can tell you in a heartbeat while I was Minister of Justice, I would have loved nothing better than to come into this House of Assembly and recall 1,000 megawatts of power from the Upper Churchill. You also have to temper nationalism and temper anger, even the desire to seek revenge you have to temper that with common sense and practicality. At the end of the day, it was not practical.

Good faith was raised as an issue and that is one hopefully I will have a chance to talk about, or one of my colleagues, the former Ministers of Justice or the present Minister of Justice, will have an opportunity to talk about that. Then they said: Well, what about going through Quebec? You have not tried enough. We outlined in that same paper the regulatory actions, trying to go through the Rιgie, what Nalcor has done, and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and how they have been blocked again.

You have the Open Access Transmission Tariff. You have the FERC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in the United States where all companies who trade in the United States are supposed to be bound by these regulatory regimes; however, in Quebec, even though they say they signed onto it, we have tried and we are still in Quebec in court in trying to deal with that.

The one that was the iffiest but one I felt, Mr. Speaker, we had to do to continue painting this picture as we are getting there was the electricity rates.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tapestry.

MR. KENNEDY: Tapestry.

We have to let the people of this Province know: this is where we see your rates going. We felt that we owed it, as leaders, to say to our seniors: look, your rates are going up anyway. This is what we are telling you, how it is going to happen. This is why it is going to happen, to say to our single mothers, to say to everyone in this Province: do not be scared. Whether or not everyone has read it, all we can do is outline.

In history – some of these documents, we are not projecting; we are looking at 2000-2011. Again, I come back to the significant increase that took place between 2000 and 2011, and I am not sure if any of us noticed. So, 2011, 2016 – nothing to do with Muskrat Falls. Even if the bottom was to fall out of the world and oil was to go down to $50 a barrel, Muskrat Falls is still cheaper.

You have clean, green, renewable energy, or you continue to burn dirty oil at Holyrood. To me, it is a no-brainier. The decision is one – once you start to put all of the pieces together, whether it is your puzzle, your painting, or your tapestry, whether you put puzzles together or you sew – is it a tapestry you sew, or you paint?

In any event, Mr. Speaker, we are now moving forward. We go to the oil companies and say: help us out here. Where is oil going in the next decade? I agree with the Opposition House Leader, who said tonight that based on the best predictions – and we have looked at PIRA, we have looked at Wood Mackenzie, we have looked at GGL, we have looked at Schwartz, we have looked at the US Energy Administration, we have looked at the international predictions, Mr. Speaker. Everyone is saying that oil will stay around $100 a barrel in the next decade.

In one way we would like it to go higher, but we are not seeing that connection between when the price of oil goes up and down – again, the Member for St. John's East can certainly speak to this; we are not seeing the price of gasoline benefiting by the price of oil going up and down. So, if it stays at $100, that gives a significant preference for Muskrat Falls.

We obtain those issues. We then went to Labrador. We said here are the economic benefits; here are the projects that are in that are potentially going to be developed up there. It is an exciting time, but as I spoke to earlier tonight – again, I am sure that my colleague, the Minister of Finance, was making notes, Mr. Speaker, on the issues that he is going to speak about; I was going to talk a little bit about the effect of China, growth in China, and also right now the decrease in growth in China on the world economy.

Can you imagine places like Spain and Greece, with 25 per cent unemployment rate – and our argument in this country: are we going to bring in temporary foreign workers? That is the situation, how the world has changed around and we are in a situation where sometimes it is easy to look at the negative.

Sometimes I wonder: is it part of our nature – when you live on a rock for 500 years in the middle of nowhere and you have to eke a living out of a harsh environment and you live on a sea that is not very nice to you at times – is it a way that, one, we make up for with humour and being able to laugh at ourselves and have a great sense of humour, but two, we are cynical or negative? What is it like out today? Not good, boy. The sun is shining; it will rain tomorrow. That is basically – is that part of our temperament? I do not know, but we have every reason to be positive in this Province. We are watching what is taking place around us.

We have to make it happen, because no one else is going to make it happen for us, and I can guarantee you there is one group –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: – that is not going to make it happen for us, and that is Quebec. I would love to see the dance that went on in Quebec yesterday among some of their legislators when this sanction took place and we had a Government of Canada –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: – which gave us a federal loan guarantee.

You know something? If they were smart – which they are – they would be saying: now we can take advantage of this, too; let us build a transmission line across Quebec. That is a regional project. That is of national importance. Let us help develop Gull Island. We now have Newfoundland and Quebec, and when we put aside our differences – on the right terms, obviously; to develop that project, to get another loan guarantee, that is where they should be going, a piece of advice if they are listening – which they are not, I am sure.

Now, I am starting to run out of time again, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to lose my voice. I do want to talk – there are three issues that I have left to talk about. I am going to talk a little bit about the federal loan guarantee, but before I get to that, there have been some doubts expressed, and reasonably enough. There is no one here – look, I have not, other than my earlier speech, I was a little bit harsh at times; the issues that have been raised have been valid, but you are questioning the revenues that are going to come from this project. The Premier and the Minister of Finance have outlined $20 billion in revenues over the life of the project, but let me just put that in a little bit more practical terms.

By 2020, this project – again, we all have to pay for electricity. There is no question about that. Muskrat Falls will provide the lowest rates. By 2020, based on 40 per cent of the power, there will be a $134 million dividend available to this Province in 2020.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. KENNEDY: One hundred and thirty-four million.

By 2025 that dividend will rise to $198 million. That is after everything is paid, by the way. That is after all of the costs are paid. That is after we pay the capital operating financial costs.

Get a load of this: by 2035, that is $326 million a year. That is money that is coming into the Province; we are providing stable rates to our people by now. Eventually – and it rises significantly. It is more difficult; I have a little bit more concern when we get to 2050. The reason there will be so much revenues, Mr. Speaker, is the project will be paid off. It will be pure profit. This project can be paid off, I think it is estimated, as early as thirty years.

Now we have that 40 per cent of the power that will be going to either the spot markets or to Labrador industrial mining. Let us look at 2041, because that is a number – 2041, I do not expect to be around. In 2041, we will receive revenues of $407 million from Churchill Falls. We are going to get back the Upper Churchill; we know we are going to get something for that.

Hebron and Hibernia will be at their end, so isn't this just a beautiful transition? They say we do not have a plan. That seems to me to be a plan. What do you say, Minister? That is a plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: There has been criticism of our equity investment, but we are lucky that we have money to be able to invest. We have not borrowed in this Province in a number of years. You invest in your future, that is the way I see what we are doing here, Premier, with Muskrat Falls. We are investing in the future. We are going to get a return on that investment because that return is –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Oh, yes. What we are doing is we are investing in the future. The money we put in now, future governments and future people will get back.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 43(1), dealing with the previous question, I move, seconded by the Minister of Justice, that the question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): The motion is that according to Standing Order 43 the question is now put, which means that we will continue the debate on Bill 60 without allowing any further amendments to Bill 60. All members in the House who wish to speak will speak. Once they have gone then the vote will be called.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources speaking now to the Standing Order 43 motion that the question be put.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I want to speak to three specific issues raised by the Leader of the Opposition – all of which are legitimate issues, Mr. Speaker, but I want to talk a little bit about the federal loan guarantee and the conditions of the federal loan guarantee.

When you look at the issue of the loan guarantee, some of the clauses in the document are standard commercial clauses. Nalcor not being an agent of the Crown – that is an issue that is in the previous legislation. That is an important issue, Mr. Speaker, because it is ring-fenced in Nalcor not affecting the government or other assets of our government. The creation of subsidiaries for borrowing – issues like subrogation.

The financial close – which is obviously a significant issue, but from what I understand and I do not know if the Leader of the Opposition will concede this, there is not going to be any real difficulty; I think he knows that we are obtaining the financing. The financial close is not going to be the most significant issue here. The guaranteed debt being specific for each project; the length and term – which, by the way, is important that we got the length and term of the loan guarantee that we were looking for.

So, the important issue becomes that of the conditions precedent. We have to look at the conditions precedent that is outlined in the federal loan guarantee, Mr. Speaker. We have to determine: Well, can these conditions precedent be met, and how much difficulty do they cause? Some of them are standard in major project financings, I understand. They are reasonable and most of them are easily satisfied.

The issue that we are dealing with in Bill 61, that being of the financing structure, is outlined in schedule A, as I indicated earlier today. We make no apologies for this as a government. In order to obtain a billion dollars for the people of this Province, we have to ensure that the financing structure is in place which guarantees the revenue stream.

We have certain other clauses in there. There is a list A and list B. List A, Mr. Speaker, are the ones that have to be met that require some work. List B are commercially standard clauses, from what I am told. I am going to actually take the loan guarantee out for this, because this is an important one that people must understand and as much as we have said it, what 3.5(vii) states is sanction of all projects, including the Maritime Link. That has been done. So, the federal loan guarantee applies.

So, from our perspective, that is the key issue. The other conditions precedent, the two that are required by Emera, Mr. Speaker, one has to be completed by March 31 and one by May 31, prior to any regulatory decision in their Province. The environmental legal and policy authorities are ones that we have to deal with in any event, Mr. Speaker. They will always be there. You cannot prevent people from going to court, but by them going to court does not make it a valid court action, and that is where I think we are on that.

The federal loan guarantee is now in place. Our painting, our tapestry, our puzzle, is now becoming complete. We get to the issue then of the sanction. Sanction becomes an important issue because I heard critics last week argue: Well, how can the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador sanction an agreement when you will be dependent on Emera? How can you spend money continuing to develop Muskrat Falls when Emera will hold you hostage when what takes place in another province – for anyone to think that we have not paid attention to the lessons of the Upper Churchill, it is to do us a disservice. I remember clearly. I think the best description of this could be in Philip Smith's book, although there is an article by two university professors, the historian –

AN HON. MEMBER: Jason Churchill.

MR. KENNEDY: No, not Churchill's article. The economists, Feehan and Baker, where they talked in some detail – and by the way, we looked at that legal action also that they had suggested that there in fact had been duress in terms of signing the agreement. We looked at that and we found a lot of documents that these individuals would not have been able to access because one of the benefits of the legal action in Quebec is that we have been able to access Quebec documents.

I have to tell you some of the documents written by Renι Lιvesque, their then Minister of Natural Resources, are quite insightful in terms of a man and a Quebec government who had a plan. That plan was described under the hydro nationalism. They saw hydro in the 1960s as their way to a prosperous future. Whether their future or their present is as prosperous as they would like it to be, hydro has certainly contributed to it.

We then get to the description of what took place. CF(L)Co had a letter of agreement. They continued to spend money. They spent money to the point where, without a contract signed, they were almost bankrupt. It is at that point that the renewal clause was inserted and that is why in 2017 that $2.50 power which Quebec was paying for, for forty years or fifty years will now go down to $2 a megawatt hour. We were cognizant of that. If anyone thought we were spending money up in Muskrat Falls beyond that which has been spent to date, without that federal loan guarantee, they had another thing coming.

We were aware of that and the Premier had indicated it clearly. So, it is now to the point where it is has to be sanctioned. We are still saying there is a little bit left to do. How do we make sure that we have the loan guarantee? What the sanction agreement, which has been publicly released, states, "Nalcor and Emera now wish to Sanction the Maritime Link, and Nalcor wishes to sanction" their assets "and the Parties wish to set out certain critical terms and conditions... NOW THEREFORE this Sanction Agreement witnesses that in consideration of the mutual covenants and agreements hereinafter contained the Parties, intending to be legally bound, agree as follows".

Nova Scotia – I appreciate where they are coming from. They are going to go through a regulatory board decision. They only have Decision Gate 2 costs; they have to ensure that their project is the lowest cost.

It is interesting in an interview that was given at the same time by Chris Huskilson, the CEO of Emera; he was asked a number of questions. He says he is very confident that the Maritime Link is the lowest-cost option, but let us look at what they are comparing it to. We have power from the east is the way he described it, being Muskrat Falls or Newfoundland and Labrador power. We have power from the north, being New Brunswick or Quebec. We have power from within, being wind. I think it was wind was the most likely but there was also a reference to gas.

He goes on to say: We are committed to this project. There is no doubt – and again anyone who was present when the Prime Minister spoke in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the Prime Minister indicated at that time that he had been assured by an NDP Premier of Nova Scotia and by Emera that they would proceed with the project.

We are now trying to make sure that everything is closed off. Mr. Speaker, we want the Maritime Link to be built. Make no mistake, the loan guarantee applies now, which is the key for us in terms of getting Muskrat Falls built, supplying the energy needs of the people of the Island and also ensuring that there is energy available for Labrador.

Section 2, Sanction of the Maritime Link, "Nalcor and Emera agree to Sanction the Maritime Link simultaneously… (b) Upon Sanction, each of Nalcor and Emera is committed to cause the Maritime Link to be completed and Commissioned, as contemplated by and in accordance with the terms" of the agreement. What we have is we have commitment to the Maritime Link.

There are various things I will go through later on in terms of true up adjustments, return on equity, the importance of the independent expert if there is a dispute, the URAB decision, what happens with various configurations of that. What we have now is a commercial arrangement which essentially says no matter what the regulatory board decides, we are going to build a link. In fact, they go further – and I have to see if I can find this here – there is reference to a new Maritime Link, and five years after, any board decision can make that.

Now we have sanction. We have everything else I talked about in that painting or tapestry. We come to these last two pieces – I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, it has taken me a while to get to where I have to be here, but it is important that we outline all of this. We have talked about the financing structure and why we are directing the PUB, like we directed the PUB last week in terms of the generation component of the Labrador industrial rates and now why we need the expropriation powers.

This legislation will establish an expropriation protocol through regulations which the provincial government will adhere to and will allow Nalcor and Emera to pledge the easement and security of the financial lender. Again, we need this piece done – so, we need Bill 60 and 61 to now get to the point where this picture –

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible) picture.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, it is looking pretty good, Premier. It is looking pretty good by now.

Having this legislation in place will support the finance raising process and signal to financial lenders that the provincial government is supportive of Muskrat Falls, and the Premier did commit way back when in a letter that we would do what we had to do in terms of the financing terms.

Mr. Speaker, we have banks out there – I am not going to say that they are falling over us, but they are very interested. We know that we have banks like – and I will not get into specific banks at present, but there are certain issues that will have to be discussed at another time.

The legislation is another step towards the development of Muskrat Falls. The proposed legislation will give us the expropriation power in relation to the Muskrat Falls Project, which is defined in the legislation. The expropriation power assigned to government will include the power, as I indicated earlier, to issue notices of expropriation, monitor and execute the expropriation process. The legislation will establish an expropriation protocol.

Government, government, government, not Emera, will approve the expropriation of land required for the Maritime Link as per the expropriation protocol.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, and that is on a news release sent out earlier today with that kind of stuff.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to permitting, the legislation will approve the use of the land by Nalcor and Emera for the purposes of the project with no requirement for public consultation, other than may be required under the duty to consult – again, as required. This is something that is done all the time. We build roads – if you are going to see progress, well, sometimes there has to be an imposition, hopefully as least intrusive as possible on property owners to ensure that which will benefit everyone is constructed.

So again, I stress that the legislation will support the creation of an independent panel of arbitrators with the authority to determine compensation – not us. It is going to be an independent panel who will determine compensation. Fair principles will apply, and we will work together, Mr. Speaker, because obviously we will work together here to achieve fair compensation packages. Also, you are not going to hit the lottery here either. Fair compensation means exactly that.

Many years of study have been undertaken to ensure that the Muskrat Falls Project is developed in a way that is both environmentally and – I have not even had a chance to talk about the environment. I am assuming that either the current minister – and living in Harbour Main, there is probably no one in a better position to talk about the environmental benefits of Holyrood than our current Minister of Environment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: I am sure that our Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services may remind the Leader of the Opposition of some of her comments in the past, and hopefully she will be able to account for why she would have had such a change of stance over a period of time.

So, we studied this project. It has been studied for many years. It has been studied back to 1965. At some point – and it was interesting as the Opposition House Leader talked last week about the attempts in the past to sell Labrador. I found some more detail about that that is actually quite interesting.

When you look that in 1932-1933, we could not govern ourselves. Mr. Speaker, we had people appointed to run a government for our people. It is fascinating reading as we lead up to 1949. There are times I have questioned: Was the right decision made? No one likes to go from being a country to a province, but, Mr. Speaker, I think everyone in this House, even though we are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are also very proud to be part of this great country that we call Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Having said that – and I mean this and I think I speak for the Premier – we are willing to sit down with Quebec at any time and discuss. That is important that people realize that we are willing to sit down and talk to them at any time about –

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: A fair deal.

MR. KENNEDY: A fair deal – one that benefits both people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: So, the legislation has to be in place prior to the raising of the monies in 2013. There is nothing, as I have indicated, untoward about what we are doing here. Everything has come together. The timing has been right. The Premier indicated we were going to sanction before Christmas and I guess we did that yesterday, didn't we?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: These two pieces of legislation now start to complete the picture and we are ready to proceed. When Mr. Martin was asked yesterday: How quick do you think you will proceed? I thought he said fifteen minutes ago, but I am hoping he waited at least until the Premier signed the sanction document.

Mr. Speaker, we are here and we are going to have a discussion. I have no doubt – I have watched the Opposition in the past. We have gone through this in the spring session. There is no bluffing. No one expects any bluffing on the other side when they said we are going to go through this and we are going to go through it in detail, and that is fair enough. Do you know something? Maybe that is the right way to end what has been an odyssey for the last two years. Maybe with the extent of public scrutiny, maybe with the extent of the debate that has taken place in this House that is a good way to go.

I would simply ask, and I just throw this out for a challenge: Show us what is wrong with the deal, as opposed to talking about going back to the PUB. That ship has sailed; we have made it clear. What we are doing here now, though, is we are recognizing the important role of the regulatory body. We are simply doing that which has been done in the past. We are doing that which the legislation allows us to do. We are directing, not exempting. We are not taking peoples land willy-nilly. We are saying: There is a fair process that is going to be put in place. There will be an independent panel. What we want to do here: Show us how to improve these pieces of legislation.

All I hear is go back to the PUB. Well, we are going ahead. This project is sanctioned. If you have some good suggestions in terms of – the Opposition House Leader raised an amendment yesterday. Although I did not agree with the content or principle behind the amendment, it was not one that I disagreed with. It was a good discussion, it was one that was very important, and she raised a valid point. So that is the kind of discussion that we need here and that is the kind of discussion that I am hoping for.

We also have the environmental assessment process ongoing. Again, I am sure that my colleague, the Minister of Environment or the Minister of Transportation and Works, one of my colleagues, will speak to that.

The exact route –and this is important when you ask us how many houses are going to be interfered with or expropriated. At this point, the exact route is not known. I know there was some reference earlier today to some houses, but my understanding is that the number of family residences will certainly be kept to a minimum and the issues of statutory easements will be worked out.

If a homeowner's property is expropriated, or if it is a family home or primary residence, and if an agreement cannot be reached with the homeowners, then the Family Homes Expropriation Act will continue to apply. A decision of the independent panel of arbitrators can be appealed, as set out in the legislation. Then under the Family Homes Expropriation Act, it is the Trial Division. Again, we are protecting the panoply of people's rights and we are ensuring people have the opportunity to put forward their case.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to conclude what has been a fairly long night of talking. I am now going to look at that picture. The only thing I wish I had here now was a picture of Muskrat Falls that I could hold up for the people of this Province and show you that this picture is not simply something we rushed into and painted in a day. This picture was painted and put together over a period of time with a lot of thought, a lot of creativity, and a lot of ingenuity and determination, Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: – characteristics of the people of our Province, which we hold dearly.

Mr. Speaker, we also have to take somewhat of a chance. Sometimes there is a leap in faith. We have reduced that leap in faith with a strong belief in our own people, in our Premier, and in our ability to make the right decision. This is the right decision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now that the fanfare is over, we will start talking about some of the other things. Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say to the minister: You do not need to hold a picture of Muskrat Falls up for me, nor do you need to for anyone else in Labrador. We have lived next to that river our whole lives and we are going to see the picture of that river being altered tremendously over the next few years. That is what is going to happen on our doorstep.

We are going to see hundreds of hectares of wood being cut. We are going to see lands being flooded. We are going to see lands having transmission lines tread across them, but we are not seeing any benefits for the people of Labrador. Mr. Speaker, we do not need a picture. We can paint our own picture today and we can photograph that and make a comparison in a few years from now.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk a little bit about what we are debating here right now and what we are debating is section 43 of the Standing Orders. I sat back and I watched the news tonight and I watched the Minister of Natural Resources on the 6:00 o'clock news saying that they would not be bringing in any closure on this bill. He comes into the House of Assembly tonight, he stands in his place twice, not once, but twice, and moves amendments that will invoke closure on this bill in second reading.

That is what the minister did. The same minister that you all just stood up and give the grand applause to was on the news tonight saying he was not going to do this, only a few hours ago. He moved two motions since then – two motions to shut down debate on Bill 60 and Bill 61 in second reading, Mr. Speaker. That is what he did. Then we are supposed to sit here and take everything that comes out of there as gospel – that is what we are supposed to do. Honest to God, you cannot even believe what they tell you on the news two hours ago – you cannot even believe that, Mr. Speaker.

What we are doing now, in essence, is we are debating Standing Order 43 in connection to Bill 60. What Bill 60 is, Mr. Speaker, from what we can understand in the few hours that we have had this bill, this bill that is forty pages long, this bill that is attached to fifteen other statutes of the House of Assembly, what we can gather so far is that it might not be too bad of a bill. How would you know if you never get an opportunity to sit down and read it, connect the dots, and understand what it does?

Mr. Speaker, we are here tonight, at midnight, debating a bill on expropriating lands in order to have a transmission corridor for the Muskrat Falls Project, without ever having the opportunity to have read the bill. Now that is what we are doing, Mr. Speaker. This government is saying: trust us. We could not trust them from 6:00 this evening from the caucus room to get in here at midnight, Mr. Speaker. They are telling us to trust them. They told us to trust them on Abitibi. What happened? We trusted them. I specifically asked one question: Are we expropriating the mill? Oh, no, no, not expropriating the mill. What did we do? We expropriated the mill.

Mr. Speaker, on this bill that we are debating, Bill 60, which is the expropriation of Crown lands, we understand what it means. We have municipalities in this Province that are taking easements on land every day. They are only talking about taking something like 160 or a couple of hundred easements or expropriations. The City of St. John's probably does 1,000 of them in a year.

How do we know that this is not a good bill or it is a good bill? We have not had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to even look at it, to even sit down and have a good read through it. It is not an amendment to an existing act. It is a completely new act. I have been in this House long enough to know, Mr. Speaker, that when you are dealing with amendments, it is quite different than when you are dealing with a complete new act, and that is what we are dealing with here.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that there are going to be a 1,100-kilometre corridor that is going to have to be built, a transmission line. We know that corridor has got to be sixty metres wide. We know that there is going to be some areas where that corridor is going to pass through where there is private property. A lot of it is going to be over Crown lands. Lands that are owned by the Province and where there is no lease, but there is some that is owned by the Crown where there is lease. There is some that is owned by private individuals. All of that has to be looked at.

We know that there are people in Sunnyside who will have their houses taken as a part of this easement. We know they are going to be compensated. I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that they will be compensated fairly because that is the appropriate thing to do.

Mr. Speaker, having said all of that, and although we understand what is contained in the bill, we understand how the expropriation is going to work under section 12. We know what the process is for the proponent. We know that Emera, if they want land, will go to the Province and say expropriate this piece of land for us and give it to us because we need it. We know that Nalcor will do the same thing. Those things are pretty clear. We also know that they will not pay any municipal taxes. We know that Emera, even though they are a Nova Scotia company, they are coming in here, they are publicly traded, they are going to own lands and property, they are going to build transmission in the Province. We know they are not going to have to pay any taxes. Under this bill, they are exempt from those taxes. They do not have to pay any of those fees.

All of that stuff we can see and look at and read. The problem that we have with this, Mr. Speaker, is there are fifteen other statutes of the House that are connected to it, and I challenge any member over there to tell me what the fifteen are and if they read them and connected the dots in the last not even twenty-four hours, Mr. Speaker, that we have had to look at this. I sincerely doubt it, Mr. Speaker.

The other thing that we know about the bill is that it is necessary in order for the government to complete the financial components of the Muskrat Falls Project. That is the reason for it. We know that even though the project has been sanctioned, Mr. Speaker, they need those bills. They need those bills because they need to give certainty to the financers, when they go to borrow money, that if their assets are seized that they have clear title to those assets and in order to have that, they need to expropriate the property or hopefully, in some cases, just do regular easements which can be done at the consent of both parties.

Mr. Speaker, if we had the time, we could go through this bill. We could be much more educated with regard to what it does. We could feel much more confident that what we would be supporting or passing in the House is going to be in the best interest of those people who are affected.

Government did not want to do that. They have had months to bring forward this legislation. They have had since the House opened on the eighteenth or nineteenth of November and they have not done so. In fact, Mr. Speaker, they spent more energy going around speaking at all different events trying to promote the project than they spent on putting the details in place to gain the access to the pieces of legislation that they require to make it work. That was quite evident, Mr. Speaker, and the reason that we are here tonight at midnight, just a few days before Christmas, doing all of these things.

When the minister spoke, he talked about expertise. He said: We are not afraid to have our work tested. Mr. Speaker, I challenge that statement, and I will tell you why. Because they would not have anything they did under Muskrat Falls tested when it came to the public of this Province. They would not have it tested through the Public Utilities Board. They would not have it tested in this House of Assembly in any kind of a debate. They would not have it tested in the public in which witnesses could be called for debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they will not have it tested through the other pieces of legislation that they are putting on the floor of the House because they are bringing in closure to close down the bills in second reading. That is exactly what is happening, Mr. Speaker. If you really wanted to have all of this tested, you would not be afraid to put it out there. What we are seeing is definitely a group that is afraid to do just that.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, is that the bill talks about the impacts and the piece with regard to Aboriginal groups. I am going to speak to that for a few minutes. They make a lot of fanfare out of the fact that the Innu showed up for the party in the foyer yesterday, Mr. Speaker, along with Emera that got $55 million to come to the party – that was their gift to get here. Mr. Speaker, I will talk about that in just a minute.

They talk about the Innu being there. Of course the Innu are going to be there. They have an agreement; they have a financial agreement on Muskrat Falls. They are going to put money in their pockets from Muskrat Falls – including the Member of Parliament, who happens to be Innu, because their benefit agreement pays out a royalty to every one of the Innu. Those of you who just had the poor face, go read the agreement that you signed with them. Go read the agreement and you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Mr. Speaker, that is why they showed up. I am going to tell you a lot of people in this Province who are going to get a royalty from this project would have showed up too; they would have come to the dance too. In fact, I might have gone for $55 million that Emera got. Mr. Speaker, let us call it what it really is.

What about all of the other people? What about the people of Nunatsiavut? What about those people? What about the president today who had to again issue another press release outlining their concerns with Muskrat Falls because the government was making fanfare out of the fact that one of their members showed up who had an invitation? The president today had to go out and try and clear it up, Mr. Speaker, because the government threw it all out of proportion in their desperation to fill the foyer.

They have concerns, legitimate environmental concerns with regard to this project. Whether you are for it or whether you are against it, you should be at least open to hear what people have to say and to deal with their concerns and try to address them.

What about NunatuKavut, Mr. Speaker? You talk about the Aboriginal piece in Bill 60; you have not even talked to NunatuKavut. You have not sat down at the table with them. They have concerns, they have issues, and, Mr. Speaker, they are putting it forward. Government is just ignoring it. Government is not responding to it.

That is very frustrating. They are using money to fight this in the courts instead of being able to use that money to train people, their members, to go to work on a project like this and give them better opportunities. Instead, they have to go and fight the government to get at the table and put all of their money into legal fees and court cases all over the country to try to achieve what should have legitimately been theirs and given them the opportunity for, Mr. Speaker. Those are the kind of things that are happening with regard to this project.

What about Labrador, Mr. Speaker? Government writes things like they recognize their duty to consult with Aboriginal people. They do not do it. They get up and they talk about benefits for Labrador, but they do not provide any. That is why people are so frustrated. That is why you have people in Muskrat Falls, like we saw on the news today. I know the individual who was in there cutting the hydro pole. I have known him all of my life, in fact. He lives in my district. I know all of his family. You guys have appointed his mother and his sister to a number of boards – the same family.

That is the level of frustration that is existing in Labrador right now. It is from one extreme to the other because people feel that they are being ignored.

I will tell you a story that happened to me, a story yesterday. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable. Muskrat Falls is in the heartland of Labrador. We always thought that when this deal got done there would be benefits for the people there. I am going to tell you, people in Labrador are kind, generous people. They are sincere, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: I tell you, they do not expect a lot, but they expect to be treated fairly; they always have. They are grateful, Mr. Speaker, and they appreciate what they get.

Do you know something? I left home yesterday morning and I drove over a gravel road – something very few people in this Province have to do today. I drove over a great deal of kilometres of gravel road yesterday, through snow and ice, to get to an airport in Quebec – not in my own district because we do not have one there that I can fly out of – so I could get to the other part of my Province to do the job I do.

On the way I stopped to meet with some parents in my district in the Labrador Straits – parents who came to meet with me because they had nowhere for their children to play minor hockey. Well, we have a big arena down the road. We cannot afford to put the ice in the arena; our light bill is too high. We have to send our kids to Quebec to play minor hockey. I have over forty kids going across the border today to play minor hockey because the people in my district cannot afford to put ice in their arena, because their light bill is too high – $8,000 a month Nalcor wants for those little children to go and play hockey.

I flew in here, I got out of my car, and I walked into this building, and guess what was going on? The tea party was going on in the foyer. They were eating cake on Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, and the kids in my district were going across the border to play hockey, because we cannot afford the light bill to put the ice in the arena. Now, you tell me where the fairness is in that.

Hang your head in shame is what I would say to the whole lot of you. Hang you head in shame, Mr. Speaker, because the one thing that I have always learned is that if you were going to take something from people, you give something back. The very least that you could have done was ensured that the people in Labrador have affordable power, Mr. Speaker. The very least that you could have done was at least look to see where you could bridge those gaps.

I sent the e-mails to Nalcor yesterday. I sent them the e-mails and said this is ridiculous and these kids need to get in here to play hockey. Guess what? I told them to put the ice in the arena, and it is being done now. We are going to figure out how we are going to pay for it, even if they have to come and take the meters off the place. We will see. Nalcor might have to go up and take the meters off yet, and that will be a great story, won't it?

Well, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, do you know the response I got back from Nalcor? We will have a look at it in the new year. Yes, Mr. Speaker, they are going to have a look at it in the new year. Well, that is fine and great, but in the meantime, you cannot change the fact that there are shameful inadequacies that are going on. You cannot change that, Mr. Speaker. I do not get angry very often, but I can tell you yesterday when I walked out of that meeting with those parents and after two hours on a plane and walked in here, I was still sizzling. I was never so upset in a very long time as I was to hear the stories from those parents yesterday on the very same day this government was sanctioning a major hydro development project in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that is what was happening.

There is the history for us. That is the chapter, Mr. Speaker, the people in Labrador are going to remember on the day Muskrat Falls was sanctioned in the foyer of St. John's, not even in the homeland of Muskrat Falls, and not even with the support and the respect being shown to the people of Labrador. That is the frustration we deal with.

Now we come here. We have legislation on the Table. We are not even given the time to read it, along with research it, and we are expected to stand in our place and debate it. Well, I do not do that careless, reckless kind of debate, Mr. Speaker. If that is the way they want to choose to do things, that is fine and dandy –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member her time has expired.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

It has been a long night and a long wait. I am happy to finally be on my feet and be able to have something to say with regard to the bills that have been before us today. Obviously, right now the bill we have in front of us is Bill 60, which is the Muskrat Falls Project Land Use and Expropriation Act. The three bills that we have been dealing with, Bills 53, 61, and 60, are all quite related.

As we were told today in the briefing, both Bills 60 and 61 were considered by the people who were with us, the people from the Department of Finance and Natural Resources, that both bills were financing bills because they were bills to enable the financing of Muskrat Falls. Knowing that, it gives me a lot of latitude in terms of speaking to the issues that Bill 60, Bill 61, and Bill 53 all speak to as they try to put the financing principles in place that will allow Muskrat Falls Project to happen.

I understand the need for these structures. When you read the expropriation bill, I understand what is going on. They are technical bills. Bill 60 is a technical bill. Bill 61 is also a technical bill. They are putting in place the structures that are needed in order for Nalcor to be compliant with the loan guarantee. The structures that are needed to make sure that Nalcor is going to be able to get financing and the loan guarantee, as I have said earlier today, has quite a number of conditions that have to be met in order for the loan guarantee to happen, and both of these bills deal with that.

Bill 60 is very particular because it has to do with expropriation, but the expropriation is all about expropriation to allow the transmission corridor to move from Muskrat Falls down to the Island and right over to Soldiers Pond.

It is all about getting the transmission line in place and getting the money for the transmission line in place. This legislation is needed to be in place in order for the loan guarantee to finally kick in next fall in 2013.

We understand what has to be done. I understand that if you are going to have a business the size of this business, the way you do it is the way that has been described to us. I understand the whole thing, the need for subsidiaries. I understand the need for the protection of the mother corporation, Nalcor. I understand the need for having the loan broken up into sections with each part, each company, each subsidiary, holding the responsibility for that part of the loan.

We all understand the dynamics, we all understand the technicalities, and that is what these bills are about. I understand the technicalities too of the whole project, obviously. I understand the technicalities of a dam. I understand the technicalities of putting a major project in Labrador. Back in 1997-1999 I was a member of the Voisey's Bay Environmental Assessment Panel and we worked for two solid years on that panel looking at all the aspects of what it meant to put a major development in Labrador.

I am very aware of what it is to put a development like Muskrat Falls, the dam, the generation project, in Labrador. I also understand what it is – and I can feel what is being felt by the Opposition House Leader. I did not live there and was not born there, but I spent a fair bit of time in Labrador and I have sat at the edge of Muskrat Falls and every time I see the picture I say: That is where I sat. I am never going to sit there again and see those falls and see what I saw that wonderful day that I went to see Muskrat Falls. I was with the Environmental Assessment Panel back in 1997-1998. We went there because we knew that talk was already going on about the possibility of putting a dam on Muskrat Falls. We said: Let us go look at Muskrat Falls.

I understand the technicalities of major development. I understand the technicalities of what it does to the land. I understand what it is to cause environmental damage and then to try to remediate environmental damage. There are times in which that is called for and times in which that is valid. I understand all that.

I also understand what is going on in the world today around energy. I understand all the different alternative things that are happening with regard to generation of electricity on this planet. I understand that doing major hydroelectric projects is something that is moving more and more into the past, not into the future as we are doing.

I understand what it is to put a whole Energy Plan in place and to figure out all the pieces that might fit into that Energy Plan to work together, all the pieces that could go together to make an Energy Plan the best for the people who need the energy. I understand a lot about wind energy. I understand a lot about tidal energy. I know what is going on.

When I hear members across this room make reference to the fact that they have never heard any positive coming out on this side of the room, they have never heard any alternatives, I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the government unfortunately has refused to hear anything that has been presented to them. They rejected major recommendations of the Environmental Assessment Panel.

People in this Province and people in this country who have expertise when it comes to hydroelectricity, when it comes to energy generation, people who are recognized in their fields have been speaking out and presenting options and presenting their concerns. This government does not believe any of them. This government claims that the only experts are the experts they deal with.

Mr. Speaker, they have cut off discussion. This government has discouraged anybody from coming forward because all we get for coming forward is being called names, being called stupid, being called people who do not know what we are talking about. This government has done that with some very respected people in this Province. I am embarrassed when it happens.

Mr. Speaker, people do know what the issues are. They do know what the possibilities are, but this government made a decision that the way to create energy in this Province was Muskrat Falls. Then they set themselves to make it happen. I have said this once before in the House but I am going to say it again: Instead of saying we need energy on the Island – because that was their starting point a few years ago, or so they told us – how are we going to get there? Then really do a full analysis of what all the possibilities are, not little papers.

I have seen the papers. I have read the papers. I have had presentations made to me. It is not what I consider to be a full analysis, looking at all the possibilities that could fit together and make it happen, making alternatives happen that happen everywhere else in the world, but no, they cannot happen in Newfoundland. I am tired of that. It cannot happen here. Wind – oh, it happens everywhere – cannot happen here.

One thing, Mr. Speaker, they have refused to say publicly to people in this Province is about the wonderful pilot project that is going on down in Ramea. They have a really successful wind project going on where we are getting to learn how it is going to work to take the energy that is not being used, because sometimes there will be energy that will not be used and it needs to be stored. That has been one of the issues with wind energy. In Ramea, they are learning how to store the energy in hydrogen cells that then gets burned off when that energy is needed.

Every time I have met with Nalcor I have asked for an update. I am being told it is looking good – it is looking good. The last time I had that said to me, I said: Well, what is stopping you? Well, you have to give time for testing and you have to make sure that it will be consistently good, but it is looking good. Well, how long do you think it might take? I asked the head of Nalcor the last time we met: How long do you think it will take before you will know for sure if this could work in other isolated communities in the Province? Oh, probably a couple of years.

What is going to happen in a couple of years time, Mr. Speaker, is the technology that is being tested in Ramea, and which I believe is going to work – it is already working. What they are testing is the consistency. It is already working. By the time they are ready to say at Nalcor, oh, yes, this is working and we can use this, we are going to need it in very few places in the Province. It will be good for those places, because it will be smaller communities and isolated communities that will be able to use. They did not even throw that into the mix. They do not even tell people about it.

When I tell people about Ramea they have never heard of it. Yet, the member for the area certainly knows about what is going on in Ramea, and it is quite exciting. We could have much more exciting things going on here, but no, the government has now decided that the Energy Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador is Muskrat Falls. It is putting a hold on everything. We will not have exciting alternative things being looked at over the next fifty years because all the eggs have been put in the basket of Muskrat Falls.

What disturbs me, Mr. Speaker, is that I know that the technology is there for building the dam; I know that. I know the technology is there for building the transmission lines; I have no doubts about that. I know that if the government follows the recommendations in the Environmental Assessment Panel, at least for the Muskrat Falls Environmental Assessment Panel with regard to remediation, with regard to trying to make sure that environmental damage is not too great by using proper methods. I know all the things. I know all the recommendations that are there. I have read them more than once. I understand that well, having written recommendations like that myself on another panel.

Mr. Speaker, it all can happen, but that is not the bottom line. The bottom line for me is what we find in the loan guarantee. The bottom line for me is what is going to happen with Muskrat Falls – it has already started and going on for another fifty years. Every single penny going into it is going to be paid by the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is their money that is going to pay for every single cent.

No wonder the Prime Minister would be happy to co-operate and do the loan guarantee. The loan guarantee makes sure that the federal government will not lose a cent. If the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador messes up at all and Muskrat Falls loses money, the Province just indemnifies the federal government. The federal government is not going to lose any money. The Prime Minister knows that he is not going to lose any money, so he is not going to have to say to the people of Canada you have to pay for mistakes in Newfoundland and Labrador if they happen. He will not have to do it.

Over in Nova Scotia, they will not have to do it either because over in Nova Scotia you have a private corporation, a publicly held trading company, Emera. The Nova Scotia government is not putting money in. Their ratepayers are going to be protected, because their utility board is going to make sure that the people of Nova Scotia are protected – but here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province will pay every cent. There is probably nobody sitting up watching us right now, but I hope what I say is going to be in Hansard, and it also gets played again, so maybe there are people out there who will hear what I am saying, but it has to be said.

When you go to the loan guarantee and you look at schedule A of the federal loan guarantee, the whole of schedule A, there are five sections to it about the commitments of the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown, the things that they have to do in order for the loan guarantee to happen. The things that I want to look at is the same thing for three different aspects. It has to do with paying the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, with paying for the Labrador-Island Link – that is the transmission line – and paying for the Labrador Transmission Line, which goes from the Muskrat Falls up to the Upper Churchill.

What the loan guarantee says, that the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown – that means the government, as we all know – will ensure that upon Muskrat Falls achieving in-service – that means starting to operate, that will be, we are told, in 2017, and this is what I am going to really emphasize – the regulated rates for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will allow it to collect sufficient revenue in each year – that is for fifty years – to enable Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to recover those amounts incurred for the purchase and delivery of energy from Muskrat Falls, including those costs incurred by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro pursuant to any applicable power purchase agreement between Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the relevant Nalcor subsidiary or entity controlled by Nalcor that will provide for a recovery of costs over the term of the power purchase agreement.

It relates to every single cost that can be incurred with regard to Muskrat Falls – every single cost. What is this promising? It is promising that the rates that the people of this Province will have to pay will be enough to make sure that every cent that has ever been spent yet, and that will be spent for fifty years, will always be covered by the rate. That means by the people of this Province – and it is not even all the people of the Province who will be using that power. The people who pay for the Muskrat power because they use it are the people who are paying for every single cent, the billions of dollars over those fifty years – every single cent.

You have two other sections that they say the same thing about the Labrador-Island Link and that say the same thing about the Labrador transmission line – the same thing. Every single cent has to come from the rates that are paid by the people who are going to be using that power.

That is what is wrong with this deal. That is what is wrong with Muskrat Falls. It is not that we do not know how to build a dam; people build dams. It is not that we cannot do the technology. It is the people of this Province – not the economy out there that I heard the Minister of Finance talk about and not the government I heard the Minister of Natural Resources talk about how isn't it wonderful that we have the money that we can put this cash in. Oh yes, isn't it great that we have $2 billion that we can put into Muskrat Falls, but we cannot have a home care program? Isn't it great that we have $2 billion to put into Muskrat Falls, but we do not have a child care program? Isn't it great that we have $2 billion to put into Muskrat Falls and we have people in districts that we represent who cannot get a wheelchair to sit in when they have no legs? Now, that is the reality.

There is nothing wrong with the project in terms of a project. What is wrong is that we cannot afford to do it and take care of the people of this Province and tell the people on a fixed income that their electricity rates are going to go up to a point where they are not going to be able to pay them and tell them it has to happen oh, because the price of oil is going to go up, it will be going up anyway. Well, that is not even a fact right now. The price of oil is stable and we have been told that it is going to be stable for a fairly long time.

Mr. Speaker, this is the problem. The people of this Province have to bear the weight of the cost of Muskrat Falls and they are going to suffer from it. They are going to suffer from it in a number of areas. The money coming out of their pockets, number one; and number two, through services that they are not going to get because this government is not going to be able to do it.

Of course the whole loan guarantee is an excellent document for the people who want to lend money. They are delighted. Every single angle is covered in it. They are not going to suffer. Of course it is good for the federal government. It is easy for them to say we are going to guarantee the loan because everything is covered. They are not going to get caught and they know it. The banks love this kind of a thing. Everything they want covered is in the loan guarantee. They are not thinking about the people of the Province, and it is our responsibility to think about the people of the Province. It is not their responsibility to think about it. The lawyers, the financial people, their job is to make sure that a legal document is accurate and that it is going to cover all the bases for the people who sign the document.

We have to think about the people in this Province. Mr. Speaker, I am very sad to say that I have no idea where this government's head is. I have no idea what they are thinking.

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: They are not thinking about the people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that we do adjourn debate at the present time on Bill 60.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that debate be adjourned on Bill 60.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 2, Bill 53, third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 And The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair standing to speak?

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a good opportunity to speak now; it is only 12:40 a.m. I thought it might be a good time to get up and have a few words with regard to Bill 53.

Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago I think we were doing Bill 60. In fact, I was on my way to step out for a minute and then I happened to come in to drop something off to my colleague, the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, and I found out the government had called Bill 53 back again.

I thought they had heard enough about this bill in the last two or three days that they would never call it back any more. I guess that is it, Mr. Speaker. I suppose they wanted the opportunity to hear a few more words. So here we go. Why don't we have a few words on Bill 53, Bill 60, and Bill 61? Why not talk about them all? That is what the Minister of Natural Resources did tonight when he was up. I could not really tell what bill he was talking about at most times because he was back and forth so much.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this bill is connected to Muskrat Falls. It obviously has to do with industrial customers in Labrador and the Labrador industrial electricity rate, something we as a party have been asking for. We have been asking for this probably ever since the early days of 2011. It was only a few months after the project was signed for the first time down at the hotel downtown that we started meeting with the mining companies that were expressing concerns because they were not included in the project.

In our course of doing that, we decided that we needed to start asking government for this particular industrial power rate for Labrador and put pressure on them to get it done, Mr. Speaker. We were not trying to pull any fast ones or anything like the government was trying to do tonight on Bill 53. All we were doing was trying to get some legislation in place so we could get industry being developed in Labrador – very simple – because the government opposite did not look North to look at what the power needs were.

They looked everywhere else in the world. They looked all over the Island of Newfoundland. They looked across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They looked in Nova Scotia. They looked in New Brunswick. They looked in PEI. Then, Mr. Speaker, they started to look across the border into Quebec. They looked in Maine. They looked in New Hampshire. They looked in Vermont. They looked in New York. They looked in Massachusetts.

They looked everywhere, Mr. Speaker. Then they came back and they looked in Ontario. They started trying to figure out how they could run a transmission line on a sky train over Quebec and get the power down into Ontario. They looked everywhere, but they did not look in Labrador.

No, Mr. Speaker, they set their eyes on the big river of Muskrat Falls and they decided: How are we going to get the power out of that river, and then where are we going to bring it? They never once looked beyond the river, Mr. Speaker, to see if a pole line was needed – never once. They never once looked to see if there was potential for new energy development and customers in Labrador. No, Mr. Speaker, they stumbled on them; they tripped. When the price of iron ore skyrocketed and the markets went up, the government tripped, they tripped in the explosion of the prices of iron ore. That is what happened. That was when all of a sudden they said, Mr. Speaker, I think we might have to have a look – we might have to have a look.

Look what happened when they had a look. The Opposition kept putting the pressure, and then they had to cough up the money to go out and hire Wade Locke. They had to get Wade Locke to go in, Mr. Speaker, and he came back with a big, flashy report. He even made it blue, the same colour as the party that gave him the cheque to do it. Then, Mr. Speaker, he came back with it –

MR. JOYCE: At least it is not black.

MS JONES: No, it is not black; he had to publish it.

What did he tell them, Mr. Speaker? He told them in this report that the amount of iron ore production in Labrador was going to triple in the next few years. He told them that every single kilowatt of power coming off of Muskrat Falls, they could use if for industrial development in Labrador. That is what he told them.

He said: You do not have to gaze across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. You do not have to go down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. You do not have to light up the cottage industry, Mr. Speaker, for the Americans. You can light up the industry for Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what was in the report, Mr. Speaker. Then the government says: Well, we have to look harder. We have to figure this out. How are we going to figure this out?

Mr. Speaker, then, they were in a bind because they had two or three power sources. They had a deal with IOC. They had a deal with Wabush Mines. They had a deal with them on cheap, cheap power. How we cannot bring in a two-tier system; we cannot charge one crowd one rate and another crowd another rate. We have to get this figured out. We have to figure out how we are going to do it.

So then, Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in all of her glory, waltzed up to Labrador last year, last summer, went in to the legion up there – I was sitting at the table at the big dinner – and she said: We are going to make sure that we bring power to Labrador. Then she walked out and never told a soul how she was going to get it there, where it was going to come from, or how much they were going to pay for it. Because the only thing they knew then, Mr. Speaker, is they had to say: We are going to give Labrador some power.

They got that much right. That sentence got into the speech and it was read verbatim from the podium in the legion that day, but there were no details. There was nothing. There was nothing thought out past page 4 in the speech, Mr. Speaker, that had that one line in the third paragraph. That was it.

Then they had to come back and figure it out because the pressure was coming to bear. The pressure was coming to bear and it was in the fall when they decided we have to go out and get Wade Locke to look at this because we do not know how we are going to deal with it.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, hence we get to Bill 53. Now Bill 53, Mr. Speaker, we brought in an amendment on it today. Everybody spoke to the amendment except for me on this side of the House. All of a sudden, I stepped out to put my coat on and next thing I know the government yanked Bill 60 off the table and whacked Bill 53 on there again.

Now, Mr. Speaker, how sly can you be? How sly can you be to take one piece of legislation, switch it out for another piece, before you get a chance to blink your eyes? Well, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way I operate. I operate above board. I operate, Mr. Speaker, whatever it is, it is.

If the government wants to debate Bill 53, do not be afraid to tell us. We will debate it all day. We can debate it all night. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we have no problem whatsoever, because do you know something? We actually support the bill. That might come as a shock, but we support the bill. Do you know why we support the bill? Because we had to spend a year-and-a-half dragging the government to bring this legislation in, to get them around to our way of thinking of where they needed to go. To get them, Mr. Speaker, to put some vision behind what they were about to do.

That is why we have a problem with Emera. It comes back to Bill 53. Our problem with Emera comes right back to Bill 53. We do not need Emera – we do not need Emera. Emera is a drag on us. They are a drag. We just had to write a cheque for $30 million to cover off half their penalty if they default on the Maritime Link – $30 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Yes, we did.

They are a drag on the taxpayers of this Province, Mr. Speaker. They have not had to wax the floor for the first time down in the new offices yet and they are a drag on us already.

Look at this, Mr. Speaker. They went to get their financing. Guess what? We had to put up $25 million for Emera in order to keep their rate down so they would have the right debt-to-equity ratio, Mr. Speaker. We had to give them $25 million.

The biggest drag we have had in this Province in a long time on the cash flows of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is Emera – $55 million, and it is all in one week. Can you imagine? Here, I have children who cannot afford to pay the light bill to put ice in the hockey rink and they get a $55 million cheque – for what? So that Stephen Harper would give us a loan guarantee. Because guess what? He would not give it to us. He would not give it to the government opposite. He would not give it to the Premier. Nova Scotia had to come into the mix and Emera had to come into the mix or there would be no loan guarantee.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, he had no problem going out closing down the search and rescue, gutting the federal government programs, but no loan guarantee without Emera and without Nova Scotia. What did we have to do? We had to start writing the cheques, Mr. Speaker. We had to start writing the cheques for them to come in.

MR. CORNECT: Relevance?

MS JONES: I say relevance, to the Member for Port au Port. It is all relevant. Absolutely, it is relevant.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Why don't you get up and talk about it? Why don't you get up and tell us what is going on?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I listened very attentively tonight when members opposite were speaking. In fact, I never interrupted any of them. I listened to the Minister of Natural Resources tonight for almost three hours and I do not think I interrupted him once. Already, I have not been on my feet, Mr. Speaker, not even thirteen minutes, and I am after having to sit down a couple of times already.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for the same courtesy. I know they do not want to hear what I have to say but what I have to say is factual, it is important, and it is very relevant to this debate.

What I am talking about, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that because of Bill 53, we do not need Emera. We do not need to be giving 20 per cent of our energy away for a Maritime Link that we will not own for thirty-five years, and we do not need the capacity to get the other 40 per cent out when we can build the transmission and plug in the mining industry in Labrador.

That is what the government opposite still fails to see, Mr. Speaker. We are getting them there. We are getting them there, but they are not all the way there yet. Because they are not seeing the big picture; they are not seeing the potential.

What is disappointing, Mr. Speaker, is they have two members from Labrador in their caucus – two. One who was against the project two years ago and now is all for it. Another one, Mr. Speaker, who we have not heard hardly anything out of, other than talking about what the mining companies are doing but not talking about the fact that they are going to give power to Nova Scotia where their mines can come in and get cheap power to operate as opposed to building transmission in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that is what we need. That is what we want to see.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: When you were looking at running for the Liberal Party and the NDP, you were against Muskrat Falls. You were making it known. That was right after they kicked you out of the Nunatsiavut Government up there. They kicked you out of Nunatsiavut and you were all upset about that. Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: I was being interrupted, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair to direct her comments to the speaker.

The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would be happy to do so. I just want to note for the record though, Mr. Speaker, I listened for almost three hours without interruption tonight to the Minister of Natural Resources. I have not been on my feet fifteen minutes and the members opposite have been interrupting and you have had to call order now, Mr. Speaker, three times. That is okay. I will continue to debate the bill.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 53 will allow us to create industry for the people of our own Province. That industry will be in Labrador. That industry will not be for three years of construction like a transmission link will be. It will be for thirty years, and sixty years, and ninety years and 130 years. That is the real difference.

That is why we do not need Emera right now. Maybe if we had Gull Island coming on, I would see the need to run the link both ways. Today, I do not see it. I do not see where we need to do this in order to make Muskrat Falls feasible. At the end of the day whether that power goes to the mining companies, whether it goes to Nova Scotia, whether it lights up the cottages on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, is not as relevant as the fact that the project is already being paid for on the backs of ratepayers in the Province.

Where that power goes is not relevant to the overall cost. The only relevance is in what it creates long term in economic benefits for the Province. Those benefits are going to be realized far greater in this Province in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, than they are going to be anywhere else. I think anyone of any calm rational thinking will agree with what I am saying.

Mr. Speaker, for me, it is not about not developing this project. It has never been about that. It is about doing the development in a way that benefits the people first. If you are going to give that power to anyone, sell it to anyone, transport it anywhere, you should be doing it at home first and creating the industry here. We can have those jobs for 100 years. We can attract all kinds of industrial development. We can earn more royalties, more benefits, and more revenue for the people of the Province by building transmission in Labrador than we are ever going to earn by building them to Nova Scotia, and that is the part that is sad about all of this.

I am so disappointed, Mr. Speaker, that the government is now out there assuming the risk for Emera simply because they want to get that Maritime Link. We all know why they want to get the Maritime Link. Because that is the only way that Stephen Harper would give them the loan guarantee. The one they are looking to today as the saviour, Stephen Harper the saviour, was anything but a few years ago in the eyes of the members opposite, but now he has forced them to climb into bed with a publicly traded company in Nova Scotia and with the Nova Scotia government in order to get a loan guarantee.

Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker? If Emera defaults on the Maritime Link and we have to turn around and build it, the billion dollars that we are going to save from the loan guarantee, we are going to have to spend it to build the Maritime Link then. Because without the link, the loan guarantee is not there. Do you know what the government is saying? It is like passing this bill. They are saying to themselves we have five years to figure it out, in five years the project will be done, so we will deal with it then – and guess what? They will ship the power out through Quebec.

Why not be honest about it? Why not tell it like it is? That is exactly what will happen. I will make that prediction today, Mr. Speaker. I am not about playing the games, because the billion you save you are going to spend. It is like this, Mr. Speaker, do it right from the offset, develop it for the people of the Province first. Get the greatest return that you are going to get. That way the project becomes more feasible for all of us.

Do not play the games because we all know what will happen if Emera defaults. They have our $55 million, we get a project, we ship our power through Quebec and in five years everybody thinks it is all said and done and we can go home out of it and it is all going to be wonderful and glorious. Mr. Speaker, the problem is the money is gone then and the right thing should have been done in the first place.

Mr. Speaker, on Bill 53 we will be supporting it because we know that we need it in order to get this development moving. We will be supporting it, Mr. Speaker. I think the government really needs to think this through and have a bigger vision for what is going to happen in this Province in the future, not just for what they are doing today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's North has already spoken to the amendment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to the amendment on the bill, An Act to Amend the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994. Mr. Speaker, it is to me that I believe that government has once again failed to really look at developing local markets and developing local access to the power assets that they are proposing. This is regressive when you are looking at increasing rates.

In the government's original Energy Plan, the Lower Churchill proposal included a total of 3,000 megawatts of power. Now the proposal is looking at 824 megawatts of power which is significantly smaller scale. It basically puts into what we can develop in terms of industry as to the industrial rates in Labrador at much less. The opportunity is significantly less.

When we look at the current block of power that is there and the recall power – and even with Muskrat Falls being developed and what is going to be given to the Island and what is going to be used through the Maritime Link – what remains is extremely a small amount of power when you are looking at doing any type of major industrial development.

The Minister of Natural Resources had talked about this earlier today, as I had spoken to this bill earlier, that if all the mining that is proposed is developed, Muskrat Falls would not even have enough power to supply their needs. That seems like there is real shortsighted planning when we are looking at the fact that we are developing, with Emera, the Maritime Link that really has no export market beyond that 20 per cent of the power right now.

How do we promote industry in Labrador, industrial industry happening there with higher rates? Right now you have IOC and Wabush Mines that is being able to develop an industry around extremely low electricity rates. Having any type of increase in electricity rates has a significant impact and is a deterrent for any company, whether it is a mining company or whether it is a large-scale manufacturer that is coming in terms of doing anything industrial.

Increasing hydro costs certainly affects their bottom line to any major industry. It is a major cost because they are using a lot of power. There is a demand for a lot of power here. Every time you go from a point of a cent to a cent to multiple cents, which is proposed in this bill, it is going to have a significant increase. The fact that there is the ability to have a matching or go lower than the nearest competitor, that can have an effect as well as to looking at the overall cost of development and development of the project and what it means for the utility, what it means for the Province, and what it means to the ratepayers.

If we look at industrial mining, during periods of very high global demand these ore mining companies can sustain some increases in electrical operation. During periods of low global demand – and we are in a period right now where there is a lot of uncertainty in the global marketplace when it comes to industrialization, when it comes to what investments, when it comes to being able to attract the dollars that are needed to be able to go to the marketplace for major projects.

We saw that there was supposed to be another oil refinery on the Island. They tried to go to the markets and they were not able to get the investment to do that type of industrialization here. There is real concern that if we are making electricity rates more expensive for the industrial consumer and then if we are also proposing to make them more expensive for the residential consumer, well then that is a deterrent all around from anyone to come to Newfoundland and Labrador to do business. It does have an impact, greatly.

If you look at just what was stated earlier around having electricity from the Muskrat Falls Project going to Soldiers Pond at over twenty cents, and bringing it down at a blended rate of fifteen cents, well that is significantly higher than what we are paying right now. That is going to have an impact. If you look at the average person who has a $250 a month, well in 2015, based on that rate, it is going to be about $350 – that is $1200 out of somebody's pocket.

Now, on a small scale, that impacts the individual, and the low income, middle income, any income person, that has an impact. When you are looking at this particular bill, when you are looking at industrialization and industrial rates, you are talking about a company that is using an exorbitant amount of power, you are not talking about kilowatt hours here, you are talking about megawatt hours, and they are using a significant amount of that. Increasing their rate from 0.6 to three or higher and even seeing that the blended rate goes significantly higher than that, then that is going to really impact the bottom line of the consumer.

Maybe it is time to look at rethinking where we are using power, how much power is actually needed, and what the industrialized consumer is willing to do and put into the capitalization cost of putting power. Because the industry first established the system that is currently being used in Labrador West in mining, and when it comes to power and how industrialization is in to play. They were the ones that first established that system.

So, we see that what the government is trying to do right now with this bill is to set aside a set of power and share it up with a number of providers. Maybe it is creating an unfair advantage to those who have been here earlier, who have made the investment, who need power and need a lot of power and are looking at significant expansion, but may be limited and may require them to seek out other sources for that power.

If you look at the larger scale project of what Gull Island and Muskrat Falls together can bring of 3,000 megawatt hours and the lower cost per unit of electricity, well then that makes a significant difference when you look at the demand for all the developments and what those long-term benefits are going to mean for the people of Labrador, and the people of Newfoundland. That is something that needs to be factored in as to why Gull Island was specifically abandoned.

To my knowledge and from any contact that I have had with SNC-Lavalin, it has been discussed that Gull Island would not be developed until agreement could come with Quebec because the power needs to be wheeled through Quebec. So, it is very disheartening to see. Government here on many occasions when they talk about development, talk about removing the stranglehold of Quebec and attacking that province versus looking at if we have a real power asset that can be developed, that needs to go through their borders to really make use of it and to make a regional project, then that is something that may need to be considered to go back on that route.

We look at with this bill right here, the industrialization piece. We have a significant need for power. You only have to look at the power – and I believe what the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair was saying is quite true. If we look at the Maritime Link and we look at the export market beyond that 20 per cent, with Quebec being closer to borders, having excess power, the agreements they have gone long term with Vermont over twenty-five years and the rates that they have offered, it would result in significant losses of power or revenue to Nalcor when it comes to Muskrat Falls.

If you look at that it costs twenty cents a kilowatt hour to send the power to Soldiers Pond, well if Quebec can sell it to Vermont for five cents, it is going to cost us a lot more to get power to Vermont. That means that the ratepayer of the Province will have to pay significantly more.

What we would look at, I think – we look at the Province and we look at the local market and we look at what other places like Iceland is doing with their energy surpluses and what they are doing to really attract business. We have the potential because people want to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have significant assets. We have significant natural resources. If we are an energy powerhouse – which is what the original Energy Plan stated – then we can look at that.

In Iceland, as I was talking about, they have excess power. They have been able to attract aluminium; they have been able to do aluminium smelting. That takes a significant amount of power. It is its second-largest employer. We can really become industrialized. We can use excess power in Labrador to really develop and promote industry and expand, create long-term jobs and bring many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians back, and encourage other people to come as well.

This bill, as to what I am seeing, is proposing to increase industrial electrical rates. Increasing industrial electrical rates to the consumer, to industry, to mining companies, to other entities that are looking at doing business is only going to be a deterrent. It is not going to do anything that is going to be positive when it comes to these implications.

I think it is very short-sighted to look at where we are in our energy piece right now, that we have that amount of recall power. We only have so much power at TwinCo. The original concept of Muskrat Falls was to look at getting into the export market, looking at the New England States, and getting high dollar values. That has evaporated. That is no longer there.

Now, in terms of putting this into play with any excess power, saying that Muskrat Falls is not enough to meet the mining demand, yet there is no transmission link or way to wheel that power there at the moment. That is an additional cost. We already have close to an $8 billion project. To build transmission and what we are going to get in return, the people of the Province now will be paying 100 per cent of the cost for 40 per cent of Muskrat Falls power. That has significant impacts.

We have to look at how we can really promote the industry. When you are talking about industry, we go back to the Energy Plan. The Province has stated that we have over 5,000 megawatt hours in hydro power that can be available, that we are producing and tapping. We also have that greater in excess of wind. Maybe it cannot work on a large scale as the report had stated, but a combination of things, whether it is small scale, can look at promoting industry, especially in smaller communities. The Leader of the NDP had talked about Ramea and what energy self-sufficiency can mean in that model.

There have been technical reports done by Memorial University looking at the Labrador Straits, the Cartwright area, as well as the Northern Peninsula, and looking at the possibility of putting in smaller scale wind farms. If you do that, if you put in just 5 megawatts of wind in a small town it can basically take about 1,200 homes off the grid. That is a mechanism that can be really used to have municipalities be more self-sufficient and less reliant on unstable electricity rates, where they can attract business, they can lower taxes for their residents in terms of paying that back.

There are all different kinds of options when you have energy, and you can explore a facet of avenues, but based on what is being proposed in the three bills that are put forward there would be a real limitation, because we have seen where Nalcor has said we cannot have small-scale hydro. There is a moratorium, and there has been since 1998. Now there is no ability to get into wind, even small scale, to do those power purchase agreements like there was in Fermeuse and there on the Burin Peninsula, looking at the fifty-four megawatts that they have put in and the equivalent of 12,000 homes being able to take off the grid over a twenty-five year period. That is significant.

Quebec and Hydro-Quebec is developing wind on a larger scale. They have over 3,000 megawatts of wind that they are proposing. Just looking at what they have done on the Gaspe Bay Peninsula, it is a significant amount. It is certainly enough to attract industry and be competitive, and to remain competitive.

What we are doing in this bill, as to how I feel, is we are looking at increasing electricity rates for industrial consumers. Those that have been there, that have created towns, that have created economies, some of the highest incomes that come from there, some of the benefits that have gone into recreation resources and overall benefits, where a number of people from my district and across the Province travel to Labrador for employment. It is there for the long term. Those low electricity rates allow them to stay and operate during the long term.

If you look at increasing rates, if you increase the fixed cost of any company the first thing that has to go, Mr. Speaker, is the employees. They have to conduct layoffs. Should there be a global meltdown, should the commodity prices start dropping off, what would a mining company be forced to do? If they have a fixed cost of electricity, they have those higher rates that they have in operations, they really have to look at making those costs.

If mining companies need that much power and we are not even looking at meeting their needs because the recall power, the TwinCo power and the Muskrat Falls power is not enough, then we are spending a lot of money to do a very, very small-scale project that seems very, very questionable at this time as to how it is going to increase the industry, increase and attract new business, get workers to come in, get new families who are going to be paying higher residential rates. It seems like for the very short term and for the long term Newfoundland and Labrador has painted itself in an era where we are going to be paying significantly for a small amount of power when other entities, like Manitoba, when they have gone with a larger project to neighbouring states, they have already had $4 billion in revenue that is going to be signed on for the long term to pay for the project. We only have the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador right now to truly pay for this project, so that is significant.

I have had the opportunity to speak to this. I do not see how increasing the industrial rates for those who have made the commitment is going to be of any benefit overall. Looking at the amount of power that is needed, that we are not really meeting their needs – and we have not seen it; we have not seen that full analysis. By going there, it seems very short sighted to push ahead with Muskrat Falls.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and allow somebody else the opportunity to speak to this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's Centre.

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

I would like to say that I am happy to get up and speak to this bill this evening, but in fact I am not. As a matter of fact, I feel quite upset and quite angry that here we are in this fabricated, false crisis that did not have to be. This could have been circumvented, Mr. Speaker. We have ways of dealing with issues in our Province and they have been totally, totally circumvented by this government.

These are one of the most important decisions that we will be making in the history of our Province and here we are at 1:20 in the morning talking about these issues when, in fact, this should have been done within the context of the valid and historically proven methods that we have within our Legislature to deal with legislation that governs the way that we handle our resources within our Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: This is a shame, Mr. Speaker –

M. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

It is a shame what is being done to the people of the Province, what is being done to the resources of the people of the Province, what is being done to the history of the Province by mishandling absolutely mishandling the issues that we have to face and the issues that we are discussing here this evening.

This is not how it should be done; we all know. This government knows better. Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador know this is not the way to do it. They know that there is a better way to do it than what is happening here tonight.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: This is a sham, it is shameful, and it shows our democratic deficit. I cannot believe it that every single –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is prepared to give some leeway in terms of relevance and the fact that we are debating three bills all related to Muskrat Falls, so the Speaker is allowing some leeway in terms of relevance, but the Speaker would ask that you direct your comments and speak to at least some aspect of Muskrat Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The bill that we are currently debating, Bill 53, actually deals with the industrial rates for Labrador.

The Member for St. John's Centre, to continue.

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

We know that the industrial rates all relate to the whole issue of Muskrat Falls Project and how are going to proceed with generating power for industry that, again, we are at a wonderful time in our Province when industry is growing, when the possibilities and the opportunities for industrial growth in our Province – we are on a wonderful cusp here right now, Mr. Speaker; however, this government has shut all doors to any kind of idea to look at innovative and technological changes that are happening worldwide.

We are a Province, Mr. Speaker, of 500,000 people on the cusp of some very wonderful things, of some very wonderful technological changes. What this government has decided to do is to tie us down for fifty years paying for a dinosaur when the rest of the world is going forward, when the rest of the world is exploring how they can meet their power demand. That means also, Mr. Speaker, the power demands for industry.

This is not what is happening here with us, Mr. Speaker. Instead, what we are doing is we are in this false crisis where we have only a few minutes, a few measly minutes, to decide how we are going to deal with these very complex problems.

It is a shame, Mr. Speaker, what has happened. Then the burden of this, the burden of dealing with all of these issues is on the backs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who will pay for this. We know, Mr. Speaker, that for every single cent of overrun – if in fact, in our industrial rates, if there are possibilities for industry in Labrador to generate their own power that will be permissible. If there are possibilities for industry in Labrador to buy from somewhere else other than Muskrat Falls from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that is a possibility. If there is any shortfall in the cost of paying for the Muskrat Falls Project and its subsidiaries, it will be on the backs of the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, in fact what this boils down to, those with the least will be affected the most. That is undeniable.

Each and every one of us in this House of Assembly has been elected by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Each and every one of us were required to have input into this whole process, into every bill that we have been speaking to this evening, Mr. Speaker, but not at 1:00 in the morning but over a long period of time where we can debate.

Mr. Speaker, we all know the democratic process that we have. We all know the possibilities of having committees where we can thoroughly explore this together, where the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can feel confident in the decisions that were being made, but also feel confident that any of the decisions that were being made were actually with the people's best interests at heart. We have no confidence in that, Mr. Speaker. We have no guarantee that is what has been happening. While this has been going on, Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: – we can look at how much else has been neglected by this Province. We have poverty, we have ill health, we have couch surfing, we have seniors couch surfing, and there has been no plan, Mr. Speaker, to address some of the spin-off issues while the government has been asleep at the wheel and been addicted to the issue of this dinosaur that they are all dragging us into kicking and screaming.

Mr. Speaker, I continue to ask why. Why has this government done this? Why have they created this false crisis? Why have they taken us to the point where they have circumvented our democratic process to be able to fully deal with some of these issues. Why have they done that? What is the crisis? What is driving this train?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Who is driving this train? Why have they brought us to this point? I do not know, Mr. Speaker. I cannot imagine what the answers might be. I cannot imagine what the answers might be to these questions. How we got to this point, where at 1:00 o'clock in the morning we are looking at these very, very serious issues and have so little time to fully explore and to bring in experts who can allay the fears and the concerns.

Mr. Speaker, we have not had the opportunity to truly look at the options, at the technological innovations and options that are out there worldwide. Fifty years from now we will still be paying for an outdated project while the rest of the world is moving forward. While the rest of the world is using new technologies, new ways and perhaps much less costly ways of generating power, much more environmentally friendly ways of generating power.

Mr. Speaker, we are not creating a good future. As a matter of fact, we will be holding our own people back. We will be holding our own children back and burdening them with outdated technology, with cumbersome technology.

Mr. Speaker, it is not a time to celebrate in this Province right now when we see how this has been done. As a matter of fact, it is blight on our history. It will be interesting, Mr. Speaker, even five years from now, to look back and see what has happened here and where this government has taken us.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Shall the amendment as put forward by the Member for Bay of Islands pass?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

On motion, amendment defeated.

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as per Standing Order 43.(1) regarding the previous question, I move, seconded by the Minister of Environment and Conservation, that the question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is in accordance with Standing Order 43, that the question be now put.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I would still like to speak to Bill 53 if that is –

MR. SPEAKER: You will be speaking to the previous question.

MR. A. PARSONS: Yes, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: The third reading of the previous question.

MR. A. PARSONS: The third reading of the first question, yes.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile speaking to Bill 53, the previous question.

MR. A. PARSONS: It is a pleasure to stand and speak to third reading of Bill 53, the Labrador industrial electricity rate.

This is something we had spoken to the amendment or motion that we had put forward, or the hoist amendment, which would have given us extra time to at least look this piece of legislation over. Even though we are obviously in support of that, we have said that many times, the fact is we certainly think this bill can be strengthened. We have put that forward in previous commentary towards this piece of legislation.

We think clause 2 specifically should be able to be reinforced. This was one of the pieces of legislation we had a briefing from the department on, and we had ample time to review the piece of legislation and go over the sections as opposed to the other bills we have discussed here tonight.

One of the supplementary documents I have had an opportunity to review is one that was put out by the department just last month, in November. It is called Labrador mining and power: how much and where from? This is an informative document. I know sometimes the Premier stands up and says we should take the time to read this stuff, but the fact is we do read this information that is put out there. We do not always agree with it, but in this case I do not think there is any discrepancy or argument over the value of what is going on up in Labrador right now.

Some of the statistics, Mr. Speaker, that are referenced when we talk about the gross value of mineral shipments for 2011 was $4.6 billion and it is forecast to be in this year, 2012, $4.1 billion. It is just astronomical figures and money being generated from resources in Labrador. Iron ore makes up the vast majority of this, 67 per cent of the value of mineral production. The mineral industry in 2011-2012 contributed $343 million to this Province's tax revenues. There is no doubting what the resources in Labrador are contributing.

The industry has had some tough times recently with the global economy. We get e-mails every day on what is going on with iron ore prices and the investments, especially when we talk about the economy in China. There is some concern over there because if the prices are going down then that is going to make things tougher. We do not like to see that. Especially in light of the development that is in the proposal stage or in the exploration stage right now, we need that price to stay up there. If the price goes down, then these companies simply are not going to have the ability or the desire to keep that investment up.

Now, part of that investment is the access to industrial power, and with that access to industrial power come the industrial rates that have to be charged. Again, we know these companies have had the benefit – for a number of years now under the pre-existing or I guess you could say current contract that is expiring. They have had access to very, very cheap power. That is a great thing because it has allowed them to make that contribution, to make that investment in development; but, the fact is those contracts are coming up. The fact is we need to ensure that we can give them a steady rate, but a rate that does not bind us for a long period of time and basically take away from our revenues. We need to ensure that there is some clarity.

MR. O'BRIEN: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Again, I appreciate the commentary from the Member for Gander. I see him over there speaking very kindly to the words I am saying. So it is nice to see that government can agree with what we are saying. We do make sense sometimes. I will not use the phrase for him that is being suggested here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: What I would say, Mr. Speaker, is one of the things that has been discussed in relation to a number of pieces of legislation is the Public Utilities Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, if I could have some protection, it would be much appreciated.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the protection from the Member for Gander.

One of the things we have discussed on a number of occasions, and it has had some vigorous debate in this House, is the role of the Public Utilities Board. There was commentary today by the Minister of Natural Resources that the structure of the PUB will be examined in the New Year. So that is something that is big, but the PUB is actually very much a part of the Labrador industrial rate legislation here.

What we are still going have is the companies that are going to enter into negotiations with, we will say, Nalcor or Hydro to come up with that rate but they will have the ability after, that if they cannot come to an agreement this can be referred to the PUB. The PUB will still regulate transmission. I guess they are not involved right at the beginning. They are involved if the companies cannot come to some kind of agreement with the providers of electricity.

On January 1, 2015 we are ending the Public Utilities Act exemption of the 225 megawatt power block sale to IOC and Wabush Mines. The power policy is going to be amended. Again, we talk about the promotion of industrial activity in Labrador.

The PUB in this case are playing a role. They are being deemed important. We are debating Bill 61 as well. We are going back and forth between the different pieces here. In Bill 61 we are taking the PUB out and in Bill 53 they are still being played a role. Really, it is cherry-picking there of the usefulness of the PUB, which is unfortunate. I do not like to see that part, Mr. Speaker, because this is a board that has been around since before Confederation. Now they are effectively being neutered.

I come back to the legislation which, as we all know, is good. I still think that clause 2 can be strengthened because we are using the phrase: should promote the industrial activity in Labrador. We think the clause should be shall do it, which means that it is a positive or a mandatory clause saying that they have to promote it.

I do not think enough can be said about the fact that we should offer incentives to these companies if they were to do secondary processing. This Province and the government – and I think it is not just this government, governments before – have had opportunities through different departments to entice investors in this Province.

One of the things, I believe it is in the Department of IBRD – and formally ITRD, and formally Business, it has had a couple of different lives – is something called EDGE status. EDGE status is an enticement to business coming into town and setting up. They will get beneficial tax status for creating certain levels of employment. That is a good thing because we need that. That is a very high-level process; there is a lot that goes into it. You have to create that incentive if you want business to be developed, for industry to be developed.

I know the department takes that seriously, which is why we think that the government should also take seriously – and I know they do, but it is one thing to say it and it is another thing to say well, we agree with that, but… The problem we have is that even though the minister has acknowledged the importance of secondary processing in this Province and especially in Labrador, there will not be anything in the legislation to ensure that it happens.

That is the problem here is that we are saying it should, which is fine and dandy, but there is nothing making it mandatory. That is the problem we have. We have this huge, huge resource when we talk about iron ore, when we talk about the Labrador Trough.

The fact is, as I have said previously, as has been said many times, these companies can come in and they can set up on either side of that border. The only thing that is going to determine where they go is where they are going to get the best deal. Where are they going to make the most money? As a private company or even a public company, your job is to create value for your shares – you are trying to make money; that is the whole purpose behind. So, if they can have better rates or tax scenarios in one province as opposed to the other, then they are going to set up there.

In this case when we are talking about the fact, in terms of physical location, there is no difference between Quebec and Newfoundland – and again, I say Newfoundland, but Labrador, specifically. If there is no physical difference, then where are they going to get the best deal? So, in this process we are basically saying: Look, we have the ability to work with you to get a competitive rate, you know what that rate is going to be, and it is going to allow you to do some planning. That is one of the big things you see with many Crown corporations or businesses or departments, is that we have moved away from budgeting that was done over one year, planning that is done over one year, because it does not allow you to plan things out over the long term.

I take Marine Atlantic, for example – Marine Atlantic, every year, would send off their proposal to Ottawa saying: We need this much money; this is what we want to do. It is hard to plan for the future when you are just planning one year at a time. Then, by the time that is looked at and then it is reviewed, and then you get it back, you are half way through that fiscal year, and it really defeats the purpose. So what they have done there, in the case of Marine Atlantic, they do five years at a time. At least you have that five years, you have your budget, you can plan it out, this is what we want to do, these are the investments we want to make, and there it is.

In this case, these companies cannot be any different; these companies have to plan long term. Setting up a Labrador industrial rate that has some stability will allow them to do that – but, it does appear, from the reading of the legislation and the briefing, that it is also going to offer us protection in that the rates can be reviewed and they are actually triggered upon Quebec having a better rate; Quebec being our main competition here.

Again, we are not stuck in a situation where we are bound by this rate and we have to sit there and take it if all of a sudden we are losing money. No, no, we can trigger that rate, and that is a great thing. I think that is foresight there. We all know, looking at the past, the hardships that can come with having contracts that do not allow for escalation or allow for rates in the future. We have seen that. That is half of the thing we argue about all the time, what has happened in the past.

This seems to be forward thinking in that regard, and that is a positive step. Again, that is in the legislation saying it will happen, it should happen, it is mandatory and it is legislated; but I come back to the fact that the promotion of the development in Labrador is not mandatory, it is just encouraged, and the problem is that it is one thing to encourage private business to do something, and it is another thing to tell them that they have to do something.

These private businesses, unless they are forced to, they are going to do what is best for the bottom line. You cannot fault them for that, being a private industry, but this is our resource. The resource belongs to the people of this Province and we should do whatever we can to exploit that resource so that we get the most bang for our buck, the most value for that resource. One of those ways is to have that secondary processing take place and with that will come the infrastructure and other developments that are hand in hand with big industrial development, whether it be rail or port. Again, one of the benefits is being touted with Muskrat Falls and with this whole process. I know this is sort of off to the side because this is dealing with Labrador. This is actually not even dealing with Muskrat Falls.

One of the things that are being touted is the creation of jobs. There are going to be a lot of jobs created, a lot of person years of work created for this Province. What I would say is that same benefit will come if we encourage and enforce development of secondary processing in this Province.

I was hoping that the Province – and I think a lot of members have spoken very eloquently and forcefully to that suggestion. I have heard the minister say tonight that they have heard what we have to say. This is not even what I would call constructive criticism because it is not criticism, it is a suggestion. I am hoping that will be looked at very strongly and there is still a chance, there is still an opportunity, to make that change to allow that to happen.

Again, the new section in this piece of legislation in the EPCA 1994, 5.8 will allow for the PUB to regulate transmission in Labrador but it excludes regulation of generation for industrial customers. This ensures the transmission rates are based on the cost of service principles as on the Island.

That is something that has to be factored into the cost. What does it cost to provide the service? What are the different aspects or inputs that have to factored in to figure out what is the minimal we can charge to at least get our return back on what we put into this? The big thing is that the industrial rates, actually they cost less per se than residential because I guess the term we use is they are not a step down. Industrial power does not need substations. It does not need the same infrastructure as the residential. A residential customer needs to have it stepped down because they just cannot take it at that voltage. Again, this is one of the reasons that the cost is lower. It makes sense.

When you look at it without knowing that background, you think: well, for some reason I think that industrial power should cost more. It just sounds like that makes sense, but then when you look at it, the fact is industrial is not as costly; therefore, there should be a lower rate as part of that. I guess that is one of the trade-offs too, is that in order to entice the benefits that you get from these industries such as jobs and infrastructure, you need to give them favourable rates to make these things happen. That is a standard process, or clause or policy, and I certainly have no issue with that.

I referenced this earlier, Mr. Speaker, but in the future should CF(L)Co and hydro be unable to negotiate contracts for this 225 megawatts of the TwinCo power, the new section in here, 5.9 allows the PUB to be referred to the matter and they are going to set the pricing terms. I do not think we can overstate the contradiction that is inherent in the different pieces of legislation that are being talked about here tonight.

In this piece right here it says that the PUB can be referred to and can be used, will be used and should be used, but when we talk about Bill 61, it says: No, we are taking it out of the hands of the PUB. There is only protection for Nalcor, as opposed to the ratepayers. So, there is a very strong contradiction there. In this case the PUB is being given credence or guidance, in the other one, no, they are being taken out of it. It is really a case of picking and choosing.

There is the expectation here that contract negotiations will be successful. They will manage to work this out, and hopefully that is the case. I do not think anybody wants it to go to the PUB because it implies or shows that they could not reach a deal, they could not make things work. We have that option there, who knows how often that will be invoked or used. We would not want to see it used at any point. We would want to see these companies be able to put this together on their own, but it will allow for an independent PUB option to set pricing terms that balance industrial rate policy goals and those of the two contracting parties.

Again, when we talk about our concerns and some of the issues we have with this entire process, with Muskrat Falls, with Labrador industrial rates, with everything that has dominated this Province for the last two years – we had the big hoopla, I guess that might have been last night. I cannot remember. The days and nights are starting to wind together here now.

We have a Public Utilities Board; they are made by the laws of this Province. They are put in place by the politicians in this Province. In this case, we are making new law to make them be a part of this process up in Labrador but they are not going to be a part of the process in Newfoundland. I find that so absolutely contradictory that it is really hard to fathom, Mr. Speaker. I am looking forward to hearing why that will happen or why that is such. I think they should be a part of this.

There is a fair amount of information here that was put into the briefing. The bill itself is fairly short in nature. It is not like the other two that we are looking at here, where there is a significant amount of comprehensive, technical terminology and other statutes that have been referenced.

What I would say is that my time is running down here now. I do not know if I will get another opportunity to speak to Bill 53. In doing that, I will begin my conclusion by saying that I support this piece of legislation.

I would ask the members opposite – I say this and I say this again, when we agree with something, when we think something is a good piece of legislation, you think that is a good thing. When we do not agree with something, I am not saying you have to agree with me but instead of saying we are opposing for the sake of opposing, understand that we might have a valid concern we are putting forward. That is what I would say to you, because this is good.

When I talk to Bill 60 and 61, I may not say the same things. I might not agree, I might agree. In this case, this is a proper step. It is a good thing that needs to be done.

Mr. Speaker, in saying that, it has been a pleasure to speak to this legislation and I look forward to speaking tomorrow as the evening proceeds.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): The hon. the Member for St. John's North.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to get up again and say a few additional words to Bill 53, which as I pointed out earlier in debate amends two statutes of the provincial government.

The process is interesting here tonight. I know earlier on I referred to the government's position on Muskrat Falls to being akin to a crown and anchor wheel down at the Royal St. John's Regatta. I think the ways in which we are dealing with these bills tonight are a little bit like that as well. You go out through the door to use the washroom or get a cup of coffee and one bill is being dealt with, you come back in and that has been tabled momentarily, and so on. It is a bit like musical chairs, only in legislative form. If that is the way the Government House Leader wants to conduct business tonight rather than allow for the smooth passage of bills in a straightforward and coherent way, then that will work for me also.

It is really interesting, earlier this evening when the Minister of Natural Resources was up speaking, he was up somewhat wildly gesticulating, holding his reports in his hand and waving it all over the place. He was talking about the government's report on mining. When I was at the briefing for this that was provided by the minister's staff, one of the key things referenced here was the potential for new mining developments and expansions in Labrador. This particular government report – and I call it that, a government report – which was authored by Dr. Wade Locke, was repeatedly referenced, and repeatedly referenced by the minister as well.

This report on Labrador mining and power, Economic Impact Analysis of Iron Ore Mining Industry in Labrador 2011-2031 by Dr. Locke, like many of these reports, is a report commissioned by government that supports government's position. I do not know if there was a single report over that raft of reports, that avalanche of materials that was provided to the public and Members of the House of Assembly over the fall – I am not sure if there was a single thing in there that contradicted government's position, whether that was on mining, industrial rates, any other rates, any alternatives, or anything. Members have to think about that.

If I am suspicious, then there is a good reason why. If everything lines up for you, and it is like you are winning the slot machines over and over again, then something does not seem particularly right. This is a government report commissioned by government, paid by government, which supports government's position. There is no bibliography in this particular report, and two footnotes. No way could you call this an independent review. I would call it a quasi-internal review. That is really what we are talking about here. The report in itself is highly speculative.

MR. CORNECT: Call it a review.

MR. KIRBY: I say to the Member for Port au Port who is speaking to me across the way, that it is highly speculative, which is not uncommon for consultant's reports of these sorts. I have done consulting in my career; anybody who has done consulting knows how this works. There is a certain amount of back and forth that takes place, sort of like the back and forth that is going on now. There is a certain amount of back and forth that takes place between the consultant and the party, the organization, the individual who has asked for this particular material to be produced.

We do not know how many times this went back and forth. We do not know. With this report on mining we will say: well, we like this, we do not like that. This contradicts our position. These things may have happened. We have no way of telling. It says that $10 billion to $15 billion in investment – and this is in Labrador mining – could happen. It all depends on the availability and the cost of power which is the essence here of this bill, the availability and the cost of power for industrial use in Labrador.

From government's own report, Mr. Speaker, it says, "Estimation of future power needs for planned mining developments is challenging, particularly as many projects have not advanced to…" where firm requests for power remain. Earlier tonight – I guess, earlier last night – there was some suggestion that we expedite this now. We need this now because these companies are clamouring for this industrial power. If they do not get it, then they might well go away.

First of all, there is no real firm request on the table. At least not that Dr. Locke was made aware of when he was preparing this, what we have been told to be a critical report on mining to flow into this entire debate that we are having. There are no power purchase agreements on the table. That is one problem with that.

I think the other thing is that we ought not to be in too much of a hurry here. These resources are non-renewable; when they are gone they are gone. We cannot get them back again. So, if the rate that we set is not suitable to whatever potential industrial customer, then maybe we ought not to sell ourselves down.

Another interesting thing about this particular report is there is no mention of the competition for power. I think that is really important, the competition for power, because as we have heard over and over ad nauseam is that Quebec is on the border and we have to compete with Quebec. That is why we need to have an open, transparent mechanism for setting this industrial power in Labrador.

Well, Hydro-Quebec is awash with power. It has excess power that it cannot sell right now. It mothballed one of its natural gas plants because it just had too much power, and they are building other dams. Plan Nord is a plan for more hydroelectric developments. We will have to see what the new government in Quebec decides to do, but that is certainly something to be concerned about.

Then you have to wonder, because all of this is our power, whether it is Muskrat Falls power, whether it is the TwinCo block, whether it is recall, in the end it is all of our power. I do not really see any way that we can have ratepayers – whether they are in Labrador or on the Island – or taxpayers in this Province subsidizing rates to a level that is not profitable for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Ultimately, what we want is a decent rate of return.

Okay, there is another element here, and that is royalties. You can say, well, we can give on the industrial power rate and maybe we can make up in mining royalties. We will make up the difference, and that will be the difference to the revenue side for the Province. Well, we have not seen any of that. None of that detail has been provided at all, and I have not heard it really used in any detail in any of the arguments that have been made. I think that is particularly important, because we are in the middle of the pack when it comes to mineral royalties in Canada right now. I think that is another important point to consider.

Something else that has not come up here – and maybe it is just a minor thing, but maybe it is not. I asked a question in a briefing this morning. I asked it a number of times and I never really felt like I got a satisfactory answer. I do not think it is because the person I was asking was being in any way obstructionist. I just think a lot of the detail around this is technical, complex, and often not easily understood by lay people like myself, who do not have any background in engineering or hydroelectric development.

When these longstanding contracts with the Iron Ore Company of Canada and Wabush Mines expire, there is a suggestion here in the briefing materials that were provided that they – the rate will be published annually. That is the open and transparent part. Businesses and companies that are interested in coming in here can see it. A policy review will be triggered if the rate is higher than the Quebec industrial rate. That is sort of what I was trying to address then.

The other thing is that it says the rate policy is to be phased in naturally, beginning January, 2013. There is no schedule attached to this. I guess it is all going to come out in the regulations. We are blindly dealing with this because we cannot see exactly what phasing in naturally means. There is certainly nothing natural about setting a rate for electricity of any sort. It is actually completely unnatural. I fail to understand this particular aspect of the bill and the background that has been provided to us on the bill. I have to say, I do not like forging ahead and approving this because we have made mistakes. Mistakes have been made here in the past.

The other thing that has not been dealt with satisfactorily, in my opinion, is this question of the Public Utilities Board oversight. I was again intrigued tonight to hear the Minister of Natural Resources say – and Hansard will reflect his exact wordings - he said our side, what we have been saying is as if he was casting the PUB to the wind and saying you are no more.

He said he had no confidence in the PUB repeatedly, over and over again here, in the media. I do not know what the difference between casting them to the wind and saying I have no – I would rather somebody said I cast you to the wind, Mr. Speaker, than to say I have no confidence in you. One sounds far worse than the other.

This one particular aspect of this bill, clause 4, 5.8(1)(2) is troublesome. It has not been suitably dealt with here I do not think in debate, despite the fact that we have had quite a bit of time together to go over this.

This particular piece says, "The Public Utilities Act shall not apply to the setting of electricity rates for industrial customers in Labrador other than the transmission components of those rates, which shall be regulated under subsection (1)."

As the Leader of the New Democratic Party, the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi, has said a number of times with relation to this particular bill, there seems to be some sort of obsession with removing the oversight of the Public Utilities Board from the regulation of electricity, removing as much of its role whenever there is anything to do with Muskrat Falls involved.

I take it a little step further. The messages that I think are coming from the minister and the direction that we have been headed in suggests to me that in the future we could see a time, we could live in a time in my lifetime in Newfoundland and Labrador where the Public Utilities Board's role in the regulation and oversight of power, whether that is on the consumer end or otherwise, is completely diminished down to a level that renders it to be completely neutered and meaningless. That is of serious concern to me.

I think the other thing about this that I have to say before I am done – because I guess this will be my lat time to speak about this, unless I get an extended leave to speak – we keep talking about, in all of this when it comes to power development and the need to invest in power, the need to set rates, it is always about the need to compete with Hydro-Quebec of course because they are right on the border. That is self-evident. I do not think you need to be an expert in electricity markets to understand that. I think the spectre of Hydro-Quebec, the spectre of Quebec is sort of fear mongering that we ought to be afraid before they get us or before they – I am trying to find the proper language without using something unparliamentary, but I guess you get the picture – do something to us that would be unsatisfactory because they are sort of out to get us.

I do not think like that. I am a Newfoundlander and Labradorian first, there is no question about that, but I am also a Canadian and I have a lot of respect for other Canadians. I think throwing this around all of the time that somehow we have to be weary of other Canadians – I have no problem competing with them. I think that we have a lot of natural resource wealth in this Province. I said back very early in the debate, Labrador West, Labrador itself has established itself as a mining centre that is internationally known. I think our workforce up there is the envy of the mining industry in the world, so I have every confidence that we can compete with that. I think that there is a difference in the language. We can use proactive positive language to describe what it is we want to achieve or we can use another kind of language. I think we ought to be a little more positive about where we are going.

The last thing I will say again, because I just want to reiterate this and I know it is certainly important to the members from Labrador who sit in the House of Assembly, is that we ought to find a way, when the regulations are drafted, to encourage, to incent, secondary processing of ore in Labrador when we set these rates to make sure that we can maximize the benefits of these non-renewable natural resources, whether it is uranium, iron ore, whether it is new finds. I know that there are probably other precious metals there that we can certainly mine in the future. I think we really have to try to find a way to create additional jobs through secondary processing, if not refining even further.

I think we are going to have this energy and I certainly would like to live long enough – as my colleague the Member for The Straits – White Bay North has said, would like to see sometime in our lifetime the development of Gull Island too. At no point in time have we ever said we are completely holus-bolus against the development of the Lower Churchill.

I have always contended that our party is completely in favour of that. We just want to do it in a particular way. We want to do it the right way. We want to make sure that it is economically feasible. We want to make sure that all of this is environmentally sustainable. We want to make sure that our non-renewable resources are developed for the betterment of the people of this Province, the best way that they can to maximize the benefits for the people here.

It has been a pleasure to speak again on this bill.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise for a few minutes to speak on Bill 53. I cannot speak on Bill 53 until I have it on the record, Mr. Speaker, that the Government House Leader once again invoked Motion 43.

We heard tonight on several occasions from the Minister of Natural Resources and the Premier herself that we will not shut down debate on these matters. We will not shut down debate; we will stay as long as they want. Guess what? That commitment lasted about two hours.

Mr. Speaker, whatever is said in this House, you ever wonder why we question what the Premier says and the Minister of Natural Resources – you can stay here tonight. On three occasions, once again we get debate stifled. We had a lot of opportunities to make some good amendments, but once again, as we stand up around and we go out to the media and we talk to the media, it is an open debate. Mr. Speaker, it is almost like sham; it is almost like charade.

It is a shame, Mr. Speaker, that this House has come to that, when out in the public view they give this big impression they would never ever stop something like that. It is a shame. It is an actual shame.

We will have a lot of time to speak on Bill 53. We would have a lot more time if you speak to your Government House Leader, I say, Mr. Speaker, and let the debate be open like it should be. Even though it is late at night, there are people here who want to debate the major issues here.

Bill 53 is a major issue up in Labrador. We hear everybody here in this House, Mr. Speaker, talking about all the benefits for Labrador. What are we doing? We are taking the power and giving it to Emera and bringing it over to Nova Scotia. That is what we are doing.

We are talking about Labrador, all of the industrial benefits in Labrador. We cannot even sit down and debate this properly because they want to shut it down. They do not want to hear this kind of stuff. If everything is not rosy and if everything is not hunky-dory, we do not want to hear about it. We do not want to hear any dissention on these bills. How foolish!

They do not want to hear anyone. If anybody is against this bill we do not want to hear them. Let's shut her down. We are doing everything for Labrador but we are going to give the power to Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a time when there is a bill brought in, motion 43, which sometimes gets people like me riled, who want to speak about the issues here in the Province.

I asked the members opposite, Mr. Speaker – we are always looking at Labrador. We are looking at the blocks of power in Labrador. We hear it on a regular basis, Mr. Speaker, that there is not enough power in Labrador; lots of new development in Labrador. They do not have enough power; yet, Mr. Speaker, full steam ahead to Nova Scotia.

Do you know why, Mr. Speaker? Do you know why we have to go full steam ahead? Because there are people down in Maine in the summer that want the air conditioning on, while there are people up in L'Anse au Clair who cannot get their stadium going. That is what we are doing it for, Mr. Speaker, so the people down in the US – all of the shareholders of Emera can make more money while the people in Labrador have to go out and cannot get their arena. They have to go up to Quebec. We are all here talking about the bogeyman, Quebec.

It is all right for the kids, Mr. Speaker, who have to go to Labrador, to go up and go into an arena because we do not have power for them down in The Straits. It is all right to stand up when you want to talk about the bogeyman from Labrador. It is all right though, isn't it, Mr. Speaker, giving them the big power down there when Labrador needs the power up there?

Mr. Speaker, I am willing to bet not one of them is going to stand up for Labrador, not one of them. I am willing to bet, Mr. Speaker, because when it comes to this bill, when you look at the interconnecting grid up in Labrador, not one of them is going to say we should put that power in Labrador. We should stop talking about all the power that is going to be needed in Labrador, all the mining in Labrador. We should do something about it. They all talk. We hear it about Labrador, but we do not have an agreement signed. We have five years, Mr. Speaker, before this power is even on the grid. We have five years.

If what the government is saying – and I hope it is – is that there is going to be a lot of need for the power in Labrador, we are going to have to recall some of this power. My question is: If we recall the power, how are we going to get it to them if you do not plan it now?

We hear all of this from the government talking about planning. Oh, we need to plan. The only thing they are going to plan, Mr. Speaker, is to make sure that people down in Maine have a good summer in the air conditioning, out in their cabins in the air conditioning while people in Labrador are going to hear: Oh, we have to ship out the iron ore because we do not have enough power for secondary processing.

That is what we are going to have to do, Mr. Speaker, ship it all out. Ship it out. That is the easiest thing to do. I bet you half of them when they got their briefing this morning, Mr. Speaker, on a lot of this, it was the first time they ever seen it, but every one of them stood up last week: Yes, I am for Muskrat Falls. They got their briefing this morning two hours before us, but everyone one of them two weeks ago stood up: No, I am for Muskrat Falls. Yes, that is the best deal going.

Now we have something here, Mr. Speaker. Labrador is saying we have to find some way up in Labrador for industrial development; yet, we are shipping the power out.

MR. LANE: That is not new.

MR. JOYCE: I know it is not new. Your government has been doing it for the longest time, shipping everything out. We know it is not new, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: We have been doing that for years. Mount Pearl South, I think it is, is it? We have been doing it for years, shipping it out. My God, look at Hebron. Look at all of the jobs shipped out with that module. If you want to keep going, Mr. Speaker, I have another one, FPI. I think the OCI, the discrepancy in the FPI Act. The former Minister of Fisheries has an option in the next election. He could run for the election down in Burin and over in China. He could get elected in either spot.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: He is creating just as many jobs over in China as he is there down there.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker –

AN HON. MEMBER: He is better off to get elected in China, too.

MR. JOYCE: Yes, it is better off to get elected than what is going on down in Burin, I can tell you that. We will see him out next week trying to learn a bit of Chinese so he can go over and expand his options a bit.

Mr. Speaker, here is this government, why is this policy needed, Bill 53? Companies need to know what prices they will have to pay. Can you imagine what they need to know, what prices they need to know? Here they are, Mr. Speaker, wondering in their own policy what prices they need to know, and here we are with Muskrat Falls.

As we said, we can set the rates for Muskrat Falls. The government can set the rates. They can put the rates at what they need so they can put industrial users in Labrador, but, Mr. Speaker, they will not take advantage of it. I have to ask the question, and excuse me for asking the question, why don't you take advantage of it? If you have everything in place as you say, all the stars are lined up for Muskrat Falls, why don't you send it to Labrador? No one can answer that question, Mr. Speaker. I challenge anybody to stand up and answer.

The question is, if you have all the power here, you have all the stars lined up, Labrador is going to need the power for more industrial development, why don't you make the plans, build the grid for the power for Labrador? Why don't you do it? You cannot do it. That is a fair question, Mr. Speaker, because we are always talking about the expansion up there.

If we create more jobs in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, it is good for the whole Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Putting all jokes aside and political thoughts aside, I would really like for that question to be answered. I hear it on a regular basis, and I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you heard it also. We heard it from Ed Martin, we heard it from the Premier, and we heard it from the Minister of Natural Resources, that when we need the power we will just recall it.

Here is the question – and I heard the minister saying, that is right. The question is once we get it back to us, how are we going to get it from Muskrat Falls to Labrador West if there is no grid?

AN HON. MEMBER: Wireless.

MR. JOYCE: One minister is saying wireless, I know. They can all joke and carry on but no one could answer that question. That is a legitimate question. There are a lot of people who would like to know that answer, Mr. Speaker. I cannot give them the answer because I do not know why. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, it is something that can benefit all Newfoundland and Labrador; it is going to benefit Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we have to try to find some way to ensure that we maximize our benefits. One of the best ways that we can maximize our benefits is to ensure – and we heard it in this House today, Mr. Speaker, on several occasions. I think it was the Minister of Natural Resources who was talking to the Member for St. John's South. He was saying, you know, there are two main things: one is oil; the other one is electricity – power.

AN HON. MEMBER: East.

MR. JOYCE: St. John's East, sorry. He said it himself.

My question is: If electricity is such a hot commodity and we are going to need it for all kinds of development, which I agree, by the way, why are we signing this deal with Emera to ship the power up to Nova Scotia? Sixty per cent of all the power is going to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you something: When I was out in the mayors and municipalities in Gander, the Minister of Municipal Affairs was there. I have to give the minister credit there. When I was at a couple of dinners, he recognized me as a politician and as the critic. I have to say that showed class, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: That is the way politics should be. When you are out, we should all work together. I just want to recognize that the minister did that on two occasions. When we were out there, Mr. Martin had a seminar on a Friday afternoon from 4:00 to about 5:00.

Mr. Speaker, do you know the strange thing about that? We hear all the rhetoric in this House about the power for Labrador. When Mr. Martin gave his speech out in Gander, every time he said the power coming back from Nova Scotia, the 40 per cent, it was always for the Island. It was never, ever at any time during his talk, even questions that were asked, did he say the 40 per cent power would ever be used in Labrador. He said the most that is going to come back is to the Island. Mr. Speaker, I challenge anybody here to ask Mr. Martin and ask the 250 or 300 people in the audience if anything I am saying here is incorrect.

Boy, this is not a knock. This is a serious concern I cannot get answered and I have tried on occasions to get answered. Can we find some way not to get Emera – it may be too late now. For the last year I have been back in politics, I have been saying: Why ship it off to Nova Scotia? Why can we not look to go to Labrador and keep it in Labrador?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: The link for what? If we do not need to go to Nova Scotia and we can use it all in Labrador, why do we need the link? We do not need the link. If we are going to use the power in Newfoundland, the 40 per cent, and there is 60 per cent we say we can use for Labrador, why do we need the link? Honestly, why do we need the link, Mr. Speaker? The Minister of Environment is over there singing out. Why don't you stand up and explain it to me? I just cannot understand it. I really cannot.

Mr. Speaker, those are some of the concerns that I was trying to bring up, I like to bring up, and they are legitimate concerns. If someone ever said to me we could put the power in Labrador and create jobs you can say well, there is a lot of benefit coming to Newfoundland and Labrador, but when you look at Emera – and I am sure a lot of members do not even know this – Emera is going to own 30 per cent of the link from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Pond. They do not even know that. Thirty per cent of all profits coming from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Pond, they own 30 per cent of it. I know a lot of people are shaking their heads; they did not know it. The overruns going across – it is almost like question marks coming up on the top of their heads: Is that right? I can assure you it is right.

When we look at the cost overruns, the Minister of Environment is saying: Well, we need the link. Here is the other thing, here is the other small little detail that we turned around, Mr. Speaker, and we forgot to mention. We are talking about the link from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. We are talking about Emera. We are talking about poor Emera, all the stakeholders down in the US somewhere making millions off Emera.

If the link from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, if there are any cost overruns, guess what? We are on the hook for 50 per cent of the cost overruns for that link. The link – which they own 30 per cent – from Muskrat Falls and Soldiers Pond, they are clear, not a cent – not a cent. Yet when we go across over to Nova Scotia, it is 50 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, if this debate was not shut down by Motion 43, there are a lot of questions that we could ask. This is how you stifle debate and you cannot get things out and you cannot ask questions. You just cannot ask questions, Mr. Speaker. That is the kind of debate that you would like to have in the House because there are many times in this House on many issues, on many bills, that I supported this government on.

My track record is if something is good for Newfoundland and Labrador, I would vote for it. I make no bones about it. I did it on many occasions. I will do it again, I am sure. I am sure that everything that the government is doing is not wrong. I am sure of that. There are a lot of positive things that the government are doing. I am the first one to say that. Absolutely, I am the first one, but it is my role to ask questions.

A lot of the times, even if it is an answer you do not agree with, even if you get an answer that you can say yes, that makes a bit of sense; but when you cannot get an answer, that is the frustrating part. Even 2:30 in the morning here you walk in and then all of a sudden the Government House Leader pulls Motion 43 so you cannot speak any more on the bill, it is frustrating. It is actually frustrating.

Mr. Speaker, I know I only have a few minutes left. I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this. I am looking for anybody in the House, on the government side, who wants to stand up and explain to me why we are not putting the power in Labrador – as just about every member in the prepared speech, when they used to get up with their prepared speech and they had their speaking notes, we got the power for Labrador, but not one of them could explain to me how they are going to get the power from the Muskrat Falls to Lab West. Unless now there is something wireless that I know nothing about. I would just love for someone to explain that to me. I would just love to. I do not know who can do it.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my seat now. Just remember, the contract for this bill is expiring in 2015. It is not too late. We have three or four years to find some way to get the power up to the mines where it is needed in Labrador.

If there is anything I can do here, I urge the government, Mr. Speaker, to try to find some way to put the power up there so in five, six or seven years we will not be back here again saying there could have been a lot of development up in Labrador, but we just do not have the power. Mr. Speaker, that is the only thing that I urge the government to do. I ask if there is any way that can be done.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my seat. I say to the Government House Leader: There may be a little incentive there for the Government House Leader because I hear one of the Chinese companies is buying a mill up in Labrador West. He may want to see if there are any more votes up there.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's North, rising on a point of order.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, while the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi was speaking in debate a short time ago, the Member for Mount Pearl North circulated a photograph which I believe was taken at some point today, possibly tonight, of himself in his seat in the House here.

I reference the Members' Parliamentary Guide – and this is the one that was provided to me so I assume every member is aware of this, Mr. Speaker, and has copy – Chapter 5, page 38, under Restrictions, "Devices with cameras, video or audio recording capability must have those functions disabled at all times in the Chamber. Photographing or recording Members in the Chamber would be a serious breach of privilege which could result in severe sanctions.".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to reference Standing Order 1.(2)(b) which says, "the Standing Orders and sessional orders and forms and usages, customs and precedents of the House of Commons of Canada and those of any province or territory in Canada", these are what shall guide us, Mr. Speaker, when the Standing Orders are silent.

I referenced under O'Brien and Bosc, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Chapter 6, page 289, under Provision for Still Photography, the last sentence in that paragraph says, "Only these photographers, and the official photographers employed by the House of Commons, are authorized to take photographs of the Chamber while the House is in session; even Members are forbidden from taking photographs."

Mr. Speaker, I do realize that during the evening sitting people are a little tired and perhaps a little bit punch drunk, but I would say that there are rules for the conduct of the House and I think all members should at all times adhere to those rules and conduct themselves with dignity and good comport.

MR. SPEAKER: The Government House Leader, to the point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I recognize, first of all, the seriousness of the issue raised. I think everybody in this House is very cognizant of the rules that guide the House. For information purposes, it is not the parliamentary guide, it is called the Standing Orders, first of all, I say to the member opposite.

What the member is alleging is a very serious breach of the rules. In fact, if it occurred what he is alleging – and I would submit that there seems to be no evidence presented that the member being referenced has taken a photograph at any point in time while this House is sitting. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if the hon. member is going to stand in his place and make such a serious, serious allegation against another member in this House that he ought to be able to provide and demonstrate adequate proof to substantiate the allegation.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's North, to the point of order.

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

Just to respond briefly. This photograph is widely available now; it has been published on the Internet. It was published on the Internet while the House was in session, while a member was standing in their place speaking. That is my point.

I could be wrong, Mr. Speaker, my interpretation is that it is prohibited under our Standing Orders which refer to O'Brien and Bosc, and also in the Members' Parliamentary Guide which was provided to me, it says that is restricted, Mr. Speaker. That is my point and I look forward to your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Government House Leader, to the point of order.

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

Once again I reference that the Orders, as I understand it, that guide this House are the Standing Orders of the House, first of all. Secondly, I am not aware – and like the member opposite, I look forward to your ruling because I am not aware of any rule respecting this House that says that you cannot post to social media or any other Internet-based function, or perform any other Internet-based function when you are sitting in this House.

I am aware as I think you are, Mr. Speaker, with all due respect that many members in this House regularly post to Twitter and Facebook and other forums. I see two issues here. First of all, I see no substantial proof that in fact a member took a photograph while the House was in session, number one; number two, I see no evidence in the Standing Orders that suggests that what the member has raised is in fact a point of order. He is referencing the Parliamentary Guide and not the Standing Orders of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The issue being raised here, as I understand it, is a suggestion that there is a picture of a member of this House, while sitting in the House, and obviously it has been posted, or the suggestion is it has been posted on the Internet.

Whether or not the member in question is the individual who took the picture, if you are suggesting that the picture was taken from within the Chamber, that is a significant breach – electronic devices are not to be used for taking photos or recording the proceedings. There is only one official proceeding that is captured here, that is Hansard. We have videotapes that are done by the Broadcast Centre. Hansard provides a transcript of proceedings. Members of the House or guests in the gallery are not permitted to take pictures of proceedings in the House.

Whether this picture in question, which I have not seen, was taken by a member or taken by somebody in the public gallery, it is a breach of the rules of the House. If it was done by a member of the House – which I have no knowledge whether or not it occurred, and I am not certain whether or not if you saw it on the Internet you can trace the source of where it may have come from. I am not certain if you have that technical capability to do that, but I will undertake to conduct an investigation, because it is a significant breach of the privilege we have here. Members come in this House, they speak openly, they speak freely, and they conduct themselves in an open and free manner. The only recording of the proceedings is done by Hansard, and the Broadcast Centre is the only one permitted to provide photographs and videotape the proceedings.

So if members are using their cellphones, BlackBerrys or other electronic devices to take pictures of the proceeding and members in this House, that is a breach of the rules. As has just been pointed out in the Members' Guide, it is very clear and the language was intentionally written to be strong, not to just discourage it, but to ensure that members just do not do it. So the Speaker will undertake to review – if it is a public posting, undertake to review that. If there is an ability to trace the source of the picture, then we will conduct that review and I will provide a report to the House.

The Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on Bill 53 again, An Act to Amend the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994.

Mr. Speaker, we see this government has been riding the oil production roller coaster. We have seen it ride the highs, and now we are seeing it ride the lows. When you look at the global significance of commodity prices and in the market and where the outlook is, it is quite significant, and it all leads back to industrialization and what it means to diversifying our economy overall. If you look at where we are right now, Mr. Speaker, we have seen this year our mineral outputs – which primarily come from Labrador – are in decline. They are down by 11 per cent in 2012. That has an impact on us. The spot market, which has been commented on several times in this House, when it comes to what Chinese demand is right now, who are primarily the purchasers, is down; it is down.

That has an impact on them purchasing our ore for making steel and for major manufacturing of product and other goods. That has implications when it comes to looking at demand for new industrial developments, especially with this bill which is focused on looking at making power available but at a different rate. It can be a tiered rate, depending on however the contract is negotiated. It is not really clear in the bill and I will get a chance to explain a little bit of that.

Even though we have seen a loss in 2012, a big decline, we are going to see in 2013 that there is going to be an increase, and it is great to see that, based on what the Royal Bank is forecasting. They are seeing that because there is some overseas investment coming in. That is going to be coming from the direct shipping iron ore and the Kami projects. Kami is part of the Alderon development. They are looking at that and also looking at capacity expansion at the Iron Ore Company of Canada there to keep the mining prospects going and going bright. There was a report done looking at the potential and saying that investment can be maybe $10 billion or $15 billion over the next couple of decades.

We see how quickly, based on where commodities are, if we just look back with the recession that happened in late 2008 and what that has meant to prices. In 2009, the Province only had $2 billion Canadian worth of metal shipments. That has a big impact. This year we are forecasted to be double that.

If you are looking at being in production and operating an industrial company and your rates are set at a certain limit, and now they are looking at being increased significantly, if there is with so much uncertainty in the global marketplace these days when it comes to financing, when it comes to operations, and when it comes to selling your commodity, if there is not a demand for the iron ore and the minerals in the immediate future because of what is happening in the overall economy, then you are having a cost burden to these companies.

If we look at the overall economy in a glance, housing starts in 2011 were about 3,500 starts. That is supposed to increase this year at 3,800. It is going to drop off according to RBC by 2013 to 3,400, and then in 2014 to 3,200. With all this potential industrialization, with a housing crisis where you have seen in Labrador West where there are zero vacancy rates, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and in the North Coast as well where you have seen very tight housing markets and you are seeing the housing starts go in decline – we have seen that. If you are planning a mining development that is going to create hundreds of jobs, if not thousands, then you need to have a place to house these people. We are seeing that the forecast is not there for that. That has an impact.

If we go back to the potential companies that are there to look at mining would be the Tata Steel Minerals Canada Limited, which they are owned in part by Tata Steel of India – 80 per cent. They are looking at shipping their product, their manufacturing, to Britain and to Europe. They have a significant amount of ore concentration and they are looking at year-round operations that can employ 180 to 200 people.

We need to look at how we can do consideration to make sure that companies of this nature have the ability and access to good, industrial power but not adversely affecting the players who are already in the market and other potential players in the marketplace as well. There was a SWOT analysis done of Labrador West. One of the things was that you need to have relatively low power rates to really promote the ability for diversification of the economy there. They talk about the industrial culture but that it is heavily dependent on mining. There may be other opportunities to get into other industrial investments in this region and other regions, but the rates have to be applicable and they have to be fair.

If we go back again to more mining companies and we look at Wabush Mines, which currently sees a low rate which has been noted from the briefing notes of 0.6 cents per kilowatt hour, they are shipping over 3 million tons in 2011 and that should increase a little bit in 2012, employing 500 people. That is very significant. That mine is planning on being there to about 2030.

If we are looking at creating blocks of power with all the players that are there and only having so much available, and everybody needs so much power and maybe more to get through their development, are we entering into a place where they are going to be competing against each other, willing to pay higher prices for power and generating those revenues? Because it seems like that option is there. We are talking about a race to the bottom with Hydro-Quebec, but could it mean that the larger players in mining, that have significant deposits and significant finds, are going to be limiting the industrialization of smaller junior companies that may not have the capital and cannot go to the global marketplace to get that, cannot go to the bondholders of wherever, or their shareholders, to say: Well, we need to really be able to compete right now and get in and do that development.

We have not seen the clear plan. As it has been stated, nobody has really signed on for long-term power purchase agreements or requested exactly how much energy they need. You look at the Labrador Iron Mines, they shipped 412,000 tons of iron ore to China. That was done under transportation with Rio Tinto. So, you can see the partnerships that exist in mining right now.

The company is planning on going from 412,000 tons to almost 2 million tons this year. That is creating 140 person-years of employment in 2012 – another significant investment for people and people of the region. If we are seeing where things are heading when it comes to housing starts and the outlook on the economy, if you are looking at creating these developments and you are looking at adding less houses but more people, more employees, to an area and a region, well there has to be a plan to fill that gap.

What we are seeing is that companies really need to play that role and we are not sure if there is enough power right now, with what is being put forward in this bill of the market block of power, which is recall power – that is what was stated as recall power – but Labrador West itself states that it has 127 megawatts of recall power. So, I do not know if the additional amount is coming from somewhere else that would have been sold, maybe, to the New England States previously through Emera, as has been done, as well as the power from the TwinCo power that was there.

If we look at all the potential of these companies that are there and we look at where government is forging forward with Muskrat Falls, and that there really is not a tiered power system to get power to mining companies, there is no transmission. That is not ‘costed'. That is not part of the overall plan.

We are seeing some real concerns there as to how – I guess it is confusing the issue of, will Muskrat Falls power be made available to mining companies? If so, why isn't transmission part of it? The point is that if we are moving forward with the Maritime Link just to get a loan guarantee that is supposedly going to save us $1 billion, I am not sure how we are going to get to $1 billion on that cost. Unless we are going to carry the maximum amount of debt constantly and not depreciate the project over the term.

When we look at, overall, that it is really not affordable – it is not affordable to industrial companies to buy Muskrat Falls power at the cost that we are looking at developing this project. Even if we excluded the transmission and we just focused on Labrador 100 per cent of the power, to put that in and transmission, you are still looking at a significant cost. When you get to the actual megawatt cost of direct power and what you can sell it for, that is something that you need to look at.

Are we going to subsidize companies for the benefit so that we can get something else in return? In return, would that be these employment years? Would it mean construction jobs? Would it mean overall things to expanding economies and doing it in a sustainable way so that it is planned, it is organized, industry can grow, and we can continue to add power as it needs to be added? That is something that we need to look at.

Right now, it seems like there are two things happening with Bill 53 and with the Muskrat Falls Project itself, which is a much smaller project than looking at the Lower Churchill and looking at the demands and the needs and what is happening. It is saying in the legislation that they are going to put in the rates over time; starting, basically, just in a few days. In January, 2013, they will start to see modest increases.

What is happening to the companies that are currently players that are going to get in and get part of the block? Are they going to be able to buy up all of this block power because they are there, they are ready, they are available, where they have always had access to it? What is really happening prior to 2015 through this process? What does that mean over the long term, Mr. Speaker? Those are questions that I do not believe have been really answered.

I want to go to section 5.9 of the bill. Under section (3) on page 5, it talks about, "The rate established by the board under subsection (2)". They are talking about the Public Utilities Board. It says, "(a) shall be indexed to and adjusted annually for inflation, and the nature of that adjustment may be established by the public utilities board as appropriate for the industry". That is something that can be very fair. We want to look at inflation and the overall cost of what the Consumer Price Index and things like that mean so that today's dollars are basically reflective of what tomorrow's dollars will be as well.

Under section (b) it says: "shall be binding on Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but may be amended or changed by the parties by agreement without the prior approval of the public utilities board".

The bill and the briefing has talked about allowing some role for the regulator, for the Public Utilities Board, but it also seems in this section that it is giving free rein to CF(L)Co and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to deal with any mining or industrial entity to say: Well, we will offer you a lower rate, or a higher rate. What is the actual justification, without seeking any type of approval by a regulator, to show that this would meet the requirements of what the acts state?

This is giving it free rein. This clause is allowing too much flexibility when it comes to dealing with these companies. It could just reflect maybe a moment, a fraction in time, where if in two years, or three years, or ten years we see a global meltdown in the economy and electricity rates for the industrial user is too expensive for their ore shipments, they would have to layoff a significant amount of employees or shut down operations.

What that would mean would be going to CF(L)Co or going to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and saying: Look, here is our business case. Here is our proposal. In order to get the economy and keep everything moving forward in Newfoundland and Labrador to allow and continue industrialization we need a lower industrial rate; more than what is the actual proposed rate.

It gives a lot of flexibility for companies and for the marketplace to seek things without maybe legislators or a regulator, a quasi-judicial agency of the Crown, to have that ability to say there has to be some just cause and it has to be accountable. It has to be open and it has to be transparent.

This seems like it is giving free rein to either CF(L)Co or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to really amend any of the agreements outside of the published rates. That makes a significant difference when it comes to what we are talking about in Bill 53, among other things that have been raised by my colleague for St. John's North which does prevent a significant amount of concern.

We see so much opportunity to look at industrialization and to do it right. To do it where power is much more affordable than looking at what is available on a smaller scale and increasing rates, looking at the expenditures of the Muskrat Falls Project compared to all of the energy opportunities that are there in the Province's Energy Plan, which lists a number of options to really go into and look at meeting industrialized needs.

When we see other bills that we have debated in between this bill, there are clauses in them that would limit any type of investment for meeting local needs and industrialized needs to really sell energy back on the gird. If a company that is dealing with industrialization also wanted to get into the energy business for things provincially, when it comes to things like natural gas they would not have that option should other bills get passed.

We see in Bill 53 how you can ride commodity prices when they are high, but when they are low they have significant impacts to a budget. There have to be cuts. The provincial government is undergoing reviews of its departments when it comes to how it is going to deal with deficits, deficit spending and budget cutbacks.

If you look at dealing with an industrial company, they have the same thing that they have to deal with when it comes to commodity prices and the global marketplace. Making affordable electricity available to them is something that needs to be done if you are looking at and if that is something that is important to the overall economy of Labrador, which is specific to this bill.

If we are going to go forward with the Muskrat Falls Project, the power is not going to meet the needs or truly expand where we need to go to create a real paradigm shift in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is going to be a cost, Mr. Speaker, to the ratepayers, to the people of the Province, to people of my generation, for a significant amount of years. We could be paying for it for the rest of my life and, really, other people would be looking at receiving the benefits from this.

So, I will clue up now here on Bill 53 because I see a lot of benefits when it comes to industrialization and making power available. I do not believe there is enough power going to be made available, based on what is suggested here in this bill. I think the Muskrat Falls Project is not enough as well to meet that need, and there are other options that can actually meet those needs and truly expand industrialization, create the maximum amount of jobs, and really put Newfoundland and Labrador on the right move forward. It is certainly time to do that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

The Leader of the Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, this is a privilege for me to be able to stand and speak to Bill 53, An Act to Amend the Churchill Falls (Labrador) – this is a number of times now I have had the opportunity to speak to this bill and the amendment.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the history here – and we have been doing some more reading about the need for the industrial power and the need for the rate setting and how we got to where we are. Indeed, as we know, we have an industrial rate that is established in Labrador right now, particularly in Lab West, and this particular contract will expire in 2014. So, it is important – and as you know, Mr. Speaker, we have said on a number of occasions now that this is indeed a bill that we will be supporting, but the need to actually set the industrial rate in Lab West and indeed for the Province, but in this particular case for Labrador, is important.

Now, there are a couple of areas in this particular bill that if the debate allowed, there would have been a number of areas that we would have been actually proposing amendments to this. We actually felt that there were ways that we could actually strengthen this particular bill, especially around how you generate and how you create and you establish stable economic activities. This, in our suggestion, would be around either preferred access or preferred rates, or some combination of both.

The whole idea here was to generate extra economic activity that would obviously mean more revenue in terms of taxation for the Province. In some particular cases, you may see a lower rate. When you look at the overall benefit of the program, the economic benefits generally, what you would see, the objective would be how you would leverage some extra revenue for the Province.

Mr. Speaker, we felt that the opportunity there was to do that within this piece of legislation, in particular around Bill 53, under clause 2. There were a couple of opportunities, we felt, that you would strengthen the bill simply by just changing some of the language.

We have heard, Mr. Speaker, it has been mentioned a couple of times now, about substituting the word "shall" for "should'. This would have strengthened the bill to the point where it would have been more directive that you would use the industrial block, the industrial rates, as an incentive to provide extra economic activity for Labrador West.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the incentives and what that could mean, it is not unusual. You see this happening in many jurisdictions in the world right now. Some people who do not have power would use things like land, or they would even in some cases subsidize labour. The whole idea is to generate economic activity in the particular area.

Shipping out of raw materials – typically in Labrador West, what we would be talking about of course is iron ore. Shipping out iron ore in really in raw form when you could try to use something like power as an incentive to see secondary processing, or pelletizing, or whatever the incentive would be instead of shipping raw ore out for processing in places like China, which is certainly some of the plans that we have seen for development in Labrador West right now.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the current situation – as I said the current contract will expire in 2014 – what is happening in Labrador right now and how we got to this situation. When you look at the development of the Upper Churchill back in the late-1960s, there was a block of power there that was developed by IOC and Wabush Mines. What happened there we had 225 megawatts of power, the TwinCo block; this was established and used to support the mining developments in Labrador.

As we know now, this TwinCo block was taken up by the development of Upper Churchill. Of course, they had a contract, a preferred rate, because they were given access to this power until 2014 – until late 2014, actually. So, we have now reached a point where we need to start negotiations so we can actually come up with an industrial rate that the mining companies in Labrador – a rate that they would actually use to put in their cost stream for their operations.

When you look at what is happening in Lab West right now, there is a fair amount of activity, and one of the reasons why we think there is some potential here to use the current development of Muskrat Falls to actually support the mining industry. One of the larger areas of expansion up there and one all of us have seen as a significant impact on the economy within the Province – because it is not only impacting Labrador, it is actually seeing the processing on the Island in Long Harbour having a significant impact right here on the Province. Indeed, you know that I am talking about Vale Inco. They are a great example of an industrial rate customer in the Province, because they are an industrial rate customer at Long Harbour.

Indeed, if they were to expand their site at Voisey's Bay, which is just thirty-five kilometres south of Nain – and, Mr. Speaker, I did have the privilege to actually be in that area back in February, you can actually see it is a significant development. What happens to them? They have to make a decision now, as the open pit mine is certainly getting to the extent of its life, and now they have to make a decision if they go underground or not. If they do, of course they are going to need a significant amount of power for their mining.

Mr. Speaker, then they have to make a decision: Where does this power come from? As someone who actually would support that industry at Voisey's Bay, the decision would be that it would be a very long and expensive transmission line. These are the options that would need to be explored. Of course, in this particular case, Vale would have to make an application to build a transmission line and the commitment would be made, through that transmission, they would be given access to the industrial rate.

This is an example of where we could use power to simulate economic activity in Labrador. We are seeing a lot of new activity and extensions of some of the activity in Labrador West right now. I did have an opportunity in February, on a visit to Labrador West, to meet with a number of people who have been involved in mining down there.

Everywhere you go the question is very simple and it is very clear, with the many social issues they face there as they develop the community and as the community of Labrador City and Wabush continues to grow and all the social programs – no matter what you do, no matter where you go and whoever you talk to, one thing comes up for sure always is the need for power to develop the economy.

Wabush Mines, as an example, a company now operated by Cliffs Natural Resources, if they look at their expansion, Mr. Speaker, they are currently, I believe, at just over 3 million tons in 2011. They would see this increase to about 5.5 million tons over the next three to four years. As you know, Mr. Speaker, all of this would require power.

We already know that the mining industry creates significant revenue to the Province. In 2011, we saw about $4.6 billion worth of revenue. We are expecting to see some decline, back to $4.1 billion in 2012. This is the value of the mineral shipments out of Labrador West. Of course, 67 per cent of this would be iron ore, and nickel making up for about 19 per cent. All of this means there would be extra demand for power.

When you look at the other mining projects that are currently at various degrees of consideration, various degrees of planning, the Iron Ore Company of Canada is one of – when you look at IOC, they are kind of one of the most exciting companies. They have been around Labrador West since 1962. So they are the senior company in that area.

Most of the development in Labrador West has been largely dependent on the success of IOC. They currently use about 222 megawatts of power. You can understand how this really ties in quite nicely with the TwinCo block and how they did a very good job in forecasting what their own needs would be. They have some significant plans for Labrador West.

We all know that the discussions have been long and tenuous, and considerable investment would be required where you are seeing IOC planning some major expansions over the next years. There is no real set time on where they would want to be, but there is no question, Mr. Speaker, depending on where you see iron ore prices go, IOC is a company that we need to watch because they would be in need of a lot of power as they continue to develop their mining interests in Labrador.

Labrador Iron Mines is even a smaller company. What you have seen this company do, is they actually used some – I guess the plan for Labrador Iron Mines now would be to use power from Menihek. It is a very small project in some terms, but it is very interesting to see how Labrador Iron Mines came to be using about 5.5 megawatts of power; a company that just operates for about five to six months a year and currently is ramping up to about 2 million tons of iron ore a year.

So, you can see that in this whole area this has become a very – obviously for us, as a Province, the iron ore mining in Lab West is certainly the focal point. Indeed, the need for the industrial block and the industrial rate setting is important for the development of all those mining companies.

Tata Steel Minerals Canada is really a joint venture between two companies; one being Tata Steel, an Indian company which owns 80 per cent of this particular development, and New Millennium, which owns about 20 per cent. This is really a junior mining company, but they have some significant plans. Again, by November they are expecting to ramp up to about 5.5 million tons a year.

These are all significant, a significant need for power in this area, Mr. Speaker. You can see when you go down through the list – it is a very exhaustive list of these companies at different phases of feasibility. We all understand that, for the most part, they will be phased in at various times but the need for power, nevertheless, will be there. This is one of the reasons why we would like to be able to use a bill, like Bill 53, to use this industrial power to make sure that we leverage all the opportunities that would exist for the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, there is significant opportunity, we believe. If we get this and do this right that the industrial block of power, which is two components, one being, as I said, the 239 megawatts which is really the so-called development block, and this gets layered onto a market block. The source for that of course would have to be – in this particular case, if we use hydroelectricity it would have to be Muskrat Falls power.

We would develop a rate which would be – annually, what you do is this would be reviewed and the new rate would be an evolving rate. The rate would be changing every year but at least the companies would know and have a predictable rate. What is important is this rate would be competitive so that the companies would know they have a competitive rate so that the companies would be viable, the communities and the suppliers of those companies would indeed be in a position to be able to depend on the price of this power.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I have had a number of occasions now to speak to this. As we look at the need for power, it is important; yet, when you look at this, we do have time, because before 2015 – the original contract expires in 2014. It is in January, 2015 before we really need the flexibility to deal with this. With that said, with all those mining companies you can see that there could be a fair amount of activity where we would need a demand for this power prior to end of the year around 2020.

Mr. Speaker, in some ways we have time to get it right. These companies are now in the planning stages. It is important that we be able to have this industrial rate determined so that they will know and this could be included in their financing plans as they go out and seek financing to put those mines to fruition.

Mr. Speaker, we have covered a lot when it comes to the industrial block of power and the need for it. We have seen lots of examples. There is one other section within the particular bill, Bill 53, that when you look at it, it says, "Notwithstanding section 7 of The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961, as of January 1, 2015" – this is the date I just mentioned about the importance of getting the industrial block established – "the Public Utilities Act shall apply to all transmission lines and related assets located in Labrador…"

There are two exceptions there. One would be the Muskrat Falls Project, and the other one would be, of course, the hydroelectric power that is sold to Quebec. This comes from the Upper Churchill development, which is a development, by the way, of well over 5,000 megawatts of power and eleven turbines generating around 550 megawatts of power. This particular project, Mr. Speaker, would be exempt from the Public Utilities Board for the transmission lines.

Mr. Speaker, I have just a few minutes. As I conclude, the industrial power is divided into two components. One would be the generation and one would be the transmission. Now, the transmission component of this would be regulated, whereas the generation component would not be regulated. This would be done in negotiation in the beginning with the various companies so that all companies – according to this piece of legislation, there would be no preference.

There have been some questions that I think would need to be addressed about recall power. From the beginning it has been determine, and this is something we actually support, that the recall power, which is about 300 megawatts of power – the preferential access to recall power would be to residential customers or commercial customers.

Some people would say: What is the difference between a commercial customer and a residential customer? Well, there is quite a difference. The difference, again, is not about how much power you use and not about how big a customer you are, but how you receive the power. The industrial customer would receive the power at a much higher voltage simply because of the types of equipment they could use.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question, the industrial rate and having a competitive rate is very important. Also, there is other thing that would need to be addressed; of course, this is the transmission of power from Muskrat Falls. Currently, there is no capacity. So in this particular case there is somewhat a sense of urgency that this would get to be dealt with.

We have asked the question about how you develop the transmission. What you would have here is a number of mining companies that will require power; therefore, there will have to be some kind of consortium to some degree. Someone would have to go in and bring the groups together to finally determine how much power would be required so that you could, number one, determine the size of the transmission that would need to be built.

This would need to be done with a commitment from the mining companies to participate in financing through some kind of power purchasing agreement with the mining companies so that you could – then, of course, this transmission would be regulated. The cost of this would be – but we would need the commitment from the mining companies to build the transmission line. Mr. Speaker, we see this as a significant opportunity to create economic benefit to the people in Labrador West, and to the people of the Province as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, that gives me about twenty minutes. I will conclude my remarks right now on Bill 53 with one final comment, as I said, we will be supporting this. We do feel that there were some opportunities within this piece of legislation where we could have used some incentives to leverage some opportunities.

In the general sense, it is the right thing to do. It is something that we know that between now and 2020 there will be a significant need for power in Labrador West. When we looked at if it is on the low range, mid range, or high range of demand, either way you look at it, either in the low range, mid range, or high range there still will be need. Therefore, the fair thing to do would be to get a competitive industrial rate in place so that the mining companies, as they plan their mining developments in Labrador, would be able to determine what the cost of power would be for their development.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your time. Those would be my concluding comments on this debate.

Thank you.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): The hon. the Government House Leader, on a point order.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We had as you know a point of order a few moments ago on the use of cameras and flash photography. I have become aware, Mr. Speaker, that there are other pictures in fact available that have been taken in this House.

I am not suggesting for a moment that the House was in session. I am not going to repeat the points brought forward by the Member for St. John's North. He, in fact, himself has a picture on his Twitter profile that was taken in the House, as I have the picture here. There is no indication the House was in session. I am not suggesting that. As a matter of fact, it is only the member with the House in the background.

I raise it on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, only in the context that when the previous point of order was raised with respect to the Member for Mount Pearl North, I made the same point. While there, in fact, was a photo taken, as was alleged by the point of order raised by the Member for St. John's North, that photo as well, as I understand it, does not demonstrate any clear direction that the House was in session. In fact, it was not in session.

I raise the point of order in that context. As the Member for St. John's North raised a point of order, in fairness, if the argument put forth by the Member for St. John's North is that as per the Members' Parliamentary Guide that no pictures ought to be taken at any point in time, he himself has one posted on his Twitter profile. I am certainly prepared to share that with the Speaker.

I leave my point of order there for your consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's North, to the point of order.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to provide some clarification. If you go to nlndpcaucus.ca, you will also see photos that were taken in this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker. Those were taken by a professional photographer who came in to do profile photos of members of our caucus when the House was not in session. I think the great thing about the advances in digital photography and technology today is that all of these photographs are identifiable by some sort of digital stamp, and I believe are all traceable back to a time and a date, and actually to the device with which they were taken.

If the Government House Leader has any doubts, we can certainly produce the photographs that were taken by a professional photographer for our caucus here in the House. That is all I wanted to say. I have nothing further to add to my original point, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

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

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

With all respect, I am certainly not doubting what the member has put forward, Mr. Speaker. The point I was making, and I think Hansard will reflect this, the member himself quoted, I believe - so I stand to be corrected, because Hansard will confirm or refute this – it is my understanding that he quoted page 38. He quoted a section, and I will read it for Hansard, "Devices with cameras, video or audio recording capability must have those functions disabled at all times in the Chamber. Photographing or recording Members in the Chamber would be a serious breach of privilege which could result in severe sanctions."

Mr. Speaker, you made a little commentary on that when the point of order was raised. My point, certainly, being is nowhere in that section – and I am simply arguing the point raised by the member opposite – nowhere in that section does it provide an opportunity that if you are a professional photographer you have a right to come in and take a picture. So, I am arguing the same point. I am simply saying that if that is the point the member argues, then you have to accept that no photography is available, and I am just making the Chair aware that there are more pictures that have been taken in this Chamber in any form, than simply the one raised by the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's North, to the point of order.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, maybe I misspoke when I first spoke. When I rose, I also referenced Standing Order 1, General Rule 1.(2) which says, "In all cases not provided for in these Standing Orders or by sessional or other orders of the House, the Speaker shall be guided by the following in the order in which they are stated… (b) the Standing Orders and sessional orders and forms and usages, customs and precedents of the House of Commons of Canada and those of any province or territory in Canada".

Then I referred to page 289 of O'Brien and Bosc – which I would suggest this refers us to – and it says, "Only these photographers, and the official photographers employed by the House of Commons, are authorized to take photographs of the Chamber while the House is in session; even Members are forbidden from taking photographs."

The photograph that the Government House Leader is referring to was not taken while the House was in session, and it was also taken by, I would argue, an official photographer for our caucus who is employed by our caucus, I assume, on a short contract to do that work. My point – well I will not repeat my point, Mr. Speaker, I think you are very clear on it, and I hope the hon. Government House Leader is a little more clear now.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Government House Leader, to the point of order.

MR. KING: I am indeed a little clearer; I appreciate the member pointing that out.

I will respond to his reference to page 1, subsection (2), where it does say, "In all cases not provided for in these Standing Orders…". I will reference section 1.(2)(a), it says very clearly, Mr. Speaker, "In all cases not provided for in these Standing Orders or by sessional or other orders of the House, the Speaker shall be guided by the following in the order in which they are stated…". Now, Mr. Speaker, I am just going to, for the benefit of the House, reference back to the member's own argument in the initial point of order.

It says here, "the usages, customs and precedents of this House". The member himself referenced two documents: the Standing Orders that I am referencing here and the Parliamentary Guide for members that I have in my left hand.

The Parliamentary Guide provides no exception whatsoever in this House for an amateur versus a professional photographer. It is very clear that no photography is to be taken. My point simply, Mr. Speaker, in reference to that is if we are going to make a ruling, there is no provision in the documents that our own Standing Orders allows for which differentiates between professional and amateur photography. It clearly states, as the member argued himself in his initial point, that photography in general is not permitted in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Mount Pearl North, to the point of order.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to speak very briefly to the point of order. I thank you for the opportunity to do so.

I certainly want to acknowledge to members of this hon. House that a photo was taken at some point earlier today that I did indeed pose for. I did not take the photo, but of course I do appear in the photo in question. I can also advise you, Mr. Speaker, and this hon. House that I do not believe it was taken when the House was actually in session.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's North, to the point of order.

MR. KIRBY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, just one final point. I believe if we actually walk out through the door here to my left and look on the wall there are official photographs taken in the Chamber of previous speakers with Chairs of Committees, and the Clerks and staff and so on. It is obviously not extraordinary for official photographs to be taken here in the Chamber. The photograph that I referenced earlier was in no way official, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

This point of order has taken up an inordinate amount of time. I say that for a reason. The issue of pictures being taken – I repeat what I said earlier: Any pictures to be taken in this Chamber are those that are authorized by the Speaker's Office.

The Speaker has authorized the Broadcast Centre obviously as the official agent, not agent but official record of what takes place here, as is Hansard. Any other photography that takes place in this Chamber, including the pictures of the presiding officers that you are referencing, are authorized by the Speaker.

Frequently, the Speaker's Office will get requests from individuals who want to come inside here to photograph, including the media. No pictures get taken in this Chamber at all, proceedings in place or not, without the authorization of the Speaker. There is no such thing as an official photographer for the House regardless of who employs them, whether they are an employee of some caucus or not. So, let us make that abundantly clear.

The issue of social media – and this is becoming a repeated issue in this House. Today we are talking about having pictures taken by members, whether it is the Member for St. John's North, who there is a suggestion that there is a picture on a social media outlet reflecting the image of that member, as there is a suggestion that there is an image of the Member for Mount Pearl North taken from this Chamber. To my knowledge, as the Speaker, today, I did not authorize any photographer to take either one of these pictures. So, an unauthorized picture was taken in the House, in both instances.

The issue of when these posts occur and when they do not, I want to bring members' attention to something that is in the Code of Conduct, and I will just – Principle 1, it talks about, "Members shall inform themselves of and shall conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Members' Resources and Allowances Rules, the Elections Act, 1991, the House of Assembly Act and this Code of Conduct" – this is the other piece that is really important – "and shall ensure that their conduct does not bring the integrity of their office or the House of Assembly into disrepute."

Now, repeated posts on Twitter and Facebook and the timing of these posts coincide with the sitting of this Chamber, about activities of members who are here, the conduct of what they may or may not be doing, comments that may not be making in debate; in fact, even references to whether or not they are in the House or not. I suggest it brings the integrity of this House into question, and it is becoming a real issue for us to manage.

Social media is a tremendous tool, an instrument that MHAs can use to better their relationship with their constituents and to help have a healthy communication network with their constituents. That same tool can also create disruption in this House. When it starts to create disruption in this House, or bring the integrity of the members of this House or the House itself into question, then it becomes a concern for the Speaker and has to be dealt with as a breach of privilege.

The disruption that these sorts of activities create creates a problem for all of us – not one individual member, but the entire House. So I ask members to be guided by this principle of the Code of Conduct. We talk about a member's conduct, "does not bring the integrity of their office or the House of Assembly into disrepute."

There is a powerful message in that principle. We are obligated, as elected MHAs, to follow those principles. Breaches, in fact, are referred to the Office of Members' Interests. That is how serious a breach of this Code of Conduct will be. These sorts of behaviours are really starting to become an issue for us in this House.

With respect to the point of order raised by the Member for St. John's North and with respect to the point of order raised by the hon. Government House Leader, there is no point of order in either case. The Speaker is expressing some grave concern about the conduct of members with respect to social media and how they are using it for purposes that bring into question the integrity of the House. If it persists, the Speaker will have no choice but to deal with it as a breach. I remind members of their responsibility to be compliant with the Code of Conduct.

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

(Inaudible) today we are speaking to Bill 53, Mr. Speaker. The hon. House Leader has come out with so many bills tonight that it is getting confusing.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994. Mr. Speaker, there are no established electricity rates in Labrador, and that is the whole purpose of Bill 53. Certainly, we go along with that. We agree with it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to less than a year ago. This bill talks about establishing industrial power rates within Labrador and to be administered or regulated with the Public Utilities Board. This application is only for industrial rates in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I have heard many speakers tonight talk both on amendments and on the bill itself about the need for this legislation and, more importantly, the need for power for development in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, within this policy there are provisions made for potential for new mining developments and expansions in Labrador. That comes directly out of the briefing on Bill 53, and that is certainly something I would like to talk about.

We look at the current potential output for Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, and it is significant. There is a percentage of power held back for Labrador. The rest is sent down through Central Labrador and on down the Southern Labrador Coast, across The Straits, down to the Southwest corner of Newfoundland and across The Straits again to Nova Scotia. From there, Mr. Speaker, it travels on to what I would like to call cottage country. It seems that the power rates as they go south get cheaper and cheaper.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about supporting development in Labrador, enhancing development in Labrador, making provisions for development in Labrador. When you look at development, Mr. Speaker, it is an investment by the government because there will be a return on it.

When you have megaprojects like we have in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, projects like the Iron Ore Company, like Wabush Mines and some of the up and coming megaprojects in Labrador West and in Southern Labrador, in Northern Labrador and within Central Labrador itself, there is a mineral exploration project underway that is proving to have some great potential. Mr. Speaker, all of these projects require power. Here we are poised to develop that power, to develop Muskrat Falls.

Sanctioning was yesterday. This gives a green light to this project, Mr. Speaker. At the same time, we are watching this power being taken out of Labrador and sold on the spot market, or to supply the Island portion of our Province. We do not have a problem with supplying power to the Island portion, Mr. Speaker. I think it is a good idea.

The problem I have with this is that there is a need for power to supply development in Labrador. The demand, Mr. Speaker, is way, way more than what the output of Muskrat Falls is itself. I think if you add the numbers up for the demand for the projects that are ongoing, projects that are underway, projects that are in predevelopment or about to get started, and those that show potential – I think if you brought Gull Island on-line, there would be still more demand for power for industry in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about sending power down through Labrador. I heard the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair talk about the young children in her district having to go to Quebec because in Labrador the power rates were so high that they could not pay the bill.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the different ways in which power is off-loaded industry has a different rate because it can draw power directly off the grid. When I see this line running down the South Coast of Labrador, right through the community of Forteau – right through the community, Mr. Speaker – and almost parallel to a number of communities on the South Coast, I have to ask: Why can't some of this power be taken off the main grid and downsize to the point where it can go out as 220 and as 120 volts? It is certainly possible. I do not see any reason why it cannot be done.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, it is a resource that is being taken out of our Province with very little return to our Province. We see this government doing this quite often. We have a Province that is rich in resources, and certainly we would like to see some of the revenue and some of those resources stay in our Province.

We talk about the Public Utilities Board, and later on, once we get to another bill, we will look at the role of the Public Utilities Board actually not having a role; but in industrial rates and in residential and commercial rates in Labrador, the Public Utilities Board still has a role to play. This is very important when you get into areas of monopoly, where the whole purpose of the Public Utilities Board is to regulate on behalf of the ratepayers.

Mr. Speaker, I just have a few more comments. When you look at the reason for implementing this bill, it is to maintain a competitive rate and to have a uniform rate in Labrador that can be interconnected.

Mr. Speaker, Labrador residential and commercial customers have the first right of recall power, and that is very important. When you look at Quebec, which is just across the border and on both ends of the grid of development, there is always a concern that there will be a competition for power delivery. We do have companies in Labrador already that are negotiating for power with Quebec. What burns me, Mr. Speaker, is that this is probably power that comes from Churchill Falls. We cannot do much about that until 2041.

I would just like to say that I am glad to see that this government has gone from not supplying power to Labrador to coming up now with a plan to bring power to Labrador to the point where it requires establishing industrial rates. I would like to see within the next year that power would be made available, Mr. Speaker. If this government can come this far in six months in terms of recognizing the need for power in Labrador which is a benefit to this whole Province, I think there is room for improvement. I would like to see that improvement.

If you have a demand for power that exceeds what the project is putting out, Mr. Speaker, why give it away? I think that is very important. We do not have to send the power south when we could use the same power to further our own economy. That is very important when it comes to our maintenance, Mr. Speaker, of being a have Province. I think we could increase upon that and not have to be responsible to other entities that are starting to govern us from outside of our Province. Nobody wants to see that. What I see now, Mr. Speaker, is that we are setting ourselves up for that.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, in speaking to Bill 53, reviewing this bill, there are numerous references to the Public Utilities Board. We have had repeated references over the past several months, maybe as many as upwards of a year, or perhaps even more, with the Public Utilities Board in dealing with Muskrat Falls, the project overall, and the power rates of Muskrat Falls.

On reviewing this bill in more detail – the bill is to amend the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, and the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 – I do not really see why what is sought to be accomplished in Bill 53 could not actually be done simply with an amendment to the Public Utilities Act and the Public Utilities Board. It is cross-referenced repeatedly in the act, where the board shall apply, and where the board shall not apply, what the board is supposed to do, and what the board is not supposed to do.

There are numerous inconsistencies between the bill that is proposed, the two acts that are sought to be amended, and the Public Utilities Act. So, Mr. Speaker, first we need to consider what do we have with the Public Utilities Board that the board is supposed to do in this particular new bill that it is not already doing.

Sometimes, in haste, as we have seen quite a bit too much haste in various bills, we overlook what we already have. It is as if we are reinventing the wheel and do not need to. The Public Utilities Act, which is referenced here – first of all, if you go to section 16 of the act, it says, "The board shall have the general supervision of all public utilities, and may make all necessary examinations and inquiries and keep itself informed as to the compliance by public utilities with the law and shall have the right to obtain from a public utility all information necessary to enable the board to fulfil its duties."

The board can further make inquiries "into a violation of the laws or regulations in force in the province by a public utility doing business here, or by the officers, agents or employees, or by a person operating the plant of a public utility, and has the power and it is its duty to enforce this Act as well as all other laws relating to the public utilities."

Mr. Speaker, when we delve into what is proposed in Bill 53, if we look at paragraph 4.(2), this bill proposes, "The Public Utilities Act shall not apply to the setting of electricity rates for industrial customers in Labrador other than the transmission components of those rates, which shall be regulated under subsection (1)."

I ask: Why not? Why shouldn't it? Why shouldn't the Public Utilities Act apply instead of Bill 53? What are we trying to do on Bill 53 we cannot already do in the Public Utilities Act? It seems like there is not much we are not already able to do in the Public Utilities Act that is proposed to be done in this bill.

The bill in section 2 cross-references it and says, "Paragraph 3(a) of the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 is amended by deleting the word ‘and' at the end of subparagraph (iii), by deleting the semi-colon at the end of subparagraph (iv) and substituting a comma and the word ‘and', and by adding immediately after that subparagraph the following…". Then it goes on, "(v) should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador".

To give that context, it is necessary to go to the Electrical Power Control Act and find out what were the first four subparagraphs. The first four subparagraphs, Mr. Speaker, under section 3 – and this is under the Electrical Power Control Act which is sought to be amended by Bill 53. This deals with power policy generally in the Province. Section 3 says, "It is declared to the policy of the province that (a) the rates to be charged, either generally or under specific contracts" – clearly, specific contracts could be industrial contracts – "for the supply of power within the province (i) should be reasonable and not unjustly discriminatory, (ii) should be established, wherever practical, based on forecast costs for that supply of power for 1 or more years, (iii) should provide sufficient revenue to the producer or retailer of the power to enable it to earn a just and reasonable return as construed under the Public Utilities Act…". Mr. Speaker, again, we are right back to the Public Utilities Act, which would constitute the Public Utilities Board.

Mr. Speaker, (iv) deals specifically with industrial customers; "(iv) should be such that after December 31, 1999 industrial customers shall not be required to subsidize the cost of power provided to rural customers in the province, and those subsidies being paid by industrial customers on the date this Act comes into force shall be gradually reduced during the period prior to December 31, 1999".

This bill adds the amendment under (v), which says, "should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador". So, in essence, simply by amending this bill and using the Public Utilities Act, everything that is sought to be accomplished in Bill 53 can be done in those bills, rendering Bill 53 unnecessary and redundant.

Mr. Speaker, the conflicts and redundancies continue on. If we look at section 3 of the bill, and immediately in section 3, under 5.9(1), "Where Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro cannot reach an agreement for the sale and purchase of electrical energy and capacity described in subsection (7)(3) of The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 within a reasonable time, either party may apply to the public utilities board to establish the rate to be charged and paid under an agreement."

Mr. Speaker, if we again cross-reference that to the section under the Electrical Power Control Act, which is section 5.5(1), we see that 5.5(1) talks about the Public Utilities Board imposing an agreement where parties are unable to arrive at an agreement. Under the Electrical Power Control Act, 5.5(1) "Where 2 or more persons to whom subsection 5.4(1) applies" – and 5.4 deals with an agreement to develop, in fact, a source of power – "fail to enter into an agreement within a reasonable time," – the same wording – "one or more of them may apply to the public utilities board to establish the terms of an agreement between them."

Mr. Speaker, what is noteworthy with the bill is that whereas the bill contains the same type of power, same type of authority, if you go to the second last subclause in this bill, the bill says this agreement that is imposed by PUB "shall be binding on Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but may be amended or changed by the parties by agreement without the prior approval of the public utilities board". However, when you go back to the Electrical Power Control Act it says, "An agreement approved by the public utilities board under 5.4(3) or established under subsection 5.5(2) may not be amended by the persons to whom the agreement applies without the prior approval of the public utilities board".

In fact, Mr. Speaker, while on the face of it is appearing to provide more power to the Public Utilities Board, it is taking away power from the Public Utilities Board – even though the board is empowered on application by either of the parties to impose an agreement, the agreement contemplated by Bill 53 conflicts with the agreement that would be imposed under the Electrical Power Control Act. Under the Electrical Power Control Act the parties involved have no authority to get out of the agreement unless they have approval of the board, whereas under the Bill 53 they have the authority to withdraw from the agreement entirely. What would be the point of having the board impose an agreement and then the parties could get out of the agreement simply by agreeing?

If we continue, Mr. Speaker, the Electrical Power Control Act has much more power than does Bill 53. Bill 53 seems to be a smaller, watered down version of some parts of the authority already found in the Electrical Power Control Act and the Public Utilities Act.

For example, under section 7.(2) it says, "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may request the public utilities board to conduct an inquiry into the matter of the adequacy of supply and the ability of producers and retailers to meet the current or anticipated power demands of customers in the province, in accordance with the power policy set out in section 3, and to report on the matter to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council within the time specified by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council in the reference." Mr. Speaker, that section 3 is already referenced in as being amended by Bill 53, by the addition of the clause which "should promote the development of industrial activity in Labrador".

All that Bill 53 is doing is it is providing authority, which is less authority than is already found in the Electrical Power Control Act. It goes on to say, "Where the public utilities board believes that producers and retailers collectively or individually will not be able to satisfy, in accordance with the power policy set out in section 3, the current or anticipated power demands of consumers in the province, the public utilities board may further inquire into the matter."

So, Mr. Speaker, given the authority already found in the Electrical Power Control Act and the existence of the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, and the Public Utilities Act, Bill 53 is not necessary. We are going through this exercise to pass legislation which is not necessary, and certainly may not improve matters.

Now, Mr. Speaker if you go on with looking at the power that we already have in the Public Utilities Board, it is quite significant, quite substantial. Although the standing of the Public Utilities Board in this Province has really been called into question in the whole Muskrat Falls exercise by the Public Utilities Board, in my view, quite properly refusing to render a decision because they felt they did not have adequate information, and then having it taken away from them. If the act were beefed up even more, then the Public Utilities Board would be the appropriate mechanism and the appropriate agency to provide all of the legislating and all of the decisions that need to be done, which Bill 53 seeks to accomplish.

Why are we rushing into legislation, which it looks like we do not need, which looks like it may only further complicate matters? We have already had examples of that recently whereby this government rushed into legislation, expropriation legislation, and legislation earlier in this session under the powers of attorney act, which we subsequently had to re-amend all over this week.

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree that this bill is necessary. If we look at the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, what this bill takes out when you go to section 7, "The Public Utilities Act, 1964… as now or hereafter amended shall not apply to (a) the supply of hydro-electric power from the full output of all units installed at any time and from time to time at the hydro-electric plant site of the Twin Falls Project…", which we are referring to as TwinCo. That is simply because that is a commercial arrangement which is coming to an end.

Mr. Speaker, why do we need legislation to deal with a commercial arrangement which is coming to an end? Why shouldn't this be dealt with in the ordinary course of business at a sub-legislative level? What is being kept in place here is this bill still deals with the supply of hydroelectric power developed under the lease, and the lease being the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, No. 51 of 1961.

This continues to apply to Hydro-Quebec electric commission and to the Newfoundland and Labrador Power Commission. However, it takes out the Twin Falls Power Corporation, the TwinCo part, but it continues on to say, "but the said The Public Utilities Act, 1964, applies to the production, storage, transmission and supply of all other hydro-electric power developed under or in pursuance of the Lease executed and delivered pursuant to this Act."

The amendment that we are seeking to make does not improve the law. It does not advance the law. It does not do anything for the development of hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power is being dealt with, other than with this legislation. It does not do anything to advance economic development in Labrador because it simply becomes permissive. Becoming permissive does not mean that anybody is bound by that legislation. It simply means they should develop Labrador economically.

Why would they not want to carry economic development in Labrador? That would be the appropriate thing to do. It could be legislated; however, it is not being legislated. The legislation is not binding. It does not bind anybody to do anything except say, well, we know we should develop Labrador economically but in fact we are not going to get around to it. We are not going to bother to deal with it.

The bill in that respect, Mr. Speaker, I think is grossly deficient and unnecessary. It is not causing any harm; it is just not doing much good. Any good that it seeks to achieve could easily be handled under the Public Utilities Act as it is presently constituted, possibly with a few amendments.

Mr. Speaker, those are my comments at this point.

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

MS ROGERS: I am happy to speak to Bill 53, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 and The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994. Industrial development, as we know, brings the promise of great prosperity and the potential of prosperity to the region, to the community, and to the people who live in the areas where this industrial development may be taking place.

This bill is necessary because there has not been an established industrial rate in Labrador. This is a necessary thing. The established published rate has the potential of attracting further industrial development, particularly in the mining sector.

Mr. Speaker, what I do wonder about, though, is: Will we be able to have an established reliable rate for the people of the Province? Because we know there is one that is suggested at this point, that the blended rate will be 15.7 per cent now; but, if there are cost overruns, what will that mean to the people of the Province who will be carrying and bear the burden of the whole cost of the Muskrat Falls Project and all its subsidiaries, the whole cost of that?

As we look at an established industrial rate, and what we want to do with an established industrial rate is let industry know exactly what they will be paying. As the Minister of Natural Resources said earlier this evening in a television interview, is these companies need to know what their rate will be so that they can plan. Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province also need to know. They need to know what their rates are going to be. There is no guarantee at this point, because the people of the Province will bear the whole burden of any cost overruns.

Now, there are a number of ways where there can be cost overruns, or there are also a number of ways where the revenue stream may be diminished. One of those ways, from the bills we have seen – number 60 and 61 today, the briefings that we had on those bills – is that the industrial electrical users in Labrador will not be obliged to purchase their power from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They will be able to (a), generate their own power, or (b), they may be able to purchase power from another entity. That may affect, in fact, the revenue stream for Muskrat Falls.

What does that mean for industrial rates? Does it mean a race to the bottom, a race to the lowest bidder? Because we know, Mr. Speaker, corporations, their obligation is to make money for their shareholders. That is the success. That is the economic and financial success of a corporation, if they are able to make as much money as they possibly can for their shareholders, and nobody is against that.

Their concern is not, how does this affect the people of the Province? Their concern is not how this affects the Energy Plan – which, unfortunately, at this point seems to be only Muskrat Falls for the Province. That is all this government has focused on for an Energy Plan – which I would say at this point, Mr. Speaker, is not an Energy Plan at all.

What will this mean for the people of the Province in terms of their own rate? What will the people of the Province be paying? We are going to see in fact is industry, because it has options, either to produce their own energy or to purchase energy from another entity. They have the possibility of getting an increasingly reduced rate for their energy, whereas the effects of that would mean an increasing rate for the people of the Province, an increasing rate for the few ratepayers of the Province, in our small Province with a population of 500,000, where we know for sure that this project is going to cost a minimum of $9 billion and probably much more.

Common understanding at this point, Mr. Speaker, worldwide is that these kinds of large, hydroelectric dams, these kinds of projects are almost guaranteed to go into cost overruns of 50 per cent of their original budget. That is really getting up there, Mr. Speaker. That is a heavy, financial burden on the backs of 500,000 people in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Even less than that, Mr. Speaker, are the number of ratepayers who will be shouldering this financial burden.

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions. What happens then if, in fact, there is a published industrial rate, but it is a race to the bottom to see who can provide the cheapest rate for these industrial customers? What happens if there is a shortfall, when the ratepayers of the Province have to cover it and there is no real income, there is no profit for this supposedly wonderful powerhouse we are creating that will be a financial gift to the Province? What will that mean, Mr. Speaker, to the people of the Province in terms of the social programs that are about taking care of our people?

When we attract this type of industrial development, what about negotiating? If they are going to get a premium rate, will we also look at negotiating a better royalty return for the people of the Province? What is the potential there? Because, again, the industries that we will be attracting are going to be making a lot of money on our resources.

There is a way to make sure that there is social justice, that there is fairness, that there are fair deals. That is what we have to look at, Mr. Speaker, not desperate deals, not fireside sale deals, but fair deals that have social justice, that are equitable, that benefit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; particularly that benefit the people of Labrador who have often not seen or reaped the benefits of the resource extraction in the history of our Province.

What does industrial development mean for the region? Well, it means the potential of great prosperity. It means the potential of high-paying jobs for some, not for all. It also brings with it certain challenges, and we all know that. We can see that worldwide. We can see that happening in a number of areas where we see large-scale resource development happening in regions, not only in our Province and not only in our country, but around the world.

What has this government done to mitigate the specific challenges that are a result of growing industrial development in the area? We know one of the greatest challenges, and already we have seen this in Lab West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is the skyrocketing cost of housing. Mr. Speaker, every one of us here in this House knows what it is like to go home. We know what it is like to return to our homes. We know how important that is. We know that without a home to return to we cannot get on with our daily lives and we cannot feel secure. We all know what home means to us.

It would be the same, Mr. Speaker, for the people of Happy Valley-Goose Bay or the people in Lab West who are experiencing an incredible housing crisis. There is an incredible housing crunch. We see the cost of buying a house has skyrocketed. We have seen absolute, unbridled rental increases because we have no rent control. We have no rent stabilization program here in the Province.

What we see is that many of our citizens, particularly in Lab West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, are precariously housed, which means they may have a place to live right now, Mr. Speaker. Where they live right now may be way too expensive for them. Also, they are precariously housed because they have no control over what the next rent increase will be.

There is nothing legally to stop any landlord from doubling someone's rent without adding any added value to the accommodation. There is nothing to stop any particular landlord from tripling someone's rent. We can see this is a direct impact of having published industrial rates and then attracting ever-growing industrial development to the region, which, Mr. Speaker, we know is a good thing. What has this government done to be able to mitigate some of the negative consequences of that?

As well, Mr. Speaker, with reasonable, fair and equitable rates for industrial power comes the need for more workers. We may have workers who are employed in these industries and often most of them will have good, high-paying jobs, but then there will also be unskilled labourers. They do not make as much money, Mr. Speaker, so they have a greater challenge when it comes to housing.

Then there will be the need for service workers. The people who work at Tim Hortons and make the coffee, the people who clean the floors and clean the offices of these large industries, the people who do child care, the people who work in the grocery stores and people who are cashiers. Mr. Speaker, all these people need a place to stay. They all need a place to live.

Our industrial rates will not attract further industrial development unless industries know there are places where their workers can live. We have seen the disaster just recently in Lab West of the apartment building that just burnt down, which so many people were looking to as something that would help alleviate the crisis in housing in Lab West.

Then, Mr. Speaker, there are the issues not just of the workers themselves, but their families. Workers who will want to bring their family to the community where they work, and how important that is. Where will they live? How will they afford to live?

CMHC, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have said that people must not spend more than 30 per cent to 35 per cent maximum of their income on shelter. We know that, Mr. Speaker, currently the price of shelter, because of the industrial development in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and in Lab West requires workers and working families to spend way more than 35 per cent of their income.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the effects of this growing industrial development on the people who have lived in the region for years but who may not be working in those industries, who are not employed in the industry. Seniors, Mr. Speaker, who are again so very precariously housed, who live in fear that the landlord will raise their rent. Seniors who are on very limited incomes and fixed incomes. Students, Mr. Speaker, who are coming to the larger centres, for instance like Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to go to school so that they can also be part of this industrial growth, and many students who find out that they cannot go to school because they cannot find an affordable place to live.

Mr. Speaker, the incredible hardship that this places on low and moderate earners – but unless this government intervenes and does something concrete to address the housing prices in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and in Labrador West, no amount of any kind of posting of industrial rates will attract industry if in fact their workers have no where to live. We know how important that is.

One of the things, Mr. Speaker, that has been recommended by many is that the government should take short or medium-term energy decisions which would allow time for the Province to do real due diligence, real authentic due diligence on the development of Muskrat Falls. That is possible, Mr. Speaker. That is possible to do short-term solutions and medium-term solutions so that a due diligence with all the mechanisms that are available to this House to truly examine this project, to truly debate this project, to truly have dialogue on this project, that is a possibility.

That is still a possibility for this Province. It is possible to pull the brakes, to hold back, and to say: Wait a minute, let us step back and take a look at this. We saw just recently with a bill that was reintroduced into the House on the Power of Attorney Act, where a bill had to be brought back into the House because of oversight. When we look again at what happened with Abitibi, Mr. Speaker, something that was rushed through without due diligence. There is still time to do that. There is still time to employ every mechanism, every mechanism that we have in this House, to apply due diligence to this project.

Mr. Speaker, it is essential that mining companies have a solid understanding of what their rates will be. How wonderful would it be if the people of Newfoundland and Labrador were guaranteed that same solid understanding of what our rates, as ratepayers, will be. There is no guarantee.

For the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, this government is willing to give a solid guarantee of industrial rates to industry, but this government is not willing, is not able to, because of the deals that they are setting up, give that same guarantee to the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Isn't that interesting, Mr. Speaker, that industry is being given a guarantee? Large, multi-national corporations coming into this Province will know exactly what their rate will be; they will be guaranteed what their rate will be. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, they have a lot of bargaining options as well. They will be able to bargain for even a lower rate because of the potential for either generating their own power or purchasing power from another entity. They will have the opportunity to bargain for the best possible rate for themselves for the best outcome, unlike the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, unlike the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

What will happen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is that with every cost overrun their rate, our rates, the people of the Province, the ratepayers of the Province, will have no guarantee whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, those who have so much to gain, these industrial consumers, as they have so much to gain, their rates may be reducing while the people of the Province, the individual ratepayers of the Province, their rates will be increasing.

There is something wrong with that, Mr. Speaker – there is something wrong with that. How could this government set up a scenario like this? How could this government set up a scenario that gambles with the rates that the people of the Province will have to pay – hard-earned money being taken out of the pockets of the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at it this way it is really quite shocking. Who would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that in this supposed time of prosperity, this is what the deal would come down to for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Who would have thought, Mr. Speaker?

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to stand and speak to Bill 53. In fact, it is a fine piece of legislation, or I thought it was two days ago. Now I am wondering. We have been talking about it long enough to have a transmission line built, I say, from Muskrat Falls right up to Labrador West.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it is an important piece of legislation. It has absolutely nothing to do with housing in St. John's, but that is okay. We are doing all right. It has to do, actually, with the power transmission for industrial companies in Labrador. It is a very important piece of business.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, there have been a lot of important things going on in the House of Assembly this evening. I was trying to have a cup of tea and all of a sudden I had this photo pop up on my Twitter. I felt like rushing back in and putting my twenty-five cents into the can. I said: No, finish your cup of tea first before you go back in.

I understood there was a photo but nobody could figure out who did it, who took it – who took the photo, Mr. Speaker? It has people still up all over Newfoundland and Labrador on Twitter trying to figure out who did it. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, when did they tweet it? It is very important, Mr. Speaker – very important, I say. Now, I just checked again and they are still tweeting. They want to know: Who did it?

Mr. Speaker, the most active member in the Legislature tonight has been the Member for Terra Nova. Absolutely, the Member for Terra Nova –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: The member, my son, has been on the go all night. He has read and studied every paragraph of Bill 53. Mr. Speaker, he could read this to you now verbatim. I am telling you, at one point I could see him imagining the whole transmission line capacity running from one end of the Province to the other. At one point I saw him reach up and he thought he was on the wires, Mr. Speaker, and he reared right up. Mr. Speaker, if I had to make a guess I would say the Member for Terra Nova absolutely was one of the most active members in the House of Assembly tonight.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: I have a feeling we have not seen anything yet, Mr. Speaker. It still begs the question of who did it. When we were debating Bill 53, Mr. Speaker, somebody took a picture in the House of Assembly, absolutely.

AN HON. MEMBER: A professional or amateur?

MS JONES: I cannot really tell.

One thing I do know, Mr. Speaker, it is twenty-five cents that has to go in the can if you do not say the right words. Absolutely, that is what I got from that, Mr. Speaker. I learned, Mr. Speaker, that words are important, and if you say the wrong ones you could go broke in the House of Assembly at twenty-five cents a pop.

The Member for Mount Pearl North, Mr. Speaker, was the individual in the picture.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was the model.

MS JONES: He was the model.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the member if she could please sort of change gears and talk about the bill.

MS JONES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there is a song out now and it is really popular. It has nothing to do with Bill 53. I just wanted to mention; it is called Gangnam Style. You might have heard of it.

When I was here reading Bill 53, Mr. Speaker, for the twenty-fifth time in the last two days, I looked over and I saw the Member for Gander getting up and getting his bill, getting all of his books out, getting ready to speak. When I saw him make the twirl around the desk all it reminded me of is the video Gangnam Style. I say the Member for Gander could go Gangnam.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak to the bill because actually I would say about fifteen minutes ago I got an e-mail from one of my constituents – honest to God, by the way. My constituents are listening; they are watching what is happening in the House of Assembly tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I would say the rest of the Province has fallen asleep, but in Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair they are still up and they are hanging on to every word in Bill 53. I told them that I would say a few words about what Bill 53 was about, with the power going in to the industrial companies, building the lines, putting the rate in place. I told them I would get down to the numbers. So, he suggested that I might get the calculator off the Member for Conception Bay South. Apparently, he has a big calculator over there and –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: What did he say?

AN HON. MEMBER: Instrument.

MS JONES: Instrument.

So, maybe the king of arithmetic could loan me the instrument, because my constituent thinks that I am going to need the big calculator by the time they get it all added up. So, I hope he is wrong. The reality is this: We want to see all of this succeed, because when it does, everybody in the Province succeeds. That is the most important thing. We have a role in this Legislature – it does not matter what side of the House you are on. It does not matter what district you represent. You come here for a reason. That reason, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that you debate legislation and you have full, fair debate.

Well, what we are seeing in the House in the last few days is not that – oh, no. We are seeing closure being invoked in second reading of bills. Oh, yes, Mr. Speaker, it is being invoked under a term called section 43 of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, which is right next to section 47, not too far from section 47, which is closure.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is what we are seeing happening in the last two or three days. Do you know what was so funny? I listened to the Premier in the news talking about, oh, we will not be bringing in closure; we do not care if we are there until Christmas Eve – blah, blah, blah. We are not bringing in closure.

Then we heard the Minister of Natural Resources on the news at 6:05 o'clock. I was out sitting in the armchair, just after having a bite to eat, and there he was on the news: No, we will not be bringing in closure. So we ordered the Christmas tree and a bucket of Old Port salt beef for Christmas Day. We came into the House of Assembly and within two hours the member and the Minister of Natural Resources got up and invoked closure through section 43 of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly in two bills in second reading. Now, isn't that something?

Mr. Speaker, the media did not get it wrong because I was watching and it was a direct quote from the minister – absolutely, that was what he said. It was not rephrased. It was not someone else's words. It was direct. It was not redacted in any way, Mr. Speaker. It was not scrutinized by Bill 29. It did not have to go down through the Freedom of Information legislation – nothing. It was a direct quote from the minister and that is what he said. Within two or three hours, we had two closures invoked in two bills. Here it is now 4:30 in the morning, hardly had an opportunity to speak to Bill 53, Mr. Speaker, and now they are going to invoke closure in third reading – absolutely, invoking closure in third reading.

MR. O'BRIEN: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Gangnam from Gander is getting up, Mr. Speaker, from what I can understand. If I were allowed, I would do a little You Tube video of that myself. I would put it on because when the Government House Leader is elected in China, Mr. Speaker, he would be able to log in, see his friends from back home in the Newfoundland and Labrador Legislature, doing their job. There would not be anything to it.

I think that it is important to have full and free debate on all legislation. This is a bill that we support. We are supporting this bill and the government still, Mr. Speaker, are insisting on closure, even though we are talking about how good it is, the benefits of it – we are anyway, as the Official Opposition, and that it is a good piece of legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: In fact, Mr. Speaker, we might be saying the same thing about the other couple of bills that are there if we would have had a chance to read them, but no, we did not even get a chance to look through them. We did not get a chance to have a good analysis of them, Mr. Speaker.

I got in bed last night and I had to choose between Brian Peckford's book and the term sheet. That is what I had to choose from last night, trying to read the both of that and go to bed. How could you keep your eyes open, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, in the midst of all of that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Look at the Member for St. John's West.

MS JONES: Yes, and here he is over there, Crummell is reading it. Is it a good book, Crummell?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Sorry, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member it is unparliamentary to refer to any member by their name.

The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: I do apologize to the Member for St. John's West, Mr. Speaker. If I offended him in any way, I am deeply sorry. Mr. Speaker, if he has a complex or needs any kind of counselling I would be happy to help him out with that after, but I am really sorry about that.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, it is a good piece of legislation and we are supporting it. Unfortunately, here we are at 4:30 in the morning, the government wants to invoke closure on the bill. They do not want to have any free debate. They do not want to hear what we have to say, even though we agree with it. We think it is a good bill. We see the benefits in doing this, absolutely we do. We do not see the productivity in doing it at 4:30 in the morning but we do see the benefits in doing it, which is very good.

We did bring in a couple of amendments. One of them was with regard to expanding the economic opportunities and creating economic incentives, which we are being told can be done through the regulatory process. Hopefully, it will be done because we think that is very important. We think it is important to keep jobs and generate revenue in the Province wherever you can. That should be the focus for all us, actually, Mr. Speaker.

Those were the main amendments that we wanted to see in the bill; but, unfortunately, that did not happen. Hopefully, it will be part of the regulations and part of the principles in which government continues these negotiations with mining companies, or any industrial companies that want to establish their operations in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we realize that this is just one small part of this project. We also realize that the other bills are all affiliated with it. I think what government needs to understand is that in order to have really healthy debate and to have good strong legislation is everybody needs to have time to be educated about that.

People here in this House, the Government House Leader has excelled in academics all of his life, Mr. Speaker. He knows the importance of knowing what you talk and what you speak, and the importance of understanding that for which you are going to agree or disagree. That is one of the problems we have with all of that.

That is why we came in here today and started talking about Bill 53 in third reading, because we were not comfortable with the other legislation. We did not feel we had the time to get prepared properly. I think anyone who looked at it and wanted to be reasonable would agree with what I am saying. You just cannot take legislative acts that are twenty, thirty or forty pages long, that are connected with fifteen other statues of the House of Assembly and expect you are going to get a briefing for forty-five minutes and an hour-and-a-half later walk into the House of Assembly and be able to know that legislation well enough to have a comfort that in supporting it you are doing the right thing.

That was the purpose of us bringing in this bill in third reading and debating it, and putting forward an amendment. It was to allow us to have healthy debate on this while we have ourselves up to a level where we were more comfortable in debating the other bills. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way the government chose to do the business of the people of the Province. They decided that after being here for a month, that right before Christmas they would bring in two major pieces of legislation. They would not give us an opportunity to prepare appropriately for them, and expects to get them and be out of here before Christmas.

Do you think we want anyone to be here for Christmas? We do not want to keep the Table Officers here. We do not want to keep you here, Mr. Speaker. We do not want to keep the Pages here. We do not want to keep all those people at home up on Christmas Eve watching a debate in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker. We do not want people to miss church on Christmas morning because they are watching us in the Legislature. No, Mr. Speaker, that is not what we want. We want everybody to be home with their families but we are really torn between doing what is right in debating bills and legislation and doing what people expect you to do in a sensible, civilized society.

Mr. Speaker, the appropriate thing for the government to do would be to pull the bills off the table and close the House of Assembly until after Christmas. Yes, that would be the appropriate thing to do and come back in January. What is everybody doing in January? What is everybody doing, Mr. Speaker, from January 2 until January 7 in that five days that we cannot come in and appropriately debate two bills in the House of Assembly? What are you doing?

I am not doing anything. I am not doing anything tomorrow. I am not even doing anything on Christmas Eve, by the way. I do not even know where I am going for Christmas. It is a good thing the House is open, Mr. Speaker, because I did not know what I was going to be doing this year for Christmas.

As I was saying, why can't we do that the first week in January? If we were to take a vote, who has objections to that? Who has objections to coming back, Mr. Speaker, on January 2 or January 3 for four or five days doing two pieces of legislation, having a sensible debate and closing the House of Assembly? My that sounds like a really civilized option to me. I think it could actually work, even if the Member for Harbour Main could not make it. I think it could actually work.

MR. HEDDERSON: I will be here. On Christmas Day I will be here. If we have work to do in the House, let's get it done instead of whining.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Harbour Main says if we have work to do, he will stay and do it on Christmas Eve. That is fine. We have no problem with that either. We are just thinking about all the people who work here, who will not get to spend time with their families. That is all.

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the government did not realize that. I am really surprised, because this was the government who wanted the family-friendly sittings of the House of Assembly. Oh yes, it was in the Blue Book, absolutely. In the 2003 Blue Book for the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador we would have family-friendly sittings in the House of Assembly.

That is what you call it when you get to 4:44 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Speaker, and you are about to hang your stocking outside in the caucus room. That is what you call family-friendly sittings of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, my time is up, so I am looking forward to hearing what the Gangnam guy from Gander has to say. I am going to sit down now, Mr. Speaker, and listen very attentively.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Shall the motion under section 43 of the Standing Orders pass?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 53 be read the third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 And The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994. (Bill 53)

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

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited (Lease) Act, 1961 And The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 53)

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I call from the Order Paper, Order 11, Bill 61, second reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act And The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a privilege to be here in this esteemed Chamber at this hour of the day speaking to legislation, particularly Bill 61. I just had some notes made from listening to various speakers in this House over the last two days. I just wanted to speak particularly about not just the bill, but perhaps the process as well. I am hoping that I can get this out as coherently – I made the notes, but you know what it is like when you try to go back and read them and make sure they make sense.

As I was looking at Bill 61, I started thinking again, we are in this Chamber and I think about what an honour it is when you sit here in the Chamber you actually can call yourself a legislator. That is a pretty big term to be able to place on yourself, that you are a legislator. We are all legislators in here. It sounds important, and the reason it is, is because it actually is very important. The role that we perform is hugely important, because we have an opportunity to create legislation that governs the people of this Province. Certainly, since being elected, I have come to value that and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to legislation. I have a particular interest in it because it is something I did in my prior career, and now we get to look at it and I think people on both sides can tell, I do take an interest in this.

It is not just in the briefings that come with the legislation or the intent of the legislation, but it is also the actual construction of it as well. For that, you really need to be able to delve deep into what is being written down, and how these pieces of law are constructed, and trying to get the intent of the law.

We did have an opportunity to have a briefing on this legislation – I think it was this morning. It feels like it was a couple of days ago, but I think it might have actually been this morning. Mr. Speaker, I have the briefing notes here, the legislative changes to enable Muskrat Falls Project financing. So, this is the briefing notes – and there was a very big crowd at that briefing this morning. All of our caucus was there, most of our researchers were there, the member of the Third Party was here, and you had staff there.

What I would say is that the briefing is good. The ability to have that briefing and have someone explain it is good, but the briefing and the notes are not the legislation. The legislation is completely different because one subclause, one section, one paragraph, can mean a very big difference to what could happen down the road with the effect of the legislation.

I know this is something that the members are probably sick of hearing us say, and I understand that, but I think you know where I come from when I say this. During this session of the House we have an agreement in place where we have seventy-two hours to get the legislation, to review it, to prepare, and to be able to debate that. We had that for legislation that was very important, such as Bill 53, and we had that for legislation that could be deemed – it is not less important but it is more simple in nature, housekeeping.

The problem is that with these two major pieces of legislation now Bill 60 and Bill 61, Bill 61 which we are debating now, we were not given that; we were given twenty-four hours. The problem that I have with that is that I cannot even speak right now as to whether I am supporting it or not because the problem is that I have not had ample opportunity to go through the legislation itself.

The fact is, I have had members on the other side – and they have said this publicly and they will say it privately in conservation – they will say: You have staff and you have researchers. That is fine and dandy, they can help and they do a great job helping. We all have researchers, we all have staff, but the fact is that they are not the ones who have to come in a put their name on this and talk about this and discuss this. We are the ones to have to do this. We are the ones to have to understand it and be able to speak to it.

In this case, where we basically had twenty-four hours – it not like you had a straight twenty-four hours of free time where you could read it and discuss it. During that time we also had a session where we sat here last night until about 2:00 in the morning. We had a Question Period to prepare for, we had our normal constituency work, and we had a two-hour briefing. What I say is that it is not adequate.

Some of the members across have only been in government, so they would not, nor would you expect them, understand what it is like to be in Opposition because they have not done that. There are some members, and I reference the Minister of Environment and I reference the Member for Grand Falls-Windsor – Green Bay South because these two individuals were here. Even if they do not agree, they understand the importance of Opposition to good governance. I also reference the Member for St. John's South again who has really come full circle in that he started off in Opposition, went to government, and now he is an independent on the Opposition side.

What I would say is that we need time to review the legislation. What I would say is that twenty-four hours is inadequate for us to be able to do that, especially when we talk about stuff as in important as this. Mr. Speaker, to frame this up properly I need to reference just yesterday we were debating An Act to Amend an Act to Amend the Enduring Powers of Attorney Act. That is a piece of legislation which was supported by the majority of member. I think the Member for St. Barbe is still not happy with it, but it was supported by the majority of members. It is, in my mind, a positive step.

It was not a hugely complex piece of legislation, but it was a new piece that had to be drafted up based on federal rules. In that case, it was drafted up, it had debate, and it had vigorous debate here, actually. It did not take all day or night, but we had a chance to speak to it. We had briefings. We had ample time. What happened was there were still oversights. There were still errors. One of them was fairly significant in that section 22 of that piece of legislation, which was regulation-making power, was not put in. Again, that is not intentional. That is an oversight that happened. That was a mistake.

What I am saying is that is going to happen. In that case, we had time. We had the opportunity. In this case, we have not been given the time I think is necessary to do this justice. This is the biggest project in the history of this Province. Without speaking to the Muskrat Falls Project itself per se, because that is a topic that has been on here, what I am speaking to is the process we use in which to get there and to vote on this stuff.

I hope, very much, that Bill 61 accomplishes what government wants it to accomplish. I hope it does what government wants it to do. That is not by any means an endorsement, but what I am saying is that I cannot sit here – my job as a Member of the Opposition is to hold government accountable. My job is not to sit there and oppose for the sake of opposing. My job is not to sit here and hope that something goes wrong. That is absolutely not what an Opposition member is meant to do. An Opposition member is meant to stand up and to question.

Again, coming back to An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Enduring Powers of Attorney, that was a situation where we made suggestions and they were listened to. The staff at the Department of Justice actually went through Hansard, went through the notes made by the minister and said: Do you know what? We could expand certain sections. So that was a productive effort by all members.

What I am saying here is that even if I do not agree with it, there are things we can contribute to this debate and to the discussion that could be used down the road to make it more productive. What I am saying is that it is hard to do that when you have not been given proper opportunity to go through the survey clause by clause and line by line.

The reason is because it is not just the one piece. It is not the one, it is the two, and they are both very significant. Both are new pieces of legislation that were drafted and put in place specifically to enable Muskrat Falls to happen. We all know that it was sanctioned last night. These need to be done to make that work. We understand that, but I do not want to sit here a number of years down the road and have somebody come back and say: You spoke to this; this did not turn out the way it wanted. Why didn't you do your job?

What I am saying is I just wanted to put it on the record that I want to be able to do my job and have the opportunity to speak to this, but I was hoping we would have more time. That is one of the reasons these things get prolonged and delayed now is because it does give us opportunity to take time to – when you are not speaking – to get out and have an opportunity to go through the legislation. Again, I think the members opposite get where I am coming from and they understand what I am saying here. I do not mean to belabour the point but I think it needs to be put on the record.

Now, what I would say is that from what I can see – and I guess a wide glance at the legislation being put in place in Bill 61 is that this is significant in that it does propose to change how business has been done in the Province for a number of years. Again, we come back to a group that has been in place now in this Province since around Confederation, and that is the Public Utilities Board.

One of the things here is that – section 5.1 direction to the board. I am going to assume that all members in this House on both sides have had an opportunity to at least peruse the legislation itself, not just the briefing notes because they are good, but peruse the legislation.

What section 5.1 discusses is direction to the board. What we are saying now is, "Notwithstanding sections 3 and 4… the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct the public utilities board with respect to the policies and procedures to be implemented by the board with respect to the determination of rate structures of public utilities under the Public Utilities Act and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, including direction on the setting and subsidization of rural rates…the fixing of a debt-equity ratio for Hydro, and the phase in, over a period of years from the date of coming into force of this section, of a rate of return determination for Hydro, and the board shall implement those policies and procedures."

Basically, what has happened, if and when this legislation gets passed – what happens is that under the Muskrat Falls Project the Lieutenant-Governor in Council or Cabinet will now direct the Public Utilities Board on a number of items, which are listed in sub (a) through (f). Cabinet now has the exclusive power for the Muskrat Falls Project. It is the biggest project in the history of this Province, one which we know the significant cost. We all know that.

What it says here is that Cabinet has the exclusive power, if they wish to use it, to direct the PUB on policies, procedures and directives including costs, terms and annual rates of return for a utility. Basically, what we know is that one of the big topics that has come up is the federal loan guarantee which carries with it a significant benefit for this Province if and when the terms are met, the conditions present. There are a number of them, they are normal. Most contracts have conditions present in it.

In order to make this work, in order for the government to get the financing, to go to the lenders, they need to get this law in place, and they need this law in place to make sure the federal loan guarantee happens. Basically, the federal loan guarantee and this legislation is saying: Look, in order to make this work, to make it pay, we need to guarantee the rate of return on this. How do you guarantee the rate of return? You ensure that Nalcor has the ability to charge what they need to recover that cost.

The issue of concern to the public – again, that is my job to raise this – is that basically does not offer ratepayers protection. That offers Nalcor protection to make sure that they maintain the premise of the federal loan guarantee. Before, if they wanted to raise the rates you had to make your application to the Public Utilities Board in order to get – if you want to make a rate increase to cover your cost of service you make that application. The PUB has been effectively eliminated from that process because we cannot have a hurdle to get in the way of charging what needs to be charged in order to pay for this. That is a significant concern of mine because it does not offer the ratepayer protection.

I know what the members opposite are going to say: Look, the ratepayers need not worry. There will be enough return on that. They are not going to be affected; but, the problem I have is that this is not guaranteed and the protection is not there. The protection right there now is for the federal government and it is for Nalcor to make sure that the rate of return is maintained.

What will happen – God forbid, none of us want to see this happen – if the cost overruns go up? If the amount we need to get goes up, then we need to charge more to the people of this Province to pay for it. That is a significant concern, Mr. Speaker, and I know it is a concern that the members opposite obviously share. They are concerned about the well-being of the Province, but I think I have a greater concern right now over the cost overruns possibly happening. That is out there.

We all know that in any project, big or small, overruns are a very real reality. It is a very significant, very possible reality. If you build a residential home, one of the reasons we talk about Muskrat Falls is because of the new home starts. That is a good thing if this Province has those home starts, but we also know that overruns are commonplace in new homes, and that is a small scale project.

Again, if we talk about a home at the rate of say $200,000, $300,000 or $400,000, there is an overrun that is associated with it, but we are talking about a project that is huge. We are talking about a billion dollar project in the remote parts of Labrador, over rough terrain. We are talking about a huge labour force and talking about a number of variables that could come into play here that could cause this to go upwards. That is a concern that I have, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is a real concern.

My problem is that it removes, essentially, the PUB on their own Web site – again, we all know the PUB is appointed by the government. They are put there by the government. I have spoken on how I think recently we have cherry picked what we are going to use the PUB for. Are we going to use it here, are we going to use it there?

The PUB themselves say they are an independent quasi-judicial regulatory body who are responsible for the regulation of electric utilities in the Province to ensure that rates charged are just and reasonable and that service provided is safe and reliable. They are going to have to change that on their Web site, Mr. Speaker, because they cannot prove that the rates being charged are just and reasonable. They are not going to have that.

The Province or Cabinet are going to prove that the rates charged are enough to cover off the rate of return to make sure that the commitments made to the lenders and to the federal loan guarantee and to Nalcor are met. That is going to have to be changed, and I have an issue with that, Mr. Speaker.

Nobody doubts the intent of the Public Utilities Board and what they try to do; they have been doing it a long time. They handle a number of areas. They say we ensure that the public of Newfoundland and Labrador are well served in consumers and service providers in the electric utility. What we are doing is taking a significant portion of that away from them when we exclude Muskrat from what they can actually look at. I think that is a fair and valid concern that I have that needs to be addressed.

Basically, what we are saying in effect, if we are taking the Public Utilities Board and replacing them with Cabinet – which is what we are doing for Muskrat Falls, that is the intent of this legislation – we are essentially saying the Cabinet is the Public Utilities Board for Muskrat Falls. That is actually what is happening here in this situation.

What I would say to the members is that we are going to have plenty of debate on this. If what I am saying is wrong I would say that you stand up and correct me, because if I am wrong that is fine. If I am wrong, I do not want to be wrong, but you correct me on where I am wrong and let me know what is going on. My interpretation is that if you remove the PUB – and it says expressly here in the legislation that you are removing the PUB from Muskrat Falls, well then the regulator for Muskrat Falls now becomes, de facto, the Cabinet or the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

So we are a Province that has a monopoly when it comes to the electrical provision of services to the people of this Province and now we have effectively eliminated from this sizable project that is going to – there is significant amount here; we are talking about billions of dollars. What we are saying is that the government is going to be the regulator for that, of that monopoly. That is a significant concern.

What I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, is that over the course of however long this debate takes us, over the course of that, I am hoping I will have an opportunity to review in more detail the actual specifics of the clause here because there are more to go into. The other part of this is that many of these pieces of legislation reference other pieces of legislation. It is not just a matter of reading Bill 61. It is a matter of then I have to go look at the Public Utilities Act and I have to go look at the expropriation act for Bill 60.

There is a lot of work that goes into this. I just want to make sure that it is on the record that I wish we at least has the seventy-two hour window to make sure that we did this.. It does not seem that is going to happen. Hopefully as this debate continues we will get that opportunity to get this done. I do not doubt ever for a minute that everybody in this House wants the best for the people of this Province, but I do think the members opposite need to recognize that in order for us to do our job – which is basically helping government do their job because a strong Opposition means a better government – the proper time to discuss this and debate it is necessary.

I appreciate the attention of the members opposite. I do. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John's North.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me to get up and begin what will be a long, protracted discussion of Bill 61, An Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act and the Hydro Corporation Act, 2007. I have to concur with a lot of the things my colleague just said about not having a seventy-two hour period to study this legislation and to work with our research staff on it, but we will make due. Certainly we have been waiting for a long time to be able to discuss this and government is really well aware of that, there is no doubt about it.

I was really intrigued to hear the Minister of Natural Resources when he spoke today. He gave a good speech. He gave a good political speech. One of the things he said, Mr. Speaker, was that true leaders make decisions. Of course, the leaders in this government made a decision to hold onto these bills, Bill 60 and Bill 61, and then spring them on Opposition members of the House of Assembly and then to somehow bawl and cry that we were going to be in here for some extended period of time to deal with them. I look forward to spending however much time we need to spend on these.

Like I said one time last week, Mr. Speaker, I am particularly fortunate in that my district is just right across the Parkway there. I can just jot across the road tomorrow evening. I went this evening to the Rabbittown Community Centre and had dinner with them. Tomorrow evening I am going to go across the road and I am going to go down and have dinner with the seniors in Wigmore Court, kiss my boy a goodnight, say hello to my wife, and come back here. That is basically the way it is for me. It is a lot less arduous for me than it is for others. So I think it is a privilege for me to be able to do that, and it is certainly an honour for me.

Another thing the Minister of Natural Resources said that I was really amused by, in fact, because he said the project has been sanctioned, so construction is taking place. I mean, with all due respect, there are no simpletons over on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker. We all know that construction is taking place. As far as I know, the site preparation has been going on for a long time. A lot of earth has been moved, so construction is taking place – that is no news to anybody. I hope it is not news to the Minister of Natural Resources, because I would be very concerned if it was.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the current government has focused much of its argument in favour of this pet project, the Muskrat Falls plan, on its contention that the direction Nalcor wants to take is the least-cost option. Of course, the best way to find out, Mr. Speaker, if that is indeed the case would be to submit this government's and Nalcor's Muskrat Falls plan to an arms-length, independent agency in order to allow for a transparent, open, unbiased assessment of the plan. Much the same as what the Government of Nova Scotia, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl South, is doing. I will have a bit to say about that later, about Emera and the proposed Maritime Link.

I will just go on, because there was one such independent assessment of Muskrat Falls that was carried out by the Joint Review Panel for the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric generation project. It included both Gull Island and Muskrat Falls, which was mandated by the federal and provincial governments, to assess the environmental effects of the proposed project.

In its report just last year, the Joint Review Panel dismissed the claim that the project is the only viable way of meeting the Province's energy needs – that was dismissed. The report noted that Nalcor had not demonstrated that the proposed project is justified on the basis of economics. The panel pointed out that there are too many unanswered questions related to Muskrat Falls, and the potential for the project to deliver the much-touted financial benefits.

So, for that reason, the panel recommended – and this is important – further formal, independent financial review of the project before sanction, in order to confirm whether or not the purported long-term financial benefits indeed exist. Well, some would say that happened, and some would say we do not know. As I said earlier – I do not know if that was earlier this morning or earlier yesterday evening, I have been up for a little while now – I think there is some difference of opinion about these reports and the strength they carry.

When considering the government's contention that Muskrat Falls is the only viable option for meeting Newfoundland and Labrador's future energy demands, the Joint Review Panel concluded that Nalcor's analysis, the analysis that suggests that Muskrat Falls is the least-cost option for meeting our domestic energy demand was inadequate. As a result, the panel recommended a full, independent analysis of the project based on up-to-date facts on all the economic, energy and environmental factors.

Such an analysis as recommended by the committee should have looked at domestic energy demand projections, conservation demand management, and alternate energy sources – there is an important one that I will have a lot more to say about – the role of power from the Upper Churchill, the project cost estimates and assumptions with respect to Holyrood and/or other thermal generation. We have heard a lot about how we are getting rid of thermal. There is a lot of thermal involved in this plan. If you do not believe that, you should go back and look at your own plan.

In addition to all of this, Mr. Speaker, the joint panel advised the Province and Nalcor to examine the full implications for ratepayers. For people who are paying their power bills in the Province, and the full impact of the Muskrat Falls plan on the ability of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to continue to pay their power bills.

I think you will all remember the other night, that on Bill 53 I did raise some questions about the Sprung debacle. It was after the PC Party – was government at the time – bankrupted that facility the government of the day set up a Royal Commission, as government often does, to look into the involvement of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in that colossal waste of money and mismanagement of expenditures.

The findings of the Royal Commission clearly have not been heeded by the PC Party, Mr. Speaker. I say that because one of the findings of the commission was that the Progressive Conservative government of the day was negligent in failing to commission an independent evaluation of the Sprung Greenhouse project. Many of us have argued that the same is happening now, that the current PC government refuses to allow their – Mr. Speaker, somebody is shaking something across the way there. I do not know if there is an animal loose in here and they are trying to capture it or something. I will just continue, Mr. Speaker.

Many of us argued that the same is happening now, as the PC government refuses to allow their Muskrat Falls plan, the proposal to undergo a needed independent, complete review by the Public Utilities Board. If government wanted to avoid putting the Province into what really could be a multibillion dollar pickle this time, a pickle that our children and our grandchildren will have to pay for, we would follow that advice. We would have a complete Public Utilities Board review.

The Sprung Royal Commission also told the Province that to prevent a similar incident from happening again, an incident whereby government invests public money into an unproven project, the commission recommended that future ventures be assessed by independent experts. The commission was not talking about hand-picked consultants, Mr. Speaker. They were not talking about hand-picked consultants; I will hire you because I think I am going to get the answer I want. No, as I said earlier, it is highly coincidental; it strikes me as highly coincidental that not one of those reports contradicted a single thing in the party line, not a single thing. That is highly irregular, in my opinion.

The Sprung Commission also recommended that the government's financial commitments be fully debated in the House of Assembly, and that did not happen. We wanted to have a full debate and it was all short circuited for whatever reasons. There is no need to rehash all that, but we certainly cannot do that with Muskrat Falls now.

We have a loan guarantee with very many conditions. Unlike many of the multibillion dollar hydroelectric projects that are underway, being developed, being proposed around the world, I do not see – other than the taker-pay scheme that has been worked out for the consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador who will have to foot the bill for, I do not see any evidence of any other power purchase agreements, certainly not on the industrial side. Maybe there is something we do not know, but I guess we will find out.

Even if we find out in 2014 that they will indeed build the Maritime Link – and we do not know that. We do not know if they are actually going to do that. They say it is sanctioned but things fall apart. There is no concrete, independent evidence to suggest that there will be any market for Muskrat Falls power outside of Nova Scotia. Indeed, the Joint Review Panel said that Muskrat Falls power is not affordable for any state or any province. What a pickle, Mr. Speaker, this PC government has put us in again.

The other thing I say is, Mr. Speaker, what is the rush? What is the rush? One of the questions that the New Democratic Party has been asking for some time is, why does there need to be a rush to push ahead, to go ahead hurriedly, to push this ahead, forge ahead with this Muskrat Falls plan the way that we are here at 5:20 in the morning?

I have been here since the House started at 1:30 p.m. yesterday. Why is this being hurried and pushed through, rammed through like this with interesting procedural devices being used by the government to limit debate, to not allow amendments to these bills? I just think that is really not appropriate. Why not let the Public Utilities Board do a thorough, transparent, and truly independent review of the project? Why gamble?

Just consider for a moment, the Public Utilities Board – and this is important – could very well come back and say that the Muskrat Falls plan makes perfect sense. They could do that, but you have to ask: Why are they so worried to submit that to that sort of evaluation?

We still have time for this, there is no question. We should take the time for it. There is no energy crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador today, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is over there.

MR. KIRBY: There is lots of energy over here, Mr. Speaker.

The suggestion that there is some sort of energy crisis, one that is imminent, that is going to cause people to be freezing in the dark is complete foolishness. I think people who get on with that sort of stuff should really scratch their head or shake their head because there is no energy crisis that is imminent. The suggestion that we are somehow powerless to prevent some sort of energy shutdown unless we rush ahead now, Mr. Speaker, with this, rush all of that through, is highly questionable, if not outright wrong.

It makes sense to take more time to consider the project, because we know Emera has an agreement which provides the company – it will wait for the full regulatory review to take place, one that has not even gotten underway in Nova Scotia yet, before it makes the final determination, before it finally decides whether or not it is actually going to build the Maritime Link. I think that is an important point. Emera has until the end of July, 2014 to do that, or whether to do that. It is going to make that decision on its own.

The Minister of Natural Resources has publicly stated, Mr. Speaker, that there is no guarantee that the Maritime Link will be even built if Emera exercises its option that it rightly has not to build it. If Emera does not do it, we do not have the financial capability to do it alone. I heard him say that on Open Line; I am pretty certain of that.

The cost of this project is already incredible in its expense. The minister is quite correct if his inference is that this Province cannot afford to go it alone and pick up the additional costs of well over $1 billion to put that westward sea cable in ourselves.

I was looking earlier today, if you look at our position we have $750 million deficit right now, an example of gross financial mismanagement. We are becoming quickly the exemplar for poor public administration in Canada. It is the reverse of the Midas touch. King Midas, everything he touched was gold. We have the opposite of that going on here.

The chart that I am looking at here is by government's preferred economist Dr. Wade Locke. It says at the bottom, "Within 10 years, NL could be running annual deficits in excess of $1.9 B." That is incredible – incredible. You could say that is doom and gloom and that is negative. Those are the facts; it is as simple as that. Dr. Wade Locke said that. We should all be concerned about it. We cannot take that lightly, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: We cannot take that lightly. We cannot say: Oh, you know, that is just a projection. That is just as valid a projection as anything else any minister has ever stood and waved around in this House and said Dr. Wade Locke said this.

There is no energy crisis on the Island at present like I said. Though there is certainly going to be pressures about twenty years from now, but that is a good distance of time from now. We know according to Nalcor, units 1 and 2 at Holyrood will need to be replaced. Functionally, that absolutely has to happen. If we want to prepare for that, is there a more responsible way to plan ahead? Is there a more fiscally responsible way to plan ahead?

The Isolated Island Option created by Nalcor includes three small hydro developments and just one wind development. Is it possible for Nalcor – was it ever possible for them to build additional small hydro? I guess we will probably never know now that we have just gone ahead and slammed this sanction through. I guess we are gone past the point of no return. There are no considerations of alternatives, one of the things that people are very concerned about – and certainly people are very gravely concerned about all of this. I got three e-mails, I have to say, over the last year from people who are in favour of this project. Three e-mails are how many I got. They all came from your Web site that the government set up to try to convince everybody that this snow job was actually a good thing.

One of things, as I said, that people talk to me about, that they want to see acted upon is the examination of all of the alternatives for meeting our domestic energy needs. It is really interesting, at one point, when we get into this, we will have lots of time in here together, I hope, over the coming days and weeks to discuss this, but one of the things that we often talk about is wind energy. Of course, they do not call it the windswept land for no reason – that is in the Ode for a reason, because there certainly is a lot of wind. They were not just talking about in Legislatures; they were talking about the nature of our climate here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is all very interesting, because there is very little examination of that. I do not claim to be an expert in this area, but certainly everything that I have studied and read about wind energy indicates that wind is developed in combination with hydroelectricity. That is the ideal way to do it. Instead, the report that government released had this giant battery with no additional hydroelectricity whatsoever. It is all very novel, there are people around the world who build gigantic, what they believe are actual versions of Noah's Ark – now, it is all very novel, but is not very practical. So, the idea of a giant battery, in absence of any additional hydroelectric development, made absolutely no sense to me.

So, later on when we get into debate, I get up again to speak on this, and I hope I have lots of other opportunities, I want to go into that in more detail, because I do not think it makes much sense. I do not think the people are very well served by that sort of thing. I think it is interesting, it is novel, but I think it is somewhat farcical if that is a serious way of looking at the energy challenges that we will have twenty years from now.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I really appreciate the opportunity to get up here at 5:27 in the morning and speak on this.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the nation to the south they have a way of naming bills by the names of the individuals who advanced the bill or who brings them in, or they call it after some sort of a cause or something that has happened. Mr. Speaker, I would propose that Bill 61 be called the monopoly bill, because we are providing a monopoly to Nalcor for the next fifty years to charge us as much for hydro rates as it possibly takes to pay off however much money it costs to pay for the development.

You would think, Mr. Speaker – the government has been touting this development for the last two years as such a fabulous development. It is going to make us all rich. It is going to have us bypass Quebec. It is going to give us hydroelectric power up in Labrador so we can do all sorts of industrial development. It is going to give stable rates – nobody said lower rates, but it is going to give us stable rates.

It is going to be green power. It is going to give us access down to the North American grid. We are going to get back a Maritime Link; after thirty-five years the Nova Scotians are going to buy that for us for nothing, just for a little bit of power. In spite of it being such a fabulous deal, Nalcor requires this bill so that nobody in the Province, but for Nalcor, can develop hydroelectric power. The government is going to confer a monopoly on Nalcor to charge whatever it takes to pay for this project.

Mr. Speaker, clearly, part II.1 says Exclusive Right, "Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro shall have the exclusive right to supply, distribute and sell electrical power or energy" – not just electrical power but energy – "to a retailer or an industrial consumer in respect of the business or operations of that retailer or industrial customer on the island portion of the province".

Mr. Speaker, when I received this document first I had to make sure that, in fact, it was Bill 61 because – and this was provided at a very hasty briefing this morning – the front part of it shows a date of November 29, 2012.

November 29, 2012 was nearly three weeks ago. So, by that calculation, the government must have had this bill for nearly three weeks, sat on the bill for nearly three weeks, produced it to us early yesterday or, in this case, early the day before yesterday, a hurried briefing today, when they had the bill all along. They were not satisfied just to sit on the bill and not provide it to the Opposition on a timely enough basis so that we could properly research it, then they had to invoke the very special circumstances of Standing Order 43, which is a form of closure.

I appreciate that the hon. members opposite are going to say: Oh, only forty-seven applies to closure. Closure is any way that the government seeks to limit or curtail debate. This is three times in the last two days that the government has moved on Standing Order 43 to limit debate in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, that is after primarily wasting most of the first four weeks correcting legislation that they rushed through back in the winter session, because they had it wrong because they were in such a hurry, doing what they call housekeeping bills. Well, if they had this legislation available since November 29, and this is very substantive legislation, why didn't they bring it forward when they had it available, when we could have studied it, when we could have had our researchers spend a little more time, when we could have cross-referenced all of the multiple other statutes that are cross-referenced?

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the government is so adamant that Muskrat Falls is such a fabulous project and we are going to sell electricity on the spot market as well and by selling electricity on the spot market we are going to generate all kinds of extra revenue – and in a briefing today we were advised that if Emera has any difficulty in delay and they cannot come up with the Maritime Link quickly enough, then they have some limited access, a small amount of access, through Quebec and we will be able to access this. So, being such a fabulous deal –if in fact it was a fabulous deal, which I do not think that it is – they would not need to have a monopoly imposed on the people of this Province and the businesses of this Province that they must buy from Nalcor exclusively, nobody else can sell, nobody else can develop hydroelectric power in this Province for fifty years.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the amount of change that we have experienced in the last fifty years, the amount of change that we have seen in not only electricity development, but all sorts of cost saving measures, alternative energy – we now have offshore oil that we receive the benefit from. We know that there are all sorts of offshore gas. Yet, knowing all of this, this government, in its infinite wisdom, decides that we should be tied to the technology of 2012 for the next fifty years.

They are absolutely putting into law this statute, which means that we can never, ever move forward in the next fifty years without having to have Nalcor hanging around our necks. Now, Mr. Speaker, this means that the cost-saving and energy-saving measures of other jurisdictions, such as reverse metering, we will never see. If somebody wants to develop their own source of energy for their own business to make them more competitive and more self-reliant, they cannot do this, because that would be against the law, based on this statute.

So, Mr. Speaker, if the government really had confidence in Nalcor, why do they need to give them such a monopoly? Why is it necessary to put into place something that says that you can only deal with Nalcor, nobody else can develop hydroelectric power or energy, and nobody else can sell it? When we looked at these, called amendment themes – now, it shows up in the briefing; it does not show up in the statute. However, when you look at what the representatives from the government and from Nalcor told us what the legislative amendments relate to – and they listed five of them.

Project definition – well, I would define it as the Nalcor monopoly for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It talks about revenue certainty. Why do we need revenue certainty? Well, we need revenue certainty because they cannot borrow the money without having a guaranteed revenue stream, and that guaranteed revenue stream is going to be produced by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is going to be produced by them through their electrical meters. We will pay the bill – the people of this Province will pay the bill for Nalcor, one way or the other, through that revenue stream, which is found in their hydroelectric meter sitting on the side of their homes.

They talk about ratepayer protection, Mr. Speaker, but there is no protection here for ratepayers. There is an elevated cost of hydroelectric power, which then will last for a long, long time. It is almost like saying that a person is protected if they are in prison. If you are in prison, you know where you are, you are perfectly safe, and you get your three square meals a day. Well, the residents of this Province are going to, by electricity rates, be imprisoned by Nalcor. They will always have to turn to Nalcor; the cheque will always go to Nalcor, period.

Now, that is if the transaction does not fail. If the transaction fails, this government are so confident in the benefits of Nalcor and the certainty that Muskrat Falls can work, that they have decided to take steps so that any borrowing that is done will be non-recourse borrowing. Non-recourse borrowing simply means that if the transaction fails, the lender can only realize on the assets. The assets will be the hydroelectric project. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, through its government, is unwilling to stand behind this project with its chequebook, except to write cheques and send them to Nalcor to deal with. They want to have non-recourse borrowing.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of non-recourse borrowing, it is no different than if a person went to buy a home, and let us say a home is a couple of hundred thousand dollars. They paid down 5 per cent, $10,000. Sometime later, the home was foreclosed on. The person says to the bank, here, take the keys, and walks away. We know that in real life you cannot do that, because you give the bank the keys and walk away, and if the bank sells the home then for $150,000, they come after the homeowner, the mortgage holder, for the shortfall.

This government has been careful enough – I suppose you could say careful enough, or I would say lacking so much in confidence of the project that they are not willing to stand behind the project except for the assets of the project. Mr. Speaker, what happens if the project fails and the creditors realize on the assets? Well, if the creditors realize on the assets, then the creditors of the development known as Muskrat Falls will then own the project. If they own the project, they will be the ones who benefit from Muskrat Falls. They will be the ones who collect the revenue. They will be the ones who will be charging the ratepayers of this Province for Muskrat Falls.

If the government has so much confidence in Muskrat Falls being as good as they say it is, why do they need non-recourse borrowing? Why are they afraid to stand behind the deal? Why are they simply willing to write cheques now and then stand back?

The only logical explanation is that they are afraid of cost overruns. If cost overruns get completely out of whack and there is recourse back to the government, then the people of the Province have to pay for this. Mr. Speaker, make no mistake, the people of the Province will be paying for this regardless. The government will be able to shirk its responsibility and say: Oh, there is no recourse here; you simply realize on the asset. Well, we were told in the briefing they would realize on the asset, and if they realize on the asset then it is goodbye Muskrat Falls development, it is goodbye hydroelectric line all down through Labrador, it is goodbye the link through the Straits, and it is goodbye to the Maritime Link because somebody else will own that and that somebody else will be the lender.

Mr. Speaker, they talk about being a Crown asset protection. This means, what is Nalcor if it is not a Crown asset? What will Muskrat Falls be if it is not a Crown asset? Clearly, this is simply some form of, I suppose, like a shell game to say: Well, now you see it, now you don't. We are quite familiar with the way this is perceived in this particular transaction.

Initially, Muskrat Falls was announced simply as a term sheet, and isn't this just great? This is what we are going to do. We are going to have the Anglo-Saxon route. We are going to go around Quebec and we are going to break the stranglehold that Quebec has had on us for so long. Then we learn, Mr. Speaker, that Muskrat Falls is only a little more than 800 megawatts and the Upper Churchill is more than 5,000. It is only one-sixth as big as the Upper Churchill development.

Then we learn, Mr. Speaker, well, yes, we are going to go across with a Maritime Link; however, the line across to Nova Scotia will only be 500 megawatts. It is no bigger than Bay d'Espoir power development, and of that amount, 170 megawatts will go to Emera and then we will have the access of the rest of the line.

Then we find out – back when the projected cost was in the order of $6.2 billion and now it is around $7.5 billion, it is still escalating – that our cost at Muskrat Falls will be in the order of fourteen or fifteen cents per kilowatt, but if you look on your light bill at that time you would see you were only paying between eight and ten cents. At that time, even if it had been on budget, which it is not, Muskrat Falls would produce power in Labrador at 50 per cent more than what we are paying right now.

We were told we will not use Holyrood anymore. Then we find out we are not actually going to decommission Holyrood. We are going to need Holyrood, because we need Holyrood for backup just in case Muskrat Falls goes offline, if there is some sort of a problem with it.

As we proceed in this particular matter, you look and you see in this bill, page 6, you can read it. 14.2(1) "A person is not entitled to compensation or damages from the Crown or a minister, employee or agent of the Crown arising from, resulting from or incidental to the operation of this Part." This part is the exclusive right.

It continues on to say, 14.2(2) "An action or proceeding does not lie or shall not be instituted or continued against the Crown or a minister, employee or agent of the Crown based on a cause of action arising from, resulting from or incidental to the operation of this Part."

Mr. Speaker, my reading of that says if an action or proceeding does not lie, shall not be instituted – or in this case – or continued against the Crown or a minister. Mr. Speaker, what that says is if you currently have a lawsuit underway involved that would engage this part of the monopoly bill that we are looking at, Bill 61, then the parties to that action could clearly go to court and seek to have the action stayed, have it thrown out of court. The government has decided they want to be immune from any sort of legal action.

Mr. Speaker, ordinary businesses do not have that sort of protection. Ordinary individuals do not have that sort of protection. The government wants to load the dice every way, rig the rules every way, in the same way that they have limited debate and discussion this week on this matter.

This document, dated November 29, has been available for nearly three weeks and could easily have been circulated. The government sat on it. The government on the one hand states quite boldly, we will be here as long as the Opposition will stay and debate. Then they move against the Opposition, applying Standing Order 43 on three separate occasions, and we are only into Wednesday morning on this. We are only into the second legislative day.

It is probably unprecedented, Mr. Speaker, that a government would be so desperate to try to get legislation through, having wasted most of the last three or four weeks, that they would bring on these bills at the same time. They would then move on Standing Order 43 and press forward, using all of the tricks and all of the legislative tools they have at their disposal. While at the same time trumpeting to the public that we will be here to debate until Christmas Day, when they know that by utilizing these legislative tools they are the ones who can bring in closure. Standing Order 43 is, without any doubt, a form of closure. Anything that restricts or limits debate is a form of closure.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the Muskrat Falls development is the other side of the same coin that was the problem with the Upper Churchill. The Upper Churchill was an opportunity lost. It was an opportunity lost because forty to fifty years ago our legislators did not have the foresight of OPEC. They did not think that oil would jump from $1 or $2 a barrel to $100 a barrel or more. By not having that foresight, no escalator clause was included in the Upper Churchill deal, this Province has lost out for the entire period. For approximately the last forty years or so, we have lost a significant amount of revenue that could have come to this Province.

The other side of the coin, Mr. Speaker, is that in knowing all of this, this government is blindly going forward. In this case, they are not going to forgo an opportunity. What they are doing instead is they are incurring an enormous expense which can only be recovered in this Province by way of the ratepayers. The ratepayers who will pay their electric bills will be subjected to outrageous electricity rates for maybe thirty, forty, fifty years. While we are paying those excessive electricity rates, we will lose other opportunities that we could have taken advantage of. In 2041 the Upper Churchill will revert to us, and we should be bridging from now to 2041.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday – or I think now the day before yesterday. It was a very unusual day, even in this building. We started the morning and we went to the ferry announcement, which had been re-announced and re-announced. I will call it the Love Boat announcement, and, Mr. Speaker, at 6:00 o'clock in the evening we ended up with another big party out front and that was Fantasy Island. I am going to say that within the next few years the people who participated in Fantasy Island can expect to be voted off the Island based on Muskrat Falls.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am going to speak to Bill 61. I have not had an opportunity to speak to this bill since it has been tabled in the House of Assembly. In fact, Mr. Speaker, there is quite a bit that I want to say about the bill. In fact, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to outline the definition of Muskrat Falls as it relates to this particular bill but, unfortunately, the definition itself is two-and-a-half pages long and it would take me nearly twenty minutes to read it and explain it. There are critical pieces like that in the bill that I just will have to skip over in order to be able to make some of the other points that I want to make.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to note that it was only a week ago that we brought a private member's resolution to the House of Assembly, and that resolution asked the House to endorse the principles of an independent electrical utility regulation for the establishment of electricity rates in the Province and to protect the interests of provincial ratepayers.

The government at the time brought in an amendment to that and they asked that it be done as per the federal-provincial regulations. Fair enough, Mr. Speaker. You take people at good faith and for their word, and that is exactly what we did. We accepted the friendly amendment and we supported that amendment.

Today, what we have with Bill 61 is the government now changing that particular law, those particular regulations. That is why they had no problem in supporting the private member's motion that we brought forward with this friendly amendment, because they knew a week later, Mr. Speaker, they were going to go out and change it. They knew that. A week later, they were saying to themselves we will be in the House of Assembly right before Christmas, when everybody else is decorating their trees and singing Christmas carols, we will be in there then under the cloak of darkness trying to get this changed under Bill 61. That is exactly what is happening.

We predicted it. We said it a week ago, when we spoke, that we bet the government is going to come in now and change the laws, but we hoped they would not. We gave them the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Speaker, as we always do. We are a trusting people, but unfortunately that did not happen.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we are here now changing the laws – that is what we are doing – as opposed to the government being upfront with the people of the Province a week ago and saying to them we are not going to support this because we are going to change it anyway. We are going to change it anyway, so what is the point? No, instead, they bring in friendly amendments, they change it, they support it, and then they come back a week later and say now we are going to throw it all out. That is what we are dealing with. Where is the openness and transparency there, Mr. Speaker? Absolutely none. That is why we have Bill 29, which protects the government and every single last piece of information inside of the government.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I want to mention here is the debate on Muskrat Falls, because the debate on Muskrat Falls would have given every member of the House an opportunity to lay out the issues that were important before the sanctioning of the project, and that did not happen. The reason it did not happen is once again the government did not want to put this project out there for debate and scrutiny. That was the only reason. Instead, they chose to use Address in Reply to the Throne Speech to get up and make their piddly comments about Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Speaker, they made comments that were so far away from Muskrat Falls and had absolutely nothing to with it. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it even provoked a satire columnist to write about it in the daily paper. That is how bad it was. They were supposed to be debating Muskrat Falls and talking about the things in this bill, like Bill 61, and instead they were talking about the smell of capelin – the smell of capelin – coming down the road from their houses. They were talking about how they would like to have grandchildren who would grow up and call them poppy. That is what they were talking about, Mr. Speaker, on Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Speaker, they had speeches about electrical fireplaces and how much heat they were going to give off and how they were growing up watching Max Smart and Three's Company. What did that have to do with Muskrat Falls or Bill 61? Anyway, that is the kind of thing they were up talking about before this project was sanctioned. It is all there. It is in the record, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we did not see a whole lot more since then. Right before the two bills dropped on the Table, the Premier decided to have a party out in the foyer – have a party, Mr. Speaker. They had the cake come in. Now, I do not know who ate all the cake but when I went out there was no cake left, Mr. Speaker.

In addition to that, they had the tea party out there. Now, I do not have to tell you. I already told you my story about the kids in my district having to go to Quebec to play hockey because we cannot afford the ice to go in the arena, and I walked in on the tea party. Who is at the tea party, Mr. Speaker? Emera Energy is at the tea party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, the Premier gets up to make the speech about the sanctioning of Muskrat Falls. I heard the Member for Conception Bay up last week mocking the NDP about love, peace, and all of this stuff. What was the Premier doing out there? She was talking about the heart and the soul, Mr. Speaker. That is what she was talking about – the big love-in. That is all it was about – the big love-in. Oh, yes, Mr. Speaker.

There was no talk about the deal, no talk to the people of the Province that we are going to now take out the utilities board and set your hydro rates. She did not say that in her sanctioning speech. She did not say anything, Mr. Speaker, about Muskrat Falls; she talked about the heart and the soul. She talked about how wonderful everybody was including the federal government, Mr. Speaker, including Stephen Harper because of the loan guarantee. Oh yes, absolutely.

Only a few years ago, Mr. Speaker, they were out knocking on doors with federal Liberal MPs, absolutely. They would not have anything to do with Stephen Harper. Now, Mr. Speaker, they were making speeches talking about their relationship with the federal government, and now they are a full partner in the federation of Canada. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, you would think that we just joined Confederation as opposed to getting a loan guarantee that we could only get because Nova Scotia signed on, and Emera signed on. We had to give them $55 million, Mr. Speaker, to come over for tea.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MS JONES: We had to give them $55 million to show up for tea two nights ago in Confederation Building. Mr. Speaker, our federation now with Canada is a wonderful thing because of Nova Scotia and Emera and more money being spent. They are going to give us a loan guarantee, so they are all wonderful.

What odds, Mr. Speaker, that they turned around and they took our search and rescue centre. What odds that they cut all the federal jobs in the Province. No odds about those things. Mr. Speaker, what I do not understand – and they cut the weather office in Gander.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: If it were not for Scott Simms, Mr. Speaker, they would not have gotten it back. It was an awful going on.

Bill 61 is also connected to the term sheet. There are some important things in this term sheet. One of the things is the financial close on the deal which, Mr. Speaker, Nalcor says that they have until the fall of 2013 to do, which Emera has until the early months of 2014 to do before we reach financial close on that particular deal.

What happens if Emera are not able to sign on to the Maritime Link at the end of the day? Where does that leave us? That is a very important question. It leaves Emera, first of all, with $60 million in penalties, of which we have agreed to pay half. So, there is $30 million gone. It also leaves us having to put up $25 million in cash from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to a publicly-traded company, like Emera, so they can meet the proper debt-equity ratio that they need to borrow at a reasonable interest rate.

We have to do all of that, yet we still do not know if they are going to be able to build the Maritime Link, and will not know until 2014. If, for example, they do not build it, Mr. Speaker, we then have five years to figure it out. We build it ourselves or we find someone else to build it. Either way, we have to figure it out or we do not get the loan guarantee. Because the loan guarantee is not for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, no, that is only because we signed on with Nova Scotia and Emera, Mr. Speaker.

What happens in the meantime? Let me tell you what happens. They will redirect their power through Quebec. Imagine! Can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker? Big, bad Quebec, they would not have anything to do with them. Now, in the meantime my kids have to go there to play hockey. I have to go there to get on a flight. I have to go there to get on a plane. My constituents have to go there to the hospital, but big, bad Quebec, Mr. Speaker.

Guess what they are going to have to do? Redirect the power through Quebec. They are going to have to bring the power down to the border, Mr. Speaker, and they are going to have to sell it to Emera at the border –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

MS JONES: Sell it to Emera at the Quebec border and then they are going to have to buy it back at the other end in the US. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker? That is their plan. The only catch to it, Mr. Speaker, there is a small catch; they can only do it with 260 megawatts of power.

MR. JOYCE: How much?

MS JONES: Two hundred and sixty.

MR. JOYCE: That is all? Shame!

MS JONES: That is all. That is all they can do it with, Mr. Speaker. What happens to the rest of it? Now that is a very, very good question. Guess what? Nothing, nobody could tell us. Mr. Speaker, we have a lot riding on this. We have got a lot riding on this if things do not pan out as planned.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, when the announcement was made Ed Martin made a statement, the CEO of Nalcor. Some members got mad and upset today, Mr. Speaker, because I Tweeted how much Ed Martin – I did not even say his name – the CEO of Nalcor makes. It is public information, I say to members, just like your salary is, just like my salary is, just like everyone else in this House is, public information, and so it should be, because it is the taxpayers who are paying it; so it should be. Do you want me to apologize for that? Absolutely not! The Auditor General put out a full report on it.

Mr. Speaker, this is what Ed Martin said: trucks would roll at the site immediately, within days major contracts will be inked for the construction. Mr. Speaker, the trucks have been rolling for a year. They have been rolling –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: What do you mean the trucks are going to roll?

Mr. Speaker, there are more roads built up there than you could ever imagine. More roads going into Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, and the people down in my district are fighting and clawing and begging to get pavement and to get decent roads to drive over, yet there are roads going through everywhere into Muskrat Falls. The trucks are rolling.

Let me tell you what else they are doing. They are rolling the wood out. The have over 500 hectares of forest eliminated. Eliminated, gone, cut-down and destroyed, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: A forest taken out. Do not talk about trucks rolling. They are rolling. They are rolling out, Mr. Speaker. They are rolling over the land. There are bridges down everywhere. There are culverts going in. There is land dug up, Mr. Speaker. What are you talking about?

The taxpayers of the Province are spending $25 million a month for the last three months in Muskrat Falls. You know the trucks are rolling, I say to the members. What kind of statement is that, the trucks are going to roll? For $75 million, Mr. Speaker, they should be doing more than rolling, I would say today.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I thought that was a pretty strange comment to make –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: – but anyway, there it is.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, when the minister stood up today he talked about a couple of things. First of all, he talked about that the government operates on principles and they make decisions on principle. Well, Mr. Speaker, anyone who was going to develop Muskrat Falls in this Province, the number one principle they should have looked at was the people of Labrador. That is principle, Mr. Speaker, doing something for the people of Labrador who have historically not gained from major developments in their territory and in their land.

If you were going to do something as a matter of principle, Mr. Speaker, that would be the principle. I am not surprised that it was lost on the government opposite. I am not surprised. They looked everywhere else on the continent, Mr. Speaker, to be able to offload their power but never looked in Labrador, right on their doorstep; right before their eyes, Mr. Speaker, there it was right there.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, to that is the principle of it. Do you know something? The people in Labrador honestly, truly, deeply expected that the government was going to give something back. They honestly did.

Yes, I would say the business people in a lot of areas in Labrador are supporting it, Mr. Speaker. Why wouldn't they? They will get twenty-four months of good contracts, forty-eight months, maybe even three years. God bless them, Mr. Speaker, they will make a few dollars. They will employ a few people. I have no problem with that, but that is only one piece of the argument. One small piece of the argument I say to you, Mr. Speaker. What about the long term?

The people of Labrador asked for royalties. They were told, no. The Aboriginal people asked to be consulted and they were ignored. The communities asked that their power needs be looked at because it was okay to replace the dirty, filthy Holyrood plant but not good enough to replace the twenty-one dirty, generating diesel plants on the Coast of Labrador.

How do you think that makes the people of Labrador feel? How do you think it makes them feel, Mr. Speaker, when they hear everybody talk about what is happening in Holyrood and you have to replace it, yet everyone of them are stuck with a diesel generating plant? That is a double standard I say to the government, and it is not a fair thing to do. If you want to talk about principle, the principle is that you give something back, that you look after all the people, and that is not happening here. It is definitely not happening in Bill 61.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the government has had lots of opportunity. We have begged. We have laid it out. I even wrote it all down and gave it to the minister. Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, I make no bones about it. I make no bones about it, absolutely, no problem, do it all over again, but let me tell you something: If the will is not there, if there is no recognition of what the people of Labrador have contributed to this Province and the fact that they should get something back, I cannot fathom in my mind why they are in government today – I cannot - because, at the very least, that is what they should have done and that is what they could have done. To date, they have not done it.

They came out and announced the ferry contract for four years from now, Mr. Speaker, on the day the sanction came down. That is what they did for Labrador. We are going to give you a ferry four years from now. Guess what? We are going to take the freight service out of Lewisporte because it should not be there anyway, but we are going to wait four years before we do it. Now what kind of thinking and governance is that, Mr. Speaker? That was their gift to Labrador. Well, give me a break, Mr. Speaker. You had nine years to put a ferry on the Coast of Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member's time has expired.

The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Here we are at 6:07 in the morning and debating this very, very important bill. I suspect many of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are starting to rustle in their beds and get ready to get up and greet the day.

We have spoken about many important issues here this evening. Issues that affect the lives of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not only present but also more importantly the future of this Province, of this wonderful, beautiful Province. Issues we have talked about that are affecting the very future, the economic future of this Province, the prosperity of this Province, how we manage our affairs, how we manage our financial affairs, how we take care of the people of this Province, whether it be working families, whether it be seniors or whether it be people who are economically disadvantaged. Mr. Speaker, these issues are absolutely fundamental to us as a community and as a democracy.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear, to be debating these through the night while most people sleep – I am not quite sure why the government has arranged this. They have been the architects of this. Again, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that it is shameful for the government to have put us in this position where these decisions which are so important, that have such long-lasting effects on the people of this Province, to relegate them to just a few hours of debate, just a few hours in the middle of the night.

Then, Mr. Speaker, once again I have to mention for the Minister of Natural Resources to invoke Standing Order 43 to limit any debate that we can have – I am not quite sure, Mr. Speaker, is it out of insecurity? What is it? What is this secrecy? What is this attempt to stop debate? What is this attempt to not have full, open, accountable, transparency treatment of these bills?

I find it quite interesting that the hon. Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair talked twice during the night about coming back into town and seeing the tea party. I would like to take that analogy a little bit further, Mr. Speaker, and to say it indeed is a Mad Hatter's tea party. When we look at what happened at the Mad Hatter's tea party; Alice fell through the looking glass and down a hole, and where she ended up everything was quite backwards and not as it should be. Everything was kind of strange.

We wonder, Mr. Speaker, who would be the Mad Hatter at this tea party? Who would be the Cheshire Cat at this tea party, and the March Hare and the titmouse? We might all be able to guess who Alice in Wonderland might have been at this tea party, Mr. Speaker. We just might be able to guess who Alice was at this tea party.

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is Bill 61, and that is An Act to Amend the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the Energy Corporation Act and the Hydro Corporation Act, 2007. Basically what we are looking at, one of the areas that I would like to really hone in for the few minutes that I have to speak, Mr. Speaker, is what –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What this bill might mean, in fact, for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of the weakening role of the Public Utilities Board. We know, Mr. Speaker, that the mandate of the Public Utilities Board is to come up with a fair and equitable rate for utilities for all the people. It is about a fair and equitable rate that makes it possible for the utilities to provide the service that they are to provide to the people, but also to have an equitable and a fair rate for utilities for the people.

Mr. Speaker, Muskrat Falls has become the Energy Plan. When we look at what this bill is about, this bill, first and foremost, in the technical briefing we were told by the officials that the two bills, Bills 60 and 61, are to provide certainty for borrowing, to remove any concerns that lenders might have about the Province's ability to repay the loans, to make sure that these loans were not in jeopardy. That is what Bills 60 and 61 are about: providing certainty to the lenders.

In essence, government has agreed to hold people in the Province to conditions from the lenders. We know that this is for the loan guarantee.

Economic success is easy, Mr. Speaker. It is easy when you have a captive market. It is not as good for the captive market to be at the mercy of that captive market. Having said that, the lending will be in the form of non-resource borrowing. We all know that. That means that no assets of hydro can be attached as recourse for a default on a loan. While some of the corporate entities which will hold these loans are not yet created, the idea is to create corporate subsidiaries to manage various aspects of the project.

Mr. Speaker, government's blind rushed, the panic now, the panic to develop Muskrat Falls has led to this, where the conditions of a guaranteed loan we will be locking people in this Province into buying electricity from Nalcor for fifty years with no other option.

In effect, what is going to happen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador on the Island portion of this Province? We will be paying – the ratepayers, by the way, who will pay for 100 per cent of the cost no matter what the overruns are. There is no guarantee there will not be any overruns. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, there is a guarantee that there will be overruns.

Today, this evening on the CBC news, we heard from the Minister of Natural Resources where he said – and we know from this bill, from Bill 61, that no one else can generate electricity. No one else can generate power on the Island portion of the Province. That means that in fact ratepayers are obliged and can only have their power needs serviced by Nalcor.

What we are going to see, then, is that the ratepayers of this Province, although only using 40 per cent of the power, will be responsible for 100 per cent of the cost of generating this power. We know from what is happening with major hydroelectric dams around the world that it is almost a minimum of 50 per cent overrun, at least 50 per cent overrun costs. Mr. Speaker, who is going to bear the brunt of that? We know, we have been told. The Minister of Natural Resources has told us that it is the ratepayers of this Province who will bear the full cost, the full responsibility of this.

In the news today, the hon. Minister of Natural Resources said risks are borne out by the ratepayers. He said that the ratepayers will be responsible for this. He said: I am confident enough. Then he said, I cannot say there will not be overruns. That is what he said: I cannot say there will not be overruns but we are confident enough at this stage with our DG3 numbers, and that overruns will be kept to a minimum.

Well, regardless of whether they are kept to a minimum and regardless of whether the minister is confident in the DG3 numbers, we know as sure as the sun is rising this morning that there will be major cost overruns. We know that it will be the ratepayers who will be responsible for that. The overruns will be directly put on the rate base. We know that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, who will protect? Traditionally, who has been protecting the ratepayers of this Province? It has been the Public Utilities Board. What we have seen now, though, Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Natural Resources once again stated last night that the Public Utilities Board will be directed. He said: We are not apologizing for that. The Public Utilities Board will be directed. Let's not forget this, Mr. Speaker, that they will be directed by Cabinet. They will be directed by government.

This is contrary to the mandate of the Public Utilities Board whose mandate is the protection of the ratepayer through the development of fair and equitable rates, and also for rates that are fair to the provider.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: The mandate of the Public Utilities Board is not about working out how to pay off debt. The mandate of the Public Utilities Board is how to come up with fair, equitable prices for the ratepayer. Its obligation is not to see someone's debt being paid off. We will have a Public Utilities Board, because the minister hinted yet again that they are going to review the Public Utilities Board and make Muskrat Falls exempt from the Public Utilities Board.

Mr. Speaker, we will no longer have an autonomous. The only way the Public Utilities Board can execute its mandate is through its autonomy. This is a Public Utilities Board now that will have no more autonomy and will be answerable to this government, will be answerable to the crowd who had the Mad Hatter's tea party. That is who this Public Utilities Board will be answerable to.

Once again, government's blind rush to develop Muskrat Falls when we could have come up with a short-term or a medium-term solution to our energy needs and taken more time and use our democratic process to thoroughly review this project, Mr. Speaker. Sending the project to an all-party standing committee, a Resource Committee where experts from all over could be called in, where they could be questioned in a public manner, where people of the Province could come and make representation, where then we could have a high degree of certainty of where we are going.

Mr. Speaker, we do not even have an Energy Plan. What this government did is they looked at Muskrat Falls and only Muskrat Falls. That is not an Energy Plan, Mr. Speaker. That is simply one project. It is not an Energy Plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: What this government has decided to do is ram this project through, throwing willy-nilly all of our potential tools and mechanisms that we have in this House for true democratic process where we can have openness and accountability to look at this project. We are tying the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to what may become a dinosaur for fifty years. This is what the government's Energy Plan will be, one huge, hydroelectric cost for the dam that they are building.

What will that mean to the people of the Province? That means that it co-ops any possibility – while the rest of the world looks at innovative and creative solutions for energy generation, while the rest of the world is moving on with advanced technology, with all kinds of options, we are going to be saddled with this dinosaur for fifty years. Not only are we going to be saddled with the dinosaur, we are going to be saddled with paying for this dinosaur for fifty years, Mr. Speaker. This is what is happening to the Energy Plan for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; 500,000 people responsible for, I am sure, $10 billion and more.

Then we wonder, Mr. Speaker, what is the rush here? Well, of course, Nalcor wants to be able to go to the markets right away in January. Then, the construction has started. We all know that. We all know. We have seen the pictures. We have heard the stories. The trucks are rolling. The roads are built. The trees are cut. It is well on its way.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that for the construction phase, the Province's equity is what is going to be used until next year. Our hard-earned cash, the cash that should be used to take care of the needs of the people will be thrown into this project; a project that has not had due course, that has not had the benefit of all the tools and mechanisms we have in our democratic process.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the needs of the people of the Province to be protected by a regulatory agency seems to have been pitched, like a lot of other things, out the window by this Conservative government. My question is who will have the needs of the people when it comes to regulation of rates? Who will be setting those rates?

Clause 2 of this bill ensures government, through Cabinet, has total control of the Public Utilities Board when dealing with the Muskrat Falls Project. This is the same government that bypassed and ignored any recommendations by its own Public Utilities Board, and also by the environmental panel. The Public Utilities Board mandate states the board is responsible for the regulation of the electric utilities in the Province to ensure that the rates charged are just and reasonable, and that service provided is safe and reliable.

It appears this section of the Public Utilities Board mandate is effectively silenced. Our Public Utilities Board has been silenced, will be silenced once again, Mr. Speaker. The Board that was set up to the interests of the ratepayers, to protect the people of Newfoundland and Labrador – silenced once again by this government and that this government, through Cabinet, will have total control of the Public Utilities Board.

So why not allow the Public Utilities Board to fulfill its mandate and ensure rates that are charged are just and reasonable? Why not, Mr. Speaker? It is a mystery to me. Why is this government doing this? Why is this government doing this at this time, when we have a fully functioning PUB with a clear mandate – why? There is no reasonable answer.

So, we know primarily because the banks that government is dealing with have said that they do not want that, that they want the government in charge. Although officials in our technical briefing insist that the powers given to Cabinet over the PUB are not supposed to be draconian and severe, in fact, they are.

What will the new functions of the PUB be? The technical aspects of this deal include a take or pay power purchase agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, similar to agreements with the current wind farms in St. Lawrence and Fermeuse. One thing we need to look at as well, Mr. Speaker, is that all of these are exempt from the ATIPPA – and Bill 29 has ensured that for us.

So we will not really know, Mr. Speaker, what power purchase agreements have been put in place. As far as we know, there are not any. As far as we know, we will not know the basis of those. We will not have any information about that. In fact, the Public Utilities Board cannot see behind the power purchase agreements.

This hamstrings the Public Utilities Board ability to set the actual rate for Muskrat Falls power. This has no say over whether the rate is just and reasonable. Similar, Mr. Speaker, it has echoes to what happened in Bill 29, with the disempowering and the weakening of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner whose mandate, whose reach was weakened, who was limited once again. This government is doing the same thing to the Public Utilities Board, once again an agency, a service to protect the people of the Province.

Government has total control and keeps the information secret. Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day that we have come to this point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: I thank you for the time to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am here today to have a few words on this bill, Mr. Speaker. There is a word that comes to mind, Mr. Speaker. It is hypocritical. Yesterday we were talking about how we are not going to shut the House down and you would have all the time in the world. By the time the Premier got through that door, the Government House Leader was standing on his feet: Motion 43; shut her down.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what you are allowed to say. I do not know what words are parliamentary or unparliamentary, but I guarantee you what she said in this House and to the media is not what the Government House Leader is doing. I do not know what words we can use to describe it, but I guarantee you it is not keeping to your word, I can assure you that.

All the members opposite are standing up and saying we will take you on we will debate it. As soon as they got through the door – and I guarantee you, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Natural Resources was standing up, we will stay here, we will be here for a couple of weeks (inaudible) throwing his papers down. By the time he got it out, the minister said: Motion 43 – Motion 43 – shut down debate.

Mr. Speaker, what words would you describe that, that is parliamentary that I can say? Are we allowed to say they never kept their word? Are we allowed to use hypocritical, Mr. Speaker, in this House? Are we allowed to use two-faced? Are we allowed to use that? I do not know. Are we allowed to use that or am I pushing it a bit?

MR. SPEAKER: You are pushing it a bit.

MR. JOYCE: I am pushing it a bit, okay, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Uncertain.

MR. JOYCE: Uncertain – we know it is uncertain. Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of stuff, and then you wonder why people ask questions on this deal.

When the Premier of this Province, the person we are going to stand up to, the person who sings out to the media that we are not going to shut this down, and she does it – the minute that door closes, the Government House Leader got orders to do it. He got orders to do it.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we are asking questions. Every one of you should put your heads down in shame because not one of you stood up there – every one of you should put your head down in shame. When the Premier stands up or the Minister of Natural Resources, or whoever leads on this, and says, you can have all the time you want and the Government House Leader shuts the place down on Motion 43 –

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. KING: I am rather entertained by the Member for Bay of Islands, but I would challenge him to point out in Hansard or anywhere else where the Government House Leader brought in any motion that is going to close this debate. I challenge him to stand now and point that out.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Bay of Islands, responding to the point of order.

MR. JOYCE: I know, no point of order. They are trying to shut me down too, Mr. Speaker, I know; that is what he is doing. It is even so bad here that you cannot even have your few words, they want to shut you down. As they always say – they cannot handle the truth, because what they say is not what they do.

Mr. Speaker, it is always very, very hard when you cannot listen to the Premier of the Province because what she says, while she is the Premier, we are going to listen to her, she usually speaks as it is, but, obviously, the Government House Leader here bringing in this Motion 43, shutting her down, is completely opposite of what the Premier was saying out in the media. Mr. Speaker, that is why we need to ask questions. It is shameful.

Bill 29 is only a joke. At least with Bill 29, we cannot get any information, now when we bring in this bill we cannot get any information and we are going to be $8 billion in the hole – while we cannot get any information. It is a big difference, Mr. Speaker.

I am going to ask the Premier and Nalcor – when they are a bit stuck they bring in Ed Martin or Nalcor's experts and we are not allowed to talk about Ed Martin because he is a private citizen, yet he is allowed to be out in the media talking about all of this. Yet, the minute we mention his name: Oh, it is shameful, shameful, picking on those great experts over in Nalcor.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few similarities in the Premier and Nalcor and a few things that they have been involved with. One thing is they are dismantling the PUB. I am sure that Nalcor was a part of it, and I know the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources, in dismantling the PUB.

I ask any member opposite – I should not say that because the question I was going to ask the members opposite fits right into them. I ask any person out there who is in business – because I know all the members opposite for the last month were standing up and saying how they were supporting Muskrat Falls, but not one of them even saw the loan guarantee and they just had their briefing today.

They have their briefing notes. They are going to stand up and say, yes, we are for it anyway – even before they have all the information. There is no business person in this world that would support a business deal without having the deal in front of you, sent off to a lawyer, sent off to the accountants, until you had that.

MR. DALLEY: Peter Woodward.

MR. JOYCE: I hear the Minister of Fisheries saying Peter Woodward. I guarantee you, if this was Peter Woodward's own money he would not be sanctioning this, Mr. Speaker, until he had it all in front of him, ironclad and sent to a lawyer. I say Peter Woodward would not do this if this was his own money.

You can bring up whoever you like. Any strong business person would not do this here unless they had it in front of them, ironclad. They would not do it. They just would not do it, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Speaker, keeps throwing out names. I will keep explaining to you that they would not do it if it was their own money.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at a few things the Premier, the government, the Minister of Natural Resources, and Nalcor have in common and why we are asking questions. Mr. Speaker, I just mentioned the PUB. Let's look at the Abitibi mill in Grand Falls. When that was expropriated, the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair sat down with Nalcor and asked them: Is the mill a part of it? Ed Martin said: No, it is not part of it. Guess what? It was part of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ed Martin said that?

MR. JOYCE: Ed Martin.

Then the Minister of Natural Resources at the time, who is the Premier today, said: No, it is not part of it. Guess what? It was. Now we are hundreds of millions of dollars on the hook. That is why we are asking questions, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the people of this Province, and I say to the people opposite who are over there saying, oh, it is a great deal: Sorry, but I am asking questions. I make no apologies for asking questions, Mr. Speaker. I am going to give you another few examples of some decisions that were made when there should have been a lot more questions asked.

When you sit down in front of the CEO of Nalcor and you ask him: Is it part of it? He stands up and says: No, it is not. The Premier of the Province at the time said: No, it is not. The minister at the time, who is the Premier today, said: No, it is not. It ends up costing us $200 million to $300 million to clean it up. Do you think we should ask questions? Of course, we should. I see the members shaking their heads in confirmation that we should ask questions, and we should. That is the kind of stuff we should be asking, Mr. Speaker.

MR. LANE: Ask another one.

MR. JOYCE: Yes, I will ask another one, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. LANE: Mount Pearl South.

MR. JOYCE: South, sorry about that – the Member for Mount Pearl South.

Let's ask about the $30 million up in Parsons Pond. Stand up and ask the questions. Ask about the $30 million up in Parsons Pond when they went in and were going to spend $12 million on three drill holes, ended up $30 million on two. Not a drop, but $30 million – 100 per cent cost overrun. Shouldn't we ask questions? When we stand up and debate the issues, before we get shutdown on this motion 43, Mr. Speaker, these are the kinds of questions we should ask.

This is all very relevant to Muskrat Falls. The same people who are trying to take Muskrat Falls and say it is such a great deal and take the PUB out, are the same ones who did all these deals. Just think about it, Mr. Speaker. We are up to about $230 million, $240 million right now. Just think about what we could do with that money. Just think about it, $230 million. What could we do with the money? That is just here now, that is just a few. Now it would not build a wing in the hospital in Corner Brook. By the time we are finished with the hospital in Corner Brook it is going to be down to a cottage if the deficit keeps going like it is.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at another one the Premier was directly involved with as the minister, and the reason why I am asking questions. Look at the pellet plant in Roddickton, $11 million and not one commercial pellet has been produced in that plant – $11 million, $3 million of it is a grant, Mr. Speaker. This is the kind of stuff we have to look at.

The people who are making the decisions are the same ones making the decisions for Muskrat Falls. They are the same ones making the decisions for Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker. That is why we are asking questions.

I do not mind spending money if it is good money, I say to the Minister of Environment, but if you are going to go out like you did last May and have phantom press releases about building a ferry for Fogo Island, and it is still not built, and goes up and has another one nine months later. That is the kind of stuff that I find is a bit disheartening.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has been fairly generous in providing fair latitude this evening, but I remind the member to start coming back on focus on Bill 61, please.

MR. JOYCE: I will, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes what happens is you have to look at the people who are behind this the same as before, but I will get back to Bill 61. I understand, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we heard all of the questions here and all of the debate about everything that is going to happen. I will ask one question, and if anybody wants to stand up and give me the answer, Mr. Speaker, I am sure we can do this. If anybody wants to stand up and answer this question, I will take my seat and give up my time so I can hear an answer.

The big question: How much are ratepayers going to pay per kilowatt in their own house this year? Now, I challenge anybody to stand up across, Mr. Speaker, to answer that question. We can hear all of this: Oh, we are not touching the PUB. Oh, no, this is the best deal ever. I am asking any person to stand up and put your credibility on the line with all of this here. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador that I speak to want to know one question: How much am I going to have to pay per kilowatt for my house now when this is done?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. JOYCE: I see the Minister of Environment is over there having a laugh. Mr. Speaker, ask the Minister of Environment to go tell some senior – who is scared, he cannot keep his house going – it is a big joke. I guarantee you, it might be a joke, Mr. Speaker, but I will put the offer out again because this bill is what it is all about, what it is going to cost the seniors and people on fixed income.

I challenge anybody opposite to take up my time to tell me how much they are going to pay per kilowatt when this deal is done. Here is your opportunity. If anybody over there wants to sit the Member for Bay of Islands down to keep him quiet, here is your opportunity. Stand up. They cannot do it, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we are asking questions. They just cannot do it.

Mr. Speaker, you are wondering why we are asking questions. Some poor senior or somebody on a fixed income trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet when you have the Premier of the Province up here gloating about the big deal, and the Minister of Natural Resources about the big deal. The Minister of Environment is over there having a big laugh, but they cannot tell the people what it is going to cost them. That is why we are asking questions.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, in my honest opinion, if any of those members over there knew that answer to keep me quiet, which they have been trying to do all night under this Motion 43, if any of them wanted to keep me quiet, if any of them knew the answer, they would be up on their feet and they would be sitting me down, but they cannot do it.

Mr. Speaker, that is the big question, and no one can answer it. Any time any of you want to stand up and go heckling and bawling and shouting, remember I asked you the question. Any time I stand in place, in the next three or four or five days, if there is anybody over who wants to answer that question, I will gladly take my seat – I will gladly take my seat. I guess I will never be sitting down for a while, I can guarantee you that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what would we pay for it, the people of the Province? What are we going to pay for it? We are going to pay for the project here in the Province. You look at what the Prime Minister did to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. He said you get the loan guarantee, you guarantee us the money. Where are you going to get the money from? The ratepayers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, where you are going to get the money from is the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador when you have a monopoly. We are the only ones that can sell power. We are going to be the only ones that are going to be able to produce power in Newfoundland and Labrador. If you want the loan guarantee, we want a guarantee that it is going to be paid for in thirty-five years and the only way to do it is charge the people around the Province. What they had to do to ensure that they are going to do that is say to the PUB: See you later; we are going to set the rates. We are going to tell you what you have to charge the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Again, Mr. Speaker, when you do that, when the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the government is telling the PUB here is what we are telling you to go charge them people, there is not a member opposite can tell me what they are going to be charged. They cannot do it.

You remember over the next three or four or five days when all you are over there heckling and bawling, I am going to ask the question, Mr. Speaker, a 100 times. I am going to ask: What are they going to pay per kilowatt, every household? They are going to do what they are doing now: silence – silence, because they cannot answer it. They can get up and they can bawl and they can stick out their chest, haul up their suits, and say what a great deal because they are given their speaking notes, but they cannot answer the main question that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador want to know. They just cannot do it.

Mr. Speaker, that is the ultimate question that people want to know. We have to take all the wrappings of this deal, we have to take all the gifts, apparently, that we are getting from Ottawa, we have to take all the stuff from Nova Scotia, what great partners we have in Emera and the Government of Nova Scotia, and we have to bring it down to what affects the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia – how much are they going to pay? I ask anybody: How much are they going to pay? Mr. Speaker, I hear an alarm going. They are even trying to shut me down with an alarm, Mr. Speaker. I tell you a bit of alarm is not going to stop me, I can assure you that. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) superman.

MR. JOYCE: I might not be superman, but I guarantee you one thing I am trying to get the answers for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that none of you over there can give. That is what I am trying to do. That none of you can give – I might not be superman, but at least I am trying to get the right answers.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have that cape underneath that shirt.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I heard someone say you have that cape underneath the shirt. I do not have that, but I guarantee you I have a lot of concerns for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for their light bill, for the heat bill, and people on fixed incomes.

Mr. Speaker, I have to be honest; I do not think anybody here wants to hurt seniors or people on fixed incomes. I definitely would never think that of any members opposite, but I just do not think they have the answers. I really do not want to put this in a position where I am going to in some way say that the members opposite like to hurt seniors or people in fixed income. I am not saying that, Mr. Speaker, and I would not put that out there. They do not have the answers, yet they are out promoting this deal as the greatest thing coming. Not one of them has the answer of what it is going to cost per kilowatt. I see people puzzling, questioning, and asking themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I asked another question to the members opposite, all the ones who were up and touted it: What are we going to pay for the power on the spot market? Does anybody here want to stand up and sit me down and say what are we going to pay for the power on the spot market? We are talking about the big spot market, how much money we are going to make. Can anybody tell me? Anybody over there.

Those are the kinds of details you do not have. Those are the kinds of details that you do not have in this bill – you do not have it. There is no one over there can give me the answers to these very vital questions. Those are questions that are affecting the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we just look at the project itself. It started out as a $6.2 billion project. It is up to about $8 billion, $9 billion project now. Everybody touts Wade Locke.

Oh, I better hurry up, Mr. Speaker, and get my words in; the Government House Leader is in. He might have another motion there to try to keep me quiet. He had Motion 43 in there all night, Mr. Speaker. He might have another motion in there.

MR. KING: A point of order.

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

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

MR. KING: Thank you.

There is an expectation here, Mr. Speaker, that members not comment, when they are speaking, about members entering or leaving the House. The member opposite just referenced the Government House Leader, and I would ask you to consider the comments made.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you speaking to the point of order?

MR. JOYCE: No, Mr. Speaker. I said the Government House Leader is here.

MR. SPEAKER: It is indeed considered to be unparliamentary to be referencing another member's presence or absence thereof in the House. So, I would ask the members to be mindful of that.

The Member for Bay of Islands, to continue.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, once again, I will just say to the Government House Leader: Thank you for eating up the time that I am asking vital questions, which even you could not stand up and answer for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The sun comes up and it brings new life, and perhaps my getting up may bring a little new light to this whole debate. Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak in support of Bill 61. I guess, before I get going on Bill 61 – because it is all tied together. It is all about Muskrat Falls; it is all about principles. Because any project that you are looking at, you have to have a good basis. There were two questions, and if the member opposite wants to look at what is behind Muskrat Falls, there are two questions: Do we need the power? What is the best alternative?

Now, those are two simple questions, Mr. Speaker, that it has been addressed. It has been addressed not once, not twice, but as many drops of water going over the falls, I would say, you could match up with the way that we have responded and the times that we have responded. As a matter of fact, this project is sanctioned and we are tidying up to make sure that we are putting in place checks and balances – not money cheques – that are going to protect the stakeholders, the shareholders, in this project.

Now, you are talking, I hear the other side – and it is political rhetoric, as far as I am concerned, and a fair bit of fear mongering –

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I do not mind the political stuff, but do not ever say I am fear mongering, because I am asking you a legitimate question: How much will it cost every person, every senior, in the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: That is not fear mongering, Mr. Speaker. I am not fear mongering. You can say political rhetoric, I can understand, but not fear mongering.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The Minister of Environment and Conservation.

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, again, we have some people on the other side that seem to be very sensitive. Simply because I got up behind the speaker that just responded does not mean that I was looking at him. I referenced that there is political rhetoric coming across the floor and there is a fair bit of fear mongering coming across the floor that I feel I have to address. It is as simple as that.

If a member thinks that I am hitting a note out there, you all stand up and say that you are not doing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I will move forward again to the basic questions. I believe that I need to respond to those two basic questions. Not only did I hear fear mongering, not only am I hearing what-ifs, and what is the price going to be in five years' time. There are principles that guide where those prices are going. This bill that we are doing, again, makes sure, as I am pointing out, that it is going to have the checks and balances to protect the shareholders in this endeavour.

I hear: Shareholders – oh, Emera is going to make this (inaudible). Guess what? Nalcor are in there, but the people who are talking about that are forgetting one basic thing. Guess who owns Nalcor? Who owns it? The people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Do you think that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are going to expect someone else to pay for this wonderful project? No. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have spoken and they have spoken loudly. They, for the most part, and I say a good number – I am not mentioning poll numbers. I know in district, guess what? I would vouch for 100 per cent of my constituents and it is not about money, it is about doing the right thing. The right thing is to take Holyrood down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: That is why I am up, because other members are getting up and saying: Well, what is it doing for my district? I tell you, I am not supporting Muskrat Falls unless something happens in my district. Well, I have the most vested interested in what happens with regard to taking Holyrood because we are sucking in hundreds – I say hundreds – of tons and thousands of tons of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, and not only that, but the millions of tons of greenhouse gases that are going up the chute.

It is not only about Holyrood, I say to the hon. members here. I am responsible for caribou up in Labrador. Guess what is part of their numbers going down? The temperature of this world is going up. If anyone cannot see climate change affecting the North, they have blinders on. Do you know what the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in Newfoundland and Labrador that affects all Newfoundland and Labrador? Where is it? Holyrood. You can talk about the price of power, who is going to pay for it, and if it is going to go down to the States. I do not care if it goes to Timbuktu, as long as we get paid for it and it takes out Holyrood.

What disappoints me is that we have political parties, ours included – and we have to save the planet. We have to be energy efficient. That is all forgotten. Do you know there is a silence that has come over a part of my district? Not too long ago there was a blowout in Holyrood. There is not one on the other side that even referenced it. Why? If it was five years ago – and my members from CBS will tell you, we were under the gun. What are you going to do? People cannot hang out clothes. We are sucking in matter. Out with placards: Take down Holyrood. A deadly silence has gone over these parties over there. Why? Because they know if they say take down Holyrood that is supporting Muskrat Falls. I say: Shame on you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: My constituents are saying: Shame on you. Where are you at now? You were there when it was politically expedient, but my constituents are forgotten about because no longer can you stand up in the House and say: Do something with Holyrood. You cannot even ask questions in Question Period. Did anyone ask what happened out in Holyrood? How come it blew out?

Do you know what one of my constituents said? What happened to the NDP? What happened to the Liberals? I tell you something, guaranteed, at the school board meetings, oh yes, cameras are there; oh, march right up in front. I am going to save the school here. So you talk about political rhetoric. As well, you people over there, I was on that side and you cannot kid a kidder. You can get on with your rhetoric, but again I say that Bill 61 should fly through this here because it is the checks and balances that we need, Mr. Speaker.

We need to make sure that our investment is protected. We want to make sure that our investment is protected. This bill, as far as I am concerned, lays out the groundwork and makes sure that we are taking care of the business as shareholders, as stakeholders, as people who want to make sure that this project, not only is it successful – and it will be successful.

I am getting tired of hearing Mr. Martin's name being thrown around just like it was nothing else. That man – I will say it: Yes, he is making sure that his input into our legislation, into what is happening, is for the protection of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: I can go down through the list of names, but I am sick and tired of hearing that he is incompetent, that he do not know what he is doing, that they do not know what they are doing. Yet the Minister of Natural Resources challenged – and for two weeks there I think it was just bang, bang, bang, bang, and not one comeback.

Members, we have sat here and we have been listening, ten minutes the last speaker, until finally the Speaker said: Will you get to Bill 61? What am I hearing? Oh, we did not have time. We cannot do it.

You are in a Parliament, and the Parliament works for both sides of the House. As a matter of fact, there is a lot more leeway – again, do not try to kid me. I have been there, and I have made sure I kept the government's feet to the fire. Do not try to slip out of it by telling the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that you cannot stay in here as long as you want to. Do not try to kid me.

Now you might get away with it with people who do not understand Parliament but there are more tricks to the trade in this House, and you can – I am telling you right now for everyone to hear in television land or whatever land, that if you do not want this bill to go forward before Christmas, guess what? You can do it. You know it, we know it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: You know that, you know what I am talking about.

We, as a government, bring forth legislation. We put it on the table and we open it up, but guess what? I think everyone will agree it is the Opposition that really have the go as to how long it takes.

MR. JOYCE: It never happened with Bill 29.

MR. HEDDERSON: What is that?

MR. JOYCE: It never happened on Bill 29.

MR. HEDDERSON: No, but you are saying on this one. This is an open book now. Remember, it is a different circumstance, I say to the member opposite. I will not say any more, but do not try to kid me, do not try to kid other parliamentarians. You might be able to kid the people out there, but we know that if you want the time to really get to where you want to go, it is there for you.

It is not intelligence, but like I said, it is about being savvy about what goes on in this Chamber. Of course, House Leaders – I look at our House Leader, and I can tell you, I will put my House Leader up against any House Leader around here, anyone.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: When it comes to Bill 61, I believe, very much so, that this is the bill we need to ensure and protect the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to make sure that this project is successful and there are things we have to do.

My plea is, by all means, ask the questions, but do not take ten minutes to get to the question. If you are getting up on your feet forget about the political rhetoric. This is an important project. We look at it as a game changer, and it is a game changer.

To get back to Holyrood, it is not only what is going up the stacks, but look at where you are putting your money. Look at where the money is going. It is going to the oil companies. I cannot pick the figures out of my head right now. What is it, one hundred and something –

AN HON. MEMBER: It is $150 million.

MR. HEDDERSON: It is $150 million going to the oil companies. We are dependent on crude oil to put the greenhouse gases up. It has to come out.

Also, guess what? Guess what is not even talked about, not even into the equation? Right now, the federal government is moving and they are going through the various industries with regard to greenhouse gases. Guess what? Someone is going to have to pay for greenhouses gases going up the chute.

The beauty about this particular one is that where we are selling power to, it is going to take out another greenhouse gas admitter. It is coal fired generation in Sydney. I do not know if any of you think that because we have borders there is a bubble around it, but guess where those greenhouse gases are going and guess what they are affecting? The north; they are affecting Labrador. Here we are with a project that is Canadian, it is a project that is going to make this world cleaner, that is going to be able to – we will be able to brag. We have bragging rights that we are going to take it out.

I am, again, Mr. Speaker, asking the support of our parties – and that is not to stop you from moving through, but I am asking you, please, if you have your twenty minutes get up. Like I said, we are going through this, and I cannot answer everything but I will try from the environment and conservation, if you have questions, to deal with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: No, no, but when you get your time.

What I am saying is that when you get a chance to get on your feet, I am asking you to really consider the basic principles that are behind Bill 61, behind Bill 60, behind the entire project. It is a project that I firmly believe in. No, I did not have to wait for the term sheet. I did not have to wait because I got a vested interest in it. It is all about, for me, Holyrood. It just so happens that I am the Minister of Environment and Conservation and I do know what is coming down the tubes. We need to, as a jurisdiction, be part of the solution; and, not only that, but this clean hydro power – remember it is not oil that is going through the turbines. Also remember that you are looking at – and people were talking about the reservoir, it is a very small reservoir compared to it. The intent of the reservoir is just to keep a flow of water into the turbines.

Remember, you are recycling the water that is coming through the Upper Churchill. Also remember that the reservoirs for the Lower Churchill, Muskrat Falls, are the same reservoirs. It is just absolutely massive, one of the biggest in the world. That will keep a steady flow of power coming out of Muskrat and Gull Island.

Where in the world would you have a situation, Mr. Speaker, where you would have three generating plants using the same water? You talk about clean energy. There is going to be some residual. Each generation plant will have a footprint, but nothing compared to what is taken out in greenhouse gases and so forth.

I say, again, this is not chastising or anything like that, but we really need to focus because this is an important project. Whether you support it or not, make sure you understand that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have spoken. They want to see this project. They want it to be successful. Good, solid debate on these bills will help us all as we go through.

I know these are trying times, but we are here together. It is a time for us all to have the debate that it absolutely needs as we finish up, because these are the last two pieces. As we have already pointed out today, with the sanction, work is going forward. It is not about obstructionists or anything like that. It is making sure that you are comfortable with the bills we are putting forward. We have plenty of time. We have between now and Christmas, and maybe beyond, I do not know.

Again, let's focus on what is most important here today, and that is what this project is going to do for not only the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but for our environment and for what we stand for. I will leave it at that.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 61, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007. In my view, it should be known as the monopoly bill.

I can picture this, after hearing the Minister of Environment and Conservation, as both of us playing a game of monopoly and all of the consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador, where we are going around the board, only when we pass go we certainly do not collect that $200 and we actually pay because we are going to need that money to pay the increases for electricity that are being asked of the ratepayer in this bill.

We are basically taking a lot of gambles here. If you look at the monopoly board, if you land on the electric company and you only own one of the utilities, then you roll the dice and you pay four times whatever that is. It is really taking a gamble. Now, if you have Nalcor, you have other players and you own two utilities, you roll the dice and you have to pay ten times. You really do not know what you are paying and how much you are paying. That is kind of what this bill is basically doing.

If you look at the lender, the federal government has no confidence in Muskrat Falls because they require that we have this type of legislation which requires us to have a non-recourse debt which would allow any rate to be charged to the consumer, the taxpayer, the people of the Province who use electricity and have a lot of restrictions placed on that.

That is something that is completely unacceptable. In the briefing that we received the officials noted, and they said this is not a want, this is a need. They need this to move forward on the Muskrat Falls project. It is very much a chancy deal as of right now.

Looking at Muskrat Falls power, trying to take it to mainland markets where there has been nothing signed on, a fifty-year deal tied to the backs and risks to future generations, our future generations and businesses, they have to pay for it, they have to pay the costs and any of the cost overruns.

For someone who has done a commerce degree, this is what has been stated before as voodoo economics, certainly playing with numbers and playing with the ratepayers and really playing mind games to move forward with a project that is unaffordable based on the amount of power.

If you were to take this as a business venture and you were looking to take this to your shareholders, with the way this project is written and how it writes off all the depreciation later on, kicking these costs, kicking it down the road onto the future generations, those costs, it would not get past the private shareholders, not at all, and I do not see how it can get past the people of the Province when it comes to this.

I want to make some comments about the actual power itself. The Muskrat Falls Project is 825 megawatts of power. It is not a huge project when it comes to power. Forty per cent of that power is earmarked – and it has been said several times – for the Province and the Province's need to displace Holyrood and to meet Island needs. That is 330 megawatts of power.

The remaining amount of power is going to be provided to Emera through a link that they are going to build; they are not going to have to pay the rate for that link. Really, we do not need to provide them with that power. The same thing, if we do not have an agreement signed with any State or neighbouring company or jurisdiction, whether it is in North America or Canada, to say they want that export market, it is not there right now.

If we look at what Manitoba Hydro has been doing, when they develop a hydro project, they have the export market in the States that is willing to buy a limited amount. Not every state and every jurisdiction in the US recognizes hydropower as green electricity and acceptable, so they have caps on that.

Without having that and having that revenue set in, that means that the whole project of Muskrat Falls has to be borne upon the ratepayer. That increases the cost. Basically, what we are telling Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is that we need 330 megawatts of power, but we are going to be paying for over 800. That is a significant cost.

Mr. Speaker, there are other options. There certainly are when it comes to trying to look at 330 megawatts of power and displacing that into the grid for a short- to medium-term solution. Mr. Speaker, it comes with limitations, because Nalcor and this government have limited and had a moratorium on small-scale hydro in Province for quite some time.

There was a report placed in the 1980s, I believe, that said there was the availability of 400-plus megawatts of power that could be generated by small-scale hydro. With the changing technologies and everything that is happening in the marketplace, that is something that could be considered.

Also, if we look at what has been said about wind power, you pair it with hydroelectricity, a certain percentage of it, and no problem to have an amount of wind. If you look at just taking 15 per cent wind with our current capacity that we have, you could easily see upwards of 300 megawatts of wind working in Newfoundland and Labrador. Right now we have fifty-four megawatts, which represents less than 3 per cent of our total energy output for the grid. That is concerning.

I want to go back to what the Minister of Environment and Conversation had just said about Holyrood. Certainly there can be other means to convert Holyrood to be more environmentally friendly and more sustainable so that it is not burning the oil. There are other jurisdictions such as Ontario where they are looking at taking their coal-fired thermal plants off of using these fossil fuels and looking at using biomass or cogeneration.

Canadian Biomass Magazine had stated that 750,000 tons of pellets of biomass per year would be able to convert Holyrood, the pellets and biomass that are carbon neutral. We have three pellet plants in the Province right now with a capacity of up to 75,000 pellets; that is only 10 per cent, but we are not taking the total annual allowable cut.

Our forest industry is in disarray. We could be looking at utilizing more of the forest in a sustainable manner to see what aspects can be put into biomass. We could look at buying these pellets from British Columbia or other areas. You can go on the Internet and look at what the costs are: $75 to $150 a ton for these pellets.

You look at the cost of converting Holyrood to pellets; you could be paying anywhere between $65 million and $130 million, creating jobs, creating local benefits for the very short term and into the long term until a better solution, until other things are found.

There are other things, but they were not looked at in those reports and analyses. They are looking at a multitude of things. We either have to have-large scale wind or we have to have all these other assessments that were put in to look at providing 824 megawatts of power, which would be the equivalent of what Muskrat Falls is.

What the people, the ratepayer of Newfoundland and Labrador has to pay, whether it is the individual resident or the commercial consumer, they have to bear this cost. They have to pay for the entire project of the 824 megawatts. What the government is saying is that we only need 40 per cent of that. There are other options; there are other alternatives certainly that can be more environmentally friendly to convert Holyrood. I certainly would welcome the Minister of Environment and Conservation to refute that if he so chooses.

There are options, like I am saying, as to what has happening and what the payback would be. If we looked at converting our hospitals, if we looked at converting public buildings – and I have said that in the House: you would be looking at a two- to four-year payback in many cases, and with green funds that are out there, it is eligible.

In Lillooet, the stadium was converted, where in two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years, they would be able to provide for their own energy at a low-cost option and save them between $30,000 and $50,000 per year. So that might be a great option to look at for the arena in the Labrador Straits, to look at converting. Government has made these investments in pellet plants and things like that, but they have not looked at converting commercial properties, public buildings, to decrease the demand needed for energy because they are so focused on Muskrat Falls and the need to pay for it.

Well, if we look, Mr. Speaker, at what we are tying this project to, if we pass this legislation it is agreeing to hold the people of the Province to the conditions of the lenders. The economic success is very easy when you have a captive market. There is a monopoly in electricity. There are not options for the ratepayers to look at, unless they are going to start erecting individual windmills and other things to go off the grid. They do not have a whole lot of options but to pay their electricity bills. They have made those investments. This can be quite costly.

So we are saying at any cost, at any rate, the person has to pay, the average Newfoundlander and Labradorian has to pay. If we look at where this bill is going with non-recourse debt, non-recourse debt is looking at pledging all the real property and assets belonging to the project, whether it is the land associated with the transmission, the transmission lines, and the generating asset, how it is there. The thing is that the borrower of all of this is really not liable. So, if there are defaults, the lender can issue and seize all the collateral that is there and the lender – which whatever financial institution we will go or a multitude – would be limited to just that collateral. That is typically limited to just 50 per cent to 60 per cent to the loan-to-value ratios. So, if you look at that a lot of times the property provides for over collateralization of the loan, and that can have impacts, because we are putting in an equity investment upfront, right away. We may take thirty-five years after the loan gets paid off before we reap those benefits, Mr. Speaker.

What is very concerning is that in press releases that have come out, Muskrat Falls is going to generate $20 billion in revenue over the fifty-year lifespan. Well, if you look at $20 billion in revenue, that is all on the backs of the ratepayer paying higher than needed electricity costs, and you are not looking at putting the cost back to the ratepayer in a decrease. That is not there.

The $20 billion is looking at extra revenue. It is revenue that is really not needed if that is truly the projection. I would like to see a breakdown of how that projection is because most of that revenue is going to – if any of it ever gets realized, the cost overruns for the project come into play, then you are not going to see any of this revenue; but, if it is, it is going to be in the very last years of this project. It is not going to be instantaneous.

Non-recourse debt finances commercial real estate or high-risk capital expenditure projects with long-term rates. There are tax implications to doing it this way and what that means. Those are costs. If we look at an example of non-recourse debt, JPMorgan Chase issued – had all this debt in a sub-mortgage housing crisis in the US. The Federal Reserve allowed it to purchase another institution, Bear Stearns. This was issued to anything less the liquid assets as collateral. The Federal Reserve in this case in the US had to absorb all that loss and that value, all those assets well below their collateralization value.

Nalcor is in a similar situation of overseeing this. Would the ratepayers be at a significant loss if something was to happen and significant tax consequences in going on a non-recourse option versus looking at recourse? If we have recourse then you are looking at the option of all the assets of the Province – you are looking at our ability to pay back this debt through other means, through other assets that we have. You are not putting things up that would be at a much more significant risk for loss; loss of default, foreclosure, bankruptcy, other options versus just a loss. There are avenues where the Province can be at a significant risk. That is a concern to me, Mr. Speaker.

I really do not think that the government here has considered really looking at a multitude of options. The focus is so much on Muskrat Falls and Muskrat Falls power without an actual means to say well we have a use for it. We only have a use for 325 megawatts. There has been a whole focus on trying to justify where we are going to get rid of the rest of the power, but the ratepayer has to pay.

We look at what this bill is doing – because we have had regulation in this Province and we have had really stable rates of electricity over the past number of years. From 2006 to 2012 the rates have been around 8.6 cents or 8.9 cents up to eleven cents per kilowatt hour. They have been relatively stable in price. Now, in just a short five years, those rates are looking at jumping significantly.

If this was under regular regulation, looking at the growth and looking at RBC's outlook for the Province in the next few years, we are going to have a lot fewer housing starts than what we have had this year. That is showing that residential demand is not really increasing at that exorbitant rate. If we practiced good demand-side management, like they are doing in Europe – looking at introducing the smart home and options for rebating people for doing their washing and their dryer on at night so that all the peak demand is not used at the exact same time – proper education and management can bring these costs down and can free up energy for the residential ratepayer and the business ratepayer. There can be efficiencies found.

Mr. Speaker, that is a problem in this situation with this legislation, how we would go forward. If there is less demand, it is a take-or-pay system. With a take-or-pay system, if there is less energy being used, then the rates have to go up to justify the costs. Either way, the people who are users of electricity are going to end up paying. This does not seem very fair. They are really not looking out for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The regular residential ratepayer and the business user, the commercial ratepayer, are all going to have increased cost.

As I brought up in the House, if you look at going from 11.6 cents up to 15.3 cents and you are averaging your monthly bill at $250, that is $350 nearly in 2017 when Muskrat Falls comes on stream. That is $100 a month that is out of every consumer's pocket that cannot be spent at the grocery store or at the restaurant. You cannot help small business. You cannot help communities. Businesses are going to be burdened with increased cost. You are going to see people need and apply in many more cases for Income Support, for assistance from this government, and cases where they are going to need an increased home heating rebate to justify the cost of this. This is absolutely taking a gamble with the taxpayer.

When the original Energy Plan was put forward it looked at doing a multitude of options. It looked at doing the Lower Churchill, which included a much larger-scale project, which would have a lower per-unit cost of electricity. It was geared toward an export market. It was geared towards looking at doing industrialization and it was also looking at the residential needs. Obviously, something fell through in being able to get that east-west energy corridor and getting this surplus energy that we could have had to market.

There is a real problem with spending so much capital at this time. It is a cost to the communities. It is a cost to small business. It is a real cost to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to put it any other way, Mr. Speaker, would be simply misleading. It is impossible to say that with this option where you have a captive market, where you are saying to the ratepayers: We will charge you whatever it needs to be to pay for this project over the life of it for fifty years.

We are not even looking at other options and how quickly technologies can change. We have not considered looking at what is happening in the marketplace today. Those are significant challenges. Government's blind rush to develop Muskrat Falls has led to this, to locking people in this Province to buying electricity from Nalcor for fifty years with little to no other option.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is absolutely deplorable. I think this shows that there is no vision, no ability to be flexible, and no way to really look at diversifying our economy and meeting the true needs to the people of the Province, coming at a cost to every Newfoundlander and Labradorian in this Province by increasing electricity rates for a project that is too expensive, where we do not have the need for that much power based on this project. I certainly spoke to Holyrood.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly happy to rise and speak to this bill, Mr. Speaker, the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act and The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of two bills that were introduced with very little notice – within less than a day of receiving this bill. We are here in the House discussing it with very little time for discussion on it, because thanks to the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Speaker, that time of debate has been taken away from us. It is certainly very upsetting. I think we would like to have had more time to get into what is involved in Bill 61.

Mr. Speaker, in a situation where monopolies exist when it comes to megaprojects, there is an entity that is set up for the protection of the consumer, for the ratepayer, and for the taxpayer of this Province. The megaproject in this situation is the Muskrat Falls Project and the major corporation involved is Nalcor.

The whole purpose of a Public Utilities Board is to protect the consumers from any issues that may arise with respect to pricing. In commercial situations, competition dictates a healthy environment in which consumers are protected. The whole purpose of this, Mr. Speaker, is to take the intent of the Public Utilities Board out and to replace it with the Lieutenant-Governor in Council or Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, this direction is taken from the PUB on a bunch of issues, and now the Lieutenant-Governor in Council will have exclusive power to use as they wish with respect to this project, with respect to the cost included in rate setting, with the terms of how rates are set and what the annual rate of returns are, Mr. Speaker, and what it takes Nalcor to receive in order to maintain profit margins that will be certainly of benefit to them.

With this power of enforcement and consumer protection being taken away from the Public Utilities Board, it leaves the people exposed to a number of issues, Mr. Speaker, that will come in terms of cost. Certainly we spent a good portion of the last few days talking about that extra cost that will in all likelihood be incurred.

The thing that bothers me the most, Mr. Speaker, is this bill would be in place for a long, long time. What it does is give the taxpayer no choice but to buy into this project for fifty years, no matter what happens around them in that time. When this bill is passed, what will be there to protect the rights of consumers? Having the entity like the PUB removed does not leave a whole lot there for the protection of the consumer based on costs. One of those costs, Mr. Speaker, to me is cost overruns.

I am quite certain the prediction on this project is going to be significantly more than 12 per cent. We understand this by looking at megaprojects such as this that have been built around the world, some of them in more climatic situations where sometimes extreme temperatures are one of the major costs behind cost overruns. It is all part of a mandate to get this project moving, to do it as quickly as you can, get the necessary legislation in place, and push the project at all costs. I think those costs are going to come back and haunt us, Mr. Speaker. Certainly we have seen that with the Abitibi legislation that has left us now with a very expensive mistake on our hands and not one that is going to be remedied very soon.

What I see here, Mr. Speaker, is that this whole project leaves the people of Newfoundland, the Island portion of our Province, at the mercy of a corporation owned by the Crown. In essence, it leaves the people of Newfoundland at the mercy of this government, of what this government is proposing, and it is binding for the next five decades. With a track record that we have seen with this government over the last year, it is certainly not much to look forward to for five decades.

Speaking of fifty years, Mr. Speaker, it is a long time to have no choice but to buy into this energy source no matter what happens. You look at the pace in which technology is advancing, Mr. Speaker, groundbreaking advancements in power resourcing is an ever-evolving process, and what is to say that new, cheaper alternatives are not just beyond the horizon.

What I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that over the next fifty years these potentials could be far out of reach for the taxpayers of this Province. We are going to see an increase in pricing and a demand on the Treasury of our Province, with the lower pricing and the ending of oil, that will certainly leave us impacted.

One reason, by looking ahead, is to simply look back on what has happened over the last fifty years. We have seen a lot of advances in technology over the last fifty years. Since the Second World War, we saw many, many advances in technology. It was unfortunate to see it develop because of that, but we have seen advances in power supply, we have seen advances in medicine, and we have seen advances in transportation.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Minister of Natural Resources some time last evening talking about when personal computers came around and the difficulty in which he has with them, and I have the same problem. Mr. Speaker, fifty years ago there was no such thing as a personal computer. If there was anything as a computer, Mr. Speaker, it was very big and probably held in an area the size of this room. This is how far we have come in the last fifty years.

If this government is proposing to hold the people of this Island bound to one rate with no chance of looking at other options, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not something that is democratic. It is not something that anyone would look forward to. If alternatives to power can be found, Mr. Speaker, and they are cheaper, I am sure people have the right to look at it on their own or to export it. There is nothing against that, Mr. Speaker, exemptions are there for that.

They could look at any alternatives to power their own homes, Mr. Speaker. What they cannot do, Mr. Speaker, is buy it here on the Island. That option is not going to be there. It is not going to be there for fifty years, and maybe beyond that. I talked about cost overruns on megaprojects like this, Mr. Speaker, and looked at dams around the world, and one of the lowest margins of overruns is 54 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: How much?

MR. EDMUNDS: Fifty-four per cent, Mr. Speaker. It has gone as high as 108 per cent on overruns.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that Manitoba?

MR. EDMUNDS: No, certainly not Manitoba but somewhere very close, Mr. Speaker. That is a big margin than what this project is being sanctioned as. Money is being borrowed with the loan guarantee for – it is based on 12 per cent. It is a major difference, Mr. Speaker, between the minimums that are in existence and what is proposed.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that fifty years is a long time to be bound by one alternative with no choice but to buy into it. That is what this legislation is proposing. It is not democratic, Mr. Speaker, and it is certainly not acceptable.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for St. John's East.

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

I cannot say it is a real pleasure to be getting up and speaking to something that is going to probably drive up rates to consumers through the roof. I cannot say it is going to be a real pleasure knowing that we are going to have to deal with the possibility of tax increases to the taxpayers out there in order to keep some of our Crown assets afloat, particularly Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro because this one is spelling trouble all over, let me tell you.

I want to have a couple of words today and to address some of the comments –

MR. DAVIS: (Inaudible) Holyrood.

MR. MURPHY: Yes, indeed, now that you brought it up. Now that the hon. Minister of Transportation and Works has brought up Holyrood, the first topic right here on the list is Holyrood, because yours truly, right here, Mr. Speaker, lives right under the stacks. He lives on Seal Cove Road.

Right here on paper, just last night, talking about the options that the hon. Minister of Natural Resources was talking about last night: Oh, we looked at this option and we looked at that option but they were not feasible. Let me tell you the things that they could have done, they could have taken Holyrood off stream a long time ago. Get your pens and pencils ready, be ready to stand up when I am done and tell me I am wrong. Tell me with these rules here that you are coming in and closing off a market that they could not have used a little bit more futuristic thinking and vision when it comes to taking Holyrood off-line, Mr. Speaker, because it could have done ages ago.

Let me start – and this is coming right from a man who lives underneath the stacks and has a family out there. The first thing, Mr. Speaker, that I would love to see is Holyrood taken off-line. Let's talk about the definition of risk, first off.

Mr. Speaker, we talked about the use of props within the House and the hon. Minister of Fisheries is now holding up the big calculator again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes, that is right.

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about risk. Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity will lead to a loss or an undesirable outcome, and, of course, having a choice or an influence on the outcome that it did. Let me tell you, these guys are taking a risk. This government is taking a risk doing what they are doing.

Last night the Minister of Natural Resources asked the question again, and we have heard it over and over again: Do we need the power? Mr. Speaker, he talked about the load forecast showing 3.1 per cent growth that is going to bring total consumption in the Province to about 1,766 megawatts of power by the year 2020. I am going to give you some numbers here right now of how they could have attained taking Holyrood off-line and at the same time probably saving the consumers of this Province, probably a small sum of money.

One of those examples, right off the bat, we can go over to the Minister of Environment and Conservation's own Web site, a press release on January 6, 2012, when they came out and gave a good example of how a conservation program can work, Mr. Speaker. They came out with a record of saying they have 2,000 houses converted now, saving the average taxpayer about 35 per cent on their heating costs and keeping about $800 disposable income in everybody's home, keeping money in people's homes.

Let's use that as a little piece of groundwork, that if you take those numbers – and the Minister of Natural Resources is on record in this House, about a couple of weeks ago, saying that for every 1,500 houses that they do a retrofit programming on, they save about 10 megawatts of electricity. Well, Mr. Speaker, the last I seen, there was about 68,000 separate recipients of the Home Heating Rebate in this Province. That means about 68,000 homes right off the bat, had they seen a retrofit, 35 per cent of electricity. If you break it down, Mr. Speaker, that is about 100 megawatts of electricity right there, right off the bat. There is boiler number one gone from Holyrood.

This government paid for the retrofits and also had federal participation in these programs. Go see your release January 6, 2012. I will challenge anybody out there who is watching this morning to go get the release, break down the numbers, and figure it out for themselves. Do not say that it cannot be done. If you are such supporters of Jack Layton, do not let them tell you that it cannot be done, Mr. Speaker.

Let's go to the MHI report on wind. Here is boiler number two gone. Let's go to the MHI report on wind, because in the MHI report on wind they talk about that you cannot put any more than 10 per cent load factor of wind into the Island option right now as it is.

Mr. Speaker, we have about 2 per cent of wind now, which is generating approximately 54 megawatts of electricity. If you figure out 10 per cent out of that, what is it? – 1,766 that I came out with on that number. You have another 120, 130 megawatts of electricity. Mr. Speaker, there goes boiler number two.

MR. LANE: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Do you want me to shut it down right now? I ask the hon. Member for Mount Pearl South, who deals with seniors, what he is going to tell the seniors in four years' time when overnight Muskrat Falls comes on-line and we see the price of electricity go from 11.6 cents a kilowatt hour to the 15.3 cents that is projected. What kind of phone calls is he going to get when he says: Mr. Speaker, I am getting all of these phone calls from all of these constituents who are telling me their electricity bills went up by 40 per cent overnight? It is going to be a real pleasure to be on the other end of that phone call to hear how he is going to deal with it.

This government had plenty of time to look at other initiatives – plenty of time. Why do it? You have identified risks. Listen to this, Mr. Speaker: We are going to be spending the taxpayers' money and we are going to be investing the taxpayers' money so that the taxpayers, who are also the ratepayers, are going to end up potentially paying a fortune for their electricity and are also probably going to be taxed to death when to comes to having to support some of the government programs out there because the government is so busy trying to scramble for money to keep Muskrat Falls afloat for the first twenty years or so.

The hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs has yet to come out with a report on how he is going to be dealing with higher electricity needs of municipalities and how we are going to keep the electricity going for some of the rinks, the recreational facilities, the municipal buildings, and the streetlights. Then, when we are talking about streetlights, Mr. Speaker, that is where we are going to shut down Holyrood boiler number three. If we had an industrial commercial energy efficiency program we would not be talking about having Holyrood generated right now. Every single municipality in this Province right now could be saving a fortune in electricity by switching over to energy-efficient items like light standards and that sort of thing.

Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a failure of government to do the right thing here and look at all the options. I will carry on with what the Natural Resources Minister was saying, but I will take some time out and talk a little bit about what they are doing under Bill 61 here. They are actually going to go ahead and close off the market to open competition, something every consumer believes in: having choice.

They are going to be going ahead, Mr. Speaker, and they are going to be closing off the market to any possibility of having alternative means of electricity, the choice of what type of energy source they are going to want, or any type of business to move into this Province to do something else when it comes to energy and offer choice to consumers. They are ripping that right out from underneath the bottom of consumers' feet right now, and the consumer is going to take the fall.

Let me bring it up again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, they have a problem right now trying to come out with a funding formula for municipalities, Mr. Speaker. What they could have done, what was in the realm of possibility that they turned their back on, the ability to give any municipality or regional authority the ability to make their own money off their own resources. One of those things, Mr. Speaker, that would have met the needs of electricity in this Province – and this is the way you shut down another boiler – is giving the ability of municipalities to go ahead and resort to other things like the generation of wind power.

Mr. Speaker, municipalities are looking for a new funding arrangement. Here we are with the resource that could be harnessed by municipalities. Municipalities' rights to generate electricity and put it back into the grid are being taken away, Mr. Speakers, for fifty years. I say to the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs he has been toying around –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. O'BRIEN: (Inaudible) driving around in a Jiffy Cab.

MR. MURPHY: It is okay for him to get personal, Mr. Speaker. I do not mind; it just shows the character. I do not care what he said. What I am going to tell the man is this – what I am going to tell this government is this: You have taken away the ability for anybody else to present an option to the consumer who is out there or to the taxpayer. You have ripped the ground right out from under your feet.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs has been dealing a long time now with trying to bring out a new funding formula for municipalities. He has ripped the ground right under the feet of a municipality to go ahead, if it wants to, if it wants to take that choice, to be able to generate electricity and put electricity in the grid and generate revenue for itself.

Government in the next couple of years is going to fail again to meet the needs of municipalities, Mr. Speaker. We suggested other arrangements and it is all we are told is that wait for it in the Budget, or we are talking to municipalities. The time for talk is over, but unfortunately this particular option for municipalities is gone right out the window and right down the drain.

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the guaranteed revenue stream that they are talking about. We hear the Minister of Natural Resources talk about a zero risk to Canadians when it comes to the loan guarantee. Yes, Mr. Speaker, darn right it is zero risk to Canadians who are the other signatories to this when it comes to the federal end of the loan guarantee; 100 per cent of the risk is on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Before I go any further past that, let us go back to Holyrood again and talking about the whole Muskrat Falls Project because they had an opportunity here at the same time to take Labradorians off the burning of diesel fuel –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: – right along the whole Coast of Labrador, Mr. Speaker, and they did not do it. They failed to meet the needs of the consumer in coastal Labrador who is being left right off the grid here and left off the whole mess, and leaving them on the hook for the burning of diesel.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are going to have about twenty sites up there where we are still going to have to ship diesel fuel. There, Mr. Speaker, is another boiler from Holyrood, right off the bat. All it takes is a little bit of vision, but nothing is as blind as those who cannot see, or have the foresight for something like that.

It is easy to tell, for the Minister of Transportation and Works – how many sites do they have in Labrador that are burning diesel right now? Add it up. Add it up. How many megawatts of electricity are we talking about if they had to put the coastal communities on the same stream as Muskrat Falls? Whatever they are putting into the atmosphere up in coastal Labrador, Mr. Speaker, I think that is called part of the Province's carbon footprint as well. That is what we are already talking about here.

Let us go back to the revenue stream again, because I just want to throw that point in before I forgot it. Labradorians, coastal Labradorians, consumers, are being left out of the deal. So let us talk about the revenue stream. I am pretty sure that the Minister of Transportation and Works would love to get up now next time around, after I am done, and get up and explain his point of view on Holyrood and why Holyrood is still going to be around with the mission that they have. He will have his opportunity, but I already took all of it off-line, just with the numbers that I had here.

Let us go back to the amendment. Let us talk about the maintenance of a customer base, what can happen right now with the consumer that is out there, with the choices that have been removed, and let us compare it to some of the options that the Minister of Natural Resources was talking about last night that they looked at.

Let us talk about the choices of natural gas. Now, the Minister of Natural Resources last night was talking about the choices that they had under the natural gas report; I think it was the Ziff Energy report he was referring to. They talked about a cost of $10 billion to $12 billion to bring natural gas in onshore here.

Mr. Speaker, there was nothing more surprising to me than hearing that there is a natural gas generating station that is going to be at the Vale Inco site out there in Long Harbour. It is going to be generating 20 megawatts of electricity, but it is only for their own needs, in case of an emergency. Mr. Speaker, that is foresight. That is a company that is looking ahead and actually using a different source of energy that is out there. The capital costs of putting that in, Mr. Speaker, how much was that I wonder? The Vale Inco site out there all together, the processing plant and everything like that, $2 billion, $3 billion? There are a lot of people working, and that is great.

The backup energy out there is going to be a twenty megawatt natural gas plant that they are going to be using in the case of an emergency, I say to the hon. Minister of Transportation and Works. If he wants to challenge me on the whole idea of the concept of having natural gas available onshore in Newfoundland and Labrador, well there is a case where we have it now, or we are going to have it, or at least Vale Inco is going to have it but we are not. Taking natural gas and putting it ashore, Mr. Speaker, would give us the same opportunities, for example, that the Norwegians are taking advantage of right now.

You know, the other day the Norwegians loaded up an LNG tanker and they set it off sailing to the coast of Japan, a full load, Mr. Speaker, a full load of natural gas. If it was not so economical, why are they shipping it? If it was not economical, why are they pulling it out of the ground? If they knew in 2009 that natural gas was not going to be a viable option, why did the people of Norway spend $12 billion on the Ormen Lange natural gas field which has a pipeline of approximately 1,100 kilometres long?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: The same length as an electrical cable that is going to be coming down from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Pond. Mr. Speaker, natural gas –

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, boy, there is a lot of that over there.

MR. MURPHY: I hope Hansard picked that one up. I hope it picked it up.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that if we had natural gas here that we would have another choice on the part of consumers here. If we had a natural gas plant here for example, Mr. Speaker, I do not know where you would put it, but let's take it and put it here on the Northeast Avalon somewhere. Let's deal with the carbon footprint that the Province is dealing with again when it comes to natural gas.

The one thing that this government can not deal with, number one is the sale of natural gas and LNG exports, that sort of thing. What they did not talk about, Mr. Speaker, is the effect of the residuals that you have from natural gas, one of those things being steam heat. I would put it forth to you, and I would challenge government to look at it too, at the same time, to look at the carbon footprint. Just using the steam to heat up government institutions here in the northeast end of St. John's, for example, the possibility of taking Confederation Building, East and West blocks off the grid; the possibility of saving Memorial University about $53 million in heating costs by heating up all those buildings with the residual steam from a natural gas plant; heating schools in the northeast end of town.

If there is anything this government did not have when it came to looking at the options, Mr. Speaker, is vision. They say that we are not visionary. Government cannot see past their own nose sometimes when it comes that. That is what I believe they have done here with Muskrat Falls. They failed to use imagination when it came to talking about the options when it comes to Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Speaker, I see my time is running out and I barely touched the surface when it comes to the issues here.

Now, let's talk about the 40 per cent load factor that we are going to be dealing with, the 40 per cent take or pay arrangement on the part of Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. What happens, Mr. Speaker, if, for example, out of that 40 per cent the people of Newfoundland only use 28 per cent? What does that do? Does that keep Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro viable? Does that keep the Province viable? Does that ensure that the Province is not going to have to dip into its social program spending? Does it make sure that we are not going to have other programs suffer as a result of having to deal with energy that we are not using, because now they have consumers both ways?

Mr. Speaker, what is going to happen here is that the electrical rate is going to have to go through the roof to pay for the difference of electricity that is not used. Can you imagine that? People are going to have to pay a higher rate of electricity for an enforced conservation measure brought in by this government on electricity that they are not going to be able to use. Where is the incentive for them to carry on with a conservation program? Mr. Speaker, I would say it is right out the window. I think it is going to be right out the window when it comes to that.

Let's see government put in twice as much money as they did the last time. Let's see them keep saving energy costs. Let's see how those numbers are going to impact on the Muskrat Falls arrangement then, Mr. Speaker.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I will leave it at this particular last thought, because their futuristic thinking and the most futuristic thought that I have ever heard was in an interview yesterday that the Natural Resources Minister did and David Cochrane asked him a question about the reciprocity of the electrical markets –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member his time for speaking has expired.

MR. MURPHY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The member has no leave.

MR. MURPHY: That being done, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the Leader of the Third Party.

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

I am happy to have the opportunity to speak further to the issues around the Muskrat Falls Project, and particularly through Bill 61, which is the bill we are discussing here at this moment.

Bill 61 is a bill that makes changes to a number of bills that are in place right now. It makes changes to the Electrical Power Control Act, which is an important act with regard to generation. It makes changes to the Energy Corporation Act, and it also makes changes to the Hydro Corporation Act. All changes which are being put in place to accommodate the new Muskrat Falls Project which this government is absolutely determined is going to happen, even though they have no control over what is going to go on in Nova Scotia over the next thirteen months while decisions get made over there by the utility review board in Nova Scotia with regard to Emera's part in the project.

Nevertheless, this government is determined to keep moving no matter what happens in Nova Scotia. I have to keep pointing that out, Mr. Speaker, because they are behaving and acting as if there are no other decisions to be made, and we know there are plenty of other decisions to be made.

What I want to concentrate on today, Mr. Speaker, because it is a main focus of Bill 61, is the way in which government is making sure that everything is under their control with regard to the Muskrat Falls Project. Government has been using the loan guarantee to explain to us why all the controls have to be in place that they put in place. The thing that is very problematic is that it is a chicken and egg situation.

The loan guarantee is there because the government wants the project, and they knew they could not have the project without going after the loan guarantee. They were able to make that happen and to make a case for it because of the fact that Nova Scotia was also involved and therefore, the federal government would look at a regional project. It is from that perspective that the federal government then agreed to do the loan guarantee because it is regional; but, it is based on the project remaining regional. That is why Nova Scotia has to be in it.

Emera cannot take leave because if Nova Scotia moves out of the whole project, then, Mr. Speaker, it is no longer regional. When it is no longer regional the federal government will not give the loan guarantee. So, because the federal government is in there – because the loan guarantee is a loan guarantee with the federal government holding their control, things had to go into that loan guarantee to satisfy the federal government, because the federal government is the one who ultimately has the control. What we see in the loan guarantee are agreements that tie this government in a way that the ratepayers will be the ones who will be holding – and when I say the ratepayers I mean the people, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are the ones who basically hold all the responsibility for the payment of Muskrat Falls.

In the loan guarantee – and I cannot make this point often enough – the demands that are in there are demands to make sure that the federal government does not have to put one cent into Muskrat Falls. The government keeps saying that they have to have control because of the loan guarantee. They, for example, even have to control the Public Utilities Board process because of the loan guarantee.

The loan guarantee says – and I pointed this out earlier when speaking to Bill 60 – that for all of the parts of the project that are under our Province, so the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, the Labrador-to-Island Link and the Labrador transmission line going from Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls, the rates that are used by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the rates that they charge, whether it is rates to industrial or rates to commercial or rates to residential, the rates that are charged have to pay for every single cost that has gone into and will go into Muskrat Falls. Every single cost has to be paid by the ratepayers. Because of that, the loan guarantee is demanding that the Newfoundland and Labrador government will commit itself to making sure that happens.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is saying the only way they can make sure that happens is to not even have the Public Utilities Board have the usual authority. In Bill 61, Mr. Speaker, what we see is that the Public Utilities Board is named and it is recognized, but the amendment that is being made to the Electrical Power Control Act gives the government the authority to direct the Public Utilities Board with respect to including Muskrat Falls Project costs in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's revenue requirement.

Now that means that the government can recognize at times there may be a role for the PUB, but they will direct when and they will direct how. That is because they are absolutely terrified of letting the process that normally works operate.

The Public Utilities Board has to recognize the needs and the rights of the people of the Province while at the same time they are also recognizing the needs of utilities. For example, if they are looking at rate changes for Newfoundland Power, which is a publicly held company, if they look at their requests for rate changes, they look at them seriously. They look at all of the finances of Newfoundland Power. They look at all the commitments it has to make as a publicly held traded company. They look at the commitments to their shareholders. They look at how much money they make. They look at: Do they really need the rate to go up? They also look at the people of the Province and they look at their responsibility to making sure the rates are just. They have to do this all the time.

Utility boards regulators across the country have to do this all the time and they have to deal with companies that have loans. They have to deal with companies that have commitments they have to keep to the creditors. The regulators who deal with utility regulation understand that.

Why is it that all of a sudden the loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls pushes us to a point where the government has to maintain the control, even over our regulator, when it comes to Muskrat Falls? This is the fact we cannot seem to get across to the government. This abnormality, because it is an abnormality, is very, very troubling.

Right from the beginning, every step along the way, the government has controlled the process. When you go back right to the very beginning with the termination of the environmental assessment, the environmental assessment looked at two options that were pre-chosen by Nalcor: one option being Muskrat Falls; and the other being what they called their definition of an Island-only option. That is all the Environmental Assessment Panel could look at.

When we keep hearing this language of the least-cost option, it is not the least-cost option. It is the lesser-cost option of two options that were chosen by Nalcor. At the same time, that same option is what was given to the Public Utilities Board to make decisions on. Everybody who had to study the Muskrat Falls proposal had to take the figures and the information from Nalcor, whether it was the people that they themselves hired, the consultants that they hired, or whether it was the Environmental Assessment Panel, or whether it was the Public Utilities Board, or whether it was us, or whether it was the general public. All we had were the figures that were determined by Nalcor. So, total control of the process – and this is something the government refuses to acknowledge.

We have never had the adequate background information, especially on the economics of the project, to say that we are making independent judgements, because the information that we are getting is information that is predetermined. The Environmental Assessment Panel made that determination. The PUB made that determination. They said if we knew that the figures – it is quite possible that between these two options Muskrat Falls is the lesser-cost one, that might be quite possible; but we do not have enough information to explain to us where the figures are coming from to even determine that. That was the PUB's result. That is why they said they could not go any further.

So, Mr. Speaker, this notion of control by the government is continuing in Bill 61. So, the big one being, first of all, the one I have mentioned, that the government maintains the authority to direct the PUB with respect to including Muskrat Falls project costs. I would like to point out that the notes that I am using are the notes from the Department of Finance and the Department of Natural Resources, who did give us a briefing yesterday, two hours before we had to sit down and talk about this bill – a bill that we at that point only had in our hands for twenty-four hours, with a briefing two hours before we had to come into this House.

So, at least I have their notes, and at least it is something that has helped us to be able to analyze this. The difference is that the notes were presented to us as the positive spin on this bill; whereas, I read these notes and I do not see it as positive at all. The government has itself in a bind, and it has put things in place to deal with that bind. So, maintain control with regard to the PUB, the same way it has to do with the PUB and Muskrat Falls costs, the government may – may – direct the PUB to look at the costs of Muskrat Falls – they may.

So, this is the problem I have and we have, Mr. Speaker, with the issue around the rates. The presentation that we had yesterday, we were told that the government is very concerned about ratepayer protection. That means protection of the people of the Province who are paying rates. The government is concerned, and there are issues or there are points in Bill 61, points that are showing how concerned they are about the ratepayers. Let us look at some of the things that they are saying is protecting the ratepayer.

What you have in the loan guarantee, the financing is non-recourse financing which simply means that, for example, the loan that will be taken out by the subsidiary for the Labrador-to-Island Link, that loan will be the responsibility totally of the subsidiary who has taken it out. The creditors will not be able to say: Oh, you cannot pay the bill; therefore, we are going to go and look at the assets of Nalcor for example. That cannot happen. It all has to be the asset of the one company. The assets of the Labrador-to-Island Link, they are the only thing that will be behind the loan for the Labrador-to-Island Link for example. That is a simple way of explaining non-recourse financing.

What we have with the power purchase agreements that will be put in place, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will have a take-or-pay arrangement which means that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will pay for Muskrat Falls power. This means that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro becomes responsible to make sure that all of the power, whether they use it or not, whether at any point all of it is being used or not, they will have to pay for all of the Muskrat Falls power that they take, not that they use but that they take.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro does not pay for that out of their own pockets. They pay for the power out of the pockets of the people who use the power, the people of the Province or the ratepayers as it says in the legislation, but let us remember that is the people of the Province. They have to take from our pockets, from the pockets of the people in this Province, the pockets of people on fixed incomes, the pockets of seniors, the numbers of which are growing in our Province – by the time we get to 2017, the numbers of seniors will have gone up; by the time we get to 2025, they will be gone up again – out of the pockets of people who do not have extra money, rates will be going up.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will have to take that money in order to keep their contractual agreement, their obligations – obligations which they have to keep and which this government, under the loan guarantee, have committed they will make sure that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro keeps that commitment. That is why they will be directing the PUB with regard to Muskrat Falls costs.

Government, we are told, is amending the legislation to ensure that ratepayers only pay for power that is provided from Muskrat Falls, until a new supply is needed. That is no comfort, Mr. Speaker, to the people of the Province, the people who will have to use Muskrat Falls because there is no other power. They will not be able to use any other power. That is the power on the Island that they will have to use.

The monopoly that is set up here, that is cold comfort to the people of the Province to say that they will only be paying for power that is provided by Muskrat Falls. The power coming from Muskrat Falls is going to be expensive power, Mr. Speaker. It is going to be expensive power. They will have to pay, as ratepayers, Mr. Speaker, so that is not protection for the ratepayers to say they are only paying for that.

The other way in which we are told that there is protection in the act for the people, for the ratepayers, is the fact that the amendment maintains the customer base by ensuring that retailers and industrial-electrical users must remain customers of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and cannot source power from any other entity but Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Government is tightening the monopoly in the Province with regard to electricity under Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. It has to in order to make sure that every cent goes into Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro so that they can keep the commitments to pay for this, what probably will be a $9 billion project by the time we finish.

I say that, Mr. Speaker, not randomly with regard to $9 billion, not $7.7 billion, as it has moved up to. It is going to move further. We know that the amount that has been allowed for in the figures determined by Nalcor, the amount that has been allowed for the cost overruns of only 12 per cent, is too low. There is not a project around, a project of this size, can maintain only a 12 per cent cost overrun.

We had, just recently, in Long Harbour, information from there, that the project there is now overrun by $1 billion – I think it is $1 billion. Why? Because of the competition for labour – that is one of the biggest – and engineering costs.

Now, Nalcor and the government have told us that the cost overruns are all under control. They know how much concrete is going to cost, they are pretty sure how much it is going to cost to put the transmission line up, all of that is set, no problem; but, Mr. Speaker, they have not factored in the issue around the competitive rate for labour and also the competitive rate for engineering costs. Mr. Speaker, a billion dollars over, the Long Harbour plant – a billion dollars over. The cost overruns have not been determined accurately. We know it is going to be closer to a $9 billion project than the $7.7 billion.

Mr. Speaker, I say all that, all of it coming out of Bill 61, I say to this government: No, I do not see protection for the people of the Province. The only protection they have built in is protection under all of the restrictions that have been created. That is the only protection. The people of this Province are going to be paying much more for their electricity. The seniors in this Province, low-income people in this Province – the government is going to be paying more. The government has not costed – well, if they have costed it, they have not shown us. What is going to be the new cost for them for even maintaining government buildings as electricity rates go up? What is going to be the cost to them as low-income people are going to need more subsidization because of electricity rates going up?

We have so little full analysis given us, Mr. Speaker, of the economics, all of the economic, of this project. It is the most serious gap in the information. They may have it, but they are keeping it –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Just to sum up, Mr. Speaker, please – by leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the question be now put.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act And The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007. (Bill 61)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has now been read a second time.

When shall this bill be referred to a Committee of the Whole House?

MR. KING: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, The Energy Corporation Act And The Hydro Corporation Act, 2007", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill 61)

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

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I call Order 10, second reading of Bill 60, from the Order Paper.

MR. SPEAKER: We are resuming debate on Bill 60.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the opportunity to have a few words here on Bill 60. As anyone who has been tuned in – and I suspect not a lot of people through the night – we have been here since early yesterday debating various bills and acts, legislation related to the Muskrat Falls Project.

We are actually now going into Bill 60. A few moments ago we finished up Bill 61 at second reading stage. Earlier in the night, sometime throughout the night, we finished Bill 53 at the third reading stage.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of debate about all of the bills and a lot of discussion about where we are in the process in particular. I know sometimes people have a vague understanding of what happens in the House about what we are debating and where we are in the process. Since we are in second reading and we are dealing with the previous question motion, it might be a good, opportune time to explain to people exactly what we are doing, Mr. Speaker.

For those who are not aware, we deal with what is called Standing Orders of the House of Assembly. Those are policies and guidelines that govern how we operate here. It lays out the foundation principles that maintain order here, rules of decorum, and also talks about parameters around debate, Mr. Speaker.

It provides a lot of parameters. There are opportunities provided, should individuals in this House want to prolong debate for a particular reason. There are opportunities for individuals to delay debate if they want to do that for some particular reason. There are opportunities to park debate, simply stop the discussion, and shelve it, if you will, for another day. There are opportunities to expedite debate and move the debate forward, Mr. Speaker. There is also an opportunity to bring in what is called closure which essentially, with the majority of the House agreeing, gives the opportunity to close debate on a particular piece of legislation at some point in time.

Mr. Speaker, where are today – this is meant to be an introduction to this discussion today – we are in second reading of Bill 60. Bill 60 of course is An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is we are debating the previous question, which is a motion that was put by the Minister of Natural Resources. I think there was some confusion that perhaps I, as a Government House Leader, had done that. I did not do that; the record will show that the Minister of Natural Resources put that question sometime last night.

What that does, Mr. Speaker, is that provides an opportunity to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to speak to this particular bill in second reading. The discussion will continue until there are no further speakers or no one rises to speak. At that point in time, what will happen is we will vote on the previous question motion, as we did just a few moments ago in the House. If that one passes, we will then vote on moving the legislation to second reading.

The other option that is there sometimes – and I offer it just for clarification purposes because a number of members have referenced that government has brought in the closure motion in the House today, and that has not happened. The closure motion, Mr. Speaker, is Standing Order 47 in the Standing Orders. Hansard would reflect and the recording of the House proceedings would reflect that what we brought in is Standing Order 43, which is the previous question. The closure motion is actually Standing Order 47, Mr. Speaker. What the closure motion does is completely different from what the privileged motion does, which is what we are debating here today.

Just so people understand where we are in the process of the whole legislation, Mr. Speaker, once we get through debating the prior question motion, what will happen – and will probably bring us about six or seven hours debate from now – we will move then into what is called the Committee stage. We will have two bills that will go into Committee stage, Bill 60 and Bill 61, Mr. Speaker.

When they go to Committee stage, members in the House are free to speak, I believe, in ten-minute intervals, but as often as they wish, as long as there are intervening speakers. What that means, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of people who may be tuned in, is if the Minister of Finance speaks he can speak for ten minutes and then he must sit down. If someone else speaks, the minister is entitled then to stand and speak again, but he cannot speak two consecutive ten-minute time frames.

When we hit that process, Mr. Speaker, there is no closure motion on the table. Government has not done that. That can continue on for as long as members in the House wish to debate. So, as long as government wishes to continue, as long as members of the Opposition wish to continue, ask questions of government and raise points of concern, or simply do like they have been doing all night – they have been expressing their views to the public through this medium. As long as they have views they want to continue to express, Mr. Speaker, that is what will happen.

Once the House decides unanimously that they are finished with the Committee stage, and all members have spoken who wish to speak, then the bill will move into third reading and we are back into a similar process to what we are talking about right now with second reading.

Mr. Speaker, I offer that as just some opening comments so that people who are tuned in to the House, whether it is through the media or through people watching at home, or people who have just joined us today and are not sure, I offer that commentary so people understand exactly where we are today. We are not in a closure situation here. We are into a debate on a previous question motion in second reading of Bill 60 and, when we conclude that, the House will then move into Committee on Bill 60 and Bill 61, which I am guessing, depending on how many people speak, is probably going to be perhaps mid-afternoon, 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and open the floor for other speakers.

Thank you.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Littlejohn): A point of order, the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: I heard the Government House Leader mention that he did not bring in any Standing Orders. Can I ask who brought in the Standing Order for Bill 53, because I was here all night and I must have missed it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: The Standing Order 43 for Bill 53, I am not sure because –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order – no.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, my point of order is if Standing Order 43 was not brought in for Bill 53, we should still be debating Bill 53, because the Government House Leader said that the Minister of Natural Resources brought in Standing Order 43 for the bills and he only brought it in for two.

I am asking for clarification from the Chair because obviously the Government House Leader never brought it in, he just said, and the Minister for Natural Resources did not bring it in. I am assuming that we can still debate Bill 53, because obviously it was not brought in.

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

MR. KING: I will just respond to the point of order. I am sure maybe the member misunderstood what I said or I did not communicate clearly, but I think the record will show that I did not speak to Bill 53. I spoke to the fact that we were coming out of Bill 61 and going into Bill 60 and I referenced that the Minister of Natural Resources brought in a privileged motion on those two bills, Mr. Speaker. I did not reference Bill 53.

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

MR. JOYCE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to check Hansard. I just want clarification because the Government House Leader stated that he did not bring in Standing Order 43. If he did not bring in Standing Order 43, I just ask: Can we still debate Bill 53?

MR. SPEAKER: My understanding, hon. member, is that when we were debating Bill 53 last night it was already in third reading and it concluded debate in third reading. Then we went on to Bills 60 and 61, and on Bills 60 and 61, Standing Order 43 was invoked.

So, there was no point of order. It was normal process, in my understanding.

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

I ask for clarification, because someone brought in Standing Order 43 on Bill 53. I can assure you when we were on third reading someone brought it in, I am not sure who. The Government House Leader said he never, ever brought in 43.

I am asking for clarification from the Chair, because I am 100 per cent sure that someone brought in Standing Order 43, which stopped us from bringing in motions, stopped debate, stifled debate. I just want clarification because if the Government House Leader never brought it in – obviously, it was not brought in – obviously, we can still be debating 53.

I ask the Chair to check Hansard, check with the Table, because someone brought it in. The Government House Leader said he never brought it in. Someone had to bring it in, and if it was not brought in we still should be debating Bill 53.

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

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I can clarify.

As I said a few moments ago, I did bring in the privilege motion on 53, but that is not what I said in my remarks. In my remarks I was referencing Bill 60 and Bill 61. You can check Hansard. We can recess, but Hansard will show that the debate has been concluded here on third reading.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

MR. KING: Yes, yes. The record will show tomorrow, when Hansard is done, that I referenced 60 and 61. I did bring in 47 on Bill 53.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 60, Mr. Speaker, if we were reading about this in a newspaper and we were not thinking of this Province, we would be thinking about countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia, Moldova, wherever – actually, Moldova would be more progressive. Mr. Speaker, I would call this the dictator's midnight land grab. It was brought in more or less at midnight, and it is a land grab.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at Bill 60, this dictator's midnight land grab, "‘proponent" means a proponent of the Muskrat Falls Project, and includes… the corporation established in the Energy Corporation Act…" – which we will find out about later on. These corporations have not yet been established, and "Emera Inc., including all affiliates, subsidiaries, successors and assigns of that corporation".

Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill is designed to expropriate land from people, from residents of this Province, that the proponent claims is necessary for the Muskrat Falls line. There should be no mistake, the Muskrat Falls line, we are told, is approximately 1,100 kilometres long. It stretches from Muskrat Falls all the way to St. John's. It runs right down through Labrador, crosses The Straits, and it comes up through the Northern Peninsula. It will cut through a swath of cottages, cabins, and outfitting camps. It will go right straight through them. Also, it will go toward Port aux Basques in order to get across the Cabot Strait.

While the individuals, the proponents can try to negotiate, they do not need to negotiate. If they say they cannot reach an agreement the proponent may apply to the expropriating authority, in accordance with the expropriation protocol, to expropriate that land. They can apply to get this land. This is the bill that is introduced.

Mr. Speaker, there are provisions in the statutes of this Province to protect people's property rights, but this bill denies property rights. It infringes on people's rights. The way it does that is the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act does not apply to an expropriation under this part. Mr. Speaker, whereas in the ordinary course an individual would be protected by the Public Utilities Acquisition of Lands Act, that does not apply.

Also, in the Expropriation Act, expropriation is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes expropriation is a good thing. Always, it should be a necessary thing. If land is required for a public purpose by a public body, then that public body can use the expropriation act to acquire that land and then can compensate the individuals who lose their land by going through the expropriation process, the land is valued, and they are paid out their value. Fortunately, they are not going to take family homes based on this because the Family Homes Expropriation Act does apply. This act provides no protection for cottage owners, and it gets worse. This is an awful piece of legislation.

Under section 13 you can see how it gets worse and worse. "Where the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is satisfied on an application by a proponent" – think Emera or any one of the Emera companies – "that the proponent urgently requires the land for the purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council…" – now that is not the Lieutenant-Governor person, that is re government. When you hear proponent think Emera. When you hear Lieutenant-Governor in Council think the government. The government "…may by order direct the expropriating authority to proceed with an intended expropriation without inquiry."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, it is not even necessary to make any inquiry. Bang, the expropriation is done and you just lost your land. How fast can this happen? Well, Mr. Speaker, "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall" – not may, but shall – "in the expropriation protocol, prescribe the information required to be provided to a landowner in respect of an urgent expropriation under this section."

What is the urgency? These lines are not going to be built for quite some time. They have not even surveyed the line but just as sure as we are going to have green leaves in the spring on all of those trees, we are going to have red ribbons on those trees from surveyors and people are going to be phoning their members saying: What is going on? Who is surveying my land? What is happening to my land? Well, your land is gone. It is gone to Emera and it is gone to Nalcor. It is gone for Muskrat Falls. What are you going to get for it? Well, we have not figured that out yet.

Seven days is the amount of time that is required. "Notwithstanding section 21, within 7 days after the information referred to in subsection (2), including the notice of expropriation, is served or provided" – it could easily be attached to the land – "the title to the land vests in the proponent named in the notice of expropriation."

So, within seven days Emera has your land, no ifs, ands or buts. If you do not like that, well then what you do is – if you look at 21.(2) "Where a person resists or opposes a proponent or the expropriating authority entering upon land referred to in section 15 or entering upon and taking possession of expropriated land after the title to the land has vested…" – that takes seven days – "a judge may make an order respecting access to the property for the proponent or the expropriating authority, as required for the expropriation, and any other order the court considers necessary or required to facilitate access."

Mr. Speaker, on seven days notice Emera can say to the expropriating authority, we have to have that land and you got that land. If the individual who owns that land, that cottage, if they try to resist then it is off to court for an injunction and they bring in the police. How much more of a banana republic response would you want, Mr. Speaker, in order to expropriate land for the purpose of this line?

People are going to be absolutely outraged. They are going to be incensed. Next spring, when some person goes salmon fishing or goes to their cottage or they decide they want to go moose hunting and they show up and all of a sudden their property is gone, it is gone in the hands of Emera. Emera is not even a Newfoundland and Labrador corporation. Emera is a privately owned, publicly traded big company headquartered in Nova Scotia, traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange for some very rich people.

So where, but a banana republic, would you able to get the government to take somebody's land, give it to a big foreign company and if you do not like it, we are going to resort to the courts. That should never be happening in this Province, it should never be happening in Canada, it should not happen in Moldova or Venezuela, or Columbia or Cuba, but it does.

Mr. Speaker, this bill gets worse; it does not get better. This bill gets worse. The more you read and ponder, what does this really mean, it gets worse and worse.

Under section 14.(4) it says, "A person, including Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited, is not entitled to compensation or damages from the Crown or a proponent" – Emera – "arising from, resulting from or incidental to the operation of this section except as otherwise provided in this Part."

Furthermore, subsection (5) says, "An action or proceeding does not lie" – which means you cannot sue – "or shall not be instituted or contained against the Crown, a proponent" – Emera – "or a minister, employee or agent of the Crown based on a cause of action arising from, resulting from or incidental to the operation of this section other than an action or legal remedy available to a landowner provided in this Part." The legal remedies provided in this part are very minor, minute, and disgraceful.

Mr. Speaker, it still gets worse, "Where the landowner is incapable of conveying the land or cannot be found in the province or is not known to the proponent or where for another reason personal service cannot be conveniently effected, the proponent shall post a written notice in a conspicuous place on the land to be expropriated."

This land could very well be wilderness land, this land may be relatively remote, the person maybe in Florida for the winter and come back and the land is expropriated, they do not have a clue what has happened because Emera has decided that we need that land, Nalcor has decided that we need that land. It says, "Where the landlord is incapable of conveying the land or cannot be found in the province…". If you cannot be found in the Province, well the remedy is there for the expropriating authority.

Mr. Speaker, it gets worse – it gets worse and worse. If that land has a mortgage, the rights of mortgages, the mortgagee or lien holder, "Where the land to be expropriated is subject to a security interest and the secured creditor is known" – so if they know who has the lien on it or the mortgage – "to the expropriating authority, a copy of the notice of expropriation shall be served on the secured creditor."

Also, (2), "Where the claim of a secured creditor has been proved" – where the expropriating authority and/or Emera knows that there is a mortgage, they know – "to the satisfaction of the proponent," – not to anybody else, but to the satisfaction of the proponent – "the amount secured by the security interest" – being the mortgage or lien in respect of the land – "shall be deducted from the compensation payable and be paid by the proponent to the secured creditor…".

They will expropriate your land, Mr. Speaker, and they will give the money to the bank where they think that the bank should have the land or anybody else who appears to them to be a lien holder. That is a valid discharge of whatever they think is that lien holder's entitlement to be compensated on that land for any debts that they have on it.

It goes on to say, "An action does not lie" – which means you cannot sue – "against the expropriating authority or the proponent for loss or damages suffered by the secured creditor because of the failure of the proponent to comply with this section."

Mr. Speaker, the proponent does not even have to comply with the bill that we are expected to pass in order to be able to do all of these things. If they do not comply, you still cannot sue them. What kind of a disgraceful piece of legislation is this that we are expected to pass on practically no notice, minimal, minimal, minimal notice on sessions that run all the way through the night, and on sessions where the government has invoked Standing Order 43 so we do not get to propose amendments before Standing Order 43.

It goes on to say, "An error in a notice of expropriation does not invalidate the expropriation of the land." It does not matter that they made a mistake in the notice of the expropriation, it is expropriated anyway.

It gets worse – it gets worse and worse and worse the further you go through. Compensation is dealt with under section 22. In section 22 it says, "the compensation shall be an amount based on the fair market value in accordance with the highest and best use of the land at the time of the beginning of expropriation proceeding and no account shall be taken of the compulsory acquisition of the land, the disturbance of the owner or occupier, or other detrimental effect, subject to paragraph (f) and subsection (4)".

Mr. Speaker, what about if that means you have a cottage out in the country and you could only sell it for $20,000, but it cost you $100,000. The fair market value is $20,000. You have $100,000 put into that cottage and maybe you have even gone out on a limb, you might have a $50,000 mortgage on it. Well, this expropriating authority can expropriate your cottage, pay the $20,000 to the bank, take the land, you are still short $30,000 on a mortgage, and you have no cottage. You have a debt; you have lost your cottage –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BENNETT: Actually, I hear the member for one of the Grand Falls districts saying no one knows what cottage is. In fact, there are some lovely, lovely cottages in on the back of Hawke's Bay and easily they are three- or four-bedroom homes, two stories, and we do not call them cabins. Maybe it is kind of quaint in urban Newfoundland and Labrador to refer to the cabins, but we have cabins and we have cottages. We do have both.

This piece of legislation will grab that piece of real estate at fair market value and not properly compensate the owner. Mr. Speaker, the fair market value of the land shall be taken to be the amount that, if sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer, might be expected to realize…. Well, Mr. Speaker, seven days' notice and it is in the middle of the winter in eight feet of snow, how much is it worth? Not very much. How much do you owe on it? Well, whatever you could borrow on it. How much is it worth to you? Maybe whatever it cost you to put it there, but we are not talking replacement value.

This bill exempts the Expropriation Act and it expropriates the Expropriation Act that deals with homes, so it means the people's improved real estate, outside of urban areas, where this 1,100 kilometre long snake, snakes its way through our Province will be subject to all of this. It will include outfitting camps, any other type of wilderness camps. It will include everybody's cabins and their cottages.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they have even considered that you might owe more on this – this is not an oversight; this is an intentional land grab to help the proponent, Nalcor, their affiliates, and Emera, and continue on under section 22.(3)(d) "where the expropriation is of a part of land that is subject to a security interest," –a mortgage – "the compensation of a secured creditor shall be determined in accordance with the market value of the expropriated part of the land that is subject to the security interest".

This pays for what would be seen as the fair market value of the land without any consideration whatsoever, whatever the debt might be owed on it. The expropriating authority can take the land, and will take the land, on as little as seven days' notice, where the cottage owner might not even be able to be found because that person may well be in Florida. You come back; your land is gone. There is $20,000 paid down on the mortgage that you had, and you owe the bank the rest of the mortgage.

Mr. Speaker, it still gets worse. It gets worse and worse and worse the more you go through it. Where the name of the owner of the land expropriated is not known, and notice of expropriation shall be registered with reference only to the proponent. So, the proponent is going to say: I took somebody's land. I do not really know whose land it is but I got the land. We may be well down the road trying to determine compensation on this, and after putting the land owner through all of these troubles, all of these issues, this infringement of the person's rights, they can give the land back.

Under section 27.(1), "Where, before the compensation has been actually paid or before an award is made by the arbitration panel…" So the land is already gone. The land has been grabbed, the land has been expropriated. It is registered at the registry and they have used the land, or sat on the land for a year, two years, four years, or five years – however long it takes to get this project done – and they have not actually paid the compensation, or the landowner has not gotten through arbitration, they can actually give the land back.

They can say "…is found by a proponent to be unnecessary for the purpose for which it was expropriated or where it is found by a proponent that only a more limited estate or interest in the land or a part of it is required, the expropriation authority may, in response to a request from a proponent…" give the land back by a written notice.

They do not even have to talk to the property owner, who is now the former property owner. "…by a written notice served or posted in the manner provided in section 16…" – and that is the same manner whereby they took it – "declare that the land or the part of it referred to in the notice is not required and is abandoned by the person in whom the title vested…"

That person in whom the title vested was the proponent, think Emera, think Nalcor. They took your land, they drove you off your land, they may even have gone to court, resorted to the courts, took full use of the law to drive you off this, and before they paid you compensation, or if you disputed the compensation, before you got to arbitration, they can say: No, that is okay, we do not need this anymore. They can go back to the expropriating authority and say: We do not need it anymore, could you reverse that thing we did two or three or four or five years ago and give them back the land?

How do they give back the land? They do not even say, thank you very much, it was kind of nice having your land for years. They can declare they do not need it. They can prepare a notice. They can serve that notice smack on the land, and it is your land all over again.

Mr. Speaker, you are not even permitted to sue for damages. You get absolutely nothing for this. They have trampled over your rights and the rights of everybody in this 1,100 kilometre long snake, sixty metres wide. We do not know where the sixty metres will be up to now. It is a two kilometre wide swath which is going to be sixty metres thick.

This is going to be almost like a Morodic Army just rolling right on down through, doing whatever they feel like and taking whatever there is by authority of law. A foreign company is able to do this in our Province at the behest of our government, with no protection for property rights for individuals whatsoever. All of a sudden they decide later on, they do not need the land. They can convey it back by just providing a notice, serving the notice, and by serving the notice attaching it to the land.

Furthermore, the final insult in this section is section 35, "The trustee shall give to a person requesting it the name and address of every claimant to compensation filed with him or her by the proponent or by or on behalf of the claimants."

Mr. Speaker, that must be a gross violation of our privacy law. Anybody who asks for this can actually get this without any consideration whatsoever for our privacy act. How can we be doing this in Newfoundland and Labrador? This is not Cuba, Moldova –

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will try to be coherent. Most of us are operating on very little or if any sleep.

Mr. Speaker, Muskrat Falls was put before the people of this Province with a projected rate that people were told they would pay for their utility bills. Many people were directed to look at the rate calculator put up on Nalcor's Web site which showed rates. Some people were convinced by the argument put forward by Nalcor and by government that the rates they would pay would be lower with Muskrat Falls than without. Some people were not convinced.

Mr. Speaker, Muskrat Falls, we were told, was the cheaper option because oil rates were not predictable. Oil rates were going to go higher. People would pay more in the long run for electricity generated through Holyrood than they would for electricity generated from Muskrat Falls.

While projections are not always correct, and that is true, we have seen in this year's Budget, Mr. Speaker, where the Finance Minister and government projected that oil would be $124 a barrel, and it is nowhere near that. As a result, we have seen the Province's deficit grow because oil prices were not as high as government projected, which calls into question whether or not the projections being used in the Muskrat Falls debate can be counted on for the oil projections. Especially when you are calculating oil projections, not just in this year, in which we were told they would be $124 a barrel and they are only $100 a barrel, but for five years out, for ten years out, for twenty years out, and for twenty-five years out.

We were told through the Muskrat Falls debate roughly what people would pay for electricity generated through Holyrood. I voted to support the private member's resolution supporting the project. I will outline some of the reasons for supporting that private member's resolution. I will also outline some of the concerns I have with the project.

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken with many of my constituents about Muskrat Falls. Every opportunity I had to speak with constituents about the project, I did. While most people were concerned about electricity rates, more people were in favour of the project than were against.

Some of those people, Mr. Speaker, who were in favour of it, were very strongly in favour. Some of the people who were in favour, I am sure if you sat down and debated the issue with them could be convinced not to be in favour of it. Some of those who were not in favour of the project perhaps could have been convinced to be in favour if you debated the project and outlined the merits of it. Some were very strongly against, and could not be convinced one way or the other.

That was my assessment in speaking to people. There were some people very strongly in favour, very strongly against, and some people who were either in favour or against, but softly. The most people that I spoke with, Mr. Speaker, had concerns about the rates. That was the underlying theme with most people. Even though more people who I spoke with supported the project than did not, most people were concerned about rates.

Mr. Speaker, we were all elected to represent our constituents. At the same time, we are elected to make tough decisions. The decision on Muskrat Falls was a tough decision. While I brought the views of my constituents to the floor of the House of Assembly in voting in favour of the project, I still have concerns, as do many of my constituents. Many people have concerns about the project because it is the biggest fiscal expenditure in this Province's history. The fact that I am bringing the voice of my constituents to the floor of the House of Assembly weighed very heavily in the decision I made.

Again, more of my constituents were in favour of the project than were against. Most had concerns with the rates. I have raised my concern about the rates on several occasions, while this is the first time I have had an opportunity to speak in the House on this project because during the private member's resolution not all members were given the opportunity to speak. I have raised my concerns on Open Line and through the media on a number of occasions. I will speak more about that as I get further into my comments.

Let me outline some of the benefits and drawbacks, as voiced by my constituents, and some of the things that I have weighed out and thought about in making my decision. Mr. Speaker, some of the things in favour is that it will be clean energy. It will close Holyrood, which is a major polluter, and most people will agree with that. It is a renewable resource, and some day the people of this Province will own the asset once it is paid off. It will stabilize rates, according to Nalcor and government, but that is open for debate. I have touched a little bit on that: the unpredictability of oil. It will stabilize rates to some degree, provided we can count on the rates that were put forward by government and Nalcor on the rate calculator.

The loan guarantee to reduce finance in costs was one of the benefits; electricity available to mining companies from this Province as opposed to having to buy it from Quebec; electricity available for future development in the Province. Mr. Speaker, short-term employment would be a major benefit, as we are being told that it should be 3,500 jobs. In a time of declining oil revenues, this project will indeed help the economy of this Province. As the transmission line is built from the project to Soldiers Pond, it will help communities along the way. Mr. Speaker, revenue from the potential sale of excess power was also touted as a benefit.

On the drawback side, where I have had concerns with the project, is ratepayers will pay higher electricity. Forty per cent of the energy from the project is slated to go to the people of this Province, yet people of this Province on their utility bills are going to pay 100 per cent of the cost of the project. All of the excess power that is available for sale to the open market has been bought and paid for by the people of this Province. That energy is paid for. Whether the Province gets a nickel for it or a dollar for it, it is excess revenue. We have to keep in mind that the excess power will have been bought and paid for by the people of this Province.

There is no oversight by the Public Utilities Board. Now, we had the legislation introduced here which will give some oversight, but to a much lesser degree. One of the drawbacks I heard from my constituents is that there would be no oversight from the Public Utilities Board, that is change to a certain degree. There would be potential cost overruns and ratepayers will have to bear the brunt of any cost overruns. Just to give an example, the project now is $1.2 billion over budget and that happened before the project was even sanctioned; that $1.2 billion is an additional cost of approximately $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in this Province, Mr. Speaker. So that is a very real concern.

As the project stands right now, it is a cost of approximately $14,000 per man, woman, and child. If you look at a family of four people, that is $56,000. We are being told by the Province and Nalcor that the project is financed over fifty years. That is over $1,000 a year that has to go onto the electricity bills that people in this Province will pay. That is a very real concern – it is a very real concern.

Mr. Speaker, we are still being told that electricity rates will be cheaper with Muskrat Falls than without. The US is aiming for self-sufficiency, which raises the doubt regarding that market; it is a questionable market. The US is saying by 2020, they will be self-sufficient. Energy sources are changing; people are finding new sources of energy, and new ways of delivering that energy.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not like to interrupt the hon. member, but I have given you great latitude. We are debating Bill 60 and I am not sure where you are discussing Bill 60, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project. I have given you a fair amount of latitude in your first ten minutes, so if we could come around to that that would be very appreciated.

MR. OSBORNE: I will certainly try, Mr. Speaker. It was my understanding that this was a money bill and we had a fair bit of latitude.

MR. SPEAKER: I have given you a fair bit of latitude, but if we could come to the bill, hon. member.

MR. OSBORNE: Okay.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, there is no guaranteed market in the US – and I will try to bring it around to Bill 60 as well. I will ask for some additional latitude. It is my first time speaking about this project this Legislature, and I thank the Speaker for the latitude you have given me.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia will get their energy cheaper than the people in this Province. New Bill 61 is very restrictive in the oversight given by the Public Utilities Board and very directed by government in that oversight. Again, I have a great deal of concern in the rates that ratepayers in this Province will pay. Bringing it somewhat to Bill 60, Mr. Speaker, I know that Bill 60 is for the expropriation of land. While that bill is similar to the Expropriation Act currently on the books in this Province, it will raise some concerns for people as that transmission line is built to Soldiers Pond.

Mr. Speaker, government are saying that rates people will pay for electricity will go up with or without Muskrat Falls. Part of the cost and part of the reason those rates will go up is because of land that is going to be needed to be expropriated and the transmission line that is going to need to be built. The reality is that if the projected demand for electricity is not realized, if 40 per cent of that power is not utilized in this Province, the people of the Province are still paying 100 per cent of the cost of the project. If only 35 per cent of that power is utilized in the Province and the people of the Province are paying 100 per cent of the cost of the project, utility rates will go up.

If there are cost overruns either because of Bill 60 and the expropriation of land, the construction of the transmission line and the cost of the project itself will go up and people's electricity bills will go even higher. The Province are projecting, as I said, that 40 per cent of the power will be used in this Province, but 100 per cent of the cost of the project is being paid by the people of the Province. Any excess power that is available from this project belongs to the people of this Province.

While government are saying they will sell that excess power and put the money into general revenue, the reality is the people of this Province own that power and the rates that have been guaranteed – or projected, I should say – I would say guaranteed because we have been told these are the rates you are going to pay, based on the rate calculator. Those projected rates should be guaranteed to the people of the Province. That is part of the reason the people in this Province were convinced to support this project. That is part of the reason the people in my district were convinced to support this project and it is part of the reason I supported the project in this House of Assembly, because of the rates that were guaranteed on the rate calculator.

The excess revenue, if there is any, from the sale of excess power should go first and foremost to guaranteeing those rates. Once that happens, any extra can then go into general revenue. We have to keep in mind that if the people of this Province are paying for 100 per cent of the cost of the project, they have paid for that power. The people own that excess power.

Mr. Speaker, the people in my district, when we talked about this project, like I said, more people supported it than not. We do have to realize, Mr. Speaker, that we are talking about people's electricity rates. There are people in the Province who can well afford to pay additional charges on their bills, there are people who cannot. There are people who are deciding between turning their lights on and putting food in the fridge or buying medications. That is the reality in this Province.

There are more and more people going to food banks. That is a reality. Any increase in electricity bills will cause certain hardship for some families, which is why I am pleading that government use any excess revenue from the sale of power to go directly against utility bills to ensure that the rates we are using on that rate calculator are in fact the rates that people will pay. Even then, there are people who are going to be hard done by, by any increase in electricity rates.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to ask the hon. member in his remaining time to speak directly to Bill 60, please.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a big problem with Bill 60 because I understand that the majority of the wording in Bill 60 is similar to the wording already in the expropriation act in the Province today. That is not where I have my concern. I understand that Bill 60 has to be a part of this project.

I will be voting in favour of Bill 60, but that is not to say I will vote in favour of Bill 61. I have concerns with Bill 61 and the powers that Bill 61 takes away from the Public Utilities Board, the powers that Bill 61 puts in the hands of Nalcor and government to ensure they are the exclusive supplier of electricity, and that people, businesses, retailers have to buy their energy from government. On Bill 60, I do not have an issue with that and I will be supporting Bill 60.

Mr. Speaker, government has said that they have no problem raising the money for Muskrat Falls. Part of that money will go into the expropriation of land – part of the money required will go into the expropriation of land. They have no issue with raising the money with or without the loan guarantee. The loan guarantee is a benefit to the people of the Province, no doubt.

Of course, government did not have any issue raising money or would not have any issue raising money for this project, Mr. Speaker, because Nalcor are the exclusive supplier. The people of the Province are paying 100 per cent of the cost of the project. It is a guaranteed slam dunk.

Raising the money and being guaranteed the loan guarantee from the federal government, and the Prime Minister saying that there is absolutely no risk to the people of Canada is absolutely true. It is absolutely true, because this project is a guaranteed slam dunk. The people of this Province are guaranteed to pay 100 per cent of the cost.

Why would the government have any difficulty raising the money? They would not. Anybody who went to a lender with those kinds of conditions would be able to get the money. No doubt, some of that money will go to purchase expropriated land; no doubt, some of it will go to building the project. That money is going to be repaid by the people of this Province on their utility bills. Those utility bills are going to go up. That is the reason there is no difficulty in raising money. That is the reason there was no risk to the people of Canada under the loan guarantee. Mr. Speaker, it is a guaranteed return.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not have a vote.

MR. OSBORNE: I say to the member for Paradise, I did vote for the project. That does not mean that my right to have concerns or the right of the people of my district to have concerns has been eliminated. There are still concerns with this project, very real concerns.

There is very, very low risk with this project when it comes to lenders. There is very low risk. In fact, I would say there is zero risk with this project when it comes to lenders. There is very low risk or zero risk when it comes to the loan guarantee because the people of this Province, the ratepayers, the people who pay utility bills, are the people who are taking the risk. They are paying 100 per cent of the cost, and that is a guarantee. That is the reason there is very low risk on this. That is the reason the Prime Minister told the people of Canada that there is zero risk to the people of Canada on the loan guarantee.

The people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, are paying the full cost. I believe, again, and I will continue to say that I believe the excess revenue from the sale of power from this project should go back to the ratepayers, not just through the building of schools or roads but on utility bills.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

It gives me great pleasure to be able to stand here and speak on Bill 60, An Act Respecting The Use And Expropriation Of Land For The Purpose Of The Muskrat Falls Project.

Anything to do with the Muskrat Falls Project, I think at this stage right now is a positive one, because I feel after the sanctioning – and you heard the Minister of Natural Resources allude to it earlier. These two Bills 60 and 61 – I realize I am speaking to Bill 60 – are necessary to move to the next step with Muskrat Falls. Representing a district from Labrador, certainly for me to speak on the Muskrat Falls Project, I see all the benefits of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Before I get into the expropriation, I would like to make a couple of comments on some things that were talked about by members on the Opposition side. It is very difficult to sit here and listen to a member from the Third Party talk about keeping Holyrood open and keeping it alive burning wood pellets. I cannot believe that someone would actually feel that is economically sound, to keep the Province going on wood pellets, and compare it with the price from a decade ago as to where we are at today without any research done on that whatsoever.

It was also difficult to listen to the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair talking about Labrador, as if Labrador lived in a cocoon of her district only. Labrador is a big land.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the hon. member we are speaking to Bill 60.

MR. MCGRATH: Well, this is about expropriation, Mr. Speaker. I will not argue with you, Mr. Speaker, but when the Leader of the Third Party stood up she said that she was told that both of these bills, 60 and 61, were finance bills. That was my understanding. So I would appreciate a little bit of latitude but if you tell me I do not have it, then I will certainly respect that, Mr. Speaker.

When you get into the expropriation, Mr. Speaker, for Muskrat Falls, the expropriation for the land is going across a big piece of land. A big piece of that land, 1,100 kilometres – a lot of that is going to happen within Labrador.

I heard the hon. Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair talk about when she drove across the road the other day, speaking of expropriation, that gravel road she was driving on is called the Trans-Labrador Highway. This government has been expropriating a lot of land in Labrador to make sure that that highway goes through.

I remember back when we had a different government, when we went from rails to roads and there were hundreds of millions of dollars given to build the Trans-Labrador Highway and to go into the marine services for Labrador. I remember that government taking $100 million of that money to balance a budget, and it was never put back. That was never put back. That is your Apollo. That is your Northern Ranger. That is your Bond. Those ferries could have been replaced had that money not been misrepresented.

The Trans-Labrador Highway might have been started to be expropriated, but I can guarantee you there was no blacktop on that.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order, the hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to say the Minister of Service NL has made statements that are not correct on the wood pellets, on the information that I put forward earlier. They are up to date, they are recent. The information put forward by Canadian Biomass Magazine is available and it is something that I would be willing to table.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Just prior to having the hon. minister speak, this is not a money bill to my understanding. We are speaking to the legislation. As Speaker I have provided some leeway but, once again, I ask members to speak to the bill, and the bill we are speaking to is Bill 60.

Thank you.

MR. MCGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will stick to the expropriation of the land.

Talking about Bill 60, Bill 60 is all about expropriating land to build a transmission line for the Muskrat Falls Project. As you have heard some people allude to it, this is a 1,100 kilometre transmission line. It will come across parts of Labrador, down the Great Northern Peninsula, and then across the rest of the Island portion of the Province into Soldiers Pond, and it will be sixty metres long.

I just want to talk about how expropriation works. I have researched over the last couple of days looking to find some examples of expropriation that have happened within the Province over the last few decades and I could not find one example of an expropriation where somebody was not, at the end of the day, pleased with the expropriation. There are times when it got into a negotiation or a debate with the expropriation process but there is a process to go through. This government will make sure through consultation that the expropriation process is handled properly.

Why would we expropriate? Well, if you are going to build a 1,100 kilometre transmission line you have to expropriate something to know where to put it. Ninety-nine per cent of the land that is being expropriated by the Province for the Muskrat Falls transmission line is Crown land. Ninety per cent of the land that is going to be expropriated for the link by Emera is Crown land now. One per cent for the Muskrat Falls transmission line and for the Maritime Link, approximately 10 per cent is land that will have to be negotiated through expropriation. On a project of this magnitude, I think that is – I will not say insignificant, but it is a small percentage that will have to go through there.

We have to expropriate the land in order for the project to move forward, in order to give the certainty for that. We need to give certainty to the lenders. The ones we are going to borrow the money from need that guarantee that this project is going to work, and the expropriation of the land gives that certainty. It gives us that there.

We are not just moving ahead and saying we are going to take 1,100 kilometres sixty metres wide and start expropriating. I heard some members talk about we have no idea what type of land, where it is going to be. We are just going to go in, get it done, and if we need it that is fine. If we do not need it, well then what happens to it? There is a full environmental assessment being done on this and it is an environmentally responsible process that we are doing here.

When that assessment is done then we will need to know. We have professionals who know exactly what route will be best for this transmission line to run through, and that is the route we will follow. We will try to be as environmentally responsible as we can in order to do it, leave as little a footprint as you possibly can leave outside of the line itself. You do not want to go in and just start expropriating and tearing up land that we are not going to need for that transmission line. We are very responsible environmentally, and we have the professionals doing this for us.

I talked about the land right now that is going to be expropriated. Ninety-nine per cent of it is already owned by the Crown lands, and for the Maritime Link, 90 per cent of that is already Crown land. Small amounts of privately-owned property would be expropriated.

We do know there are areas, such as in Sunnyside, where there are some homes that are going to be expropriated, and there are cottages throughout. I live outside of the urban area in this Province. I would think that most every homeowner in Labrador West, 90 per cent of the residents have cottages. They are three and four bedroom cottages, but they are cottages.

When there is expropriation, there will be a fair expropriation given for those pieces of property. We are not going to go in and say take it or leave it. There is a fair process which will be done for that. That will be done through the whole link, Mr. Speaker.

The land on the Great Northern Peninsula, when we expropriate something there we will go through a very fair process as we will on the whole transmission line. This government does not take sides and show favouritism. This government is fair to every citizen in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nalcor and Emera are going to work together to make sure that this compensation is done and done fairly. They are going to work together so that the private landowners who will be expropriated, they will be treated fairly. There is a process that we will go through for that. There will be an expropriation committee in place for that.

One of the other important things that I think we need to realize is that when this land is expropriated for the transmission line – and I have heard comments on cottages and remote areas – as a government, we are going to make sure that access to these areas, access to some of the cottages that will crossover the transmission line, they will still have access to those areas. If it is not an expropriated area and you have a cottage but the roadway or the right-of-way to your cottage area, you will still have that right-of-way. There will still be development within the area, and we will make sure of that. That is something we have considered. Anything for recreational purposes or for personal use, we will make sure they have access through the transmission line, through the expropriated lands, so they can still have access to their properties.

Another thing that this government is very cognizant of is the Aboriginal treaty rights. We realize that during this expropriation period and areas we are going to cross some Aboriginal lands. Our duty to consult with the Aboriginals is something of which we are very cognizant.

When I was elected to government in 2011 and I was appointed as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, one of the first things that I did – and it is a piece of history that I am very proud of – I had the distinct pleasure of signing the New Dawn Agreement, Agreement-in-Principle. That is something that I will carry with me: the first formal document that I signed as a minister was the Agreement-in-Principle for the New Dawn Agreement.

I think that if you sit down and read that agreement there is an agreement there between the Aboriginals, the Innu, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Government of Canada that shows that we are very cognizant and very aware of the rights within the treaties of the Aboriginal people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have consulted; we will continue to consult with the Aboriginals to try to make sure that there is a fair and agreed upon process so everybody is happy with that.

I think one of the other things that we need to be very careful of, and in the last couple of days I talked about it earlier when I stood to a different bill, we need to get this done, we need to do it right, but we need to do it in a timely manner.

I listened to a hoist motion put on the floor earlier yesterday, to slow things down, let's shelf it for another six months. When you shelf a project for another six months to go back and look at it, that can turn into eighteen months before something actually becomes actioned, because after you shelf it for six more months then you have to go back and go through the process all over again. So, you are another year-and-one-half losing out on jobs, losing out on revenues, losing out on taxes, losing out on royalties that will come in.

I think the expropriation is one of the next steps to get the Muskrat Falls Project up and running. I think it is very important. The sooner we get it done, the prosperity for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will be recognized that much faster; so getting it done in a timely, efficient manner. I am not saying rush and not know what you are doing. What I am saying is that we know this project is a good project, we have studied it to death, we have consulted it to death, and we have had every expert in the country look at this project. Now we are at a stage where we need to start moving forward to get it done. The expropriation of the land is one of the next steps that we are at, where we need to have that done now.

I think another thing with the expropriation of the land is it gives a guarantee to those that we will be borrowing the money from for the project; it gives them a guarantee that government is 100 per cent behind this. Those guarantees are needed.

People are not going to just turn around and give you $5 billion unless they have some assurances that the project is going to work, unless they have the assurance that the government is behind the project that they are going to be funding. Expropriation of the land, I think is one of the next steps that shows that this government is 100 per cent behind this project. We know it is a good project, and we need to see it moving forward.

I want to go back a little bit to the rural areas of the Province and the expropriation. We have talked about cottage owners, cabin owners, and homeowners. There are a lot of places, especially within rural Newfoundland and Labrador, that people have either cottages or – I am shocked to see; in my former life, through tourism, I spent quite a bit of time travelling throughout the Province. There are not too many places I have not been within this Province, through my former life as a person involved heavily in tourism. I have seen in a lot of the rural areas some of the cottage areas, some of the remote cabins, some of the more elaborate cottage areas, and some areas where people have actually gone out and purchased Crown land and built beautiful homes.

Through this process of expropriating and building the transmission line, we have been very careful in trying to build a map so that you interfere with the least amount of areas as possible. We are not going in and saying we are going to bulldoze through a busy cottage area. We not going in and bulldozing through communities. We are trying to build a roadmap for this transmission line that will be the least interference with the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In doing that, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we are building a transmission line for the largest megaproject this Province will ever undertake. This is one of the largest projects to date that this Province has ever undertaken. We are very careful that when we do it we are going to do it right. We have consulted properly.

Mr. Speaker, with the expropriation of this land, I will go back, you are going to see a 1,100-kilometre line. I remember when I was given the briefing for the transmission towers, they showed the pictures. The Minister of Natural Resources talked about it earlier. There has been so much consultation done to make sure when we do this we do it right. You look at the different towers.

I remember the ice storm in Quebec a few years ago. I happened to be in Montreal. I had driven from Labrador West to Montreal shortly after that ice storm. I saw those transmission towers. As I was driving through Northern Quebec, I saw them fall down like dominos.

This government is aware of that. The experts we have designing this transmission line and the towers that will actually carry the transmission line are making sure we have towers that can hold and withstand the climatic changes they are going to be endured to for fifty to seventy-five years. I think it is very important that it speaks volumes to the amount of consultation that has gone into this transmission line that is going to be built.

I am going to be supporting this bill. The expropriation needs to happen. We never want to leave a footprint, but this is a footprint I think every Newfoundlander and Labradorian will be able to look back on in fifty years and say: We did the right thing. They will be able to sit back and say: Because of that expropriation, that was the start of a very good project that is going to happen for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is an honour to rise and speak to this bill, Mr. Speaker, and to bring forward some concerns. We did have a very fast yet fairly informative briefing on this bill. This new legislation, Mr. Speaker, replaces some older legislation that we reviewed, and certainly there is not a whole lot that is wrong with the old legislation. This new legislation is needed in order to give the Crown or this government power to acquire Crown land and non-Crown land in respect to the transmission line. Now you are looking at a transmission line that is 1,100 kilometres long and I think sixty metres wide.

The whole purpose of this Muskrat Falls Project, Mr. Speaker, is to get the power out of Labrador. The whole purpose of this legislation is to pave the way to get that power out of Labrador, unfortunately, where that power is needed.

Mr. Speaker, there are two different processes in terms of land acquisition, the statutory easement and there is expropriation. Expropriation to me is a very challenging word to the people out there in the Province. To learn that there is potential for a group of people, formed by this government, a committee if you can so call it, Mr. Speaker, can go out and say that we are going to take your land. You may have a cabin on there; you may have a home on there.

Mr. Speaker, I go back to Southern Labrador, as the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador mentioned, the cocoon area I think it was, where the proposed route goes right through a community. As I was going through some of this new legislation, this easement or expropriation, Mr. Speaker, will not be subject to municipal bylaws or taxation regimes, unless they set up shop in the community. Certainly, my sympathies go out to the mayor and to the community of Forteau, Mr. Speaker.

As the minister alluded to, Mr. Speaker, that this is necessary. There is going to be the least impact in terms of Crown ownership and non-Crown ownership land, private ownership; the least impact on private land, the least impact on homes, the least impact on cabins. Once you look at the proposed route – now, it has not been totally established yet, at least I do not think it has, Mr. Speaker, and I think this will be an evolving process as they come down.

Mr. Speaker, the government says it needs this legislation in order to move forward with the Muskrat Falls Project. Mr. Speaker, the briefing also outlined the fact that replacement costs for expropriation for taking people's cabins or private land, there will be a compensation package based on fair market value. It is good to hear that the government has committed to this, Mr. Speaker, giving compensation where compensation is due.

I am sure there are going to be a lot of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, who are going to see these red flags going up and are going to be approached by the committee that this company will have in place – maybe we can call it the expropriations committee – that will have the unfortunate task of going to cabin owners, going to homeowners, outfitters and saying, we will have to expropriate your land. Mr. Speaker, some of this land has been in families for generations and they are very proud of it. I am sure they do the best upkeep possible.

Mr. Speaker, in lieu of progress, and there is no agreement made through negotiation, the expropriations committee has the last say as to whether or not a person can retain his land and whatever is on it. I realize that through the statute easement, Mr. Speaker, there will be only portions of land required and maybe something can be worked out.

I would like to go back to the commitment – and I liked what I saw, Mr. Speaker. I liked what the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador said in his comments earlier, that there will be compensation to those who will be impacted by statutory easement or by expropriation. That is going to be important. I think it is important for families to have that comfort level of knowing that if they are going to lose their home or their cottage or their cabin, or maybe a business, that there is compensation there, and that it will be respected. Certainly, I would like to take some comfort in that, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to talk a little bit about what this government is not going to compensate for and have already said so. Mr. Speaker, in speaking to this bill, An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of the Muskrat Falls Project, I went through it, a lot of it is very difficult, but thankfully we had the briefing.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about section 3 in the agreement. If I could be so kind as to read it out and share it with the people of this Province, section 3 is reference to Labrador Inuit rights. I will just read it here, "This Act and regulations made under this Act shall be read and applied in conjunction with the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act and, where a provision of this Act or regulations made under this Act is inconsistent or conflicts with a provision, term or condition of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act, the provision, term or condition of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act shall have precedence over the provision of this Act or a regulation made under this Act."

I would like to read that part again, Mr. Speaker, "the provision, term or condition of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act shall have precedence over the provision of this Act" – the one that I am reading from – "or a regulation made under this Act." I would just like to go on to section 4, Mr. Speaker, it says, "This Act binds the Crown."

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to just go back very quickly to the term sheet on the loan guarantee where it was outlined. I cannot remember the section but I think it may have been section 4. In order for the loan guarantee to be implemented, all consultation with Aboriginal groups must be completed. Another condition on that term sheet, if I remember, is that all environmental concerns must be addressed.

I can understand the agreements reached with our neighbours, the Innu, in the Lake Melville area. In every land claims agreement across this great country of ours, it has taken a megaproject to settle a land claims dispute. Mr. Speaker, I think the New Dawn Agreement is probably the agreement that is implemented on behalf of the Innu as a result of the Muskrat Falls. Certainly I give my credit to the Innu who have negotiated a substantial claim.

Mr. Speaker, I heard I think it was the day before yesterday the Premier talking about the sanctioning of the project. At one point during the presentation, the Premier did say the Muskrat Falls Project was made possible through grand partnerships with Aboriginal peoples in Labrador. I think that can apply to probably one of three Aboriginal groups, certainly not the three Aboriginal groups in Labrador. Whether they are in land claims settlement stages like the Inuit, in agreement-in-principle stages like the Innu Nation at this time, or like the NunatuKavut claim has not yet been tabled. One Aboriginal group, Mr. Speaker, is not indicative –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EDMUNDS: It is certainly, Mr. Speaker, not indicative of all the Aboriginal groups in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

 

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I attended a press release, Mr. Speaker; I think it was in November.

MR. KENNEDY: Did you get Grade 6?

MR. JOYCE: I am going to have a coke. I am going to have a glass of coke.

MR. KENNEDY: You didn't get Grade 6, did you?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EDMUNDS: It was actually held at the Sheraton Hotel downtown here in St. John's.

MR. KENNEDY: You are a fool.

MR. JOYCE: Have a glass of coke; come on.

MR. EDMUNDS: I heard the President of the Nunatsiavut Government, Mr. Speaker –

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, did you hear that?

MR. EDMUNDS: - along with the First Minister, talk about how the rights of Aboriginal people, specifically –

MR. JOYCE: Have a glass of coke; come on.

MR. KENNEDY: You are a fool.

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the member withdraw singing out: You are a fool. I am sure that the Speaker heard it himself. If not, I ask that you check Hansard and I ask that he withdraw the remarks. I am sure the Speaker heard it, because the Speaker asked the member to stay quiet on several occasions.

I ask the Speaker to make a ruling because this is not the place to be getting on with that childish behaviour, Mr. Speaker, and I ask that the member withdraw the remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to withdraw his remark, please.

MR. KENNEDY: In fact, what I said was: He doesn't have Grade 6, and he is a fool. I withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, as you know, if someone withdraws remarks it has to be unequivocal.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you uphold the rules and he unequivocally withdraws the remarks. He made them again, Mr. Speaker, in defiance of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw it, please.

MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remarks that he is a fool. I withdraw it. That is what I said, I withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to unequivocally withdraw the remark, please.

MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remarks. You are still a fool.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, that is the third time. That is contempt of the House, contempt of the Speaker, and, as we know, on the third time the Speaker names the member.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask, as my privilege as a member, that you uphold the integrity of this House. On four occasions, and each time he did not do it. On the third time, Mr. Speaker, you have to name the member.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remark or I am going to have to name the member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. JOYCE: Say I'm sorry. Say it. Say it.

MR. KENNEDY: I withdraw the remark.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. KENNEDY: Now, get some control of the place.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible) again, Mr. Speaker, and I ask that Hansard, check it – that he unequivocally again made the remarks and I am sure it will be picked up by Hansard.

This is the fourth time, Mr. Speaker. I am asking you –

MR. SPEAKER: I asked the member to withdraw; he withdrew the remarks I asked.

MR. JOYCE: I ask you to check Hansard. While he was sitting down, he also made statements, Mr. Speaker. It is my right, as a member, that is being denied here. I ask the Speaker to check Hansard.

MR. KENNEDY: You're in Special Ed.

MR. SPEAKER: I am standing. I ask the member to sit, please.

Now, I asked the member to withdraw. I accepted his withdrawal.

I ask the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains to continue his speaking.

Thank you.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources is more concerned about finishing my speech, as his duty to consult with the Labrador Inuit.

Mr. Speaker, I attended a press release at the Delta where the president acknowledged, came forward and said that this government has not done its duty to consult.

MR. KENNEDY: (Inaudible) the Member for Bay of Islands could act like a fool.

MR. EDMUNDS: Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is coming short, but I would like to quote another press release that came out –

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

Once again, Mr. Speaker, you heard the member say it again, and I ask you to check Hansard. Mr. Speaker, you cannot allow this to happen in the House of Assembly. You heard it again, Mr. Speaker, because you looked at the member. It is picked up by your mike. This is my fourth time, fifth time, and you heard the same comment, Mr. Speaker. You cannot let the House be ruled.

I ask that you name the member, Mr. Speaker, because he is not listening to the Speaker of the House and following the rules. I ask this speaker to follow the rules and ask again for a withdrawal, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Speaker, to the point of order.

My understanding is, in the process you have already entertained what was spoken.

MR. JOYCE: He just said it again.

MR. HUTCHINGS: You have ruled on it. The remark was requested to be withdrawn. It was withdrawn, and then went back to the hon. member for his speaking time.

MR. JOYCE: He just said it again, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order at this point.

I ask the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains to continue his comments.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I attended another press release that I can table. It came out yesterday from the President of the Nunatsiavut Government.

The conduct of the minister, Mr. Speaker, is relative of his concern on Aboriginal rights. He does not want me to finish and certainly it shows his duty to consult.

Mr. Speaker, very quickly, the President of the Nunatsiavut Government yesterday, in another press release because she felt compelled to, said that again there are impacts in Lake Melville as a result of the Lower Churchill Project, and it certainly had to do with expropriation. The Labrador Inuit have Labrador Inuit lands on both sides of the lake and Nalcor and this government has maintained, Mr. Speaker, that there will be no environmental impacts downstream.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having said that, there is not a dam in the world that has been built, that has vegetation vacuumed up, that does not produce methylmercury. Mr. Speaker, this one is already no exception because we can see the impacts from the Upper Churchill 300 kilometres away.

This one, Mr. Speaker, is a stone's throw distance away and that is the reason why the President of the Nunatsiavut Government has come out with another press release because she realizes that this government has failed again in its duty to consult and it is contrary to the act itself. That is what I would like to point out.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

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

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

I guess I will carry on with the theme: one more river dammed and one less river to roll. I think my colleague for St. Barbe had it right a little bit earlier when he talked about this whole debate being almost from another country, but I think in this particular case he got the country wrong. I think it was from Italy.

I guess under the Expropriation Act, my interpretation of it, is that they are going to make you an offer that you cannot refuse. They are going to come in and they are going to take and what they deem to be fair market value is what they deem to be fair market value.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to get up and keep talking to this piece of legislation. Under the guise of Bill 60 at the briefing yesterday, were it is a financing bill, we were told in the briefing session that it is a necessity under the financing rules enabling the financing of Muskrat Falls, that the expropriation of certain lands and everything has to occur. Now, there are some pretty good things that are in this act that I will make note of, but there are some other things in the act that are a little bit disturbing, that I do not like. It is just simple –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is asking that members stop and refrain from speaking across the floor, please. We will resume debate. I ask members to be respectful of each other and to remind each other that we are in debate on Bill 60. I ask members to continue to have the discussion around the debate.

We have the hon. the Member for St. John's East speaking and I would like to be able to hear the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

Thank you.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate that. It is pretty bad sometimes when you are caught in the middle of all this, when you are hearing the exchange. I would just like to think that when I was elected in the House here that we will treat everybody with a little bit of respect and avert the name-calling. It is a little bit distasteful this morning.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to carry on as regards to this because of course it is an important part of the whole financing aspect of Muskrat Falls. We are told that, as it is consistent with the non-recourse financing principle, only the assets of the project are put up as collateral but lenders want a certainty as regards to what they are going to be dealing with when it comes to the finance of Muskrat Falls. Hence, having said that, the properties in line with the power line, with the transmission of the electricity, have to be taken into account and they are also counted as an asset that would be put up in fronting of the financing for the project.

On that particular end of it, it is a little bit of a concern. If we do not meet the need for the financing in the future or if for some reason we cannot pay the bill and we have to end up selling, there are a couple of things that come to light with me. The first thing that comes readily to mind is the simple fact of losing control of the transmission grid and losing control of the assets that were there that were all part of the Muskrat Falls Project.

If we happen to lose that to somebody else outside – and in particular I am thinking of a private corporation – the possibility is that Emera could end up gaining control of the transmission assets here. It is a direct concern for people, particularly when it comes to the possibility here that if expropriation of being part of the finance agreement does not work out that we could end up losing control over our own asset. I think it is a direct concern that everybody should be thinking about.

The other thing that really stood out for me under the Expropriation Act here, Mr. Speaker, is the simple fact that municipalities are not going to see a cent of taxation gained to their own coffers. Again, we are dealing with the possibility of municipalities losing revenue. That kind of leaves a bad taste in everybody's mouth I think, particularly if the power line goes in your area.

MR. KENNEDY: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Chair for protection. The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources carries on with his diatribe. He may have something against somebody else, but it is interfering with my right to speak, Mr. Speaker, and I am asking for your protection in that regard. I would kindly ask the Minister of Natural Resources if he could keep it down a bit at least and deal with it. If he has a personal issue with another member, keep it with the other member somewhere further away from where we are carrying on debate.

Having said that, and distracted, I guess, in my thoughts when it comes to that, Mr. Speaker, I was carrying on about the simple fact that municipalities are going to be losing a stream of revenue here. The simple fact is, for example, for the city that I represent, for St. John's, the power lines are going to be coming into as far as Soldiers Pond.

It is not to say that it is going to be significant, but in the scheme of things over time it possibly could, because the simple fact is that with the power lines coming into Soldiers Pond and with the City of St. John's having direct control over a piece of property that pretty much borders with Butter Pot Provincial Park as well as some of the areas, say for example, of Conception Bay South, that area of land, whatever it would have been used for, whatever it would have been deemed for, they lose the right to have any use for that particular piece of land.

Again, because of that, because as well with the Expropriation Act, they say no level of taxation or anything like that is going to be paid on the part of a private corporation, namely Emera. If Emera is all of a sudden a private corporation that is not going to be levied any taxes or anything, particularly municipal taxes, again we have to question the whole simple fact – and again, government is dealing with the problem of the funding of municipalities and here they are, under the Expropriation Act, not only, number one, taking away the use of some properties here and proper compensation for municipalities in that regard, but the simple fact is that they are taking tax revenue away too.

Municipalities are having a tough time of it now. Municipalities are dealing with the problems right now with the funding. Right now they are only receiving about eight cents on a dollar when it comes to funding, according to some of the factors that MNL is dealing with. I will leave that for now as regards to the funding possibilities for municipalities that they are losing here.

Again, I think that the Member for Mount Pearl South should be quite concerned. If Emera ever sets up in Mount Pearl, he should be directly concerned that his town would also be losing tax revenue. It does not sound like he is too concerned with it, being in approval of the Muskrat Falls Project. Of course, as we know, he is certainly in favour of the project without the fact of having any PUB oversight, for example.

There are a whole lot of things that he has to ask himself. I am pretty sure the pressure is going to be on the Member for Mount Pearl South to explain to his city why, if Emera sets up in his town, they are not going to have to pay any taxes. I tell you, there are other people there who have businesses set up in Mount Pearl that I would imagine are paying their fair share of taxes to Mount Pearl and would be asking themselves the same question, why Emera should be left off the hook.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back to the bill itself; like you said, it is an important part of the whole financing scheme of Muskrat Falls. With necessity, of course, comes the whole full factor of the other things that are going to be tied into it.

One of the things I did notice, a really positive thing I like in this bill that I was looking at, it said it allows for the expropriation of lands for the creation of national or provincial parks. Some people might find that – I guess it probably rings true with them, knowing that they want to make sure there are some ways that they can get hold of recreational areas or they can indeed preserve the areas around them. So, I really like that particular part of it. It allows for the expropriation of national or provincial parks.

Mr. Speaker, where it is a financing bill, I wanted to come back to some of the other factors playing around the whole Muskrat Falls proposal that could end up affecting expropriation, and come back and talk to some of these other factors. Earlier, I was talking about Holyrood and talking about retrofitting is an option that government could have looked at in the face of going ahead with the Muskrat Falls Project.

One of the arguments that the Natural Resources Minister used over the last couple of months – indeed, he used it again last night – was the simple fact of the amount of oil they are burning in Holyrood. I think he put the number – I think, minister, I can approach on it – at about $130 million a year that Holyrood was projected to be using in the next couple of years. I wanted to turn that number back towards government and ask them, if they went into home retrofit programming, set up industrial programming, they could take that money there right off the bat, and they could sink that back into home retrofit financing. They can do industrial retrofitting, and it is a great revenue stream to start from. If they are talking about not wanting to spend it on oil, they can certainly spend it on energy efficiency.

Let's talk about the whole fact of how you would finance somebody's own home if they did not have the money to do it, Mr. Speaker. We all know, I say to the hon. Member for –

MR. MCGRATH: LabWest.

MR. MURPHY: – Labrador West, that if he wants to go ahead and think this is not about expropriation, expropriation is part of the financing deal for Muskrat Falls and we are still talking about financing. If we are talking about financing, we are talking about the people's money and we have the right to speak, I would say to the Member for Lab West, on this particular issue.

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

To provide some clarification, we have been debating Bills 53, 60, and 61 for the past day or so. What the Speaker said last night, by way of guidance, is that mixing up each of these bills is understandable, but we want the speakers to speak to Muskrat Falls. It is not a finance bill where anything goes, but the relevance piece has to be around the Muskrat Falls deal.

I will go back to the Member for St. John's East to continue.

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

I appreciate the clarification. I was talking about the Holyrood component that was talked about in the whole Muskrat Falls deal. I am merely saying to the members opposite that if the whole reason for Muskrat Falls is to save $130 million in the spending of oil – one of the good reasons to take Holyrood off-line by the way and, yes, it is great to put the money in government coffers – but if they wanted to save people money at the same time, too, there is a whole revenue stream there. That $130 million could be used for retrofitting. I just wanted to make that one pretty clear. It is easy to finance, too, at the same time for anybody who is looking for it, even if they went on a fifty-fifty basis.

Again, I talk residential. We could be doing a whole lot more when it comes to industrial. It is green programming. If the whole idea for Muskrat Falls was to ensure jobs, particularly in rural Newfoundland we are talking about job creation here as well. When you are talking green jobs, hey, the sky is the limit when it comes to that. Of course, there is the revenue stream for it, too, at the same time.

Coming back to oil prices, too, because oil prices, of course, was talked about by the Natural Resources Minister last night. I wanted to talk about some of the numbers that he was talking about last night. Now, if I could find it. I have that many papers here, Mr. Speaker. I am pretty sure the Natural Resources Minister is probably enthralled with some of the things I have to say about oil. I know he did make some positive comments in that regard last night. It is completely to do with Muskrat Falls, the expropriation, and the financing arrangements behind Muskrat Falls. I cannot seem to find those papers here now.

Mr. Speaker, he did talk about the projections for oil prices. Of course, just recently, the other day, there was some relevance when it talks about the provincial coffers, keeping provincial coffers sustained and the possibility of taking the excess electricity and selling it on to the US markets to sustain provincial coffers. I wanted to talk a little bit about oil prices.

I know the Finance Minister would really like to hear some of the comments that I am going to say about oil. In a story the other day, for example, on CNN they talked about US oil prices could sink to $50 a barrel. Mr. Speaker, I do no think that is entirely possible but it is there. It is in the realm, and it is in the realm for discussion brought on of course by the shale gas and oil revolution that is happening down in the states in the Bakken fields, and the other twenty fields around the US that are dealing with this.

We know we are going to have some sort of a problem in the future. The minister was asked in an interview yesterday, I think it was David Cochrane who asked him the question. What happens if, say for example under NAFTA, we are going to be dealing with the possibility of the US exporting electricity that would be generated from natural gas, shouldn't the same reciprocity exist when it comes to the shipping of electricity into Canada, rather than Canadian provinces like Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador exporting electricity to the US markets?

Do you know something? It was a very valid question and one that really government needs to answer about the future effect on the revenue stream of an argument that somebody in the US could make about gaining access to the Northeast or Eastern Canadian electricity markets and the Canadian electricity grid. What effect would something like that have on the case of Newfoundland and Labrador wanting to sell their electricity down in the states? Again, it is an open-ended question.

We are talking about an agreement for fifty years that we are supposed to be paying down this project for but we have a lot of doors here that are left a little bit open, where something else can sneak through. Could we be dealing with a future court challenge on the part of some corporation that wants to export electricity into Newfoundland and Labrador? We do not know; but, as we know, government is talking heavily about the possible investments that are going to be happening in Labrador with mining and everything.

We are talking about a demand for electricity. What is to stop a US company from generating electricity from natural gas and exporting it to help support or to compete for the market that would exist in Western Labrador for electricity? I think that has to be a very open-ended question. Again, one that government, I do not think, has addressed and one that I really do think they have to address concerning the conditions that are out there affecting Muskrat. We know we hear from the Finance Minister, we hear from the Premier, we hear from the Natural Resources Minister, that this is a world market now and things have changed. The dynamics in the market have changed.

We have the Minister of IBRD talking CETA. We know there is some effect with the European markets that is going to happen down the road. Again, we are tied into a world market now and there is probably nothing that you and I can do as consumers besides protect ourselves, let alone protect anybody else. That is why we are here. We have to ask those questions.

What they are talking about when it comes to oil prices, Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, I do not know if the $50 a barrel scenario is going to happen. It certainly looks like it could happen for West Texas Intermediate crude, but what would happen with Brent Crude?

That is where the Province's finances are based on, that is where our monies are going to have to come from to pay for our social programs, that is where our monies are going to have to come from to pay for our health programs, for our ferry replacement strategy that still remains a request for proposals, yet the strategy remains. We still do not see a boat under us yet, but no doubt, they are probably coming, probably some distance down the road. Either way, the Province's revenues are going to be affected by what is happening.

Mr. Speaker, what do I see happening with Brent Crude? I can see something happening with West Texas Intermediate that would draw some interest from outside interest that would be wanting to buy a cheaper crude oil, that would turn some of these people that want Brent Crude initially away from the purchase of Brent and to end up buying the crude that would be the cheaper price.

What would that have on the provincial coffers? The obvious effect to me right now is that Brent Crude prices – I forecast them anyway to be dropping and government is going to have a bit of a problem on its hands when it comes to maintaining the Province's finances. I cannot see a basis within the next two years certainly for oil prices to get anywhere up over 100 bucks for any certainty, for any length of time.

What do we do in the meantime, Mr. Speaker? I do not think that at those particular times it would be a time to show any kind of careless spending on the part of the Province's revenues. For example, we have cash assets that are there. A smart investment is okay, a wise investment is even better, but Muskrat has not proven itself to be smart or wise at this particular time.

Twenty years' time down the road, possibly; but the risk is there for the taxpayer and for the consumer out there that they are going to be paying higher electricity prices, and we have yet to hear from the Finance Minister or the government here on the other side of the House. We have not heard them say that we will not see any new taxes planted on us, planted on the taxpayer out there, as a result of the inequities that may come about as a result of the Muskrat Falls Project, or we have not heard the government say that there is not going to be an increase to personal or business taxes in this Province as a result of a government coffers falling short.

Again, the warnings are there. I have given my advice for nothing, and you can take it for what it is worth. I would bank on it; some people probably would not.

Again, declining revenues, slightly – the Premier says that we are good on our oil right now until 2035, she said in the House the other day. There is no reason to panic quite yet, but there is indeed reason for concern after 2017 if Muskrat Falls does, in fact, come true.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I see that my time is up. I will thank you for the time and thank you for the freedom of speech in this House. God guard thee Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me to stand in this place once again and to speak on Muskrat Falls, an issue, a project, in which people say we have not had time to debate it. I do not think we have debated anything else since 2010.

Not only have we debated it over and over and over in this House, I think I have spoken – this is my third time already or my fourth time on Muskrat Falls. I know in Question Period it is always about Muskrat Falls. We even had an election on Muskrat Falls. When people say we should have a referendum, there is no greater referendum than an election.

When the government says we think this project is in the best interests of the people of this Province and we put our government on the line and we get an overwhelming majority from the people of the Province, the people have made a decision. Yet, even after that, we have still debated this in the House. We have come back and we have debated it. Now we have three more bills presently before this Legislature where members from the various districts have an opportunity to come and debate this project again.

This project that many people say to me: Tom, what is the excitement about? It is a hydroelectric project; we have been building hydroelectric projects in this Province for over 100 years. Mr. Speaker, the opposite, the alternative – and that is why I have great difficulty with what the Member for St. John's East is saying. The alternative is to provide electricity to the people of this Province by burning oil that we are importing from foreign countries and foreign dictatorships.

We are going to spend $88 – is that the cost in West Texas today, somewhere in that range – to make electricity in this century. That is what they are recommending that we do. We are saying we are going to churn water and we are going to make electricity out of water that we get for nothing. That is the difference.

The choice is to go with a thermal project where we are going to be importing oil. We are going to be burning oil which when Holyrood was commissioned oil was $3 a barrel. It is in the $88 range today I understand; it is Bunker C oil. What is it going to be thirty years from now if we stick with a thermal project? If we redo Holyrood, we have gone thermal. The decision is made.

The smart thing to do is to build a hydro project. Yes, there is a lot of money upfront. The project will pay for itself. Every electricity project is paid for by the ratepayers – and I have heard this, I have heard the Leader of the Opposition, I have heard the Leader of the NDP, I have heard the Member for St. John's East saying there is going to be overruns, saying, oh, the rates are going to be high – but they are not going to be as high as if we do thermal. This is the cheapest alternative.

Nalcor has looked at it. As the Minister of Natural Resources said last night or early this morning, whatever it was, it has been tested, we have hired experts to test what Nalcor are doing, and they have determined that this option is going to be the cheapest for the people.

Now, this project, the Muskrat Falls Project, is going to answer many of the strategic directions that the government wishes to take. I will have time, either now, or at some point today to go through those directions. The main one to me, and I have said this before, is that we have to ensure that rates, to the people of the Province, are as low as they can possibly be. That is the goal.

Because Muskrat Falls is not the problem. The problem is that rates have been going up anyway, and they have been going up for the last five-ten years. I got that when we took the 8 per cent off electricity. We took it off and people were very, very pleased with that. One man, one senior citizen – and I cannot remember his name, and I apologize for that – wrote me and he said: Look, you are taking the 8 per cent HST off electricity, but at the same time, Hydro are coming and they are looking for a rate increase – another rate increase. It was about in the same range.

So, I looked at that and said: Why are our rates going up, if we have all this hydro in Newfoundland and Labrador? Because if you can look across the country, those who have the lowest rates are those provinces that have hydroelectricity – massive hydroelectricity for the people; in fact, the people who live in Churchill Falls, the people who live in Labrador West, the people who live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, they have the lowest electricity rates in Canada, because they have the benefit of the Churchill Falls Project.

Those who built the Churchill Falls Project never did build a link down into the Island, down through Labrador, down to the Island, so that the people on the Island can benefit from that. We have lots of hydro projects on the Island: Cat Arm; Granite Canal; Bay d'Espoir – the big one at Bay d'Espoir, built in the 1960s, 600 megawatts; Muskrat Falls is 824. In the 1960s they built Bay d'Espoir, 600 megawatts. It is not a big difference. Technology is still the same.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) naysayers.

MR. MARSHALL: There are always naysayers.

There is a famous saying, I first heard Bobby Kennedy say it. I think it is Alfred Lord Tennyson, but I am not sure. I know the hon. Member for St. Barbe – I remember his father used it in an election campaign. It was: Some people look at things as they are and say why? Some people have vision and look at things as they should be and say why not? That is what this project is here. That is what we are trying to do here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Above all, we want to keep rates down. That is priority number one. Given the fact we had the Upper Churchill, given the fact we have all these hydroelectricity projects on the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador, why are our rates still going up? They are going up because we are manufacturing 15 per cent to 25 per cent of our electricity on average out of a plant at Holyrood that makes electricity by burning oil.

It was $3 a barrel when it started and it is $88 a barrel, or in that vicinity, today. What is it going to be down the road? What is it going to be in the future? At peak capacity it is supplying 31 per cent of our electricity needs; at peak capacity. Obviously, the smartest thing we can do is shut Holyrood down and replace it with renewable energy. Replace it with hydro energy from Muskrat Falls.

In addition, the minister has pointed out on many occasions, that we are going to need additional power. We are going to need more power. One option is to go with some hydro projects on the Island but that will only provide 77 megawatts of power. We can also put in some wind, but there is a technical limit to how much wind you can use because wind has to be backed up. Hydro, you can store the water in a dam and you use the water from that dam. You can let it out of the dam and let it go and drive the turbines and build electricity when you need it, but you cannot do that with wind. You cannot store wind. You cannot put it in a box and use it when you need it.

As Ed Martin said, what are you going to do on a February morning at 6:30 and the wind is not blowing, or the wind is blowing too much? Wind has to be backstopped or backed up – maybe that is a better word. It has to be backed up by something that is stored, and that is hydroelectricity, which is where the water is stored in a dam, or it is oil where you can store it in a barrel. Hydroelectricity is the cheapest way to go.

The third thing we need is what is going to happen in Labrador. Dr. Locke and others have talked about what could be a massive increase in capital investment in mining projects in the Big Land. Dr. Locke said in terms of those who are ready to go and in terms of those who have done whatever analysis they need to make the next step, that there is a potential for $10 billion to $15 billion in new investment in the Labrador Trough in the next ten years. Now if that happens, that is absolutely amazing.

He went on to say there are others who are at earlier stages, who are doing testing, who are doing feasibility or pre-feasibility. I forget the actual number of the potential investment it could be, but it revels –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: How much?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten to fifteen.

MR. MARSHALL: No, $10 billion to $15 billion in the first ten years, but when you think beyond that of what else has happened. There were some numbers there so high I do not even – anyway, I will not go into that.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was big.

MR. MARSHALL: It was big, exactly. It was big.

You cannot have those mines without electricity. They need electricity. Vale Inco, we need them to go underground. That is the next move there. They need electricity to do that. They all need electricity.

I said I remember Smallwood. I remember listening to Joseph Smallwood, our first Premier. I remember listening to his speeches coming from the Liberal ball. I listened as a kid living on Park Street in Corner Brook on the radio to him saying there would have been no mill at Corner Brook if there was no hydroelectricity in Grand Falls. There would not have been a mill producing newsprint in Grand Falls if they had not built an electricity project in Grand Falls. There would not have been the phosphorous reduction plant at Long Harbour, and there would not have been the Come By Chance refinery unless Bay d'Espoir electricity had gone on. It is a catalyst for economic development. There is the third reason.

One, get rid of Holyrood. Stop burning oil. David Suzuki says to burn oil to make electricity in this day and age is madness. That is number one. Keep the rates down. Oil is going higher. You can talk about the experts – and we do not pick the price of oil.

The hon. Member for St. John's East was talking about predictions of oil. No one can predict the price of oil. No one can predict the future. We do the best we can. We rely on the best experts in the world. That is who we get. I do not do it. You cannot do it.

Mr. Speaker, we have had six surpluses. If we have a surplus, relying on the same people, that must mean they are doing a good job. They did not do it this year. They missed out this year, but six out of seven is not too bad a batting average. Mr. Speaker, the issue is not what we predict. The issue is what the actual results are.

Mr. Speaker, what is happening, we have a situation in this Province right now where our economy in Newfoundland and Labrador – the people and the business community of Newfoundland should heed these words very carefully. Our economy is doing very, very well in the investment sector, in the consumption sector, and the government sector. We have capital investment that is taking place in this Province.

Even without what is going on in Labrador, capital investment is up by 32 per cent. That is the highest rate of growth in new investment in all of Canada. It is $9.7 billion of new investment happening right now, this year in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is going to continue next year. It is going to continue high. It will not be as high as 32 per cent, but it is going to be up there around 18 per cent or 20 per cent. That investment is driving employment in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have 229,000 people working, which is the highest in over thirty-five years. We have the lowest unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador in over thirty-seven years. Not only are people working, the employees are making more money than they have made in the past. The average weekly earnings in Newfoundland and Labrador are the highest they have ever been. Right now, we are second to Alberta. For the first time in our history the average weekly earnings in Newfoundland and Labrador are above the Canadian average.

We have more people working than ever before. We have people earning more money than ever before, which means that people have personal incomes. They have high, disposable incomes. Consumer confidence is high, business confidence is high, and we are seeing that in retail sales. Retail sales are up right across the board. We are seeing that in housing starts.

Two years ago a new record was set in the number of houses started in Newfoundland and Labrador. That record, we think, will be surpassed this year. We are also seeing it – I do not know how people are affording these houses. They are beautiful, they are big, they are using up lots of electricity. They are full of machinery and equipment. Everything plugs into a wall now. Everything is using electricity. So we understand why demand is going up, as the Minister of Natural Resources says. In addition, new car sales this year are expected to be the highest in the history of the Province.

Our local economy is very resilient, it is very strong, and it is going to continue to be strong. The problem we have is a problem that we cannot control. It is what is happening in our export sector. It is what is happening to our businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador that are selling out into the world economy.

What is happening in the world economy is that commodity prices have gone down because of lesser demand. We have a situation in Europe where the Euro zone is in recession; they are actually in a recession. If they are in a recession with – as the Minister of Natural Resources said you have places like Spain and Greece where their employment is up to 25 per cent, where youth employment in these countries is up to 50 per cent. While here, we have trouble finding the people to fill the jobs.

Who would have thought that? That is a discussion we had at the Finance Ministers meeting in Ottawa that I just got back from. The biggest problem facing Newfoundland and Labrador right now is that we cannot find a lot of people to fill the jobs that are available, and we have to bring people in from countries. We are going to have difficulty filling the jobs that are going to be available in the future with all of these projects, with the Hebron Project, with the Muskrat Falls Project now that is sanctioned.

Who would have thought five years ago that would be the biggest problem we would face? Who would have thought that ten years ago? Who would have thought we would be off equalization? Who would have thought that we have a credit rating of A+? Who would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that we would be designated by the Governor of the Bank of Canada as a model for the country?

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking at the meeting to the governor of the bank, Mark Carney. As you know, he is Governor of the Bank of Canada. He has now announced he is going to go to England and be the governor of the bank over there. His chief communications person is a young woman by the name of Jill Vardy who comes from the beautiful City of Corner Brook. Her parents are Frances and Cyril Vardy who have three remarkable children; Jill being one of them.

She is the communications director for the governor of the bank. I told the governor when I was talking to him, he talked about how Jill wants to come home all the time, is always looking for a way to get home to see her friends and to see her family. I said to him that if things do not work out in England, that there is always a job for him here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: No, I told him that if it does not work out in England he could always come back to Newfoundland and Labrador because we need a lot of workers. I do not know how many governors of banks we need but if he has any welding skills, that certainly will be a good sign.

What I learned at the meeting of Finance Ministers was that the problem we are facing here with the low commodity prices has impacted in a negative way the other provinces as well. We have produced in Newfoundland and Labrador this year compared to last year – last year there was 98 million barrels came out of the ground; 98 million barrels of oil on which we were paid royalties. This year it is 74 million barrels. That is 24 million barrels less that we are not getting royalties on. That is 24 million barrels where the oil companies are not making profits on, which means they are paying lower corporate income tax to us.

Mr. Speaker, it is not about prediction; it is about the actual fact. If the oil is not coming out of the ground – we said at the start of the year that we would have the two FPSOs, one at White Rose and one at Terra Nova. We knew they were going off-line for maintenance, but Hibernia went down as well. We had, at some point in this year, all three of our oil fields down. The result has been less production, lower production, and also prices were lower than we thought they would be.

At the time we did the Budget in March, the price of oil was $125. Now, we are talking about Brent. You have to remember, there is a difference between Brent oil and West Texas Intermediate. Brent trades at a higher price. Fortunately for us, the oil we import is West Texas Intermediate which is a lower priced oil, but the oil we export is exported at Brent prices which is higher prices.

At the time last year I think the average oil price was $116. The forecast was an $8 increase over that. It is not unusual. When you look at the prices over the last number of years, an $8 change is nothing. A $15 change has happened before; it has been higher than that.

The issue is not what we were going to predict that the price was going to be, the issue is, what the price is, because we have to live with it. The price is set in the world market and we do not control that. We are takers of price.

The European economy is in recession. They are not demanding commodities. The American economy is very uncertain. There is uncertainty about the fiscal cliff. Their corporations are hording cash. They are not investing the way companies have been doing in the resource sector here. We have big investment taking place here. It is not happening in the US. They are demanding lesser commodities. They are not buying from China. China's exports are down because of that lack of demand. If China's exports are down because the low demand from Europe and America, they are not buying our products. They are not buying the commodities that we sell.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I am running out of time, but I have a feeling that I will get an opportunity to speak once again today. I look forward to the continuation of this important debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize the hon. Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Once again I rise to have an opportunity to speak on this Bill 60. This was an opportunity for all of us to pass on our views on some of the views. Given the latitude on the three bills, having been able to talk about the three bills because they all are intertwined, I give the Speaker credit for allowing us all to do that.

Mr. Speaker, we look at some of the things that were said and I look at the Minister of Natural Resources. He is quoted in a paper here, just yesterday: The member told reporters that government will not do anything to slow down debate. Mr. Speaker, I just find it kind of strange that the minister would make that comment, come in the House of Assembly two hours later, two of the bills, Bills 60 and 61 on Muskrat Falls, a $9 billion project, and he put the Standing Order 43, which would not allow any members of either party here to make any proposed amendments on some of the major issues facing the Province.

Mr. Speaker, if anybody in this Province is out looking at this debate and wondering why the Member for the Bay of Islands is asking questions and why you have to not take everything as gospel, that is a prime example. Because if you look at what was said just yesterday, I think the press conference was either at 11:00 o'clock or 1:00 o'clock and we were debating yesterday evening, that is what was said.

Mr. Speaker, when that was said by the Minister of Natural Resources and then he could turn around, stand up and ask for Standing Order 43 to stop it, we need to ask questions on this whole bill, the whole three bills. It is very, very important that we do as the Opposition. I know the Minister of Finance and I have a lot of respect for the Minister of Finance, I make no bones about it, but there are some things that he may put out that I may question or I may disagree with. That is the role of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker. I do have some conflicting views and I do have some views that I do not feel that everybody in the Province agrees with the government.

Mr. Speaker, I just look at this Bill 60 that we were speaking to and some of the expropriation of the land that we are going to go through. I think it was clarified because we were told that Emera can expropriate the land; but now, from my understanding, it was clarified yesterday that Nalcor would do it for Emera in the Province. That is what we were told. So there are conflicting views of what we were told, and to find out later: no, that is not the case; here is the way it is.

That is why we need these debates. That is why we need to be able to make amendments, so that we can discuss it and give new ideas. There are times when governments do accept some of the amendments that are made. If you are a government that is not going to stifle debate, you would be a government that would not bring in Standing Order 43, so that we can offer amendments and have a full and open discussion and debate.

When the Premier of the Province comes in here later today and talks about: oh, we opened the House for debate on Muskrat Falls. When finally we get an opportunity to debate the three bills, Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 43 walks in, ‘plank-oh', see you later, stop debate. Let's move on to the next phase of the proceedings, Mr. Speaker. No amendments whatsoever – on each amendment then we could have a discussion. We could raise some points of concerns. That also gives the government an opportunity to clarify some of their positions.

Mr. Speaker, then the question is when the land is expropriated: Does Emera own the land? We were told Emera does own the land. Do they own the land when it is expropriated?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: No, we were told the mineral rights are not included, just the land. Now, I do not have that verified. That is a good point, I say to the member, but who owns the land?

Here we are, the taxpayers of the Province are going to end up buying land and giving it to a Nova Scotia company. If I am wrong, please come up and say I am wrong, but that is the information I was given. That is the information we are going on, and that is the information – and that is why I am saying it. I have no problem, if I am wrong just say, no, what you were told is incorrect.

Mr. Speaker, we were told also that all through the pipelines and all through the – wherever they have towers, they do not pay any taxes in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. So, here we have a private company, Mr. Speaker, coming in here with all the shareholders – a multi-billion dollar company coming in here, taking over our land, and not paying taxes to a town. Any other utility – and I use some of the cable companies – do pay taxes to the municipalities.

These are the questions, Mr. Speaker, you have to ask about part of this deal. Why should we exempt Emera, an international company, multi-million – multi-billion probably – company, with shareholders all down through the United States? Why should we exempt them from paying some municipality that needs the taxes to keep the town going? Yet, they can walk in, take over, here is our land. Put our sites up. See you later, take care of it for us, and we are gone. Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of questions I have to ask and say, why?

Mr. Speaker, if we were not stifled in debate by the Minister of Natural Resources by Standing Order 43, we would be able to get in the amendments and make some of these amendments. That is one of the amendments I would love to make. Yet, we are not stifling debate. We will just bring it in so you cannot bring amendments in to help some of the smaller municipalities.

When the government stands up now and says: Oh, no, we are open; we want to debate Muskrat Falls. Go tell somebody else because the proof is in the pudding. It is not what you say; it is what you do that counts. It is not what you say; it is what you do.

I see the Minister of Environment over there agreeing with me on what I am saying. I know, because a lot of municipalities, Mr. Speaker, that he is doing….

Mr. Speaker, here we have Bill 60. We were given the bill yesterday at about 10:30 or 11:00 o'clock, Bill 60, and it is a bill with all of the expropriation and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: That is right; it is almost two days now. Then we were given the bill and we were going to debate it that day. We sit down and go in for the briefing. We were told there are fifteen other bills and fifteen other statutes that are associated with this. We have to go find the other fifteen statutes and try to match them up to see how it is done.

Mr. Speaker, I will just give you an example now. We were given this bill yesterday at about 10:30 or 11:00 o'clock, whenever it was. We had our briefing, I think, at 11:45 o'clock. There are fifteen other different statutes to it. We have to come in and debate expropriation. The last time that happened, when they rushed it, guess what? It is costing us almost $200 million in expropriation of the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor. Mr. Speaker, that is the problem with rushing it.

We heard the Premier standing on her feet, shaking her fingers, saying: We had to do it. We had to rush. I wish we had more time. Okay –

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Deputy House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. HUTCHINGS: (Inaudible) stand in regard to the item of relevance. We are debating here Bill 60 in regard to land and expropriation. I am not sure the hon. member's reference to other issues that are going on is relevant to the discussion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We are debating the motion that the question be now put. We have been debating that throughout the night and into the day. The most important principle that the Speaker is guided by in this Chamber –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The most important principle that the Speaker is guided by is one of fairness and objectivity. Throughout the debate last night and today, what the Speaker has ruled in terms of this debate is that there has been latitude given on both sides for discussion on Muskrat Falls and the bringing together of three bills.

That is what the Speaker has ruled. As members have come in this morning, some members have come in asking for relevance. The Speaker is being guided by the overriding principle of fairness and objectivity and giving the same latitude to both sides of the House as we continue with the debate.

In terms of the relevance question here right now, the motion that the question be now put of course also brings in the ability for speakers to speak to the process here in terms of the motion being now put. For that reason, the Speaker has allowed some latitude in that regard.

I go back to the Member for Bay of Islands to continue now with his debate.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I find the Opposition House Leader did not stand up when the Minister of Finance was talking about youth employment over in Europe.

AN HON. MEMBER: Deputy House Leader.

MR. JOYCE: Government House Leader – Deputy House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, once again we see another example to stifle debate, while the Minister of Finance is standing up talking about youth employment over in Europe and talking about how bad youth employment is in Europe. He did not stand up, stifling debate again. It is shocking, Mr. Speaker. It has been going on all night.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I will go back again.

How can anybody tell me it is not relevant when the Premier stands up on her feet and says any expropriation, that we should have time to look at the bills? How can anybody in this Legislature tell me about the mistake we made with Grand Falls-Windsor? How can anybody stand up and say to me that we should have time to review this bill and fifteen other statutes that go with it? Mr. Speaker, how can anybody across the floor try to stand up and say that is not relevant? It is a shame, Mr. Speaker, once again trying to stifle debate here in this House of Assembly. It is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker.

Then with the fifteen other statutes that we have to put in with the bill and then if we do not have time to look at them and something happens – oh, you should have looked at that. Yet all the lawyers, Mr. Speaker, and two or three Premiers and the ministers and all the people in the department, they could not pick it up on Grand Falls-Windsor, but we have to try to pick it up in less than a day here. You are telling me that what I am saying here is irrelevant. It is a joke. That is what it is, Mr. Speaker. It is a joke saying that.

Mr. Speaker, I look at this whole Muskrat Falls and I look at all the Muskrat Falls and one of the big things with Muskrat Falls, again when we cannot get full opportunity to put in debates because there are people, like the Minister of Natural Resources – I read: Told reporters that government will not do anything to shut down debate. Now if I wanted to make a motion on this bill, I cannot do it because of Standing Order 43 – I cannot do it. Because of Standing Order 43, if I want to make a motion that if any new technology comes into this world that can affect natural gas, that we can bring into Newfoundland and Labrador to give people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador lower rates for electricity, I cannot bring it in. I cannot do it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: I say to the Minister of Finance: Obviously, he was not here. I will explain to the Minister of Finance what happened. The Minister of Natural Resources when he spoke on Bill 60 and Bill 61, he brought in what they call Standing Order 43. The Minister of Finance is not aware of that, obviously. So, Minister of Finance what happens then is that you cannot put in any amendments; everybody gets a chance to speak to the bills. When the Minister of Finance is saying to me bring it in now, I just want to explain to you the rules of the House and what your government did, and obviously you did not know what they did.

If the Minister of Finance wants to say bring it in now, obviously it is just saying here is what I say; I do not really mean it, though. Because if they really meant it, with your influence inside your government, you would never let the Minister of Natural Resources bring in Standing Order 43 or you would not be stating here: Bring it in now. You cannot have it both ways – you just cannot have it both ways, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the amendments that I would have loved brought into this House. I tell you why, Mr. Speaker, because when you isolate us for fifty-five years from any other source, the only sole source we have here is Nalcor, if you isolate us, that there is no one else when you have a monopoly – it is almost as if the wall is put around us, Mr. Speaker, that any other technology in this world cannot come to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of things that I would love to have brought in some form of a motion that you can put it in, and you cannot do it. I say to the Minister of Health: You cannot do it. Obviously you were not here and I understand you had to go home and get a bit of rest, Mr. Speaker; I understand that. Everybody is taking their turn, Mr. Speaker. I did it myself.

I went home. I got a few hours – we all do that. What they did, they brought in the Standing Order 43 so we cannot bring it up. I say to the Minister of Health that I cannot bring it up. Mr. Speaker, what is happening and a lot of times we hear the minister saying it –

MS SULLIVAN: A point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services, on a point of order.

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the speaker opposite just refer